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Empires at Sea: An Epic duel across the Seven Seas. A game of trade, exploration, and war. And pirates. Don't forget about pirates.
Empires at Sea: An Epic duel across the Seven Seas. A game of trade, exploration, and war. And pirates. Don't forget about pirates.
Empires at Sea: An Epic duel across the Seven Seas. A game of trade, exploration, and war. And pirates. Don't forget about pirates.
448 backers pledged $37,199 to help bring this project to life.

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$37,199

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Launch your fleet, capture ports, and wage war in the absolutely epic board game for 2-4 players. In Empires at Sea, you play as one of four nations, and work to amass the largest empire at the end of 15 rounds of play. During each round, History confers benefits and setbacks to each nation, while the Weather limits (and occasionally improves) movement around a to-scale map of the Atlantic. 

Breaking News

We've been funded!!! Thanks everyone for all the support. That means these stretch goals can become a reality! Help us out!!

The best way to understand Empires at Sea is to follow along with our walkthrough. We're doing one round of play each day until the end of the campaign, check it out: 

 Here is a quick overview of the core elements of the game:

  • Players each command a nation: America, France, Britain or Spain
  • Players take command of ports, which each produce resources
  • Resources are used to buy bigger and stronger ships
  • Ships are used to attack your enemies and to settle new ports
  • Each Round opens with a History Card, which hurts or helps one nation or another based on the actual impact of the actual historical event.
  • A Weather Card is played, limiting or improving movement for all players for the Round (e.g., ships can only move North and East)
  • Each player then takes a turn, first by by playing a Captain's Card (used to launch a ship, advance your military, strengthen a port, etc) and then by sailing their fleet to take command of new ports, trade, or attack their enemies.
  • The combat system is based on a roll of the dice, plus modifiers for ship size, the weather gauge, military advancements, and Captain's Orders.
  • At the end of the round, all players may bribe the Pirate. The highest bidder gets to use this ship to attack their enemies. 

The rules are pretty straightforward (there are no tracks to manage for example), but the deck composition, weather, powerful history events, random starting ports, and the combat system create a ton of variety and lead to exceptional, balanced gameplay regardless of the number of players. 

This guy has no face yet, it's our highest level reward.
This guy has no face yet, it's our highest level reward.
41 Miniature Model Ships
41 Miniature Model Ships
Over 150 cards with beautiful 18th Century Artwork
Over 150 cards with beautiful 18th Century Artwork
Map is perfectly to scale and huge at 20" x 30"
Map is perfectly to scale and huge at 20" x 30"
  •  Beautiful Art. Our art comes from the greatest artists of the 18th and 17th centuries, from Turner and Manet to Stanfield and a host of contemporaries who painted these beautiful ships. 
  • History Cards. History dramatically drives strategy for the Round. If the US throw a Tea Party, they dump 5 gold into the ocean. After the Congress of Vienna, the European nations can't initiate military action. History can be brutal and unpredictable, and a wise leader anticipates the future and plans accordingly.
  • Movement System. The Weather Cards and movement actually make it feel like sailing. You get stuck. You can't quite make it. Ships run away to avoid war, or hide behind islands and in little coves. The map is almost perfectly to scale (I moved only Reykjavik), and really mirrors the 18th century naval experience.
  • Combat Consequences. In naval warfare of the 1800s, both ships were able to fire cannons and so even an attacking ship risked being sunk by the defender. The same is true in Empires at Sea, both Attacker and Defender fire their cannons (i.e., roll the dice) and if the total attack is great enough, sink the opponent's ship.
  • Bribing the Pirate. Every Round ends with all players effectively playing poker for strongest battle unit on the game board. You secretly select an amount of gold to bribe the Pirate, and if you win, you get to use this Ship of the Line against your opponents this turn. But Bribes cost gold, which translates to Empire Points at the end of the game. "What do you do Jack? What do you do?"
  • Dynamic Gameplay. Empires feels like 2 or 3 different games in one. The First Era is all about expansion, bribery of the pirate, and resource accumulation. The Second Era is where you begin to launch the more powerful elements of your fleet and advance your military. The Third Era is mostly warfare and fortification of your holdings. 
  • Great Replay Value. The game begins with each player assigned to a random port. Sometimes you can expand unhindered, sometimes war is brutal even from the first turn. Sometimes your Frigate is trapped in New Orleans because of the weather, and sometimes every single setback that could befall a nation over the course of History comes to pass in a single game. 
  • The Proper Length. The two player variant takes about 60 minutes after you learn to play, and the four player game is just under two hours. If you prefer to extend gameplay, you can do so by playing Empires to 18 or 21 rounds. 

