TL;DR

What is it? A real-time game of co-operative fun as you and your friends crew a pirate ship in chaos across a swashbuckling campaign.
How many people? 2-4
How long does it take? 30 minutes
Who is it for? Those looking for a game that keeps evolving each time it comes to the table, perfect for couples or small groups.
Buy it: Support Best Play and get A Tale of Pirates here on Amazon.

The Gist

Why we recommend it

It is often said that one of the biggest hits of dopamine a board gamer can have is first opening that box. It’s the ultimate in consumerist joy, to finally lift off that lid and see what you’ve won.

A Tale of Pirates will have all of your synapses firing because this game is a smorgasbord of great elements we’ve seen in other games:

That might feel like a lot but the game is actually relatively simple, which makes us happy as those that love being able to get into a great game without having to spend hours reading a rule book.

In brief, you and your friends are the crew of a pirate ship. You’re going to have to fix it up, steer it, load the cannons, look out for sea cops (or whatever they’re called) and obviously fire at them.

To do anything, you have to put your sand timer on the action and wait. You’d think that would make the game feel very stop start but everything is happening so fast and the situation keeps changing that there is always a lot of commotion.

Because you have a plan: you’re going to steer the ship so your crew mate can fire the cannon. But someone else had another idea. They speed the ship up and now it can’t turn. You curse at them, but there is no time and you have to pick something else to do, quick! You panic and just slam your timer into the cannon reload, hoping someone will need a refill soon. They don’t.

Even if you do manage to execute on your ‘perfect plan’, it might be scuppered by the cannon backfiring or rocks smashing against your ship. You have to be constantly reactive and quick at communicating, otherwise you end up with a Pirate Twister as you tangle each other up.

There’s great satisfaction to be had from finding your cadence and knowing how to optimally play and communicate with your crew. Just as you have that down though, it’s on to the next mission.

With each mission you open up a new packet of goodies. They add new cards, pieces and rules to the game, changing the shape of each mission. Sometimes you’re just trying to fight everything off, other times you’re looking for treasure or just trying to escape in your ship. That means the game still has plenty of surprises and doesn’t need to overwhelm you with rules from the beginning.

These missions are still enjoyable to replay, giving you these many versions of the game you can play with whenever you like. It really feels like more than the sum of its parts. It would be so easy for a game like this, that combines so many ideas, to fall flat under that weight, but instead it soars through the air like a well shot cannonball.

Support Best Play and get A Tale of Pirates here on Amazon.