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Pirate’s Cove - Board Game Box Shot

Pirate’s Cove

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.

Pirate's Cove game in play
image © Days of Wonder

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!

User Reviews (11)

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Amateur Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
44 of 46 gamers found this helpful
“Best Pirate Game Ever”

Pirates Cove has everything you could want from a pirate game. You get to upgrade your pirate ship, fight sea battles, get treasure, and become famous. Pirate’s Cove is a fun game that family members, casual gamers, and even more avid gaming fans can all enjoy together.

The rules are fairly simple and the game plays fast. Each turn, treasure cards are placed on the various islands. The players secretly choose which island to visit and everyone moves at the same time. If you show up alone, you get the treasure and can improve part of your ship(Hull, Cannon, Crew or Sails). If another player shows up at the same islands, you have to fight for the right to claim the treasure.

Sea battles are fast and fun with players rolling six sided dice and trying to get 5’s and 6′ to damage their opponents ship. Depending on how you built you ship, you’ll have different advantages and disadvantages but nothing too complex.

After you get enough treasure, you have to make pit stop at Treasure Island to bury the treasure and earn points. After all, no pirate ever became famous without burying treasure.

In additonal to this, there is a legendary pirate wandering from island to island so if you wanted to see just how tough the Flying Dutchman or Blackbeard really is, you can find out for yourself or even team up with other players to take them on.

The only downside to Pirate’s Cove is that some of the action cards you get in the game aren’t very useful and others aren’t well balanced. I would love to see this game get a revised version with some of these issues address. This is a small gripe, however, and doesn’t ruin the fun.

Pirate’s Cove is still the best way to play pirate without actually picking up a cutlass and making someone walk the plank.

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Novice Reviewer
Novice Advisor
Baron / Baroness
46 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Yarrrrgh - Good Fun On The High Seas”

Pirate’s Cove is a simple and fun with some interesting mechanics – perfect for younger and more casual players. It has some great opportunity for role playing and some fun aspects including the Legendary Pirates and different Action cards.

The setup is pretty quick, with the real challenge finding a medium sized or bigger table to hold all the pieces, cards, board, and individual player’s boards. Before the game actually starts, each player secretly decides stats for his/her ship and then everyone shows them at the same time.

At the beginning of each “month” (there are 12 months in the game), each of 4 islands reveals a card showing what spoils are available on the island. Then, each player secretly chooses an island to go to (either 1 of the 4 or the “card” island, or Pirate’s Cove where they can drop off previously plundered treasure).

After showing where they are going, all the players move their ships to their destinations and if multiple players arrive at the same island they fight (by rolling dice and using different ship attributes and special cards) until only 1 is left.

Player may upgrade their ships depending on which island they take over each month. A legendary and very strong pirate also moves between the islands which adds a bit of spice. At the end of the year (12 months/rounds), the player with the most prestige wins the game.

A very fun game for pirate fans, casual gamers, and for taking on a picnic or family gathering. After 5-10 games, most people will understand the game well enough to reduce the fun and replayability.

Gameplay: 3/5 – Average mechanics, simple strategies
Fun: 4/5 – Lots of “yarrring” make the game more fun than it would be otherwise
Replayability: 2/5 – There are definitely strategies that can be “winning”, so eventually the games can get a bit stale
Learning Curve: 4/5 – Pretty easy to learn this one
Tilt: 3/5 – I really liked this game at first and then its fun wore off after about 5 games.
Total: 3.2/5

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Gamer - Level 5
Count / Countess Beta 1.0 Tester
43 of 48 gamers found this helpful
“Arrrr you ready for fun and adventurrrrr???”

A quick game (only 12 turns long) that pits you against your opponents to see who can become the most famous pirate in a year. The game starts with everyone on a basic boat with a few sails, crew, cannons and a small hull. How you proceed is up to you. Will you upgrade your sails so you are the fastest boat and first to fire in battle, upgrade your crew and cannons so you can roll more dice to shred your opponents boats, or upgrade your hull so you can haul more booty to treasure island where you can bury it for fame.
A great game for 3-5 players. I have played it with 3 and 4 so far and the more players the better in my opinion.
Each turn there is strategy to see which island you will go to. Will you go to one that alllows you to upgrade your cannons but that might have less treasure or will you go to an island that might allow you to upgrade a part of your boat you don’t need to but has much more booty for the claiming. The only problem, is if your opponents go to the same island, there will be a ship battle where one of you will limp away while the other claims the treasure. It is a great game. A must have for a group of pirate fans who love board games.

