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How to Build a Pirate Battles Mini-Game in Minecraft

Note: This guide was written before Command Blocks were a thing.

This mini game is quite similar to castle wars, but, of course, on pirate ships and open water. However, this game can be a lot more epic, depending on how well you’ve built your ships and on how well your players play.

Unlike castle wars, pirate battles is all about destruction. No capture the flag and no other nonsense. Just pure, TNT flying, sword clinging, arrow shooting fun.


The following rules and guidelines are simply recommendations, depending on the server plugins you use (if you use any), the rules can or will have to be changed to suit your own needs.

This game is played with 2 teams, which can be any size. Both teams should start on their own ship and wait for everybody to be ready. Players can move into position, but nobody should be attacking yet. Once everybody is ready it’s time to unleash hell. The aim of this game is basically to destroy the ship of the other team before your ship is destroyed.

Each player should be equiped with a sword, a bow and a stack of arrows. You could give them armour as well, but it’s a lot more fun when each player is dressed up in a custom pirate skin. Depending on how you’ve created your cannons, players will also need a flint and steel or fire charges to activate the TNT.
Players will then have to fire the cannons, kill the opponents and try to survive themselves.

We’ve placed several wooden boxes in the water, which both act as decorational cargo and as a way to make your way to the other ship. Players will either have to jump down into the water or climb down the ladders on the side of the ship to get down. They can then make their way to the other ship and climb up the ladders, if they haven’t been destroyed by TNT yet.

In our example we’ve created 2 quite large ships with many cannons. Each cannon has the range to reach the other side of the other ship, though by placing less TNT in the cannons you could shoot less far away to hit players walking on the blocks in the water.

The ships in our version are equiped with a lot of cannons, which could potentially destroy the whole enemy ship if all cannons are fired at once, but the range of the cannons extends up to the cannons of the opponent, so you could cause TNT placed in the opponent’s cannon to explode before it’s fired. This means it’s often best to only loads a few cannons and try to be faster than the enemy when you’re loading the cannons opposite of each other.

Once a ship is destroyed, end the game and reset the area using a plugin, unless you want to completely rebuild the boats as a team or by yourself. Alternatively, you could simply paste in a schematic using a world editing program, but this will require a server restart, which can be very annoying to anybody not playing this mini game.

Other Tips, Tricks and Recommendations

Spend time designing your ships. Don’t make them the same and make sure it’s easy to get from one deck to another, but not too easy. The more details you put on your ship, the more epic it’ll look and the more epic the battle will be.

Test your cannons. Test their range and test if they fire at all. You don’t want to start a mini game just to have all the cannons fire just a few blocks away, or explode when they’re activated.

Consider the matturity and playing style of your players. Depending on how you play the game, player could be required to use flint and steel, plant TNT and break blocks. This is more than a griefer needs to ruin the fun for everybody. Strict rules and guidelines could be needed to make sure your game is played fair and without arguements.

Alternatively, build one large ship and 2 or more smaller boats around the larger ship, basically creating a type of king of the hill mini game. This works best with more matture teams though, as good tactics could be required to win the battle on either side.

Set specific targets which have to be destroyed, like the mast, the rudder, the (steering) wheel or the captain’s cabbin.
Alternatively, place a load of TNT somewhere in the ship, if these TNT blocks explode, the battle is over.

Use a plugin to set the explosive power of TNT to just a few blocks. This makes it a little more realistic, as real cannonballs don’t explode or leave a huge gaping hole either.

This game can be amazingly fun when played with people you like, especially if you create enormous ships and gorgeous landscapes. Having dedicated players on specific tasks could lead to some epic battles. Have players load the cannons, fire the cannons, protect the ship, attack the other ship, etc. A server wide war could be one of the most epic battles ever.