Game Play

There is treasure out there to be had, mountains of stolen gold and priceless relics, but there’s more than one pirate with his eye set on the prize. Only the best crew will come home with the loot, while the rest will be lucky just to make it back alive.

Pirate Loot is a game of adventure and treachery on the high seas. Each player takes on the role of ship captain, recruiting pirates to form the best possible crew and beat the other captains to the loot. The first captain to get enough loot to satisfy his crew wins the game.


4 Ship Cards: These represent the pirate ships of each player. When a player gets a loot card, they place it face-down under their ship card. When a player plays a draw card, it is placed face-up next to their ship card.

4 Rank Cards: Each one of these cards has a symbol on it, representing one of the different pirate factions. At the beginning of each round, these cards are shuffled and dealt out to determine their order for the round. In case of a tie between crews, these cards serve to break the tie by indicating which crew is at the top of the order.

23 Loot Cards: These cards are the treasure being sought after by the pirate captains. Each loot card has a value from 1 to 4. Once a pirate captain has gotten enough loot (depending on the number of players), he or she wins the game. The value of some loot cards change depending on the other loot cards owned by that captain.

77 Draw Cards: These represent the pirates that can be recruited by each captain. Each draw card belongs to one faction (Brutal, clever, greedy, or lazy) and has a value from 1 to 4. In addition, many of the draw cards have recruit effects that occur when the card is recruited by a captain or an ongoing effect that occurs as long as the card is in play or in hand.

Set UpAzureCutlass

  • Deal one ship card, to each player.
  • Shuffle the loot deck and place it at the center of the table.
  • In a four player game, set aside the “Set Sail” card and shuffle the draw deck and the rank deck, placing them both at the center of the table.
  • In a two or three player game, shuffle the rank deck and reveal a number of cards equal to the number of players. These are the pirate factions that will be used this game. Set aside the “Set Sail” card and sort the remaining cards of the draw deck by their faction (brutal, clever, greedy, and lazy). Put any cards from unused factions back in the box along with their rank cards. Shuffle the remaining draw cards to form the draw deck and the rank cards to form the rank deck.

Playing the Round

Pirate Loot is played over a series of rounds until one player has stolen enough loot to win the game.

At the start of each round, shuffle and deal out the rank cards and where everyone can see them, forming an order from lowest (the first card dealt) to the highest (the last card dealt). Next draw a number of loot cards equal to the number of players minus one (-1) and place them face-down next to the revealed rank cards. This is the HAUL, and it represents the treasure that is available to the players this round. Players may not look at the cards in the haul unless a card allows it. Finally, take the draw deck and divide it roughly in half. Shuffle the “Set Sail” card into one half and place the other half of the deck on top (ensuring that the “Set Sail” card is somewhere in the bottom half of the draw deck).

The game begins with the player who was most recently on a boat. In subsequent rounds, the player that did not get a loot card in the previous round begins the next round.

Taking a Turn
Each player takes a turn by recruiting one draw card from his or her hand, putting it into play face-up next to their ship. These cards are now considered “in play”. If the card has a recruit effect, that effect is resolved. At the end of the player’s turn, the player draws from the draw deck to get their hand back up to 5 cards. Play then passes clockwise around the table to the next player. The round continues until the “Set Sail” card is revealed.

SetSailSet Sail!
When the “Set Sail” card is drawn from the draw deck, the player that drew it places it face up next to their ship card. That player then draws another card in place of the Set Sail card and puts that card into their hand. Play then proceeds with each player taking one last turn, including the player that drew the “Set Sail” card. Once the player that drew the “Set Sail” card takes their final turn, the round is over and the players must divvy up the haul (see Dividing the Haul below).

If the “Set Sail” card is drawn as part of a recruit or ongoing effect, it should be revealed and set aside as above. The player should then draw a card to replace it and finish resolving the effect. If “Set Sail” is triggered by an ongoing effect (such as the Lazy Cabinboy being discarded), each player still gets to take one additional turn, ending with the player that triggered the ongoing effect (not necessarily the owner of the card).

Dividing the Haul

Once the round is over, players must divide the haul. Each player looks at all of their cards in play, dividing them up by faction, and counting up the value of each card in each faction to determine their best faction (the highest value in any one faction on their ship). For example, Dan has three Brutal crew cards (worth 1 brutal each), a greedy bosun (worth 2 greedy), a clever crew (worth 1 clever), and a clever captain (worth 4 clever). His highest faction is clever with a value of 5.

Once each player has determined their best faction, they compare it to the other players. The player with the highest value looks at the loot cards in the haul, selects one of them and places it face down underneath his or her ship card. The player with the next highest faction repeats this process with the remaining loot cards in the haul. This continues until there are no loot cards left in the haul. Because there are always one fewer loot cards than there are players in the game, the player with the smallest faction does not get a loot card that round (unless the lazy captain’s effect occurs).

If there is a tie for highest faction (either on an individual ship or among players), refer to the rank cards to determine the order of the factions for this round. For example, Dan has a clever crew with a value of 5 while Eleanor has a greedy crew with a value of 5. To resolve which one has the best crew, they look at the rank cards for this round of play. The rank cards show that greedy is ranked higher than clever this round, which means that Eleanor has the highest crew and selects a loot card before Dan. If the tied players are both using crew of the same faction, the tie is broken by the next best faction on each of the tied players’ ships. If there is still a tie, both players receive a random card from the haul if enough cards are available. If there is not enough loot cards available, neither player gets a loot card and any remaining cards are placed at the bottom of the loot deck.

Starting a New Round

After all the loot has been divided, all of the draw cards on each ship and in each player’s hand are returned to the deck. Set aside the “Set Sail” card and reshuffle the draw deck. Follow the instructions under Playing the Round above.

Winning the Game

The game is over when one of the pirate captains has enough loot to satisfy his or her crew. The value of the loot needed depends on the number of players in the game.

2 Player           9 or more Loot
3 Player           8 or more Loot
4 Player           7 or more Loot

This refers to the total value of all of the loot cards owned by a player (face down underneath their ship). A player can only declare victory at the end of a round, after the loot for that round has been divided up among the players. If more than one player has enough loot to win, the player with the highest loot value wins the game. In the case of a tie, the player with the highest faction that round is the winner (as determined in Dividing the Haul). If that results in a tie, both players share the victory.

Download the Rules

Want to print out the rules in an easy to read format. Grab the Pirate Loot Rules v1!

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