The Dawn Princess

A Pirates of the Cursed Seas Fan-Site

Rules of the High Seas

Here are some concepts important to the Pirates of the Cursed Seas rules:

* Six-sided dice are abbreviated d6.
* Ability text (found on the fronts of cards) overrules these rules; that is, abilities are meant to be exceptions to these rules. The only rule that is never overruled is that a cannon die roll result of 1 always misses.
* Flavor text (fiction found on the backs of cards)  has no bearing on game play. it is merely there to tell part of the game's story. Reference a card's ability text to see what it can do in the game.
* Two sources of the same ability text on a ship (such as from from the ship and the crew or one crew and another crew)  are not cumulative; that is, you can use that ability on that ship only once each turn.
* The bow of a ship is a zone at the front of the ship. It begins where the front of the ship  actually touches the table and extends forward (including any masts, mastheads, etc.).
* Play with good sportsmanship and have fun!

Sea Creatures
Sea creatures are game pieces that act like ships in the game. Each sea creature has a keyword, however, that describes the ways that the sea creature is different from ships. (See "Keywords"). Sea creatures have segments (tentacles, coils, wings, etc.) that act like masts in the game (for purposes of shooting and taking damage). When a sea creature has no segments, it is eliminated.

   Sea creatures can't be rammed, pinned, or boarded. Nor can they ram, load treasure, tow, or be assigned crew. Sea creatures can only be given move and shoot actions.

   Sea creatures begin the game with any part of their base touching your home island. Measure a sea creature's movement from anywhere on its base. A sea creature's segments do not block its line of fire when shooting( See "Shooting").


Creating a Fleet

Each ship, crew, and sea creature has a point cost and belongs to one of ten nations:

-Barbary Corsairs
-Jade Rebellion
-The Cursed

 Equipment can be used by any nation; they have the Cog symbol on their cards. 

To create a fleet, determine the build total at which you will play your game. It is recommended to play a game with a 40-point build total; that is, choose ships, crew, and sea creatures (crew and sea creatures are optional) with a combined point cost up to 40 points. Any build total can be chosen as long as both fleets use the same build total. If a ship comes with a flag, she must fly it from her stern (rear of the ship). Players can build mixed-nationality fleets. 

Choosing Events
Events are special cards you purchase when building your fleet. The point cost of each event counts toward the game's build total, and each is event is printed with ability text explaining when and how to play it. Events are not necessarily assigned to ships during setup.

The game can be played on any tabletop or flat surface. Each player rolls a d6 (reroll ties). The player who rolls the highest result is the first player; the other is the second player.

Placing Islands

    For a 40-point game, players must use three islands per player (six islands for two players, nine islands for three players, etc.). If you don't have enough islands, use similarly sized and shaped objects to represent them.
    Starting with the first player, players take turns randomly choosing an island and placing it on the play area. Islands must be placed at least 3L but no more than 6L away from each other.

Mysterious islands. Mysterious islands are special islands that have a Mysterious symbol on them. They are placed as regular islands and have game text on them that might have special effects during the game. You can also choose to play them as regular islands with no special effects. 
    Mysterious islands are always placed so that the Mysterious symbol is face up; you might not be able to see the game text when you do this, but that's okay.

Placing Terrain
Terrain is printed on the backs of islands. Using terrain is optional. If you use terrain, players should agree on the number of terrain that will be used; it is recommended that players place the same number of terrain pieces, in the same order that they placed islands.Terrain can be placed anywhere on the play area, but each piece must be placed at least S away from any island or other piece of terrain. See "Terrain" for details.

Choosing Home Islands
The second player chooses which island will be the home island of the first player. The first player places his or her ships so that their bows (fronts of the ships) touch that island. The first player then chooses a different island to be the second player's home island and that player places his or her ships so that their bows touch that island. The remaining islands are called wild islands.

Mysterious islands. Mysterious islands might show game text when placed with the Mysterious symbol face up. Before starting your game, choose whether or not you want to use that island's special effects.
    Mysterious islands that don't show game text when placed with the Mysterious symbol face up function only as home islands when chosen as home islands.  They are not flipped over to reveal their special effects when ships dock at them (see "Docking").

