February 23, 2017 by deltagamegirl22
Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me…
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to play through a production sample of British VS Pirates, which is out on Kickstarter right now – and WOW! This game has blown me away!
British VS Pirates is a tabletop wargame/boardgame by Apollo Randall and delivers a truly wonderful gaming experience. In each game, players will choose sides, and the number of players will determine the number of ships and size of the sea tiles used to populate the game.
As a die hard pirate fan, I had to play the Pirates, and Gianna assumed the role of the British.
Setting Up Your Game
In a two player game you first set the size of your game by placing the sea tile with the Wind Vane on it in the centre, and then each player chooses one additional tile to place on either side of it.
The next task is choosing two ships and a captain for each of those ships. This is no easy task, not because it’s necessarily difficult, but more because each ship is more beautiful than the one before and it’s hard to choose!
I know I mentioned in my previous article about the game how much I love the art direction of this game, but I’m going to say it again. The art is absolutely stunning and really breathes life and character into the game. But back to choosing…
Let’s start with ships, which are represented by beautifully illustrated ship cards and corresponding miniatures. Each ship offers unique pluses and minuses for you to look at when setting up for a game. The stats are different on each one, from the strength of its hull to its speed and weapons.
The weapons themselves don’t change, but the range at which they are useful certainly does. Each ship kind of has its “sweet spot,” where you have a greater chance of success with the number of die you get to roll.
Like this didn’t already give you enough to consider, you now have to choose a captain for each of your ships and this works in the same manner. Each captain offers unique stats and bonuses specific to the type of ship they are commanding, including Crew Morale, Grapple and Repel stats.
As in many games, you can certainly use any captain with any ship, but there are obvious benefits to looking for the synergies offered with the right combos.
Right out of the gates, you kind of have to consider what kind of approach you want to take with the game. Are you an up close and personal fighter that wants the swashbuckling excitement of attempting to Grapple onto the opposing ships, or are you the kind of captain that prefers a big ship that can keep a safe distance and fire away at the enemy?
I went for swashbuckling all the way as I chose a ship with midrange stats for shooting and a zebec for fast running and boarding parties. Gianna had a different approach and took one big ship with great distance shooting stats and a sloop for fast running and manoeuvrability.
Choices, Choices, Choices!
After choices are made, players set up the hull points with D6′s showing the appropriate values and another in in the centre as your primary structure points.
Your captain card gets a D6 with the reflected Crew Morale total. All of these stats will change throughout gameplay as you take damage or make repairs. Your ship will suffer specific consequences for losing their hull buffers as you take damage.
You may find yourself unable to pivot, or unable to shoot – either of which can be very fast game changers (or enders!).
The last game influence to remember is that each player has a Skill Card deck. These feature four different kinds of cards…
- Green = Speed
- Yellow = Defense
- Red = Attack
- Blue = Special
These cards are interrupts that provide buffers for whichever player is using them. It might be additional damage points, it might be a repair for your hull, or it might be to change the direction of the wind!
After all that is settled, it’s time to get into some gameplay.
Fire The Cannons!
The game has a really awesome wild card aspect to it with the influence of the wind. Your ships will always operate under the influence of the wind, whether it be good or bad.
You may find yourself being able to move further with the wind at your back, or be moving hopelessly slow when travelling into it – and of course, this can all change at a moment’s notice when the wind switches.
To start the game, players roll off and the winner gets to either choose the direction of the wind or play first. On a given turn, a player will activate all of their ships and then your opponent will do the same. Each turn consists of a Movement and Attack action.
They can be done in either order, but cannot be broken up. A pivot is included in your movement action and can be performed at either the beginning or end of your move. An attack can be either firing cannons at an opposing vessel or an attempt to grapple onto the opposing ship.
If successful, either option accomplishes damage to your opponent. A firing attempt will do damage to whichever side of the ship is subjected to the attack and damage will be reflected in the D6 die for that side. Obviously, the sooner you take out the defences on a ship’s sides, the faster you can get damage through to the ship’s internal structure, which is what ultimately sinks a ship.
A grapple attempt approaches damage from a different perspective and when successful, depletes a captain’s Crew Morale stat and delivers one damage directly to the internal structure die.
I learned very quickly that my firing stats were not very effective against the British vessels that were in play, but my boarding parties were very successful!
However (and this is a big however), my grapple attempts combined with Gianna’s superior range for firing left me taking hull damage CONSTANTLY. In the end, the British reigned victoriously and the Pirates ended up in Davy Jones’ Locker – but we had a hell of a good time playing.
What Did We Think?
Both of us thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay for different reasons. Gianna felt that the game had a great “historical” feel to it and great elements of strategy, where I really enjoyed the character and cinematic feel to gameplay (as well as plenty of reasons to dress and talk like a pirate!).
We did find ourselves wishing the size of the playable sea was a bit larger, but it’s easy to understand why it’s limited. The smaller area ensures that players get stuck into battles rather than too much dancing around each other without conflict.
The Kickstarter is already funded with time left for gamers to come on board (ship humour) and Apollo has announced that the Spanish will be joining the ranks for playable ships and captains as well – so stay tuned for more on that.
At the end of the day, this is a brilliant game that is not overly complicated, and can be enjoyed by every level gamer can I can’t wait to play more.
Will you be getting on board with the British vs. Pirates Kickstarter?
"The art is absolutely stunning and really breathes life and character into the game..."
"Apollo has announced that the Spanish will be joining the ranks for playable ships and captains as well - so stay tuned for more on that..."