Pirate king

You know what's better than roving the high seas? Roving anywhere you want. Pirates buckle their swashes in every port, and you'll walk the plank if you don't like it.

- Core Set rulebook

The Pirates are one of the eight factions from the Core Set.

Pirates focus on moving a player's minions from base to base and destroying low power opponent minions.

Other factions from the same set: Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninjas, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards, Zombies.

Cards Edit


The Pirates have the usual 10 minions and 10 actions. The total minion base power (not counting any abilities) is the usual 30 or an average of 3 per minion.

Minions Edit

1x Pirate King - power 5 - Special: Before a base scores, you may move this minion there.

2x Buccaneer - power 4 - Special: If this minion would be destroyed, move it to another base instead.

3x Saucy Wench - power 3 - You may destroy a minion of power 2 or less on this base.

4x First Mate - power 2 - Special: After this base is scored, you may move this minion to another base instead of the discard pile.

Actions Edit

2x Broadside - Destroy all of one player's minions of power 2 or less on a base where you have a minion.

1x Cannon - Destroy up to two minions of power 2 or less.

2x Dinghy - Move up to two of your minions to other bases.

1x Full Sail - Move any number of your minions to other bases. Special: Before a base scores, you may play this card.

1x Powderkeg - Destroy one of your minions and all minions with equal or less power on the same base.

1x Shanghai - Move another player's minion to another base.

1x Sea Dogs - Name a faction. Move all other players' minions of that faction from one base to another.

1x Swashbuckling - Each of your minions gains +1 power until the end of the turn.


Bases Edit

Mechanics Edit

Pirates main mechanics are movement, this allows you to reallocate yourself flexibly as the gameboard shifts, which combines will with them also having the abillity to stay on the board and avoid the discard pile. The potential of this faction is very reliant on who you are paired against and who you pair with. Later expansions additions of ways to tremendously augment First Mate (Power counters and on-minion actions) can make him game breaking. Placing minions on other bases also can serve them with a couple specials that allow them to move to bases as they score.

They also have many ways to destroy weak minions, especially of power 2 or less, which gives them more substance over how much power is at a base.

Strategy Edit

Destroying Weak Minions Edit

Pirates are great at killing weak minions (i.e. power 2 or less), and especially at killing a whole group of them at the same time.

While stronger minions are usually preferable targets and weak minions rarely have useful Ongoing/Talent/Special abilities, weak minions are encountered more often and destroying two or three at the same time can usually remove as much power as destroying a single power-4-or-more minion.

Also, factions with many extra minion plays usually have weaker minions to compensate their advantage. If they don't have a way to protect their minions or recover them from the discard pile, destroying a bunch of them is an effective way to slow them down.

When picking a partner faction, you may consider picking a faction that can lower the power of other player's minions, especially those that can lower the power of several minions at the same time. This way, minions of power 3 become viable targets for your destructive power.

A uncommon strategy is "sacrificing" your Buccaneer with a Powderkeg, exploiting Buccaneer's invincibility. By choosing to destroy your Buccaneer, you will destroy all minions of power 3 or less on its base and because of Buccaneer's ability, it will be sure to survive the explosion. Note that failing to destroy Buccaneer doesn't prevent the other minions' destruction.

Moving your Minions Edit

Pirates can move minions around, especially your own minions. While this allows them to transfer power from one base to another, their lack of extra minion plays limits this.

While most of their minions integrate movement as part of their abilities, they can only be triggered on very specific timings. So you'll heavily rely on their actions if you want to freely move your minions, which they only have three.

Full Sail is their most powerful and versatile action, allowing you to freely rearrange the placement of your minions in play. Obviously, it becomes even more powerful the more minions you have in play. So, if you have enough minions in play, you can break a base with just enough power to be in a good position while getting started on another base with the rest of your minions, or keep one of your minions with a useful ability in play to continue exploiting it.

To make up for their lack of extra minion plays, First Mates are very useful as they can theoretically remain in play until the end of the game. They are however easy targets for any destructive ability or any offensive ability in general.

Über-First Mates Edit

Since First Mates can easily be targetted by other players, one strategy is having a partner faction that can protect, or better boost, your First Mates. They especially become frightening when the Pirates are paired with a faction with powerful play-on-minion actions or that can place +1 power counters. Boosting the First Mates usually makes them harder to target for destruction and may allow you break multiple bases on the same turn. Though beware, as abilities that can return minions to your hand can instantly waste all your efforts.

