In our last blog entry, we lamented the lack of cooperative Three Musketeers board and card games. After thinking about it for a while, we DID realize that there are a number of cooperative games in the Swashbuckling genre!! Swordplay! Adventure! Treasure! Pirates! Musketeers! Here’s a list of 10 really fun cooperative board and cards that are of a “swashbuckling” nature!
So ….. The Secret of Monkey Island is not even a board or card game, it’s a point-and-click adventure game for many platforms. We talk about it on this blog a bit, because it was one of the greatest adventure games of all time! Swordplay! Pirate ships! Treasure! Puzzles! You could play it cooperatively with your friends (as a shared adventure). Even though it had a short-lived resurgence when it was reissued a number of years ago, it’s a little harder to get a hold of. Right now, I think GOG (Good Old Games) is the best way to get it, but I have the PS3 disk, the Amiga Disk, the iPad and iPhone downloads (can’t be updated anymore, see here). It’s a great game that is just ridiculous fun and swashbuckly. I know, it’s not a board or card game, but it’s so great we have to give it a shout-out.
10. The Pirate Republic
The Pirate Republic is a game from Kickstarter some time ago. I picked it up a recently from FunAgain games. It’s one of those games that has both cooperative and competitive modes. By default, the cooperative mode has the ability for players to become traitors (which is very thematic and back-stabby like a pirate game should be), but you can get rid of all the mission cards that turn someone a traitor, so you can play it as a fully cooperative game.
Some of the ships had broken in our copy, and it was very hard to organize the game. But, the piratey theme does shine through in the exploration of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. It feels more like an “older” map game, with resource management (which is why it’s lower on this list), but it’s still very piratey and fun!
9. Dead Men Tell No Tales
Dead Men Tell No Tales was a cooperative game I got on Kickstarter some time ago. It’s all about cooperatively raiding a burning pirate ship, trying to loot treasure off the ship before it (and the gunpowder) explodes! It’s not a real-time game, but it does have a certain urgency to the game as you explore and try to keep the fires down.
The components and ship are all very thematic, with a “piratey” look and feel. There’s even a Kraken expansion which ratchet up the adventure! It’s more of a pick–up-and-deliver game, as you find and move treasure chests off the boat (which is why it’s so low on the list), but it’s a fun and thematic piratey game with “swashbuckly” components and feel (see above).
8. A Tale of Pirates
A Tale of Pirates is a cooperative, real-time adventure where players work together to operate a pirate ship. It’s very different than most games on this list, as you physically move around timers (see below) to perform activities on the ship. But, as you can see below, the game has great table presence!
There’s a required app that really makes it easy to jump into and play: it’s very good and taking you through set-up and allowing you to explore the pieces (see below).
This was probably the easiest Swashbuckling game to play and get into. It’s a real-time game! The app plays music in the background (as it counts down a timer). You move around your pirate ship, steering, raising sails, loading cannon balls, firing cannons, and fixing broken parts of the ship. At first, It seems like it’s a little bit more about operating a ship that a swashbuckling adventure, but the music and the app really are quite immersive! And the longer you play, the more items you unlock! This game starts evolving into a swashbuckling adventure as you discover the story underneath …
7. TIME Stories + Brotherhood of the Coast Expansion
TIME Stories is an adventure game meets escape room game. In the game, you essentially play “Quantum Leap” where you jump into characters in a storyline and play an adventure. The TIME Stories games are a framework for many styles of games (including an Asylum, Dragon Tales, Egyption to name a few), and, relevant to us: a Pirate adventure!
Brotherhood of the Coast is a pirate-themed expansion for TIME Stories. See set-up above! You cruise around the Caribbean, fighting ships, exploring towns, looking for treasure and pirates! It’s a fun swashbuckling romp! Like all TIME Stories games, once you have played through everything, you have seen everything that world has to offer. We ended up playing about 3 to 3.5 hours to get through everything: my group concluded that was just about the right length: we had a real nice time exploring this world.
6. Mousquetaires du Roy
We’ve talked about Mousquetaires du Roy quite a bit on our blog. It’s a cooperative Three Musketeers game from 2010 from Ystari which doesn’t get much love. It made our More Cooperative Games Off The Beaten Path here.
By default, the game isn’t cooperative, but it does come with cooperative rules (see here: Top 10 Games You Can Play Fully Cooperatively). It’s all about the cardplay and rolling dice to get through some adventures. The adventure is a little on rails, but it’s a very fun playing the Musketeers trying to take out Milady (the bad gal). It’s very swashbuckly and was one of the first games I thought of when I made this list!
5. The Princess Bride Storybook Game
This is a very light cooperative adventure game we reviewed here. Most importantly for a Swashbuckling list, one of chapters of the storybook is the iconic swordfight between The Man in Black and Enigo Montoya!
This is a very light game that traces the plot of the movie. If you like the movie, you’ll find yourself quoting the movie as you play (“I’m not left-handed either!“) which really helps immerse you into the game. The game more swashbuckling than you might expect!
4. Battle for Greyport + The Pirates Expansion
This is a bit of a cheat, as the Pirates! is just an expansion for Battle for Greyport. But we love the cooperative deckbuilder game Battle for Greyport! We reviewed it way back here, and it’s made our Top 10 Cooperative Deckbuilding Games!
To play this, you really need both the expansion and the base game. Here’s the thing: you can ALMOST just play with only the expansion to get a true swashbuckling experience! You need at least one more monster deck from the base game and a few more cards to expand your deck … but that’s about it!! I played my first game with JUST the Pirates! game, and I realized I needed just a few more pieces. But this is really thematic! There are new rules for ships! New locations by the docks! New rules for fighting Kraken!
I’m very surprised this ended up as high as it did. The base game plus the Pirates! expansion gave a very thematic Swashbuckling experience!
3. Unlock: The Tonipal’s Treasure
This is a little Unlock game … and it’s my favorite Unlock game of all time! It’s very thematic and “reeks” of pirate theme, with frequent oblique allusions to the Secret of Monkey Island! I don’t want to say too much, in fear of giving away too many puzzles, but the very last puzzle of the game is one of my favorite experiences in a Escape Room game … and is very thematic for a Pirate game.
… just a reminder, you need an App on your phone/pad to play Tonipal’s Treasure!
2. Forgotten Waters
Forgotten Waters is a game we reviewed (and really liked) here! It also made both of our Top Cooperative Games of 2020 and our Top 10 Storybook/Storytelling Games! Forgotten Waters is a simple worker placement game in the guise of a storybook game! The app that comes with the game has voice acting and music that really makes the game thematic!
The game has top quality components and tells a thematic, immersive story in a piratey, swashbuckling universe.
1. Gascony’s Legacy
There really wasn’t a question what was going to be the number 1 on this list: We loved Gascony’s Legacy! See our review here! It was a fun cooperative game that tells a story, but has rules for rolling barrels on your enemies! Switching hands during swordplay! Swinging from chandeliers! Dropping chandeliers on your enemies! The game really captures the swashbuckling nature of the The Three Musketeers!