Pirates with Ben Blog #39

Sorry for the lack of video blog post as I have been doing (and will continue to attempt) on Monday-Friday, and sorry for the short post.  Today sort of got away from me a bit, but I want to keep trying to do video blogs at least 5 times a week.

Deal of the Day: Revolution lot with some of the game’s most effective ships.  The Banshee’s Cry is the best gold runner in the game, and the Constitution is just about tied with the Acorazado and Endeavour for the title of best overall gunship regardless of game size.  The Franklin is also extremely good, and somewhat hard to find these days I believe.

**Disclaimer: I will be using affiliate links with things like this, so if someone buys from it, I could make a small percentage of the sale.


Pirates CSG Card of the Day

Set number: 13 – Savage Shores

Collector’s Number: 015 – L’epee de L’ange

Faction Affiliation: France
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 17
Cargo Space: 3
Base Move: L
Cannons: 3L, 4L, 4L, 3L
Number of Masts: 4

This ship’s cannons may not be eliminated (masts still may be). If derelict, she cannot shoot.

Flavor: Able to stand against the greatest of England’s warships, the “Angel’s Sword” might be the key to France’s ultimate victory over the British.

This ship has a solid but overpriced ability.  Her low cargo and speed relegate her to the expensive but ineffective gunship role, and being French means she will almost never see usage.  I’ve had this ship used against me in a few casual games with beginner players, and she was solid but unspectacular.  I always recommend putting an oarsman on any ship with this ability because they stop the ship from becoming technically derelict, meaning that the ship can fire all of her cannons even with no masts remaining.  With a captain and helmsman also aboard, this means you could move S+S and fire 4 shots with a ship that looks dead in the water!  🙂

Standard 40 point games: Captain/helmsman/oarsman.  (23 total points)

Bigger games (60+ points): Barbinais + captain/helmsman/oarsman.  This gives you better firepower on guns that will be constantly firing every turn even as the ship gets closer to sinking.  (27 total points)

Game Piece Rating: 3/10.  This ship might be worth her cost with S+S speed and all 2L guns, but as-is she falls far short of what you expect out of a 4 masted gunship.  Improving her to the point of serious playability will cost you more points than most are willing to spend.

The French ship in a game played on the map from the Plunder Pack.

Plunder Pack map


Picture of the Day

3 years ago today, the Pirate Home Island Raiding Squadron set sail during Economy Edition.

June 18th 2015 in Economy Edition

Pirates on the move!


It’s a Pirates’ Life for Me.


Collectible Board Games – Pirates of the Spanish Main | Blog #38

Collectible Board Games – Consider Pirates of the Spanish Main (Pirates CSG)

Of all the collectible board games, a strong case can be made for Pirates Constructible Strategy Game.  Being out of print, the game features a unique and unpredictable market of both used and new components.  A key criteria here is whether the components are “punched” or “unpunched”, as UP (unpunched) cards and ships are more valuable than used or “punched” cards.  Collectors prefer unpunched, but both players and collectors sometimes go for either or both variations depending on their style.  I have done well as both a player and collector by snatching deals on eBay and other websites over the years, and trading for used (but in good condition) ships and crew.

The game features a host of interesting oddballs that make collecting it a fun game.  The usual Common/Uncommon/Rare rarities found in most collectible games still apply, but some oddities such as story inserts and small quantities of limited edition game pieces can be tough to track down.  Then you have special pieces like the Obago Deuce (only around 30 copies known to exist) and two 1-of-1 “Ships in a Bottle”, owned by a “crazy collector” in Germany who also happens to be a veteran of the community.  The variety of different sets also allows different types of collectors to focus on their favorites.

Myself, I’m more of a player.  However, to play the gigantic games I prefer to play, collecting is essential to build up a large number of ships and crew from which to draw on when playing campaign games.  With an extremely patient and deal-oriented collecting strategy, I have gotten my collection for less money than most would think.  Since getting back into Pirates of the Spanish Main in 2011, I have collected consistently, always on the prowl for good deals on packs, auctions, single items, and used lots.  Throw in how good a fleet of the ships can look, and Pirates Constructible Strategy Game is truly one of the great collectible board games!!


Deal of the Day: Auction for a sealed 36 pack box of Revolution.

There’s also 36 pack boxes of RV you can buy for $69.99 with FREE shipping!

**Disclaimer: I will be using affiliate links with things like this, so if someone buys from it, I could make a small percentage of the sale.


