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Precious Cargo

Precious Cargo is a two-player pick up and deliver game in which players move back and forth between two countries, picking up goods and taking them to be sold.

So hoist the anchor, raise the sail, and set out as you create a fleet of ships and become a master merchant.

Gameplay

There are two countries, one on the left side of the board and one on the right, each with four ports. Each player represents one of these two countries, starting the game with one sail ship and choosing one of the four ports in their country to place it. They also place one of their governor meeples at this port.

Each country has three unique types of goods they produce, and both countries make food. During setup you also place a tile on each port that shows what type of good from the other country is currently in demand at that specific port.

On your turn, you begin by moving as many of your ships as you choose. The number of sails mark how many spaces it can move. The ports are all connected by lines with dots marking one space of movement. Only one ship at a time can occupy a dot. Each ship can have up to three sails. There are only four spaces on the ship, however, so each space taken by a sail reduces the amount of goods that can be carried.

After you have moved your ships you may take up to two actions (both actions must be different). You may place one of your governor meeples at any port one of your ships is currently in (including an opponent's port). You may move one of your ships one space. You may spend money to add a sail to a ship if that ship is at a port with one of your governors, or you may spend money to build a new ship at a port with one of your governors. A ship at port may pick up as many pieces of one type of good as you want/have room for. The final option is to sell goods.

When selling goods, you earn extra if selling it at a city where that good is in demand. Also, after selling goods at a city where they are in demand, you draw a new tile for the port so that a new good will be in demand there. With the exception of food, you may not sell goods to the same country in which you picked it up. If a governor is present at a port when goods are sold there, the player who controls that governor earns one coin. The first player to earn twenty-five coins wins the game.

Precious Cargo Components

Review

Precious Cargo is a strategic two player game that presents interesting decisions, particularly in the movement of your ships across the sea. Not only can you blockade someone, trapping them in port, but since movement is tight in certain areas of the sea, with careful maneuvering you can make players take the long way around. This causes them to waste precious turns or forces them to sell their goods at a port where they're less valuable.

The ships themselves offer several strategic choices, as you have to choose which ones to upgrade with more sails and how many, balancing speed with how much cargo they can hold.

It is fun to assemble your ships. The sails come in different colors and patterns, and you yourself attach them to the poles that you insert into the ships and can select which ones you want. The ships are a little clunky and there is a subtle difference between those in the game and those pictured on the box, but they are still nice game pieces to have.

The main drawback to this game is that it's a slow starter. Players do begin with enough money to buy a second ship or add sails, but it's really not until you have a full fleet that Precious Cargo really starts to shine. Once you finally get going, it’s a tense game that remains close until the very end.

Pros: Ability to block and blockade your opponent, fun to put the sails in the ships

Cons: Slow start, ships do not exactly match those on the box

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.