“Welcome to Merchants Cove—where you’re not the hero or the villain—you’re just a simple merchant!”
Final Frontier Games and designer Carl Van Ostrand have a Kickstarter project ongoing for the new asymmetric board game Merchants Cove, lovingly illustrated by master artist Mihajlo Dimitrievski. In Merchant’s Cove, 1-4 players manipulate boats of incoming customers, guiding the right type of customer to the island to hopefully purchase their goods for gold. After 3 days/rounds of play, the player with the most gold claims victory. Merchants has two extraordinary mechanisms making it stand out – First, player turns and actions are defined by a time-tracker rondel, with the player in last always taking the next turn. Second, the way each player creates new goods is completely unique.
The main flow of Merchant’s Cove is driven by a central rondel, the time tracker. Players have tokens on the rondel, marking hours in the day. Whichever player is currently in last on the rondel will take the next turn, selecting a location in town to take actions. Actions include collecting townsfolk and rogue cards, and building new items for sale. Each location not only grants actions, but also will advance the player a certain number of hours on the rondel. If the tracker passes certain customer points, that player gets to add a customer from the bag to a boat in the harbor. Customer meeples come in 5 colors representing 5 fantasy tropes – warriors, nobles, wizards, bards, and rogues. When a boat is full, the active player can dock that boat at an available pier, and when all the piers are taken, players sell their constructed goods to the docked customers.
Each of the 4 player characters uses a totally different mechanism to create their goods. The Alchemist uses a marble driven, Potion Explosion reminiscent decanter to fulfill formulae to make items. The Blacksmith uses dice manipulation to represent smelting and management of the heat of the forge. The Sea Captain uses a spinner to sail his fleet around the bay collecting fish close to shore, and searching for treasure far from the beach. Finally the Chronomancer and his assistant manipulate the very time itself, placing fragments to create portals.
Each day, the newly arrived customers determine the price of selling goods. As certain customer types accumulate, the corresponding color good is more valuable to sell (supply and demand, baby). The pier at which the customers land determines what can be sold – Large goods are sold at the bazaar pier, small goods at the grand bazaar, then any leftover goods can be sold at the black market, for a cost in corruption. After 3 days of attracting customers then selling to them, players earn bonus points from layabout customers at the various faction halls around the island… All but those pesky rogues, who take advantage of players’ accumulated corruption to steal gold. The most gold then takes the day!
The Kickstarter Campaign for Merchant’s Cove continues until September 11, and the final game is expected to deliver in June 2020. The game not only includes gorgeous components, but also has options to buy the two mini expansions, the Innkeeper and the Oracle.