GTS ’04 wrap-up: Pirates of the Spanish Main

I was fortunate enough to finally track down Mike Selinker and James Ernest at GTS last week, lead designers of the new WizKids “contructible” game, Pirates of the Spanish Main, announced at the Galactus banquet. After walking with the two of them to the WizKids booth, I watched the two examine the polystyrene punchout ships carefully. Selinker explained that the ships have movement and weapon ranges measured by the long and/or short sides of the game’s cards. When a ship is damaged, one of the multiple masts is removed from the freestanding, slotted-together ocean vessel. Each mast also represents a cannon, and has a die face showing both the target number needed and the range of the cannon (shown by the die’s color somehow). Tiny dice accompany the booster pack style game packages, though I couldn’t tell if they were a particular color themselves.

It was rather interesting watching the two designers, both partners in a new design studio called LoneShark, see their own game in a near-production version for the first time. While telling me about the game, Ernest and Selinker would each stop occasionally, mid-sentence, and say to the other, “Oh, that’s interesting,” or “Look at what this captain’s ability says.” Obviously, the game is continuing to be adjusted by WizKids designers. However, the core game and many nuances are all LoneShark. The ship names, easily visible down the side of each vessel, were a point of pride for Selinker, especially for the Spanish fleet. As Mike pointed them out to us, James just shook his head and smiled.

At the WizKids banquet, retailers didn’t react well to the news of an ante mechanic built into the game (basically, whoever wins the gold tokens each game keeps them when the game is over, and can trade them for yet-to-be-determined stuff later). One retailer even muttered, “Well, that’ll kill the game.” When I mentioned this to Mike and James, they each nodded knowingly. “It’ll be an interesting experiment,” James said. “That was added after our part.”

In any case, Mike and James have sold the script to the studio, and time will tell if WizKids brings home the gold with Pirates of the Spanish Main, or sinks the game before it leaves the harbor.


  1. First: “Constructible” is obviously synonymous with “Collectible.” Calling it otherwise is misleading.

    Second: That’s not a “new game type,” it’s a way of applying the “Collectible” marketing tactic to a strategy game. Same scam, different name.

  2. Yeah, pretty much. The fact that it’s packaged to look just like CCG booster packs only reinforces that impression. However, I’m not adverse to buying a few packs to get a look at what might be an interesting game system.

  3. “Constructible,” I thought, applies to the fact that you have to put the ships together… and may, over the life of the game, refer to having to *collect the pieces*. We already saw some of this in Mage Knight 2.

  4. Bah! “Constructible” … “Collectible.” It’s all the same and goes back all the way to marble. Why not add “Collectible” to RPG? So many of us “collect” so many supplement for one line or another. Why not “collectible” Lego? Misleading or not, it’s an advertising ploy that does not warrant a court appointment. Chalk it up to “Consumer Warning” and leave it.

  5. I tend to apply the “Collectible” label to those games marketed with pieces or cards of varying levels of rarity. If you get the same lot of ships in each box, then I’d say “Collectible” doesn’t apply. Even less so, if you can determine which ship comes in which package; although that’s unlikely. Still, I’m willing to wait and see how the game itself plays. I want to see how they package the tiny dice too. We’ll see how the treasure ante mechanic works out.

  6. I think the concept sounds really cool hopfully the rule is a little more (cut and dryed dat is it) the hero clix was all the damn nerd rule lawyering became really stupid with the rules seeming to change from week to week. I have high hopes for this one though.

  7. I like the sounds of it. James has made some damn good games in his day. So has Mike. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Comments are closed.