Designed by K.C. Schrimpl | Published by Lost Boy Entertainment
2-6 Players | 40-120 Minutes
Take command of your fleet, upgrade your ship and sail the 7-seas in search of fortune, islands to conquer and glorious battles to engage in this highly-produced, family-style, area-control, adventure game.
In Plunder, all players begin with a single ship with 3 crew members (lives). The game board, full of random islands to conquer, is divided into 6 square, doubled sized pieces allowing for a unique layout each game. The outside of the board features a grid acting as a nautical chart used in many of the game’s functions.
Players are given a “home” island and then proceed to take turns rolling dice and moving their ship that number of places. The winner of the game is the first player to achieve 10 “Plunder Points.” Plunder points are achieved in a variety of ways including number of ships in your fleet, islands conquered and plunder cards earned.
During a turn, the active player draws a resource card thens rolls the dice and sails that number of spaces across the ocean board. As your ship travels there are a number of interactions that can take place. Players may attack and conquer and island, battle an enemy ship, conduct resource trades or hunt for treasure.
As you gather resources during the game you’ll be able to add additional ships to your fleet, purchase cannons for battle, masts for additional movement, more crew (life) or trade in a certain amount for plunder point cards.
Battle during the game (whether attempting to conquer an island or with another ship) works relatively the same way. Players roll the dice along with their opponent (enemy ship or island) and the highest total is declared the winner. You’re able to receive additional dice value as you add cannons to your ship. Depending on the size of the island, it may require higher die rolls to conquer.
Players may also search for buried treasure. A number of X’s sit arbitrarily across the board. When your ship lands on one of these spaces you get to draw a treasure card. Unfortunately, these treasure cards aren’t always positive. They range from gathering multiple resources to additional ship upgrades or negatively in a loss of resources or crew.
Another feature of the game is a roaming storm that moves about the board. Getting caught in the storm will require you to spend resources to escape.
Players may also dock at a merchant island and participate in trade with the market or other players.
The real star of Plunder: A Pirates Tale is the amazing production quality of this game. The miniature boats are made of a heavy plastic that feel great in your hand. All the ship upgrades are high quality and a real pleasure to attach to your ship. The crew figures, though glorified pins, are even crafted with a small pirate hat. The dice are beautiful and the graphic design across the board is fantastic. Even the game’s old school spinners used to navigate treasure and the storm to new spots on the board look and feel great. I can’t think of too many games that match this level of component quality.
Along with designing railroads and fighting zombies, sailing with pirates has to be one of the most desired adventures scenarios in the board gaming world. There are tons of pirate games out there and the mechanisms vary widely. In Plunder, the game play is definitely more on the basic side. You’re essentially picking up your ship and moving around the board deciding your own path. While the treasure cards provide a bit of narrative and adventure, you’re basically at the mercy of the dice. Upgrading your ship can give you an advantage, but a poor roll and all those advantages disappear.
Despite the rum resource, Plunder is meant for a younger gaming audience. It’s easy to learn and start playing. While a 4-player game forces you to come up with more creative ways to gather plunder points, the additional players can extend the game time considerably. In my 4-player game, we shortened the winning plunder points from 10 to 7. This helped, but we were definitely losing my youngest towards the end of the game. If you’re not directly affected by another player’s turn (battle, etc.) it can seem like a long time between turns. I would definitely recommend Plunder for families with older pre-teens and who are enticed by the game’s theme.