In Port Royal, players compete as swashbuckling merchants in the Caribbean, pushing their luck to the limit! This is a card game from designer Alexander Pfister, and published by Pegasus Spiele. For a small-box card game, there are a pleasant amount of options and strategies to take. It’s what we’ve come to expect from Alex Pfister.
Port Royal comes with 120 double-sided cards. Cards, when face-down, represent players’ money. Players take turns to be the active player, and turn over cards (face-up) to form a public ‘harbour’. They can turn over as many cards as they like. The more cards they turn over, the better chance they have of getting one they want. Also, the more unique coloured ships they reveal, the more cards they can buy from those turned over. But if they ever turn over two ships of the same colour, they go bust and get nothing…
Once they’ve stopped revealing, the active player picks which card they want. Robbing ships provides coins (represented by cards face-down, from the deck). People cards are worth varying points. They also provide ways to get discounts, repel unwanted ships, or providing goods, among others. The expedition cards are worth big points. They require a player swap in people cards with the corresponding goods for a juicy profit.
Players pay for cards with ‘coins’ they earned in previous turns. After the active player’s picked their card to join their tableau, the other players can each buy one. The catch is, they have to pay the active player one coin on top of the card’s price/prize.
As the active player, it’s also worth pushing your luck to turn over more cards. Why? So they appeal to your opponents and you earn more cash, of course! Just be careful you don’t allow them in to win by hitting the 12-points victory threshold…
Alexander Pfister is better known for his ‘bigger’ games (Great Western Trail, Blackout: Hong Kong, and Maracaibo). Port Royal is a superb, smaller game that fits in the under-45 minute bracket. The question remains: Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, pirate?
Player Count: 2-5 players
Time: 20-50 minutes