Board GamesReviews

Famous Games: Famous Flagships

“The sea, the sea, the sea. It rolled and rolled and called to me. Come in, it said, come in.” – “The Wanderer by Sharon Creech”

What is it about the ocean that calls to so many, is it the danger, the adventure, the beauty?  While I have not heard the call of the deep blue sea, I am attracted to nautical games.  My best friend has sailed the world on the tall ship and perhaps her devotion has rubbed off on me a bit!  I admit I envy her old sailors tales and all the distant lands she has visited.

Famous Flagships in a intermediate level game in the Famous Games line.  The Famous Game lines offer “pocket” or mini games.  The entire game is played with only few cards, minimal rules,  and in under thirty minutes.  For more information on all the Famous Games, How to Play tutorials, designer Rob’s blog and more check out the website at:

Setup / Components

Once again we see the design talent of Rob Bartel in the Famous Flagship cards.  There is one windrose card, one Defender Ship card, one Challenger Ship card, and six steering cards.   As with the other Famous Games, I love the artwork.  I especially like the Challenger ship.  The windrose reminds me of an antique map; a design I have always enjoyed.  There are also two Set-up/ Rules cards.  Each player can have one.

Players will also need fifteen coins. These are placed around the windrose.  One coin on East and West, two coins on Northeast and Northwest, and three coins on North.  Six are placed in the center of the windrose.

The steering cards are shuffled and three are dealt to each player.  The Defender chooses the starting location on the windrose, after which the Challenger places their card.  The Defender plays first.

Game Play

The rules card included is very short, so it may be wise to take a few minutes and go through the interactive tutorial at  A yachts speed depends on their position against the wind.  With the wind against your back you will go faster, and with the wind in your face you will go slower.  The dots on the windrose card will show how fast you go each turn.  But every sailor knows that the wind is always changing.

On a players turn, they choose and play a direction card.  They steer their yacht around the windrose.  The yacht moves the number of spaces and direction shown on the card. The player scores points based on the number of dots and coins at the new location.  Players will need to keep track of their score.  Once the players has scored their points the coins at their location are moved to the center of the windrose.

The yachts movement displaces the wind around them, so two pennies from the center of the windrose are taken.  One is added to each of the spaces next to the yacht.  When there aren’t enough from the supply, the player may choose to take them from any location of their choice.

Once both the defender and challenger have moved they swap the cards that they played with each other.  Players will need to choose cards wisely as to not give their opponent the advantage.

The next round begins with the yacht with the lowest score.  If they are tied, they continue in the same order.

End of Game

Play continues until the end of the round when one or both yachts have scored 50 points.  The winner is the player with the highest score.  Play continues until one player has scored the most points.

My Thoughts

I was surprised at how much strategy and thought must be used to play Flagships. The rules are simple to learn but the strategy is not.  It feels a lot like an abstract strategy game.  Anyone who enjoys games like Chess and Go may really enjoy Flagships.

Flagships does not really feel like a yacht race.  Of the Famous Games line, for me, Flagships has the most disconnect between theme and game play.  That does not mean it isn’t any less enjoyable.  I have been surprised at how many different and innovative mechanisms Rob has used in his games.  Each have so much in common (being two-player, quick to play, and using only a few cards), yet, they each feel so different, they aren’t just a repetition of game play with new pictures.

I enjoyed Flagships and the simple strategy of trying to out race my opponent, scoring the most points, and not leaving them with an advantage.  Not everyone I played with had the same experience.  They didn’t like the amount of thought required and what seems like a simple game.  Yet this might be exactly what draws another player into the game.  It really is an interactive chess match between you and your opponent.  The better strategist will win the day.

Quick Stats

Designer: Rob Bartel
Artist: Rob Bartel
Publishers: Famous Games Company
Players: 2
Game Length: 30 minutes
Ages: 13 and up

Thank you Famous Games for the review copies!

Review Overview

Final Raring

Liked It

A very thoughtful and strategic game that isn't for everyone, but will be enjoyed by many.

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