Stefan Dorra





Pirates-games seem to be popular once again, and thus QUEEN GAMES has launched Stefan Dorra's Seeräuber in a temporal proximity to Um Ru(h)m und Ehre which hails under the Flag auf ALEA. Now both games have met on the high seas of the hard-fought games market, and it remains to be seen whose cannons are more powerful to prevail in the battle of domination…

Whereas Um Ru(h)m und Ehre is a boardgame with lots of counters and plastic figures, Seeräuber is a smaller game which comes with 15 ship cards, 25 Pirate tokens (5 Pirates of different values for each player), 24 small bounty counters (six of each kind) and some golden guineas. As playing preparation, each player receives his five Pirate tokens and ten guineas, whereas three of the ship cards are placed openly on the table after they have been shuffled. It will be these ship cards the players compete for, and each of these cards specifies how many pirates are needed to board the ship and how many guineas and bounty tokens may be plundered from it.

At the beginning of the game, each player has all of his pirates lined up before him, and now the players start taking turns in which they are allowed either to make a Pirate Move or to board a ship. When making a Pirate Move, the active player chooses one of his Pirates and puts it on top of an other player's Pirate, thus creating a Pirate stack (crew). In consecutive turns the player commanding the Pirate on top of such a stack may move his Pirate again, but at that time the whole crew below his Pirate will follow the move so that the stack swills as new Pirates are shanghaied. However, there also exist a few restrictions for Pirate Moves. Thus, a player is not allowed to put one of his Pirates on top of another of his Pirates, and furthermore a Pirate stack may neither be split up again or exceed a total size of 9 Pirates. Finally, a player never may check for the values of the Pirates which have become part of a crew, so that he only sees the colours of the Pirates but has to rely on his memory as far as their values are concerned.

As indicated, a player may also decide to board a ship, provided that he has one of his Pirates on top of a Pirate stack with a size equalling or exceeding the boarding value of one of the available ships. The player then may chose an appropriate ship, allowing him to collect the amount of guineas and the bounty token displayed on the ship card from the bank. The bounty token may directly be kept by the player, whereas the rest of the bounty must be used to pay the crew. Now the owner of each Pirate in the stack not belonging to the active player receives guineas for the participation of his Pirate according to the value printed on his Pirate. In this fashion the active player has to pay the other players, and if the plundered bounty from the ship does not suffice the player even will have to resort to his personal purse to pay everybody. Only if a player's purse is fully depleted, the (possible) rest of the participating player is paid by the bank.

Some special rules need to be observed in a boarding action as well. Thus, it is possible that a ship card displays not one but two bounty tokens, and in this case the active player is allowed to chose a token whereas the other token will go to the owner of the first crew member in the stack (the 1st Mate). Also interesting are the Pirates which have no fixed value printed on them but instead a question-mark. The value of such Pirates is determined by the ship card these Pirates board, and thus there are instances where such a Pirate is costly to use whereas he is rather cheap on other occasions. Finally, a crew which contains at least three crew members from one player may initiate a mutiny, forcing the player owning this stack to initiate a boarding action during his turn.

The cards of successfully boarded ships are removed from play, and all three initially revealed ships have to be boarded before a new set of three ship cards is revealed. The game ends when all 15 ships have been dealt with, and then the player with most guineas in his purse will have won. In the final evaluation, not only the hard currency comes to bear, but the players also can convert their bounty tokens into cash. There exist six tokens of each of the four kinds of bounty tokens, and the player who has collected most tokens of a kind will receive a reward for possessing these tokens, whereas all other players with tokens of that kind only receive one guinea for each token. If there is a draw, the reward will be equally split between the drawing players.

Following the sea battle with increasing interest, I watched the Seeräuber making a decisive tactical manoeuvre which allowed a position to release a devastating broadside on Um Ru(h)m und Ehre. Whereas Captain Stefan Feld relied on a high degree of luck to determine the outcome of Um Ru(h)m und Ehre, Commodore Stefan Dorra brought tactical skills to bear in Seeräuber. Although the game has less tonnage as far as rules volume, components and pricing are concerned, Seeräuber is more seaworthy since it offers a much more sophisticated, refreshing playing mechanism. The game features strategic and wagering elements alike, coupled with a demand of good memorization due to the fact that players who remember the composition of a Pirate stack may better decide whether the use of this stack turns out to be profitable. The game is very easy and fast to learn, and a round leaves the player hungry for more!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany