Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Welcome to the Game Zombies' realm!

Game Review


Ages 12 and up
Game ©2005 Bent Castle Games
Date reviewed: 8/11/2005
Skallywaggs pirates

2-4 Players 1-2 hours


Create Pirates from random body parts -- form a crew and set sail.


To begin, players determine who will deal, and who will play first.  Players are dealt ten (10) cards each.  In the center of the table nine (9) cards are placed face up -- these are the Commons.  The remaining cards are placed nearby as the draw pile.

The primary action of the game is playing a pirate.  A pirate is composed of three cards: a head, a body, and legs.  On your turn you may play a pirate by placing these cards in front of yourself or another player -- thus adding them to a crew.  Once a pirate is in a crew, it stays there unless an event card or a pirate's ability changes it.

It's good strategy to place pirates with unpleasant abilities in your opponent's crews.

Your goal is to create a crew of a particular size (based on the number of players), and then set sail with them.  The first player to successfully set sail, wins.

Each player's turn proceeds as follows:

  1. Draw two cards

  2. Play any pirate or event cards that you care to play

  3. Discard cards if you have more than ten in your hand

During your turn, if you see a card in the commons that you would rather have you may trade for it -- but there is a cost.  To trade, you must first discard a card, and then exchange one card in your hand for the card in the commons that you want.  Subsequent trades on the same turn require you to discard additional cards: 2 for the second trade, 3 for the third, etc.

Many pirate body parts have special abilities.  You can't use these abilities in most cases unless the pirate is "Active".  To make a pirate active, the pirate must have certain body parts that match -- that is correspond to the original artwork. (You can tell if they match by an index number on the cards, or by the name on the left of the cards.)  When a pirate is matched -- the matched cards become active, and their abilities take effect. Matched pirates are also immune to the Skallywaggs event which swaps body parts between pirates.

Along with the pirate body parts, there are event cards.  Event cards allow you to exchange pirate body parts with pirates that are in play, eliminate specific pirates from a crew, swap pirate crew members, or stop an opponent form sailing for a turn.  A few events affect (or counter) other events outside of your turn.  Most event cards are self explanatory.

To win, a player must declare that they are sailing.  After that, the opponents all have one last turn to stop that player form winning.  If the player still has enough pirates to sail when it is his/her next turn, they win.  If they fail to win, then the game proceeds as usual.

Unmatched, matched, and active pirates

event cards

Winning Conditions:

  • Build enough pirates to complete your crew (2 players = 10; 3 players = 7; 4 players = 5), then declare "I'm sailing." Keep your crew intact while each other player gets one last turn -- if you still have enough pirates, you win!

more pirates

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Down!As far as innovation, and being altogether different -- this game is good.  However, the rules themselves leave a few too many holes which make for a frustrating game experience. 

With regard to modern card games, this game has several plusses.  First, it isn't a collectible game... all of the cards are in the box -- you don't need to buy more unless you so desire.  Second, the art on the cards is quite good and adds good color to the game -- certain pirate head/body/leg combinations are hideously absurd which does add a good comedic value to the game.  Third, the basic rules are brief to read through (one double sided page of rules.) Fourth, younger kids can have fun assembling pirate bodies for hours and not need to know how to play.

The rules of the game are brief, and that is good -- however there are some important distinctions that need to be better explained. We resorted to asking the creators some basic questions via e-mail -- those answers are now in the game's FAQ.  The rules are loosely worded in key situations -- for instance certain pirates are "immune to arrest", but the event card is actually called "Arrest warrant". Other abilities affect only one of the three cards in the pirate -- like the ability to draw extra cards from the waitress; but similarly worded abilities on other cards affect the entire pirate (the monkey make the whole pirate immune to skallywaggs.) Again, you have to check the online FAQ to be sure of the ruling.  For competitive card players, this is frustrating.  The one page of rules wasted a lot of space describing the card artwork when it needed to clarify some of the rules more.

Another bothersome detail in the game is the card design.  The artwork is great -- but we didn't think that we needed a special symbol to tell us which cards were heads, bodies, or's pretty obvious.  The flavor text on some body parts is in the same location as the abilities -- you have to stare at every card to tell which ones have important abilities.  The card names on the left (e.g. crewman, Cap'n Starr, Ship's Surgeon) are in a font that is challenging to read from a distance.  The color of this text is also supposed to be meaningful, but it's also a strain to see.

The game is enjoyable to a point -- but hardcore card players may not like it.  As we played, it had flashes of brilliance, but it frustrated us more often than it should have. Our opinion at the start of the games that we played was that game seems good -- but as each game progressed it became unwieldy: you couldn't keep track of pirate abilities in your opponents crew, and the game tends to be dominated by players who successfully control the pirates with extra card drawing abilities.  Overall, it left us neutral --  None of us hated the game, but it didn't inspire us to play it again, either.  If you can pick up a cheap copy of the game, you might like it  -- it's a toss up. 

Where to buy:

This can be ordered at  It costs US $18.50.

Other Reviews
Zombie Main page