Pirates CSG Rules – Start Here, Complete Game, and More

Pirates CSG Rules

Here at Pirates with Ben, you can always be sure to find the Pirates CSG Rules in all their various forms and formats.  If you’re a beginner, the Start Here Rules are what you’ll want.  However, they assume you only have one pack with which to play, so you’ll quickly want to move on to the Complete Game Rules.  This is a much more advanced version of the game, but the way it’s intended to be played.

Now that you’ve got the main rules, you should be ready to play full games of Pirates CSG without too much trouble.  However, there are some very good supplemental materials that can greatly aid in your playing time.  Woelf‘s Master Keyword List is a classic document containing all of the keywords ever made.  This is great because Wizkids only printed keywords in the Complete Game rules associated with that pack’s specific set.  If you use a copy of the MKL, you’ll never have to search through various Complete Game rulebooks just to find one set-specific keyword.

Unfortunately, Wizkids made a number of contradictions, gaffes, and confusing wordings in the rules and abilities for this game.  That is where another fantastic document from Woelf comes into play.  The Pirate Code (FAQ).  This is a life saver.  Although it’s much larger than any of the other Pirates CSG Rules documents, “the Code” (from Pirates of the Caribbean and of course pirate history) is an incredible resource that will answer nearly ALL of the potential questions you could have about the rules of the game.

Finally, although it’s far less necessary than any of the above documents, the Reference Diagrams (also by Woelf of course!) contain a number of useful tidbits.  Veteran players will not need them for the most part, but they can be quite useful for beginners.  Even after playing hundreds of games, I learned of a towing option I had never thought of or realized before!

Now that you have all of the Pirates CSG Rules, go forth and PLAY!!  If you ever have rules questions that are not answered by any of the above documents, feel free to ask in the Rules Thread.  You can also find all the set-specific rules in the Scan Project.

If you want some house rules that I believe make the game better, you can check out My Basic Rules.

Pirates CSG Rules

Example of an answer from Woelf in the old Miniature Trading Rules thread

Posted in Informational and tagged , , .


  1. Great website!!!   I have been looking for a strategy game that my teenagers might enjoy playing that is NOT a video game.   Somehow, I missed hearing about this game when it first came out.    I love strategy games.   While your entire website is informative, I found this page with the a pdf copy of the basic rules to be very helpful.   I plan on printing out one for each player until we all get the hang of the game.     On average, how long do your games last when you play?   

    • @Sondra M: Thank you so much!  The game had some popularity when it was in production from 2004-2008, but many have moved on since then.  Glad to hear you might get some folks into the game, it needs all the attention it can get!  🙂

      The length of a game depends entirely on the build total used and the number of players involved.  For your basic 40 point 2 player game (40 points is the standard and most common build total), an average game takes 20-40 minutes to play.  A 3 player 100 point game might take around 2 hours.  My favorite games are the giant epic campaign games, which can easily last for weeks or MONTHS!  😀

      Thanks for the comment!


      • Hi Ben,

        I am glad that it is possible to play some shorter games if desired. Yet, it sounds so fascinating that I could see how it could take months. That is why I was a bit concerned. I am not sure I could talk my guys into learning a game that would take months.

        • @Sondra: Being able to manipulate how long the games take is one of my favorite things about it – since the build total and type of game is so customizable, you could play a tiny 2 player 20 point game in 10 minutes, or a 4 player 300 point game in 6 hours! 😀

          For beginners, I generally recommend the 40 point build total. If anyone you know is looking to get into Pirates CSG, they can check out my Beginner’s Guide to get started.

          Thanks again!

          • You are welcome. I”m glad you introduced me to the game. I just thought of another question. If you were to put a lower age limit on players, what is the youngest age, of a reasonably smart child, have you seen play?

            • @Sondra: Due to the small size of the game components (constructible ship parts made of styrene plastic), I recall the packs saying “8+” on them. Some 6-7 year olds could definitely handle the simple version of the game found in the Start Here rules, but 8+ is probably best to avoid any potential choking hazards. I discovered the game in 2005 soon after turning 10 and have had no trouble with it in general, though I didn’t really start playing heavily until 2011.
              I haven’t actually played with/against a child though; I think my youngest opponent was 16. 🙂


  2. Pirate CSG games look really cool!  My kids are always on the Xbox playing games like Mine craft and lego worlds, this looks like it could rival them and pull them away from the screen for a while.

    I love the fact that you also have to build your pieces from scratch to play the game, which educates and teaches kids to follow instructions and building skills.

    I will definitely look into these types of games, I also love the instruction PDF, great graphics!

    Strategy games are really great for kids, I feel you learn a lot, adults can play also, so much fun for the entire family.  Thanks for opening my eyes to new possibilities out there for gameplay.

    • @Kris: It is a very nice looking game!

      Indeed, some people say building the ships is more fun than playing the game!  I disagree with that to say the least, but there are a lot of ways to have fun with Pirates CSG.

      Thank you for the compliment on the rules I’ve made.  I agree, and I’m glad I got into Pirates CSG when I was young.  It has been a very fun and rewarding hobby over the years.  And yes, once you get the rules down, it’s a great game for families to both strategize and even learn a bit about naval history.

      Thank you for commenting!


  3. Thanks for all of your information Ben! The kid I have in mind is beyond eating the pieces stage. lol

    I will be telling people about my “new discovery.”

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