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Plunder Board Game Review

Updated: Apr 20

This game was a literal blast. Pirates. Sabotage. Booty. What else can you ask for in a board game? I sat down with a group of four friends who I really wanted to stab in the back, and it did not disappoint. While it can be a bit basic/lucky, this was was a solid competitive game to play with friends, and was pretty easy to figure out for our first go at it.


The very first thing I noticed was the pieces for the ships. They are very well made, hella cute, and have seven slots on them. We found out (very) quickly that these slots are for two cannons, two masts, and three health bars. Each cannon makes your ships attack rolls go up by one, and each mast let you move an extra space for free. This was a pretty quick way to identify which ships were low on health, which ones were capable of moving quickly, and which ones were built to just destroy. The pieces went on easy enough, and we were on our way. The main way to get anything done in this game is to craft using the resources you get as you make your way around the map. And the map itself is simply just six separate square pieces you can organize in any way you'd like, making each playthrough a little bit different from the last. Once you have enough resources, you can build a cannon, another ship (up to three), a mast, heal a point, or cash in five gold for a plunder point (the main way to win the game). We definitely spent a LOT of our time battling it out on the seas and crafting cannons and masts instead of cashing it all in for plunder points, so our game, while infinitely more fun, took a lot longer to finish. You also get plunder points from random loot cards (X marks the spot cards), and from sinking enemy ships. Once a player gets to ten points, the game ends. So it really is a pretty simple mechanic once you get used to the basic rules.


The board is pretty impressive, with plenty of room for a four player fight. Each turn you roll a die and you get to move that many spaces on the board, as long as it's not diagonally. Then if you are next to an island with a skull or if you are next to another player's ship you can battle them. The battling is super simple, with highest dice roll winning. So while the game is pretty simple, that also lends itself to being moderately luck based too. Yes you can improve your chances by building small upgrades to your ships, but it's still ultimately luck what you roll. The real level of strategy comes from my favorite board game technique: gaslighting. Making alliances and convincing/tricking players to do certain things is a huge part of this game, and whoever can do that the best gets a big tactical advantage. With a four point lead I spent the better part of an hour just convincing the other three players to destroy each other, leading to several betrayals, schemes, intense moments/dice rolls, and plenty of Doritos munched. There are also three red Xs placed randomly on the map (using two spinners, one with 1-18, the other with A-L) and when a ship lands on an X it gets a random treasure card, which either has resources, a special effect, or a negative effect on it. When you take a red x you spin both spinners and place it wherever the spinners tell you to. It's a simple mechanic that works really well at keeping all players in the game. But once again it's luck based, so when 10/12 first Xs of the game were literally next to my ship, I didn't complain, but I did acknowledge it was in fact lucky.



This is a better look at the map in action. You can see our (basic) ships roaming around causing havoc, and the red x's that mark the treasure you can loot. There is also a yellow square on the right side of the map that represents a hurricane, which moves to a random part of the board when any player rolls a one. And here are a few close ups of the ships.




A lot of this game is based on chance, but that's what makes it great. You really aren't out of it at any point, one of our players was down to one ship with one health left on it but somehow almost won the game by the end. Here is what the rest of the group had to say about it.


Player Color

Pro

Con

Brown Ship Player

Fast paced game with good strategy, good inspirations from Catan

Game can last a long time if you aren't going after Plunder Points

Red Ship Player

Good mechanics, treasure cards are fun

Very easy to be out of the game early, tough to get back in unless you get tremendous luck

Black Ship Player

Easy to pick up, loved head to head dice rolls for ship combat.

Tough to figure out strategy in time to make first game enjoyable

Summary: Plunder is a simple and fun competitive game that will bring out the best pirate version of you as you stab your friends in the back. It's quick paced and frantic gameplay mixes well with it's resource crafting and dice based combat system. Take a while to play is moderately luck based but still a fun competitive game.


Score: 8/10


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