Broadsides – Gen Con 2016


What is it? Merchants and Marauders meets Star Realms (no deckbuilding, though)

The deets: 2 players, 45min

Designer: Chris Quilliams

Publisher: Z-Man Games

Pirates seem to be gaining favor within the hearts of gamers everywhere. Seafall was a big hit this year (Sadly I did not get a chance to try it out) and sold out pretty much instantaneously, but it wasn’t the only swashbuckling, high-seas-sailing game in the hall.


Broadsides, set in the same world as Merchants & Marauders, is a head to head game of ship combat. You take turns using a hand of cards to ready, aim, fire, targeting various parts of your opponents ship to destroy them before they destroy you. You can put holes in their hull or kill off their captain and first mate in order to claim victory.

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a minis game, or really a tactical game of any kind. It’s all about hand management; you have a fairly limited hand of cards and a whole lot of things to do. You use the cards – basically a deck of classic playings cards sans faces – in different combinations for different tasks. Want to fire your cannons? Use the aim action to place a card as a coordinate on your aim card, trying to nail as close to the center of the target as you can:

Ready... aim...
Ready… aim…

You’ll need two cards to reload – make that a pair if you want to fully reload a cannon. Straights provide defense – either forcing your opponent to discard cards, or lowering the damage when they fire at you.

In the meantime, bits will be falling off your ship, and that will affect what you can do. Lose sails, it’s going to be harder to defend. Lose crew, your accuracy goes down. Lose enough hull, well… that’s how your ship gets sunk. Your board is more of a health tracker for various parts of your ship.

Destruction is rampant. Taking into account that this was a demo and some rules may have been left out for ease of explanation and to keep demos moving along quickly, I blasted away a third of Andrew’s hull in my first shot and there was little he could do about it. Despite our card limits we fired back and forth (perhaps we should have saved some more cards for defense, eh?) until Andrew didn’t have a boat left. I’ve read there are ways to repair your ship and some special abilities that come in to play in the full game, which we did not have. I did think the aiming mechanism was fairly clever. The game seemed fast-paced and energetic, exactly the kind of thing you’d want in a ship-to-ship battle. The spite is low since you can only attack your direct opponent. I mean, that’s the point of the game, so if your feelings get hurt… well, you’re really playing the wrong game.

In some ways, this is similar to Star Realms. Not with the deckbuilding at all, but just at the focus of attacking the other player’s hit points as efficiently as you can. No score to worry about, really, just blasting away. Blast your friends ships to smithereens!

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

Discussion1 Comment

  1. I played this last night. I don’t see the Star Realms connection (or at least Star Realms more than any other 2p skirmish). I did enjoy the game, though. Underneath all the THEME, there’s a decent resource management game. And I especially like the anxiety that you can’t protect everything, and your ship IS headed for destruction. I’d play again.

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