Last month I had the honor to receive a reviewer’s copy for Fish N Ships and I am glad I had the chance to play this game with my friends as we’ve had lots of fun battling each other for treasures!
Fish N Ships is a fast paced, pirate themed card game that has players race each other in order to collect a unique combination of treasures and become the best pirate of the Seven Seas! I wrote a preview on this game about a month and a half ago. You can go check it out if you want to freshen up your memory.
The mechanics in this game are classic for a card game: card drafting and hand management. There’s also a take that aspect into it, given that players can fight each other to steal treasures. It will take you less than 5 minutes to learn but the fun provided will last much longer than that!
How to play Fish N Ships
The game consists of two decks of cards: a red one, containing Treasures, Tide-Turners, Skulduggery cards and Cannonball cards, and a blue one, containing Stack Abilities and Goal Cards. The Tide-Turner cards have special abilities that can be used throughout the game and the Goal Cards contain unique combinations of 5 treasures that the players must collect.
To setup the game, you have to separate these decks and then follow these rules:
Place the Stack Ability cards face-up near the center of the play area
Shuffle the Goal Cards and distribute one to each player, face-dwn
Shuffle the red deck and give 4 cards to each player
Place the red deck in the center of the play area
The game can now begin. Players can check their Goal Cards whenever they want, but they have to keep it secret during the match. On his turn, a player can do one of the following actions:
Draw 2 cards
Use a Skulduggery card to steal a treasure
Lock down a treasure card from hand by placing it face-up in front of themselves
Attack a player
The player may discard two Treasure Cards before taking their turn in order to take two actions instead of one. Also, if a player begins their turn with an empty hand, they can take two actions on their turn.
When locking down treasures, if a player locks down 2 or more treasures of the same type (each one on different rounds, of course), they may take a Stack Ability card from the center of the play area and place it on top of the two treasures. The ability takes effect starting with the next turn and it stays active until it is stolen or if the treasures stack drops below two cards.
When attacking someone, the player has to place a Cannonball card in front of them. The defending player must return fire with a single card (if they have any) and so on, until a player responds with a cannonball that is less than their opponent’s or the attacker ties. The winner gets to take a number of cards equal to their strength difference from their opponent’s hand.
The first player who collects all the treasures on their Goal Card is the winner. Great news is, you do not have to have all the treasures locked down in order to win. You only need to have them in your possession, which includes both your locked down cards and those in your hand.
My thoughts on Fish N Ships
The one thing that we enjoyed a lot about this game is how fast it plays and how much player interaction there is! Usually when we play other games we check our phones or talk about other subjects when our turn ends, as it takes a few minutes until it’s our turn again. However, this was not the case with this game. We often found ourselves telling others that it’s their turn, as the game plays really fast. It’s your turn, you decide to draw two cards and then you decide to check your phone. But guess what, you barely manage to unlock the phone and it’s your turn again, or someone is attacking you!
The fact that you do not have to lock down all the treasures on your Goal Card in order to win allows you to play the game in many ways. You can try and lock down all the treasures you need, maybe stacking some of them and getting some Stack Abilities on your way to victory, but risk getting your treasures Skulduggery-ed by others. There’s also the possibility to play stealthier, by keeping all the treasures in your hand so people do not know how close you are to winning, but you’ll risk getting attacked more often because people will want your treasures anyway. I tend to mix these and take advantage of Stack Abilities if I can while also keeping some treasures in hand.
The Tide-Turner cards can really be game changers if used correctly! If you are losing a battle, one of these cards can be your life saver! There are some Tide-Turners that can strengthen your cannonballs and some that can make your opponent’s weaker! Having these cards in hand can give you huge advantages, so make sure to hold on to them when you draw or steal any, and then use it when it’s best for you!
I’ve tried it at all player counts and I can say for sure that it feels just as good at all numbers! I’ve also tried it with friends and family and it worked well with both! My dad liked it, as he is a big fan of the Pirate of the Caribbean series, and he liked the puns and the artwork. My mom enjoyed how easy it is to play and agreed to play it again in the future!
The only bad thing I have to say about it is that the box is too big for the components. It would be as good even if it was half the size. But with such a nice artwork on the box front, it doesn’t affect me much, as it looks very nice on my shelf.
Fish N Ships is a great card game that is both easy to learn and fast to play. The theme fits well and you will really feel like a pirate while playing it. The game will go through a Kickstarter campaign in February next year, so keep an eye on their Instagram page.
Designer: Ephraim L. McCormick
Publisher: Goodfellow Games Co.
Time: 10-20 min
Times played: 8
Full disclosure: A copy of Fish N Ships was provided by the game designer.
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