Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest is a hand management game of using different crew members to gain powerful loot. Libertalia is for 1-6 players and can be played in an hour after learning the game. This version of the game was updated from the previous version and adds new art, new changes to mechanics, and some great new components. The game is published by Stonemaier Games, which has also made great games such as Rolling Realms, Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Pendulum, Wingspan, and Scythe. This is the first reprint Stonemaier has taken on, so let’s keep reading to see what Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest offers us.
What’s in the Box?
- 1 Game Board
- 54 Doubloons
- 7 Loot Tiles
- 48 Loot Tokens
- 1 Bag
- 1 Midshipman Tile
- 40 Character Cards Per Player (6)
- 1 Reputation Token Per Player (6)
- 1 Score Dial Per Player (6)
- 1 Graveyard Tile Per Player (6)
How’s It Play?
The game is played over three voyages or rounds. In each round, each player randomly pulls 6 character cards from their deck then play one card at a time for an increasing total amount as the game goes on. Cards are played simultaneously, and the character with the lowest number of rank listed on its card gets placed on the island first. Then, daytime abilities are activated in ascending order. Next, dusk abilities are activated and looting is performed in descending order of those characters, with players entering their own ship. Lastly, night abilities are performed on all characters that have an ability for the night when those characters are in their ships.
Players do this for a predetermined amount of characters in their hand for each voyage, and at the end of the voyage, anchor abilities are done and players score their loot and gain doubloons, adding them on their treasure chest score dial. Characters are then discarded, in addition to loot tokens, and doubloons. Characters that were not played for that voyage are not discarded. After 3 voyages, players reveal their final scores to determine the player who is the wealthiest pirate, and winner of the game.
So remember, all players choose a card from their hands and reveal them at the same time. Your card might have a daytime, dusk, or night abilities, and they all trigger differently depending on the number listed on the card and the direction it is triggered. If there is a tie, the reputation track breaks the tie.
Whenever you gain or lose doubloons, you only use coin tokens. Your score dial is only changed at the end of each voyage. When discarding cards, they are placed on your graveyard tile. At the end of the voyage, cards with an anchor ability are activated, and only then are score dials used, depending on your total number of doubloons and loot tokens.
The reputation track determines how many doubloons you gain at the beginning of the next voyage. It also correlates to some abilities on your cards. When moving, you bump the next marker up or down one, exchanging places.
Each player will most likely choose a loot token each turn unless an ability changes that. These are all listed on the board and can cause players to gain money, keep characters in your ship for the next voyage, discard another player’s character from the island, or gain reputation.
You might know that there is a previous version of this game. I have not played the original version, but read that this version updated the game with more characters and made adjustment to try to help the game flow more smoothly. The tie breaker mechanism changed to the reputation track, which also awards a different amount of coins depending on your position.
The production of the game is pretty good. Inserts work well in the game box. The loot tiles look and feel great, and they are made of thick plastic.
The game includes plenty of player interaction, if you are looking for to a game that does that well. Players compare cards with each other, and time is not going to be added on, as players choose cards at the same time. All players use the same cards but at different occasions. So yes, sometimes another player will play the same card as you, so you’ll need to become creative regarding when and how you use your cards. By the 3rd round, players might have a good spread of different cards depending on how they played the game.
Libertalia includes a good variety of options, including tons of character cards that won’t be played each time. It gives all players the same chances of using the same cards, but because the number of cards changes each round, the result is a good variety of cards from different players.
Cards also have a variety of actions that can all be triggered and at various times in a round. Players need to get creative in guessing what cards other players might play and at what times to better play their own cards to take advantage of their character’s action. So really, the game gives some tactical decisions on when and what to play.
I appreciate that the game can be played with up to 6 players. This lets you still play a fun game that isn’t necessarily a party game with an increased number of players. Also, the game feels like it plays better with more players, so the more the merrier. The game also includes modules to change the mood of the game, some increase the aggressiveness and interaction with other players, while others add fun actions you can perform.
Most actions in the game are done on the island track, and players compete for different positions to gain certain loot tiles available that round. The game isn’t difficult to learn, nor play. The complexity of the game is formed by your decision making of what card abilities you can to use and when. But the game can be played easily with new or inexperienced players, while also offering some “meat” to players who want to think and plan more.
Overall, Libertalia is well designed and invites everyone to play the game. The one thing that I felt like was a little boring was that everyone starts with the same cards to make sure its fair, but it causes a less exciting feeling when you see the same card just played by another player from round to round. Still, this invites players to see how others use certain characters, and players are bound to learn from others when playing the game.
Images via Stonemaier Games
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