Review: Malacca – pirates must know when to attack
I made that mistake just once. I did not guess strength of the enemy correctly, and when I fired at a passing ship, three more appeared on the horizon. They quickly caught us up, killed the whole crew and captured me. In prison, I lost an eye and a hand. I paid heavily for his indiscretion. Do not make the same mistake, watch your back and attack only, when you know, which way the wind blows!
We should all follow the advice of captain Rodrigo Orgóneze. And as we took his advice to heart, we can now try out in practice. Invaluable opportunity is offered to us by new game Malacca from new Czech publishing house Loris Games.
Behind Malacca stands a whole team: Jan Daněk, Jiří Daněk, Jan Dřevíkovský (he also illustrated the game), Jiří Dvořák, Ondřej Kares a Kryštof Kozák.. Some of them were in the background of one of the first Czech adventure board games – Dorn. Now they created a new label, that certainly did not say its last word by release of Malacca in 2013.
It is a card game. We will not doubt that, since we first see the package with the naval battle illustration. Commercial ship is crumbling under pirate raids on the narrow and tall box, but we are not afraid of their sabers and peek inside. There is a short rules in the same format as the box. And under its skinny eight pages, you will find stacks of cards. Besides these, there is also a bag of tokens with plastic silver and gold coins.
But most important are the cards. Top of them shows a parrot, which in combination with plastic stand will mark the beginning player. More important, however, are special cards, that can be divided into primary (players receive those at the beginning of the game) and advanced, they can get later during the match.
There are also cards with treasures, that serve as a higher value of money tokens – bills. For you, the pirates, the most important is prey – a dozen of ships, swiming carefree in the Caribbean. The remaining twenty cards serve as an expansion to basic game – eight captains and twelve pieces of equipment (lockpicks and luxury goods).
At the beginning of the game, players first take one piece of common action cards. They get a shopping card, one attack and one defense. With their help, they will decide each round, what to make with the approaching ships. A deck of twelve vessels is put in the middle of the table, where it will also serve as a round counter. Once the boats are all plundered, the end of the game is triggered. You place special action card decks on the side of the table and you´re ready to compete.
Each round begins by revealing one boat. That is the goal of your efforts, whether they will be commercial, offensive or you have a motive to defend that ship. You have to decide this, when you first see the ship, just like a real captain would do. All players lay one action card face down in front of them to make their choice. Its picture shows their reaction to appearance of the ship on the horizon. In addition to the cards, you must also add coins depending on how much you believe in the success of your strategy. This bet is very important, so pay close attention!
But the only combination of all cards decide, what actually happens. The result will affect all players and can only have two versions – either will ship be taken by force or on the contrary, players will defend it. In any case, players on the winning side are rewarded, either defenders or attackers. They´ll take the wagered money, plunder the ship (in case of success aggressive way) and split the money from those, who failed.
Traders in the event of a successful ship defense get their bets doubled, while defenders will share only finance of failed attackers. Moreover, being on the victorious defenders is the only way to get the special action cards, which are simply a stronger version of starting actions. They allow greater effect of attack or defense (+2 instead of +1), but they only for a single use: after playing, you must discard it.
This way you fight all twelve rounds before the end comes. Marketers have found, that this is not the safe route and redirected their boats elsewhere. You can definitely find their different route again and you can continue to attack them, but this is not, what the game is about. Player, who earned the most money from all honest and dishonest activities, is the winner.
Malacca will throw you in the middle of piracy efforts. Allows you to whether seek the path of peace, blood or shield. But the final result does not depend only on you, but on the other captains. More same decisions has more power and will most certainly win the fight, either stand on the side of a merchant ship or against it.
Players therefore have no choice, but to try to read others, see through their intentions and act accordingly. There is nothing worse, than when you are trying to trade, while the other attack or others perform a raid destroy your defense.
Special actions also allow you to wait a little longer, which is very convenient tactic. Unfortunately, obtaining of these cards is random and players must adapt their tactics to advanced cards, they are holding. But basically it should be the other way around, because everything else in the game is clearly defined.
For most of the turns, you have the same chance as others. Three cards and three options. Each will bring you money in another way. And then there are the special actions, that enrich the game and give it new tensions especially, because you know, that opponent has that card in his hand. Its atmosphere will remind you of Verräter and Meuterer by Marcel-André Casasol Merkle.
But in addition to the basic box cards, there are also two expansions – captains and equipment. The first will become the first moment, when each player has some distinct advantage over the others. But everyone has one and it is then up to the players, whether they can use it properly. New cards are adding a sense of uniqueness for each player and you should play with them every time. While equipment can be bought for your gold coins and increase your future income.
The great advantage of this game is its quickness. All cards are played simultaneously and gamers jointly participate in the evaluation. There is no waiting. Thanks to this, all turns pass quickly by and irrespective to number of players. But the experience itself definitely improves with the number of participants, because battles are more intense, balanced and much harder to look through.
A well managed is treatment of the whole game. The beautiful illustrations of ships and captains will delight you, all other cards work also very well and the authors did not use any language-dependent features. This allow the game to sell not only in our country, but also in the world. And this is also reason, why are you reading this review in English.
So, what is there to criticize about the game, except luck in drawing of special action cards? This is definitely not a game for two players. In this, game does not shine nearly as much brightly as is with more. And is also not so much fun, because fights often end in a draw. And then, they are decided in favor of the defense. Therefore, it is less convenient to attack than usual.
Malacca is a nice card game, that will serve well in the company of more people. You need to strategize and lean toward other players, vote with them, but still only follow your goals and profits. Three options are nice, but not too much to make Malacca unnecessarily complicated entertainment. Ship battles remain a matter, that will entertain everyone from beginners to advanced players..
Review: Malacca – pirates must know when to attack
Malacca is simple game, which forces you to try to outguess and attack other players. Each of participants becomes a captain of one ship and must decide for one of three possible options, whenever a new vessels shows up on the horizon. You can attack it, trade with its crew or defend it from other pirates. Based on majority, you find out, who gained supremacy and who fired his cannon in vain. Winners will then split loot from the defeated ones and increase their property, which cant hen be used to bet on your choice. And it makes everything really interesting and tense in each turn. Players are trying to guess choice of others to always be on victory side. This means, there is also big space for bluffing. There are two expansions already in the box, which will enrich the game even more. Yet there is not luck in the game, which is graphically done in excellent way. Just two players games are not, what it could have been. Malacca remains nice and pleasant surprise and excellent fun, which makes time pass by really quickly with its short gametime..
Reader Rating0 Votes
really nice pictures
quick game and constant involvement of all players