Ship, Captain, and Crew is a dice-rolling game where players must roll five dice three times. Players are trying to roll a 6, 5, and 4. It is a good game to teach new players of tabletop games the concept of “Qualification.”
This is a fun game with a pirate theme, involving “Treasure” and the obvious Title of the name. Players are trying to hire a ship, a captain, and a crew. After they hire the right people for their pirate crew, players take “treasure” with their last two dice.
How to Play Ship, Captain, and Crew?
Players need 5 Dice. Yep, that’s it! Although a pen and paper can be added just to help keep track of each Player’s “Treasure” at the end of their turn, it is not necessary! All you need is five dice to be shared between each Player.
Deciding and Taking Turns
Players can roll all five dice to decide the turn order. The Player that rolls the highest number with their five dice will be able to take the first turn. If there is a tie, only the tying Players will each roll a single die, with the winner going first. More ties mean more rolls of that single die.
Once a Player has been chosen to take the first turn, all the other turns will go in clockwise (To the left) order after that Player finishes their turn. Each Player is only given a single turn, unless there is a tie at the end of the game.
The Ship, The Captain, And The Crew
On each Player’s turn, they are given three chances to roll all five of their dice. Players want to “Hold” a 6, a 5, and a 4. When a dice is Held, it is not rolled again with the other 5. Instead, it is set aside with its value face-up. For example, on your first Roll, you roll a 6, 5, 3, 2, 1,
Then, you would hold the 6, and 5. Then, you would roll the 3 remaining dice in hopes of getting a 4.
Each Player is a pirate investor, on the search for Gold Dubloons. Any good pirate mission starts with a Ship. If there is no Ship, there can be no Captain. A Crew needs a Captain, so if there’s no Captain, there can be no Crew.
This is a fancy way of saying that you must hold a 6 (Ship) before you hold a 5 (Captain).
- You cannot hold a 5, unless you already have a 6 held, or there is a 6 in the same roll as the 5.
- You also need a 6 (Ship) and 5 (Captain) held before you can hire your Crew (Hold a 4).
Once a Player has managed to gather all of the above, it is time to hunt for Treasure.
“Treasure” is made up of the Player’s other two Dice. Treasure is, in effect, the Player’s score. One needs to qualify with their Ship, Captain, and Crew (6, 5, 4), after which the other two dice left over are added together to become the “Treasure.”
Since each Player gets 3 tries to roll for their Ship, Captain, and Crew, extra rolls can be used on the Treasure.
For example, if a Player is able to Hold their 6, 5, and 4 in the first turn, Players can re-roll their treasure up to two times.
Keep in mind, however, that once Treasure is re-rolled the new Treasure score must be kept. If you had a 9, and you re-rolled your treasure for a 5, you have to keep the 5 unless you have another re-roll to use.
Players need a Ship, Captain, and Crew in order to keep their Treasure. Treasure cannot be counted without all three components of the Pirate Ship. Hence, Players that do not “Qualify” automatically lose, and cannot win that round.
At the end of each Player’s single turn, they tally up the total of their Treasure if they qualified. If they did not qualify, Players are simply “Disqualified” and their Treasure score is essentially 0.
- The Player that managed to hold a 6, 5, and 4 and has the highest Treasure score wins the game.
- If there is a tie between multiple Players’ Treasure score, another round of the game is played only between the tying Players. The winning Player of that tie-breaker round is the final winner.
A new round is very easy to set up. The First Player of the next round will simply be the 2nd Player of the previous round (The player to the immediate left of the last round’s first Player.)
In short, the rules for Ship, Captain, and Crew are as follows:
- Each Player gets a single turn, composed of three dice rolls of five dice.
- Players can roll their 5 dice until they get a 6, 5, or 4. 6s, 5s, and 4s should be held and not re-rolled with the other remaining dice.
- Players need to hold a 6 before they can hold a 5, and a 6 and 5 before they can hold a 4.
- The remaining two dice after a Player has managed to hold a 6, 5, and 4 become the Player’s Treasure Score.
Suppose that it is your turn during a game of Ship, Captain, and Crew. You decide to take your first roll, and wind up with:
6 – 3 – 3 – 5 – 2
A very good first roll, you’ve managed to get your Ship (6) and Captain (5) in the first turn!
Now, roll again minus the two held dice:
4 – 2 – 1
And there is the Crew (4)! However, a 3 is pretty pitiful for a Treasure score. Since you have another roll, hold the 4 and roll the last two dice:
4 – 5
Excellent! A Treasure Score of 9 is above average on a two-dice roll. Your odds of winning the game are very high, as you only lose to 10, 11, and 12 Treasure Scores.
Strategy and Tips
Ship, Captain, and Crew is mostly a game of luck. There are no real strategies to playing the game, as it all comes down to the roll of the dice.
However, Players are not completely locked out from strategy. Although it is mostly a matter of mathematics, it mostly comes down to whether or not a Player should re-roll their Treasure.
When rolling two dice, the most common total will be a 7. 7 is the most likely number one will roll when rolling two dice.
- As such, if your Treasure Score is below 7, then always re-roll unless you will win with that Treasure Score.
- If your Treasure Score is Above 7, then generally never re-roll unless you are already going to lose to another Player’s higher roll.