Game Review: ‘Rolling Plunder’

A Tabletop Game About 18th Century Pirates on the High Seas

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When pirates come to mind, we often think of treasure hunts, pillaging towns, and evading the Royal Navy. Moreover, one often-ignored area of history by the gaming community is after raiding a ship that was a better or more well-equipped vessel, pirates often seized it rather than sinking or burning it. Pirate captains built their fleets with scrounged vessels, using each capture as a chance to improve their prospects.

With that in mind, the Rolling Plunder card-and-dice game by War Games LLC presents raiding in a way to that allows players to upgrade their fleet. It’s better to be a retired pirate than a dead pirate, and Rolling Plunder lets you build your empire to ensure you can enjoy the fruits of your plunder.

The publisher describes Rolling Plunder as a “swashbuckling card & dice adventure game…hoist your black flag, terrorize the seas, and build your reputation as the greatest pirate in history.”

Rolling Plunder Game Summary

Number of players: 2 and 4 (solo option)
Time: 20-30 minutes
Age: 8+
Game type: resource/strategy
Gamer type: casual/ fun
Complexity: 4

The story of Rolling Plunder revolves around a classic pirate yarn: You are a captain, and you want to claim booty. While the story is as old as seafaring humanity has been around, the difference is that players build their armada to compile victory points.

Standout Story and Classic Artwork

In the board game, you are not the pirate that drinks away all the loot; instead, you are the pirate saving for a comfortable retirement. This change to the classic buccaneer story gives a different ambience to the game and makes for a fun change of pace from the other pirate games on the market. As such, Rolling Plunder qualifies for a 6.5 out of 10 in the story category.

The artwork of the game conveys a classical nautical feel. The artwork is well developed and gives the player the sense of the salty sea air. One of the nice features of the ship deck is the universal artwork for the play style (although a couple of R.M.S. ships do have English text). This makes the game easy to adapt to other languages. Overall, the artwork scores a 7 out of 10. The ship drawings are really quite good.

Thought-Provoking Mechanics and Strategy

The mechanics of the game are interesting. On each turn, you can hunt for ships or recruit a crew. This feature offer a three-phase randomizer, which helps balance out skill levels. The hunting for ships is determined by the card you flip from the ship deck. Will it be a lowly sloop or the H.M.S. Bounty? It comes down to the luck of the draw.

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Once the ship is selected, the player can choose to attack it or slink away. When recruiting crew, a player can recruit up to the number of crew on the ship and the level. This means better ships allow for more crew. More crew members add abilities, thereby advancing the action from random to planned moves. This game has a good balance of randomization and player strategy to appeal to most gamer types, earning it a score of 7.5 for mechanics.

The strategy of this game is also interesting. Players can have a lot of fun trying to fight for ships that outclass them. If a player picks up a R.M.S. ship early in the game, going on offense pays off. You can also slowly build up your power while getting a complimentary crew, which seems to be the best “safe” strategy. “Zerg Rush” and defense are present, but less applicable in this game, thus Rolling Plunder earns a strong 7.5 strategy score.

Novelty and Overall Rating

Rolling Plunder is one of the more novel pirate-themed games one the market. Almost anyone can participate. When combined with the quick play time, Rolling Plunder works well as a fun “starter” game at parties. That any anyone can download a free print-and play-version is also very forward-thinking. The PDF version allows players give the game a try before investing in it.

Spoiler alert: You will probably want to invest in it. This is a novel game, receiving an 8 in this category.

Overall, this is a good, quick game. Players should have a enjoyable time playing and building up their fleets. With an overall score of 36.5, this game has a monster of a card game score.

With a theme that everyone loves, War Games LLC has a winner with Rolling Plunder. We also salute them for being a veteran-owned and operated company. Thank you all for your service.

Christopher W Smithmyer
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