Congratulations to the creators of this game. Rarely seen so much play material in such a small box. A box of barely 17 by 11 cm that develops into a fully-fledged board game is quite special.
The players are pirates who try to bury 3 treasure chests on different islands. Perhaps not too stupid if you look at current gold prices.
The game board consists of a grid of 4 by 4 cards. Each player is given an overview card to store their gold and treasures on, and a card with a 6 pie slice on it. 5 of these are individual components that are shuffled and then placed randomly on the roundel. This represents 6 possible actions, so it will be different for each player. Your captain will come to anchor. On your turn, move the captain clockwise on the roundabout. This way you decide which actions you are going to perform. The goal: collect 12 or 13 gold pieces so that your treasure chest is full, and bury that treasure chest on an island where there is none yet. Repeat this 3 times and if you are the first to succeed, you are the winner.
The possible actions are: loot, trade, hire crew, attack, or explore.
When looting, your ship – each player has 1 ship departing from a safe harbor – must move to a card with a loot symbol. You may only move your ship as far as you have movement points. Depending on the map you land on, you may then draw 1 or 2 resources from a cloth bag. You place it in your ship, where there is room for 3 cubes.
In the trade action, you navigate to a card with a trade symbol for a certain resource, and there you may sell that resource for money. Once a resource has been sold, it returns to the bottom of the market and is only worth 1 gold. The most expensive resource earns you 4 gold.
The Crew Hiring action is simple: choose 1 of the 3 open crew cards and place it next to your roundel. You can hire up to 4 crew members. They provide you with bonus actions or benefits.
If you choose the attacking action, you will fight with the other players, or with the merchant ships that constantly sail from one corner of the game board to the other. Fighting is done with dice, and only those results shown on your captain’s card are hits. If you have extra crew, you have a better chance of hitting hits. The attacker wins if he is stronger than the opponent’s defense. In the event that the opponent is attacked, the player gains prestige, which gives him money, more fighting power, or further navigation. In case of loss, the winning side may take a cannon that he can use later if he himself falls short of attack power during an attack. If you win against a merchant ship, you get not only money but also the goods that the ship was carrying.
Finally, there’s the exploration of the action. On each card there is a binocular token, which you can turn over while exploring. It contains benefits such as gold and or an advantage in bad weather. A storm is depicted on certain maps. If you sail through this or end up with your boat on this, you will experience disadvantages.
The players start with 3 men at the bottom of the round. The man on the left gives you an extra movement point, the middle man gives you an extra cannon and the man on the right gives you a gold piece when you go around the roundel. If you choose to skip actions on your roundel with your captain, you must place a man there. The disadvantage is that you no longer have that extra skill. Once you come over or on a man with your captain, you can place it back at the bottom of your choice. This way you can make sure, if you feel like it, to put all 3 men next to your cannon so that you are very strong in combat.
If your captain passes the red line on the roundel, the 2 merchant ships will sail 1 square to the other side of the board. But the white ship – think of it as a kind of sheriff – then moves a certain number of steps closer to your ship, depending on how many treasures you still have to bury. If the white ship is on your map, you always lose. All your men at the bottom of the roundel will be on the far right. They stay there until you dock your ship in a safe harbor to put them back. An annoying thing that you definitely want to avoid! Once you have 12 or 13 gold pieces, try to bury a treasure chest as quickly as possible. You can do that with the reconnaissance action.
Tiny epic pirates are quite an extensive game, which you would not expect at first sight. The mechanism of the roundel is unique as it is different for every game and for every player. Actions you perform can trigger other actions, giving you a kind of domino effect of actions. And the miniature ships make the game visually appealing.
This game was donated by Gamelyn Games and can be played at Het Geel Pionnneke from November.
Tiny epic pirates are for sale at game magazine with a 10% discount for members.