Wow, 1500 pages plus.
As a Cutlass player and contributer for many, many years, it's great that the product is finally available to any gamer who wants it.
While Cutlass is 30 plus years old, it's not like anything old school or in new school.
Character generation is simplifed to 4 principle Traits (Dashing, Cunning, Stout and Lordly). From there, the player picks a handful of skills and is ready to go. A character can be generated in 5 minutes by a new player and less for an experience player. A role player doesn't need to know their muscle power to three significant digits, they just need to know where to point their Cutlass.
Action is generated by the draw of the Tarot. Players control what they wish to do and let the Tarot drive the action. Sure, you would prefer to use your pistol but sometimes the bad guys won't cooperate. Hit him with the chair instead. The Referee does not need to then spend half the time dicing for the baddies as the actions of the opponents are built into the flip of the Tarot. If the card is inverted, the character is now using his skills to avoid getting poked or a chair upside his head.
Characters don't advance by beating down that same lowly swab thousands of times to collect experience points. The player needs to perform all nine Ignobles to advance. These are like achievements in modern systems (if they had been invented 35 years ago). These include everything from simple combat to ship battles and Character growth. Yea, you have to beat down a lot of ruffians but you have to evolve your character too.
The action included in just the first book includes ship to ship battles, Conflict of Arms (Army Battles for us old time gamers), and even sieges and rules for building ships and companies.
The second and third books describe a way to run complete missions with literally zero prep. Of course, you can add your own Scenarios but you can also flip a few Tarot and off you go.
And, what do you do with the Adventurer who has been taken by the Rival? Well, you could role-play out the upcoming firing squad, or you can quickly resolve what happened to the Adventurer by using the Digression tables. Caught in prison? Well you could role play that ... or Digressions. Held before a judge ... Digressions. Marooned on a Desert Island ... Digressions. The action focuses one one group. If a player wanders off, he's out of the action and is resolved quickly.
Next, the latest books describe a way to generate a full campaign. If you wanted the full Pyrate campaign, here it is.
Lastly, for the history buff. The game text is abundant with historical examples and insights into the world of the 1600s. (Hey man, I just wanted to take out some baddies, I didn't want to actually learn something.)
As a reminder, no orcs or goblins here. Sea Monsters exist only because Players believe they do. (Or maybe not.) This is not a mashup of Fantasy and Pirates. This is an Age of Exploration with both Gentlemen and Pyrates.
Get the books, crack them open and have fun laughing at your fellow players as they fight their way through the Age of Exploration.