Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest

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In the world of Galecrest, sky pirates set sail on the winds in search of adventure, treasure, and glory. As an admiral, you command a vast and varied crew…but so do your rivals sailing other ships in the pirate fleet. Each day the fleet lands on a different island where you’ll send a crew member to collect your share of the loot, hoping they’ll return to boost you…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-STM550 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The fantastic artwork
  • High quality components
  • Balance of character powers
  • Speedy rounds
  • The revitalisation of a classic

Might Not Like

  • Not for fans of “Take That”
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Description

In the world of Galecrest, sky pirates set sail on the winds in search of adventure, treasure, and glory. As an admiral, you command a vast and varied crew...but so do your rivals sailing other ships in the pirate fleet. Each day the fleet lands on a different island where you'll send a crew member to collect your share of the loot, hoping they'll return to boost your growing group of characters.

Libertalia was originally released in 2012. Ten years later, Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest celebrates the foundations of the original design with a revised and expanded edition that includes all-new art, 40 characters per player, a reputation system to resolve tiebreakers, deluxe loot tokens, a robust solo mode, and much more.

If you like Mission: Red Planet, Broom Service, and other hand-management games, we think you will enjoy sneakily managing your crew in Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest!

Components

1 box (296x296x70mm, 2.1 kg)
1 rulebook
1 Automa (solo) rulebook
1 game board (double-sided; 508x406mm)
48 loot tokens (bakelite)
1 cloth bag
7 loot tiles
240 character cards (40 per player, 63x88mm)
1 Midshipman tile (2-player mode)
6 reputation tokens (wood)
54 doubloons (cardboard; custom metal doubloons are an add-on)
1 treasure tray/lid
6 graveyard tiles
6 score dials
39 Automa cards and 4 Automa loot tiles (solo mode, cards are 63x88mm)
1 custom insert (fits sleeved or unsleeved cards)

 

Breathe it in, that fresh sea air! Isn’t it wonderful? I believe it is time for a tale of the seas. Long ago, in a time known only as 2012, there were pirates. Those pirates were based in a world of Libertalia, and they did plunder the seven seas, looking for treasure. And for a time, those pirates ruled the sea but then they disappeared, never to be seen again…

Musings In The Crow’s Nest

I’ll start off with what has changed between the first and second editions. The first big thing you’ll notice is the art style. The slightly darker pirate cover has been replaced with a much brighter and heroic style, with the gritty characters replaced with anthropomorphic animals. To me, that’s a great way to change perspectives.

When the original game came out, Pirates of the Caribbean had released their fourth film and that could have influenced the art style. This new, upgraded style is much more appealing and eye-catching.

Components

Gone are the cardboard chits to represent the loot, now replaced with chunky Azul like tiles that are deeply satisfying and the scoring dials, while fiddly to assemble, is lovely to have on the board.

We also have now ten more characters to head out on the voyage, as well as a double-sided board. The significance of that board is to give a different challenge by changing up the abilities of the loot tokens. Even better is the option to mix and match the different sets of abilities to create unique combinations each time.

There are a few tweaks to the gameplay too, including the traditional Stonemaier solo mode, but also a two-player mode that feels more like a three-player game. The reputation track has replaced the tiebreaker mechanism and adds an interesting bonus as the rounds go on. A lot of information is open to you and your opponents, which means you have the ability to make plans for the game.

The Rules Are More Of A Guideline… (No, They’re The Rules)

Firstly, gather the six reputation markers, even those of the colours not in play. Randomly draw them and place them on the reputation track. Each player gains their score dials and deck of forty characters, but only one will be shuffled. From the shuffled deck, six characters will be revealed.

All other players will search their decks for the same cards and take them into their hands. Next, gain the doubloons owed to you on the reputation track and draw a number of tiles equal to the number of players and place them on the day spaces for the voyage you are on.

Then all players will decide on the character they wish to play simultaneously. Upon revealing them, they are placed on the island tracks in ascending order. If there are any ties, the player with the highest reputation shall place their card second.

Now It’s Time For The Characters To Act!

