Maelstrom Game Mat and House Rules

Maelstrom Game Mat and House Rules

Thanks to my awesome friend Gigi, a unique Christmas gift arrived recently: a Maelstrom game mat!  😀   He was inspired to make it after seeing the concept as a Game Idea, and now fittingly enough I will be able to recreate the incredible scene from At World’s End!  I’ve come up with both regular and deathmatch house rules which you can see below.  The Maelstrom game mat is about 3 feet square, and has 10 concentric circles within it, not counting the foreboding center area.

Maelstrom Game Mat for Wizkids Pirates CSG

General House Rules:
-Ships can only travel around the maelstrom in an “anticlockwise” direction, just like in At World’s End.
-A move segment is required in order to move from one concentric ring to an adjacent one. This uses that move segment for the move action. Instead of moving the ship forward around the ring it’s currently in, move it laterally to the desired adjacent ring. (ex: a ship with L+S base move can use either segment to move to an adjacent ring, then use the other segment afterwards to move forward in that new ring. Or, it can jump two rings, or move L+S in the ring it’s already inside of.)

Maelstrom of Gold Scenario

These house rules are for a regular game with gold, though additional changes may be necessary.
-Set up for a regular game of Pirates, but with a minimum distance between islands of only 1L or 2L.
-Ships in the innermost ring can shoot at other ships in that ring regardless of cannon range (“unlimited” range to reach ships on the other side), as long as a clear line of fire can be drawn to the other ship.
-If a ship enters the center of the maelstrom, immediately remove the ship and all her cargo from the game.

Deathmatch Scenario

These house rules are for a deathmatch, ideal for recreating the epic movie scene.
-No islands. Each fleet starts outside the maelstrom on one of the four corners (opposite sides in a 1v1 deathmatch), and must enter the maelstrom from that corner during the first round (though not necessarily in the same spot for all ships).
-Ships cannot move rings towards the outside of the maelstrom. Concentric ring movement is limited to going towards the center of the maelstrom, as all ships get sucked into the middle.
-At the end of each player’s turn, each of their ships move laterally one ring closer to the center. (this cannot result in ramming/boarding/etc because it is not a move action)
-Ships within the innermost 3 rings of the maelstrom can shoot at other ships in those rings regardless of cannon range (“unlimited” range to reach ships on the other side), as long as a clear line of fire can be drawn to the other ship.
-If a ship enters the center of the maelstrom, she may be given one final action (unless she has already been given two actions that turn) before being removed from the game.
-Eternal only works once, regardless of whether or not the ship was sunk normally or by entering the center of the maelstrom.  If Eternal is triggered, the ship returns to the corner of the map she started in, outside the maelstrom.  She can repair normally there, and the player can move the ship into the maelstrom before repairing all masts.  If all masts are repaired, the ship’s next action must be to move the ship into the maelstrom.

Other Ideas!
These are meant to be interesting alternatives worth trying out, but not part of the core scenario ideas.
-Changing the movement rules: Instead of using an entire move segment to move laterally from one ring to another, ships can move “normally” under the same idea – you still need a move segment to cross a ring line, but you can move forward/diagonally as normal for enhanced speed.
-You may voluntarily eliminate any type of cargo during a ship’s action to move laterally towards the outside of the whirlpool (as if the ship is getting lighter and can potentially outpace the maelstrom).
-Risky middle: ships in the innermost 3 rings get +S to their base move, but must roll a d6 at the end of each of their actions.  On a 1-2, they lose a mast.
-All range extending abilities are doubled (or tripled). Ex: a flotilla with S range cannons and Extended Range can now shoot at a range of 4S (or 6S if tripling is preferred).
-Maximum shooting: S range cannons shot from within the innermost 5 rings can shoot at targets within those rings. L range cannons can hit anything in the maelstrom rings that a clear line of fire can be drawn to.  Or, all S range cannons have a range of 6S and all L range cannons have a range of 6L.
-Combine with the Other Worlds scenario with the Maelstrom being the “home island ocean” with HI’s on the outskirts of the maelstrom. Only once a ship reaches the center of the maelstrom can she use it as a whirlpool to teleport to the other oceans where the gold lies. (this may require banning HI raiders or other house rules to discourage blockading)

I realize there are a lot of game mechanics that might get fuzzy or confusing given these house rules, but they can be worked out as necessary. This post is subject to editing upon playtesting. 🙂

Maelstrom game mat - Black Pearl and Flying Dutchman

We have seen this before….

