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AKA: Pirat; AKA: Korsar

List Price: $10.99
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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 20 minutes 2-8

Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

Manufacturer(s): Gamewright

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Product Description

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Barrel of Fun! Set sail for an exciting adventure of strategy and skullduggery in this captivating card game. Storm your opponents' merchant ships and seize valuable treasure. But watch your back, matey -- plundering pirates are out to capture your ships as well! The player with the most loot rules the high seas.

Product Awards

Mensa Best Mind Game Award
Best Mind Game, 2005
Major FUN
Award Winner, 2005

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Reiner Knizia

  • Manufacturer(s): Gamewright

  • Artist(s): Gary Locke

  • Year: 2005

  • Players: 2 - 8

  • Time: 20 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 10-20 minutes

  • Weight: 225 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #157

  • Language Requirements: Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is a domestic item.


  • 78 cards:
    • 25 merchant ships
    • 48 pirate ships
    • 4 pirate captains
    • 1 admiral
  • rules of play

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.6 in 7 reviews

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Family fun!
June 13, 2007

Our kids love this game! When played with two to three teams of two the game is a lot of fun and more strategy is involved. This game involves a lot of luck when only two players play, however. Highly recommended for family game night!

by Tom
Unique, Light Card Game
February 28, 2011

What I really like about this game is that it is truely unique and very clever. A lot of card games are derivatives of traditional card games (Rage -> Oh Hell, Five Crowns -> Gin Rummy, Uno -> Crazy 8) but this game doesn't resemble anything I've ever played and and the game mechanism is very clever and creative. True, there can be a lot of luck, but there is also a lot of subtle strategy. It's easy to teach anyone new the rules and within a few minutes you are casting your merchant ships off into the high seas and attacking each others' loot with pirate ships. Games are fairly quick so you can play several in one sitting. Overall, I would recommend it as a fun, light card game. I haven't played the team version but that looks interesting as well.

by Owen McNamara
Loot is simple, fun and great to play with young children
June 19, 2007

I play this with my 6 year old and 8 year old daughters and we have a real laugh. Loot is easy to learn, the cards are well designed and the rules simple but precise. It does depend on luck as the other reviewers rightly point out, but also requires sufficient skill in choosing which card colours to play, keeping count of pirates that have been played, choosing when to play high cards, and so on to make my young children interested. This has really got our family interested in card games as a family and I am now looking at more complex games such as Carcassonne and Tigris & Euphrates so well done GameWright and Loot for introducing us to a new world of games. Loot is good fun.

Diverting, but driven by luck I'll agree.
June 29, 2006

This is a nice little card game if you want something short and light. It is extremely easy to learn, fast paced, and interactive. The artwork is cute, although I would have loved different pictures for the different fleets of pirate ships. The different ships are distinguished by color, but the colors are dark and can look similar.

There is definitely a lot of luck involved. In a recent game I played with my husband, he got all three of the trump Pirates and the Admiral, and I was pretty much sunk - no pun intended:) I don't really mind, however, because the game plays quickly. This means that we frequently play more than one game, and luck usually evens out. The only frustrating thing for me is that the way the game plays (with calculated risk and bidding) I yearn for more control in order to strategize. I don't mind luck as much in games like Guillotine where it matches the feel of the game. I imagine, however, that someone very skilled could make much more out of the hands I was dealt than I did.

I have also only played this with two people so far, and I would guess that it is probably a better game with more players. I do appreciate the fact that it has such a broad range in number of players.

Good, short card game for up to 8. Arrrrghh!
June 15, 2005

Loot is a reprint of this game (also known as Pirat or Korsars). I had a chance to play Korsars a while back and remember thinking what a light, but fun pirate game. It took me a bit to recognize that Loot was the same game, because the cartoon drawings were so outlandish (Sponge Bob style) that the name “Knizia” wouldn’t have occurred to me from looking at the game. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the humorous artwork (done by Gary Locke); it just was odd for the game.

But Loot is an excellent game, one that I enjoy with three or four players, but one that really shines with six to eight players. I’m always on the lookout for games that accommodate up to eight players, and Loot does that well, with little downtime and involvement for all. Boardgamegeek classifies the game as a “trick-taking” game, and that may be technically true; but I think the game basically consists of players trying to sneak a victory under everyone else’s noses.

A deck of seventy-eight cards are shuffled, and six cards dealt to each player, with the remainder forming a draw pile in the middle of the table. The player next to the dealer goes first, with play proceeding clockwise around the table. On a turn, a player must take only one action from the following list.

  • Draw a card: This is the only way to get cards, and a player’s hand size has an unlimited maximum.
  • Play a merchant ship: A player may play one of the twenty-five merchant ships in front of them – with a number of gold pieces on it (values range from two to eight gold). If, on the players next turn, no one else has attacked this merchant ship, the player who played it may add it to their “won” pile automatically. Players may have more than one merchant ship in front of them.
  • Play a pirate card: There are pirate cards in four suits (blue, yellow, green, and purple), each with a number of skulls on them – denoting their power (one to four). A player may play a pirate card to attack any merchant ship on the table, even their own. Once any player has attacked a merchant ship with a particular color, other players must use a different color to attack that ship. Players may add pirate cards of the same color to those they’ve already played to ensure that their total is the highest on future turns. If a player has the highest sum or pirate strength on any particular ship at the beginning of their turn, they place the merchant ship in their win pile, discarding all pirate cards played on that ship. Each suit of pirates has one pirate captain card, which may be played only if the player has already played a card of that color. A pirate captain trumps all other numbers (if there is more than one pirate captain played, the last one played is the most powerful). There is also one Admiral card, which can only be played on a merchant ship that a player has played themselves, and which can be added to any color (becoming the highest card – but able to be trumped by a pirate captain.) An admiral card can even be played if a player has not played any pirate ships on their own card.
  • Discard a card: Usually only done at the end of the game, when a player has nothing else they can do (they cannot discard merchant ships).

The game continues until the draw pile is depleted, and one player plays their last card. All cards in play on the table are immediately discarded, along with the cards in players’ hands. Players total the gold on the ships in their win pile, subtract the gold from any merchant ships left in their hands, and the player with the most gold wins!

There is also a partnership variant, where the partners sit next to each other and can look at one another’s hands (I’m not sure I’ve played any other game that allows this). Players cannot exchange cards but can work together when attacking ships, etc.

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: I really enjoy the artwork on the cards, as silly as it might be – the pirate captains look like hilarious caricatures ripped out of a Saturday morning cartoon. My only objection to the artwork is that there’s no way to tell the colors apart for color-blind folk on the pirate cards. The cards are good quality – and even though the box is bigger than your typical card game box – having a plastic insert inside a box with a lid is MUCH easier for me to handle, and I don’t worry about fitting the cards back in. Loot is an attractive repackaging of the game Korsars, as long as you don’t mind the humorous artwork.

2.) Rules: The rules are on an eight page foldout – and are quite clear (although the game is fairly simple regardless). I found, though, that even while I consider the game is fairly simplistic (in my opinion), some people have a difficult time grasping exactly what’s going on – as cards can be played all over the table. For that reason, with a large group, I would always recommend playing with partners first (as long as they didn’t take too long to confer).

3.) Confusion: After reading the rules, it would seem that the game is confusing, as players can have multiple merchant ships, and pirate cards all over the table. And while this may initially throw off new players, it’s not as complicated as you might think. Since players have limited hands, they only have a few cards on the table at any one time, and believe me – players keep track of what cards they’ve played. So the game is a lot less chaotic than it might appear to an observer. This confusion can allow one thing, however. Even though players keep track of their own cards well, they probably aren’t watching everyone else’s plays. Thus, it’s not too difficult for a player to drop some merchant ships in a large eight-player game, and win them because everybody’s busy fighting over larger ships. This, of course, is a viable strategy, but one that players should watch for.

4.) Luck: Pirate captains are powerful cards, and the players who get them have a nice advantage – as long as they get at least one other pirate ship in the same color. But having Pirate captains doesn’t assure you the game, knowing where to carefully play your cards is more important. There’s no denying, however, that luck has a high role in the game. One should realize that when playing, as the game is simply a light filler – taking a short time, and able to be played with a lot of people. The hardest choice is what to do with a large merchant ship. If you don’t play it, you’ll be penalized at the end of the game, but if you play it, and can’t claim it yourself – you’ll have a bit of trouble.

5.) Fun Factor: As with any pirate game, the fun factor goes up tremendously as the amount of bad pirate playacting increases. If there’s anything good about the theme, it’s the fact that it’s attractive to many folk. But even beyond the theme, the gameplay is a lot of fun. It’s certainly nothing that you’ll see massive strategy articles written about it, but it’s quick and fun.

If you’re looking for a game that accommodates up to eight players and is fast, simple, and fun, then Loot is an excellent choice. Gamewright has put the game in an inexpensive, attractive package, and the game works well – and has a very interesting method of having partners sit next to each other. While the game isn’t nearly as fun with only a few players (I would never play it with two), it still works well with 3+ players, and just finishes quickly. It’s a good way to end a gaming session – no one really cares who wins, and the game is fun to play, and not taxing on the brain. Buy this game, matey!

Tom Vasel
“Real men (arg!) play board games.”

Not as good as I'd heard it would be
August 19, 2014

I was really looking forward to playing this game during my family vacation. The good reviews and description really had me excited. Unfortunately, my family and I did not enjoy it. When we played it, players would get lots of pirate ships at the beginning and we would have big battles over the merchant ships, which was fun, but then at the end, it would be really dull because we would all have lots of merchant ships in our hands but very few pirate ships to play. Then we would just go around the table playing merchant ships and picking them up when it got to our turn. Ultimately, the game just did not do it for us.

