A Motley Cruise

From Ludocity
A Motley Cruise
Designer: Simon Katan
Year: unknown
Players: 12 - 18
Stuff required: 6 pairs of cardboard cutout boats (approx. 1m50 * 90), 15 soft foam balls, 30 pieces of velcro bounty, 2 cardboard boxes
Crew required: Two referees
Preparation: Two days for making boats and bounty.
Time required: Forty minutes
Place required: A large space with few obstacles (ie. park / indoor lobby)
Activities: Calculating, aiming and throwing, steering, shouting and singing
This is an untested game. Its rules are written, but it hasn't been tested out yet.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

Arr me hearties ! This is a game for all ye pirates. Sail the high seas to chase down your enemy and steal their bounty.


  • Pirate ships should have 8 velcro patches on each panel and fly the Jolly Roger.
  • Merchant ships should have 5 velcro patches on each panel and fly the Union Jack.
  • Set the two containers approximately 21 paces apart from each other.
  • The play area should be significantly larger in diameter than the distance between treasure island and port.

How to Play

The object of the game is to win as much bounty as possible for your team. For merchants this involves safely transporting the bounty to port, whilst for pirates this involves attacking other merchant and pirate ships and stealing their bounty.

The game is played in two rounds and involves 6 teams of 2 or 3 players each. For the first round 3 teams are pirates and 3 teams are merchants. The teams then swap roles for the second round. Each round lasts for 15 minutes or until there is no bounty on the treasure island and all the merchant ships are empty.

Sailing rules

Each team commands a ship i.e. two large cardboard ship-shaped cutouts. Players sail their ships by walking in single file whilst holding their cardboard cutouts on either side of them.

Merchants sail by Tacking:

1. take exactly 3 large paces forward (say "yo ho ho" for each set of three to prove you're not cheating)

2. turn clockwise or anti-clockwise between 90 and 180 degrees (middle team member stands still whilst others perform turn then catches up)

3. repeat until you have reached your destination.

Pirates sail by Jibing:

1. take exactly 7 large paces forward (say “yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” to prove you’re not cheating).

2. turn clockwise or anti-clockwise between 0 degrees and 90 degrees (middle team member stands still whilst others perform turn then catches up)

3. repeat until you have reached your destination.

Pirates begin at port. Merchants begin at treasure island.

Repairs and cannons:

If you run into an obstacle, person, or another ship but not in attack position then you’re ship is damaged and must drop anchor for repairs. This is done by standing still and singing “what shall we do with the drunken sailor.” During this time, the ship can’t make attacks but is nonetheless vulnerable to one attack from each pirate ship. The ship is unaffected by subsequent cannon shots though it may fire its cannons freely

Cannon balls can be picked up from the ground as a ship passes by them. A ship can hold multiple cannon balls. If a ship’s body is hit by a cannon ball then it must also drop anchor for repairs.

Bounty and attacks:

  • Merchants must collect bounty from the treasure island and attach it to either side of their ship using the velcro patches.The bounty must stay on the side of the ship where it was initially placed unless stolen in an attack or deposited at the port.
  • Only pirates can attack other ships. This is done by getting the head of your ship to face the side of an enemy ship within arms reach. All crew shout “Arr” repeatedly. The other ship must stop and allow you to take half the bounty (rounded up) from that side of their vessel.
  • It is not possible to steal bounty from the other side of the ship.
  • Repeat and counter attacks can only happen once both vessels have moved position.
  • You cannot steal bounty that you have no space to store.


At the end of each round all bounty in the port is divided equally amongst the merchants (rounded down) and any remaining bounty on merchant ships is awarded to that team. Each pirate team gets the bounty that is on the side of their ships.

Lyrics for What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor

Sing once when anchor is dropped for repairs.

What'll we do with a drunken sailor,

What'll we do with a drunken sailor,

What'll we do with a drunken sailor,

Earl-aye in the morning?

Way hay and up she rises,

Patent blocks o' diff'rent sizes,

Way hay and up she rises,

Earl-aye in the morning.