Gameday First Play – Francis Drake

The riches of the Aztec and Incan Empires await!

You just have to, you know, have purple cubes on your ship!

Return to a bustling Plymouth Harbor in 1572 as an aspiring Elizabethan captain making preparations for three exciting voyages to the Spanish Main in search of fame and fortune! As captains, players will have to plan their missions and provision their ships accordingly.

The game is played over 3 rounds which is 3 journeys from Plymouth to the Caribbean to blow stuff up and trade goods. Each round is broken into two parts, both very different.

The first part is the Provisioning phase where players will be shopping in Plymouth for Crew, Guns, Supplies, Trade Goods, Pinnaces (I didn’t giggle at this at all) and Galleons. You can also get famous peeps to give you a helping hand. But you can’t go back 🙂

Plymouth, a one way sailing superstore

Plymouth, a one way sailing superstore

In turn order, players place a token on a free space and collect the resources. This is all OK as there is plenty of room for everyone, except once you pick a place to gain a resources from,, you can’t go back. Also, the earlier you get there, the more you get. In future plays I’ll be looking to see if fewer visits to places for more equipment per action is better than many visits of fewer items… But meh, this is boring, on to the good stuff…

There are also a few Famous faces such as the Queen and Francis Drake himself. These give you special bonuses that only one player will receive for the round.

You can also gain a Ghost Ship and Golden Hind to use in phase 2, I’ll talk about those then.

You roam Plymouth (forwards only) until you reach the Dockside, this is the last chance to gain something before leaving. Then, you put your ship in the dock. This determines play order for phase 2.

4 Galleons and 1 Frigate line up ready to leave Plymouth

4 Galleons and 1 Frigate line up ready to leave Plymouth

The Sailing Phase is where the real exploration begins.

On the rest of the beautiful game board is the Spanish Main. Here there are Towns and Forts to Raid, Spanish Galleons to Destroy and goods to be traded for.

The board is divided up into 4 (barely, it’s pretty hard to see). The number of Supplies you gained from Plymouth determines which zone you can get to. 1 restricts you to Zone 1 where as 4 allows you to travel anywhere on the board.

Each player has 4 big chunky Mission disks numbered 1-4 and may also have the Ghost Ship and/or Golden Hind disk. Each Town, Fort etc has a number of spaces next to it. In turn order, players place their Mission disks face down on these spaces one at a time.

This is where the Ghost Ship comes in. The Ghost Ship is used a a decoy.

The Mission disks are down, we can now reveal!

The Mission disks are down, we can now reveal!

When all disks have been placed, they are all turned face up. and actions are taken in player order by Mission token number.

But first the Golden Hind gets an action before everyone else. Then Player 1, Mission 1, Player 2 Mission 1 etc etc

But what are you doing?

Well… It depends where you are…

My Galleon. Crewed up, cannoned up and ready to go

My Galleon. Crewed up, cannoned up and ready to go

Towns and Forts have a token placed next to them with a random number of reinforcements ranging from 0-2.

Attacking Towns

You basically sacrifice crew equal to the number of Spanish Officers, sending them to their death to gain Victory Points and treasure. Nothing happens if you do not have enough Crew, you just lose that action.

Attacking Forts

Similar to Towns, you attack Forts by sending Crew to their death but you also need enough Cannons to see off the Forts Gun defenses. Again, the award is VP’s and treasure and if you don’t have enough Crew and/or Cannons nothing happens.

Attacking Galleons

You need to have enough Cannons, again for VP’s and treasure.


You trade a purple ‘Trade Good’ cube from your board for an available resource tile.

Return to Plymouth

If you have done all your actions or you can’t complete your remaining actions you can return to Plymouth. The first player back gets 2 VP’s, second player gets 1 VP. When everyone has returned, this is rearranged from last to fist on the scoreboard to determine the order for the next Provisioning phase.

You get bonus points for diversity in attacking Towns, Forts and Galleons. Also, some of the people you get in Plymouth may reward VP’s for unclaimed treasure still on the board.

Everything is reset, the Plymouth tiles are shuffled and reordered and the Spanish Galleon tiles are also shuffled.  All this happens 2 more times, after the 3rd round there is some scoring where you get points for each set of different commodities and points for Treasure you have.

Most points wins.

Very, very pretty

Very, very pretty

It’s big, pretty, expensive but good.

We got quite a few little bits wrong and played the basic game so didn’t shuffle the tiles etc so I would love to play it again.

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