Maelstrom game mat - Black Pearl vs. Flying Dutchman

Black Pearl vs. Flying Dutchman!

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

Another game was played, this time at 5 fleets, 60 points.
The fleets went in the following order. In parentheses are the usernames of each individual who created the custom game piece.

Froide Vengeance (selxaxri) + Radi Jaeger (el_cazador), Mademoiselle Josephine Godiva, helmsman
Le Gaule (cazador) + Michel Dubois (cazador), chieftain
Native Canoes (cazador) + one canoe with Exploding Shot

Froide Vengeance (proxied at 15 points for this game)
Nat. French
Masts 3
Cannons 3L-2S-4S
Cargo 3
Movement L
This ship may tow Icebergs.
Still at war with the English, one general who skirted the floes of the northern waters concocted a hare-brained scheme- blockading the british fleet using the floes themselves.

Radi Jaeger
Type: Crew
Nation: Empire/France
Points: 6
Link: Lupus, Lupus Regnum
Captain, Born Leader.

Flavor: Radi Jaeger fights for the Russian Empire under the promise that they will grant Fhirald, his homeland, independence in reward for his service. He encourages his crew of this fact, although he has reservations.

Le Gaule
Type: 5-mast
Nation: France
Points: 17
Masts: 5
Cargo: 4
Move: S+S
Cannons: 3L,2S,2S,2S,3L
Link: None
When this ship sinks another ship, give this ship a free move action.

Flavor: After decisive action against the Cursed near the coast of French Indochina, this legendary vessel has come to the Atlantic to fight the English.

Michel Dubois
Type: Crew
Nation: France
Points: 4
Link: None
Captain, Explorer

Flavor: Dubois fights for gold and will turn down opportunities to sink the English in favor of obtaining more money.

Canots Indigènes
Nation: France
Points: X (13)
Masts: X
Cargo: 1 (x5)
Move: S+S
Cannon: 3L (x5)
Link: None
Native Canoes, Captain

Flavor: The natives of Indonesia have been trained in the art of war by French capitaines, and they pursue the monsters of the deep.

Chef de Tribu
Nation: France
Points: 13
Link: None
Tribal Chieftain
Before you give any of this chieftain’s canoes an action, roll a d6. On a 5-6 they may shoot at submerged ships.

Flavor: This chieftain’s men have had conact with the Monster Hunter’s guild.

HMS Fatalis (cazador) + Hermione Gold, helmsman
HMS Puma (cazador) + Thomas Gunn, Trevor van Tyne
HMS Growler (cazador) + explorer

HMS Fatalis
Type: 3-mast hoist
Nation: England
Points: 16
Masts: 3
Cargo: 5
Move: L
Cannons: 4L,4L,4S
Link: None
This ship eliminates two masts with one hit.

Flavor: The HMS Fatalis was comissioned to pillage and plunder and and rifle and loot; occasionally she even burns the town down. She’s really a fright.

HMS Puma
Type: 4-mast
Nation: England
Points: 13
Masts: 4
Cargo: 4
Move: L
Cannons: 3L,3L,3L,3L
Link: None
This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against crew, forts, and ships within S of her.

Flavor: The HMS Puma’s captain has little patience and will often sail straight into combat, even though the Puma carries long-range cannons.

HMS Growler
Type: 3-mast square rigged
Nation: England
Points: 10
Masts: 3
Cargo: 4
Move: L
Cannons: 3S,3S,3S
Link: None
Schooner. This ship gets +L to her base move if she starts her move action within S of an island.

Flavor: The Growler, called by some the Prowler, slinks along coasts and archipelagos, looking to use her relatively shallow draft to seize a first strike.

