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Rating: 7.1 Good
Players: 2-4 players
Playing time: 120 minutes

Official Site: Ships game page - Treefrog Games

Created by: Martin Wallace, Peter Dennis

Published by: Treefrog Games


'Ships' is a board game that brings to life the history of shipping, from the age of the ancient Phoenicians to modern times.

During the course of the game you will be engaged in building ships, placing merchants and taking control of cities. The development of new types of ships is represented by the track around the central map. Your merchants are represented by cubes, which you will place on the board to gain goods. Goods can then be sold to gain money. Taking control of cities will increase your warehouse and banking capacity.

The central map shows Europe, with other locations around the world placed around it. At the beginning of the game you will be placing pieces in the Eastern Mediterranean. Later, as new territories are discovered, you will gradually spread around the world.

Each player has their own display, on which they will keep goods, gold and merchant cubes. The display shows you the various actions available to you. The number of actions you have depends on the era.

Your merchant cubes are your lifeblood, and will cycle during the game. If you run low on these cubes then your options will be restricted.

The game is divided into three eras, the Galley era, the Sailing Ship era and the Steamship era. Certain cards will be available depending on which era it is. When a new era starts more cards will be made available. These cards offer additional actions and benefits.

Your objective is to score more victory points than your competitors. Timing is important as the rewards for having merchants on the board increase as the game progresses.

'Ships' is not a simple game and will take a few plays to master. It is very important that you understand the rules governing the placement of ships on the outer track and how that relates to the placement of merchant cubes and city discs.

The game is for two to four players and will play in around two hours.

If you enjoy the more complex, economic type of game, you will find much to like here.

Retail Price:$19

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  • 6 galley counters
  • 6 sailing ships counters
  • 6 steamship counters
  • 17 city discs
  • 20 merchant cubes
  • 1 player display
  • 55 game cards
  • 25 free action cubes
  • 56 gold coins
  • 20 navigation counters
  • 30 industry counters
  • 14 food counters
  • 8 oil counters
  • 8 metal counters
  • 10 wine counters
  • 20 cloth counters


Place the game board in the center of the table.

Place all of the goods counters close to the side of the board. It helps if they are arranged in piles of the same type of good.

Place the gold, navigation counters, industry counters, and free action cubes close to the side of the board. …

To aid you in the understanding of the rules that follow it will help to explain some of the elements within the game.

The Player Display

Each player has one player display in their color. The warehouse is used to store goods in. The bank is used to hold gold coins. When you place city discs on the board you choose whether to take them from your warehouse or bank. In doing so, you increase the storage capacity of that section. …

There are three sets of cards in the game, one for each era. At the start of the game you should shuffle the Galley era cards and lay out twelve on display.

As soon as a player places a ship in the Sailing Ship era any cards left on display are removed. The Sailing Ship era cards should then be shuffled and twelve drawn to place on display.

Finally, as soon as a player places a ship in the Steamship era any cards left on display are removed. The Steamship era cards should then be shuffled and twelve drawn to place on display. When you take a card you resolve the action immediately. You then discard the card. …

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