Pirates CSG Card of the Day

Set number: 5 – South China Seas

Collector’s Number: 203 – USS Emerald

Faction Affiliation: America
Rarity: PR
Type: Ship
Point Value: 9
Cargo Space: 2
Base Move: S+S
Cannons: 2S-2S
Number of Masts: 2

Two hits from the same shoot action are required to eliminate one of this ship’s masts.
Flavor: Rumors say that the hull of this ship is lined with the hardest of precious gems, explaining why she never seems to take damage.

Nice, another high-numbered piece from one of the lesser-seen rarities! (Common/Uncommon/Rare being the standard rarities)

USS Emerald happens to be one of my favorite American gunships.  She’s a neat little ship that isn’t a conundrum like a lot of the other ships we’ve already seen in this series – everything about the ship aligns together.  This ship should never really be used as a gold runner, but she is one of the better 2 masted gunships in the game.  With nice short-range firepower, a fantastic defensive ability, and fair speed and price, she’s a budget option that can come in quite handy.  Between the guns and ability, she also packs more of a punch than almost all other ships her size, so your opponents may underestimate her.

Standard 40 point games: Captain and helmsman.  (14 total points)

Medium size games (50-100 points): Captain, helmsman, maybe oarsman for protection.  (14/15 total points)

Large games (over 100 points):  The Emerald is a very rare case where using Broadsides Attack (BA) might just be worth trying out.  Commodore David Porter is pretty much the only American named crew I can highly recommend for the Emerald, as he combines BA with Captain into the same cargo space for 7 points, leaving a perfect 2 point cargo space open for the helmsman.  It’s a “perfect” little combo, but spending 18 points on a 2 masted gunship is a risky investment, no matter the high firepower and defenses.  BA is perfect for a ship like this because 

  1. You’re not risking all of a large ship’s cannons on one die roll (BA on a 5 master is very high risk, and not recommended)
  2. 2S cannons – with BA, you want all low cannon ranks (can’t get lower than rank-2 with regular ships) and S range, since BA restricts cannon ranges to S when using the ability
  3. Blockade Runner ship type has very easy firing arcs, so it’s easy to get both guns in range at the same time (as opposed to some blockages with other small ship types).
  4. Higher percent damage output – the extra hit from BA (if successful with rolling a 3 or higher of course) essentially adds 50% to the ship’s total damage output, vs. only a small increase on larger ships using Broadsides Attack.

Keep in mind that ramming and firepot specialists are great ways to get past the defensive ability, and BA is still a bad/overpriced ability in general.  That said, give the Emerald a shot either way – she’s a good one.

Game Piece Rating: 8/10.  Though she’s great at her role, 9 points for a 2 masted gunship and the low cargo prevent a slightly higher rating.  Overall though, one of the better small/support gunships in the game!

Find the Emerald on eBay! (+ David Porter)

At the upper left of this crazy picture you can see the Emerald at the upper left.  She participated in at least one of the large American-Pirate battles in Command the Oceans.

USS Emerald amid the carnage

A colossal mess of chaos in a huge naval battle.


Picture of the Day

Got three from Economy Edition today!  3 years ago today the game peaked at 2,846 total points, though it probably was a bit over 3,000 soon afterwards (I just try to do point counts when I think the game is peaking in size).  The Pirates were the biggest spenders of Turn 33, but the Cursed put forth an amazing squadron of sea creatures and deadly gunships.

Cursed megalaunch in Economy Edition

Cursed megalaunch in Economy Edition

Here’s nearly the whole ocean – it was tough to even get it in one shot!

Economy Edition after 33 turns - game size peaked at 2,846 total points in play!!

Economy Edition after 33 turns – game size peaked at 2,846 total points in play!!

A cool shot looking east, showing the truly massive nature of the game.

Collectible Board Games

One of the best pictures from Economy Edition, showing the recent Pirate megalaunch of over 500 gold!


Still not convinced that Pirates CSG is one of the collectible board games worth trying?  Check it out yourself!  🙂

Thanks for reading!  I plan to be back tomorrow with vlogs as usual.  Always feel free to suggest topics! (a7xfanben@gmail.com)

It’s a Pirates’ Life for Me.


A Call for Newbies to Participate | Pirates with Ben Blog #37

Hopefully this won’t sound like too harsh of a tone, but sometimes the lack of activity on things that have great potential in the Pirates community is a bit disheartening to me.

When I joined the various sites back in 2011, I didn’t suddenly start posting 1,000+ times a year like I do at Miniature Trading nowadays.  However, I made a conscious effort to consistently involve myself in the various goings-on.  The Fleet Challenges are a great way to do this, as are the Miniature Review Contests that I started a few years ago.