Rusty Hook (captain_vendari) + Tetra (cazador), Purlo (cazador)
Torpedo (xerecs)
Last Shot (a7xfanben) + captain

Rusty Hook 
Nation: Pirate
Points: 15
Masts: 4
Cargo: 4
Base Move: L
Cannons: 3L, 2S, 2S, 2S
Ability: You opponent cannot initiate a boarding party against this ship.
Flavor Text: ???
Link: Donovan Richtarian

Type: Crew
Nation: Pirate
Points: 6
Link: Arbiter
Hostile: Cursed, Captain, Explorer. Hylian crew may use their abilities aboard this ship.

Flavor: Tetra had been captaining for years before Hyrule emerged as a sea power. While not all of her work has been ethical, she is effective at what she does and is always willing to lend Hyrule her aid against the Cursed.

Type: Crew
Nation: Hyrule
Points: 5
Link: None
Hostile: Cursed, Helmsman. Once per turn, this ship may randomly take one treasure from any ship she touches.

Flavor: Purlo was a con artist in Castleton until he was caught by the Ranging and Enforcement corps. Noting his skill, they referred him to the navy, where he began a new life leading boarding parties and raids.

18 pts
Masts: 2
Cargo: 1
Movement: L+L
Cannon: 4S-4S
Ability: Portburner- This ship may dock at an enemy Home Island, and roll a d6. On a 4-6 she explodes and is immediately eliminated from the game. Roll another d6 the result is the number of treasure coins removed from the Home Island. On a 1-3 she may take one treasure and leave on her next turn if able.

Last Shot
Faction Affiliation: Pirate
Rarity: C
Type: Ship
Point Value: 13
Cargo Space: 3
Base Move: S+L
Cannons: 2S-3L-3S
Number of Masts: 3

You may double the range of the last cannon this ship shoots each turn.

Cursed: (two of the three ships are Mercenary, but I didn’t want to refer to different Merc fleets)
Tenfold (cazador) + Onox (cazador), Koloktos (cazador), Gentleman Jocard, helmsman
Lamprey (cazador) + explorer
Hare’s Luck + helmsman

Type: 3-mast hoist
Nation: Mercenary
Points: 22
Masts: 3
Cargo: 5
Move: S+S
Cannons: 4L,3S,3S
Link: Zedekiah
Mercenary, Hostile: Caesar, Hoist, Turbine. Two hits from the same shoot action are required to eliminate one of this ship’s masts. This ship ignores the first hit she takes each turn if she has all of her masts.

Flavor: Zedekiah’s ironclad ship has been in the employ of several nations, most recently the French. His hope is to repurchase the ancient land of the Jews with the lucrative profits he makes from shipping. As he is fond of saying, if you hire him, your investment will repay tenfold.

Type: Crew
Nation: Mercenary
Points: 5
Link: Ganondorf’s Revenge
Ganonite, Ex-Patriot, Black Mark, Captain.
Pirate crew may use their abilities aboard this ship.

Flavor: Onox is secretly recruiting men for Ganondorf’s future Second Gerudo Empire. It is said that there is no ruthless, traitorous fiend he won’t turn down.

Nation: Cursed
Points: 8
Link: None
This ship gets +1 to her boarding rolls. This ship may dock at an enemy home island and take as much treasure as she can carry. She must leave (if able) on her next turn.

Flavor: The dark magic that powers this automaton has given it a keen sense of when to raid enemy ports.

Type: 2-mast longship
Nation: Cursed
Points: 8
Masts: 2
Cargo: 3
Move: S+L
Cannons: 5S,5S
Link: None

Flavor: This abomination from the Frozen North seems to have suffered permanent damage to her firing accuracy.

Gladius Dei (cazador) + Caesar (cazador), helmsman
Bashaw Folly + Osvaldo de Deus Celemente + helmsman, oarsman
Devil Ray + explorer, oarsman

Gladius Dei
Nation: Mercenary
Type: Submarine
Points: 15
Masts: 3
Cannons: 4S,4S,5S
Cargo: 4
Move: L
Link: Caesar
Mercenary, Submarine
This ship gets +S to her base move and +1 cargo spaces if she doesn’t carry crew.

Flavor: The “Sword of God” is rumored to have been built by the Vatican in an attempt to safely move Catholic wealth and artifacts around the globe.