Placing Crew
If you have chosen crew,  put them face down either on your home island or on the deckplate card of the ship to which you assign them. each crew takes up one cargo space on a ship. No matter what a ship's cargo capacity, it can't carry crew with a combined point cost more than the ship's point cost.
    Crew can use their abilities on ships, never on islands. If a crew and ship are not of the same nationality, that crew cannot use its ability while on that ship. A crew with a point cost of 0 can be assigned only to a ship that shares its nationality. You must reveal (turn face up) a crew when using its ability and it must remain face up the remainder of the game.

Linked crew and ships. Some crew are "linked" to other crew and ships (as noted by the Chain symbol printed on their cards). When two linked crew are assigned to the same ship, that ship gets +1 cargo space. In the same way, if a crew is assigned to a ship to which it is linked, that ship gets +1 cargo space. Multiple links on the same ship are cumulative; that is, a ship gains +1 cargo spaces each time two linked crew are assigned to her, or a crew linked to her is assigned to her.

Placing Equipment

Equipment represents cutting-edge "technology" that affects the game in special ways. If you have included equipment as part of your fleet, put it face-down whether on your home island or on the deckplate  card of the ship to which you assign it. Each piece of equipment takes up one cargo space on a ship. No matter what a ship's cargo capacity, it can't carry equipment with a total point cost more than the ship's point cost.

Equipment left on wild islands can be loaded by any ship.  

Placing Treasure 
Each treasure coin is printed with a number indicating how much gold it is worth. For a 40-point game, it is recommended that each player should contribute eight treasure coins totaling 15 gold points. Shuffle this treasure, and then randomly distribute four coins to each wild island.

Unique treasure. Some treasure is unique. A player can't contribute more than one unique treasure with the same name tot he total treasure contributed to the game. At the beginning of the game, each unique treasure is worth 0 gold. A unique treasure's value can change later in the game, depending on its ability text. Players can insert unique treasure into the treasure that is randomly sorted and placed on wild islands. If you contribute unique treasure, however, the rest of the treasure you contribute must still total 15 gold points (for a 40-point game).



The first player takes the first turn and is able to give one of four actions (move, explore, shoot, or repair) to each of his or her ships (or other game pieces that can be given actions such as sea creatures). You can give actions only to ships in your fleet.

Free action. Unless a game effect specifically requires one of the four actions, that effect is a free action. Free actions happen automatically and immediately. A free action does not count as a ship's action for the turn on which it occurs.

Multiple actions. Some game effects allow you to give a ship a second action during a turn. You can't give a ship (or other game pieces that can be given actions, such as sea creatures) more than two non-free actions each turn.



A ship can't move through any island or another ship. If a ship has a combination move such as L+S, you can choose to move her either L or S first, though she can change direction only between each measurement. If a ship touches another ship or an island during her movement, she must stop, even if she could move farther that turn.

Derelict. A ship is derelict if she has no masts. A derelict can't move and can be given only explore and repair actions. A derelict can still carry treasure and crew.

    The following game functions can be performed using a move action or as the result of a move action.

As a free action, a ship docked at (touching) an island can drop off and board crew, or transfer crew to and from another ship docked at the same island. You can't dock at an opponent's home island.

Unloading Treasure. When you dock at your home island, you must unload all treasure worth gold points; this is a free action.

Mysterious islands. When you dock at a mysterious island (indicated by the Mysterious symbol) with effects showing, before any other action is taken (including any "free" explore action), roll a d6 for special effects as indicated by the island. The rolled effect occurs immediately unless specified otherwise; for example "The next time this ship explores this island...." Mysterious island effects are determined each time a ship docks there, so a ship might have different experiences on the same island. If you can't fulfill a mysterious island effect, ignore it.
    If you dock at a mysterious island with no effects showing, immediately flip it over to reveal the effects and proceed as described above. This island remains flipped over the rest of the game.

After a ship  with at least one mast resolves a shoot action, if any part of her bow physically touches any part of an enemy ship, she rams that ship. Roll a d6; if the result is higher than the number of masts remaining on the enemy ship, the enemy ship's player must choose and eliminate (remove from the game) one mast from that ship. Unless the enemy becomes derelict from being rammed, the ramming ship automatically becomes pinned. Ships can't ram each other while pinned.

Pin. Unless an ability states otherwise, a ship becomes pinned only after ramming another ship. A ship is pinned when her bow is in contact with any part of an enemy ship. The pinned ship can't move until the other ship moves away or has no masts remaining.

