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Yer best bet for piratin' fun since the invention of the cutlass, matey!

Yer best bet for piratin' fun since the invention of the cutlass, matey! Read More
pledged of $50,500 goal

Funding Canceled

Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on October 3, 2012.

About this project

Update Section

Update #1, from the "Arr, yer crappy at math, swabby!" Department: I've lifted the limit at the $40 level.  We'll be running as many copies of the game as we get demand for.

Update #2: Bosun LaFleur was hiding his video editing skills under a bushel - now we have a video that we can actually strike colors with!

Update #3: I've been asked to provide some gameplay videos, and so at this weekend's playtest, I hope to do just that.

What is this game?

Bluebeard! is a card and board game that I've designed for 3-6 players, age 12+. The central idea that I was exploring with the design came to me when I was playing Risk (or some other dice-rolling board game) with my 9-year-old daughter.  No matter how well I planned, I had the worst luck rolling the dice, and my plans would fall apart.  But instead of cursing any game with dice in it, I started thinking.  What if I could design a game where there were a lot of mini-games you played in order to progress in the central game?  These mini-games could use cards or other mechanics that might require some luck, but would also contain more strategy, or bluffing, or other skills that players might be better at than simply rolling dice.

After doing a lot of research into the history of board games, I realized there was a deep vein of obsolete or unplayed games out there that could be simplified and turned into quick version for play in a larger board game.  The result was Bluebeard!, the board game that I'm presenting for this Kickstarter.

I'll be posting far more in-depth information about the development of the game (along with helpful tips for other board game designers starting out) at the game's official site at

So how do you play?

In Bluebeard! you play a pirate sailing the Seven Seas, capturing and plundering vessels, avoiding the attention of the authorities, dueling your peers for the best of the treasure,and drinking more rum than you can shake a peg-leg at.  The goal is either to accumulate enough gold to buy a pardon from His Honor the Governor of Tortuga, or to defeat the greatest pirate of all - Bluebeard himself!

The players construct the board at the beginning of the game from map tiles, like this one here:

Hand-inked map tiles from the prototype.
Hand-inked map tiles from the prototype.
Note: All pieces are for playtesting, and DO NOT necessarily represent the final product.  I've used ships from the Pirates of the Spanish Main game from Wizards of the Coast here.
Note: All pieces are for playtesting, and DO NOT necessarily represent the final product. I've used ships from the Pirates of the Spanish Main game from Wizards of the Coast here.

... so that no two games of Bluebeard! will ever be the same.  You ply the seas searching for lost treasures, plunder colonies and kidnap governors (or their daughters), run kegs of rum past the noses of the Royal Navy, capture ships and create a pirate armada.

There are four mini-games that you'll play as you sail the main map:

  • Broadside : A variation of Shut-the-Box, where you roll dice to get combinations to knock out your opponent's cannons, either on their ship or in their fortress.
  • En Garde : Duels between pirates are settled playing Bloody Royals, a game played with a the face cards of a standard playing-card deck.
  • Avast : A variation on checkers, played to board ships and pillage towns for loot.
  • Scoundrel : A variation on Liar's Dice, used to search for buried treasure and evade the Royal Navy in running rum.
The Avast! mini-game, used for capturing ships or pillaging towns.  Prototype pieces take from the Pirates of the Spanish Main game by Wizards of the Coast, and do not reflect the final product.
The Avast! mini-game, used for capturing ships or pillaging towns. Prototype pieces take from the Pirates of the Spanish Main game by Wizards of the Coast, and do not reflect the final product.

As players travel the board, they collect rum, crew and gold.  To help them do these things, they can buy (or steal) Loot and Mates, special items and crew members that change the rules of the mini-games, making them varied and very replayable throughout the longer central game.

All of this combines to create a rollicking pirate adventure that has a lot of replay value for your gaming dollar.

Who the hell are you?

My name is Brian Hollenbeck, and I'm an independent web developer whose company is called Elsewares.  The other half of what I do is game design and development, but this is the first time that I'm tackling a board game.  Previous to this, I've either helped others playtest and analyze their games, or I've worked on very experimental games, namely Time Traitor and Terrible World.  This is the first time that I've felt that a design has both been strong and readily accessible - and so I'm putting it out on Kickstarter for you to consider.

Part of the reason that I'm pursuing this now is that I have an excellent illustrator, Matt LaFleur, to work with.  I met Matt through mutual friends, and the minute I saw his art, I knew I wanted to work with him on creating a game. We talked it over, and Bluebeard! came to the top of the pile for both of us.

