Avast Me Hearties, It's Time for Some Buccaneer Bones! | Casual Game Revolution

Avast Me Hearties, It's Time for Some Buccaneer Bones!

Buccaneer Bones

Set sail on the high seas in this light, fast dice game that has you juggling treasure collection and special abilities.

First published by Wattsalpoag Games a decade ago, Buccaneer Bones is a 10-15 minute dice game for 1-4 players.


Each player takes a map. These maps are identical and show six columns of three spaces each, with each column numbered 1-6. You place a ship tile at the top of each column. The top spaces are the ports, and the bottom spaces are the islands.

On your turn, you roll dice. You start with four dice and add one die if one of your ships is on the number one or the number six island, and two dice if you have a ship on both.

After you roll the dice, you may reroll any number of them once, twice if you have a ship on the number three or four island, or three times if you have a ship on both. Finally, you may add or subtract one digit from one die if you have a ship on the number two or five island — or, if you have a ship on both, you may do this twice (either with the same die or with two separate dice).

You then use your dice results to sail and/or plunder. If you have two dice showing the same number, you may move the ship on that number’s column one space towards the island on that column. If you roll three of a kind, you may move the ship on that number’s column all the way down to the island. To plunder, you must have three of a kind for a number whose ship is already on its island. You then take one treasure token and move the ship back to port.

If you roll badly and are not able to sail or to plunder on your turn, then you may use your pawn. You may place your pawn on any island, which will allow you to use that island’s ability next turn. Instead of placing your pawn on an island, you may place it on an opponent’s treasure token in an attempt to steal it. If your pawn is still on the token on your next turn, you take back your pawn and take the treasure. However, if your opponent is able to use his pawn on his turn, he can use it to defend, in which case you take back your pawn and he gets to keep his treasure.

The game ends once a player has three treasures and everyone has taken an equal number of turns. If only one player has three treasures, he is the winner. If multiple players are tied for the most treasure, then the tied players earn points based on where their ships are on their maps (the closer to the islands the better) and the player with the most points wins.

Buccaneer Bones Components


Buccaneer Bones is a very fast, light dice game. It’s really easy to teach and start playing, and you’ll be done in roughly 10 minutes. It’s a fun start to a game night, something to play over lunch, or to introduce to people with not a lot of gaming experience.

There’s a little light strategy sprinkled in with the dice rolls, as you decide whether to collect treasure, sacrificing that island’s special ability until you get the ship back there again, as well as which abilities to prioritize. You can even attempt to not roll any valid move, in order to use your pawn. Maybe stealing a treasure from someone in the lead is worth not moving your ship this turn, or forcing them to spend their next turn choosing to either defend against your theft attempt or go after more treasure.

The components are a bit hit or miss. The ship tiles are nice and solid, as are the treasure tokens. However, the crab artwork on the box cover seems a bit irrelevant to the game and the rules could be a little more clear on some points. For instance, in the game setup instructions, players are instructed to place their ships on the port spaces but are not specifically told which spaces these are (the top of each column). To be fair, since it was first published a decade ago, it holds up pretty well for the standards of the time.

Buccaneer Bones is very light, but it intends to be. It’s an enjoyable, fast game with straightforward rules, that’s fun to play one-off or several games back-to-back. The game is also quite inexpensive, making it an easy purchase.

Pros: Very fast, simple rules, inexpensive, a nice dash of strategy added to the dice rolls

Cons: Rulebook could be clearer on a couple of points

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.