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The Pirate's Flag

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Avast ye landlubbers! Shiver me timbers, batten down the hatches and prepare to be boarded for another pirate-themed game!

Pirate’s Flag is an attractive and very playable family game from publishers CardLords where players are moving their pirate ships to claim the pirate’s flag and, more important, be the ship that delivers the flag back to the starting point.

Designed by Tucker Smedes and Shannon Fyfe (a couple of authentic sounding pirate names!), with appealing art by Sam Turner, Pirate’s Flag is a roll and move game but with a crafty hand management element thrown in for good measure.

Players choose from among the eight unique pirate captain cards, each of which gives the player a once per game special ability. In the first instance, players are rolling two dice to race to the other end of the board to claim the pirate flag. Players can take shortcuts via waterfalls but the downside of taking a shortcut is that it reduces the opportunity of the player to collect cards. You don’t start the game with any cards – you just draw and/or exchange them when you pass or land on certain places on your route. There is a deck of 48 cards and no two are the same. You are limited on the number you can hold in your hand, so hand management is important, but they can give a powerful boost to movement and to seizing the flag from another player. And a key rule in this game is that you can play a card at any point – not just on your own turn…

Once a player has nabbed the flag and affixed it to their ship, all players roll just one die for the rest of the game. The single prize for being the player to win the race to take the flag is that you gain an increase in your hand size for the remainder of the game. You’ll need it! That’s because flying the Jolly Roger on your ship is much like painting a target on your back: all the other players will be chasing after you, or lying ahead of you hoping to ambush you, in order to steal the flag from you as you seek to attempt to return to the Dread Sea from whence all the pirate ships originally set sail.

If your ship moves to the same space as the ship with the pirate flag, you initiate a battle. Cards may affect the result but otherwise the combat is resolved through a simple comparison of die rolls. If both players roll the same number, they roll again until there is a winner. The winner then rolls to move away. All of this makes for a fun if sometimes chaotic games, especially when playing with four or more players. Think of this as a board game equivalent of the traditional playground game Capture the Flag.

Pirate’s Flag incorporates attractive artwork and pirate ships (again – all six ships are different). It works very well as a family game and as a games night filler. As a roll and move game, Pirate’s Flag obviously isn’t going to revolutionise the board game world but what it does it does well and you’ll have a lot of fun playing it.

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