Dread Curse Review


Dread Curse is a game by Stuart Sisk, published by Smirk & Dagger Games. It is for 3-8 players. In this game, players take on the roles of pirates after a day’s work of pillaging and plundering. They will each be trying to gain the most gold without being one of the unfortunate souls to be cursed with the black spot. Players will be pushing their luck every time they reach inside the bag o’ booty. The player that grabs the most gold without grabbing the black spot will be declared the winner.

To begin, all of the Pirate’s Code cards are shuffled together and 3 cards are dealt to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down on the table next to the crew card of Jacques Pierre the monkey. A Black Spot coin, as well as a set amount of regular coins equal to the number of players minus 1 are placed face down in the middle of the player area. The rest of the coins are placed into the bag and shaken well. The coins on the table are shuffled and each player chooses a coin. Once everyone has one, players reveal their coins simultaneously. The player with the Black Spot is the Captain for the first round. That player takes the Captain crew card and places it in front of them. All of the players then flip over their coin face down. The rest of the Crew cards are shuffled and each player is dealt one of them. The remaining Crew cards are set aside. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of rounds. In each round there are 5 phases; draw coins, steal, pay Jacques, cut and run and all hands on deck. The first phase is the draw coins phase. Beginning with the Captain and continuing in numerical order, every player will draw a number of coins from the bag as indicated by the information on their crew card.

The next phase is the steal phase. In this phase, each player will steal at least one coin from another player’s pile. Once again, players complete this action in numerical order beginning with the Captain. Players can steal from the opponents to their left or right but may also steal from the Captain if they wish.

The third phase is to pay Jacques. In this phase, player’s are able to draw a Pirate’s Code card by paying Jacques Pierre a coin of value 2 or more. The coin is revealed to all players before being placed facedown in front of the Jacques Pierre card.

The next phase is the cut and run phase. In this phase, players decide whether they’d like to “stay in” to try and collect more gold or “cut and run” hoping that they have enough gold to win the game at the end of the game. To do this players will take a coin from their pile and hide it in their closed fist. To “stay in”, the player keeps the coin face down in their palm and to “cut and run”, they place it number side up. Players will then open their fists at the same time to show their decision. Once a player “cuts and runs”, they are out of the game until the end when players compare their gold total.
The last phase is the all hands on deck phase. In this phase, players that did not “cut and run” during the last phase are able to pick a Captain by taking 1 or 2 coins from their pile and pushing them forward. Players reveal their coins simultaneously and the player with the highest coin total becomes the Captain for the next round. Black Spots and Lead Coins can not be used unless the player has no other coins. From this point, the remaining players choose crew cards based on their revealed coin totals. Crew cards provide different abilities during a particular phase that can be extremely helpful. Once all the players have chosen a crew card, coins are flipped face down and returned to the player’s pile.

The game continues until one of two things happen, either the bag runs out of coins or there is only one player left that hasn’t “cut and run”. At this point, players reveal the Black Spots and those players are out of the game. Players then add up their gold , including the gold value of any Pirate’s Code cards. The player with the highest total wins.


This game is full of pirate goodness. The 8 crew cards are really large and have great pirate theme artwork. I really love how great these look. The coins are all thick cardboard and have a really great old antique coin look to them. I really like the two tone coloration of the lead slug. These look really amazing. The pirate’s code cards are really nice as well. The artwork is really nice and the quality of the cards is great. The bag is a normal drawstring cloth bag that is large enough to really get your hand down into. I really like how nice everything looks including the great art and texture of the game box. All in all, these are some really superb components.
9 out of 10

The rulebook is really well put together and looks really nice. It has lots of great pictures and a texture to it makes it really neat to hold. Inside, everything is explained really well and is very easy to read and understand. There’s a page that explains the different crew cards and how each one of them works in great detail. I really like the lay out of everything and think that the thought process between the different phases is perfect. Overall, I feel that the rules are really good and the rulebook is well designed.
9 out of 10

This game is really fun and fast. There’s not a whole lot of strategy to it at all. It is basically a game of press your luck. Sure the crew abilities change things up a bit but mostly it is about pulling coins from a bag. You would think that in itself would be kind of boring and I’m sure for some people it probably will be. As for me, I kinda like it. It has just enough randomness to make it fun. It’s really simple and easy to learn and play.  The game doesn’t take that long to play which is another draw for me. The game is full of pirate goodness. It’s simple enough that the kids can play it and everyone can enjoy.
9 out of 10

Dread Curse is a light game of press your luck wrapped up in a pirate themed bag of coins. It’s not a long game at all. You’ll be done playing in under 30 minutes. The theme and artwork is really great and has a wonderful pirate feel to it. This is a game that you can play with the kids and that everyone will enjoy. Fans of press your luck and take that games should really enjoy this one. It’s a lot of fun and one that I enjoy. I definitely recommend it.
9 out of 10



For more information about this and other great games, please check out Smirk & Dagger at their site.


About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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