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Pieces of 8: Eight Different Pirate Games for Talk Like A Pirate Day

Pirate Treasure Coins on Display at (Photo from Minnesota Monthly, Copyright 2008, Bill Curtsinger, National Geographic)

(Photo from Minnesota Monthly, Image Copyright 2008, Bill Curtsinger, National Geographic)

Shiver me timbers I want to play a boardgame! Due to today being International Talk Like A Pirate Day, my crew and I are plundering the game shelves below for some sea faring themed fun as we kickback with some delicious snacks fresh from the galley! What is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, you ask? Well, starting back in 1995 – if the story from the Pirate Guys is to be believed – two rapscallions (Mark Summers and John Baur) began tossing about pirate lingo during their racquetball game and realized it made the day more fun and time seemed to pass by more quickly. Several years later, in 2002, Dave Barry submitted an article to the Miami Herald and the holiday simply exploded like a smoking powder chest as people latched onto the idea and ran with it; causing it to spread.  Listed below are the treasures my mates and I found in our hold:

Pirate Loot - a 2-6 Player Card Game (All photos were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise stated.)

Pirate Loot – A 2-6 Player (with expansion) Card Game.
(All photos were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise stated.)

Pirate Loot

Choose your ship, recruit a crew, and plunder to your heart’s content! Released in 2015 by Minotaur Games, Pirate Loot is light hearted, heavily luck based, 2-4 player card game where players take on the role of pirate captains and use their cards/pirate crew members to attack other players in hope of defeating them and scoring the most loot. Minotaur Games also released an expansion also in 2015 that added 2 additional factions to the game (Sneaky Pirates and Undead Pirates) to allow for a 5th and 6th player to join in on the “take that” shenanigans; each with their own unique mechanics.

Gold Ahoy! - A 2 player tile laying game.

Gold Ahoy! – A 2 Player Tile Laying Game.

Gold Ahoy!

A fast paced, tile laying game for 2 players that was released in 2014 by Mayfair Games. This is a game that has quickly won its way into my heart. It is light, but does offer several layers of strategy. Gold Ahoy! can be played within a mere 5-20 minutes as players choose where to place their tiles and try to build a 6×6 grid full of pathways to treasure chests. To win the game, players follow the created paths of land and water and discern which player has more “exits” to the pathway, granting them all of the treasures contained within. The player with the most treasure at the end of the game wins.

Dreadfleet - a 2-6 player miniatures boardgame

Dreadfleet – A 2-6 Player Miniatures Boardgame.


If you’re looking for a game on a bit of a larger scale than the card and dice games that are mostly listed here, Dreadfleet is quite the exception. Played on a 5’x3′ seascape (yes, you read that correctly…the “board” is 5 FEET long), Dreadfleet is a miniature reliant board game for 2-10 players set on the open seas of Games Workshop‘s Warhammer universe. Released in 2011, the game takes about an hour and, in my opinion, plays better with 2-4 players (large scale battles, while really cool, add way more time to the game and limit maneuverability on the board). One of my favorite things about this game is that I can not only assemble my ships and the other miniatures, but I can paint them however I wish! As a miniature wargamer and painter, I love being able to customize my fleet!

Pirate Dice - A 2-5 Player (with expansion) dice game.

Pirate Dice – A 2-5 Player (with expansion) Dice Game.

Pirate Dice: Voyage on the Rolling Seas

Released in 2012 by Eagle-Gryphon Games, Pirate Dice is probably one of my favorite programming games out there. Players take on the role of pirate captains trying to navigate the beautiful blue waters of the Carribean in search of treasure and then, once it is found, bringing that treasure home. As easy as this sounds, captains must be on the lookout for not only other pirates, but numerous other hazards out at see! Originally for 2-4 players, there is also a 5th player expansion available with its own unique colored dice. In addition to the 5th player expansion, there have also been two other expansions released for Pirate Dice: the Rough Waters Expansion and the Capture the Treasure and Ghost Ship combined expansions. Capture the Treasure adds an additional treasure die and 2 more game boards while Ghost Ship consists of a single die and a set of rules dictating how the phantom ship moves and acts. Rough Waters, on the other hand, adds two more double-sided maps to the game with new locations such as the Cape of Lost Hope, Great Horn, and a Maelstrom. What’s on the 4th side, you ask? A whole new challenge called King of the Sea!

All Hands on Deck - A 2-4 Player Card Game (image from

All Hands on Deck – A 2-6 Player Card Game
(image from

All Hands On Deck

All Hands on Deck is a card game based on set collection meant for 2-6 players. It was successfully kickstarted in 2015 by Salamander Games, but is still only available as a preorder. Though not yet available in stores, the print and play copies that came as part of the Kickstarter are of high quality and the flawless graphics capture the pirate theme perfectly. I’m still awaiting my hard copy of the game, but I have a deep love for the bidding mechanics and the cutthroat action as players try to out bid and outmaneuver the undermining opposing pirate captains who are also trying to fill their own crew rosters!

Rum & Bones - A 2-6 Player Miniatures Boardgame

Rum & Bones – A 2-6 Player Miniatures Boardgame.

Rum and Bones

Released last year in 2015 by Cool Mini or Not, Rum and Bones is a miniatures boardgame for 2-6 players. With just the base game, players aren’t able to build/recruit custom pirate crews, but there are over 15 expansions available with many more on the way! In the game, players pit their crews and special characters against one another in ship to ship melee in an attempt to destroy locations and assets on the opposing ship. As with my love for Dreadfleet’s customizable miniatures, Rum and Bones features many minis for me to paint (this time, though, they are already constructed).

Ghost Pirates - A 2 Player Card/Boardgame

Ghost Pirates – A 2 Player Card/Boardgame.

Ghost Pirates

Designed to mirror actual sea battles, Ghost Pirates is marketed as a tactical card game for 2 players and was released in 2012 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. However, I would say it is more similar to a modular boardgame as you use cards to create a “board.” Though the game is only for 2 players, there are more than 2 captains to choose from (and now there are over a dozen thanks to the Officer’s Club expansion!) when picking the one you wish to assume the role of. As parts of a player’s ship fade in and out of reality, the player determines if their crew is to fight, fire cannons, or pillage the enemy ship. Fighting is done using an intriguing dice mechanic with colored, custom dice. Though the game looks a little daunting at first when reading through the rules, I assure you it is quite easy to pick up and play once you get going. Oh, and the goal of this delightful, quick little card game from Brooklyn Indie Games? To force the opposing captain to walk the plank of course!

Grog Island - A 2-4 Player Boardgame

Grog Island – A 2-4 Player Boardgame

Grog Island

Though this was a game I had a hard time getting into the first time I played it (you can read my review here), Passport Game Studios‘ Grog Island is a game that I felt I absolutely needed to give another chance. Released in 2014, Grog Island is a boardgame playable for 2-4 players centering on the theme of pirates setting out to retire from their life at sea and start investing their loot into proper, more legit businesses. Utilizing an auction mechanic and a secondary focus on set collection, this is a game that works well for play groups that have more of a “take that” or “screw your neighbor” mentality.

Grab your first mate, your crew and let’s weigh anchor! What are you waiting for land lubbers? Are you just a bunch of scurvy bilge rats and scallywags waiting to walk the plank? Raise the Jolly Roger, heave ho and enjoy the festivities!


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