Black Fleet addresses the fundamental underlying issue that plagues the overwhelming majority of trade and commerce boardgames: the inability to attack other players and keep their trade goods from reaching market by violent means.
Too often do yokels carrying their goods to market go unmolested by bandits and brigands while castles, churches and industry spring up around them. Well no more! Ready the cannons and drop the mainsail, we’re going to be taking those abstract units of commerce by force!
First of all, this game is beautiful and its components are a joy. Merchant ships and pirate ships are functionally cast in high detailed molds that allow them to carry the resources from port to port, in-game currency is made up of little gold and silver doubloon tokens and the whole thing is stored neatly in a skull & crossbones tray.
Gameplay is quick and very fluid; each player has movement cards which when played determine the number of spaces he or she can move their merchant ship, their pirate ship and one of two navy ships. The Merchant ships move trade goods from port to port, pirate ships attempt to steal trade goods and bury them, and the two neutral navy ships move about sinking pirate ships. Each of these actions earns the player money with which they buy various player-specific upgrades that are randomly selected at the start of the game.
It’s great, it’s bloody, it’s violent, it’s exciting. If you’re tired of your ships in Castles of Burgundy not letting you raid the commerce of other barons or your knights in Catan unable to perform chevauchees through the countryside, Black Fleet is the Trade and Commerce game for you!