Background Startup Examples Rules

Rulebook v3.1

Back to Pieces of Eight! main page | Back to UKG home page

Go to Contents | Go to end of this page


8 New Ships

There are different ways in which you might end up with a new ship at the end of the turn: you might just build one, you might buy one from another player, or you might have lost your old one.

8.1 Building a new ship

You can do this using the Build New Ship order. Include the specs for the new ship with your turnsheet: you can use any Ship Fund and any Bank Account you have, which are lumped together for this purpose. When designing a new ship, all the restrictions and costs are as for when you did your first one.

R. Jimlad If'n ye've around 2500 Pieces of Eight burning a hole in yer pocket, ye can commission every merchant's worst nightmare – a well-specified dreadnaught!

Your old ship is simply junked (or if you are of a sentimental turn of heart you can donate it to your home city's maritime museum). So you have to buy new guns, new rum, new everything. If your current crew have a morale of Satisfied or better they will come across to the new ship, if not they will leave and you must recruit anew. This makes no difference to the finances, though, because you have to pay the whole crew again as a signing-on bonus, whether they are new or not. The same is true for the officers.

Of course, you could agree to sell your old ship to another player: see below for how this works.

Your new ship must be given a name that is different from your old one: if not, it will be assigned one by the software.

8.2 Buying ships from and selling ships to other players

If you wish you can save yourself the trouble of building a whole new ship by buying someone else's second-hand one. You do this using the Buy Ship order.

It will only work if (a) they have made a corresponding Sell Ship order, (b) the price at which you have offered to buy is at least equal to the price at which they have offered to sell (if it's higher, you pay the higher), and (c) they are building a new ship themselves using the Build New Ship order – conditionally building a new ship, or buying one from a third player, does not count for this purpose.

R. Jimlad Buyin' another sea-swab's cast-off ship requires a certain amount o' trust, messmates, or else good up-to-date spying information! There ain't no money back if ye're dissatisfied with the goods when they arrive!

If you buy another player's ship, it keeps its name, crew, morale, equipment, everything: there are no expenses to bear, apart from the purchase price, all of which goes to the selling pirate.

The transaction takes place at the beginning of the turn, before any improvements / downgrades have taken place.

8.3 Losing your ship

There are three different ways you can lose your ship: you can have it sunk by enemy fire, you can have all the crew killed by boarding or by random events, or you can have your crew mutiny. All of these should be avoidable by careful play; but even in the best-regulated families, etc...

In general, if you lose your ship you will be given a new one by the Admiralty, in recognition of your efforts on behalf of the Crown (if you are a turncoat you will be given one by the Spanish). It will appear at the end of the turn, in your Home Area (or in a random area if you have no home).

The new ship will have the specifications of a Crown Vessel (see above) and the Admiralty will take 800 PE out of your Bank Account to pay for it (or all of your Bank Account if you have less than 800 PE!)

Of course, a Crown Vessel is more than a little bit rubbish, so you might well not be too keen to get stuck with one. In this case you should use the Conditional Buy New Ship order. This is just like Buy New Ship above, except that it happens at the end of the turn, and it only happens if you lose your existing ship during the turn.

R. Jimlad But if'n ye don't lose yer ship during the turn, this Conditional buy New Ship order is just a plumb waste o' slots!

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page

9 Morale and Wages

9.1 Morale

The morale of your crew is rated on a scale from 0 to 99, as shown below:

Morale value

Described as

0 - 9


10 - 19


20 - 29


30 - 39


40 - 49


50 - 59


60 - 69


70 - 79


80 - 89


90 - 99


Morale is adjusted on an ongoing basis throughout the turn.

Note that as an inexpert psychologist you will only be able to gauge the band into which the crew's morale currently falls: the numerical value will remain forever a mystery.

Things that raise morale include: overmanning; being in your Home Area; successful boarding; successful gunnery; gaining treasure. Things that lower morale include: not having enough officers; unsuccessful boarding; damage to the ship; death or desertion of crew or officers; losing treasure; overcrowding.

Crew start the game Satisfied, and new ships always have a Satisfied crew as well. When new crew join a ship, they join with Satisfied morale, and they are then averaged with the existing crew: so if your morale is high and you take on lots of new crew it will tend to fall (and vice versa of course).

If the crew start a turn mutinous, and finish it still mutinous, then at the end of the next turn, unless something happens to cheer them up first, they will rise up, kill the officers, set up a workers' cooperative and cast you off in a small boat to make your own way home. This situation is to be avoided if at all possible.

Apart from the possibility of mutiny, the main effect of crew morale is when boarding. Morale affects performance in boarding parties to the extent that an ecstatic crew will fight about twice as effectively as a mutinous crew of the same size.

9.2 Wages

Your crew and officers are traditionally-minded folk and like the security of a regular wage. They invariably demand payment at the end of each Winter season: 5 PE per crew member, 10 PE per officer. If you are away from your Home Area they will demand twice this sum.

