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Posted on Jan 6, 2008 in Boardgames, Front Page Features

The Kaiser’s Pirates – Game Review

By Brandon Neff

Certain action cards allow you to board the enemy ship, claiming it as a prize ship. A prize ship is potentially worth double the victory points! Submarines, mines and raiders are also prominent. Raiders must be recognized before they may be intercepted and certain action cards allow for this. At the end of the turn, any merchant ships removed from play, either sent to the bottom or granted safe passage, are replaced from the merchant deck. Once the round is over, points are awarded based upon Victory Point totals.Thus each round is only worth a set amount of points and the game is close until the last round is over.

The solitaire version is where this game really shines. The solitaire deck imitates the decisions of a phantom player, leaving virtually no difference between the solitaire and multi-player game. This point alone makes this game worth every penny. When you attack the phantom player’s ships, you draw a solitaire card and roll a 4-sided die and inspect the top half of the solitaire card. Half of the time the phantom player will have a special response for your attack, similar to playing an action card. The other half of the time there is no response.

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When the phantom player begins the turn, a solitaire card is drawn and a 4-sided die is rolled. This result is compared to the bottom half of the solitaire card which determines the offensive actions taken by the phantom player. If a 1 is rolled or a 3 or 4 is rolled and the action lists (ET) after it, the turn ends after the action is completed. If a 2 is rolled, the phantom player will intercept your ships. Another card is drawn to determine any special actions taken by the phantom player. If the special action section is blank, continue with the intercept. If a special action is listed, another card is drawn and so forth until no special action is listed.

At this point ALL of the special actions listed will take effect, similar to a real player laying down several action cards to enhance an intercept. If the intercept cannot occur, for example, the intercept involves a raider and the phantom player does not possess a raider, the turn ends. At the end of the phantom turn, the solitaire deck is reshuffled and an action card is drawn and discarded. The round ends when the last action card is drawn, just as in the multi-player game.

Replay

This game was played twice for the review. Once as a two player game and once as a solitaire game. What I found most impressive was the fact that there was very little difference in both games. The phantom player in the solitaire game was just as ruthless and clever as a real opponent.

Each game was completed in just under two hours and there was very little reference to the rules, due in large part to the excellent design of the cards. The game never felt excessively slow, although there was more work involved during the solitaire game. I’m happy to report that I was the victor in each game, although it was in doubt until the end of the last round in each game.

Overall Impression

There is a certain element of luck involved in this game but managing your cards and biding your time are much more a determining factor in victory. The replayability is high because of the fog of war created by removing cards from the action deck. Each round plays out differently and even if you have a spectacular round, you might not win the game. Both multi-player and solitaire games are exciting and surprisingly similar. It is incredibly rare to find a solitaire game that accurately portrays a game as though another player was present. If you often get the cravings for a challenging game but are unable to find a willing opponent, look no further. The Kaiser’s Pirates has my highest recommendation. [gallery:117]

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