Admiral A7XfanBen, Master Strategist
Warning: This may be my most arrogant and self-congratulatory piece of content I have ever made or will ever make for Pirates CSG. It is a way for me to look back at my best and favorite game moments where my obsession with the game’s strategy and my vast experience with playing the game culminated in big wins. After thousands of hours spent on the game in general, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished in terms of playing the game.
For a long time I only played solo games. I didn’t play my first game against a human opponent until January 2015. Since then I’ve played against a few dozen players, some in physical games but even more on the VASSAL module. This post documents some of my greatest moments as an experienced and extremely passionate player of Pirates CSG.
My first non-solo campaign game featured a ton of amazing moments, and it remains as possibly my favorite huge game. It was smart for my Spanish to optimize their gold system very early on, purposely launching pretty much all of their ships and crew with gold bonus abilities. The massive fleet of native canoes peaked at 35 total (7 sets), which helped the Spanish rake in a ton of gold throughout the game. This allowed them to spend on battle fleets, which were used to take on the other factions. The Americans were forced to pay tribute, and ironically became a vassal state of the Spanish Empire. The French put up an amazing fight but were crushed by the strength of the Spanish war fleet. The Pirates were next. The Cursed and English were also smashed by my Spanish, who steamrolled through the game. Even though my English fleet looked superior in the endgame, the Spanish managed to wear them down and pull out a well-deserved victory. My superior launching strategy (of not saving gold for almost any reason) gave me the win. Check out the factional analysis in the reflection at the bottom of the reports to get a better idea of how dominant the Spanish were.
Here is the retrospective video for a quick summary of the game, with the Spanish theme of the game playing:
This game was short compared to CG1, but still featured some interesting plays. My theme in this game was attacking the Pirates (the main rival of my English) through whirlpools. I pulled off multiple whirlpool raids, most of which were successful in general. The final one was a huge move that swung the momentum permanently to the English side. At that point I was building up an insurmountable points lead, and the game ended somewhat prematurely after my English intervened in a battle between the Pirates and French. I was able to use 10 masters and submarines to devastate opposing forces, and eventually controlled seven 10 masters and six cancellers! I mostly accomplished my goals within the game, which were to capture the Zeus, hinder or eliminate Captain Jack Sparrow, and of course win in the end. Check out my path to victory in this video:
CG3 would be perhaps my greatest test yet. In CG1 I controlled half the fleets (3/6), and in CG2 I still controlled a third (1/3). In CG3, I’d be at just 1 fleet out of 6 total, with 5 other players trying to win the game. I still thrived. Lying low early due to bad resource rolls for my islands, the Americans watched as the Spanish burned brightly but then fizzled out. After some long-awaited changes in the resource values, my Americans began to have serious spending power. As usual, I first concentrated on optimizing my gold system, and then began to steadily launch ships for war.
The game’s turning point was an epic display of momentum shifting – the French crushed the Spanish at the central Gateway island, but then my Americans struck and crushed the French in the same location. From there it was a matter of eliminating the other factions. My fleet ranged far and wide, with the Zhanfu and others going to the far west to take out the Spanish and English. The French were eliminated after trying to invade my home waters through a whirlpool. I correctly anticipated a betrayal by my Pirate allies, and launched a preemptive strike to take care of that threat to my gold system. The Cursed were the toughest opponent to beat, but yet another whirlpool strike (like in CG2) with the first shot advantage proved to be decisive. You can even see my epic opening turn of that conflict here. A long battle at the Cursed home island eventually saw the American numerical superiority victorious, with a massive wave of cancellation coming to dominate the Frozen North.
This grand victory was my third consecutive non-solo campaign game victory in as many efforts, improving my record to a perfect 3-0 and initiating comparisons to Tom Brady and Thanos in terms of utter dominance and early “championship” success. At the bottom of the battle reports you can see my long strategy explanation for the game. In this retrospective video you can see the dominance of the American fleet play out.
This is one of those extremely rare games where everything goes according to plan. My strategy was applied, and it worked flawlessly. Everything I did went right. It was a bizarre combination of luck, timing, and good gameplay on my part.
The Guichuan’s heist totaled 22 gold, but in reality the final score was about 35-0. I had won the game in a complete shutout despite the big build total. I only lost one ship, the Celtic Fury (plus one canoe haha). I had captured or destroyed Xerecs’ entire fleet.I was also happy because I was intimidated when I saw the enemy fleet – the Zeus and San Cristobal (by some people’s accounts the 2 best gunships in the game), along with the Baochuan and some of the best gold runners in the game. However, with some negative UT’s, effective crew placement, and brilliantly executed gimmick strategy, I was able to pull off the victory!
To be fair, this was against a slow fleet. However, it was still one of my most impressive wins, with Calypso going ballistic with whirlpools to give the Pirates every single coin in the treasure distribution for a 55-0 victory! O_O
In a huge blowout, the Pirates defeat the Spanish 55-0! This is one of the only games I’ve ever played where a fleet gets every single coin in the treasure distribution. No gold was sunk, and the Pirates collected and stole the rest for a massive victory. This game made me want to use Calypso more, and it’s also one of the best gimmick games/fleets I’ve seen.
This 5-hour long game was captured in full on video, found at the bottom of the battle report linked above. I scored two massive coups that helped me pull out a narrow victory in the end. The first involved a brilliant combination of using the Harbinger’s ship-stealing ability in conjunction with the special rules of the scenario, where the first island your fleet explores becomes your home island. This happened early in the game, but there was a ton of action left.
The second “coup” netted me another capture. I was able to capture a derelict galley and then row her S+S towards the Europa, who used an extra action and Commander Temple’s ability to warp the galley home. Making it even sweeter was the fact that the 2 gold runners captured in these incredible game moves are two of the best to ever sail: the Banshee’s Cry and Star of Siam. Quite the prizes indeed!
This second coup of the game for me was triply effective – it made the Hound less of a target, it got the SoS and Europa out of harms’ way (the Black Pearl), and it gave me another capable gold runner in my fleet. All in all one of my favorite moves I’ve pulled off in this game, showing how important it is to consider all options and really think through how you want to tow or “untow” things to your greatest benefit.
I then captured the Black Pearl a la Captain Jack Sparrow retaking his favorite vessel. In the end it appeared that my moves were needed to keep me in the race, as I won a narrow 85-81 victory. Truly a memorable game.
These massive tournaments full of uber-competitive fleets were played between myself and Xerecs. 23 games in T1 and 53 in T2 combined for 76 games of competitive high-stakes action. I played my ass off consistently, winning a lot of games and having a lot of incredible strategy moments. A lot of it was gold calculation and making decisions based on available gold and fort strategy. Really fun and incredible, and Xerecs had plenty of great moments as well. I also made the somewhat incredible pick of choosing UPS 2 as the fleet to win T2 before the 16 fleet tournament even started! (so technically 6.25% chance of picking the right fleet, though UPS 2 was an obvious favorite among some others) This was based on my prior experience using UPS 2 in physical games and knowing how ridiculously effective, efficient, and overpowered that fleet is. It was a total crapshoot, but I also won the 16 fleet game (using every fleet from T2) by 1 gold, and you can see footage of that game in my Games playlist.
This game was a bit controversial at the end, but my American Pirates fleet made things right with an impressive victory. Not necessarily my best game in terms of strategy or specific plays, but it was one of the games I was happiest to win.
That was the first of two games with the “Other Worlds” scenario, where you use whirlpools to access multiple tables to dramatically change the setup compared to most games. My opponent tried to use gunships to blockade my home island after I returned with gold from the other oceans – that way he didn’t have to brave the whirlpools. I foiled that real quick. The Philadelphia’s ability (ship stealing just like the Harbinger and Commander Temple) warped home a capture and I charged right back in. I proved the ineffectiveness of the blockade strategy, and won in a 32-2 blowout. I basically did the exact same thing a year later against a different opponent. That game ended up 31-0 in my favor.
Here I used a gimmicky home island raiding strategy with the Spanish to win by a decent margin.
My record speaks for itself. I have by far the most wins of any player on VASSAL (at least since it’s rebirth in 2016), and I am the only player to win a campaign game on the module that I know of, having won all 3 thus far.