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

March 22nd, 2004: Allan Sugarbaker says...
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.

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