Loot: Luck-driven Pirates
February 15, 2006
Loot is the re-release of Reiner Knizia’s Korsar, which was actually a re-release of his previously titled Pirat. You have to give the good doctor credit, as he is the master of getting his games re-released! This certainly is to the advantage of Dr. Knizia as I’m sure it translates into a few more English pounds in his pocket! Often, it also benefits gamers, too, as games that may have went out-of-print get new life and are once again available. The potential draw-back, however, is that some of these games may not be the good doctor’s best.

Loot is produced by Gamewright, which has recently been getting many of their games into mainstream markets. In the case of Loot, this is a good thing, as it has the potential of exposing more folks to European style games. Add to this a low price-point, and you have a game that could sell quite well.

The new version is identical to Korsar, released previously by the German companies Nürnberger Spielkarten & Heidelberger Spieleverlag. Save for more cartoonish artwork, the game is identical. I will say that there was some color confusion with the new version, as the tone was quite dark and difficult to distinguish.

The predecessor to Korsar was Pirat, a game I played only once and that was back in late 1988. I wasn’t terribly impressed and found the game to be rather “vanilla” and a bit heavy on the “luck of the draw” scale. So, when I learned that the game was going to be re-released, I wasn’t terribly interested. However, a few session reports by some folks whose opinions I respect piqued my interest, so I managed to give it a few plays.

The games were all played in teams, which was new to this version. That certainly is an improvement, as was the quality and artwork on the cards. The sleek, elongated, black packaging also was also very attractive. Unfortunately, I found the game itself to still be heavily dependent upon the ‘luck of the draw’, as during several games, I drew an inordinate amount of merchant ships and precious few pirates. Of course, my team got stomped. A few games were a bit more even, but in some we still had the great misfortune of drawing zero pirate leaders. Again, we were stomped.

The deck of cards depicts a variety of merchant ships, valued from 2 – 8 gold pieces each. The wealthier ships are rarer, while those valued at 2, 3 and 4 are plentiful. In total, there are 100- points worth of ships to be captured. In addition to the merchant ships, there is also an abundance of pirate ships in four different colors. Pirate ships carry strengths of 1 – 4, with each color having one pirate leader. Completing the deck is one admiral, who can be played in defense of any merchant ship.

The object of the game is to capture merchant ships whose cumulative value exceeds that of those captured by your opponents. Merchant ships are captured by the team who has played the greatest value of pirate ships against that ship. When a team’s turn arrives, each merchant ship on the table is examined and if the team has more pirates played to a ship than their opponents, they capture the ship and all pirate cards played to that ship are discarded. If no one has played any pirate ships against a merchant ship by the time the team who played the ship to the table turn arrives, then the team captures that ship without a conflict!

Each player is dealt six cards to begin the game. Teammates may show each other their hand of cards and discuss strategy, but may not pass cards to each other. A player’s turn is quite simple: either play a card to the table, or draw a card. If a team plays a merchant ship, it is angled so that the stern of the ship faces the team who played it. This is important so as to avoid confusion as to which team actually played the ship. Pirate ships are played beside merchant ships, again making sure it is clear as to which team has played which color of pirate ships. Once one team plays a certain color to a ship, the other teams may not play the same color against that ship.

Pirate leaders may only be played in an attack if the team has already played pirate ships of the same color against that merchant ship. Leaders act like a ‘trump’ card and will win the day for the team who played him (or her!) … UNLESS the opposing team follows with another pirate of the color they were playing to that ship! In that case, the last pirate played will win the ship. The admiral may only be played in defense of a merchant ship and works in an identical fashion as a leader, with the exception that he does not require pirate ships to have already been played.

The game ends when there are no more cards to draw from the draw pile AND one player is out of cards. Players then determine the outcome of all unresolved conflicts still on the table, then tally the value of all of the merchant ships they captured. From this total, however, they must subtract the value of all merchant ships they still hold in their hands. So, as the game nears an end, there is a pressure to play merchant ships as quickly as you can so you will not be stuck with an abundance of negative points in your hand!

I don’t want to sound too negative. The game is certainly amusing, but one’s fate is largely – perhaps overwhelmingly – determined by the cards you draw. Draw a bunch of pirate leaders or high-valued pirate ships and you should have little trouble winning. Draw a bunch of merchant ships and few pirate ships and you are doomed. I’ve been on both sides of this boat and honestly didn’t feel I did anything clever when I won, or anything particularly wrong when I lost. Still, I can’t say that I didn’t have a decent time playing. The game is amusing and is certainly a pleasant way to close an evening of gaming.

Other Resources for Loot:

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