‘Merchants and Marauders’ game review
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
Pack up yer blunderbusses boys, it be time for some high seas adventure!
Merchants and Marauders (2010) is a nautical-themed board game for two–four players, designed by Kasper Aagaard and Christian Marcussen and published by Z-Man Games. In the game, players are assigned captains with a certain set of skills. Players then travel around the board, collecting and delivering cargo, raiding ships, and gaining glory. A player wins once they reach 10 glory points.
I loved this game, and though many may not like the pick-up-and-deliver style board game, I find it extremely engaging. Although it’s similar to Firefly (2013), where you can choose the path of merchant or pirate, Merchants and Marauders strips out any of the television or movie themes and allows simple trade and pirate battles, with some rumour side quests thrown in. Travel is very fast, and the board can be crossed in two turns, but in many strategies you benefit from keeping close to your home port.
The combat system is novel. Captains roll a number of dice equal to their skill, and a 5 or 6 counts as a success. Much of the strategy revolves around cargo, which gets cycled through quite quickly, and finding two or three of the same cargo is difficult but necessary to winning the game. Playing pirate reaps big rewards along with big risks as you anger the nations that hold sway in the Caribbean.
I would recommend this game to any advanced group of players. The strategy is solid and can be lots of fun to play. Casual gamers may find the rules a little dense at first, but once the initial hurdle is passed you may find the game very enjoyable.