About this project
Privateer is a board game where 3-6 players race to increase their infamy through the buying, selling, and plundering of cargo on the Caribbean high seas.
Privateer has undergone hundreds of plays and countless hours of testing to ensure that it is a fun game which remains strategic and exciting. After each game, players are hungry to play again with a new captain and to try their hand at a new strategy or play style.
If interested in seeing the game being played by a professional board game review team, please watch either of the two previews below (The Dice Tower Preview is shorter, and the Critical Preview is longer and more in-depth.) If you have any questions regarding game rules, the full rulebook is available for reading here.
This game was meticulously designed to be fun for both new initiates and seasoned players. We love playing board games. We also have a very large group of friends with diverse interests. Our challenge was to create a game that could be enjoyed by anyone who we wished to play the game with. The result is a game that has been enjoyed by children, teenagers, adults, and grandparents. The game takes a relatively short amount of time to explain (even to non-board game players), yet allows for deep strategy and rewards adaptive foresight.
The object of the game of Privateer is to be the first captain to amass a total of 20 "Infamy" points. Infamy is a measure of how fearsome, clever, and skilled your captain has become throughout the entirety of the game. Infamy can be gained through upgrades to your captain's ship or through the accumulation of powerful and rare Relic cards.
Everything in Privateer is based off of your captain's upgrades. Upgrades can be purchased in any of the game's four unique tracks, which are detailed as follows:
- Sails: This track determines how quickly your captain's ship can sail between ports. A higher sails score allows you to visit ports more frequently, catch and attack other ships, or even outrun other ships altogether.
- Crew: This track governs your captain's influence. Throughout the game there are a large number of events which may transpire during play (called Fortunes). When a Fortune occurs, captains with a high crew score often receive larger benefits than captains with a lower score. For instance, during the Parley Fortune, each captain rolls a six-sided die and adds the result to their total crew score. The captain with the highest total roll may receive a free upgrade to any of their four tracks!
- Cannons: Upgrades to this track will allow your captain to best other ships in combat. This track is essential if you wish to plunder cargo from other ships or if you want to ensure that your own cargo will not be plundered by other aggressive captains. A captain with a low Cannons score can often fall prey to continuous attacks from greedy captains with an eye out for easy plunder.
- Hold: This track affects a captain's ability to store cargo. Simply put, the higher a captain's Hold score, the higher the number of goods he or she can carry and trade at a time. This is often a very important track for merchants, or even for pirates who often plunder large amounts of cargo at one time. What is the use in plundering cargo if you have nowhere to store all of your hard earned booty?
All of Privateer's captains are wholly unique, and have special abilities that increase a player's ability to utilize different track upgrades. You will often want to play to your captain's strengths in order to ensure victory. Often, however, a player may choose to play their captain in an alternate way depending on the way the game is transpiring. There is no wrong road to victory!
The Corsair Expansion is focused on increasing competitiveness within those playing Privateer. Exert your authority by blockading ports, placing a tariff on certain goods, or by placing a bounty on the head of another player. Recruit powerful officers to your crew which can aid your ship in multiple, unique ways. This expansion also includes a full overhaul of Privateer's combat mechanics. The new combat system is now much deeper and allows for players to gang up on more powerful players in order to sink their ship via overwhelming odds. Included in this expansion are over 44 new cards and 18 total dice, a sizable addition to the core game.
More information can be found regarding the Corsair Expansion in this update.
Click the above image to view some of the artwork for Privateer!
By supporting this project, you will allow us to finalize the production of a game which we have been playing for over two years. Our prototype game is a blast, but we would love to bring the production in line with other games you may already own. It is our belief that Privateer deserves a spot on anyone's gaming shelf, or can be the first game to start one!
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Our goal on Kickstarter is to fund our project to a total of $35,000. We arrived at this figure by approaching many different game manufacturers and calculating costs, as detailed below:
- One-time costs: These include costs for creating molds, developing artwork, and ensuring our legal compliance.
- Production costs: These costs include the per-unit cost to produce and ship one game of Privateer.
We believe very strongly in this game, and we have brought the total funding goal lower than what we believe is necessary by investing a good portion of our own money to cover production costs. As such, we don't want to just successfully fund this project, we want to see this game in as many homes as possible! In order to ensure the quality of the game reflects the interest of our backers, we would like to offer the following additional rewards for all backers who will receive a copy of the game. Each Stretch Goal will be unlocked when the total funded amount reaches the amount detailed on each rung of the boards, as detailed below:
We want to ensure that we hit every Stretch Goal and that all of our backers are fully satisfied with the end product. As such, we have decided to reward our backers with Crew Rewards. Once each milestone of the project (Facebook Shares, BoardGameGeek Fans, or number of Kickstarter backers) is achieved, we will deduct from the total funding required to unlock each Stretch Goal. Note: Each achievement is cummulative, so if all all Crew Rewards are achieved all Stretch Goals will be reduced by $ 23,000! This will allow those who have already pledged to the project to help us move closer to our goals by promoting the project via their Facebook page or through forums, blogs, and other media.
