Top Ten Pirate Games
As well as our top ten pirate games we’d also like to toss a some pieces of eight to other gems in our pirate treasure trove including Friday, Loot, Munchkin Booty, Letter of Marques, Pirates Cove, Pirate Dice, Caribbean, Catan Junior and the Black Pirate. But enough of the parley! On with the list! Sail ho!
10 Settlers of Catan: Pirates and Explorers
Released in 2013 this expansion to Settlers of Catan is a significant reworking of that game. At first glance it appears to have much in common with the previous Seafarers expansion but in fact there are a lot of interesting developments. Not least your ships actually move around the board instead of (ugh) representing trading routes. This time that dreaded roll of seven will result in pirates raids.
9 Pirate vs Pirate
Hands down, this game has got the coolest pirates and lots of them! You roll the chest (ker-thunk!) to see how far you can move one of your pirates, try to get to the treasure and then back to your ship. However, a melee quickly ensues and if you can get your pirate to land on another player's pirate then they're out of the game. Should you go for the gold or a pre-emptive strike? The best means of defence is attack me hearties, ATTACK!!!!!
This is a fairly quick game that all the family can enjoy and which contains a good deal of strategy. Everyone's trying to get a majority in a set of cutlasses, treasure chests, silver or barrels of rum. The fun bit is going round the table grabbing other players' pirates to join your crew. Unfortunately, this means having to share the loot with them, the greedy beggars.
7 Pirate Fluxx
Fluxx is the game in which the rules of the game and even the goal of the game change as you go along. That may sound complicated but if I tell you that Pirate Fluxx features a card that gives you bonuses as long as you continue to speak like a pirate then you will probably get the picture. It's an extremely silly game with lots of Pirate theme. It's pretty hilarious.
This one is a light strategy game which has bands of pirates leap-frogging each other to get to the only boat. The first player to get all their crew to run the gauntlet and get aboard wins. There's not a lot of theme in this one but it's strategic, it's quick and it's a favourite.
5 Riff Raff
You won't catch a pirate playing Jenga. That's for lily-livered landlubbers, arrr! Ahem. Riff Raff is excellent training for anyone who wants to learn to hoist the mizzenmast. You must place barrels and sea dogs carefully on a huge mast with swinging yardarms. The first pirate to place all of their booty on the mast is the winner. Remember, if you catch anything that falls off you can throw it in the sea!
4 Dread Curse
Scheming, back stabbing, betrayal... Yo Ho, Yo Ho, it's a pirate's life for me! Dread Curse captures the pirate theme brilliantly with lots of opportunity for bluffing and second-guessing. Released September 2013 this game threatens to replace Citadels as the go-to Role selection game. It's a light strategy game with lots of interaction and a playtime of 30 minutes.
Beautiful, beautiful game! Players race their pirate ships round the island of Jamaica in a totally chaotic fashion and get into cannon fights every time their paths cross. This game has got the most gorgeous cards and pieces. It also really immerses you in the pirate theme.
2 Merchants and Marauders
This is easily the biggest game on the list so get ready for a long voyage. Merchants and Marauders is the game that makes other pirate games seem trivial and silly. For example your fleet can contain a sloop, flute, frigate or galleon each of which can be modified with various weapons and equipment. For too long pirates have been seen as having poor concentration skills! At long last they get a big box strategy game with oceans of theme.
Now this is a REAL pirate game! No cute and cartoony pictures here. The 30 unique characters of the Libertalia look as though they've been keelhauled after too many nights in the tavern. Players simultaneously select a character to join a crew and then stand back and watch as they interact through the day, dusk and night. At night, after the booty has been shared, the knives come out and very few make it to the end of the campaign. Even then you might get a haul of curses thanks to that wretched Monkey!