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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Pirateer
Theme:  Pirate
Format:  Board Games


2nd edition

List Price: $20.00
Your Price: $16.00
(20% savings!)
(Worth 1,600 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  
Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 1996

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 15-30 minutes 2-4

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Product Description

Vast treasure, fast ships and cutthroat rivals await you on the seas of Pirateer, the fast-paced strategy game where fortunes turn on pirate skullduggery and a roll of the dice. Easy to learn, yet challenging for all ages, this award winning mix of luck, skill and treachery will entertain your family for years. Hoist the Jolly Roger and fire your imagination with Pirateer, the game of outrageous fortune.

Product Awards

Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 1996

Product Information


  • 1 game board
  • 12 ship markers and decals
  • 2 dice
  • 1 treasure coin
  • instructions

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.5 in 13 reviews

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by coasteray
Enjoy Privateer/Pirateer for what it is.
March 04, 2009

First, a little history of this game:

I have both the original 1978 Privateer version with the roll-up tough cloth, along with wood playing pieces, all in the thin but nicely printed cardboard box with a lid at the each end (I have two copies), and the newer 1994 Pirateer game that also came in a roll-up format along with plastic playing pieces, all inside of a metal box with a hinged lid at just one end. Then there is the Avalon Hill-style box version. Two different covers are available---one with a treasure chest and three pirates on a beach, and the other with two ships. All versions are the same game from the same creator, Scott Peterson.

The game was not ever meant to be some kind of tough-guy "gamer" game, so please get over it if you want it to be that kind of game. I used to go to our local "Game Faire" in Spokane, WA for many years. You wouldn't believe how much the gamers (who regularly play war games, D&D, etc, etc.) loved this game. This was before the newer 1994 version. I actually took all the game components and made photocopies on an office copier, took it to the Game Faire and just gave them away, and the guys thought that was cool, because they couldn't buy this game if they had to. Anyway, that was fun.

This is a game you can play very quickly and just have a relaxed but fun play-through. Yes, there is the luck-of-the-dice issue, but so what? D & D has dice rolls all over the place, also. You have to make intelligent decisions about what you should do with that dice roll. It evens out. Add to this the fact that everyone obviously has to do the same thing, so you never know what's going to happen. It's not always a good idea to just go for the treasure. You have to decide how to defend your harbor while chasing around the board trying to get the treasure and at the same time keep from getting blasted off the board by others players. And then, who do you destroy, and why and when?

Then add in the game variants in the new version, or make up your own. We used to play the game where the "winner" could either outright win the game or become a "ghost" player and go around sinking players' ships at will while being unsinkable as a "ghost" player. Nice advantage there. You have to do this as a 'ghost" player because you can't win unless you can wipe out everybody else. This is my favorite non-official variant. You have technically won the game but then you may not actually get to claim that. The reason is that the treasure is still in play after you become a "ghost" player. Anyway.....try it out.

Take the game for what it is. Easy to learn (5 minutes), fast playing, short in time (around 20 minutes), but it has all the little strategies and surprises. The pirate theme helps, too. Don't let anybody say it just a kid's game. Though kids will like it, it has great appeal to anyone. If you're looking for a complex and "mature" game here, sorry. This is a "beer-and-pretzel" game, as I've heard guys call it.

by Ryan
Original Game
April 07, 2007

Privateer is a wonderful game, more interesting and exciting to play than most board and it does not take that long to play. My game board is cloth and it come in a corrugated paper box with Privateer and two ships on the side.

by Rich Dupuis
Incredible Game
December 22, 2006

This Game is simple to learn, yet is incredibly fun! The game involves great strategy. Play it and you'll love it too!

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
by M. D.
We love this game and play it regularly
November 23, 2005
This is one of the three games we regularly play in the family. It is a deceptively simple game, and I wonder if the people who didn't like have spent much time playing it. The more you play this game, the more you realize the potential and application of different strategies. This is a great game for both adults and children, and even though movement involves die rolls, because of the number of possibilites for movement, luck is fairly minimized.
A wonderful game!
September 12, 2004

This has been a hit with every person we have introduced it to. Even non-gamers have enjoyed this game (and believe me, we have some serious non-gamer friends that are very hard to please). We liked it so much we bought 2 games to be able to play the double board version (which doubled the fun)!

I agree that it's not a HUGE strategy game, but there is some strategy to it (a little more strategy than luck if you consider that you still have to decide what to do with the numbers you just threw). However, it's still a great game that we have been able to enjoy with groups of adults, groups of kids and mixed groups of both (which, to me, makes it a perfect game to share with others)

Like a pirate version of backgammon--great with 3-4 players
September 11, 2004

With three or four players, playing the sunken ship variation, this game is awesome--sometimes even addictive. Other reviews have criticized the simple rules. Many games that have been around thousands of years have simple rules. But this is a great, quick game with lots of opportunities to 'get' the other guy. If you like backgammon, I'd bet you'd like this game.

by A Gamer
Great... for kids
January 03, 2007

If you like playing games with your kids but are not in the mood for a lollipop kiddy game, this is perfect. It's simple to learn, easy to play, and only takes about 10-20 minutes. My kids ages 6 and 13 love it. I don’t think it’s a game that a group of my adult friends would be entertained by since the strategy isn’t very challenging (although it does get a little cut-throat when playing with my teenager). We bought it about six weeks ago and are already hooked. It’s been played about 5 times a week, usually during homework breaks.

by A Gamer
A deceptively simply designed game.
May 22, 2005
This game is a favorite with my siblings and me. We are a large family and enjoy playing games when we get together. It's not just luck based, but requires strategic skill as well-- and we love killing each other off! Ha ha ha! I have read the preceding negative reviews and I have to assume that their lack of enjoyment with this game had more to do with the players than with the game itself. I mean, one guy played one round with just his wife and took the trouble to write an oh so clever scathing review? I guess you need an imagination to enjoy such a deceptively simply designed game, but I'll take a round or two of Pirateer with my brothers and sisters over video games any day.
This is a game I love and must now own my own copy!
October 10, 2004
This game is a favorite in my group of "serious" boardgamers. Yes, it involves luck, it has dice. What you do with those dice is where the skill comes in. We have tried several variations of play, but have yet to try the double board version. I recommend this game to new and experienced gamers.
May 27, 2005

After seeing the prominent MENSA sticker on the exterior of the box I decided to give it a try. All I can say is that either I'm just not bright enough to see it or MENSA has lowered its standards.

This is a simple back and forth game where each side has 3 ships that move along a grid. Every player rolls two six sided dice and each of the two dice rolls correlates to one of their ships movement... thus that's the strategy. Figuring out what to do with your two movement dice. Now with 3 ships that means 12 possible moves per die and then do it again with the other die and yes I recognize that you also get to choose the order of your moves for even more movement possibilities.

In play, however, the focus was either on achieving the objective (to recover the treasure), eliminating an enemy ship, or preventing your opponent from doing the same so typically we worked backwards in figuring our what to do with our moves.

Any game with this much dice rolling means luck is a heavy factor. I can see kids enjoying this for a brief period of time, and kudos to the guy that said this was like pirate backgammon... good analogy that I'd agree is dead on!

The Guy Who Sells You This Stinker is the Real Pirate!
January 19, 2005

This luck dependent back and forth game which is presented well, but is ultimately destined to be forgotten, is the biggest waste of time I can imagine.

How this won a Mensa Award is beyond my I.Q.! I would like to settle on the old, "Well it's a good intro for kids", but nothing will get the kids running back to their video games then this thing!

How do games like this get reissued and published when so many great games fall out of print?

This game is buried on my shelf, but it's no treasure!
September 14, 2004

My wife and I picked this up on vacation, and played it only once. There was no desire to try out a new strategy afterwards, and it remains buried on my game shelf to this day. The play was uninspired and boring. I forget what award it stated it won on the box, but I can assume that was a very bad year for games.

Not as good as the designer and his friends claim
September 13, 2004

This isn't a bad game but it certainly isn't as good as some would like you to believe. It is also 'legendary' in gaming circles for a number of incidents were the designer or his friends artificially tried to boost ratings.

This game has much more luck than either strategy or tactics. Most of the latter involves trying to make the best of your current luck or trying to balance out the impact of the various possibilities in your upcoming luck. Decision making is somewhat similar to backgammon but at about a quarter of the depth.

Good players will gang up on whoever grabs the treasure, and will try to balance out their attacks on each other. The end-game will fairly often involve most players having one ship left or maybe two. The board configuration limits ways to use large numbers and the inability of the treasure carrier to move away from his goal will often lead to end-games with no or minimal choices - just pure luck.

That may be both the best thing and worst thing about the game. If you like strategy in your games, you may not like a 'game flow' that moves from some strategy to practically none. Do you want to put in a lot of energy making strategic decisions at the beginning only to find that the outcome at the end is mostly luck-based? On the other hand, if your taste for strategy is on the lighter side and you enjoy being able to either explore the tactics for the best move or just make the first reasonably good one that comes to mind as the moment and socializing dictate, then this is a game that will not punish you for enjoying the conversation more than the game. Also, the flow toward luck supports come-from-behind victories and exciting final moments.

I've bought six copies of this game. The metal tube version makes a good gift, for the right family. If you know someone with a fascination for pirates and two boys aged 6-9, this could be a perfect choice. The adults can get enjoyment out of small tactical battles between them while the kids are trying to get the treasure. This would also be useful if you are a serious gamer with friends who are not, and you need something to stop that one guy from trying to over examine every possible move. After one play he should realize that nothing he does will have much influence on the end game, and then maybe he can relax and enjoy the company.

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