Review – Port Royal + Expansions
A Push Your Luck card game.
Titles: Port Royal, Port Royal Unterwegs!, Port Royal: Ein Auftrag geht noch
Year Published: 2014-2016
Designer: Alexander Pfister
Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
Game Time: 20-50 mins
Set-up Time: ~2 mins
Mechanism: Card Drafting, Press Your Luck, Set Collection (also Co-Op)
How to win: Reach the required points total
The merchant players in Port Royal are trying to earn as much as they can out of the Caribbean Sea, but if they set their goals too high, they might take home nothing for the day.
Port Royal Unterwegs is a standalone, stripped-down with new characters that can also serve as an expansion for the base game.
Port Royal: Ein Auftrag geht noch… introduces the new game element “Contracts” as well as a cooperative and a solo variant to play the game.
I bought this game and both the currently available expansions at the same time. Then, I immediately mixed them together so they fit in one box. So in this review I will include all 3.
Basically, the expansions add more cards to the game but one of them adds the Contracts.
To set up…
If you’re playing with the full 5 players, put the ’Special Expedition’ card in the middle of the table. This is just a card available to all a the start of the game.
Shuffle the cards into a draw pile and deal each player 3 cards. These cards are just used for coins so you only need to look at the backs.
Shuffle the large Contract Cards and place 4 face up (Ignore the seal for now, they are for the co-op game)
Choose a random start player.
Each turn has 2 Phases: Discover & Trade/Hire
In the Discover Phase, the active player reveals cards from the top of the deck one at a time. After each card, they have the option to stop but once a card is revealed, that card is active and in play.
Depending on what the card is, depends on what the active player needs to do…
Person – Put into the Harbour display, each has an ability that we will get to later.
Ship – Again, put it into the Harbour display. If a player has 2 of the same colour ship they forfeit the rest of their turn and they skip their ‘Trade/Hire’ phase.
You can use Sailors and/or Pirates from your own personal display with Sword icons equal to or greater than the number of Swords on the ship to discard it instead of adding it to the Harbour.
A ship with a Skull icon cannot be repelled this way.
Expedition – Stays on the table (but not in the Harbour Display with the other cards) until an active player is able to claim it. To fulfil the conditions, a player needs to discard cards with correct symbols from their personal tableau.
Tax Increase – All players with more than a certain number of coins in their hand as printed on the tax card will lose some of those coins The player with the most swords or least points will gain a coin depending on the tax increase card drawn.
As I mentioned players can stop revealing cards at any time and if the player stops before being overrun with Ships, they get a Trade/Hire phase.
The active player can take a number of cards from the Harbour depending on how many different coloured ships are revealed.
0-3 Ships: 1
4 Ships: 2
5 Ships: 3
This is the start of the Trade/Hire phase.
Trade – Take a Ship to the amount of money shown on it.
Hire – The player may discard coins from their hand to pay the cost of the card they’re going to hire and they add it to their personal tableau. Cards are taken one at a time so the ability of a card can be used when purchasing the next one.
Each other player in turn order may then pay 1 coin to the active player to take one card following the same rules for both Trading and Hiring.
If a player meets the conditions they may Complete a Contract. They put a cube on the card and take that many cards. Each player can only complete one contract once and no more than 3 contracts per game. There is a bonus of 1 point for completing two contracts and 2 points for completing 3. Use contract cards as points.
Play continues clockwise
When a player has 12 points this triggers a game end but players take equal turns.
The winner is the player with the most points, with the player with the most coins in their hand breaking ties.
What a very simple yet strategic card game.
Flip or stop, buy or don’t, build a tableau and create combos to get to that magic number of 12 points first.
When flipping cards, you have to work out if you’re going to bust and the odds of that happening. But as you’re not in any danger until one Pirate ship shows up so this phase is usually lightning quick.
The more you push the more options you have to Trade/Hire… Also, the more different colour ships you reveal the more cards you can get… But the downside is the more options your opponents have to Trade/Hire in your turn… HOWEVER, if they do that in your turn they give you Money so it’s all good… But you might go bust…
It’s “Argh!” but in a good way, no one wants an easy Push Your Luck game, how dull would that be! You’re playing this game, the game isn’t playing you.
You also have to consider Contracts and Expeditions and what they require…
Simple, cheap, small, (all 3 fit into one tiny box) fun, easy to teach (except for the symbology on the People cards) and is VERY accessible. Fun for Gamers and Casual players.
One of the better Push Your Luck games. Well done AGAIN Mr Pfister. 🙂
I give it 6/10