Piece Packing Pirates

Players 1
Length 40 minutes
Equipment Required standard piecepack, opaque bag, play mat, optional reference sheet
Designer ClarkRodeffer
Version 1.0.0
Version Date 2004-01-14
License originally GNU Free Documentation License 1.1, re-licensed CC BY 4.0


Ahoy, me hearties! Thar's booty afloat, and me wants me fair share. The sea, she's a-callin' me, so drink ye grog and woo ye lassies tonight, for on th' morrow it's gangplanks and cutlasses. We weigh anchor at dawn!

Piece Packing Pirates is a solitaire sea adventure full of sailing, booty, fighting, booty, mayhem and more booty!


Reviews & Comments

Piece Packing Pirates won the SolitaryConfinement design contest. -- ClarkRodeffer

Here is some post-contest feedback that Phillip Lerche posted to the Yahoo! piecepack group, supplemented by a portion of his e-mail feedback:

"Benedict's Overall Winner: Piece Packing Pirates by ClarkRodeffer

"As the name suggests this is a game of sea exploration, fighting and booty collecting with a degree of economic management thrown in for good measure. My first read of the (well-written) rules made me want to try the game immediately, and I wasn't disappointed. The game has it all: excellent integration of theme, good replayability, good balance of strategy versus luck and clever use of all of the piecepack components. I certainly imagined myself as a hearty pirate plundering unsuspecting ships, and feeling desperate when trying to out-run a larger vessel. This was by far the game I had the most fun playing.

"The game uses a couple of clever mechanics worth mentioning.

"1. The sea (which is formed by placing the tiles suit-side down in any pattern as long as all the tiles are connected) is explored by moving your pirate ship onto the tile and turning it over. The suit marker indicates the direction of the prevailing wind and the tile number determines the chance of sighting an enemy ship. I thought this was a neat multiple use of the tiles.

"2. A mechanic unique to the contest (and possibly unique in all the piecepack games?) is the rule for movement of enemy ships. The pirate ship moves first, then the enemy ships move. What makes the movement phase interesting is that smaller ships flee from the pirates whereas larger ships close in to attack. In one game I played I found myself in trouble by attacking a larger ship before my pirates were quite ready, resulting in a lost battle, only to have the ship attack me straight back!

"The game does require the use of a 1-page play mat, which is generally well designed. My only suggestion is that a black and white version would be helpful for those who do not have access to a color printer. The Booty track (green on yellow background) looks the worst in B & W. A rules summary is also included, which was helpful.

"All in all a worthy winner of the contest, congratulations, Clark!

"Neat that you came up with 2 such different games - the theme-dripping PPP and the clean math abstract!" -- added by ClarkRodeffer with Phillip Lerche's permission

Note that the play mat colors have been adjusted in the current version to show up better when printed on black and white printers. -- ClarkRodeffer


An image of the finality of my last game. Took me 30 minutes to play. Time has never flown so fast. -- TheInfamousJ

TheInfamousJ, I'm pleased that you had so much fun playing Piece Packing Pirates! But I noticed in your final position image that all of the face-up tiles are oriented with the wind blowing to the northwest. I hope you do realize that, when they are first turned up, you're allowed to turn each individual tile to whatever wind orientation you choose. In play testing, this added choice gave players a few more chances to get higher scores, mainly by helping them run from large pursuing ships. Then again, it's perfectly acceptable to orient all of the tiles as you have, if that was your choice. Thanks again for playing my game! -- ClarkRodeffer

Gave this one a try today. I found it harder that it seemed at first, and my ship suffered quite a bit during the trip. I tried attacking a 5 ship with my 2 ship and after a few rounds it almost finished me... But still, I managed to survive and retired at turn 16 with 77 points. The thing is, even when you do well (sinking other weaker ships) you can still loose money to your crew, so it's not easy at all to make a lot of money, and then is easy enough losing it... Have to play some more and see if I can do better :)

One thing I noticed is that once I found a 5 sea tile, I stayed there going back and forth to find lots of ships to sink, until I found the 5 ship mentioned before. This led to a sea that ended up mostly unexplored... --JorgeArroyo

Jorge, thanks for playing Piece Packing Pirates, and also thanks for your feedback. Yes, the busy shipping lanes (4 and 5 tiles) are the best places to find ships to attack, but with a small ship (brig or smaller), it can be a risky place to hang out. Just one ship of the line can usually take out a sloop or ketch, and frankly, you were really lucky to survive that fight with your brig.

It's unlikely that you will explore the entire sea in a single game, even if you end up in a ketch being chased around by a whole armada of large ships. This is intentional. Thematically, it's unlikely that your pirate would explore the whole sea during his career. There will be unknown areas, and once a pirate finds a nice profitable shipping lane, that's where he'll tend to patrol. That is, until the navy arrives to chase him away, if they do so in time (before the pirate can buy a large ship for himself).

But as you also noted, especially if you have a large ship and the necessary large crew to run it, you can end up losing money by having to pay your crew. This is especially true if you go after small ships. This is a built-in game balance mechanism. Thematically, the idea is that you should pick and choose your targets depending upon your means. Big ships (especially ships of the line, but to some extent galleons as well) are generally safe from most attacks. But they are worth only a minor bonus at retirement, and they can be huge money sinks if you attack anything smaller than a frigate. If you're rich enough to be operating with a ship of the line, and feel like you're losing money with it, scale down to a galleon or frigate and bury half your booty before retiring to maximize your score. On the other end of the scale, smaller ships (sloops of course, but also ketches and to some extrent brigs as well) are much less expensive to buy and operate, and if they manage to win in a fight, their profit margins are usually very good. But they are very vulnerable to attack, and a single loss (especially with a sloop) can cost the whole game. Such are the dangers of the pirate's life. If you're just starting out poor with a sloop and minimal booty, explore a lot, use the wind to your advantage, and if at all possible, hold out for a ketch for your first target. Mid-sized ships (especially frigates, but also galleons, and sometimes even brigs) are generally the most profitable in battle. The cost-benefit ratio of mid-sized ships (and in particular, frigates with a medium-sized crew) is usually a recipe for good booty hauls. The main drawback for these ships is that they're still vulnerable to powerful ships of the line. But again, those are the risks of being a pirate. -- ClarkRodeffer

Yeah, the game seems to be well balanced with all the different ships and their advantages/disadvantages. I'll definitely be playing this one more... --JorgeArroyo

Shaun, the play may you did looks great! Thanks! --ClarkRodeffer


BGG page: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/24319

CategoryGame ThemeWarCategory SolitaireThemedGamesCategory