My brother picked up the board game Dread Pirate on Boxing Day. The game components themselves are perfect for a pirate game: metal doubloons, an old map printed on cloth for a board, nice wooden die, &c.
The widely-noted problem with Dread Pirate is that the play is just not that interesting. You have three basic ways to get ahead – fighting other ships, raiding ports, and trading – and all three involve nothing more than a roll-to-see-who’s-higher.
Still, putting it nicely, this board game has a lot of potential. So, to make things more interesting, I’ve cooked up some alternate rules, titled Dread Pirate: The Black Spot Rules. They are available for PDF download here:
The rules currently affect only the fighting and raiding aspects of gameplay. In designing these rules, my goals were:
- To add room for additional strategies in gameplay
- To increase the level of realism in battles and raids to something a little more satisfying
- To require as few new components as possible, and to retain the level of old-world tactility set by the original pieces.
The result is a system of ship upgrades and a new battle format that goes a long way towards improving the strategy/luck balance of the game, and needs only a chess board and pieces in addition to the game itself.
As far as I know, this is the only serious attempt that has been made at an improvement on this game. If there are similar efforts out there already, I have been unable to locate them in my five minutes of searching.
At this point, I am very much interested in receiving input from people who would like to improve on these rules. I am not a board game expert or even a very frequent player of many different board games, so I feel as though the problem calls for more experience being brought to bear than I have at my disposal. So I have published this as a draft meant to be improved-upon. See the Final Thoughts section at the very end.