Our Plunder A Pirate’s Life review, what we have to say about the thematic game about leading a fleet of ships on a quest for domination, treasure and victory points. The goal is to get ten points first which are obtained by conquering islands, sinking enemy ships, and burying treasure. On your turn, draw one Resource card for each island you own. Trade and manage your resources (wood, iron, rum, gold) to build and upgrade your fleet using miniatures and pegs. Ships sail the open map via roll and move. Battle enemy ships and conquer islands via dice combat. If you are looking to submerge yourself in a pirate world, this may be the one for you.
We took a look across fun, replayability, player interaction, quality and art & style to come up with the overall score for our Plunder A Pirate’s Life review. See the breakdown by category below.
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– CATEGORY BREAKDOWN –
Fun (5 out of 10)
For the fun section of the Plunder A Pirate’s Life review, we award a middle of the road 5 out of 10. The gameplay all hinges on the roll you get from one 6-sided die and you do not have much to hedge that roll. If you get a 6, you will probably do pretty well, and if you get a 1, you probably will not. Once you get past this, everything is great and thematically it is a fun pirate experience but this brings it way down.
The idea is that everyone has a fleet of ships (starting with 1 with a max of 3) on a random map of sea and island spaces. You are free to do what you want, attack other ships, take over islands, hunt for treasure or use the resources you are accruing to upgrade things. That is all well and good, but the way you get around is by getting a random number 1 – 6. You can do as many actions as you can, if you have low movement it is not much. Sure you can upgrade masts on ships to make them go faster, but there is not enough to let strategy take over the luck. The theme is fun, but the gameplay is limiting.
Replayability (4 out of 10)
For the replayability section of the Plunder A Pirate’s Life review, we award a below-average 4 out of 10. The game pulls out all the stops to be fresh every single time, which is why it gets any points at all, but the limiting gameplay brings it down. Given how much luck weighs in, this game may get frustrating or stale. The game does give you tons of freedom and options, which helps, but there are not too many paths to victory.
For the good, there is plenty to give this game credit for. It uses a wonderful grid system that is 12×18 letters along one edge and numbers along the other. There are two spinners with each and would give you a space like “A4” which then correlates to a specific space on the board. This adds lots of randomnesses, like the placement of treasure to hunt or an ominous storm that will mess you up. The board is also modular, it is 6x 2-sides pieces that randomly get placed, creating tons of different configurations, and scales down to a smaller size for fewer players. This is enough to make each game feel brand new.
Player Interaction (6 out of 10)
For the player interaction section of the Plunder A Pirate’s Life review, we award a solid 6 out of 10. You are free to attack others however you want but there is also a very cool political system of trading, bribing or threatening in official ways that must be stuck to. Not too many games have this abstract trading mechanism (see Catan, Bohnanza, Sheriff of Nottingham) because it is hard to create an ecosystem for it. This game has it and it is a ton of fun, especially in character as a pirate. The trading itself is endless but, again on theme, you need to be adjacent or at a special port.
It falls a little short because combat is a little bland and without enough control. A tie goes to the attacker, which makes it pay to be aggressive, which is great and on theme. It is battle itself. Each player rolls one six-sided die and high number wins, that’s all. If you buy canons for that ship, you get +1 on the roll for each, but your opponent can do the same and even with these multipliers it is pretty close to a coin flip. The designers clearly wanted to deliver a simple mechanic for a general audience, but even with that positioning, there could be something to make this more exciting.
Quality (7 out of 10)
For the quality section of the Plunder A Pirate’s Life review, we award a good 7 out of 10. The components quality is especially of note, they are great. The ships are these heavy-duty pieces that move across a beautiful modular board. They can be upgraded with lots of different things and they all come together exactly as it should. While you might be worried about a game that has tons of different components, this game easily has one of the best game box organization of all time. This is a quality made title. Everything is thicker and more finished than was necessary.
The game is well thought out. Just reading the guidebook you will see the great detail that went into every aspect of the game. Every mechanic was given thought to how it fit into the game, both in gameplay and in theme. The world and goals are great, just some small issues with the balance of gameplay already discussed.
Art & Style (7 out of 10)
For the art & style section of the Plunder A Pirate’s Life review, we award a very solid 7 out of 10. If you want to submerge yourself into a Pirate world, this game is certainly going to deliver it to you. The detail from top to bottom is at a very high level. The ships are ornate and even the masts, canons and pegs representing people have very meaningful and specific lines and curves.
Everything is executed well but there is nothing incredibly out of the ordinary. There is some map work and lots of iconography both nothing you have never seen. The game does a good job of knowing what it is and delivering to you knowing they need to check every box. They did this.
– IN CLOSING –
Plunder A Pirate's Life Review | Board Game Halv
Plunder A Pirate's Life is a game with a great theme that was built for broad audiences of all ages. If you want to live your life as a pirate, commanding a fleet on the high seas, this game might be for you. If you are looking for a deep strategy game with endless options, you should keep on walking. The game is fun and light and very on theme, but much of the gameplay, especially at the beginning, comes down to pure luck. While never the greatest once you get over this hump, the game has plenty to enjoy. This has been our Plunder A Pirates Life Review, we hope you enjoyed it.
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