Skip to Content

What makes a game "Piratey"?

12 replies [Last post]
Infinite_Monkey
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

I'm designing a pirate game, and I've been reading some reviews of other pirate games on the market. The most common penalty against them was that they didn't feel very "Piratey".

So, what do you think would make a game "piratey", and also, for extra marks, what actions should a pirate game model (marooning, ship combat, duels, walking the plank.....)?

Infinite_Monkey
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
What makes a game "Piratey"?

I should add that so far, I have:

Raiding treasure ships
being hunted by the govenors ship
marrying the govenors ward (son/daughter)
getting marooned, either by your crew or by another pirate
Sailing to islands and ports
Dueling
Ship to ship combat
Running rum

I'm thining about adding:
Walking the plank
Exploring undiscovered islands
Plus whatever you lot can come up with :)

Oh, and yes I will stick the rules on this board at some stage, but it is way to nebulous and prototypish to do that yet.

Rick-Holzgrafe
Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/22/2008
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask, since I do not own even a single "Pirate" game. But to me, pirates are primarily folk who attempt to capture treasure-ships. To do that, they must engage in ship-to-ship combat with the well-armed escorts that treasure ships usually have; they must storm and board the treasure ships; they must escape pursuit afterward (if they have left any capable survivors behind); they must hide their treasure someplace. The hazards they face include vengeful military vessels, bad weather and shipwreck, mutinies, and attack from other pirates who covet their treasure or who just don't like competition.

There should be opportunities to be sneaky, conniving, and untrustworthy.

The goal of a pirate game could be simply to amass the most treasure; or it could be something more complex, such as attempting to buy "respectability" and a place in society by only robbing ships of one nation and giving some of the treasure to the grateful government of another nation. The latter could be a more sophisticated game in which players must choose sides in a national conflict: robbing ships of the wrong nation would work against you if you later tried to buy your way into that nation's good graces. So you might have to pass up some juicy prizes, or even defend them, in order to be sure of finding a favorable patron nation at the end of the game. The winner would be the pirate most favored by his chosen patron, not necessarily the pirate who stole the most money.

Work in some daughters-of-the-nobility to be kidnapped and ransomed, and you might have an innovative winner. :)

Infinite_Monkey
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Thanks, and cool.

The current aim of the game is to be the most "piratical" pirate. So you get points for attacking ships and burying treasure and being marooned and so on.

Yes, you get points for being marooned. Lots of them. Of course, you loose your ship and have to start over with a new one, but it is a very piratey thing to do. I'm mostly going for light-hearted, but I still want it to be a reasonably meaty game that feels piratey.

I think your comments about being sneaky and underhanded are right on the money. I don't currently have any of that in there.

Aerjen
Offline
Joined: 08/28/2008
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Eyepatches, skulls 'n bones, parrots, colored beards, walking the plank, sharks and treasure are very piratey oh and peglegs and ehm... Yohoho and a bottle o'rum songs as well. Yup, that's piratey to me.

clapjaws
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
What makes a game "Piratey"?

I confess to being a sucker for the pirate theme, buying the constructible ships from Wizkids & the boardgames Pirate's Cove and Blackbeard. I've yet to find one the hits all the buttons, but also agree its hard to know what those buttons actually are. Some of them include: capturing ships, blasting cannons, buckling-swashes, stormy seas (and other dangers), gold dubloons, burying treasure and then losing the map and then stalking the person who found it, spying a victim from your crow's nest, singing raunchy songs while quaffing ale, arguing with other pirates on your day off about who's pet is better - your monkey or his one-legged parrot, etc.

Blackbeard was a bit too much for me, and I've never actually played the game - there's just too many rules. The light-heartedness and fun factor didn't seem to be there - which is also one of the things I feel like a pirate game needs.

Pirate's Cove is fun, and captures a lot of the atmosphere I look for, but the conflict seemed too abstract. I wanted to feel like I was in ship to ship combat. I looked at Pirates of the Spanish Main as a means to capture that combat, which it does. I've toyed with the idea of combining the two games, but have never fully explored this. I feel the level of combat in POSM would be enough to give you that feel - but POSM lacks the other bits mentioned above.

I've been wanting to track down a copy of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, but have yet to do that. I've played Caribbean and own Tonga Bonga - but those are not necessarily piratey.

I guess it would be hard for a single boardgame to capture all the different aspects of the piratey atmosphere. An RPG might be a better fit - but I also want the game to end within an hour or two (another button!).

CDRodeffer
Offline
Joined: 08/04/2008
What makes a game "Piratey"?

A couple years ago, I made a pirate-themed solitaire for a design contest. If you're interested in a look, it was called Piece Packing Pirates, and it's available at the following link:

http://www.piecepack.org/rules/PiecePackingPirates.pdf

While I was putting that together, I wanted to do what you're saying -- have it feel like being a pirate. But as others have pointed out, there are so many aspects to pirating, that to build a playable game that includes all, or even a lot of them would be difficult, if not impossible. Given the further restrictions for that particular contest, which included the types of bits that were allowed, I had some tough choices to make. I had to pick and choose which elements to include to make the game feel "piratey" within the design limitations, and also which elements to leave out to keep it playable and, more importantly, enjoyable.

