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from 8 customer reviews
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This is a new edition of Showmanager, but gameplay now takes place on the seas rather than on Broadway. Experience the era of the great steam ships. Charter suitable luxury liners in the agency so your shipping lines are more attractive. The most successful cruise trips on the seven seas will be rewarded with the most winning points.
- 132 ship cards
- 24 voyage record plaques
- 1 game board
- 1 charter agency
- 6 overview charts
- 1 crayon
- play money
Average Rating: 4.6 in 8 reviews
Those of you newer to German games may have heard of a recent classic called Showmanager. Ostensibly about casting actors for productions of plays, it is a really interesting game revolving around very careful hand management and purchasing. It was a great game, published by a smaller publisher in Germany, and was very hard to get (since it is out of print.) I looked high and low trying to track down a copy for myself for a reasonable price, but to no avail. Then I heard about Atlantic Star, a re-release of the classic. I was excited until I heard that instead casting actors in plays as the theme, now it was about cruise ship operators. Well, I am very happy to tell you that fans of the old game, and those new to the game, will find this edition to be well worth purchasing. Read on
This game is not at all hard to play, but the rules sound tricky, so I wont explain them here. Lets focus on gameplay! The idea is that you are a cruise ship operator trying to put together cruise ship packages made up of ships for different legs of the cruises. You are trying to collect high value sets of cards in each color. Leg values run from 2-9. Ill give you an example: the Baltic (yellow) cruise is made up of 3 legs, so ideally you will try to get 3 cards that have one of the following on one each of the cards: Yellow A-9, B-9, C-9. But good luck. More realistic would be Yellow A-7, B-2, C-5. Your card score is the sum of your numbers with a bonus if you get all of the right legs of the cruise. (There needs to be a bonus, because getting all the right legs is a lot harder than youd think.) Now you place that cruise in the column that has the other cruises of the same color. You get Victory Points for how you place against other same-color cruises (and not your cruise score), so instead of trying to get perfect cards, you are just trying to get better than all the others.
Thats where the game gets tricky. You start off with no cards, and get them by drafting them off a board. The board holds 4 cards with a purchase price under each slot (0, 1000, 2000, 3000), and when a card is purchased, all the other cards behind that one get $1000 cheaper. So you may see the perfect card for your cruise, but someone else could buy it, or you may not even have the money yourself to buy it! Or you may not be able to take it. You see, you need to lay down your cards to score for a cruise, but when you lay down, you may only have 2 cards left in your hand. What that means is that you can only hold two cards in your hand that you want to save for other cruises. That is not much of a cushion and requires the players to exercise careful hand management, trying to get good cards for the next cruise without killing their current cruise in the hand. You may see a Blue A-9, and want to grab it, but you might already have a card showing Blue A-5 / Yellow A-4 and another card with Blue F-9, and you currently have been working on a Red cruise. If you take the Blue A-9, youll have to use the Blue A-5 / Yellow A-4 in your Red cruise, which will use up one of the legs of the Red cruise. Is it worth it?
Players are constantly juggling their hands and reprioritizing different cruises trying to manipulate their scores on the scoreboard, borrowing money by mortgaging some of their cruises, trying to outwait an opponent to make them settle on a score first so you can try and beat it, and even clearing the board to get rid of bad cards and hoping for better ones upon resupplying the ship board. The scoreboard has set scores for each position, so regardless of how much your cruise was worth by card value, it now scores a set number of points depending on how well it matches up against other cruises in the same color.
Sound confusing? Its not when you have the visuals in front of you, and suffice it to say it makes for a very tense but uncomplicated game. In fact, this game has been a hit with my family. It requires careful card management and some one-upmanship, but it is not at all a vicious game, and has a dose of luck to keep it from becoming too tight. Not that youll notice, since this game will keep you on your toes from start to finish. This game plays surprisingly well from 2-6 players, and has only about a 60 minute duration. This game has consistently gone over well with gamers, and should be a hit with families it was with mine. Highly recommended.
Usually when I see a German game that is listed for 2-6 players, I typically conclude that 2-person play is probably not worth the time and effort. Atlantic Star is an exception, though, offering a tense, fast-paced and enjoyable 2-player game. This may be one of the rare German games listed for 2-6 that actually plays better with 2 or 3. The rule translation I used was not formatted too clearly, but once learned, the rules are clear and logical. I knew Atlantic Star was a good game. What I didn't know is that it is a great 2-person game.
A previous reviewer complained mildly about the game parts. The card deck consists of a large number of cards and makes a fairly large stack. The current card stock is very good. A thicker stock would make the large number of cards unwieldy. Other game pieces are thick and colorful. The one thin item is a game aid not directly used in play.
When this game emerged, we played it to death. The first day I was exposed to it, we played it four times, and that's rare with my game group, as we choose to play many games, rather than one game many times.
As can be read in the other reviews, the mechanics are streamlined, as seems to be the case with every db Spiele game. And like their other games, there are never enough resources to do everything you'd like to do and you will find yourself selling your soul for just one more dollar.
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Four possible voyages require from three to six ships, and it's your job to charter them. Four ship cards, costing 0, 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 marks, are drawn and placed on the charter agency board. On your turn, purchase a ship or complete a voyage. When you buy a ship, charter costs for the other ships decrease by 1,000 marks if possible, and a new ship is placed in the 3,000-mark space. Ship cards show the value of that ship in particular voyages. After completing a voyage, write the total value of its ships on its associated emblem marker, and place it on the round-trip rank chart. Emblems, each representing a player, are ranked by value for each route. Determine the winner by adding the values associated with the chart positions of your emblems. Bon voyage!