Board Game Resource Review: Libertalia

In All, Reviews by Zach Hillegas2 Comments

Yaarrrr! I hope you’ve hoisted your sails and prepped your pirate speak (setting your Facebook language to pirate might be a good first step), because LIbertalia is a thoroughly entertaining experience that will make you feel like one of Captain Blackbeard’s finest. Libertalia, designed by Paolo Mori and brought to us by Asmodee in 2012, is a pirate-centric card game that puts you in command of your own scurvy crew, the goal being to play your best pirates and to outwit your opponents to get the lion’s share of that precious booty. Will you play your higher ranking pirates to get that sweet, sweet treasure chest, or will you compete for the sword that will kill off one of your enemies? There are plenty of fun decisions to make in Libertalia, and only the most devious, most scurviest sea dogs will be the ones to take home the gold.

Gameplay

How do you play the game? Is it a fun experience? How much interaction is there between the players? Is there very much luck involved? Will it take forever to to learn and teach?

LibertaliaGameplay

Depth

How much strategy is involved? Is there a sense of variety and balance? Does the game play well no matter how many players there are? How long does it take to play?

LibertaliaHalfRound

Look and Feel

Is the game aesthetically pleasing? Are the components made out of quality material, or do they feel cheap? Is the rulebook well-designed and easy to read? How well is theme integrated into the game?

LibertaliaBox2

Value

Conclusion

Libertalia is a veritable diamond in the rough, a wonderful piece of board game booty that is enjoyable to play and beautiful to look at. The gameplay is simple to learn but rich with tactical possibility, with antics that capture the essence of being a scurvy, conniving scalawag. The game is easy to learn, easy to teach, and packaged with quality components that won’t wear out easily. It encourages interaction with your fellow pirate players, and is a delightful two player experience.

The game, despite being ripe with tactical potential and strategic decisions, isn’t incredibly deep and you’ll discover most of what it has to offer relatively quickly, but what it does offer has sticking power and promotes high replayability. If you’re itching for a quick, fun card game that will satisfy your inner pirate, find yourself a treasure map to your nearest game store (or website) and add this buried treasure to your collection.

Verdict

YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF…

  • You like games that can be played in 45 minutes or less
  • You like talking like a pirate
  • You like games with minimal luck
  • You like an even playing field
  • You like having to read your opponents
  • You want an enjoyable 2 player experience
  • You like games that have strong aesthetics
  • You want a game under $50

YOU WON’T LIKE THIS GAME IF…

  • Your players are prone to analysis paralysis
  • If you don’t like mindreading games
  • You like some randomness in your games
  • You prefer strategy to tactics
  • You want a game with expansionary content
  • You don’t like attacking or affecting other players
About the Author

Zach Hillegas

Zach is an avid tabletop gamer, and he created Board Game Resource out of his love for the hobby, and his desire to see more people come into it. When he's not writing for or managing BGR, Zach might be hanging out with cats, hiking a mountain, or spending time with his lovely wife. Zach is currently studying for a degree in Business Management. Zach has also enjoys creating digital character art. You can check out his gallery here, or follow him on Instagram at @artworkbyzach!

Comments

  1. Libertalia was an interesting game for our group. We have a wide range of preferences for games in our group (ranging from people who prefer simple card games to heavy-eurogamers), and we found that this game most pleased those who were right in the middle: players who liked shorter games that fall in the middle of the complexity curve. The number of options often caused analysis paralysis in the new players of our group, but that subsided as they gained experience with the game.

    However, as I unboxed the game and started playing, I couldn’t help but feel that Libertalia is a filler game that’s trying to be a bigger production through artwork, components, and theme. After all, only a small space is used on each of the helper mats, the score track could be simplified, and the ship in the middle is really just a place to put cards in order (booty pools are the only reason it’s really needed, so it could be smaller). This means that the entire game could have been condensed into a much smaller and tighter package, costing about a third of the price. It’s not that I feel ripped off, per-se, because it’s a pretty fun game, but I think that more players would discover this gem if it had received the “Love Letter” miniaturization treatment.

    The components will likely last a while but, if you’re a gamer on a budget, there are other games out there that will give you more bang for your buck.

  2. Author

    That is a totally valid point about Libertalia’s value, and a fair one. Libertalia is really glitzed up to make itself feel like a designer game when it really is more on the scale of a filler game. For ME, it wasn’t much of an issue, because I picked up Libertalia, which was a steal of a price. Amazing as the game is, I’m not sure if I would have paid $35 or $40 for it if I looked up descriptions and found that it wasn’t as much of a “board” game as other games with similar packaging are.

    Of course, there are people that will buy the game because it’s NOT the same type of “size” as Love Letter, etc. I know a lot of people who skip over games like that because they automatically dismiss them as too light. Heck, I might have even been one of those people at one point. I suppose we have to be left wondering how it would have fared with less extravagant components, and if it would have been more successful.

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