I had a bit of a rough start, at first not understanding that fleets for challenges were to be posted in the Fleets section at Miniature Trading (MT).  Safe to say I’ve come a long way since then!  XD  I also didn’t have great fleet challenge entries my first couple tries, but that’s alright.  The main thing was to learn and improve over time.  If I hadn’t jumped right in (honestly I don’t see much point in lurking), who knows how different things would be today… I certainly wouldn’t have submitted well over 100 fleets!

After editing lord_denton’s Fleet Challenge Archives, it appears that we are at over 60 total fleet challenges hosted at MT since 2008!  This equates to about 6 per year, which makes sense given the average fleet challenge duration is perhaps around 2 months.  I am now at the top of the leaderboard for total challenges won, but that would not be the case if I didn’t involve myself as a newbie.  Not that winning Pirates CSG fleet challenges means anything in life.  There are always “better things to do”.

But still, if you like, love, or care about this game, I HIGHLY recommend getting more and more involved as your passion level grows.  The amount of things you could do are nearly endless.  Participating in a fleet challenge and MRC at the same time is enough of a time commitment for most people, which is fine.  From there you’ve got threads, thread ideas, playing physical games (start solo and teach people you know!), playing on the VASSAL module, guesting on the podcast, making videos, making your own islands and terrain, and whatever else you can think of.  It can be overwhelming, but start small (as I did) and go from there.  You can always pivot and find what things you like best.  For example, godmason loves the Rankings threads and Podcast series.  Xerecs loves to play, and play big.  Being the primary “ambassador” for the game, I simply care enough to do as much as I can.

Beginner to-do list:

  1. Don’t bother lurking!  Jump right in and comment on things!
  2. Join a Fleet Challenge or Miniature Review Contest to gain experience, exposure, and knowledge.


Deal of the Day: El San Jose for $.50 at RainTyger Games

You can easily do an advanced search for specific criteria.  It’s a good way to get specific stuff you need for a reasonable price (mostly on commons and uncommons, the other stuff can get pricey)

**Disclaimer: I will be using affiliate links with things like this, so if someone buys from it, I could make a few cents.  XD


Pirates CSG Card of the Day

Set number: 10 – Caribbean

Collector’s Number: 031 – Edinburgh Trader

Faction Affiliation: England
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 11
Cargo Space: 5
Base Move: S+S
Cannons: 4L,3L,4L
Number of Masts: 3

Once per turn, if this ship carries treasure and is within S of an enemy ship, you can randomly trade one treasure with that ship.

Flavor: When an adrift Will Turner boarded the Edinburgh Trader, he had no idea he would lead the poor ship to her doom.

Here’s a solid English cargo ship that is surprisingly capable in a hybrid role.  Normally you’ll use her as a gold ship to ferry treasure, but with just-serviceable guns, she can be a poor hybrid if you need her to be.  However, HMS Dover is one of many English ships that would perform better in a hybrid role.  Her ability is largely worthless, but that’s not the main attraction here.

Standard 40 point games: Helmsman, plus possibly explorer or oarsman if you can afford them. (13/14 total points)

Medium size games (50-100 points): Captain + helmsman, or better yet one of the English combo crew with those abilities (Thomas Gunn and Hermione Gold).  If you combine both abilities into one cargo space you’re also risking losing both in a single lost boarding party, so in that case I’d recommend an oarsman for protection and insurance.  (16/17 total points)

Large games (over 100 points): Lots of options here.  Sticking with a hybrid or gold setup, you could add First Mate Ismail to a setup with Gunn/Gold, just keep in mind that an oarsman would take up cargo space (and therefore not be a good option) since the “takes up no cargo space” cannot stack with Ismail.  You could even use this version of HGold to make the Trader a gunship, possibly adding equipment with the nice L-range guns. (16+ points)

Game Piece Rating: 7.5/10.  The Trader is a solid ship, and has solid attributes in the speed, cargo, and defensive armament categories.  Still, there are better English gold runners and hybrids out there, so the Trader will not often be the first overall choice in the roles she can play decently.

The ship is on eBay.  Below you can see her fighting the severely weakened Kraken during the Pirates of the Caribbean tribute/celebration game.  The game featured only stuff seen in the movies, and you can see the Dauntless and Flying Dutchman duking it out on the left beyond one of my custom terrain pieces.  The Endeavour lumbers forth on the right.

Rare sea-level view of Pirates CSG action!


Picture of the Day

Two years ago today, when I used my Large Fry – Spanish Swarm fleet. (which won the Large Fry Fleet Challenge!)

VASSAL game on 6/16/2016.


It’s a Pirates’ Life for Me.