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Dread Curse - Board Game Box Shot

Dread Curse

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There’s treason afoot on the high seas in this “take that” party game for up to 8 mutinous pirates!

go to: Who would enjoy this game?


Standing dangerously close to mutiny, you and your ragtag crew of pirates are throwing caution to the wind and ruthlessly picking each other’s pockets in search of a valuable coin or two. Can you protect your stash and steal the most valuable pieces before everything goes south?

Set Up

Dread Curse Set Up

There are eight Crew Cards in Dread Curse, and you’ll begin by assigning one to each player. To do this you’ll pull from the bag one coin for each player (making sure one of the game’s two “Black Spot” coins is among those drawn) and place them face-down on the table. Each player selects one of these coins and reveals it. The player who drew the Black Spot becomes the Captain and claims that Crew Card. The Captain randomly hands out Crew Cards to the rest of the players.

Any leftover Crew Cards are left near the play area. The coins drawn by players in role selection will start their pile of booty, so they are placed face-down in front of each player next to their Crew Card.

The bag of coins, “Jacques Pierre” monkey card and deck of Pirate’s Code cards are placed in the center of the play area. Each player draws three Pirate’s Code cards (two if you’re playing with 7 or 8 players) and you’re ready to begin!


Each Crew Card has a “Rank” number in the top left corner between 1 and 8 – this number determines the order in which players will take actions through the game’s five phases.

Dread Curse Crew Cards

Draw Coins
Each player will draw a coin from the bag according to the Rank number on their Crew Card (the Captain, with Rank 1, always goes first). 57 of the coins contain values from 1 to 5, one “Slug” coin has a value of -5, and two Black Spot coins contain no value – but eliminate you from winning if you’re left holding them at the end of the game. Several of the Crew Cards have special powers that allow players to draw more than one coin each round.

Once everyone has drawn their coins, each player in Rank order will steal a face-down coin from an opponent of their choosing. Early in the game you’ll know one of the Black Spots resides with the Captain… but the Captain will also have ample loot due to his ability to draw up to four during the Draw Coins phase. Do you risk nabbing the dreaded Black Spot for a shot at valuable treasure?

Dread Curse Jacques Pierre Card

Pay Jacques
That cute (at least for a pirate) monkey at the center of the table has a sinister purpose: you bribe him with coins of value 2 or higher to claim additional Pirate’s Code cards… which invariably lead you to more ways to put the screws to your opponents. These cards have great power during gameplay, but also contain extra coin value for end-of-game scoring if unused during the game.

Cut and Run
This is your chance to get out if you feel your collection of coins contains enough value to ultimately win the game. When you cut and run you’ll be watching the rest of the game from the sidelines… but you’ll be impervious to further thievery from your opponents.

All Hands on Deck
The final phase of each round is the reassignment of roles for the next round. Each player will bid one of their coins face-down in the middle of the table (you get to keep your coin after bidding is finished, so this is more about guessing what value you’ll need to land the Crew Card assignment you want). All of these bid coins are revealed simultaneously – the player who bid the highest value is the Captain for the next round; the next-highest bidder gets to choose from the remaining Crew Cards and so on.

Rounds continue until one of two events trigger the end of the game:

  • Only one player is left active after the Cut and Run phase. This player gets one more turn as the Captain before final scores are tallied
  • The last coin has been taken from the draw bag. This ends the game immediately.

Any player holding one of the game’s two Black Spots is eliminated. All other players tally the value of their coins, and the highest wins!


Dread Curse Contents

While there isn’t an abundance of pieces to Dread Curse, what’s there is top notch. The illustrations on the Crew Cards are lifelike and beautiful. The Pirate’s Code cards don’t have illustrations, but they’re still thematic – chock full of pirate lingo printed on top of a treasure map. All cards are high quality.

The coins are thick with an outstanding light-gloss finish that makes them very durable. These won’t fray from punching or playing. Unboxes:
Dread Curse

See what’s in the box and get a closer look at the individual components

Learning Curve

Dread Curse is very easy to learn and teach. While there is a fair amount of backstabbing and “take that!”, at its core it’s a press-your-luck game. These are always easy to learn, and mastering depends only on your understanding of probabilities.

Who would enjoy this game?

