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Buccaneer, A Pirate’s Game

Originally created in 1938 in Britain, Buccaneer is a classic board game that features players pretending to be pirates as they collect treasure by any means necessary. Currently designed for 2 to 4 players but originally designed for as many as 6 players, the game board of Buccaneer depicts the sea, broken down into squares, similar to that of a checkerboard. The edges of this board contain ports, some of which are owned by players while others are considered to be “free ports”. The center of the board is called Treasure Island where treasures such as diamonds, rubies, pearls, gold bars and barrels of rum will be placed. Players will be drawing cards from a deck that is located at the Isla de Muerta (another name for Treasure Island).

How To Play Buccaneer

Collecting treasure involves a player sailing his or her ship from the Home Port to visit Treasure Island where the draw of a Chance Card may provide that player some treasure or some crew. Chance Card effects include sending a player to another port for trading or allowing a player to attack an opponent’s ship. When an attack is initiated the winner of the sea battle will get to take either treasure or crew. The maximum amount the winner can take are 2 treasures or 2 crew members. Whoever has the greater fighting value in a battle will win. Knowing how many resources you have becomes important since you need to take care of both your defense numbers and attack numbers.

Start of Play

All players are dealt 5 Crew Cards which will have number values on them and come in only 2 colors; black and red. In order to move a player takes the total value of his or her Crew Cards, regardless of color, and can move up to that combined number of squares in the direction a player’s ship is facing. The colors of the cards will matter only when one player either attacks another player or is the one being attacked. In this case you will count the 2 color totals separately, subtracting the smaller value from the larger. The number you get from this will be your fighting strength. The player with the highest number value will win the sea battle.

It is important to note that with less Crew Cards a player has less squares to move on a turn. Any treasure tokens that go unclaimed will go to either the Isla Cruces or another island designated by custom House Rules. The loser of the sea battle then immediately moves away from the winner in a straight line for as many squares as their cards will allow. In the event that a player has no Crew Cards at all after a battle, then the player will be allowed to move 1 square per turn.

Treasure Types and Point Values

  • Diamonds – 5 Points
  • Rubies – 5 points
  • Gold Bars – 4 Points
  • Pearls – 3 Points
  • Rum Barrels – 2 Points



The main objective of Buccaneer is to be the first player to have a total of 20 treasure points made up by adding the value of the last cargo that is brought to your Home Port to any existing treasure that is already there, either in the Safety Zone or in Docks.


Buccaneer can be played in a variety of ways. The main objective of a custom game of Buccaneer can range from having the winner be the first one to collect all of 1 particular treasure type, to having the winner knock out all other players of their Crew Cards, to having the winner collect the most loot out of a designated amount of time, to even having the winner collect the most loot out of a certain number of turns.

Chance Cards

Another note on Chance Cards would be the fact that when you draw one, you are either getting a good or bad event. Chance Cards will either help or hurt your cause as a plunderer. Some Chance Cards will assign you to do things such as immediately taking on quests or allowing you to make a special move on any turn, which are good events. Bad events with Chance Cards include having your ship take damage or losing a turn.

Game Equipment

Official equipment for Buccaneer includes a game board (the original 1938 version of the game had a 25×25 square board, the 1958 version had a 24×24 square board, and the late 1960’s and early 1970’s versions had a 20×20 square board), 1 Treasure Island, 6 of each of the following; ships, masts, sails, diamonds, rubies, gold bars, pearls and rum barrels. Buccaneer also contains 28 Chance Cards, 52 Crew Cards, a Rule Sheet and a Laws of the Game Insert.


Buccaneer is a game that’s easy to learn and tons of fun to play with family and friends. While the Chance Cards may briefly remind you of the cards you draw in Monopoly, and while the sea battles may briefly remind you of classic games like Battleship and Stratego, Buccaneer can be a fresh new experience for players who are more used to the before mentioned games. Especially if you enjoy the setting of a pirate-themed treasure hunt, then this would be the game for you to play.

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