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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
9+ 30-45 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Reiner Stockhausen

Manufacturer(s): Hans im Gluck

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Product Description

Pirates earn booty in Freibeuter whenever a ship is captured and then surrounded by pirate boats. In rare cases, a single pirate may be able to accomplish this and will take all the booty for himself. More often, several pirates will be involved and will share the booty. On each turn, a player must decide whether to capture a ship, place a boat on a sea space, or move the Flying Dutchman. The player who manages through skillful play to amass the most booty will win the game.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Deutscher Spiele Preis
10th place, 1998

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Stockhausen

  • Manufacturer(s): Hans im Gluck

  • Year: 1998

  • Players: 2 - 4

  • Time: 30 - 45 minutes

  • Ages: 9 and up

  • Weight: 1,125 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. An English translation of the rules is provided.


  • 1 board
  • 100 boats
  • 74 sea cards
  • 1 Flying Dutchman
  • 14 Flying Dutchman cards
  • 28 ships
  • 4 pirate warehouses
  • 4 double value chests
  • 62 treasure chest cards

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 1 review

YoHoYoHo a Pirate's life for me.....
November 03, 1999

I acquired Freibeuter (Freebooter) last year and have enjoyed playing it quite often. The theme is pirateering on the high seas.

Tiles representing merchant ships, bonus multipliers and treasure are shuffled and placed on grid spaces. The sides of the board has letters from A-G and numbers from 1-7. Play is largely driven from two decks of coordinate cards; one deck has coordinates for the players' ships and the other is a special deck for the Flying Dutchman ship.

Players can choose from 1 of 3 different actions in their turn;

  1. Board a boat (no coordinate card is necessary for this maneuver) or
  2. surround a boat (one must have a coordinate card for this move) or
  3. Move the Flying Dutchman (with a special coordinate card).

A player that boards a boat will eventually collect the ship tile which will be worth from 5 to 20 'pieces of eight' at game's end. Players who have surrounded a boat are in position to collect cash from the boarding player when (and if) that boat is surrounded (and boarded).

Players can also surround tiles that represent cash bonuses or point multipliers. Example: If a player captures the '15' point tile, then at game's end all ships captured with the value of '15' are doubled!

The Flying Dutchman (a ghost ship) traverses the baord along an entire row or column and can stop along that row or column on any vacant grid space in order to complete the surrounding of a merchant ship. After booty is paid and the ship tile claimed, the Flying Dutchman vanishes into the fog!

The game's strategy is one of timing tempered with greed. Although boarding a ship can be accomplished without a coordinate card, it is important to remember that as the boarding pirate you may have to pay booty to those buccaneers who have assisted in the surrounding of the merchant vessel. You must pay them even if you do not have enough pieces of eight yourself. This can mean borrowing money at usurious rates!

The other tricky part of the game to remember is that if a boat is surrounded, but NOT boarded, then the vessel is deemed to have escaped the pirates' attack... and no one collects anything. While it is true that you may not always be able to decide on a given turn which ship to surround (because you may not have the right coordinate card) you can still do some strategic planning in those areas of the board where you have some cards.

I ranked the game with 4 stars not because it is a deep (sorry, no play on theme was intended) game, but because it is enjoyable and easy to teach newcomers. I have found Freebooter to be a great game to introduce friends to various German games (Medici is another one). My friends can learn the mechanics quickly and sit down and play.

I suppose a more accurate ranking would be '3 1/2' stars, but the Funagain site has no means of displaying a partial star.

Freebooter is in the 'beer & pretzel' category... good for some laughs, some fun and role playing banter. I recommend this game highly.

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