Last week WizKids announced the relaunch of the Pirates of the Spanish Main property. Pirates of the Spanish Main – Shuffling the Deck card game draw inspiration and spirit from the old game, but otherwise unrelated and incompatible with the previous game.

   Shuffling the Deck will be a stand-alone card game, designed by Bryan Kinsella (Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Lords of the Rings Nazgul) and Phil Harding, a fresh-new developer, who entered the scene through Wizkids search for the next great designer.

   Apart from the horrible pun in it’s name, I guess it could be a very good addition to the growing numbers of boardgames produced by WizKids. On the other hand I’m not happy that the game gets the “Mage Knight treatment” : fans of the old game receive something entirely different with the same brand tacked on it.

   I really don’t understand, that why WizKids abandon old but proved designs. I’m pretty sure that many people loved the old game, and even Justin Ziran stated that “Pirates was a huge part of WizKids and created a new category (CSG) of gaming.” With not less than 11 expansions I think that Pirates of the Spanish Main was a very successful constructible strategy game, involving naval combat, treasure and special characters.

 A praise about the old game…

   I had few chance to actually play the original Pirates of the Spanish Main, but it was definitely a good game. The ships featured different kind of cannons (short and long-range, with a dice roll to hit), as well as innovative mechanics for turning and speed. Many ships also featured special abilities to help them. Both damage and the still available cannons was represented by masts, and if a ship lost all of it’s mast it sunk. The abilities of a ship could be further enchanted by a captain, a special crew and equipment.

   The goal of the game was to collect treasures from islands, and defend what you already gained, meaning a need for balanced fleets. Later the game was expanded by many interesting features, including mystical ships, sea monsters, island forts and special terrain.

I hope the new card game will be as much fun as the old game was.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros