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Pirate's Cove
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Pirate's Cove

English language edition of Piratenbucht

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
8+ 60-90 minutes 3-5

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Product Description

Come aboard and sail to Pirate's Cove... the legendary hideaway of thieving pirates and cutthroat buccaneers. The tales of those legendary pirates of old who've fought and survived these mysterious waters still haunt all those who yearn for a life at sea. Armed with a secret map and starting with a modestly outfitted sloop salvaged from last winter's storm, you set sail to Pirate's Cove -- your eyes filled with visions of treasure and fame, your lungs filled with the salty air of the High Seas.

Your objective: to battle for the rights to plunder and become the most famed and feared Pirate the world has ever seen. To do so, you will need to navigate shrewdly, fight recklessly and pillage mercilessly. You will gain fame by winning battles; burying gold and treasure; and bragging about your exploits at the Tavern. At the end of twelve months, the pirate with the most fame will be declared the most fearsome Pirate of the High Seas!

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Strategy Game Nominee, 2005
Deutscher Spiele Preis
9th place, 2002

Product Information


  • 1 Board map
  • 7 Pirate ship miniatures
  • 5 Pirate Ship Mats and Captain's Wheels
  • 5 Wooden Fame markers
  • 20 Strength markers
  • 112 Illustrated cards:
    • 60 Treasure cards
    • 6 Legendary Pirate summary cards
    • 42 Tavern cards
    • 4 Blank cards
  • 44 Doubloons
  • Treasure chests
  • 6 wooden dice
  • 1 Rules booklet
  • 1 Summary Card
  • 1 Days of Wonder Online access number
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Product Reviews

Ben Baldanza
May 31, 2002

I first played Pirate's Cove at the Gathering of Friends one year ago. Paul Randles patiently taught the game which was a pre-production prototype but otherwise the same as the nicely published Amigo edition. For the linguistically challenged, Paul's prototype was superior in that the action cards were in English; Amigo's cards are nice but, alas, only in German.

Players take on the role of a ship captains and try to gain fame by visiting different islands, plundering gold and treasures and ultimately burying loot to score points. Along the way, you battle other ships along with the Royal Navy and Blackbeard himself, making for a light but family-friendly game that will probably get "ho-hums" from the most serious gamers but be welcomed in more accepting circles.

Each player's ship has four characteristics that can be upgraded and as with Evo's dinosaur each player has a copy of their ship in front of them that shows its current status in each area. The ship's hull determines how many treasures can be carried; cannons and crew determine strength in battle, and the ship's sails determine speed in the battle. Through the game, investing gold to upgrade these capabilities is essential, as competence in each area will help to make it through the 12-round challenge.

Every round, every player secretly chooses one of six islands where they will land. Each of the islands begins with a stack of Pirate Cards and one card is revealed for each island before the choice. The Pirate Cards show value in four areas: fame (victory points), gold, treasures and action cards. If you are the only one to land on any given island, you get the full value on the card without challenge. If multiple players choose a single island, they must battle until only one ship is left and that ship then gets the loot.

The battles are straight forward and a player can choose to flee to Pirate's Cove rather than fight when it is their turn to fire. Retreating in this way helps save your ship from damage and you get a small reward in the form of gold and an action card, but this is clearly less valuable than winning the Pirate Card. Battles are begun by the player with the fastest sails and they can choose to fire or flee. If they fire, they target one of the four areas of a competing ship and roll a number of dice based on the number of cannons and crew available. Fives and Sixes are hits and each hit lowers the rating in the area targeted. After one firing, the next player then fires back or flees, until someone flees by choice or is forced to Pirate's Cove when one of their ships areas is damaged by lowering its value beyond the last rating space.

The survivor on each island gets more than the Pirates Card, since each of four islands correspond to one of the four ship areas. The winner of "Hull Island" can then upgrade their ship's hull for a predetermined cost, and Sail, Crew and Cannon Island are similar. Tavern Island lets you buy action cards, called Tavern Cards, which can be used after the island selection and during battles to better your fate. Treasure Island is special, in that no battles occur here but anyone who lands there can bury their treasures for one victory point each and trade in gold for victory points at three to one. Typically players will try to fill their ships with as many treasures as their hull can hold, then get to the Treasure Island to book the points.

Blackbeard spices things up a bit, as he begins on Treasure Island and then moves from Island to Island. Any player landing with Blackbeard must defeat him before winning the island and he is a nasty dude. Beating him wins victory points on its own, but usually it is better to avoid Blackbeard than to face him and risk heavy losses on your own ship. Several players can attack Blackbeard together to better their chances. A variant has Blackbeard move randomly after everyone chooses an Island and this adds significant chaos into the game.

The Tavern Cards also keep things lively. Some are hidden victory points to be read out loud at the end ("I danced with Mermaid, so give me one more point!"). Others give a surprise advantage in battles, or let you run away to another spot before facing a battle. The combination of the cards and dice rolling give the game its light feel, and the game plays moderately fast with only 12 rounds but any longer would be draining.

The strategy in the game is limited and basically means choosing an island that helps you but that hopefully others will avoid. Beyond this, roll your dice well, draw good cards and get to Treasure Island to bury your loot before losing any or before the game ends. It is unfortunate that the game is not planned to be published with English cards, as the family-orientation of the game will likely put off any casual buyers outside of Germany since either cheat-sheets, paste-ups, or passing the rules translation will be necessary during play. Pirate's Cove is a good game to consider as holiday gift for families but is just a bit too long for its weight as a good closer for a gamer's evening.

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