Libertalia

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  • Designer: Paolo Mori
  • Players: 2-6
  • Playing time: 40-60 Min
  • Age: 14+
  • First Released: 2012

From the straits of Gibraltar to the sunny coves and sandy beaches of the New World, one word has been heard by every sailor: Libertalia. It’s a place where pirates can retire in safety, living out the rest of their lives without fear of mutiny or the hangman’s noose. No one knows if it’s real or not, but does it really matter? With enough money, anything can become real—even Libertalia. 

Libertalia is a game of loot, betrayal, and pirate adventure for two to six players. In the game, each player takes the role of a pirate captain approaching retirement. If you’re going to live out the rest of your days in peace, however, you’ll need to stockpile enough treasure to keep yourself safe. To that end, you’ve decided to embark on three more campaigns across the ocean, looting whatever you can. Unfortunately, you’re not the only pirate with retirement in mind. You’ll need to battle your opponents’ crews if you want to get the best treasure and avoid the cursed relics of the Inca.

A game of Libertalia takes place over three campaigns as you ravage the seas in search of treasure and doubloons that you can add to your hoard. At the beginning of each campaign, loot is laid out for six days: each day is a round of the game, and each day there are four loot tokens available to be claimed by you and your fellow pirates. 

There’s quite an assortment of loot for the taking, but not all of it is something you’d want. You can find chests, jewels, and goods, all of which are worth doubloons, but if your opponents take all the good loot, you may be forced to take a cursed relic which costs you doubloons. Treasure maps can yield a wealth of doubloons if you find a complete set, but otherwise, they’re worthless. You may take a saber token, which allows you kill a character controlled by an adjacent player. Alternatively, you may be left with a Spanish officer, who forces you to discard a character as you fight to take him hostage. 

Obviously, you want to get the best choice of the loot to claim the best tokens and avoid taking any penalties. To do this, you’ll need to play a character card from your hand. Each player starts the game with the same nine randomly-determined character cards. Which character card you choose to play each turn determines the order in which you’ll take loot tokens. These character cards also grant special abilities that you can use to undermine your opponents’ plans and claim the best loot for yourself.

At the beginning of each day in a campaign, you must secretly choose a character from your hand and place it facedown in front of you. When all players have chosen their characters, the cards are revealed and placed in order of their rank. The highest ranked characters get the first pick of the loot, but they also have to resolve their abilities last, meaning they can be undermined by other characters!

There are thirty unique characters in Libertalia, and each character’s ability adds another layer to the game. You might use the Monkey to deliver your cursed relics to another player or play the Spanish Spy to replace your Spanish officers with more valuable treasure. After you choose a loot token, if your character is still alive, he returns to your pirate den. Some characters only activate their abilities after they return to your den. For instance, as long as the Armorer is in your den, he grants you a doubloon every night for each of your saber loot tokens. Other characters only have an effect if they’re still alive at the end of a campaign. The Carpenter costs half of your money to play, but he gives you ten doubloons later—provided you can keep him alive in the face of the other players’ attacks!

At the end of the each campaign, you’ll discard all characters in your den and tally up your loot and doubloons. Then, six more character cards are chosen randomly and added to each players’ hand, and the next campaign begins! Whoever has the most doubloons at the end of three campaigns wins the game.