FLASHBACK FRIDAY – Steam Pirates – Golden Egg Games – Review

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I enjoyed building from scratch and gaining momentum.  It is one of my favorite aspects in a game. 

Heather Swanson – MeepleGamers

8/10

Publisher: Golden Egg Games


Designer: Elad Goldsteen


Designer: Pina Shekhter


Artist: David Arenas


Artist: Victor Perez Corbella


Game Type: Resource management, network building, economic, dice rolling


Initial Year of Release: 2018


Age Range: 13+


Expected Playtime: 60-90 Minutes


Number of Players: 2-4

FLASHBACK FRIDAY - Steam Pirates - Golden Egg Games - Review 1

Theme and What is it?


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8/10

There are floating islands in the world of Materia.  Someone has to ship goods between these lands in the sky.  This of course leads to there being pirates who raid these shipments.  You are going to be playing as a set of pirates in steam punk air ships. 

Watch out though, there are two major organizations out to get you or at least exploit you.  There are the Pirate Syndicates trying to gain power over honest merchants and the Great British Empire trying to keep control over things.

These two powers are going to be trying to enforce embargos and blockades on your shipments.  To be successful you will need to build networks of trade, bribing, and piracy.

Don’t think any of this will be easy.  There are going to be events changing your strategy, leaders influencing outcomes, and officials leveraging their influence.

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Gameplay Mechanics


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8/10

I’d say the biggest part of Steam Pirates is resource management.  You start out slow and need to gain resources in order to expand your trade network and explore.  Once you get things going you have more options to bring in bribes, officials’ powers, and fulfill goals.

The second big step in the game is route building.  You need to set up trade houses in order to gain resources.  You also can go after exploring islands and gaining pieces of treasure maps.  All this has to be balanced with working towards event goals.

There is a lot to balance in this game.  Even working towards a particular goal can be sidetracked by new event requirements being introduced.

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Initial Impressions


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7/10

Nothing really struck me as astounding at first.  I’m not a pirate fan but I can enjoy a steam punk theme.  I was intimidated by the many pieces and somewhat difficult to read rule book.  It was a bit daunting to learn.

The components had such tiny writing I was a little turned off.  I have pretty good eye sight and I had trouble distinguishing some of the fonts.  The symbology required much leaning in and squinting to distinguish.

However, I am a fan of game with lots of pieces.  There are a LOT of pieces in this game.  I’m also interested in jumping into meaty games.  I think Steam Pirates qualifies as meaty.

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Game Build Quality


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6/10

I can’t say the pieces are the best I’ve seen.  Some are raged and worn already with very little use.  Some are very difficult to distinguish as well.  Like I said before, the writing is so tiny it is a bit frustrating.

The rules could use a little bit of an overhaul in my opinion.  There is just so much to remember in this game I found myself trying to find all the little details spread throughout the book while playing.  It seems like these kinds of things could be simplified with a little different organization.

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Artistic Direction


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7/10

There is not a great deal of artwork in Steam Pirates but what there is looks great.  I think the overall font throughout the game could be changed to be more readable.  The colors are fine and the pirate theme is evident throughout the designs.

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Fun Factor


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7/10

I enjoyed building from scratch and gaining momentum.  It is one of my favorite aspects in a game.  I noticed complaints from others about starting out with so little.  I love that part of a game.  You need to be smart and focus on different resources and actions as the game continues.

I like to see a game evolve and grow.  It is in a way engine building if you count building your trade network to increase your profits.  It is a long game the first time you play so it is nice to see the development of your actions by the end.  You just need to beat others to the punch.

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Age Range & Weight


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8/10

Steam Pirates is rated for ages 13+.  I think it might be tough on a 12-year-old.  I think it is going to depend on the kid.  Maybe because she is a teenage girl, but I don’t see my 14-year-old getting into this game.  There is a lot to keep up with.  All-in-all, I think 13+ is a good choice.

Your strategy needs to be well thought out.  There are so many options it can be distracting and hard to focus on specializing on a certain thing.  Therefore, you need experienced strategists who can gage what others are doing and try to compensate.  The events and goal cards also change things up quite a bit.

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Conclusions


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8/10

Steam Pirates is a deceptively complicated game.  I don’t mean complicated to the point of being difficult but certainly there are lots of things to think about and keep up with.  If you like lots of options this will be something you enjoy.  

The game requires a fair amount of concentration to do well so I would not call this a casual game.  I can see this being a primarily competitive game.  If only one person is really thinking things through, they are going to blow everyone out of the water, so to speak.  To play casually, everyone would need to play casually for scores to be near each other.

What this means is that the scores are going to vary greatly based on players level of skill with strategy.  If you have a competitive group you are going to like this.  If you have sore losers who like to play games in a relaxed manner this isn’t going to be the best for you.

I think it is a balanced game with a well-integrated theme.  The components could be improved and a player aid would be magnificent.  Otherwise, you have a solid game for competitive players.

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