Matt's style suits the period, evoking for me the N.C Wyeth's pirate paintings and woodcuts while maintaining a modern feel and a bright stripe of humor throughout.

Ok, so why do you need my money?

The Kickstarter funds are going towards the final production push of the game.  I've already created working prototypes of the game, so the funds we get on Kickstarter are going towards helping me finish playtesting and developing the game; to Matt for his artwork, and for an initial print run of 1000 copies of the game.

Publishing a board game is no easy feat - whereas a roleplaying game can be published as a PDF and distributed electronically, a board game needs to be printed and collated and shrink-wrapped and shipped.  The Kickstarter funds are what is going to make that happen.

Why Kickstarter?

Because I truly believe in the model of distributed patronage (or 'crowdfunding') that Kickstarter represents.  It's a vote of confidence in a creative endeavor that no amount of sales after the fact can make up for, and it's a direct relationship with my customers and players that I can't get any other way.

Are there stretch goals?

While I'm just hoping for the funds I'm asking for, in designing Bluebeard! I've already come up with four expansions for the game, each of while will be offered at all of the levels that note that stretch goals will instantly added to their swag.  The expansions are:

  • Kraken! : Where you play a sea-monster devourign ships.
  • Admiral! : A large expansion, where you play the Royal Navy, hunting the pirates.
  • Capitán! : Conquistadors on new mainland tiles.
  • Engineer! : A Steampunk expansion using Montgolfier balloons and other craziness.

Each expansion will automatically come into play for every additional $15,000 we make over our goal, meaning that at a $40 level, you could potentially get the card game, board game and four expansions for only $40.  That's a steal, no matter how you slice it!

Anything else?

Thanks for reading this far down the page, and I hope you become a backer for Bluebeard!


  • Because we love our neighbors to the north, Canadians get their games shipped for free. For international shipping, please add +$20 to your preferred funding level.

    Last updated:
  • While they're not mentioned specifically, everyone who donates to the project will get the vinyl Bluebeard head stickers.

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00 USD

    LANDLUBBER: Ye gets a Bluebeard! sticker featuring our fearsome mascot, and our thanks in the credits for the game. And we don't make ye walk the plank!

    Estimated delivery
    1 backer
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25 USD

    SCURVY DOG: Ye gets a Bluebeard sticker and a copy of the Bloody Royals card game that we're makin' in conjunction with Bluebeard!, along with our thanks in the credits of the game as a seaworthy gent or lady.

    Estimated delivery
    2 backers
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $40 or more About $40 USD

    WEEVIL PICKER: Ye gets all of the below, and a copy of the Bluebeard! board game itself in all its glory. This is also the minimum level for receiving any of the stretch goals we manage to rake in as well.

    Estimated delivery
    5 backers
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50 USD

    BLIMEY LIMEY: Ye gets a copy of the Bloody Royals card game, Bluebeard! and any expansions the Kickstarter allows for, and we'll personally sign yer copy and include some original prototype materials, including original map pieces, pirate cards or ship cards, some of which will be GUARANTEED not to be in the final product.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 9 backers
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100 USD

    CAPTAIN, SIR: Ye believes in us, so we believes in you. Ye get a signed Bloody Royals game, Bluebeard! and any stretch expansions, and a special set of customized game pieces for your copy of Bluebeard! to make it that much more exciting.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 8 backers
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250 USD

    BOSUN: Yer more than savvy, yer replete with integrity and charm as well! Ye'll not only get the Bloody Royals game and Bluebeard! with a custom set of metal coins to use, but ye gets an additional prototyped minigame to use with your copy of Bluebeard! that was struck from the final design. It works finer than frog hair, no doubt about that, it just lost the coin toss!

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500 USD

    COMMODORE: Yer the bravest lad or lassie to set sail under the canvas since Eric the Red, and ye deserves a haul. Two signed copies of the Bluebeard! and Bloody Royals games, along with a set of custom components and the Secret Minigame, and you'll get yerself immortalized forever with yer own likeness on a card in the game!

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000 USD

    ADMIRAL: At this shining height of pure piratical bliss, ye gets everything we've already jawed about, (two signed copies of Bloody Royals and Bluebeard!, any expansions we reach in stretch goals, a custom component set, the Secret Minigame, yer mug on as a REKNOWED PIRATE in the game, and a custom-painted sectional playing board made on recycled wood, large enough to accomodate a full Bluebeard! map.

    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers

Funding period

- (30 days)