Moving Other Players' Minions Edit

Pirates have only two cards that can move other players' minions but they can target minions of any power. Moving other players' minions, while not as radical as destroying them, is great to either weaken a player's position on a base you're about to score, removing an enemy minion that's locking down a base (e.g. Leprechaun) or get rid of one their strong minions by using it to score a base.

FAQ Edit

Questions on Pirate King Edit

Q: A base is scoring, can I play Pirate King there?

A: Not by itself. To use its ability, Pirate King must already be in play, because moving is done from one base to another, not from your hand to a base.

Rule: Moving a minion is done from a base to another base.

Q: If my Pirate King has Tooth and Claw... and Guns played on him, can I move him to a base during the "before a base scores" phase?

A: No. He can try, but that will discard Tooth and Claw... and Guns, and he will fail to move. Since each "before a base scores" ability can only be used once per base, he'll have to wait for another base to use his ability.

Rule: Definition of "affect".

Q: My Pirate King is on base A. Base B and C are ready to score. Base B is chosen to score, so I move my Pirate King to base B and get first place. My opponent plays a card and steals first place from me (e.g. Shinobi), can I decide to move my Pirate King to base C, which is also ready to score?

A: No. When you use Pirate King's ability, the only base you can move it to is the base that was chosen to score.

Rule 1: "Before a base scores" means during the before-scoring step of any turn, the base being the one chosen to score.

Rule 2: "There" means "the location just referred to on the card".

Questions on Buccaneer Edit

Q: If my Buccaneer is Entangled, what happens if something tries to destroy him?

A: You resolve each card in order. When you attempt to destroy the Buccaneer, its ability is triggered and it changes it into a move effect. Then, when Buccaneer tries to move, Entangled prevents it. So Buccaneer survives but can't move.[1]

Rule: "Can't" trumps "can".

Q: Is a Buccaneer immune to cards that return minions to your hand?

A: No. Returning a minion to its owner's hand is not the same as destroying it.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q. After a base scores, you're supposed to discard your minions there. Can I use Buccaneer's ability to move it to another base?

A: No. When you discard your minions after the scoring of a base, the minions are not "destroyed". They are "discarded".

Rule: After scoring, all cards still on that base go to their owners’ discard piles. This does not destroy them.

Questions on Saucy Wench Edit




Questions on First Mate Edit

Q: When is my First Mate moved with its ability?

A: After its base scores, First Mate's ability is triggered during the step where the players can play/invoke after-scoring abilities. But, that's just when its controller can decide to activate it or not. If they choose to activate it, nothing happens for the moment. However, when the players move on to the step where the cards on the base are all discarded, that's when the First Mate is moved instead of being discarded.

Rule: During the Score Bases step where the cards are discarded, all the cards are discarded simultaneously. That's when the cards with "instead of the discard pile" are resolved.

Q: Does Mindraker immobilize my First Mates?

A: Nope. The designers may have intended it to, but Mindraker says you can't play specials; First Mate would already be in play.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q: What happens after a base scores where there is a First Mate, with Entangled in play?

A: While activated during the after-scoring step, a First Mate's ability is eventually resolved during the step where all the cards on the base are discarded. So if all the cards are discarded, Entangled stops working and First Mate can move.[2]

Rule: During the Score Bases step where the cards are discarded, all the cards are discarded simultaneously. That's when the cards with "instead of the discard pile" are resolved.

Q: If one or more First Mates move to another base by its ability, and that base also reaches the breakpoint, does it score? If it does, can said First Mates use its ability again?

A: Yes, that base base will also score. And yes, you can use those First Mates' abilities again.

Rule: After you are done with the scoring of a base, check if there's any eligible bases left to score.

Q: After a base scores, can I move my First Mate to the base that replaces it?

A: No, the First Mate is moved before the new base is drawn, so you can only move it to the other bases.

Rule: Check the steps for Phase 3.

Q: If another player takes control of my First Mate (e.g. Kitty Cat cards, Make Contact), who decides how to use its ability?

A: The First Mate's controller is the one who decides whether it's discarded or moved to another base. If they decide to move it, it's still them who chooses the base the First Mate is moved to. If they decide to discard it, it goes to your discard pile, not theirs.

Rule: "You" on a minion or action means the controller of the card.

Q: After a base scores, I move my First Mate to another base. What happens to the actions attached to it?

A: They remain attached and follow First Mate to its new base.

Rule: When a minion moves, anything attached to the minion go with the minion and stay attached.

Questions on Broadside Edit

Q: Does Broadside destroy minions of power 2 or less all at once, or does it destroy them one at a time and check each time whether they meet the condition?

