Broadsides and Boarding Parties
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Time: 60 minutes
Weight: 700 grams (estimated)
Average Rating: 3 in 3 reviews
Broadsides and Boarding Parties is one of the best games ever made. It has outstanding models, quick play, and great fun. Although it lacks the complexity and depth of its [page scan/se=0829/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Master Series brothers, it is still a solid member of the MS group.
The premise is two dueling sailing vessels, one a mighty Man-o-War of the Spanish Armada and the other a swift pirate clipper fighting among the islands of the Caribbean Sea. The Isabella and Seahawk with their respective crews of royal sailors or low-down, crusty seadogs battle to stay afloat. The winner will sail away with a fortune of gold; the loser has a one-way ticket to Davie Joness locker at the bottom of the sea.
The game includes two large ship models complete with tall ship-style masts, sailor figures, and cannons. Pieces are small but very detailed. A nicely illustrated game board has miniature ships to represent position. Movement cards depict various maritime symbols. Various counters mark damage to the ship's hull.
Players navigate their ship through the gameboard with movement cards. Through your use of move forward, port, starboard, and anchor cards, you must position your ship to hit your opponent with your cannon batteries. Depending on how skilled a captain you are, you can sail your ship to broadside your enemy--unleashing all five of your cannons to smash their hull. Once the enemy is crippled, you can choose to finish the job from a distance with your cannons, or make it 'up close and personal' by boarding their ship and engaging in hand to hand combat.
I highly recommend playing Broadsides when you dont have enough time to sit-down and play a 4+ hour game of Shogun or [page scan/se=0431/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Axis & Allies. A typical Broadsides game last about 1 hour, including set up time. This lets you fit in a bunch of games in an afternoon. (You could even get a quick game in between those hour-plus turns of the other Master Series games.)
If you like sailing or maritime history, you will love this game. Even if you dont have a love of the sea, Broadsides and Boarding Parties is an extremely fun game that you can play in a relatively short amount of time. A+
That was the most flattering headline for this game.
If it takes an hour to play, most of that is setting up and cleaning up. It's 2 separate games, the sea maneuvering game and the fight on the deck of a ship game. Neither is very good, and, often as not, the boarding never occurs.
I received Broadsides & Boarding Parties at Christmas '86; it was the fourth game I got in the [page scan/se=0829/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]GameMaster series (I would get Shogun later). However, after trying it out once, it sat in the closet for a long, LONG time.
Why? Because Broadsides & Boarding Parties, although it has great components like its Milton Bradley brothers, is not that fun. It's a two player duel, between a Spanish galleon and a pirate ship (equal in staff and ability), with the object of the game being to destroy the other (no running from this fight). Players navigate their ships by card play; cards are Turn Right, Turn Left, Move Forward, and Stay Still (there's also Damage cards which you must play in place of a movement card if you're hit). Three cards per turn, and they're revealed simultaneously. After each card, you can fire the cannons (roll dice). Depending on the angle, you may be able to roll 2,5, or 0 cannons. If you plot your ships together, they collide and go into the 'Boarding Parties' phase of the game. This part is disappointing. Crew members move around on the ships and fight each other by rolling dice, but the outcome feels horribly random (because it is).
So, the components are great, the moving around is fun, but when the game is done, whether you won or lost, you don't feel very satisfied.
I'm kind of a pack rat; I rarely re-sell anything I get, even when I hardly utilize it (there are tons of books I should unload, but I never do). I thought about putting energy into devising a variant that would make this playable, but ultimately felt it was worth it to re-sell it because its value among collectors is very high.
A good, even great, variant is very possible with what you get in the box, but as it is, it's not my idea of an enjoyable and rewarding game.