Any game by Stonemaier Games is sure to be phenomenal, but Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest went above and beyond. This game is addictive (in a good way) and sure to be a hit at any gaming table, whether solo or with a group!
Title: Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest (2022)
Release Date: 03/02/2022
Price: $ unknown at the time of review
Suggested Audience Age: 14+
Number of Players: 1-6
Time to Play: 45-60 minutes
Availability: Stonemaier Games, and after release, it will probably be lots of places! Check your friendly local game store!
Recommended for fans of: Charterstone (another Stonemaier Games title), Funfair, Rattle Battle Grab the Loot, or the original Libertalia game!
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title
What's The Story
You lead a group of Sky Pirates heading out on adventurous voyages in search of loot! Your opponents command other ships in the fleet, however, so it's every pirate for themselves in this cut-throat world. With each day you and your crew arrive at a new island and can send one crew member out to see what they can get. Can you gather more loot than the other pirates?
What the Gameplay Feels Like
There are several different ways to set up your game. The board is double-sided with a “calm” side and a “stormy” side. As you can probably guess, the calm side offers easier gameplay than the stormy side. Additionally, you can change up some of the loots rewards with special cards that can be placed over the reward labels on the board.
The game is played over 3 voyages. The first voyage is 4 days, the second is 5 days, and the third is 6 days.
With every voyage, each player gets the exact same cards. The decks are identical and numbered, so after the first player draws 6 random cards then every other player picks out those same cards for their hands. However, with each day you are tasked with selecting just one of those crew members to head to the island and see what they can get.
Each crew member has different abilities and skill levels which guide who gets to do what and when. Gain some loot, stab another player in the back, or bring back a cursed relic…you may not have much of a choice if your crew member is found lacking.
For the most part, the quality of this game is top-notch. The score trackers are these adorable treasure chests with dials that can be spun around to show the amounts. The cards all have a nice linen finish. The loot tokens are bakelite and very bright colors and fun to play with. Not to mention the loot tokens are held in a nice cloth bag.
The only thing that felt off about it all was the yellow box that holds all the doubloons. It feels like a very cheap plastic that I'm afraid will crack and break easily. The doubloons themselves are simple cardboard pieces but Stonemaier Games does offer metal doubloons as an upgrade at the time of this review.
Always important to me is whether or not the box can be organized…and I'm happy to say that YES it can.
What's Different with the 2022 Edition vs 2012?
Ten years ago the original Libertalia game was released. With a well-deserved 7.2 rating on Board Game Geek, it has been a favorite of many gamers. However, it has been discontinued for some time. Also, there were a few mechanics that needed some tweaking. That's where the new version shines.
Besides obviously making it much brighter and more cheerful to look at, a lot has changed. While the foundations are the same, the 2022 Libertalia offers up a heavily revised and expanded version. Here are a few of the most notable changes:
- A Reputation track to fix the pesky problem of tiebreakers from the original
- 40 character cards per player
- A two player system that actually works! (the Midshipman mechanic is a game changer)
- A solo variant (see below for more on that)
- All new art
If you already have the 2012 version, you will really need to weigh whether or not the changes matter for you. As someone who generally plays games either solo or 2-player, these changes mattered a lot to me. Complete game changer. Literally.
Often solo variants on multiplayer games can be…underwhelming. However, when a game actually puts the thought into making it also play well solo, it is a wonderful thing. Libertalia nailed it.
To be honest, I was laying in bed last night unable to sleep and thinking about Libertalia. It was the middle of the night so I certainly didn't have anyone to play with, but I figured what better time to try out the Automa (solo) variant? I made myself some tea and sat down to see how Stonemaier Games did with it.
They did great.
I played through two full games of the Automa variant before calling it a night (again) and loved every minute. The game was well-balanced, easy to adapt and learn, and a lot of fun.
If you're looking for a game you can play by yourself but also with friends, this is a great option. I would play this solo again any day.