Starting from left to right, the characters chosen will activate a daytime power, should they have them. This may be gaining doubloons, taking loot tokens or making matters difficult for your opponents. Once the day has happened, the dusk phase happens, starting with the rightmost player.

If the character has a dusk power, it is activated and you take the character back to your ship, along with one of the loot tokens available for the day.

This will also activate if it has a dusk power, such as the sabre. Finally, dusk turns into night and any night-time powers from characters in your ship will trigger. These will trigger every time you enter the night phase on your voyage, so keep these in mind! Once you have completed every day (and night) of your voyage, you have returned to shore.

One last set of powers to activate, the anchor powers. Then count up the doubloons you have and add them to your treasure chest by setting the dials. Return every tile to the bag and discard all characters played to the graveyard (unless you have an ability that says otherwise, of course!)

Two more voyages will follow, with six more characters drawn into the hand, new loot placed out and doubloons gained. At the end of the third voyage, count up your money and the highest total wins.

Final Thoughts

I watched a playthrough of the original Libertalia on TableTop a while ago, and I was intrigued. Unfortunately, it was widely unavailable so I waited a long while in the hopes it might come up. Recently I discovered it on Board Game Arena, which is a significant part of the story of how the second edition came to be, and I enjoyed the gameplay but there were a few issues I had.

All of them have been swept aside by the revised edition. The reputation track tidies up the slightly clunky ranking system and gives an excellent catch-up mechanism which I’m a fan of (as discussed here!) I love the feel of the new tiles and the wonderful artwork builds a delightful world which I think is a much nicer feel than the older one.

I don’t normally enjoy the “Take That” mechanism. Also, I find it confrontational when people have decided to spend their time playing with me, but in this game, it works incredibly well with the theme, so everyone knows what to expect. The tactical decisions you make are based on almost complete information. You know what characters your opponent has, how much money they have and what loot items are available.

The only thing you don’t know is what order the cards will come out, and let’s be honest, you’ll forget what cards were in hand at the start of the voyage. Not for a lack of studying them, of course. Lamaro Smith has created something wonderful, and I can’t wait to explore it some more. And at the end of the day, you have a delightful insert to store your game in. A treasure chest if you will. And this game deserves it.

Looking for a swash-buckling adventure? If for any reason you’d rather go alone, Libertalia has got you covered. Libertalia (designed by Paolo Mori) is becoming one of my favourite games of all time, it’s so simple but with so many opportunities to try and create synergy with your shipmates and loot. You also have additional tactics as you know your opponents’ cards as well (not that has ever benefited me because that’s a lot of things to think about). I also love the artwork, I know it’s been polarising compared with the original 2012 edition, but I think the character cards shine and it has a very clear and cute aesthetic. Understandably, a lot of people prefer the gritty graphics of the original but I think the new aesthetic is cohesive and captures the imagination well.

With the recent reprint of Libertalia, Stonemaier Games has also provided a new Automa for solo play, which is what this review will cover. I’m quite new to the concept of solo board games but I’m really enjoying it. It’s great for when I’m desperate to play a game but can’t gather enough people.

Before Setting Sail

You place the Automa tiles at the bottom (the hook and saber have been replaced here, it’s a bit different for the stormy side of the board, where there’s a specific Automa tile for Barrel and Amulet). The reputation tokens are randomly placed with yours and the Automa’s tokens placed in the third and fourth spot. The loot tiles are randomly selected as usual but with three tiles. One is for the Pilferer who is separate to the Automa.

I’ve laid out the tiles in a specific way based on the priority the Automa and Pilferer take loot. This is shown on the Player Aid, with Chest being the best and Relic being the worst. You learn the order very quickly and what is classified as ‘good’ and ‘average’ loot. The loot for each day determines what card the Automa will play.

Then there’s the Automa/Pilferer deck, where you reveal six cards from the deck and you take the matching six cards from your hand (like in a regular game). There are a number of symbols and numbers on the back of the Automa/Pilferer deck (below shows the Pilferer orientation, when upside down it’s Automa) which looks confusing but also makes sense quickly. The symbols refer to the current day’s loot, for example, if there are two bad (relic) loot tokens then Automa would play the second card from the left with a canon symbol. If there was a good (hook/map/chest) loot token and a bad token, Automa would play the third card from the right.

