Okay, so, new poly-card CSG whatever, due out at Gen Con and I don’t think it got a sneak release anywhere although I could be wrong. OgreCave obtained four packs and got sort-of-enough ships to play a three-player game. If we had played a two-player game we would definitely have had fleets that made sense, although still not enough for a reserve fleet (that is, for the 30-points-all-over-again of ships that you can build on the fly during the game if you collect the right resources). So we didn’t even put the resources in. This led to a somewhat abbreviated version of the game, but it was still enough to sell Chris on the game completely. (Note, however, that Chris has never played Pirates of the Spanish Main.)
The ships look great for the most part. The standard banana-ship design for two of the factions isn’t terribly interesting, but the Martian and Venusian ships we got are very cool. They may be standard designs for the cruisers in those factions, however. (Every ship we got in four packs was a cruiser, the family-size minivan of the game’s spaceship classification. No squads of little fighters, and no full-size fighters that I recall. Looks like the biggies are this game’s mainstay, just like in PotSM.) Flow of play is much more gamer-y than PotSM – the goal is to take over the opponent’s base or DESTROY HIM. At least in the two-player rules that we, um, played by.
So, barring the whole resource-collection thing (which I think would work better if you started with, say, 15 points of ships and held 45 points in reserve, instead of 30/30… but I haven’t tried it), your goal is to fly around, shoot stuff, not get shot, crash into stuff and board it, and not get crashed into and boarded. All of this happens when ships spend their action points, which are marked AP but that actually stands for something goofy and story-related, so, action points. Combat is straightforward enough that I don’t actually remember how it works right now. Boarding is brutal, heavy on dice, and tends to destroy both entities involved rather quickly. It is also how you take over a base, so you’ll be seeing some of it – especially if you play with a fatalistic bastard like myself. Movement is much more anal, and frankly better, than it is in PotSM (or PotCC or whatever). Well, not anal, really: you spend action points to go straight, then you spend one to pivot. It’s clear, fudge-resistant, and nice.
I think I’ll stop there for now, because I expect Chris will jump in in the comments.