Having watched Pirates of the Caribbean a handful of times, I’ve always thought, “I would be a better pirate than Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley!” Granted, I wouldn’t have those fancy scripted sword-fights, but I think I could have been quite roguish if necessary.
Well, thanks to modern board games, I’ve finally got my chance to try. Dead Man’s Doubloons is a game for 2 to 6 scurvy sea-dogs, ages 10+. It takes about 45 minutes to play and retails for about $50. In this game, you and five other captains are competing to be the richest pirate. You’ll navigate a mysterious island, search for maps, treasures, and take whatever you can carry. There will be fierce battles and casualties along the way, but even ghost captains have a chance to emerge victorious. Let’s learn how to play!
1. Place the game board in the center of the table with a pile of doubloons next to it. Then give each player two of the doubloons.
2. Place two pillage tokens and all the jewels face-down next to the game board as well.
3. Shuffle the action cards (minus the Captain cards) to form a pile and do the same with the three sets of landmark tiles.
4. Put water tiles face-up in the corner of each water region and form a stack of map tiles for the game.
5. Lastly, give each player a Captain’s meeple, two ships, six markers, and two markers (one to mark ship damage and the other reputation) in their player color. The normal ship will go in one of the water spaces not marked with an “S” and the meeple will go on the island at the beach.
Game Play – A game round is played in four stages with both simultaneous and turn order actions.
1. Round Start – Seed the beach with doubloons, based on player count. Each player then draws up to their hand size and places three cards in front of them face-down.
2. Action Phase – In turn order, each player will flip their first card and perform the movement on the card first and then one of the two actions on the card (Pillage, Attack, Hunt, Repair or Board). This continues until all players have flipped and resolved all three of their cards.
3. Pillage Phase – Starting with the pirate who acquired the most pillage tokens, they receive doubloons on the island equal to their pillage tokens. This continues down the line until the doubloons run out.
4. Round End – In this phase, you will check for an amount of buried treasure depending on where your Captain is in relation to Mount Zotetmon. Players then discard all their actions cards (played and unplayed) and shuffles them together with their Captain action cards (set aside earlier) to form their new deck. Each Captain is advanced one space on the end game track. The game will end when a Captain reaches the end space of their player board. Most booty wins!
Let me start by saying that the components in this game are amazing! The meeples with unique artwork for each captain and the ships (both regular and ghost) are phenomenal. The artwork on the main board and player boards is also very vibrant and evocative. The game play itself is very fun, quick-moving, and thematic. You’ll be rolling dice, programming your ship, gathering treasure.
With games like this, there is typically player elimination. When it comes to board games, there is nothing worse in my mind than player elimination. No one wants to sit around the table and watch other people play a game, wishing they’d finish sooner or play quicker. With this game, if your ship is destroyed, you get a ghost ship and still have a chance to win the game. This is a nice thematic touch and a good way to make the eliminator and eliminated to feel like they are still making progress in their game.
With this game, there are also several different modules/ways to play which will ramp up the difficulty or just give you a new challenge. Overall, this was a fun and beautiful pirate game and one I’d play again!
See all our Family Game Night articles here.
Copyright 2018 Stuart Dunn
Your purchase of the resources mentioned here through Amazon affiliate links benefits the author of this article.