You may not agree with the choices I made, and that's fine. Other pirate games don't, and that's fine, too. But at the time, the elements I felt were most important to the pirate theme were:

    1. capturing generic booty in ship-to-ship combat, mainly in shipping routes 2. variable ship and crew capabilities
    3. the economics of generally taking care of your ship and crew
    4. notoriety / reputation
    5. sailing, sometimes in unknown waters
    6. burying treasure / saving for the future
    7. end-of-career / retirement
I also thought about some other pirate games that existed at the time, and listed some things I either didn't like about them or thought weren't essential. The ones I remember rejecting included:
    1. treasure maps 2. searching for treasure buried by others
    3. detailed man-to-man combat
    4. scurvy and other diseases
    5. internal crew conflicts, plank walking, keel hauling, mutiny
    6. detailed ship damage
    7. rum, songs, partying, sex, land excursions
    8. costumes, parrots, swinging from chandeliers, etc.
    9. patronized or government sponsored pirate work
    10. storms, shoals, reefs and other natural hazards
    11. barnacles, sails, ammunition, powder and other detailed ship maintenance
It's not that these other elements are bad or don't contribute to the flavor of a pirate game. But I had to make choices somewhere to keep the game fun and playable. I'd say go with what elements you think will be most important and most fun. Mercilessly trim the rest.

Clark

[/][/]
Ska_baron
Ska_baron's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/02/2008
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Rick-Holzgrafe wrote:

Quote:
The latter could be a more sophisticated game in which players must choose sides in a national conflict: robbing ships of the wrong nation would work against you if you later tried to buy your way into that nation's good graces. So you might have to pass up some juicy prizes, or even defend them, in order to be sure of finding a favorable patron nation at the end of the game. The winner would be the pirate most favored by his chosen patron, not necessarily the pirate who stole the most money.

I really like this idea. Maybe have it be an option, so you can either freelance (upshot being more freedom to take advantage of looting anyone) or work kind of a hired gun (a little Sir Frances Drake action there ;) ).

Xaqery
Xaqery's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2008
What makes a game "Piratey"?

My sons and I have and play many Pirate games.

Infinite_Monkey wrote:
The current aim of the game is to be the most "piratical" pirate. So you get points for attacking ships and burying treasure and being marooned and so on.

Yes, you get points for being marooned. Lots of them. Of course, you loose your ship and have to start over with a new one, but it is a very piratey thing to do. I'm mostly going for light-hearted, but I still want it to be a reasonably meaty game that feels piratey.

I know it was in Pirates of the Caribean, but is being Marooned Piratey?

If I made a pirate game I would follow some of the examples in Sid Miers(sp) Pirates the PC game. It is not perfect but my sons and I like it. In particular I would make the game largely about finding parts of maps and clues and then hunting down the treasure. Along the way there would be full on ship to ship combat. In the background are distractions and ways to get money to help fund your needs and of course the Governers Daughter.

Pirate games are great. Good luck.

- Dwight

OutsideLime
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Quote:
I know it was in Pirates of the Caribean, but is being Marooned Piratey?

Oh, for sure. Some pirate crews even had written rules of conduct, and violation of the rules would result in a variety of penalties, ranging from lashings to execution, and including marooning.

Here's a sample code of conduct from an 18th-century ship:

1. Every man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full share and a half in all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and quarter.

2. If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any Secret from the Company, he shall be marroon'd with one Bottle of Powder, one Bottle of Water, one small Arm and shot.

3. If any Many shall steel any Thing in the Company, or game, to the Value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be marroon'd or shot.

4. If at any Time we should meet another Marrooner (that is Pyrate) that Man that shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.

5. That Man that shall strike another whilst these Articles are in force, shall receive Mose's Law (that is 40 stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.

6. That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoak Tobacco in the Hold, without a cap to his Pipe, or carry a Candle lighted without a Lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.

7. That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.

8. If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement he shall have 400 pieces of Eight; if a limb 800.

9. If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death.

Now, I can't guarantee how authentic this really is, but it is presented as fact all over the web.

~Josh

Infinite_Monkey
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Wow, this is all really cool. More please :)

Lots to think about now. I've also started another thread about combat mechanics. Hopefully I'll have time over the weekend to put my thoughts in order and post a set of rules.

Nestalawe
Nestalawe's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/07/2008
What makes a game "Piratey"?

OutsideLime wrote:

3. If any Many shall steel any Thing...

That is such a cool quote as it is ;)

OutsideLime wrote:

9. If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death.[/color]

How would a Pyrate define a Prudent Woman?

Nestalawe'

clapjaws
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
What makes a game "Piratey"?

Just snipped this from a Nuremburg Toy Fair report over on BoardgameNews.com. Sounds like this one will cover certain piratey aspects, but again, focusing on a few:

Auf Ru(h)m und Ehre - Stefan Feld
Press text: ‘Captain Klabauter and his wild pirates gang infest a pirates nest. Wether they dig treasures, being a nuisance with the city guard or wander from cave to cave, there is never a dull moment. For a handfull of money and a barrel of rum they are always in for the one or the other adventure.’
Honor point can be gathered at several places on the board but players can only do this if the captain himself moves there. The biggest problem is that all the groups only have this one leader. Five rounds are played, and every round there are less pirates available because the leader only visits a place if a player has a pirate of that group left behind. By paying extra money the leader can be moved twice. When the gang wants to lie and rest down a bit, dice duels are fought for the best sleeping spots, where the input of a barrel of rum can change the outcome of the fight. The game has a variable mapboard. In the end it all comes down to have earned the most honour. For 2 to 5 players, 9 years and up, 60 to 75 minutes.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut