Set loosely in 17th century during the time of the great Spanish treasure fleets. Twenty ships loaded with treasure are ready to sail for Spain. However, there are bloodthirsty pirates waiting to plunder the ships. The Governor has decided to send the ships out in small groups hoping they can make it past the pirates undetected. However, the pirates have lookouts keeping a vigilant watch on the harbor.
The game components consists of: one (1) lookout card, one (1) governor card, thirty (30) treasure fleet ship cards (valued from 6-22), two (2) cursed ships, sixty (60) cannon cards (12 for each player) valued from one to four, five (5) storm cards (1 for each player), five (5) boarding party cards and five (5) pirate captain cards.
The standard game is played in four rounds, called sailings. Each sailing consists of three volleys. Before each sailing four ships are drawn from the "Treasure Fleet" stack, and placed face up on the table. (In a five player game the game lasts for five rounds and five ships are drawn.) Each player chooses three cards from their hand to commit to fire on any of the four ships. The player(s) not directly to the right or the left of the lookout get to commit four cards but can only play three of the four during that sailing. Special cards such as the Boarding Party (a kind of trump) and the Storm (a kind of "negation" play) can selected as well as cannon fire cards.
After each volley the lookout passes clockwise to the next player. After three volleys the pirate captain with the most cannon fire on a ship wins that ship and its treasure points. Ships with tied cannon fire escape during the volley as well as ships not fired upon.
After the final such sailing the governor is captured and ransomed, by the player with the highest valued card left in their hand. The winner is the pirate captain with the highest total treasure points.