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Sword & Skull:
Weigh Anchor for Honor -- and Fun!

Sword & Skull logo

Coming in March 2005 is Sword & Skull, a game of swashbuckling pirate action and adventure. Players battle, bribe, and buy their way across the Caribbean in pursuit of a stolen British warship, the H.M.S. Sea Hammer. The famed flagship was hijacked by the notorious Pirate King and hidden away in his secret volcano lair.

Sword & Skull boxHere's what comes in your Sword & Skull box.

  • 19.5 x 19.5 inch game board
  • 5 Pirates
  • 5 Navy Officers
  • 2 Dice numbered 0 to 5
  • 80 "Gold" Coins in denominations of 1, 5, and 10
  • 110 Cards
    • 5 Player Cards
    • 16 Enemy Cards
    • 20 Item Cards
    • 33 Fortune Cards
    • 36 Crew Cards

The Board

The Sword & Skull game board consists of two tracks.

The outer track has 32 spaces representing the Castle, caves, docks, treasure chests, the Church, the Trading Post, a tavern, a royal tax collector, the Bridge of Tears, quicksand, and the settlements of Clearwater, Rum Reef, the Mercenary Camp, Smuggler's Cove, and Fort Rock.

The inner track leads to the secret Lair of the Pirate King, hidden beyond the Lake of Fire inside a volcano. Its 12 spaces include the Idol, lava tubes, smoky cave, geyser, Thieves' Den, treasure trove, and buried treasure -- plus the Lake of Fire and, ultimately, the Lair of the Pirate King. The volcano path has only one entrance and one exit, so deciding when to enter and when to pass it by is a crucial decision that you get to make only once per trip around the board.

The Cards

Sword & Skull gameThe game's 110 cards come in five varieties.

Player Cards remind everyone who's playing which color and are a handy place to keep your gold.

Crew Cards increase your strength. Each card boosts either your Pirate or your Navy Officer. The crew card deck is customized according to how many players are in the game -- there's fewer crewmen to recruit in games with three or four players.

Item Cards can increase your strength, but they also give combat or movement bonuses, economic advantages, or some other benefit.

Enemy Cards are random foes that you must fight as you travel around the board. As your characters grow stronger, so do the enemies -- but not as fast.

Fortune Cards do all of the things listed above and more. They represent the mild to wild swings of fortune that characterize freebooting life in the Caribbean. A few examples are "Dirty Fighting," "Mercenary Recruits," "Quick Thinking," "Lucky Blow," and "X Marks the Spot."

Gold Coins come into play in many, sometimes surprising, ways.

Pirates and Navy Officers are the playing pieces that move around the board. Each player controls one Pirate and one Navy Officer. The differences between them are subtle. Either one can challenge the Pirate King for possession of the Sea Hammer and win the game.

In the next preview, we look at the rules and find out what Sword & Skull is all about!

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