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[GDS] Feedback Request- #30 Plunder on the Horizon

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drktron's picture
Joined: 07/18/2010

Here's my entry for the GDS. It took me awhile to figure out how to insert the images properly (a big thanks to loonoly for posting the markdown link). I had some trouble formatting the entry so a lot of it ran together at first making it confusing (my fault for not previewing it). So I'm not sure if that hurt me in the voting or not; there were a lot of entries better than mine so I don't mind. I tend to be long-winded (ask my wife) so it was a struggle to cut it down to 800 words. So if anything it was good practice in writing concise rules. I don't think I succeeded in that regard but it was well-needed practice :). Anyway, any feedback would be appreciated.

Plunder on the Horizon

By drktron

“Ship off the port bow! Run up our flag, ready the cannons and prepare for battle!! There’s plunder to be had!”

Players are pirate captains looking to plunder the most gold from unsuspecting merchants before their fellow pirates beat them to it. After 5 ships are plundered, the player with the most gold wins!


TIME: 10-20 min


12 standard d6 24 custom d6 (10 cannon, 5 sail, 5 maneuver, 4 captain’s orders) 18 cards (5 battle, 4 pirate ships, 9 merchant ships)

Plunder on the Horizon - Dice dhart


  1. Shuffle the 9 ship cards and place 4 of them aside. The rest form a draw pile. Place the top card in the center of the table. Place a d6 on each side of it for each player corresponding to the ship’s hull number. Place near it a battle card, 1 sail, 1 maneuver, and 2 cannon dice.

Plunder on the Horizon - ship battle

  1. Each player takes a pirate ship card, a combat card, 2 cannon dice, 1 sail die, 1 maneuver die, 1 captain’s order die, and 2 d6. Each places a d6 on the hull spot as a “6” and another d6 on the distance spot set to the merchant ship’s Sail #. Place the captain’s order die next to the “<3” on the player ship card.

Plunder on the Horizon - pirate


Play is simultaneous. Players take their maneuver die (N, S, E,W, NW,NE) and choose a side. This determines both where their ship will move and how they will fire their cannons. If you chose:

N or S: place maneuver die(your ship) in the Steady zone of your ship card. Roll 1 Cannon and 1 Sail. Place in any 1 zone of your battle card.

E or W: place maneuver die in starboard (E) or port (W). Roll 2 Cannon (Broadside!) and place both in the same zone (any).

NW or NE: place maneuver die in port or steady (NW) OR in starboard or steady (NE). Roll 2 Cannon and place in any two different zones.

A player then rolls the merchant’s maneuver die:

N or S: place in the merchant’s Steady zone. Roll 1 cannon and 1 sail and place both in Steady battle zone.

E: place in starboard. Roll 2 cannon and place them in the starboard battle zone.

W: place in port. Roll 2 cannon and place in port.

NE: place in starboard. Roll 2 cannon and place one in steady and one in starboard.

NW: place in port. Roll 2 cannon and place one in steady and one in port.

For each hit you rolled in the same zone that the merchant ship is located , lower its hull rating by 1 (use the merchant’s d6 closest to you). For each hit the merchant rolled in the same zone as your ship reduce your hull rating by one. If the distance is 2 or less add one damage. For each sail the merchant rolled add one to your distance die. For each sail you rolled subtract one from your distance die (add 1 if you maneuvered South). If the distance reaches 7 the merchant escaped! Resume combat when the next merchant is drawn. If the distance reaches 0 commence boarding. You and the merchant roll a cannon die. Add number of hits rolled to your hull number. If your total is higher, you plunder the ship.

Continue choosing a maneuver and rolling cannons and sails until the merchant’s hull is reduced to zero or is successfully boarded. The first to reduce the merchant’s hull to 0 or successfully board the ship plunders the ship and claims its gold. If tied both get the gold.

Draw a new merchant ship. Reset distance. Pirates repair 2 hull. Repeat combat with new merchant. After 5 ships are plundered, the player with the most gold wins.


If your hull is reduced to 0 or you lose boarding you must sit out combat until the next merchant is drawn. Reset your ship like the start of the game. You lose the gold from the most recent merchant you plundered.


These are special actions you can take during battle. You start off with 3. Move the CO die down the scale each time you use it. If you failed to plunder the merchant you may move it up by one (max 3) when a new ship is drawn. You may use only one CO per roll. The 4 CO are: Reload: Re-roll 1 cannon Maneuver: Re-roll 1 sail Repair: Increase your hull by 1 Reefs: Place in a battle zone. If the merchant moves into this zone it takes one damage. Remove after 1 roll.


Always sails toward you (N or S roll)!


Duel your fellow pirate! Place Maneuver die and roll in secret.

Joined: 01/24/2010
Drktron, The things I really


The things I really like about the design are the simultaneous action selection and resolution and the players dueling each other. Focusing on those two points would make the game a fun play in my opinion.

One of the problems I have with the design is that it has a paper rock scissors element to it that has no pre information going into it. You are trying to make choices to outguess a die roll when you play to take down the merchant ships. That doesn't make for compelling decision making in my opinion because you cannot outthink a random element.

Now the player duelling. That has a very compelling element of choice. You would have to add one more piece to make certain attacks more or less desirable at times. Say for instance if you had hit locations for your hull rating forcing players to choose between protecting a damaged location or being aggressive.

Just a few thoughts.

Joined: 01/24/2010
By the way, typing that much

By the way, typing that much on my phone using swype is difficult!!

drktron's picture
Joined: 07/18/2010
Thanks for your reply and the

Thanks for your reply and the extra effort on your phone. I agree that was the weak point of the game. I preferred the 2 player duel and that how I designed it at first. I tried to modify it into a multiplayer game because Michael M had indicated that's what he preferred. I hoped that the other choices the player makes and the "light" nature of the contest would be enough to offset this flaw. Obviously not the case. I had other elements like crew size that I trimmed for simplicity.

I like your idea of hit locations to force more meaningful decisions.
Another idea I toyed around with was that each player would have the same 4 ships (each ship a different type). The current player would choose one of his ships to sail (playing the roll of the merchant) while the other players tried to plunder it. If the mechant player escaped he'd score for his ship ( and any ship he sank in the process) while the first pirate player to plunder it gets the gold for the merchant ship. Then the next player would choose on of his merchants to sail and so on. So in this way the merchant isn't just random. This didn't work with the component restriction however. So maybe I'll work on this idea while adding another element like you mentioned.

Thanks again for your input :)

Joined: 01/17/2011
Running the gauntlet

My general feedback on the competition entry would mimic the previous poster: namely that playing RPS vs a die is no fun, but the duel mechanic has potential.

Along those lines, like the sound of your later suggestion to take turns running a merchant ship through the pirate gauntlet. That way you keep the player interaction at a maximum.

Here's an idea:
Each player has 6 ships - 1 pirate, 1 warship, and 4 merchants. Each day, each player secretly chooses one of their ships to sail. The merchants work together with the warships to get safely to the other side, while the pirates try to sink them. The pirates can be reused from day to day (unless they get sunk, of course), but the merchants and warships are single-use only. So there is a bit of a bluffing game going on -- you want to put your merchants in when the other players play warships, and you want to put your pirates in when there are a merchants but no warships. Balance the reward against risk (a single merchant who survives makes a huge profit, but if everybody plays merchants they each make only a small profit).


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