Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Alexander Pfister

Pegasus Spiele &
999 Games

No. of Players:
2 - 5

G@mebox Star



Gamebox author Doug Adams writes about the game:

Port Royal is a short card game for two to five players, ages 8 and up. In this game, players are merchants, interacting with the town of Port Royal, Jamaica, during the Golden Age of Sail.

The game is packaged in a compact, attractive box. Inside the box are 120 cards, as well as a four page rulebook in both German and English. The game is not complex, and very easy to explain to new players. After a round or two, players quickly understand the game and can concentrate on the strategy.


The cards in Port Royal perform two functions - if they are face down in front of a player, they are coins, representing the player's personal wealth. If they are face up, then they are either Ships (50), Persons (60), Expeditions (6) or Tax (4) cards.

At the beginning of the game the deck is thoroughly shuffled and three coins are dealt face down to each player. Then the first player takes their turn. A turn is very simple - the player begins flipping cards up from the deck, and continues to do so until they decide to stop, or when the game forces them to stop!

As cards are revealed, they are handled in different ways:

  • Person cards remain face up during the player turn.
  • Ship cards can be fought off to the discard pile by the player if they own Sailor person cards, otherwise they remain face up during the player turn.
  • Expedition cards remain face up until they are fulfilled by the active player if they can discard Person cards that match the symbols on the Expedition card.
  • Tax cards remove coins from the players who are holding too much cash, and give a bonus coin to weaker players.


A player may be forced to stop flipping if they draw a second ship of the same colour during their turn. The fifty ship cards in the deck are divided into five different coloured sets. Once you flip a ship, you have to consider if it's worth continuing to reveal cards, because when you flip a ship of the same colour, your turn is over and you don't get to acquire any cards. This is not good, and immediately recalls the card flipping push-your-luck Reiner Knizia game Circus Flohcati.

When a player chooses to stop flipping cards, they may interact with one of the revealed cards. Ships can be "traded" with, meaning the player gains the number of coins indicated on the ship card. Person cards can be hired by the player, by paying a number of coin cards back into the discard pile. That person is now part of the player's holdings, and will assist the player in some way with a special ability.

If among the cards the player revealed, there are four or five different coloured ships, then the player may action two or three of the cards there, instead of just one. For example, the player may take some coins from a ship, then use those coins to hire a person card.

After the player has completed their turn, the other players around the table may action a card remaining on the table, but they have to pay the player whose turn it is a coin card to do so. This is a very nice game mechanic - it keeps everybody interested in every turn, and encourages the player taking their turn to keep drawing cards, in the hope of earning extra income from the other players. However, when a very nice, possibly game ending card, is revealed, the player may want to deliberately end their turn by drawing duplicate ships - ensuring nobody gets access to the lucrative booty face up on the table!

As players recruit person cards to their side, they gain the victory points on the card. Additionally, they take advantage of their special powers:

  • Jesters earn bonus coins based on the misfortune of other players.
  • Sailors are used to fight off ships as they are drawn, reducing the chances of being affected by two ship cards of the same colour.
  • Settlers, Captains and Priests are used to acquire the valuable Expedition cards, which are worth a lot of victory points.
  • Mademoiselles grant a discount on the hiring of new person cards.
  • Traders earn additional coins for ship cards.
  • Governors let players take an additional card from the revealed cards.
  • Admirals earn players two coins if there are five or more cards to choose from.


The game ends when a player reaches twelve victory points, and every player has had the same number of turns. The highest score wins the game, with coins breaking ties.

I thoroughly enjoy Port Royal. The game is very simple to teach, and everyone I have played this with seems to enjoy it. The push your luck/risk reward mechanisms built into the game keeps everyone interested and involved no matter which player is taking their turn. The Person cards are well thought out and give the players some nice strategic decisions to make as to when, and what card, they should buy.

Port Royal is an excellent game, and I have no hesitation in awarding it a G@mebox Star.


In 2015, PEGASUS SPIELE released an expansion for Port Royal, Port Royal: Ein Auftrag geht noch.... The expansion comes in a box the same size as the original game, and contains three new ways to play Port Royal.


First off, there are new cards that you can simply shuffle into the deck, and play using the rules to the base game. The new cards include three new personalities, as well as ship cards in the five colours to keep the ratio of the decks consistent. This is a simple expansion to use, as it does not add any new rules to the game. The new chararcters are:

  • Clerks let you take another card if you trade with a ship of the same colour.
  • Gunners give you coins if there is more than a single ship in the display.
  • Vice Admirals earn players a coin if there are three or four cards to choose from.


The expansion also includes Contracts, a new concept for the game. Contracts are a bit like Expedition cards, in that they give the players objectives to try and complete, for extra coins and victory points. There are 18 contracts included in the game, on large, thick cardstock. Four contracts are randomly drawn for any game, and players may up to complete three of them. The first contract completed earns coins - the earlier you complete it the more you earn. The second contract and third contracts earn coins and victory points. Again, this is an easy expansion to use, and it works very well. It gives the players more options to think about, and different strategies to pursue.


The final way to use the expansion is to play a cooperative variant, which includes solitaire play. A number of contracts are dealt out to the table based on the number of players, as well as a Time Pile of cards which indicates how long players have to complete all the contracts. Players play normally, but flip the first card of their turn up from the Time Pile. If the Time Pile runs out, the game is lost. If you feel like you are doing well, you may add cards from the Time Pile into the common Victory Pile, to increase your winning score (assuming you win!). As a cooperative game, this works very well, and is an excellent use of the push your luck mechanic, as you frantically draw for cards to complete contracts.

All three variants in this expansion work very well, and we have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I can highly recommend Port Royal: Ein Auftrag geht noch... to all fans of the base game.

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Copyright © 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany