Which pirate game is best?

The golden age of piracy and swashbuckling adventures on the high sea has captivated the imagination of many for centuries. From burying treasure on remote islands to living a rum-fueled life, fantastical stories have been retold through films, books and TV shows.

While it’s easy to immerse yourself into a film or book, few mediums can convey the dangers and tribulations of pirates as accurately as video games. Lauded as one of the best, Assassins Creed IV Black Flag will take you as close to the real pirates as you’ll ever get. But if a board game or card game is more your speed, many fun options can transport you to the world of pirates as well. 

What to know before you buy a pirate game

It doesn’t need to be tied to historical events

While it is more immersive when a video game takes a page from history, that doesn’t always need to be the case. So, when looking to buy a pirate game, don’t expect a lesson in pirate culture and tactics. With that said, plenty of games do so efficiently and an equal number of titles has plotted their own course.

Decide on the format of the game

To live the pirate life doesn’t mean that you have to play on a computer or console. While most pirate games are available in digital formats like Xbox One and PlayStation 5, plenty of options span card and board games. Decide which format you are more comfortable with and look for a game that suits your need.

Age-appropriate for the players

It’s no secret that the sword and pistol-wielding pirates were rather foul-mouthed and ill-tempered. The colorful language is hardly ever explored in games, but there could be other elements to a pirate game that’s not suitable to younger (or easily offended) audiences. Consider the age recommendation of the title, whether it’s a video game or a card game and decide if it’s a good fit. Remember, those age recommendations can also reference the game’s complexity, not necessarily the violence or strong language.

What to look for in a quality pirate game

Real pirates and locations

There is no fun playing as a pirate if you can’t meet any of the biggest names in the piracy trade. A good-quality pirate game will incorporate real characters like Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Charles Vane or Calico Jack into the gameplay for historical accuracy. On the same point, most of the action should also take place where piracy flourished, in the Caribbean around Jamaica, The Bahamas and up the coast of Florida. 

Fun and easy to understand

The most crucial aspect of any game is that it should be fun to play. After all, that is why people enjoy the escapism that games bring. But together with that, it also needs to be easy to understand. Most people don’t want to go through a 2-hour tutorial to learn the controls, the rules or the game’s dynamics. That isn’t to say that complex titles can’t be fun. It will just take a while to get there. 


If you regularly play the same game, it will be easy to exhaust all possible options, strategies or win combinations. However, a good-quality pirate game will have several expansion packs that add new elements, rewards or game mechanics. It’s great as this will keep the game fresh and exciting for much longer.

How much you can expect to spend on a pirate game

The average cost of a pirate game will depend on the platform of the title, when it was released and who the developer is. Video games for the major consoles and computers can retail for $40-$60, while board games can retail for $50-$100.

Pirate game FAQ

How many people can play a pirate game?

A. That will depend on the format of the game, as card-based and board games are for multiple people. Video games, on the other hand, are usually single-player options.

Are female characters included in pirate games?

A. It is a little-known fact that two of the most fearsome pirates were women. Anne Bonny and Mary Read often sailed with Calico Jack and are regularly depicted in various pirate games, notably in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

What’s the best pirate game to buy?

Top pirate game

Assassins Creed IV Black Flag

Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag

What you need to know: The Assassin’s Creed franchise takes place over several periods and locations, but Black Flag is generally regarded as one of the best in the franchise and one of the best pirate games in general.

What you’ll love: If you love pirate lore and sailing the high seas, Black Flag is the perfect game for you. While continuing the over-arching plot of the franchise, you take on the role of Edward Kenway as he works his way up the pirate ladder. Along the way, you’ll meet Blackbeard and other real-life pirates like Benjamin Hornigold, Charles Vane, Bartholomew Roberts, and of course, Anne Bonny. Most of the action takes place on land, but it’s easy to spend hours sailing the Caribbean looking for treasure.

What you should consider: Black Flag was released in 2013, so the graphics aren’t the same quality as today’s technological capabilities. But with that said, it is still highly detailed and excellent. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pirate game for the money

Skull King The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game

Skull King: The Ultimate Pirate Trick Taking Game

What you need to know: This card game is a pirate take on the classic trick-taking games like Hearts, Spades or Euchre. But, with added layers of strategy and intrigue, you have to bet how many tricks you will win each round.

What you’ll love: If you are already familiar with trick-taking games, then Skull King will be a breeze. But there are added elements like mermaids, loot and the dreaded Kraken to keep players on their toes.

What you should consider: It is suitable for two to eight players, one game takes about 30 minutes to complete, and the recommended age is 8 years and older.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

TOMY Pop-Up Pirate Game

TOMY Pop-Up Pirate Game

What you need to know: Get the Littles involved on family game night with this game recommended for ages 4 and up.

What you’ll love: It’s an easy concept to grasp; simply slide your sword into the barrel and if the pirate pops up, you are out. Two to four people can play. 

What you should consider: Some think the pirate should pop up more often than it does.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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