Tides of Infamy is a golden age of piracy free-for-all where the goal is to be the most infamous raider (obviously!). It’s a fun, simple
dungeon sea crawler where 2 to 4 players discover islands to loot, rifts to dive into and even a ghost ship!
What is Tides of Infamy like?
In Tides of Infamy, each player controls 3 different ships with different speeds, capacity and combat stats. The bigger the more weapons and more space generally, but the slower the ship. The goal is to explore the ocean, collect resources from different islands and bring those resources back to Pirate HQ to collect Marks of Infamy (what us non-pirates would call victory points). Reach a certain amount of victory points and you arrrr the winner.
The map is divided into 3×3 tiles that start face down until a ship enters the tile, and the map is semi-randomly generated every time. Only semi because a number of tiles must be present: enough resources for someone to win, the ghost ship, some rifts. Plenty of replayability. Once the tile is revealed, a few things can happen: the ship navigates into open sea, the ship lands on an island and can collect its resources, the ship enters a rift and appears somewhere else, or the ship crashes into some rocks.
Rocks destroy the ship and send it back for repairs. All its loot is now floating in the space it previously occupied. Rifts are teleports to any other rift. Islands contain resources, and there are a bunch of types, with different values. Additionally, landing on the tile that contains the ghost ship square will activate it. The ghost ship will now roam the seas.
To move about, players draw a number of cards depending on active ships and these are either a repair card (repairs broken ships), or a movement card (move X amount of squares). These movement points can be used to go to islands, return to Pirate HQ, move away from the ghost ship… or attack others! Yes, that is right, where is all the swashbuckling and all the blood pirates must deliver? Right here!
Combat occurs when ships from different players are on the same square and has two variants. Players draw cards depending on the ships involved and on the simple version it’s just a matter of who has the highest card. The advanced version has a little more meat to it, but boils down to a poker variant. The loser(s) lose the ship and the loot goes to the winner, who still has to deliver it to Pirate HQ… and he might be ambushed on the way!
Last but not least, the movement cards sometimes also come with crossbones that trigger events. These events are generally “sink someone’s ship”. For example, the ship that is carrying the loot they just stole from you.
Tides of Infamy is a fun, simple game. The rules are quick to learn and anyone can join… and who does not like pirates? Do not expect a deep gaming experience, however: move, fight, loot,… and that is it.
The random element is ever-present in the game: semi-random map with hidden tiles, random movement (and you can end up with a bunch of repair cards you cannot use), random events, random ghost ship movement. This is not negative, it goes in line with what the game tries to be, but be aware of it before playing.
The game excels at recreating the theme. You can really feel the treacherous, backstabby looks other players will give your ships and it is all very pirat-ey.
The finish is excellent. The materials are great, and those tiles look incredibly durable: as they should be if the game is to be played many times.
- Easy and quick to learn. Anyone can play.
- Pirates! Theme is well reproduced.
- The randomness: random is good, as long as skill can mitigate its effects. Skill has very little impact in Tides.
While there are many rules to the game it plays very smoothly and is not that complicated. It’s very easy to explain and understand.
- Players: 2 – 4 (3+ better)
- Playing time: 60 min
- Suggested age: 8+
Looks too similar to Black Ship.