Nation: Mercenary
Type: Crew
Points: 9
Link: Gladius Dei
Limit, Ex-Patriot, Navigator
As a free action, friendly Mercenary-faction ships may unload treasure at your home island if they are within S of it. Gold unloaded in this way loses one point of value, to a minimum of zero.

Flavor: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Mark 12:17 – Caesar draws Ex-Patriots to himself like few others, often leading cooperative efforts to gather the wealth needed by his fellow exiles. Caesar takes twenty percent of the haul as his dues; what few know is that he gives half of that to parishes of the Roman Catholic Church.


The setup featured rossinaz’s big island with 5 beaches as the home island for every fleet! Round earth rules were used. It was going to be an icy affair, and I even used all three of my custom foam icebergs, including that giant one you see towards the left. There were 5 wild islands, with two of them being mysterious. Each island had 8 coins on it, with some UT’s present. Also, the two widest arches were showcased, and each arch had 4 coins where a ship could dock. There was also some fog, 4 whirlpools, and some rocks to add to the mayhem. As I normally play, icebergs began moving on turn 2, although unlike last game, the normal iceberg rules were used – rolls were made at the beginning of each player’s turn rather than the beginning of each round of turns. The custom icebergs acted as “1” icebergs, continuing the game’s theme of trying to roll high for good things to happen. In addition, icebergs could combine together to form a larger iceberg, in which case the whole thing could move if either of the numbers were rolled. Lastly, icebergs could traverse whirlpools, with a third die roll being used to determine the exit location: the northeast whirlpool (upper right in the first picture) was #1, southeast #2, and so on.

As usual, each fleet picked its HI in the opposite order of the play order. The Mercs wanted to utilize the Gladius Dei’s link to Caesar, which could give the Mercs a boost at either of the nearby MI’s. The Cursed took the opposite side, also looking to take advantage of the fact that each arch was partially above wild islands, meaning that 12 total coins were in a very close area. The other fleets picked their beaches, and the game was ready to begin! (Interestingly enough, the French made a bold move by placing their native canoes on the opposite side of their HI (HI still means the home island or “home beach” in this case), partly because of round earth and partly because of their Captain keyword which gave the French more confidence they could get home if they ran into trouble.)

The eastern area. You can see the exploding shot underneath the middle French canoe:

The middle area:

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The western area:

The French took the first action of the game, and the Froide Vengeance immediately made history and towed an iceberg! Other factions were eager to avoid them, but there were so many that it was only a matter of time before the ice started taking a toll on the ships.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Mercs dove underwater, and on the second turn the Froide ditched one iceberg to tow another, much larger iceberg!

Froide Vengeance towing iceberg

The French let their canoes explore, and in addition to some gold they picked up, they found Turtles!

French canoes find Turtles UT

England was the first nation to feel the brunt of the ice, with the Fatalis losing a mast. HMS Puma wanted no part of the dangerous Froide, especially with her SAT capabilities.

The Cursed got off to a good start. Here the Lamprey sits in the fog to avoid any ice while waiting to pop out and explore on the next turn. Just around the corner, the Tenfold hoists gold to herself and the Hare’s Luck, finding Power Cannons and an abandoned oarsman.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Mercenaries took a turn to dock. The Gladius Dei used a mysterious island effect to move the Tenfold into an iceberg, showing hostility between the two Merc fleets. The Devil Ray explored and found an abandoned musketeer, who the Bashaw Folly would soon take for her helmsman.

Mercenaries at sea
More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015
The English continued to suffer bad luck, with the Puma getting hit. To complicate matters, she was stuck between a rocky outcropping and the iceberg that hit her. However, she would soon encounter something more dangerous…

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Pirate ships Last Shot and Rusty Hook began chasing the French, who started to flee the area. However, the turtles could only move S and were a long ways from home. The large wave to the right marks the eastern boundary of the sea, and once across it, ships would be in the west.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The decision making soon became complicated, which is part of what makes this game so interesting. The French could turn their canoes around and take on the Pirates to protect the turtles, but they also knew that the gold they held on the canoes was worth more than the turtles. In addition, round earthing to the west meant that they would be near their main gunships, the Gaule and Froide Vengeance. Lastly, the submarines Gladius Dei and Devil Ray were in the west, and the French chieftain allows the canoes to shoot at submerged ships on a 5 or 6.