You will be told on the Autumn turn results what your wages bill is likely to be: this will assume that you hire no further crew or officers in the Winter turn, and that you are at home.

Crew wages will be paid from the Ship Fund; or, if that is insufficient, rom any cache you have in the Current Area (or Bank Account if you're in your Home Area). In either case, if there's not enough money the crew will lose morale, and you will also lose Terror Points as respect for your style of piracy plummets.

You cannot voluntarily underpay crew, other than by making sure you don't have enough money available to pay them fully.

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page

10 Scoring and Victory

10.1 Cash and Terror

Each turn you will receive two tables. One shows which pirates have caused the most terror to shipping, and the other reveals which have the most money banked in their Home Areas.

The supreme winner at the end of the game is the pirate who has the highest points total in these two categories combined. Those pirates who have the highest total in one category or the other can be jolly proud of themselves but will get little formal recognition.

The cash banked table is very straightforward: each Piece of Eight you have on deposit in your bank account scores one point. Note that if you later spend this money you will lose points accordingly: it's the amount you've got saved that counts, not the total amount you've taken. And note that treasure buried in caches does not count towards this total. Nor does money on your ship.

The terror table is slightly more complicated. For every merchantman you come to grips with, you get:

These Terror Point values are doubled if the target is a warship, and halved if it's another pirate vessel (even a turncoat).

Note that turncoats gain Terror differently – see the Turncoats section for details. If you are a turncoat attacking another pirate, then:

In general Terror gained is a more likely way to win the game than cash banked. Pirates who save all their money and never invest in their ships will do less well than those who upgrade their vessels so that they can gain more Terror Points. But then you have to spend Terror Points to buy extra order slots... On the other hand, a stash of cash in the bank is always useful for a rainy day. Such is the stuff of strategic choice.

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page

11 Frequently Asked Questions

Q – If two pirates both have Local Knowledge 2 of a particular area, and they exchange local knowledge with each other, do they both end up with 4?
A – No, they both end up with 2 in this case. Local Knowledge is absolute, not relative, so someone else's is only of value to you if it is better than your own – and yours will then be of no value to them. Exchainging local knowledge with another player is most useful if you each know about areas that the other doesn't.

Q – If I'm boarded by another pirate, will they take my Ship Fund?
A – Yes, quite possibly, or some of it at least. Your Ship Fund is exactly analogous to the money merchants have: just as you take it from merchants when you board them, so other pirates (and warships) can take it from you when they board you.

Q – Does your Bank Account count as a cache of buried treasure? And does it generate a treasure map?
A – No, to both.

Q – To create a cache of buried treasure, do you have to be in the Area where you want it, or can you do it from elsewhere?
A – You have to be in the Area where you want it. You also have to be there if you want to dig some of it back up, or to do either of these conditionally, or to defend it. The only thing you can do with a cache from another area is to recover it to your Bank Account, which you must do from your Home Area.

Q – When exactly in the Winter turn are wages deducted?
A – Right at the end, after all combat, all hirings and firings (including conditional ones) and all random events.

Q – When I board a merchant, what determines how much treasure I get?
A – It depends on (a) how much treasure there was aboard to start with, and (b) how successful your boarding action was. Merchants start their existence on the Main with treasure roughly proportional to their size, ie. you can expect twice as much on a ship twice the size. You should note whether other pirates have had a crack at the merchant in previous turns: this will tend to reduce this treasure total. Then, your boarding action is enacted: if you kill about half the merchant's crew, you will tend to get about half the treasure, and so on. There is a random factor in this, though, so if you board and get virtually nothing it's possible your crew may have missed a huge chest somewhere: either that, or someone else has already grabbed most of the loot.

Q – Can I attack more than one ship in a turn?
A – No. Each ship can only attack one other each turn. You can attack one and be attacked by another, or whatever, but you yourself can only initiate combat against one. And there are two basic ways of doing this: you can try to attack a specific ship, or you can set criteria and attack whatever turns up that fits them. In the first case you will get a bonus to your attack, for single-mindedness: in the second case your attack will be tried against up to three targets (if that many are available).

Q – If I specify a pirate as target (using Specified Ship Is Target) and his or her ship is sunk or replaced before I have a chance to attack it, do I attack its replacement?
A – No, because the replacement only comes onto the map at the end of the turn, if the original ship is sunk: if he or she built a new one, then yes you would get to attack it because in that case it comes on immediately.

Q – Last turn three warships came hunting me (I evaded all three), but this turn I saw nothing of them. Short attention span, or an effect of my attacking one of them?
A – The former. Warships choose their targets anew each turn, so they probably went off to harry some other unfortunate instead.

