Francis Drake review

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16 December 2015
francisdrake-23270.jpg Francis Drake
Don't judge a game by its cover!

Eagle-Gryphon Games | Worker placement | 3-5 players | 90-120 minutes | 

It has to be said that Francis Drake has one of the least eye-catching boxes you could possibly imagine. However, despite its lack-lustre façade, it is a genuinely excellent game that brags some superb components. Never has the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” been more applicable!

A game of Francis Drake consists of three sea voyages. Before each voyage, you upgrade your ship, recruit crew, seek favours, load cannons or purchase supplies and goods. You start at one end of the dock and take it in turns to move along - claiming effects from available spaces. Sometimes, you might want to jump forward and claim an effect before your opponent can take it. However, if you do this, you can’t go back to spaces you skip. 

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Eventually, everyone sets sail and the distance you can travel is determined by the number of supplies on-board. First, you secretly place numbered disks at locations on the map. These disks determine the order of visits. During your voyage, you can spend goods to claim commodities, dispatch crew members to fight, or use cannons to combat forts or galleons. Beating a location generates points, and if you’re the first to do so you receive a bonus treasure. 

After you complete your third voyage, the game ends and points are awarded for your commodities and treasures. Finally, the player with the most points wins! Francis Drake plays a lot faster than you first expect. It has some really tight gameplay and an interesting blend of worker placement, set collection and combat. The competition for treasure is genuinely quite tense and can make a game of Francis Drake a really cut-throat affair! It’s definitely a must-have game if you’re a worker placement fan and love quality design or high-end components.

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