Family Gamer {maybe}
Generally families will shy away from backstabbing games… but if you’re going for one, this is probably the safest. Save one crew member brandishing a gun and another with a chunk of skull exposed, there’s nothing violent or scary. There is plenty of “take that” in Dread Curse… but it’s not the harshest of the genre.
Strategy Gamer {no}
Your best laid plans will be stolen from you. Repeatedly.
Casual Gamer {yes}
Games this easy to learn usually fall prey to weak theme… but theme is strong in Dread Curse and will appeal to most gamers.
Avid Gamer {yes}
Dread Curse is a great game to have available for a larger group. There’s much more “game” to it than most popular party games, and more fun to be had!
Power Gamer {no}
There is nothing complex or intricate about Dread Curse, and winning is more reliant on luck than anything you’ll do.

Final Thoughts

Who knew stealing gold from your crew could be so much fun? Dread Curse is light-hearted backstabbing at its finest – it never gets too mean-spirited, but you’ll relish thwarting somebody’s planned pick-pocketing or getting back at the ruffian who stole your 5-piece last round.

Dread Curse Pirate's Code Cards

Dread Curse can take longer than advertised… it’s not been uncommon for our games to go over 45 minutes. But you really don’t notice because you’re too busy counting the coins sitting in front of each player and trying to track where you think the Black Spots may be.

And like the best party games, it’s easy to get lost playing this one over and over. After all, you don’t want to call it a night with the taste of betrayal fresh in your mouth!

User Reviews (3)

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Private eye
36 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“A Pirate's Strife For Me ”

A good pirate game is hard to find – I have played both Libertalia and Dread Curse and they are both good games with a convincing enough coat of pirate paint on them. Dread Curse is definitely not THE ‘Pirate Game’ but it is good enough and you walk away with a salty taste in your mouth.

The object of the game is to grab as many coins as you can with varying secret values without being left with a black spot at the end. This could easily be about Cookie Monsters grabbing cookies – but there is enough lingo and art and flavor to let you talk like a pirate without walking the plank.

I can’t really describe the game better than the site review but I will speak about one thing to be careful about: The More, the Merrier on this Jolly Roger. This game has elimination as someone mentioned and it doesn’t always sit well with people. I don’t mind elimination if the game is quick enough. This is not necessarily great in a 4 person game where chances are two people are going to Davy Jones and then you watch two other lucky souls count coins -especially if the game takes close to an hour. With a 7 or 8 person game this game takes about a half hour as the coins get grabbed faster and then more people are clutching coins for the win. It is a rare game that works better with beyond the standard 4 or 5 players but this is definitely one of them. Elimination and cutthroat moves work far better at a quick pace and with less people and elongated march to not being able to win this game can leave a salty taste in the mouth for a completely different reason.

Player Avatar
Baseball Fan
Book Lover
Plaid Hat Games fan
Comic Book Fan
109 of 125 gamers found this helpful
“Yo ho ho and a bottle of...whatever”

I so badly want to find a pirate game that for an hour makes me feel like I’m aboard the Jolly Roger, roguishly plundering coasts throughout the Caribbean. I have yet to find that game (although I hear Merchants and Marauders may be worth playing. Any advice out there?)

I knew this game wasn’t quite going to make me imagine the smell of pitch on the deck, grog, sea salted air, and unwashed pirates, but perhaps a few “arrrrs” and “ye’s” could make this fun.

Now, please take this with a grain of (sea) salt as I played this game once, but I have no desire to go back to it.


After an hour of uncertain strategy, high-risk play, and amassing gold, it was over for me and another player in a mere split-second. We were left with the game’s two Black Spot tokens.

I get that there can be only one winner and that means everyone else loses. But all that planning and conniving and plotting was sunk to the bottom of the ocean due to one, stupid token.

I felt so ripped off. And let me say, the older I’ve gotten, the better I am at losing and this still felt silly and disappointing.

Not the game for me.

Nice art and components
Decent social game
Relatively good pirate theme. I guess?

Lots of effort and time and two players will instantly lose because they hold the Black Spot token. That’s it and that’s all. Yer done lad.

Player Avatar
78 of 127 gamers found this helpful
“Gimme That 5 Spot”

My strategy for picking characters in most games tends to revolve heavily around my being able to personally relate to one of my options. Short of being able to do that, I tend to go with the best (or in this case, most feather adorned) hat. So, while the cabin boy speaks to me on more than one level, I tend to go with the Pilot as often as possible.
What this means, in the big picture, is that I’m looking at your coins every steal phase. You will inevitably adjust, and attempt to subtly push all your ones out in front of you, but it will make no difference… I’m still coming at them 5 spots.

Disclaimer (which admittedly should have appeared somewhere up top): I believe I always lose in spectacular fashion. Take that into consideration when coming up with your own strategy.


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