Pirate Ships: Yo Ho Ho and a Battle of Fun!

Pirate Ships

What could be more classic than a naval battle between two warring pirate ships? With straightforward mechanics and great art by accomplished artist Kevin Rechin, The Haywire Group brings us Pirate Ships, a simple game of naval destruction! Do we think Pirate Ships is seaworthy? Or is it cannon fodder?

Pirate Ships is a simple dexterity game for two players. In a board game world where complexity reigns supreme, sometimes it’s nice to ratchet it down to something where the rules fit on a note card.



In Pirate Ships, each player has a set of eight cards lined up to
make up their boat, including a bow and stern. One of the midship cards has a captain on it and another has a treasure chest. After putting the ship pieces face down, though, the captain and treasure cards are hidden. But don’t let the other player see where you hide them! Generally, the boats are oriented parallel to each other on opposite sides of a table. Once the game is set up, the youngest player gets to go first.



Players take turns tossing circle cards that look like cannonballs at each other’s ships. Once a cannon ball card lands and stops, it’s time to assess the damage. Cannonballs that land on a piece of the opponent’s ship damage those pieces (flip them over). If that ship piece is already damaged, it is removed and the boat shrinks! When cannonballs land on multiple ship pieces at the same time, they’re both damaged.




Those captain and treasure chest cards are special, though. Once a player’s cannonball reveals an opponent’s captain, that player is able to take a second turn, for they’ve captured the captain! If their cannonball reveals the treasure chest, they’re able to use the spoils of war to repair a section of their ship!

The winner is the player who destroys all of the other player’s midship pieces, leaving just a rowboat for escape.


Pirate Ships isn’t going to blow you away with new mechanics. It’s a simple and straightforward game, and it’s supposed to be. It bills as 5+ and 10 minutes, and it’s right on target. Older players can stand further back to level the difficulty a little bit, which is critical for families with multiple kids at different ages. However, this is a great aspect to a game with simple mechanics like this. Pirate Ships makes for a great game to pull out at family get-togethers, where the skill levels and age ranges are guaranteed to be all over the map. There is no explaining the rules to an onlooker, and plenty of near-hits and misses to make everyone cheer or groan.



Pirate Ships is what The Haywire Group says it is. If you accept that, and loosen up, you’ll have a great time. If you expect the next Catan or Ticket to Ride, you’ll be left wanting. At just 15 bucks, this is a great option to consider for the casual pile! Add some variety to your game shelf and pick it up today!



The Family Gamers received a review copy of Pirate Ships from The Haywire Group.

  • 8/10
    Art - 8/10
  • 4/10
    Mechanics - 4/10
  • 7/10
    Family Fun - 7/10


Age Range: 5+
Playtime: 5-10 minutes
Number of players: 2+