Ahoy mateys! Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day and you still have time to make plans for aaarrr-guably the coolest holiday around. Of course, no pirate-y party is complete without throwing back a coupla tankards of your favorite grog or binge-watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but don’t forget to leave room on the tabletop so you can create some high-seas action of your own.
Here are five pirate-themed games that’ll have any landlubber swashbucklin’ in no time with their fellow scallywags.
In this gateway-style game you’re racing around the island of Jamaica, trying to grab treasure while making sure you have enough food to replenish your crew as you continue your journey. Your opponents are trying to do the same thing and if your ships ever land in the same spot, it’s time to do battle. Roll the dice, add your cannon modifiers, and may the best buccaneer win.
The top-notch components include big, chunky dice and colorful artwork, highlighted by the gorgeous board and plastic ships. It takes the roll-and-move mechanism and transforms it into a rollicking adventure, one that gamers and non-gamers will appreciate when it hits the table.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
One look at the stunning art is all it takes to make you want to play Dead Men Tell No Tales. You begin at the entrance to a burning ship, which is ripe for plundering by you and your crew. Flip over a tile and find out what awaits you: deckhands, guards, treasure, additional weapons, undead skeletons, and more.
Fans of Pandemic and Flash Point: Fire Rescue will recognize the similar cooperative mechanisms here, but the gameplay and theme set it apart. Although the rules for movement and explosions are fiddly, once you get into the flow of things you and your mates are in for a tension-filled race to escape from burning and exploding rooms with your treasure … and your heads.
Many gamers consider Libertalia their Citadels killer, with its familiar role selection and bluffing mechanisms. Here, each player has an identical deck of characters to choose from, so the mind games begin from the get-go. Each character is played in numerical order, with day effects being resolved before night effects.
The game gives off a pirate-poker vibe, with lots of cutthroat action enhanced by the top-notch artwork and components. Player interaction is the highlight of the game and with its easy-to-learn ruleset it won’t take long before you’re telling your friends to walk the plank.
A classic from the 1980s, Swashbuckler is a hilariously fun romp in a tavern: think Errol Flynn meets the Dread Pirate Roberts meets the Keystone Kops. Writing your programmed movement on a sheet of paper is dated as well as clunky, but the results are always a blast. You’ll parry, thrust, swing on chandeliers, jump onto tables as you wreak havoc on the bar, but you’ll also do a lot of lunging at air whenever your opponent selects the perfect counter to your movements.
Since Swashbuckler has been out of print for many years, it may be difficult to track down a copy (I’m fortunate that one of my friends has his own blinged-out copy, as shown above). Thankfully, the game has been re-implemented in The Dragon and Flagon, with a few improvements such as those pesky programming sheets being replaced with movement cards. The tavern is still where all the action takes place, so it’ll satisfy your urge to do battle amongst the local drunkards.
Dead Man’s Draw
After a long day of talking like a pirate and playing buccaneer-influenced games, this quick-playing card game is a great way to wind down the shenanigans. Players draw cards one at a time, trying to add to their pile of treasure while also messing with their opponents through a few of the take-that cards. It’s push-your-luck and set collection in a little box of pirate fun, perfect as a game night appetizer, snack, or dessert.
What are you playing on Talk Like A Pirate Day? Tell us in the comments!
Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola
Ruel Gaviola is a writer and educator based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, date nights with his wife, and Star Wars. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon.com and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter.