There are a lot of similarities between Merchants and Marauders (or any other pirate game) and Privateer, but I was never personally satisfied when playing other board games with a pirate theme. In fact, it was my dissatisfaction with these other games and the potential I saw for a pirate game to be more fun that prompted me to create Privateer in the first place. Privateer began as a personal project, and it was a game that I played with close friends. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to move it into production.
The biggest differences I wished to create were game length and player interactivity. I felt that Merchants and Marauders felt too much like players all playing a solo game experience, with turns taking far too long. Whenever it wasn’t a player’s turn they could be found on their phone or otherwise distracted. There just wasn’t any reason for others to feel involved in the game unless they were the active player. Second, I felt the game was far too involved for casual players to ever want to start a game. It was a large time commitment and there were a lot of rules to explain. With Privateer I looked to trim the fat and focus only on mechanics that proved to be most enjoyable for a large amount of players. Merchants and Marauders is still a great game, but it fills a very specific need: advanced board game players looking for an immersive experience over an entire afternoon.
Privateer is designed for immediate enjoyment by casual and advanced players, alike. Games run shorter and the game has more replay ability. Often a new player is interested in immediately starting a 2nd game and trying a new strategy with a new captain. I also designed the game to be much more forgiving of lapses in strategy that new players are prone to. Players never feel ‘out of the running’ and it is possible for players to gang up on leaders in order to increase their likelihood of winning.