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Intermediate Reviewer
Novice Advisor
34 of 38 gamers found this helpful
“Lighthearted but with some depth”

Pirate’s Cove is not the most advanced game you ever saw, and it doesn’t pretend it is. It’s a pirate game with simple rules and it’s meant to be fast paced. The sea battles asre not exactly rocket science, rolls some dice and smile when your opponent must lower their ship’s stats or better yet must abandon the battle and paddle back to Pirate’s Cove to patch up their vessel.

Each turn a new card with loot and other perks are flipped for each of the islands on the gameboard. Each pirate secretly chose wgich island to go to, and if more than one picks a certain destination they will fight it out.

The kicker is that all pirate ships have four stats, sails (more sails equals higher initiative, that is shooting first in battles) guns & men (these two decide how many dice you roll in battle) and hull (higher stats means you can fit more treasure on your boat). On four of the islands you can upgrade these different parts of your ship, so chosing a destination must be done not only with the loot in mind but also how to maintain a decent vessel. Besides, if one island contains really good loot it can be wise to avoid the battle there and grab a slightly worse loot for free (this only works as long as the other players don’t get the same idea…).

Every now and then you want to go to the treasure island and bury the loot you collected, becuase that menas exchanging treasure for victory points.

To spice things up there are some random non-player pirates sailing around, and cards with cool extra features (like parrots that grant bonuses or reinforced hull and such).

The game have a few more tactical options than it may seem at first glance, but it’s still a light family game. Try it out, and the game experience will only be better if you force everyone to talk pirate!

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46 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“A fun, yet flawed, pirate adventure worth a look”

Pirate’s Cove is a 3-5 player game published by Days of Wonder from designers Daniel Stahl and Paul Randles. I purchased this game for when my nephews came to visit, and thought that the fun theme plus Days of Wonder’s excellent reputation would create an enjoyable gaming experience for them. While some mechanics have negative aspects that are hard to ignore, playing this game was a very exciting and immersive venture from our initial sail through
coming home to port.

To start, each player is given a pirate ship token, a mat to track ship upgrades and hold treasure, as well as nine gold and one tavern card. The object of the game is to have the most fame points of all pirates by game’s end. The game is played over 12 months (turns) with a turn starting with each pirate secretly navigating to one of six islands in the sea. These islands contain treasure cards for the pirates to plunder, and opportunities to either upgrade different parts of their ships, collect tavern cards or bury treasure and gold. Fame points are earned from the treasure cards that are plundered, by burying treasure chests on Treasure Island or through combat with other players, legendary pirates and the Royal Navy. Visiting one of the four islands where you can upgrade a component of your ship is vital to ensuring that you will be strong for the combat that occurs when two or more pirates end up on the same island. The four parts of your ship are sails, crew, cannons and hull. Sails determine the speed of the ship, which is the factor in determining who gets to fire cannons first in battle. Crew/Cannons represent how many dice can be rolled in battle which is determined by the lower of the two numbers (if you have 2 crew and 3 cannons, only 2 cannons can be fired). Hull determines how many treasure chests your ship can carry at one time. All upgrades require gold to be paid for them, which is also gained from plundering treasure cards from the island. Battles occur when two or more players end up navigating to the same island. They consist of players firing volleys from their cannons by rolling dice. The player targets one of the four components of his opponent’s ship, and a “hit” occurs when a 5 or 6 is rolled on any of the dice. A battle can consist of multiple volleys, but ultimately ends when a player opts to flee, or when one of the parts of their ship are crippled and they must retreat. The winning pirate gets 1 point of fame per defeated ship and the treasure card from island. The losing pirate must repair their ship at pirate’s cove and take tavern cards into their hand. These tavern cards can provide additional ship upgrades, allow players to send the Royal Navy after another pirate or provide fame points. After month 12, the fame points are counted, and again, the pirate who has gained the most fame is declared the winner.

The fun of this game lies predominantly in the very immersive theme that Stahl and Randles seamlessly implemented into every aspect of play. The legendary pirates are taken right out of popular lore, while the tavern card flavor text and design could have been taken right from the set of the TV show “Black Sails”. As foolish as it sounds, it is difficult not to “speak pirate” as the game goes along, as this theme infiltrates all aspects of the game in the most enjoyable way possible. Theme can not stand without substance, and for the most part, the gameplay of Pirate’s Cove is fast, engaging and fun. All players navigate to the island of their choice at the same time, and plundering/upgrading resolves relatively quickly. Watching other players engage in combat is also an exciting enterprise, so young (and old) players will not suffer from stagnation of play. With the wide array of gameplay possibilities presented by tavern cards, you can be assured that every turn has the potential for something unexpected to occur.

