Maracaibo, by Capstone Games, sits in the upper-weight bracket of medium-heavy strategy offerings. Designer Alexander Pfister is well known for his brilliant use of dovetailing mechanisms. (Great Western Trail, Mombasa, Blackout: Hong Kong, to name but a few.) If you’re a Pfister fan, then Maracaibo joins the ranks as another corker of a Euro-style game!
Maracaibo takes place in 17th century Caribbean, with a nautical theme. Over the course of four rounds, you’ll try to earn as many points as possible. There’s a lot of different ways to achieve that – there’s strategies-galore! You can try to gain influence (stocks) in three different nations for end-game bonuses. You can go on quests, which provide narrative choices. You can progress along the ‘explore’ track for extra benefits. You can visit cities to deliver goods. You can shoot for a bit of everything, or focus one particular area. The game isn’t a total ‘sandbox’, though. You each start out with an individual objective cards. These offer incentives and an immediate target.
The heart of the game involves point-to-point movement. You’re sailing your ship through the Caribbean waters. On your turn you can progress between 1-7 spaces. This is like a rondel, in the same way Great Western Trail works. A round ends once any player completes a ‘lap’. That could either be rather quick if a player zooms round seven spaces at a time! Or it could be slower, if everyone’s trying to utilise every action space on the board.
Hand management plays a key role, too. There’s so many amazing multi-use cards that help you perform actions along the way. You also have a player board, which you can upgrade as the game progresses. There’s a solo mode available, as well as a story/campaign mode. Coming in at an approximate play time of 40 minutes per player, Maracaibo is a big game. But one thing’s for sure: it promises a different experience every time.
Player Count: 1-4 Players
Time: 60-150 minutes