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Black Fleet

Black Fleet Board Game

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Game Name
Asmodee Editions

Dastardly villains have captured the governor's daughter, and it's up to you to save her. Employ merchants to trade goods, or use your pirates to sink your enemies and steal their treasures. Barter or blast your way to victory!

In Black Fleet, players employ their pirates, merchants and occasionally, the Royal Navy to trade for gold, and sometimes just take it. Every turn you will play a movement card to determine where and how you can move, and what you can do when you get there. Swashbuckle your way across the Caribbean, and rescue the governor's daughter from the Black Fleet.

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Asshole Pirates
I don't think this is its own, unique game design.
Much like Agricola All Creatures Great and Small is a bit of quick streamlining of Agricola, I think this is just a distillation/new edition of Merchants & Marauders.

Perhaps Black Fleet would have been more aptly named: "Merchants & Marauders: Asshole Pirates".

Overall, it plays so similarly. Yet the art direction and the 'take that' element of the fortune cards demands more jovial participation than what its much more serious sibling asks of players.

I even played a game of Merchants & Marauders immediately afterwards so that I could see if memory was serving me well in how close they compared.

Asshole Pirates is a lot faster to play than its big brother as well.
Your fleet gets upgraded quicker, your fleet also jumps right back into the game faster, and resolution of actions happens in less than a minute per turn per player, usually.

Both games even suffer the same drawbacks, namely catch up for the guy in last place. Each game solves it with either house rules, or just putting on daddy pants and sucking it up.

However, the butthurt in Asshole Pirates is significantly less, since if say, your cap dies late game in Merchants & Marauders, then that's a much bigger downer than a pirate ransacking your merchant. You just can't take Asshole Pirates as seriously in order to muster that brand of aching butthurt.

I like how Merchants & Marauders plays, but considering all of the above, I'll take Asshole Pirates over it most days. It meets and satisfies my personal tastes so much more than Merchants & Marauders in nearly every way.

I wouldn't play this as often or rate this as highly as many of the mainstays in my carefully cultivated collection, yet it's a keeper that I think the community at large has criminally underrated. It's a compulsory bit of Nu-trash.
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Hilarious, cutthroat and beautiful on the table.
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Eight-Minute Merchants and Marauders. Maybe closer to 60 minutes, but that's still a lot shorter, with the same feel to it.
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(Updated: April 29, 2019)
Everyone loves Merchants and Marauders. It's just a great time. However, it can be long, and the combat can get fussy. You don't really want to play it with four.

Thankfully, Black Fleet is here to help you out. It's not M&M. It's far lighter, less narrative. But when you have a hankering to do some damage to another player's pirate fleet, and can't do M&M, it's right there. What's more, all players have two ships, so it's truly merchants AND marauders, not merchants OR marauders.

In addition, the way players spend money for upgrades, which also advances the game, makes the board situation more and more dangerous as it goes on. And this can unfold in different ways.

Black Fleet is a fun, light game with a lot of smack-around. It's not M&M but will definitely do in a pinch.
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