Pirate themed games can be lots of fun. Stealing from friends, grabbing loot from a nearby isle, and charting your way to victory is usually something that people love in games, especially games like Pirate’s Cove and Merchants & Marauders.
What’s even better is that pirate games are implemented in different ways, but usually all share similar mechanics for things like scoring. However, when you combine strategy, programming, and area control all into one loot-plundering game, you’ll find yourself with Chrono Corsairs. It’s a game for 2 – 4 players that focuses on several pirates on a lost island. However, a deadly storm is present and will cause different effects based on the severity of the storm at the current time.
Players begin with two Officers and several crewmen. Officers can move on their own, but Crewmen can only move when accompanied by an Officer. Your goal is to control the Officers who will then drop Crewmen to gain control of the individual spaces and receive rewards.
A round in Chrono Corsairs is made up of 6 different phases.
To start a round, players advance the Storm Marker by 1 step. The storm marker has several zones, which will be reached at certain points in the game. The storm marker is also an end-of-game trigger, since when the marker reaches the final zone, the game ends.
Then players draw cards from the two Plan Decks (Unstable Deck & Stable Deck). Plan cards are used to form a player’s Time Loop (Groundhog Day style). A player’s Loop is planned on their player board with 4 Plan Cards. These cards have actions, and the actions are resolved from left to right on a player’s board.
Stable plan cards usually are more simple and based on moving to certain types of terrain on the island. Unstable plan cards are more complex with abilities such as moving multiple Officers and even killing other pirates. At the start of the game, players start with 4 plan cards that are the same for all players.
After this, players run their loops, and perform all the possible actions on their Plan Cards.
Then players earn treasure based on who controls what area on the map. Treasure consists of coins or crystals, which are used as points at the end of the game. Players then reset the board and redetermine turn order based on the amount of treasure they received.
Finally, players get a chance to upgrade their ships. Players can upgrade the amount of Crew, increase the number of cards they draw at the start of the round, and can also move a Plan Card within their loop.
If the final space on the Storm has been reached at this point, all players stop to score points and the game ends. The player with the most points wins.
Chrono Corsairs is a good game, but it has many flaws that make it less unique. Many things within Chrono Corsairs are different from other games I’ve played, and sometimes this leads to a varied experience.
First, if you don’t plan perfectly your whole turn might get completely messed up. Because of the way that your loop works, messing up at the start of your turn can completely impact the rest of your plans. This also happens with Officers. Because they are the only unit that can move Crew Members, messing up the placement of an Officer could be vital to controlling the needed areas of the island.
Second, Chrono Corsairs don’t feature any tactics or actions that you can take after you’ve run your loop. This makes the game feel full of strategy, which might not be right for you.
Third, the game can sometimes be very random. For example, the small number of cards you get at the start of the round can sometimes not help you get to the point that you need, which can put you far behind other players, and give you less room for making decisions.
Fourth, the default setup for loop cards at the start of the game is extremely dependent on the map being set up in a certain way. If the map is not set up right, players might even waste an entire round not doing anything because the loop cards didn’t align with the random setup. For example, to get a standard score in the first round, you might need to go from Forest > Beach > Rocks. However, the starting loop cards only let you go from Beach > Forest > Rocks.
However, Chrono Corsairs does have a few things going for it. If your planning goes well, running your loop can feel satisfying. Also, if the map setup is working for you, it can be an enjoyable game, that combines unique aspects of programming and area control that engage players.
My experience with Chrono Corsairs wasn’t a pleasant one, as I’m not fond of large, random elements that can heavily change gameplay. However, if this is something that seems like it’s for you, and you like area control, go ahead and try it out. If not, I’d stay away from it.
Final Score: 2.5 stars – If Chrono Corsairs was less random, it would be much more fun than it is now.
• Frustrating randomness
• Poor setup can lead to a bad gameplay experience