A: They are all destroyed at the same time. You first evaluate the power of each of that player's minions, and then destroy all the ones with power 2 or less at the same time. If that reduces the power of their other minions to 2 or less, they aren't destroyed.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Questions on Cannon Edit

Q: If there's a power-2 Jumper with a boosted power-3 Pinkie on the same base, can I use Cannon to first destroy Jumper, and then Pinkie because its power dropped to 2?

A: No, just like Broadside, the minions you choose must be destroyed at the same time. So, first, you choose up to two eligible minions (Pinkie being at power 3 isn't eligible). And then, you destroy the chosen minions.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Questions on Dinghy Edit

Q: Do the minions need to be on the same base?

A: No. And they don't have to move to the same base either.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q: After a base scores, can I play Dinghy to move two of my minions there to another base instead of discarding them?

A: No. Dinghy isn't a Special action so it can only be played during your Play Cards phase. If you're resolving the scoring of a base, it means you're no longer in the Play Cards phase.

Rule: Check phases 2 and 3.

Questions on Full Sail Edit

Q: If minions move around during the "before a base scores" phase, can multiple bases break in one turn? For example, I use Full Sail.

A: Yes. After you are done resolving the scoring of the current base, you check to see if there's any base left that can score. That can happen if minions are moved during the scoring of a base. See Phase 3 for how multiple bases can break in one turn.

Rule: After you are done with the scoring of a base, check if there's any eligible bases left to score.

Q: When played as a Special, is it limited to the minions on the scoring base?

A: No, you can move any of your minions from any base to any other base, not just the scoring base.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q: If another player has control of some of my minions (e.g. the Kitty Cats, the Elves, the Ignobles), can I still move those minions with Full Sail?

A: No. Full Sail only allows you to move the minions you are controlling.

Rule: "Your minion" means "a minion that you control".

Q: Before a base scores, I play Full Sail to move my minions away from that base, bringing the total power below its breakpoint. Does the base stop scoring?

A: No. Once a base has been chosen to score, even if the total power there changes during the before-scoring step, the base keeps scoring.

Rule: The base is scored regardless of how much power is still left on it after the before-scoring step.

Q: I have two Pinkies in play. Each one alone on a different base. There's an enemy Cub Scout on a third base. I play a Full Sail and move my two Pinkies to Cub Scout's base. Are they destroyed?

A: No. Even if the Pinkie cards are physically moved separately, they are still considered as being moved at the same time, so they are both power 3.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Questions on Powderkeg Edit

Q: If I choose a creature that "can't be destroyed" or has a similar ability, does Powderkeg still destroy minions?

A: Yes. If you have a minion that can't be destroyed, it is still an eligible target for Powderkeg. In that case, it is not destroyed, but all other minions there with equal or less power are still destroyed. The destruction of the minions are not conditioned to the destruction of your minion.

Rule: Cards are resolved entirely.

Questions on Shanghai Edit




Questions on Sea Dogs Edit

Q: Does Sea Dogs affect all minions of a faction on any base or just a single base?

A: From the official FAQ[3]: "You choose a faction, then choose a base. Move all minions of that faction from that base to any one other base. This may target opposing players’ minions." This description is missing the stipulation that you can only move other players minions with this ability.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q: Can I use Sea Dogs to move my own minions?

A: No, because Sea Dogs only works on other players' minions.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q: Can I name my own faction?

A: Yes. There's no restriction on which faction you can name, but keep in mind that your minions won't move. This might actually do something useful if Make Contact or a similar ability is in play or if someone else chose the same faction as you.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Questions on Swashbuckling Edit

Q: If I play Swashbuckling and then play another minion afterward, does the new minion get +1 power from Swashbuckling ?

A: The official answer is yes[4].

Rule: Do exactly what the card official answer says.

Q: I play Swashbuckling and boost my minions. If an opponent manages to take control of one of my minions before Swashbuckling expires (e.g. The Base Is Not Enough, Can Has Cheeseburger?), does the minion keep its boost?

A: No. Swashbuckling only boosts your minions. If one of them is later controlled by another player, it's no longer your minion and Swashbuckling doesn't affect it anymore.

Rule: "Until the end of the turn" means the effect persists even if the card is removed from play.

Q: An opponent's Magic Ward is on a base where I have minions, can I play Swashbuckling and boost them?

A: Sure. Magic Ward only prevents "play on a base" actions from being played there, but Swashbuckling isn't played on a base, so Magic Ward does nothing to it.

Rule: Only "play on a base" actions are played on a base.

Trivia Edit

  • The artist is Francisco Rico Torres, who also designed the art of many other factions.

References Edit


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