The game is certainly not without fault, however. Speaking of tavern cards, the range of their usefulness can fall anywhere between “not-at-all” and “near unbeatable”. Also, some of the rules of the cards make little sense, such as only one Mastercraft card (an additional upgrade) being able to be played at one time on a ship. This is unfortunate as these cards can allow players who have missed the opportunity to upgrade a chance to swing the game back into their favor. In fact, “catching up” may be the most frustrating aspect of Pirate’s Cove. This has been noted in other reviews, but in playing the game myself, I would agree that it is a significant issue. If a player loses battles early in the game and misses the chance to upgrade their ship, it can be very hard for them to battle back in the later rounds. They will be ill-equipped to engage in combat, which will minimize their chance to recoup well-needed fame points. The tavern cards gained when repairing your ship should help with this, but again, with a lack of balance in their power, it can sometimes be too late by the time something useful is drawn.

Issues aside, I really enjoyed the experience of playing this game, and am looking forward to playing it again. While geared toward a younger audience, it does have enough strategic planning to be fun for a group of adults every now and then. The game actually lends itself well to the creation of house rules/variants to balance play a bit more, as the core mechanics are strong, but minor tweaks here and there could enhance the game even more. In its base state, however, Pirate’s Cove is an enjoyable, if not totally balanced, game experience that can be enjoyed by young and old scallywags alike. Give it a try.

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13 of 20 gamers found this helpful
“A lighthearted game of piracy and parrots!”

Yarrrh, there be treasure to be buried and pirates to sink in this game of fame and fortune in the golden age of piracy. Hoist your sail, fetch your parrot and get ready to do what it takes to be the most famous pirate of all in this seagoing adventure.

Pirate’s Cove has rapidly become a favourite amongst my regular gaming group, and for good reason – its simple mechanics, excellent use of theme and focus on player interaction make this an incredibly fun game to play.

One of the standout elements of Pirate’s Cove is its simultaneous turns. At the start of each round, you’ll all get your navigation wheel and secretly turn its pointer to the island you want to visit then simultaneously reveal. But watch out, if another pirate visits the same island as you then you’ll have to battle it out – or flee like a cowardly dog (and possibly risk mutiny) – until only the saltiest pirate is left to seize the plunder for himself, while the losers flee to Pirate’s Cove to lick their wounds.

Visit islands, battle other pirates (and the pesky royal navy), seize booty, upgrade your ship, visit the tavern, and mostly importantly – bury treasure for fame points to see who’s the saltiest dog of them all. Yarrh, Pirate’s Cove is a rollicking adventure of a game with beautiful artwork and quality components as you’d expect from Days of Wonder.

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I'm a Player!
11 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Fun - but luck is huge”

I recently played this game with 3 other players, and got totally smoked.

Background: Sail your ship from island to island to get sails, cannons, hull, sailors, etc. and essentially build up your ship’s strength. If you encounter another player (moves are “hidden” then revealed), you have to fight them for the island/cove. You can gather treasure too, etc. There are also “established pirates” like Black Beard floating around to complicate things.

What happened: Every single move I had to fight someone. No free ride for me, ever. And during an early battle, I got kicked bad. Terrible dice rolls, smashed ship (which you get to “re-establish” but barebones), and then … yes, another battle to try to build up. Smashed again. I was everyone’s whipping boy, basically.

So, while it’s kind of fun to have battles, roll dice, target the sales or hull, etc. for damage, if you fall behind, there is virtually no chance of recovering. The odds are against you … they are rolling too many dice, you have too little “cushion” (hull, crew, cannons) to win the fight.

If you just want to have fun rolling dice, battling, etc. it’s fun. If you think you can overcome bad luck through clever strategy, think again.

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Advanced Grader
12 of 29 gamers found this helpful
“Great for the family!”

I bought this game after playing it at a game night with friends. I wanted a game that my wife would play. She doesn’t like deep strategy but likes games with a lot od interaction. Ticket To Ride is about her speed. This one fits the bill. There is some strategy involved as you decide where to strengthen your ship and try to figure out where your opponents will dock next. There is lots of interaction with other players as you battle on the high seas almost every turn. And there is the element of luck with rolling the dice to determine the outcome of battles. It is great fun for everyone!

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6 of 30 gamers found this helpful
“finally a risk-at-sea game where dice are admitted”

great game for family and hard-core gamers , last type of players will hate the dice i guess , but it’s a very funny game, where the planning of your trip (next island to visit) and the possible ennemies you encounter changes the course of the game every round … once you’ve plyed it , you will replay and replay it …thinking ‘i will do it the other way next time’ … hahaha and the captains are laughing …

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Gamer - Level 3
7 of 39 gamers found this helpful
“Actually, kind of glad we don't play this anymore”

Simple pirate game. But in the few games I played, if things went bad early, you never recovered which got kind of frustrating.

It is, however, a beautifully produced game.

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Rated 25 Games
1 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“Fun, light , family pirate game.”

Great, fast playing game.


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