Many moons ago, in the early days, when my board gaming was but a dalliance between roleplaying and table top games like DBA and Warhammer I found much to like in, what was then, a new and exciting game - Pirates of the Spanish Main.
This was a collectible/constructible card game, where the pirate ships were pieces stamped out of plastic cards (like credit cards) that one popped out and clipped together to make a little 3D ship. The game was enjoyable, but also wildly unbalanced, and being of a collectible nature the imbalances in the ship powers, particularly as the number of different sets grew, forced players to continue buying more to stay in the ‘arms’ race. I left it long ago for greener pastures, but kept my various ships and bits in a box in my classroom in case any kids wanted to play with them.
Since my days of playing this game passed by, the various plastic ships have been carted from school to school, from class-to-class. Many have broken or fallen to pieces, and I didn’t lose much sleep over the matter.
In the last few weeks there have been a group of kids in my class that have shown a real interest in these ships, and not just playing with the ships, but playing the game. Last week I worked my way through my box of Pirates of the Spanish Main, finding and putting back together the ships, matching them with ship cards and so on in an effort to build a basic set that can be boxed together and be played - and what’s more, provide a roughly balanced experience.
In the end I managed to salvage some 20 ships or so, and with various islands, treasure tokens, crew tokens and so on, they now sit apart, ready to be played. We’ve had a couple of games so far, and the kids seem to really enjoy it. The basic game: find treasures and sink your opponents, is simple, and because of it’s simplicity a lot of fun. It’s still not the most balanced game in our school games collection, but it’s one that is enjoyable, easy to pick up and play, and exciting!
Seeing those pirate ships hauling-to across the table-top again after so many years of neglect and dry-docks is somewhat pleasing. Hoist the Jolly Roger and chase down the treasure, and whether it be the crash of grape-shot through the mizzen or the clatter of dice on the table - the spirit of the Spanish Main is alive again.
And apparently there is a new card game due out soon based on the Pirates of the Spanish Main property, published by WizKids and designed by Bryan Kinsella and the Australian game designer Phil Harding... I shall have to investigate further...