How To Play: Pirates

Our Pirates strategy guide covers everything from managing your starting gold wisely, choosing the right ship upgrades for epic battles, to the delicate art of forming and betraying alliances at the perfect moment. Dive in for a treasure trove of tips to navigate the high seas to victory.

Ahoy mateys! If ye be looking to conquer the seven seas in your favorite board game, look no further! I’ve spent numerous nights with my crew (a.k.a. my pals), battling it out and uncovering the secrets to becoming the ultimate pirate lord. This guide isn’t just a bunch of ‘arrrs’ and ‘aye-ayes’; it’s a treasure chest filled with the essential game rules and the best strategies to claim victory. So, let’s set sail on this adventure, savvy?


What’s in the box

  • 1 Game board
  • 4 Pirate ships – 1 per player
  • 20 Treasure coins – 5 gold, 7 silver, 8 bronze
  • 40 Cannon tokens
  • 30 Crew cards
  • 10 Treasure map cards
  • 5 Sea monster cards
  • 8 Port cards
  • 4 Player reference cards
  • 1 Wind direction die
  • 1 Rulebook

How To Play Pirates: Rules Summary


  1. Place the board in the center of the table.
  2. Each player picks a ship and places it at the harbor.
  3. Distribute starting gold equally among players.
  4. Shuffle the deck of event cards and place them face down.


  1. Players take turns in a clockwise direction.
  2. On your turn, roll the die to move your ship.
  3. Landing on special squares triggers events, battles, or finds.
  4. You can trade gold for upgrades or information at ports.


  1. The first player to collect 10 treasure chests wins the game.
  2. Chests are obtained by winning battles, finding hidden spots, or trading.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. If two ships land on the same spot, a battle ensues.
  2. Special event cards can change game conditions drastically.
  3. Alliances can be made but beware of betrayals!
  4. Storms can send ships back to the harbor.

This quick guide should help you get started with Pirates. Remember, strategy and a bit of luck are key to finding your fortune and becoming the top pirate!

Best Pirates Strategies

Mastering the Seas: Starting Gold and Resource Management

Winning at pirates isn’t just about the battles; it’s how you handle your treasure. Here’s how to manage that starting gold and resources like a true captain.

Plan Your Purchases

  1. Think ahead. Don’t blow your gold on fancy upgrades without planning for future expenses.
  2. Essentials first. Always buy what keeps your ship afloat and crew happy before splurging.

Invest Wisely

  1. Upgrades matter. Pick ones that give you long-term benefits, like faster sailing or more cargo space.

Keep a Reserve

  1. Unexpected costs will happen. Save some gold for those rainy days.
  2. Scout and plunder. Always be on the lookout for easy targets to boost your reserves.

Mastering the Seas: Ship Upgrades & Combat Strategy

Winning at pirates isn’t just about luck; it’s about smart upgrades and sharper combat moves. Here’s how to sail to victory:

Choosing the Right Upgrades

  1. Focus on speed first. Faster ships can catch enemies or flee when outmatched.
  2. Next, boost your cannons. More firepower means you’ll win battles faster.
  3. Don’t forget about armor. It keeps your ship in the fight longer.

Navigating Combat

  1. Always have an escape plan. If a fight turns sour, know how to get out fast.
  2. Use the weather. Storms can be your best friend or worst enemy in battle.
  3. Aim for their weak spots. Knowing where to hit can end a fight before it truly begins.

Outsmarting Your Opponent

  1. Feint attacks. Trick your enemy into making the first move, then counterattack.
  2. Form temporary alliances. Sometimes, the enemy of your enemy is your friend… until you win.
  3. Never underestimate bluffing. Sometimes, acting tougher can avoid a fight altogether.

Navigating the Tides of Treachery: Mastering Alliance and Betrayal in Pirates

Winning isn’t just about brute force; it’s also about the cunning use of alliances and knowing when to betray them. First, let’s set the course with some strategies.

Choosing the Right Allies

  1. Look for players whose goals align with yours temporarily.
  2. Evaluate their resources and strength to ensure they contribute to your strategy.

Strengthening Bonds

  1. Engage in joint endeavors to build trust.
  2. Share information sparingly to keep them reliant on you.

Timing the Betrayal

  1. Wait for a moment when betraying provides a clear path to victory.
  2. Ensure you have enough strength to withstand any backlash.

Moving with stealth and strategy transforms you from a mere participant into a master of the high seas.

## Sail to Victory: Conquering the Seven Seas
As we wrap up this strategy guide, remember that playing Pirates is a blend of skill, strategy, and a bit of luck. Focusing on starting gold management, upgrading your ship wisely, and knowing when to form alliances or betray them can significantly up your game. But the most important part? Have fun, mateys! Let your inner pirate out and enjoy the adventure, the battles, and, of course, the hunt for treasure. With practice and these strategies in mind, you’ll be ruling the high seas in no time. Now go forth and claim your victory!

Want to know what we think of Pirates? Read our detailed review of Pirates here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.