Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Designed by Mario Pietro Brioschi, Pets 'n' Pirates is a light family card game where the aim of each player is to be the one left holding the treasure card when the game ends (when the draw deck runs dry).
Game play is simple and straightforward, so it's readily understandable by young and old alike. On your turn you can play as many or as few cards from your hand as you like, and you draw a card when you're done. If you draw an event card, you have to act on it immediately, otherwise the card goes into your hand. When you play a card, you do whatever the card tells you. Usually this will mean drawing more cards, discarding cards or stealing cards from another player. The latter, and cards, for example, that force you to swap hands with another player, can be crucial in the 'pass the parcel' scramble for possession of the all-important Treasure card.
The sole Treasure card is buried near the top of the draw deck and when a player draws that card, they have to declare it. If you draw it, you'll want to have cards in hand that negate the effect of other players' steal actions. And you need to hope you don't draw the Cursed Pirate or Kraken, either of which will deny you the Treasure.
You can expect a game of Pets 'n' Pirates to take around 20 minutes. It's not a game of deep strategy but careful husbandry of the cards you draw can secure a victory, so it's not merely a game of luck. It's certainly a 'take that' game: you'll pretty much always be forcing discards and stealing cards from other players, both to relieve them of the Treasure card and to make it harder for them to steal the Treasure from you. That said, it always feels like a lighthearted and good-natured game, and we've found in our Board's Eye View plays that Pets 'n' Pirates can be readily enjoyed even by players who normally dislike games with a strong 'take that' element.
For us, the game worked best with three or four players, so much so that we wondered whether it might be possible to increase the player count to 5 or 6. We were pleased then to discover that a 16-card expansion pack offered a batch of new cards and facilitated a fifth player. We guess a second expansion could up the numbers to six...
Pets 'n' Pirates weighed anchor and set its sails on Kickstarter on 13 October. Click here to check out the campaign.