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Pirates earn booty in Freibeuter whenever a ship is captured and then surrounded by pirate boats. In rare cases, a single pirate may be able to accomplish this and will take all the booty for himself. More often, several pirates will be involved and will share the booty. On each turn, a player must decide whether to capture a ship, place a boat on a sea space, or move the Flying Dutchman. The player who manages through skillful play to amass the most booty will win the game.
I acquired Freibeuter (Freebooter) last year and have enjoyed playing it quite often. The theme is pirateering on the high seas.
Tiles representing merchant ships, bonus multipliers and treasure are shuffled and placed on grid spaces. The sides of the board has letters from A-G and numbers from 1-7. Play is largely driven from two decks of coordinate cards; one deck has coordinates for the players' ships and the other is a special deck for the Flying Dutchman ship.
Players can choose from 1 of 3 different actions in their turn;
A player that boards a boat will eventually collect the ship tile which will be worth from 5 to 20 'pieces of eight' at game's end. Players who have surrounded a boat are in position to collect cash from the boarding player when (and if) that boat is surrounded (and boarded).
Players can also surround tiles that represent cash bonuses or point multipliers. Example: If a player captures the '15' point tile, then at game's end all ships captured with the value of '15' are doubled!
The Flying Dutchman (a ghost ship) traverses the baord along an entire row or column and can stop along that row or column on any vacant grid space in order to complete the surrounding of a merchant ship. After booty is paid and the ship tile claimed, the Flying Dutchman vanishes into the fog!
The game's strategy is one of timing tempered with greed. Although boarding a ship can be accomplished without a coordinate card, it is important to remember that as the boarding pirate you may have to pay booty to those buccaneers who have assisted in the surrounding of the merchant vessel. You must pay them even if you do not have enough pieces of eight yourself. This can mean borrowing money at usurious rates!
The other tricky part of the game to remember is that if a boat is surrounded, but NOT boarded, then the vessel is deemed to have escaped the pirates' attack... and no one collects anything. While it is true that you may not always be able to decide on a given turn which ship to surround (because you may not have the right coordinate card) you can still do some strategic planning in those areas of the board where you have some cards.
I ranked the game with 4 stars not because it is a deep (sorry, no play on theme was intended) game, but because it is enjoyable and easy to teach newcomers. I have found Freebooter to be a great game to introduce friends to various German games (Medici is another one). My friends can learn the mechanics quickly and sit down and play.
I suppose a more accurate ranking would be '3 1/2' stars, but the Funagain site has no means of displaying a partial star.
Freebooter is in the 'beer & pretzel' category... good for some laughs, some fun and role playing banter. I recommend this game highly.
This is an abstract game disguised with a pirate raiding theme. Players compete to earn booty from galleons by encircling them. When a galleon is surrounded, it is scored. Every ship that assists in the process gets some cash from the person who placed a pirate ship on top of the galleon (signifying boarding of the ship), while the actual boarder gets the galleon marker but no cash. If no-one has boarded a galleon when it is surrounded, the ship sinks with no cash or booty to anyone.
Each person's turn is fairly quick as they can only carry out one action -- board a ship (anywhere on the 8x8 playing grid), encircle a ship (or continue the process) or play a Flying Dutchman card. You only have a fixed number of ship markers and when one person finishes their stock and can play no more, the game ends. You can only encircle a ship by playing a sea card and placing one of your ships on the intersection indicated by the card. This provides some planning opportunities because you can try to control the areas around a ship by saving cards that are in adjacent locations.
The Flying Dutchman cards can be used only to complete an encirclement, but are less restricted in their use than the sea cards because they indicate a row or column to be played on.
Final scoring is the sum of your cash and value of galleons that have been boarded and encircled. The ship values are either 5, 10, 15 or 20 and if someone has encircled a x2 multiplier for the relevant ship values, everyone's ships of this value are worth double the base value. Some areas of the grid indicate cash pay-outs, and this can help your cash flow if you are running low.
Initial impressions of the game are that the components are very good, the rules are clear and the theme isn't too distant from the game play. I have played this several times now and my current impression is that it is a bit mechanistic, but still enjoyable even though the shine of the new game has now disappeared. Tactics seem to stem around trying to concentrate on the high value galleons, or trying to deplete someone of their cash by constantly surrounding ships that one player has boarded. (There is a penalty for running out of cash.) I have to say that neither of these is entirely good and a more likely winning strategy is to take every opportunity that comes on your turn. Long term planning is restricted by the sea cards that you draw.
Games have tended to be close between the top 2 players, with the double multiplier having less effect than you would think. Overall, this is a good game worth adding to your collection. It offers some reasonable gaming but there is less emphasis on fun as the abstract roots show after some game play.