Let’s take a journey back to the Jamaica of the 17th Century. The legendary exploits of Blackbeard and Calico Jack were well known and scurvy knaves were commonplace around the infamous HQ of swashbuckling and ne'er-do-wells… Port Royal. Now, Port Royal may have been called “the wickedest city on earth” but don’t worry… the Port Royal we’re heading to today is located firmly on our tabletop! Alexander Pfister’s card game of pirates and traders has long been a staple in our household.
Pirates, Traders and Governors collide in the Caribbean city of Port Royal as you try to increase your wealth, build up your reputation and complete expeditions. This ‘push your luck’ / engine building card game has been around for a few years now and, as is often the case with such games, has been granted the ‘Big Box’ treatment.
Read on to discover how it stacks up against the original and if we think it’s worth the purchase for new AND returning players!
As this is a Port Royal Big Box edition, we won’t be doing a review of the gameplay but rather this edition and what it brings to the table when compared to the original version.
If you own the first edition of Port Royal then what will immediately draw your attention is the revised artwork. It’s so totally different from the original and, I’ve got to be honest, I prefer the former version! Whereas Port Royal was originally released with a charming and almost cartoon-esque design, the artwork on this revision is just, well… fine. It adds nothing unique and, whereas the original art screams ‘eurogame’, this new artwork could be from just about any pirate themed game.
Let’s just emphasize that the art is by no means bad, I simply feel that the original was great and didn’t really need updating.
So, what is in store for you when you purchase the Port Royal: Big Box. Not only do you receive the base game but also every other piece of Port Royal content there is, all of which is pre existing material as opposed to any new additions.
Let’s take them one by one…
Port Royal: Make Sail! - Simplified variant
This one seems a little odd to me, we have always found Port Royal a pretty easy game to learn and explain to new players. However, reducing the amount of Influence points needed to win the game and eliminating the expeditions means that play time can take as little as 15 minutes. For us personally the biggest draw of this variant is that it includes new cards that can be added to the base game… so that’s something.
Port Royal: Just One More Contract - Expansion
Play Port Royal either competitive or co-op with this expansion. Adding new Professions, Ships and the introduction of contracts into the mix, there is lots of content in just this expansion alone! This will definitely increase the difficulty level. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it really gives you value for money!
Port Royal: The Gambler - Promo Card
Kenny Rogers vs Pirates? Now that’s a game I’d like to see, but alas this Gambler is just a dodgy looking landlubber out to rake in some coins! It’s a nice card to include in the standard game and a welcome addition that’s a neat little mechanism.
The inevitable campaign version of Port Royal where players can work competitively or cooperatively to complete missions in ‘Story mode’. Extra characters and items that are only used in this expansion fill out the contents and bring new ideas to the gameplay. A lot of games are getting the ‘campaign’ treatment lately, this one isn’t one of the best!
Well, there we have it… Port Royal Big Box certainly gives you a lot of gaming for your money! If you love Port Royal and want to increase your options or simply gain all the available content at a great price then this is definitely worth investing in.
If, however, you own Port Royal and are hoping that this will break new ground for you then it most probably won’t.
Simply put, this Big Box is good… just not great. The lack of new content is a disappointment; a couple of fresh promo cards at least would have done the trick. When you get down to it, all that’s new here is the artwork and, unfortunately, this isn’t spellbinding enough to make up for the lack of new content.
As much as I love Port Royal, and this Big Box gives plenty of extra features, I think I’ll stick with the original small box variant!