Looking for a pirate game? Well, Port Royal isn't based on Pirates but they do feature. Port Royal is a multi-award winning card game with a mere 120 card deck.
The goal in Port Royal is to build the greatest port, by recruiting crew members, trading with ships (including those Pirates!) and completing missions.
How it plays
The cards in Port Royal have multiple uses: Gold (as depicted on the reverse of each card), Ships and Crew members. Some cards feature elements of expeditions, whilst others are tax cards that could prove beneficial but could also be costly if you hold too much gold.
Port Royal is an engine building game which relies heavily on push your luck mechanics. Each player improves their port by collecting gold coins (trading with ships) and then recruiting crew. Crew upgrade your port and are also worth VPs. Community expeditions also offer VPs.
On your turn you will flip cards from the deck and lay them face up on the table or in your 'harbour'. Cards can be flipped as long as you want or until you flip two ships of the same colour. The more ships there are of different colours means the more opportunity to recruit crew from the harbour.
Up to three ships of different colour means you can take one card from the harbour. Four ships will mean two cards and five ships means three cards can be taken. However, the more cards you flip the more likely you will pull a ship of the same colour, ending your turn. It also means more choice for your opponents when you are done choosing.
When choosing cards you can trade with a ship and collect it's worth in gold; cards are taken from the deck and act as your gold store. You can also recruit available crew which costs gold. Your opponents can also trade and recruit from your harbour but they have to pay you one gold each time they do so. This makes five player games really interesting!
Each player takes turns revealing their harbour, trading with ships and recruiting crew until one player reaches 12 VPs.
Final thoughts on Port Royal
The game is really well balanced. The stronger the crew member ability the more it costs to recruit. It is also worth more VPs. To gain the upper hand you will need certain cards early on, so luck is a factor. For example, the Mademoiselle reduces each cost by one gold - very handy if recruited early. Cards may be used just as gold which means that they may never show up in a game, offering huge replay-ability.
One small let down was that the push your luck element of the game can get a bit out of hand, especially if a player has many sailors or pirates in their crew.
Port Royal has made it to the table many times as a quick filler and is a surprisingly good two-player game, although it is worth removing the Jesters from the deck as they are seemingly worthless.