We have a very trusty Captain's Log Book with all the detail about how to play Empires at Sea. Please note that this is still a work in progress, we will be updating this as we move to printing (and incorporating changes from other play testers).

Click to download a copy of the manual.
Click to download a copy of the manual.

 A big thanks to all the folks who have chipped in to make Empires at Sea possible. For more about the history of making the game, check out the earlier Instagram posts or this great post on the making of the map

Amy hard at work. She is the best.
Amy hard at work. She is the best.

Risks and challenges

While this is my first board game, I have successfully developed many products (albeit always software) over the years.

There are some unique challenges in manufacturing and distribution, and in an effort to keep this risks mitigated I am using only top-tier manufacturing facilities. This does raise our costs, but we want a job very well done with the maximum amount of support in the process. It's a big game too, lots of pieces, so costs are going to run a bit higher than I had hoped.

Similarly, I will be leveraging Amazon for all the fulfillment. Perhaps not the cheapest option, but by far the most effective.

There is still a lot of work to do. Every element requires time and attention, but I am hopeful that folks will see the awesomeness of this game, back the project, and lend a hand with ideas and support as we move through the process.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Land Lubber

    A thank you note from a pirate and a photoshop template I made to develop the cards for the game. Nice if you ever want to easily create YOUR own cards for YOUR own game.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Midshipmen

    Land Lubber rewards plus a KS exclusive 20 page art book pdf, which includes some of the beautiful art used throughout the game, and highlights a few of the more memorable historical events in the era of Empires at Sea

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    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    Crew

    Your very own copy of Empires at Sea (with all stretch goals), and the rewards for the Land Lubber.

    Add 1 additional copy for an extra $49.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $195 or more About $195

    First Mates

    For those folks who want to pool their resources with a few friends and save some money on shipping, or for the indy game shop looking for a few copies of this gem, this is your level!

    5 copies of Empires at Sea (with all stretch goals), and the rewards for the Land Lubber.

    Add 1 additional copy for an extra $40.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    Post-Captain

    Participate in a 1 hr private Skype session with the creator of the game to discuss rules/strategy/balance.

    Five copies of Empires at Sea, plus Land Lubber rewards.

    Add up to 5 additional copies for an extra $49 each.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    A Small Band of Scurvy Pirates

    YOU could be the pirate. You would be feared across the seven seas. Your portrait (part of the group of three) would appear in the rule book, as well as on the back of the box.

    An afternoon with the creators of the game playing Empires at Sea (no accommodations or travel expenses are provided), four 1 hr Skype sessions with the creator of the game and the pirates to discuss rules/strategy/balance.

    Ten copies of Empires at Sea and all the Land Lubber rewards.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Covergirl or Coverboy.

    You know those people on the cover of Cattan? We don't either. But we do know you. You know you've worked hard for the finer things in life, like being on the cover of a board game. You would be standing there, wind blowing in your hair, feet on the deck of your Ship of the Line, islands behind you and adventure ahead... think about it...

    Your face on the cover of the board game box plus all rewards for the Small Band of Scurvy Pirates (except being a Pirate on the back of the box...)

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Funding period

- (30 days)