Shipping is included for all backers located within the following locations:
- United States
- European Union
Note: We will be processing all of our European orders through a fulfillment center located in Germany. The shipments will be marked as 'gifts' so that we can lessen the tax burden on our backers.
Due to increased shipping costs, the following locations will require a further expense of $15 to be paid by any backer wishing to ship there:
- Non-EU nations within Europe
- South America
If you are shipping to any of the five areas listed directly above, please add $15 to your total amount pledge to account for the increased shipping expenses. We wish it was not necessary to pass this increased cost on to our international backers, but paying these international rates would have the potential to bankrupt our project.
Ensignia Games is a small game company consisting of Rick Barnes, Braven Carver, and Zackariah Schuster. Originally we were just three friends who all loved playing Privateer, but after exploring our options and then realizing how talented each of us were in our own rights, we decide to take a risk and develop our own company.
Everything produced so far has been done through our own hard work and through the charity of a lot of great friends and family. We are unbelievably lucky to have access to such a huge network of immensely skilled videographers, artists, marketers, CEOs, designers, and even fellow game developers.
A huge thank you to Robert Bagby, who has helped mentor us every step of the way. None of this would have been possible without your help, Bob.
A big thanks to all of our family and friends, especially Judy Secor and Dawn Schuster, who convinced us to make this project a reality.
Also, a shout-out to Bill Trammel (of Catan Boards fame) for the early Kickstarter help and to r/boardgames on Reddit. What an absolutely fantastic community that we are lucky to be a part of.
Finally, a heartfelt thank you to Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games. Jamey was instrumental in helping us relaunch our project and ensure that we did not over promise on our deliverable. He is an unbelievably kind and generous resource for anyone interested in publishing or designing a board game.
If you like Privateer (or us!) please follow us on Facebook.
Risks and challenges
Our greatest challenge will be international shipping. We have spent a great deal of time researching the various intricacies involved with shipping overseas, but there may be some unplanned for difficulties in the fulfillment process. We believe that we have adequately accounted for any large costs that may be included with shipping, but international shipping continues to be a large hurdle for many tabletop Kickstarter projects.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes! Any Stretch Goals that are not unlocked during the length of the Kickstarter campaign will be available for purchase through our company page, along with the base game and expansion. Furthermore, all purchases through our store, whether it be an add-on or the game itself, will be added to the total raised by the Kickstarter campaign and applied towards a new Stretch Goal list.
Each box for Privateer that will be sent to a Kickstarter backer will include the following:
- The full base game
- The Corsair Expansion (if purchased)
- All Kickstarter Exclusive content (currently the Francis Drake captain card and a community created Relic. Neither of these cards will ever be offered again after the Kickstarter campaign.)
- All unlocked Stretch Goals
Note that these items are included at ALL backer levels, even the retail levels.
We will be utilizing more than one fulfillment center, so all of our European backers will have their orders shipped from Germany. Additionally, we will be marking all of the Kickstarter rewards as 'gifts' to alleviate the tax burden on our European backers via the VATs.
For Asian and North American backers, their rewards will ship from within their own continents, respectfully.
There are a lot of similarities between Merchants and Marauders (or any other pirate game) and Privateer, but I was never personally satisfied when playing other board games with a pirate theme. In fact, it was my dissatisfaction with these other games and the potential I saw for a pirate game to be more fun that prompted me to create Privateer in the first place. Privateer began as a personal project, and it was a game that I played with close friends. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to move it into production.
The biggest differences I wished to create were game length and player interactivity. I felt that Merchants and Marauders felt too much like players all playing a solo game experience, with turns taking far too long. Whenever it wasn’t a player’s turn they could be found on their phone or otherwise distracted. There just wasn’t any reason for others to feel involved in the game unless they were the active player. Second, I felt the game was far too involved for casual players to ever want to start a game. It was a large time commitment and there were a lot of rules to explain. With Privateer I looked to trim the fat and focus only on mechanics that proved to be most enjoyable for a large amount of players. Merchants and Marauders is still a great game, but it fills a very specific need: advanced board game players looking for an immersive experience over an entire afternoon.
Privateer is designed for immediate enjoyment by casual and advanced players, alike. Games run shorter and the game has more replay ability. Often a new player is interested in immediately starting a 2nd game and trying a new strategy with a new captain. I also designed the game to be much more forgiving of lapses in strategy that new players are prone to. Players never feel ‘out of the running’ and it is possible for players to gang up on leaders in order to increase their likelihood of winning.
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