The game board depicted the sea, broken into squares. Around the edges were ports, some of which were owned by players, others were "free ports". At the centre was Treasure Island, upon which was placed realistic looking treasures: diamonds, rubies, pearls, gold bars, and rum barrels.
Diamonds are worth 5 points. Rubies are worth 5 points. Gold is worth 4 points. Pearls are worth 3 points. Rum is worth 2 points.
Each player had a ship which they would sail to Treasure Island and pick up a "Chance Card." These cards contained instructions, either bad ("You are blown to Cliff Creek") or good ("Take treasure up to 5 in total value"). The treasure would be placed inside the plastic ship, which could contain up to two treasures, and the player would sail back to home port to unload the treasure, or trade treasure and crew at the other ports.
Players could attack other players' ships during the game and capture their treasure or crew. The number of spaces a player could move, as well as the outcomes of battles was decided on the crew cards in the hand of each player.
In all versions since at least the 1958 version; the winner was the first to collect 20 points worth of treasure. There seems somewhere to have been the idea that in at least one version the winner of the game was the first to acquire five treasures of the same kind, but this Wikieditor has seen many versions of this game and believes the 20 points worth of treasure to be the standard win condition. There are only 6 of each treasure type in all versions up to the time the game was changed from 6 to 4 players (see below), when the treasures were dropped to 5 of each type. The only exception to this is in the early 1938 version, where there were 9 rum barrels available, but only 6 of each of the other treasure items.
The early 1938 version of the game had a roll up canvas board, that came in a tube, and the playing area was 25 x 25 squares (Treasure Island spanned 5 x 5 squares). Complete sets of this version are now very rare and in good condition can sell for more than £100 (UK pounds - as of 2010)
The game went through several different revisions. The game was revised around 1958 (hence versions with 6 players after this are usually referred to as the '1958 version'). The playing area was now a folding board with a square cut out for a plastic tray insert as Treasure Island. The island was now only 4 x 4 squares and thus the playing area shrunk by one square to 24 x 24 squares.
There were at least three versions sold in this format, the 'small box' version with all the pieces and cards in a small box and a separate board which was made quite thick and heavy, then there came the 'large box' version where the box now contained the folded board, and the box used the same basic graphics as the 'small box' version, then came what has become known as the 'blue box' version with the exciting Pirates finding a treasure chest on the cover, and the box insert also containing 'Treasure island' graphics with palm trees etc.
The most obvious version change was during the late 1960s-1970s. These changes included shrinking of the playing area from 24x24 squares to 20x20 squares, the reduction and re-location of certain ports, reduction in the amount of treasure available (only 5 of each type now), along with the maximum number of players being reduced from 6 to 4.
A version of the game named Trade Winds, with slightly different rules and board additions, was available in the US. The winning condition for Trade Winds was to gather treasure worth 20 points at their home port.
To coincide with the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movies, a special Pirates of the Caribbean edition of Buccaneer was launched in 2006.
- Describes various editions, with links to PDF rules
- Descriptions of various editions
- Buccaneer at BoardGameGeek