A Tale of Pirates Review

A Tale of Pirates review - cover

Year: 2017 | Players: 2-4 | Minutes: 30 | Ages: 8+

This A Tale of Pirates review was made after playing through 5 of the 10 chapters.

What is A Tale of Pirates?

A Tale of Pirates is a real-time game in which you play as pirates who go on different missions on your ship. You use worker placement spots on or around your ship to take actions and each chapter of the 10-part story introduces new goals and enemies.

A Tale of Pirates was designed by Asger Harding GranerudDaniel Skjold Pedersen, and Daniele Tascini, and it is published by Cranio Creations.

A Tale of Pirates Gameplay

A Tale of Pirates review - chapter setup

The A Tale of Pirates app walks you through the setup process for every chapter in the game. It will tell you the cards that you’ll need as well as information on any of the components that are new in that chapter. After you’re set up, you’ll choose your player count and a difficultly level. You’ll then hit the Start button for your chapter and the timer starts.

Regardless of the chapter, you’ll always have your own sand timer (or two apiece in a two-player game). There are worker placement spaces on the ship that you place your sand timers in when you want to take actions. After placing your sand timer, you have to wait 30 seconds for all of the sand to reach the bottom before taking the action.

The basic actions you can take include moving the sails to adjust the ship’s speed, steering the ship, climbing the mast to look at any of the cards around the ship (enemies, rocks, fog, etc.), repairing the ship (removing corks from action spaces), loading cannonballs, and firing the cannons.

Your goals will change from chapter to chapter, but for the most part you’re trying to search for places and/or items while also clearing out enemies. You’ll have to play through multiple timed rounds each chapter, and at the end of each round any remaining enemies attack you.

After you’ve completed a chapter, you’ll select the number of life points you have remaining and any corks (damage) still on the ship. Then you’ll get a score and move on to the next chapter. If you failed (ran out of life points), you’ll have to play that chapter again before you can move forward in the story.

Check out our Top 10 Family Games!


  • The app for A Tale of Pirates is excellent. The cartoony illustrations are great, but more importantly the app does a great job of showing you how everything works. You can tap on cards and other components to learn how they function in the game and it shows you exactly how to set up every chapter.
  • The ship looks fantastic on the table. It makes you want to play the game once it’s all set up and it actually makes teaching and learning the game very easy.
  • Thanks to the ship, the app, the cards, and the other components, the pirate theme definitely does come through.
  • A Tale of Pirates requires plenty of cooperation. This is a tough game even on the standard difficulty level, so you have to communicate well if you want to win, let alone get a high score. You have to figure out who’s going where and coordinate your actions so you don’t waste any time. You definitely can’t just do your own thing and hope everything works out the way you expect it to.
  • I also like that the game sometimes forces you to adjust your plans. For example, when you attempt to shoot the cannons, you roll a die and it can result in a damaged cannon. Chances are you still want to shoot that enemy, so you might have to fix the cannon and load it up again, meaning that other players will need to come over and help out.
  • Similar to a legacy game, you will get very excited every time you get the chance to open a new chapter’s sealed components.
  • None of the chapters are overly complicated (well, the one’s I’ve seen so far), which is great because you can quickly jump into the new chapters after opening the packages. Each chapter just adds in some new fun stuff that easily plugs into the game’s core system.
  • There’s a surprising amount of replay value here. There are multiple difficulty levels for each chapter and you can always try to beat your high scores. Plus, chances are you won’t beat every chapter on the first try. Oh, and the cards are shuffled before you begin a chapter, adding in just enough randomness.
  • The two inserts are great. You just remove the mast from the ship and all of the pieces have a spot in one of the inserts, including any new cards and other components you find in the chapter packs.


  • The one problem that my group has had with the ship is the mast. For the most part it’s stayed still, but sometimes it tilts a bit and slows the sand timers down.
  • There have been times when we’ve all just been sitting there waiting for our sand timers to run out, which has taken some of the tension away. This happens a lot at the beginning of rounds when everyone puts their sand timers into action spaces simultaneously, but it’s also happened when we’ve needed to wait for one person to complete their action in the middle of a round.
  • A Tale of Pirates is probably going to be tougher than most people anticipate. I don’t mind that, but I do kind of worry that it could frustrate some people, especially families with younger kids. I haven’t played on the Easy difficulty yet, but I’ve heard that even that level is pretty challenging.
  • The game does have good replay value, but I would have loved a random mission generator in the app that uses different mixes of cards and other components.

Final Thoughts

A Tale of Pirates is just flat-out fun and I’m really looking forward to playing through the rest of the story. If you’re a fan of real-time games, the pirate theme, and challenging co-ops, I highly recommend checking this one out. I could also see it going over well as a family game, especially for families with older kids.

My group has had a blast playing A Tale of Pirates and there really isn’t another cooperative game like it right now, so this is a keeper. (Kitchen Rush is another real-time worker placement game that uses sand timers, but this feels like a very different game to me.)

Update: A Tale of Pirates made it onto our Top 10 Real-Time Games list!

A Tale of Pirates Links

BGG | Amazon | eBay

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