Board. After a ship rams another ship, either player can initiate one (and only one) boarding party as a free action; the player whose turn it is decides first. Each player rolls a d6 and adds the result to the number of masts remaining onhis or her ship involved in the ram. The player with the highest total can eliminate one crew on, or take one treasure from, the other ship.

After a  ship is given a move action, if any part of her is physically touching the bow of any derelict, she can tow that derelict as a free action. As a free action, move the derelict so that her bow touches the stern of the towing ship. The towed ship and any crew and treasure on that ship become part of the towing player's fleet. The base move of the towing ship becomes S; the towed ship moves with the towing ship as a free action. When the towing ship docks, dock the towed ship at the same island as a free action. 



If a ship begins one of your turns docked at a wild island, give her an explore action to look at all the treasure on that island (without revealing it to the other player) and choose as much treasure as you want to take (within the ship's cargo capacity limits). Place each chosen treasure face down on the ship's deckplate card. Any treasure not taken is left face down on the island.
    When you leave a wild island, mark that you have explored it by placing a token (such as a coin or bead) on the island; if you dock at an island with your token on it, you can explore it as a free action after docking.
    A unique treasure does not take up a cargo space. A unique treasure must be taken by the first player to explore the island on which it is placed. Place it face up on that ship's deckplate card; any ability a face-up unique treasure has comes into play as a free action.
    You can also explore any derelict or allied ship that your ship touches, which allows you to transfer crew and treasure between ships while at sea. 



When a cannon shoots, draw an invisible "line of fire" from the printed die on the mast to any part of the target. If this line crosses your own ship's masts or sails, an island, or ships other than the target the line is being drawn to, the shot can't be made. You can't shoot at ships docked at their home islands, and you can't shoot a member of your own fleet.
    A die roll result of 1 automatically misses.

Sinking a ship. If a ship with no masts is hit, she sinks. When a ship sinks, Remove her and any crew on her from the game.

Sinking a ship with treasure on her. Add together all the gold on the sunken ship and divide it equally between the ship's controller and the player who sank the ship. If the total gold can't be divided equally, the player who sank the ship gets the greater amount. Place treasure you gain this way on your home island as a free action. Unique treasure is removed from the game when it sinks. Ignore this rule when playing with more than two players.

Sometimes you might want to sink your own ship rather than have her fall to your opponent. At any time during your turn, you can give one of your derelicts a free action and declare that you plan to scuttle that ship. Roll a d6. On a result of 5 or 6, the derelict ship sinks at the beginning of your next turn. If an opponent begins to tow that ship before the beginning of your next turn, the scuttle attempt fails. All crew and treasure on a scuttled ship are eliminated when she sinks.



The repair action allows a ship docked at her home island to repair (bring back into play) one mast.



A keyword represents an ability a card has. If a card has a keyword, it appears in bold on the front of the card. When playing that card, follow the rules of that keyword in addition to any other ability text the card might have.

If a keyword or ability doesn't specifically say that a game piece can't do something, then it can do it.

Please see my "Keywords" page for a complete list of keywords and their descriptions.



Terrain is printed on the backs of island cards. You may choose to use the terrain side (per the rules for that terrain, see "Terrain") or the island side (per the normal rules for islands). 

Fire Masts

If a ship has a fire mast, before she is given an action roll a d6 for each fire mast on her. On a result of 5 or 6, remove the fire mast; on a 1 or 2, replace another of her masts with a fire mast. When a ship has only fire masts, she must be scuttled on her next turn. When a ship docks at her home island or a fort, remove all of her fire masts as a free action.


Winning the Game

The game ends immediately when one of the following conditions has been met:
  • A player has unloaded more than half of the game's starting gold value onto his or her home island. Ignore this condition when playing with more than two players.
  • Half or more players have no possibility of giving any future move actions to any of their ships.
  • All available gold has been unloaded to home islands. 

When any endgame condition is reached, players add up the total gold value of on their home islands and in their forts. If there are more than two players, the players also add the gold value of treasure on their ships. Treasure on a ship that is wrecked or lost in a fog bank does not count for any player. The player with the highest gold value wins. If there is a tie, the player with the most remaining units is the winner.

After the game, return any ships that changed fleets (such as if a player towed a derelict belonging to another player back to his or her home island) during the game to their owners.