The Pilferer is simpler. During a game of Libertalia, you flip over the top card of the Pilferer deck and play it on the island. This adds an element of uncertainty as any of the other ranks can come up. However Pilferer doesn’t gain coins, use abilities or gain loot tokens, it simply removes a loot from the day’s findings. You and the Automa can’t impact it either, it’s just there to remove loot (and make it less likely for you to get what you want). The Pilferer gives a bit of variety to the loot you can take and adds an element of randomness as it can play any other rank card in the deck and you have to be prepared for your carefully laid plans to potentially go awry.

So a turn would go:

  • You choose your character and place it on the island
  • You flip the top card of the Pilferer deck and place it on the island
  • Based on the loot tiles and newly revealed back of the top card of the deck, Automa plays their card
  • After ordering the cards by rank you resolve day time abilities left to right. For some characters, if Automa’s ability doesn’t trigger, it can move to a new rank. For example, if the Bandit’s ability doesn’t trigger it moves from rank 6 to rank 21.
  • Resolve dusk abilities right to left with characters being placed on ships and receiving loot. The Pilferer card and loot is discarded. Loot is taken based on the priority list (unless stated otherwise).
  • Night time abilities are resolved

This is repeated with each voyage and coins are earned and stashed in the treasure chest. Each voyage lasts a day longer than the previous and six more character cards are added (and combine with characters not played in the previous voyage) until the end of the final voyage.

Anchors Away

Admittedly the instruction manual for the Automa is a bit confusing (maybe just me). An instant solution would be to have more images in the booklet but once you figure out how it’s supposed to work, it’s very intuitive, just like the regular game. If all characters survive the day phase (and no other shenanigans happen) then the loot is collected from right to left. In the below example, I’d get the chest, the Pilferer would throw the amulet away and the Automa would get the relic.

Like with the regular game of Libertalia, there are lots of ways to strategise how you’re going to get the best loot and if getting the best loot is even worth it. Should you instead prioritise getting shipmates with night time or anchor abilities? Will that score more in the end? There is no set answer to those questions in this game, but there’s definitely plenty to think about.

Something to be aware of about the Automa in Libertalia, is that it’ll normally play it’s highest ranking cards (which makes sense), I thought I could get away with using my lower ranking cards to win when the Automa had already used a lot of their higher ranking cards but it was a no. Reputation doesn’t matter as much here as ties are uncommon, sometimes I think it’s better to plummet your reputation as it gives you more coins each round.

Another note about Automa is that it likes money and will gain a boatload of money throughout the game. A lot of the regular character abilities are translated into gaining coins (which makes sense given that this is the likely outcome when playing against other people), which definitely makes the game more challenging. I was only playing on the regular difficulty (Automa starts on 0 coins) and I’ve only beat it twice (once sunny, once stormy).

This is what Automa’s ship will look like at the end of a voyage. Like the Automa abilities, the loot tokens will generally give Automa a lot of money (not as much on the stormy side) as it will always choose the money option (rather than saving a character with a hook or discarding a character with a saber). Then you score regularly from anchor abilities and loot. I think your strategy playing against Automa is different than other people as you have to be aware than Automa will gain a lot of money and is likely to pick a high ranking card. But it’s a great way to learn to play Libertalia in this style.

My ratings are higher for the multiplayer game as something I love about Libertalia is the player interaction and conflict created, which naturally there is less of in a solo mode. But the core gameplay (which works so well) is there and this mode is great for learning the characters and finding synergy between shipmates. For me, Libertalia is absolutely worth owning for many reasons (as it appeals to my tabletop preferences) and this Automa only adds value to the whole package.

 

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The fantastic artwork
  • High quality components
  • Balance of character powers
  • Speedy rounds
  • The revitalisation of a classic

Might not like

  • Not for fans of Take That