Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Steam Pirates


Elad Goldsteen
Pini Shekhter

Golden Egg Games

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Manual Esser writes about the game:

The pirates are coming

Be honest: Even if you don't have an eye patch (I think you don't) and you still have all your extremities (I hope you have), I am pretty sure that there are moments in which you want to set sail. It is a dream about reaching foreign lands, looking for wine and women and raiding the one or the other city, isn't it? If you can pull the authorities over the barrel at the same time, so much the better. I hope you don't care if all that does not take place in the baroque period but in a fictional SteamPunk world... In the game I am talking about, two factions fight against each other in a Steam Punk world called Materia. On the one hand, there is a mighty Pirate Syndicate, a business-oriented association of different pirates trying to gain as much influence as possible and on the other hand, there is the good old British Empire.

The game is called Steam Pirates from GOLDEN EGG GAMES. Two to four players take the role of a pirate lord competing against each other. The game is not cooperative, although all pirates in the British Empire where the game takes place have a common enemy. But of course a pirate remains a pirate - each pirate tries to outdo the other in the accumulation of wealth. For this, we build up and expand our networks to get access to a lot of places. There are four major types of goods in the game: coal, rum, firearms and automatons. It's the players' goal to open up new markets, to ship and sell the resources and by this earn as much gold as possible.

Every round begins with the roll of several dice. One by one the players take a dice in their turns until all of them are dealt. Each die has different symbols representing the possible actions in that round. Since there are seven dice, not every player has the same number of turns in a round, which can be a disadvantage, so that it is always good to have an early turn.

This turn in Steam Pirates consists of two seperate steps: firstly, the player can sail (optional), and after that she or he performs the action of the die he chooses, which is mandatory. On the board you can sail from one island to another. You are allowed to fly over up to four connected islands in a turn, but always, you harbour on the last island of your flight. And for every island you have flown over, you have to pay a fee of one gold. There is only one exception from this rule: if you begin your flight in wind direction, then the first island you cross is for free. After entering a harbour, the main action takes place. Then it is time to choose a die and perform the matching action. Basically, you can distinguish three action types: an Official Action, an Establish Action and a Profit Action. Let`s see what' s that all about:

In the Official Action, you can again distinguish three different options. With that action you bribe an official , of course the player has to pay a bribe sum for that. But as a reward he immediately receives victory points and this is definitely the easiest way to score. Instead of receiving the victory points, you can also interact with one of the available officials to use his or her indidividual ability. If however the official has already been bribed before and you don't want the victory points, the action becomes more powerful and is called the bribed official action. This actions either gives advantages to you or disadvantages for your opponents, mainly by slowing them down. For example, a bribed official action might help you overcoming an embargo or you would have to pay one coin less for further bribes.

The second action type is called the Established action in which an individual fee of the port has to be paid. As a result a trading house can be built up. In addition, you can increase your marker of the corresponding trade track, which gives you a higher multiplier for the final victory points.

Finally, players can perform a Benefit Action. With that action you collect all previously acquired goods from the trading houses of your network and convert them into gold. It is important to note once again that all these actions can only be performed if a corresponding die is available. In addition to the options mentioned before, pirates can also visit smaller treasure islands to discover parts of a treasure map that will give them additional victory points.

When choosing your flight route, you must also keep an eye on the two flagships of the Pirate Queen and the British Empire. Both trading ships cause trouble, in form of an embargo, respectively a blockade in their current whereabouts. In the embargo the specific good of the island is excluded from the profit action. Thus, you cannot use goods from the besieged islands of that type. On the other hand, during a blockade, the trading houses on the islands cannot be used, they are cut off from the network of the players.

As you can see, there are many actions that further can be influenced by the moves of enemy pirates as well as the flagships. In a four-person game, Steam Pirates is a very balanced game. Very different approaches can lead to victory. Do you collect only one or two types of goods with a high multiplier, or is it better to have many different goods, so you can always use the profit action, even if an emborgo takes place? Despite or even because of this different approaches, the suspense is maintained until the final pay off, and it's hard to tell which pirate is currently in the lead. The game board and the other components are detailed and skillfully designed. Despite of the partly inartfully expressed game rules, we had a lot of fun with Steam Pirates. Open questions after the first read of the rules were quickly answered from the course of the game. Thus, after a first test run, the following games played fluently and the gameplay was much faster and the feeling more intensive. Of course this increased the fun factor enormously. I can recommend Steam Pirates to anyone who likes the Steam Punk atmosphere and wants to take advantage of other pirates in the fights. So, anchor up and grapple hooks ready!

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