In the dawn of the Modern Era, the European powers sought to exploit the New World’s vast resources while establishing economic superiority over each other. As nations struggled to control their new borders and protect their trade interests, certain unsavory entrepreneurs – men with swift ships and flexible ethics – saw their opportunity to profit. Soon, a new figure appeared on the seas: the corsair. With express permission from their monarch, the captains of these feared vessels preyed on foreign trade ships with impunity. But these brave captains and their crews were more than the mere rabble of filthy, barbarous pirates that infested the trade routes. They were privateers, fulfilling their duty to a grateful sovereign. They possessed a mandate from the throne. They possessed the Letter of Marque.

Letter of Marque is a card game of treasure, temptation, and trickery on the high seas, designed by the prolific Bruno Faidutti (creator of Citadels and Ad Astra). Three to six players battle and bluff their way across the ocean in the hopes of safely delivering their valuable cargo, all while pirating the prizes of their enemies. Playable in roughly a half hour, Letter of Marque moves as swiftly as the corsairs beautifully rendered on its cards.

The mechanics of the game are simple, and it takes only minutes to learn. Each player chooses a color and starts with five Treasure Cards (numbered 3-7), three Cannon Cards, and five detailed plastic ships (two of which secretly hide a cannon icon on the bottoms of their bases), all of which are marked with the player’s color. The Treasure Cards are shuffled and placed in a draw pile, then each player draws one and places it face up in the central playing area; after this, each player places a plastic ship atop his or her Treasure Card (only that player knows whether or not the ship is armed and the Treasure Card is guarded).

The object of the game is to safely bring the most treasure (measured by the sum value of the Treasure Cards) back to your home port. Play moves clockwise, and on your turn you have four choices: You may place your next random Treasure Card at sea along with a plastic ship of your choice, you may take one of your ships at sea and place it in your port (bank it), you may spend a Cannon Card to attack an opponent’s ship at sea, or you may pass. If you use a Cannon Card on an unguarded ship, you take its Treasure Card. If, on the other hand, you attack a guarded ship, your opponent may take your Cannon Card, counting it as one point in the final scoring.

As you have plenty of treasure to transport, but only two of your five ships can defend themselves, you’ll have to cleverly bluff your way to victory. Your nation and your monarch are counting on you to deliver your cargo while disrupting the trade of your enemies. So hoist the colors and run out the long nines! This treasure be ripe for the plunder!


13+ 3 - 6 30 - 45 min

The copyrightable portions of Letter of Marque are © 2009 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Letter of Marque and Fantasy Flight Supply are trademarks of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.

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