With the rubric Liberty of Thought we intend to share with you our opinion about many contents.
In this edition, we talk about the game Fish N Ships by Goodfellow Games Co, which is going to launch a Kickstarter campaign in early February.
We were directly contacted by the game designer, Ephraim L. McCormick, who sent us a physical copy of his game so we could try it out and give our opinion.
Fish N Ships
Official Image - Fish N Ships
Game: Fish N Ships
Designer: Ephraim L. McCormick
Publisher: Goodfellow Games Co.
Time: 10-30 m
Language dependency: Yes
Official page: https://www.fishnshipsgame.com/
The story behind the scenes
In Fish N Ships, each player takes the role of a pirate, hunting for treasures and stealing from the opponents on each available possibility.
But not everything is as straight as it seems. Considering that pirates are tricky human beings, they always find a way to turn the tide. Savvy?
Official Image - Fish N Ships cards
Talking about the components
We received a reviewer's copy, being about that version that we will make an evaluation. So far we don't know which options are going to be available during the Kickstarter campaign, but we all will find out very soon.
The quality of the cards was a big surprise to us! Considering this is only a reviewer's copy, we weren't expecting for the cards to be so good - and if this is the final quality, it is a good one already. There is some kind of card finishing that allow them a nice shuffle and to slide well on the table as well.
Cannons | Tide-Turners | Stack Abilities | Treasures | Goals
For us the game box is an element that deserves so much attention as the other components. Regarding the art, it matches perfectly the piratey look and feel of the game, being simple and detailed at the same time. It is made of a thick cardboard, protecting well the components inside.
However, we think that the game box is a lot bigger than necessary, considering the components that it stores. We don't know if this is supposed to be the final size of the box or if the Kickstarter campaign will bring some possible additions to the game.
Front | Back | Inside
Breaking the rules
In general, we think that the rule book is well written, in the sense that after finishing its first reading we know how to play the game, not being necessary to read it a second time. There is only one aspect that we think it could be ambiguous regarding the ending of a battle that we already mentioned to the designer.
On a matter of organizing the information throughout the rule book, it would be easier for beginners and for a lighter reading if some sections appeared before others being introduced, resulting in a more fluid reading.
Front | Back
Each player has an individual goal, representing their own treasure to be found, and the first pirate to accomplish that goal is the one ruling the seven seas. So, its for the best to keep that goal card hidden.
On their turn, players can choose to do one of four possible actions:
Draw two cards to the hand
Play a treasure card
Attack an opponent
Use a skulduggery card
As a free action, the players also have the option to discard two treasure cards from hand in order to get an additional action that turn.
The setup for Fish N Ships is quick and simple, starting by separating the cards in two different decks: one deck with the red background and another deck with the blue. From the deck of cards with a red background, each player receives four cards, and with the remaining it is formed a draw deck within all players reach. As for the blue cards, the ones with abilities are placed face up on the center of the table, and from the remaining each player randomly receives a goal card.
Play a treasure card
From the cards at hand, a player can choose to play a single one on their player area, in order to prevent the possibility of losing it to an opponent when engaged in a battle. In addition, those cards also count towards the secret goal of each player and do not count to the limit of ten cards that a player can hold at hand.
North | South | East | West | Polaris
Attack an opponent
A player can attack, by playing a cannon against an opponent. Then, they both play cannons, one at a time, until one of the players wins the battle. The successful player takes randomly from the opponent's hand, as many cards as the difference between the sum of both pirate's cannon values.
Attack Example | Cannons with values from 1 to 4
Use a skulduggery card
This is the only way a player can lose cards already on their personal player area. When someone plays a skulduggery card, they can take a single treasure card from another player, from those displayed on the table, then adding it to their own hand.
Once per game, the ability of tide-turner cards, can be used by the player who owns and plays them. Then, the respective card is removed from the game. A minority of those cards can be used during battles, otherwise they can only be used on the player turn. In addition to being powerful cards, they do not count as actions.
Stack ability cards
When a player has two or more similar cards on the same pile on their player area, that player can place on top of that corresponding stack, one of the available stack abilities. Beginning in the next turn, that player has the benefit indicated, until that card leaves the stack by indication of another ability played by an opponent.
Stack Ability Cards
In general, we can state that the game concept matches the spirit of the pirates, being fun to play in a group. A positive aspect of the game is allowing to push the maximum number of players to six, being higher than what the majority of card games that we know about allows.
For groups up until six players that enjoy a lot of player interaction this could be a game to take a look. However, if you do not enjoy games with a lot of "take that" or a bit of conflict you may have to think twice because they are part of the base mechanisms of Fish N Ships.
Among the things we like about this game, is the possibility of using cards with unique abilities that can completely change the course of the round. As well as the stack rounds that the players can acquire by locking up groups of cards on the table.
Considering we mostly play at two players, specially during the last year, we now value even more the games that allow a smooth play for two players, even when the goal of the game is to be played in a larger group. So, from a two player perspective, we think that it becomes more aggressive and focused on battle, than at higher player counts. Maybe balancing the quantity of cannons depending on the number of players could make a difference.
Once again, we would like to thank Ephraim L. McCormick for giving us a chance of playing his game in advance, and prepare a review before the Kickstarter campaign launches. We are going to keep an eye on Goodfellow Games Co to know more about their future publications.