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Quick, Simple Fun: High Society

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Play and Pass

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Flashback Friday - Merchants & Marauders - Love It or hate It? Do You Still Play It?

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19 Jul 2019 09:31 - 19 Jul 2019 10:32 #299831 by ubarose
Merchants & Marauders is considered by many to be the...

Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

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Last edit: 19 Jul 2019 10:32 by ubarose.

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19 Jul 2019 10:10 #299832 by the_jake_1973
Still hits the table frequently. The expansion added so much to the game that it is hard for me to justify pfaffing about with a different pirate game. The ship to ship combat was tough for some of my group to come to grips with, but it never fails to provide the drama that a player is looking for.

This game is tops in my group.
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19 Jul 2019 10:41 #299838 by ubarose
I agree that the expansion really added a lot to the game. Although, we really haven't played it in a long time. The big hurtle for us is teaching it to new players. It feels like it takes almost as long to teach it as it does to play it.

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19 Jul 2019 10:42 #299839 by quozl
We play this a lot as a family when we want a long game to play. My wife and daughter are always merchants so I always play the pirate.
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19 Jul 2019 10:44 #299842 by Gary Sax

ubarose wrote: I agree that the expansion really added a lot to the game. Although, we really haven't played it in a long time. The big hurtle for us is teaching it to new players. It feels like it takes almost as long to teach it as it does to play it.


Combined with being pretty unforgiving.

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19 Jul 2019 10:46 - 19 Jul 2019 10:47 #299843 by charlest
I've played Xia, Firefly, Dungeon Degenerates, Fallout, Talisman, Outer Rim, Journeys in Middle Earth, Discover: Lands Unknown, Runebound, Arkham Horror 3rd/2nd/Eldritch, Empires of the Void II, Western Legends, City of Kings, Fallen Land, Grimslingers, and more.

My top adventure game list would look like this:

1. Merchants & Marauders
2. Dungeon Degenerates
3. Western Legends

The caveat being that I have not played Xia with the expansion, which I hear fixes my few complaints and would probably boost it into here somewhere.

M&M is just too damn good. I really enjoy the high stakes ship to ship combat - and even find the heavier weight of it appropriate for the amount that occurs in the game. The two dimensions of pirate vs. merchant are well rounded. Ship upgrades and new ships are wonderful.

The game also has a very unique feeling of truly being alive. This occurs through the event deck + missions + rumors combo. I really love how nations can go to war and I was hoping for some similar presence of war in Outer Rim.

The expansion is great also, as already mentioned (I personally love the Spanish treasure ship which lets me replay Black Sails in my head).

I do think it's a bit too long, and we usually play to 8 glory if we're not in the mood for a full 2.5-3 hour game. I also prefer it at 3 players to 4.
Last edit: 19 Jul 2019 10:47 by charlest.
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19 Jul 2019 13:39 - 19 Jul 2019 13:41 #299856 by Josh Look
I hate this game and I never liked it enough to give the expansion a chance, so I can’t and won’t ever speak to that. So much about the base game doesn’t work for me.

The game offers you the choice to be a merchant or a pirate, but the captains really rope you into a playstyle. While any other game of this type also has captains with special powers that lend well to a playstyle, those other games tend to have other options for victory. M&M just has the two, and that illusion of choice has always bothered me. Sure, you could play against type but why?

The AI ships do not work. I’ve managed to play at least a dozen games of M&M at 4 players, not once have I seen them do anything other than be an obstacle you sail around.

The combat system is AWFUL. The rest of the game is pretty easy and intuitive, but here’s this bullshit, convoluted mess of a system that really does the game a huge disservice. Sure, it has lots of options and details, but none them work towards making the game fun. Completely unnecessary, could have been done much better.

It’s also really picky about player count. You need 4, full stop. Anything less is a noticeably more boring, dry experience. Other games of this type tend to play not as well with 4, so there’s that.

It’s pretty and it’s about pirates, but the gameplay is bland and uninspired, and this was true even when it came out.
Last edit: 19 Jul 2019 13:41 by Josh Look.
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19 Jul 2019 13:44 #299858 by dysjunct
I'm in the camp that vastly prefers Black Fleet. 90% of the fun in 25% of the time, and little or no rules overhead annoyance.

Preferring M&M at this point feel like preferring the extended director's cut of the Lord of the Rings movies. Sure, it's an epic experience I guess, especially if you like watching people hike. Or sail in this case.
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19 Jul 2019 13:53 #299860 by Josh Look
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19 Jul 2019 14:29 - 19 Jul 2019 14:29 #299862 by ubarose
Black Fleet is pretty much a perfect game.
Last edit: 19 Jul 2019 14:29 by ubarose.
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19 Jul 2019 16:28 #299871 by ChristopherMD
I actively dislike Black Fleet's art style.

M&M is discussed on this site every couple months either by itself or using it as a benchmark to compare similar-type games to. It's never gone off the radar and probably never will. It is a masterpiece work among board games.
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19 Jul 2019 16:34 #299873 by dysjunct
I am not crazy about BF's art either. There seems to be a similar style across a lot of French games.

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19 Jul 2019 19:52 #299882 by Michael Barnes
I’m in the pro-Black Fleet camp. It’s just the tighter, more concise game. Although M&M is definitely a good one, and it is the most comprehensive pirate game out there. It really does a lot, especially with the expansion.
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20 Jul 2019 16:17 - 20 Jul 2019 17:05 #299893 by Jackwraith
In semi-contrast, I'm in the pro-M&M camp. I get what people are saying about Black Fleet's tighter design and I agree with them. I enjoy it, too. But when I'm playing a game about being a pirate, I want the chrome that M&M brings. I want there to be those flavorful rules that may seem a little fussy but give your adventure game a storytelling experience. No one ever says "Remember that Black Fleet game where X happened and then Y happened and we were all like OMG?" People say that about games like Talisman and Runebound and M&M because that chrome is there to help create those memorable games. Josh's point about the captains enforcing a playstyle is valid, but if you want variety in approach, you can always pick different captains from game to game. It's also not ironclad. I've tread the middle line between pirate and merchant MANY times and won because I was an opportunist, which is exactly what a merchant/privateer/pirate often had to be in those days. That said, Gary's point about the unforgiving nature of combat is certainly true. There might have been a way to make things a bit easier to stay in the game.

I don't play it much anymore, but I will likely never part with it.
Last edit: 20 Jul 2019 17:05 by Jackwraith.
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22 Jul 2019 07:48 #299913 by Legomancer
I like M&M but Black Fleet, Xia, and Western Legends have fired it, along with perennial fave Merchant of Venus. The combat is just so janky and lethal that the other games end up being more fun.

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