The merchant players in Port Royal (which won the Austrian Game Designers Competition) are trying to earn as much as they can out of the Caribbean Sea, but if they set their goals too high, they might take home nothing for the day. A great push your luck element makes the game exciting right up to the last turn.
The 120-card deck depicts a coin on the back of each dual use card and different items on the card fronts so they are used as currency when earned and as points earning opportunities when played/purchased. On a turn, a player can first draw as many cards as he likes, one at a time from the deck, placing them in the harbour (an area near the deck). Each card shows one of the following:
- Person, stays in a face-up row next to deck.
- Ship, which the player can attack immediately if he has enough swords on his people cards, after which it is discarded; otherwise, this also stays in the row.
- Expedition, which remains above the harbour until a player fulfills it by discarding people who match its requirements.
- Tax Increase, which forces everyone with 12 or more coins to discard half their money, but will give a reward to one/some players too, after which the card is discarded.
If the player draws a ship with the same name as a ship already in the harbour, he's spent too much time dilly-dallying and his turn ends with all the cards in the harbour being discarded. Otherwise, the player can stop whenever he likes, then use/acquire one card if three or fewer ships are in the harbor, two cards if four ships are present, and three cards if five ships are present. Players rob ships, collecting the number of coins shown on them, then discarding the card, while they hire people, paying the number of coins depicted. After the active player takes his 1-3 cards, each other player may pay the active player one coin in order to take one card in the same way.
When one player has at least twelve influence points — which are on both people and expedition cards — the game is played to the end of the round, giving everyone the same number of turns, then the player with the most influence points wins.