The game board depicted the sea, broken into squares. Around the edges were ports, some owned by players, others being "free ports". At the centre was Treasure Island, upon which was placed semi-realistic looking treasures: diamonds, rubies, pearls, gold bars, and rum barrels.
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 and outcomes of battles were decided on the crew cards held in the hand of each player.
In all versions since "1958 version" (and perhaps earlier) the winner was the first to collect 20 points worth of treasure.
|Treasure Type||Points Value|
Development of the game
The 1938 version of the game had a roll up canvas board (packaged in a tube) and a playing area of 25 x 25 squares, the Treasure Island in the middle spanning 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). This version had 9 rum barrels and 6 of each of the other treasure items.
The game has been revised over the years. A major revision in 1958 saw the playing area change to a folding board with a square cut out for a plastic tray insert as Treasure Island. The island shrank to 4 x 4 squares and the playing area to 24 x 24 squares. However, the 1958 continued to be a 6 player game.
At least three versions of the game appeared 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. Both versions used the same basic graphics until these were replaced by the 'blue box' version with excited Pirates finding a treasure chest displayed on the cover. A box insert now came with 'Treasure island' graphics, palm trees etc.
Important changes in the late 1960s-1970s saw the number of players fall from 6 to 4. The playing area shrank from 24x24 squares to 20x20 squares, ports were relocated or lost and treasure available was reduced to 5 of each type.
The US version of the game was called Trade Winds and used slightly different rules and board additions. The winning condition was not changed, gathering treasure worth 20 points at the players 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