Q – What happens if I miss a turn?
A – Pieces of Eight! is quite forgiving of players missing turns. Provided your account with us is in credit, your ship will simply follow the default orders: it will fire to sink, attack only merchants, attack only ships smaller than itself, attack the nearest first and not buy another order slot. Things like paying wages and so on will happen automatically. You can actually accumulate a reasonable amount of Terror on a missed turn if you're lucky, although you won't be able to get any money of course, as you will never board.

Q – Can I ally with a dropout pirate?
A – Yes, but there's probably not much point, because they won't be able to ally back with you and they won't ever order to help you. Dropouts just obey the default orders every turn.

Q – Why do I keep getting told that my orders left no suitable targets?
A – The most common reason for this frustrating message is that you've left in the default of attacking only ships smaller than yourself. Particularly later in the game, there may not be too many little merchants left. Look at what your lookouts have told you, and unless you're certain that there's a target smaller than you, and that your ship is fast enough to reach it before anyone else does, use one of the more flexible size orders.

Q – Do I get Terror for destroying warships which attack me?
A – No, you only get Terror from attacks which you initiate yourself. You will be eligible for the award of titles if they attack you and you destroy them, though.

Q – Why can't I take over an empty merchant after I've killed all the crew, and adopt it as my ship?
A – The brutally honest answer is that this would be beyond the scope of the game. Assume that it's been scuttled, or so heavily trashed that it's useless for your purposes, or a basically unsuitable design with no room for guns, or something like that.

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page

12 Processing Order

You should note here the order in which things happen during the turn: it is not the same as the order you write them on your turnsheet, and it is not the same as the order they appear in this rulebook.

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page

13 Examples

Here are a few examples of typical sets of orders pirates might use at various stages of the game.

In genreal, int he first few turns, until you have lots of slots, you have pretty much to choose between sinking, which gets you Terror to buy more slots, or boarding, which gets you money to improve your ship with. Both of these are important. This is a set of orders that will get you money rather than Terror:

Note that this keeps 400 PE back on the ship for further improvements next turn, replacing crew killed in the boarding action, etc. You're being a bit hopeful that you're going to get more than 400 from a ship no bigger than your own, but such things have been known. You should bear in mind also that the two improvements ordered will delay your attack, possibly making you miss out – although in the early turns there are usually enough easy targets around that you should end up with something even if you miss the first choice.

Firing to sink, because it doesn't cost any slots, allows you to do more other stuff:

A few turns on, when you've got more slots, the multi-slot orders become more accessible. If you have enough slots to go after a specific target, you have a lot more freedom:

Fire to cripple and board is good because it gets you plenty of Terror and also some money if you're lucky: and the initial crippling may enable you to catch a target you might not have had the legs for otherwise.

You may be happy to stick at around 10 slots, or (particularly if you're a keen diplomatist) you may want to keep on buying them up and try the really fancy order combinations:

Conduting joint attacks like this eats up slots in large numbers, because you always have to have nominated a specific target, so that's 6 slots at least before you've even said what you're going to do.

Remember that joint attacks can only be carried out if the player concerned is your ally (you can have allied that same turn) and if they specify the same target as you: and they are only of much benefit if you both order the same type of attack.

In fact you could probably quite easily think of things to do even if you had 20 slots, but think of the amount of Terror you'd have had to spend to buy them!

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page


Pieces of Eight! costs GBP 2.00 per turn, and cheques should be made payable to Undying King Games. A startup costs GBP 10.00 / for setup and first five turns. You're welcome to pay in a currency other than GBP, but any conversion fee we have to pay will be debited against you. You can pay by credit card if you wish.

If you have any questions at all about these rules, or anything else to do with the game, don't hesitate to get in touch.


This game has been a long time in gestation, and it would never have appeared at all were it not for our admirable team of bloodthirsty playtesters. Thanks to all of you for your patience, ideas, help and contributions:

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page

How Much Does It Cost?

(all prices in Pieces of Eight)


Initial outlay

Repair / Improvement in your Home Area

Repair / Improvement elsewhere

Minimum acceptable

Maximum possible


10 / foot

(20 + 2 * Prot) / foot

(30 + 3 * Prot) / foot

20 feet

100 feet

Point of Protection

1 / foot

2 / foot

3 / foot


5 total Prot + speed

Point of Speed

0.5 / foot

1 / foot

1.5 / foot


5 total Prot + speed

Pair of Guns





1 / 10 feet

Lookout station





1 / 20 feet
(max 5)

Crew Member

5 / year

5 / year

10 / year
for first year,
5 thereafter

1 / 5 feet
(also want 1 / gun, 1 / speed and
1 / lookout)

1 / foot
(but morale losses if more than 1 / 2 feet)


10 / year

10 / year

20 / year
for first year,
10 thereafter

1 / 5 crew

1 / 1 crew

Barrel of Rum





1 / officer
or 1 / 10 feet

Go to top of this page | Go to Contents | Go to end of this page