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Letter of Marque review: Beautiful But Boring Bluffing
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Thu Jan 27 2011, 09:57AM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Fri Jul 20 2007, 02:27PM
Posts: 199
I saw this game on sale for cheap at my local game store and decided on a whim to pick it up and try it out. I had been looking for good filler games and the box description sounded intriguing. It said something like "Try to get your treasure across the ocean while also stopping other players from doing the same". I also recognized Bruno Faidutti's name from one of my all-time favorite games, Citadels, so I figured it was worth the gamble.

As with all other Fantasy Flight games I've seen or played, the production and artwork are top-notch. It is easily one of the most aesthetically beautiful filler games in my collection. The little plastic ships are a very nice touch.

But that's about where my praise stops.

I just found this game to be incredibly boring and lacking any real depth or strategy, even by filler standards. In brief, the way gameplay works is that you have 5 treasure cards, you can defend 2 of them, and you can attack other ships 3 times. Ship owners decide secretly ahead of time whether a ship is defended or not. You then have to outguess them so that you attack only the undefended ships. This is the core of the game.

The problem is that there is no real strategy to it. Is your opponent defending his biggest treasure? Of course he is, so I shouldn't attack it. But he knows that I know that and won't attack, so he probably won't defend it. But I know... and so on. So ultimately, you don't know anything, and your choice to attack or not boils down to a pretty uneducated guess.

Worse than a lack of strategy is the fact that strategy is not even replaced by luck. Low-strategy games can be fun in the right crowd if they have high-luck. But LoM doesn't even offer that. When I lost the game I didn't feel that I failed strategically, and I didn't feel like I had simply been unlucky either. I just felt like I didn't care and that the whole process seemed kinda pointless.

If you want to play LoM, try this instead. Have everyone sit around the table and think of an integer. Now everyone takes turns guessing if someone else's integer is even or odd. If you guess right, get a point. Guess wrong and the other person gets a point. It's pretty much the same game and will save you $20.
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