The Gladius Dei has surfaced and is about to explore. However, the slow (S+S) Gaule lurks about, looking to possibly explore as well, attack the Gladius Dei, or even head south towards the English. Michel Dubois, in command of the French fleet and the Gladius Dei’s captain, decides to take up a flexible position where the Gaule can intercept any homecoming canoes or turtles and possibly take on any Pirate ships that emerge from the east.

The French didn’t have to ponder their next decision! With an SAT from Jaeger, the Froide Vengeance towed the giant iceberg into the stern of the Growler, taking out two masts on the way by. The iceberg finished the dismasting. The Vengeance used her second move action to rake the Puma’s stern, and miraculously shot 3/3 to crush most of the English fleet in a single turn!

Devastated English fleet

A look at the devastation:

dismasted ships

A turtle narrowly avoids a nearby iceberg. (which can’t eliminate the turtles anyway, it’s just for flavor!)

Turtles skirt past iceberg

The English got immediate revenge, but the damage had been done. You can see that three icebergs are still in the immediate vicinity, and this catastrophic turn of events would hold up the English for a long while.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

As turtles and canoes alike flee, the Last Shot is faster than all of them! Her “last shot” (and only in this case!) narrowly misses a canoe. But where has the Rusty Hook disappeared to?

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

She has whirlpooled her way into the west already, losing a mast in the process. The Rusty Hook hopes to cut off the French gold “fleet” (of canoes and turtles, no less, but quite sizable in number right now), but it won’t be easy with Le Gaule around.

Rusty Hook

The Cursed are unconcerned with the conflict in other parts of the sea. The Lamprey explores while the Tenfold and Hare’s Luck head home.

Another angle, where you can see the Hare’s Luck and Tenfold’s hoist through the hole in the arch. (Legend says Vieil Homme was so powerful he just flew right through the rock!)

hole in massive black archway

The Mercenaries suffered a setback, finding Wolves with the Gladius Dei. Conveniently enough, the Bashaw Folly grabbed the Devil Ray’s abandoned musketeer. However, the French didn’t want anything to interrupt their already-thriving gold game.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The French sent two canoes over Ocean’s Edge along with 6 turtles, but the remaining three canoes turned to attack! The lack of the Rusty Hook’s commanding presence gave the French an opportunity to surprise the weaker Last Shot. They hit 2/3, including landing an exploding shot, which knocked out the Last Shot’s captain and set the stern gallery aflame.

Canoes attack!

The French weren’t about to stop there, as the Gaule took advantage of the fact that the Gladius Dei needed to stay surfaced for two turns because she didn’t have an explorer, blasting the sub to pieces.

Gaule blasts surfaced submarine

The Last Shot tried to sail, but the fire overtook her mainmast and she was a burning hulk. To add insult to injury, a uniquely shaped iceberg surrounded her bow as her remaining crew abandoned ship.

flaming hulk

The overall scene just a handful of turns into the game. The only new developments in the picture are the Torpedo at the top right, bringing back a coin for the Pirates, and the English situation. Despite their hatred of the French, the English are wise enough to know that they could use the Froide Vengeance, so they’ve captured her and Godiva. The Rusty Hook hides in the fog waiting to pounce.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

In order the help the vital Gladius Dei (Caesar’s ability is the only way the fleet can get gold home), the Bashaw Folly has taken on the much larger Gaule! The Folly is counting on her new musketeer and boarding bonus ability to help out in the fight.

Bashaw Folly vs. Gaule

The Bashaw Folly only knocked down 2 masts, but the Devil Ray has deposited a coin for the Mercs. The Cursed ships are approaching home, and the Lamprey has moved back into her familiar fog bank. Just to her left, a regular and a custom iceberg have joined forces to form a cluster iceberg.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

Trouble in the west! The fighting continued, with the Gaule managing only one hit on the Bashaw Folly. The Gaule didn’t move away to ram and board the Folly, since the Gaule’s current position where she had broadsided the Gladius Dei meant she blocked the Bashaw Folly’s path to the GD. The Gaule wanted to keep the Bashaw Folly pinned so she couldn’t assist the Dei or kill the Wolves before the French had some cargo spaces open to run gold. At this point, the French had the luxury of not even caring about the loss of the Froide Vengeance, since they had relative control over the west with plenty of gold slowly making its way home. Two canoes were in range of the now-submerged Gladius Dei, but the chieftain’s roll for the turn didn’t result in a 5 or 6.

