Game Overview: In Tides of Infamy, you command three pirate ships as you battle against other pirates, sea monsters, a Ghost Pirate ship, the unknown seas and the objects it may contain.  Your ships will be seeking out gem tokens that are hidden on islands or declaring an attack on other pirates that have already plundered the islands and taken possession of those valuable tokens. As the game progresses, you will earn Marks of Infamy that go towards being declared the winner and the most infamous pirate.

Box Contents: All of the components in the box are quite amazing and are top notch.  From the very detailed ships, to the ingenious idea for the tokens that fit onto the masts of the ships.  The twenty eight thick cardboard sea tiles each measure 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches.  Even the player aid tiles are the same size as a normal sea tile.  In addition, the art on the sea tiles and all of the cards are exceptional.  The box itself has four compartments that easily hold all of the contents of the game.

Clarity of Rules:  The rule book is a twenty eight page colored manual that is very detailed with multiple images throughout it that explain the game play.  What I really liked about the manual was how they bolded anything that addressed the rules for scoring the Marks of Infamy and placed all rules about team play in italics.

Game Play:  The game begins with just one sea tile being shown, which is a harbor tile.  You are required to use at least fifteen of the tiles to play the game.  I think the best game play occurs when you use every single tile. Because of the size of the sea tiles, you will need a big space to play the game.  Each round, players draw three movement cards, one for each ship. These can be anywhere from two moves up to five moves.  In addition there is a special movement card that allows you to move your ship a set number of spaces, and then you immediately draw another movement card for that same ship.  You may also draw repair cards, which allow you to speed up the repair process if your ship is damaged.  Each tile has 9 spaces on it that your ships can move through.  As you move into an unexplored tile, you flip it over to reveal it.  You will find an arrow on the tile, which you must place on the side of the tile that you entered.  You hope to find islands or ports which will then have tokens placed onto them.  Some of them can be worth as much as three Marks of Infamy, which are used towards winning the game.  You may also run into rocks or ice bergs and if your ship moves into them blindly, they are damaged and must return to your harbor tile to be repaired.  You may also find portals which allow you to move from one portal to another, which can be used strategically to move around the board.  A tile may be turned over that shows a Pirate Ghost Ship that begins to move on its own when a Pirate Luck card is played.  The Ghost Ship may play havoc on the game by moving the tokens.  Not everything is bad though, as there are many tiles with nothing but great art on them that allow you to move through them.  As you move around the board obtaining the different token gems, your different boats can only hold so many of the discovered tokens.  The Man of War can hold up to 6 Tokens, the Bilander can hold 4, and the Sloop of War just 2.  When drawing certain movement cards, you may find a Pirate Luck card symbol, which allows you to play it on your opponents.  The results can be good or bad.  If they are good, you are awarded a Treasure Chest token.  If they are bad, you will have to leave all tokens behind that you may have and must return your boat to your harbor.  At any time another pirate can engage in a battle with you.  You do not have to be carrying any gem tokens.  However, if you are and you are defeated the other ship takes over those tokens.  Resolving battles can be done in one of two ways.  We have picked the easier method which is similar to the card game War.  This has worked well for us since we are playing with the kids.  The other method is similar to poker to see who has the best hand to determine the winner. Game play continues until someone has obtained the required Marks of Infamy.  These can be won by returning the tokens to your home harbor, by winning a battle, by having multiple Pirate Luck cards played upon you, or by exploring any of the last seven sea titles.

Replay Ability: You will never have the same game board, since the sea tiles are placed randomly. With the players not knowing where the gems are the replay ability is very high.  You also have the ability to play against each other or as teams, which gives the game a different feel.

Appropriate Audience: The box suggests 13+ years old.  Our eleven year old son easily learned the rules and game play. 

What We Liked/Didn't Like:  There were just a few rules that we didn't like. The first, Mom did not like how once someone engaged your ship in battle they did not have the option of trying to escape and move.  If you win the battle,  you still can move.  For Dad, he wasn't a fan of how you can approach the harbor tile with the gem tokens and be one move away from scoring those points, only to have someone leave their own harbor tile where they can engage in a battle right away.  We have always played with both harbor tiles and I have considered a home rule making one an entry point and one an exit point to avoid this scenario. We wish there was a better way to track which boat has moved and which boats haven't.  The manual suggests using the cards to track this.  We decided to use pennies instead by placing them over the boat on your harbor tile after they have moved. The art on the Pirate Luck cards is really good, however, they are not the same.  The kids started to figure out what was good and what was bad before they were played, so we decided to keep them in the Pirate Luck box that they come in when drawing.  I think it could have been better if they all had the same back.  We really, really like the components. These are by far the best components that we have seen in our game reviews. Overall, despite these few issues we had, it is a game that the boys in the family really enjoyed and will come back to it many times in the future.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  An upcoming expansion, titled Rise of the Gods, is currently being worked on by the publisher.

**A preview copy of the game was provided to us.