Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Fleet

Game– Fleet

Producer– Gryphon Games

Price-$25 here 

Set-Up/Play/Clean-Up– 45 Min (2-4 players)

TL;DR– Fish meeples for the win! 90%

 

Basics– Hit the high seas for some cold cash!  In Fleet, you take the role of a sea captain on a newly opened sea trying to make the most money fishing.  What makes this game unique is the nature of the cards.  There are two types of cards: licenses and boats.  You must have a license to fish.  These licenses also give you extra abilities like drawing extra cards, using fish (points) to buy more cards, or cards being cheaper.  Licenses also give you more of that ability as you have more of one particular license.  The boat cards are used for money, as the boats themselves, and as captains.  So you have to decide, based on the cards you have, how you will pay to buy licenses, pay to launch boats only for licenses you have, or use the card as a captain.  Each turn starts with an auction phase for licenses.  You may only buy one license per turn, so no player is left completely out to sea.  Next, you can launch a boat that you have a license for by paying their launch cost from other cards in your hand.  After that, you can place a card face down on a boat (regardless of the boat type).  This boat is now captained.  Then, all captained boats gain one fish cube (point) each turn, to a maximum of four.  The final part of each turn is each player drawing two cards and discarding one.  The game continues until all the fish cubes are gone or there are no more licenses to buy.  When that happens, the player with the most points from fish, boats, and licenses at the end of that turn is the best fisherman and wins.

 

Mechanics-I like the mechanics of this game.  The fact that cards are money, boats, and captains all at once makes every choice you do very important.  You sometimes have to decide between giving up a boat to get a license to get more cards next turn OR to not get a license so you have more boats to get fish or a card to captain your boat.  BUT, you might not have enough boats to captain the boats you have, so you have to decide what will have to happen this turn.  It’s a fun level of frustration, and those little quick choices are important and fun.  The only major problem with this game is a serious run away victor problem.  There is NO mechanic to balance the game.  If someone is ahead, they will stay there until they themselves lose that position.  I enjoy the fact they can’t be attacked as it adds to the theme, but I would like some way to slow a player who breaks out ahead of the group.  Overall, it’s fun, quick, and surprisingly deep. 4.5/5

 

Theme-The game is fun, but I didn’t necessary feel like a fisherman.  You do several fishermen like things like get licenses, launch boats, or captain boats, but I would have liked a bit more story to my actions.  It’s not an abstract game by any means, but a little light on theme.  The game is fun, but don’t expect Arkham Horror levels of theme in this game. If you get the chance, buy the fish meeples (they’re cute and add that much more thematic elements to the game), 4/5

 

Instructions-The instructions work well, but there are a few problems that I still don’t think were answers.  The rules address the many mechanics built in fairly well giving lots of examples for how the licenses work etc., but I was left wondering about the roles of processing ships.  It’s a minor question, but the rules left me with a few of those.  There are no problems in these rules that will stop you from playing and enjoying the game, but little questions that will cause you to run to Board game Geek a few times a game. 4.5/5

 

Execution-This one is well put together.  It comes in a small box, and it’s cheap, sturdy, and well done.  The iconography works reasonably well after some explanation.  The cards themselves are good card stock and easy to read and understand.  The game come standard with blue cubes to represent the fish you catch, but this game is much better with the fancy fish meeples you can buy separately.  They are worth it! 5/5

 

Summary-I picked this one up when I bought Rococo (reviewed here ).  I loved that game, and this one was originally just part of the package deal I was working with the publisher to try to get some extra games since I’m greedy.  Honestly, I’m really glad I did.  This game is a ton of fun, plays fast (even on a first play through without reading the rules before hand), and is much more complex than you would think for a fishing card game.  The multiple uses for the cards will make you start to think hard on what to do on your turn, and you don’t often get that in a 45 minute card game.   This is a cheap fun game that is well worth the price you pay.  But if you can, buy the little fish meeples because fish meeples! 90%

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