The cards of the game has two faces, a map face and a clue face. The game is played in 2 phases.
In the map phase, you play cards either as map cards to an island or as clue cards to your hand. The map cards tell you the terrain of island and the clue cards tell you where the treasures are in relation to the terrain. You may only play two of your cards as clue cards so choose them wisely!
You also play 1 pirate flag to serve as a starting point. The later you play it, the sooner you get to start the next phase!
In the treasure phase, you take turns to move from any pirate flag. If you find a map card that matches any of your clue cards, you exchange the clue card with the map card and take 1 treasure. But hurry, other pirates may beat you to the treasure!
The game ends when a round is completed without any found treasures. The winner is the pirate who finds the most treasures.
1.0: Final version.
0.6: Option to move without treasures to switch cards.
0.5: Treasure values only used to break ties.
0.4: Solo version added.
0.3: Pirate shards added for route starting and followed in reversed pass order.
0.2: Routes starting at "holes" in the map and followed in pass order.
The complete rules are available in the PDF file to the right. In the following sections,
I will describe how they came to be.
The map/clue cards
Cards with double functions is a common way to create a game decision. The best way to give map/clue cards was to let them have the same terrain. Keeping a jungle card as a clue also means that there is less jungle on the map for the clue to point at. Compare this with The King is Dead, where taking cubes of a color to get more than any other player also means that there are less cubes on the map to get more than any other color.
The pirate flags
The pirate flags is a "middle way solution" for creating a more dynamic map. A map where terrain placed in the map phase can be removed make the map phase almost redundant. However, a map where certain spaces start as empty (by being "blocked" by pirate flags) but that may be filled later on (as the pirate flags are moved) create just the right amount of dynamics. Remember that when the pirate flag is moved, the card it moves to is always replaced by a card of the same terrain.
The treasure values
It's more difficult to find a gem three steps away from a starting point compared to gems two
and one step away but it's also difficult to find gems every turn. Which accomplishment is "best"?
A middle way was to determine the winner by the number of gems found and use the values of to break
ties. But what should the different gems be worth? A simple calculation provided the answer.
On a 4x4 grid, the total number of ending
points from all possible starting points is 16 if three steps away, 32 if two steps away and 48 if
one step away. Hence the value of the treasures should have relative values of 3/2/1.
The treasure shards
Initially, I thought I was limited to 18 shards, leaving only 12 shards for the treasures
(after using 3 for pirate flags and 3 for turn order markers). Given the relative value above, I first
thought of using the same relation for the number and added 2 for the most valuable treasures, 4 for the average
treasures and 6 for the least valuable treasures. However, I also had to take into consideration that
there are equal number of treasure cards of each value, 6 for each value. If players go for the
most valuable treasure cards first, all value 3 cards will be useless once all value 3 treasures
are gone. Hence, I decided to have 4 of each treasure.
... and Rejected Rules
There are of course also ideas that did not make it and here I explain why.
Heavy loaded pirates
Games often need balancing mechanisms to slow down leaders so why not Find the Treasure! as well? A simple idea would be
to let pirates with less load (as measured by having several lids left on hand) move extra fast. However, at one point of another,
it will be obvious who has found the treasure and that pirate will find it impossible to escape several other players if they
are faster than her.
The ship is used to sail to any beach tile at the start of the game and in early versions, the ship could be used during the
game as well. However, as mentioned above, pirates will eventually find out who has the treasure. Why then chase that pirate
through the island if they can sit on their ships and wait to see which beach he will come out too. Realistic, yes, but fun, no!
Instead, I forced the pirates to leave the ship within 1 turn and only return if either injured or to leave with the treasure.
After all, the pirates cannot be expected to look to kindly to you if you return empty-handed, can they?