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In the late 17th century, mighty ships sailed the sec is and brought all manner of goods back' to port.

As a savvy captain, you must skillfully use your crew to fill your' ship's hold with the best combination of treasure, cannons, and ahem other items to earn gold.

In the end, the player who amasses the biggest bounty will be declared the greatest Sea Captain of all time!


  • 54 Crates
  • 18 Holds
  • 60 Crew Cards
  • 112 Coin tokens
  • Instructions

Object of the Game

Direct your Crew to fill your ship's Hold with the most lucrative Crates, expertly stacking three Crates on your Hold and scoring the bounty for Gold, Cannons, and Contraband visible at the end of each voyage (round) across the high seas.

The player with the highest total value in coins at the end of three voyages wins!


  • Stack the Crates

    Randomly choose a number of Crates equal to three times the number of players. Shuffle (and rotate any which way) the Crates and stack them in the center' of the table.

  • Ready the Holds

    Separate the Holds into three face-down sets: Voyage 1, Voyage 2, and Voyage 3. Randomize each set separately and deal each player a Hold from the Voyage 1 set to start.

    Players place these face up in front of them. Return any remaining Holds from the first voyage to the box; set aside Holds from the second and third voyages until they are needed.

  • Prepare the Bounty

    Put the Coin tokens to the side.

  • Distribute Crew Cards

    Give each player' a set of Crew cards (1 - 10). Comprising each player's hand, Crew cards are used for bidding during the game and should be kept secret. Each player will need room for their own discard pile near their Hold.

Game Play

ShipShape takes place over three rounds, called voyages, with each consisting of three turns of bidding. Once each player has placed three Crates on their Hold, the current voyage ends and players score their Holds (see Scoring a Voyage).

Surveying the Crate Stack

You may look down through the Crate slack, but you cannot touch it. Players may stand to survey the stack; however, they may not leave their table positions.

Play and Resolve Crew Cards

  1. All players simultaneously choose and play a Crew card face down. When all players are ready, the cards are revealed.

  2. Any cards showing matching values are immediately discarded to their respective players' discard piles. (Resolving lies is addressed in Step 4).

  3. Then, in order from highest to lowest value of the Crew cards still in play, each player takes a Crate from the top of the stack (i.e., the high bid takes the top Crate, the second-highest takes the next Crate, etc). and immediately places it on their Hold in any orientation.

    Crates can be rotated and/or flipped over. These Crew cards are then neatly discarded face up into their owners' discard pile. Players may NOT look through each other's discard piles.

    Bidding and Crate Hints: Bid for the Crate you want, but also pay attention to Crates that others may want! Be prepared by peeking ahead at what Crates remain in the stack.

    Remember that Crates are reversable, and flipping a Crate and/or rotating it before you place it on your Hold may offer unexpected solutions.

  4. After non-tied players have taken and placed Crates, tied players each choose a new Crew card from their hand and simultaneously reveal them; all tied cards are again discarded.

    Remaining non-tied players (if any) draw and place a Crate in order from high to low Crew value.

    If there are players who have tied twice and not yet chosen a Crate, no further cards are played; instead, these players take and place a Crate from the stack in order from highest to lowest-numbered Hold.

    Crates placed on a Hold cannot be moved or repositioned during a later turn. Once all players have placed a Crate on their Hold, the turn ends.

Down to One Card!

If at any point, a player is down to a single Crew card in their hand, they pick up all their discarded Crew cards to replenish their hand.

Scoring a Voyage

Alter all players have taken three Crates, the current voyage ends, and their ships arrive in the harbor to earn a bounty for the items in their Holds.

Players add up the individual values of the visible Gold, Cannons, and Contraband in their Holds; these are the values seen when looking top-down at the Hold. Any value on one Crate covered by another Crate is not counted.

Players now gain Coin tokens from the voyage per the following cargo rules:

  1. Gold: All players collect coins equal to their total Gold value minus the value of any rats showing in their Hold.

  2. Cannons: All players collect coins equal to their total Cannons value minus the lowest Cannon value at the table (i.e., the player with the lowest value in Cannons scores nothing).

    For example, if Michele has 13 Cannons, Rob has 12, and Chris has 3 (the lowest), then Michele collects 10 coins, Rob 9 coins, and Chris 0 coins for Cannons.

  3. Contraband: All players gain coins equal to their Contraband value except for the player with the highest Contraband value.

    This player has their Contraband seized by the Royal Navy and gains no coins for Contraband if two or more players are tied for the highest Contraband value, none of those players scores Contraband.

  4. Full Ship Bonus: if a player has completely filled all their Hold spaces with cargo (no empty Hold spaces showing), they get 8 bonus coins.

    Gold, Cannons, and Contraband preprinted on Holds are considered filled spaces and provide the associated values, but spaces containing rats DO NOT count for the purposes of fulfilling the Full Ship Bonus.

It is possible for a player to have a particularly dramatic voyage and finish with a negative score; however, a player cannot have fewer than 0 coins, and coin tokens are never lost from a player's bounty at end of any voyage.

Start of the next Voyage

Players discard their used Crates. Build a new Crate stack from the unused Crates as described in Setup.

Randomly choose a number of Holds from the next voyage equal to the number of players. The player with the most coins takes the highest-numbered Hold, the player with the second most coins takes the second highest numbered Hold, and so on.

In the case of a tie in coins, the player who had the lower numbered Hold last voyage takes the higher numbered Hold this voyage.

End of the Game

The game is over after three voyages, and the player with the most coins wins!

In case of a tie, the tied player with the highest numbered Hold in the third voyage wins.

Playing with Two Players

When playing ShipShape with two players, there will be a dummy third player: Cap'n Happen Stance!

At setup, Cap'n Stance gets a Hold and a set of Crew cards, which are shuffled and placed face down in a draw deck. The Cap'n acts as a full player in all ways except:

  1. His Crew card is drawn blindly each turn from the top of his deck.

  2. He always places his Crate in the exact orientation it appeared when taken from the Crate stack even if it is suboptimal for him.

Beware Cap'n Happen Stance! Though he be not smart, he be tricky . . . and he can win if you don't keep a weather eye on his antics!

Playing with Six Players

With six players, each voyage is played by two interchanging groups of three players, with each group having its own stack of nine Crates.

While playing and resolving Crew cards, players compare cards only with the other two players in their group and choose crates only from the stack assigned to their group.

When the time comes to score at the end of each voyage, however, all six players compare their Holds to determine coins scored from Gold, Cannons, and Contraband.

After a voyage ends, the group configurations shift around the table so that each group consists of a new and unique combination of players for the next voyage.

Tip For Savvy Smugglers: When playing Shipshape with 5 players, use Cap'n Happen Stance and the interchanging group rules from the 6 player game!

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