Save the wee turtles!

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Fatalis has returned her prize (the Froide Vengeance) home, receiving 5 gold as a ransom payment. This gold was un-stealable and indestructible, which was important with the presence of Koloktos and the Torpedo, the latter of which has lost a mast to an iceberg.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The French chieftain failed to deliver once again! The Rusty Hook gets a cannon in range of a canoe, but misses.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

After losing another mast to an iceberg, the Tenfold uses her hoist to empty all three ships in her fleet in one turn! The Cursed now led the gold race, but the Tenfold couldn’t dock at her HI and didn’t have a shipwright available, so her defenses were proving to be useless in a game with so much ice. However, her various named crew and Turbine keyword assured that she would stay a force in the game until a ship managed to sink her.

Tenfold uses hoist arm to deposit gold for Cursed

Battle under the arch! The Bashaw Folly scores another hit on the Gaule.

The west is an absolute war zone! After missing one canoe, the Rusty Hook is shot at by four, and three hits make her a derelict! At this point, the Torpedo is the Pirates’ only hope, which isn’t saying much. The sea is abnormally crowded for a relatively small game, with 10 turtles, 5 canoes, multiple ships and mast wreckage all over the area.

naval warfare Pirates CSG

The Last Shot has been scuttled, and now the Rusty Hook is doomed as well. This makes the Pirates hate the French, and the Torpedo plans to attack the French HI, once they actually get some gold there at least!

The Devil Ray has sped off to the northernmost island, while the Cursed head back out. The Fatalis and Froide have finished repairing, the latter with the help of an SAT from Radi Jaeger.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

French victory! The Rusty Hook has been sent to the depths, while the Gaule has captured the Bashaw Folly and her musketeer, the only way in the game to eliminate the nearby Wolves and access the gold. Turtles swim by the derelict Gladius Dei, who again avoids elimination.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

Finally repaired from the huge southern mess, the English head out to start round 2 of the recovery process: getting their derelicts working again.

bad English fleet situation

Now the French faced an annoying conundrum: the Gaule had a full crew complement in terms of points, so she couldn’t load the Folly’s abandoned musketeer without losing Dubois, which gives her the captain and explorer abilities. In addition, with just two masts left, the Gaule could be vulnerable to any attack by another fleet on the way back. All the canoes had full holds, and the Froide was long gone, now in English hands. The Gaule left the Folly where she lay to return home for repairs. The Torpedo made a feint towards the French HI, but there was nothing there for her to steal or eliminate. At the upper right, the Devil Ray has explored the island and found, what else but an abandoned shipwright! Now, if only the Devil Ray could successfully get this shipwright to the Gladius Dei, the Mercs could be back in business! She also found Runes of Loki, which could be used at an opportune time to change the French chieftain’s die roll to a 1 so the French canoes wouldn’t be able to hit the Gladius Dei, saving the sub from being sunk!

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

With an SAT from Jaeger, both derelicts (the Growler and Puma) are taken in tow.

towing operation

At the left, the English continue cleaning up their fleet. The French canoes are gradually finishing their long and harrowing journey from the eastern wild island back to home, accompanied by the damaged Gaule. The Torpedo has retreated into a fog bank, and the Pirates are not going to win the game with a fragile ship with one cargo space. However, they still want some measure of revenge on the French. At the top of the frame you can just make out the Tenfold picking up the scraps of what the Devil Ray didn’t want, while the Devil Ray speeds west underwater to help the Gladius Dei (the Devil Ray left her explorer on the island to make room for the shipwright). At the right, the Cursed continue to have bad ice luck (see what I did there?), with the Lamprey being dismasted on her way to the southeastern island. The Hare’s Luck has fared better and reaches the easternmost island where the canoes started the game.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The French are almost back. The French chieftain misses his roll AGAIN, and the French still aren’t able to sink the Gladius Dei.

