A game for 2 to 4 scurvy swabs
Game Design by Thorsten Löpmann and Andreas Wetter
Published by Hans im Glück
English Edition by Rio Grande Games
Price around GB£14.99
Corsairs gives it's players the opportunity to put on very bad Charles Lawton accents as they play pirates, scouring the seven seas in search of heavily laden merchantmen to plunder. This abstract card game could have used any scenario really but the pirate theme seems rather apt. Component quality is of the usual high standard associated with Rio Grande Games, with a 66 card action deck, thick cardboard galley cards, 4 game dice of natural wood and other game markers.
Game play is quite standard, with the players attempting to out-do their opponents in capturing merchant ships for points scoring. In order to capture a vessel you first have to jolly-up your crew with rum, bread, bananas and the like. These are represented by provision cards each target ship requiring a set number, perhaps of different colours before you can mount a boarding action. With four merchant ships in play throughout the game, with captured vessels replace from the stock, players can place up to three cards on their targets each turn from their hand. You could also place corsair cards, very handy for die roll modifiers when it comes to a boarding action. They can forfeit placement of a card in order to fire a broadside at their opponents, rolling special dice of different colour faces in an attempt to disrupt the provisions of other players on a ship you would like to target. You also have the option of trading a few cards from your hand with those in the discard pile if you are desperate for that bottle of rum.
Capturing merchants is where you earn your points. Put down all the provision cards that you need, roll two dice and add the strength of any of your corsairs present to try and match or beat the crew of the target. The problem is that your opponents can counterattack during your boarding action, with a free go (which I feel is too strong and unbalances the game) of placing up to three provisions on the target and also rolling dice so the player with the highest total wins. Play continues until the supply of merchants runs out then you score your points.
We played four and three player games of this during the summer with a mixed age range. The subject certainly appeals to the younger (esp. male) audience, but I'm not sure if the game has a high replay value. The box blurb specifically states that is especially good with 2 players and I think this is true. I can't shake the feeling you have here a two-player game that has been bulked out to four. I wouldn't rush out and buy this unless you do game sporadically with a younger audience, yet for your money I think you get good value. On a scale of 1 to 10, Corsairs gets a 6, 7 for our younger viewers.
Rules option? John recommends you are only allowed to add two cards when