Title: Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
Designed By: Paolo Mori
Art By: Lamaro Smith
Published By: 2022
Released: Stonemaier Games
Player Count: 1-6 Players
Time to Play: 45-60 Minutes
Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest is the Stonemaier Games re-make of the out-of-print game Libertalia. In Libertalia you are the admiral of a band of sky pirates, who set out to find the best treasure. This version features a fantastic solo mode, beautiful components (the loot tiles are just lovely), and a crew of 40 unique characters to play with.
What's purr-ty cool:
Mechanics: I absolutely love the simultaneous card selection and hand management mechanics of Libertalia. It is so eloquently designed to give players a limited number of choices, but still allow for a good amount of strategy. In Libertalia one player starts with their deck shuffled and all other players keep their decks in number order. The player with the shuffled deck draws their hand of cards and everyone else selects the same set of cards from their deck. This means that for round 1all players have the same cards to pick from. As the order of actions depend on the number card selected, players have to think about which cards are likely to get them to wind up in the draft order position that they wanted. For some cards going early is beneficial, for others, going later is more ideal as it means you get a better draft pick during the second phase. After the first day of the game, players will have a few cards remaining in their hand, these get set aside and then the player with the shuffled deck draws more cards and everyone adds those new cards to their hand of existing cards. This means that each day, decks start to look a little more different as characters do and do not get used by each player. With a deck of 40 different cards, there is a lot of variability here. It is a lot of fun to think about what order to use cards in order to maximize what you get from them. In a way it reminds me of trick-taking merged with drafting.
Easy to Teach: Libertalia is heavier than your average light-weight game, but it is definitely simple enough to teach to newer gamers. I brought Libertalia on vacation with me and was able to teach it to a group of people who do not regularly play modern board games in about 15 minutes. They quickly picked up on the rules and the strategy. The board's graphic design helps to remind player's of what happens each turn. The color-coding system also makes it easy to remember which loot is more valuable. Libertalia is a game that can be enjoyed by new gamers and frequent gamers a like. There is plenty of strategy you can employ, but players have a limited number of choices to pick from based on the size of their hands. It is also helpful that for the first round all players have the exact same starting hand. This can allow experienced players to talk through strategy tips with new players without revealing any information they shouldn't know.
Art and Components: So I have heard a lot of mixed things about people's feeling with the direction of the art in the new version of Libertalia. While I do love the old pirate art, I think the new art is perfect for the weight of the game. It is eye catching, bright, and creative. The bold colors make the game visually appealing. It was one of the reasons I had such a simple time getting my non-gamer friends to try it out. They were drawn in from the visuals, enough to decide to play the game. I am personally a fan of anthromophic animals and I enjoyed the whimsical cast of characters that made up my ship's crew. Regarding the components, Libertalia has chunky loot tiles, nifty treasure chest score trackers, a nice inset board.
Solo Mode: Just a quick note on this. I play a lot of solo games, so when one has a great solo mode I always want to highlight it. The solo mode for Libertalia plays satisfyingly similarly to the multi-player version. Just like most Stonemaier games, it has an easy to upkeep AI that is nonetheless robust and challenging. If you are a solo gamer, this one is definitely a blast!
The cat's meow:
"If they ever make an expansion I think I would make an awesome purrr-ate!" - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.