Pirate Top Trumps

Avast! The most fearsome pirates of all time, FINALLY ranked in measurable terms of terror so you can battle it out! 

jolly roger by Here's KateYou remember Top Trumps right? It’s what people did before Playstation and binge drinking were invented.

It was usually a game played in an uncomfortably small caravan on a rainy summer holiday in North Wales, and these associations have perhaps something to do with the decline of this old family favourite, where things (such as monster trucks and members of the Royal Family) were compared according to a set of predetermined and somewhat arbitrary numerical values. (Monster trucks were compared to other monster trucks by the way, and royals to royals. There is no version that we know of where the virtues of a massive jeep are pitted against those of the Queen Mother, though we would play that game!) Basically the highest value for a chosen category wins and takes (trumps) the opponent’s card.

So what better way to bring this classic card-based pursuit back to the fore of our cultural consciousness? The answer, as it is for so many questions, is PIRATES!

That’s right, so we have trawled the seven seas (the internet) for the most fearsome pirates ever to set sail, and ranked them according to vital factors such as pirate nickname and impressiveness of beard.

So avast landlubbers, splice your mainbrace, print this out and play your own game of Pirate Top Trumps.

Here be monsters…10 of them!




Pirate nickname: 10

Impressiveness of beard: 45

Booty stolen: 3000

Pillage factor: 85

Ruthlessness: 8

Blackbeard, real name Edward Teach, was a fearsome looking pirate with a huge black beard (obviously), and lit fuses trailing from his hat. He pillaged throughout the West Indies, was given a royal pardon but the lure of the sea drew him back into piracy, leading to his death during a battle in 1718.



calico jack

Pirate nickname: 4

Impressiveness of beard: 0

Booty stolen: 1200

Pillage factor: 60

Ruthlessness: 7

Calico Jack, or John Rackham, was a Cuban-English pirate who plundered ports around the Bahamas and Cuba. His name came from the calico clothing that he wore (rock ‘n’ roll!). Jack was famous for having two female crew members and for designing the Jolly Roger flag.




Pirate nickname: 8

Impressiveness of beard: 50

Booty stolen: 2800

Pillage factor: 90

Ruthlessness: 1

Cut-Throat Jake was the arch-enemy of Captain Pugwash in the BBC cartoon series that was shown from the 1950s until the 1970s. Jake was captain of the Flying Dustman, a hoarder of treasure and he looked every bit the pirate. He loses ruthlessness points though because as far as we know, he never actually killed or even really hurt anyone. Amateur!




Pirate nickname: 0

Impressiveness of beard: 0

Booty stolen: 2000

Pillage factor: 56

Ruthlessness: 8

A privateer tasked with hunting down pirates, William Kidd (who could’ve been called Billy the Kid but wasn’t) turned bad and became a famous plunderer himself. The Scotsman who had lived in New York set out for the Caribbean and pillaged for his life, until he lost it when he was hanged three times (as the rope kept snapping).




Pirate nickname: 2

Impressiveness of beard: 0

Booty stolen: 2900

Pillage factor: 95

Ruthlessness: 10

At one point she was half of a fearsome pirate couple but after her husband Zheng’s death, Cheng I Sao took over his fleet and became the most terrible pirate Asia had seen. She commanded up to 1800 ships and 80,000 pirates and was famous for creating a pirate code, including laws such as: anyone disobeying a superior officer would be decapitated immediately. Harsh but fair? They won’t do it again, anyway.




Pirate nickname: 7

Impressiveness of beard: 2

Booty stolen: 4000

Pillage factor: 62

Ruthlessness: 9

Not a controversial Simpsons character but a Welsh pirate, Bartholomew ‘Black Bart’ Roberts, was turned to piracy when kidnapped by pirate Howell Davis. He evidently enjoyed it as he reputedly plundered over 400 ships. Black Bart was a courageous man and his crew called him bulletproof…until he was killed by a bullet in 1722.




Pirate nickname: 3

Impressiveness of beard: 0

Booty stolen: 1750

Pillage factor: 75

Ruthlessness: 7

Formerly Anne Cormac of County Cork, Ireland, Anne Bonny crossed the Atlantic as a teen and became mistress to Calico Jack, having a child with him while in Cuba. She was known as a courageous and skilled fighter in the many battles she was involved in, and along with Calico Jack she stole huge amounts of booty. She was imprisoned and sentenced to death in 1720 but was granted a stay of execution because she was pregnant. However, there are no records or her execution or release, leading to speculation that she was ransomed out or escaped and changed identity.




Pirate nickname: 8

Impressiveness of beard: 37

Booty stolen: 850

Pillage factor: 50

Ruthlessness: 6

Cap’n Jack Sparrow is perhaps the most famous pirate never to have sailed the seven seas. But that doesn’t mean he’s not an excellent pirate! He’s escaped capture from the Royal Navy, the East India Trading Company, cannibal tribes and other pirates. He’s battled ghost ships, been to hell and back, defeated Davey Jones and even found the fountain of youth. And his Dad’s Keith Richards, so that’s pretty cool. Savvy?




Pirate nickname: 7

Impressiveness of beard: 30

Booty stolen: 1900

Pillage factor: 80

Ruthlessness: 5

Barbadosed, also commonly known as Henry Morgan, left the Royal Navy and broke bad, becoming a famous pirate who plundered the Caribbean and the Spanish Main. Barbadosed died or ‘dropsie’ in 1688 and was buried in a cemetery that sank into the sea four years later after an earthquake.




Pirate nickname: 9

Impressiveness of beard: 25

Booty stolen: 1000

Pillage factor: 65

Ruthlessness: 8

Captain James Hook was an evil pirate of JM Barrie’s creation, with excellent seafaring style from his flowing curly locks to his Smee-sharpened hook – a replacement for a hand he lost to a giant saltwater crocodile, and quite a coincidence given his name. You have to admit he wasn’t the most successful pirate ever though, as his two aims in life were to destroy said croc and a small floating boy in tights, neither of which he achieved.


Photos from Flickr and Wikipedia Creative Commons.

Lady Gothique
The gal who runs

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