Originally Libertalia Confused me, i sat down to play it and I didn't know what to make of Libertalia Winds of Galecrest, maybe it was because its the last game of the evening and I was a bit tired and done, and maybe everyone else at the table was too.
Maybe it's because some of the decks were missing cards, which meant we couldn't fully randomise the draw. Heres where I take my hat off to Stonemaier, Jamey personally responded to my query about missing cards, and after some careful checking.. e.g. the othrr games we played that evening. Somehow the cards numebred 39 were in another box. I dont k ow how that happens, but needless to say the response and communication from Jamey was superb.
But even with that, maybe it's just not for us?
To learn the game we watched Watch It Played rules explanation, which meant we didn't need to refer to the rulebook that much. I say that with a caveat as although we had the core rules down, there were multiple times when it felt like we just couldn't get to grips with the rules. And I guess that's why multiple plays to reach a judgement is key. After 3 plays, I feel like I've finally got it, finally got to grips with it. But I feel like I haven't and can't move past my opening thoughts after my first play.
Libertalia is a simultaneous action a.k.a. card selection game, in which you'll be choosing which one of your crew you'll be sending on that days sailing adventure. Every player starts with a hand of identical cards and you'll be secretly playing one facedown before they are revealed and then resolved, with the lowest numbered cards activating first in the day phase, but the higher number cards activating first in the dusk phase and ultimately claiming that precious loot first too! Before returning to their ships for the night phase, this is completed several times during a round (known as a voyage), after which more cards are added to player's hands, but this is where the game steps it up as players begin to forge different paths, as everyone will likely have increasing different hands of cards as the rounds progress. Although you'll all add the same cards to your hands, you'll hold onto some from the previous rounds, leading to what can only be described as mayhem!
That opening hand of cards each and every game, has felt like no little to no options, relying on us to have things e.g. loot or characters in ships to make use of and that's where I'm struggling. I feel like there needs to be some sort of way to mitigate this, yes you could set opening hands but then I feel like the complaint would be about variability and replay ability. Its a double edge sword and I guess that's why Libertalia feels like a game of two halves, a game that misses for me that initial hook, and if you're willingly to see if through, you're rewarded with this game that continues to evolve each and every game.
I played the original Libertalia, some 7 or 8 years ago and what I remember most was the feeling of sitting there a bit lost and not sure what was happening. I feel like Libertalia: Winds of Gale Crest goes some way to make it more accessible, more welcoming and maybe that's what the opening hand is for, to ease you in. And I guess that's the challenge of any game, to ease you in and bring you back for multiple plays. I'm not sure if Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest hits the mark on that front, rather it attempts to lure you in with its production values, artwork and hope you'll see it through to the good stuff!
Ultimately, across our plays the open hand felt always, I'm not sure how else you'd describe it kinda meh! And I think can make or break a game for some, while the later voyages, warm you up to what only can be described as a warm toasty ending, like sitting round a camp fire with friends.
As Instragram followers will know, I score games on a scale that tries to capture all the different ways we consume games e.g. conventions, online platforms, game cafes, or those of us that just collect. So on a scale of: buy or play, wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ, Avoid!
I'll give Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest a firm, wait for sale or play if you like games such as Citadels, Mission Red Planet, Colt Express.
Published by Stonemaier Games
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Libertalia to review, but I wasn't paid for this content.