How’s that for a change of pace! The English, once with just two masts standing in their entire fleet, have captured the powerful French icebreaker and towed back their derelicts to fight another day. Their tiny home beach is barely big enough to fit the now-largest fleet in the game.

Growing English fleet

This shows all three Cursed ships. The Lamprey has explored, while the Tenfold and Hare’s Luck head back. The Tenfold suffers an unlucky iceberg hit, leaving her with no masts, which isn’t a huge problem with her Turbine keyword. However, the only way she can repair is the Devil Ray’s abandoned shipwright, currently in the west on a submerged submarine.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

Ahhh! The Devil Ray surfaces and begins attacking the turtles!

sub attacks sea turtles

The French canoes are FINALLY home!

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

As the Fatalis goes out to get gold, the Froide Vengeance tows an iceberg to get it out of the way. The Puma and Growler continue repairing.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015
More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Tenfold deposits her gold and the gold from the Hare’s Luck on her HI, but the Cursed have only two masts standing in their fleet. The Tenfold gives Power Cannons to the Hare’s Luck since the Tenfold can’t shoot. To the right, a cluster iceberg has smashed into the Puma, taking a mast off as soon as it was repaired! This greatly annoys the English, and the captured Froide Vengeance will have her work cut out for her making her new owners happy.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Devil Ray has taken out another turtle, and the French canoes go out to defend the turtles they discovered way back on turn 2. Even the canoe stationed to sink the Gladius Dei rounds an iceberg, which is exactly what the Devil Ray wanted…

Also, to the right, notice the open ocean! The Froide got a timely SAT from Jaeger, and moved to eliminate both of the icebergs that formed the cluster! The Puma is safe for now (hint hint), but another cluster has formed with the giant iceberg just to the west.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

In a flash, the Devil Ray dives and speeds S+L+S to meet up with the Gladius Dei, still derelict and still submerged. She’s been waiting ages for this, and the Mercenaries are close to completing their comeback. The turtles relax, and they’re almost home!

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The French chieftain FINALLY rolls a 5/6 to allow the French canoes to shoot at submerged ships, but the Mercs reveal their secret weapon: Runes of Loki! The die result is changed to a 1, and the French chieftain has failed yet again. This saves the Mercs for another turn, but they’re running out of options and luck.

Runes of Loki UT used

After a huge delay, the English have finally explored an island!

hoist explores wild island in Wizkids Pirates game

The Fatalis found Buried Treasure, and it was worth 6 gold! She also found Whirlpool, which was inconsequential. The Growler sails out to pick up what the Fatalis didn’t, and the Froide has begun towing the huge cluster of ice.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The moment has arrived! The Devil Ray and Gladius Dei both surface, and the Devil Ray exchanges her helmsman and abandoned shipwright for Caesar! (Caesar went to the Devil Ray because with the canoes nearby, he had a slightly better chance of surviving on the Devil Ray than the Gladius Dei.)

The Gladius Dei has repaired:

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

… (disappointed voice) and just like that, the Mercs are blown to pieces. The canoes shot a perfect 3/3, including an exploding shot hit on the Gladius Dei. The Mercs have no shot at winning the game, though it was a long shot anyway ever since the Wolves were discovered and the Bashaw Folly captured.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

A pair of French canoes engage their former ally, knocking a mast off the Froide Vengeance, who returns fire to take out a canoe, the first one eliminated. The Puma is finally back to full health.

During all this chaos, the Cursed were making their way around the north side of the middle island with the Tenfold and Hare’s Luck. Between the Turbine keyword, Koloktos’ HI raiding ability, and the offensive capability of the Hare’s Luck (now with an abandoned captain and oarsman in addition to Power Cannons), the Cursed decided to have a go at the French home island, which had the most coins other than the Cursed themselves.

The Cursed have eliminated two more turtles, and the fully-repaired Gaule could only manage to get one gun in range of the Hare’s Luck. In the meantime the French canoes sunk both subs to eliminate the Mercs from the game and took another mast off the Froide.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Puma pursues the slowed Lamprey, looking to use Trevor van Tyne’s hatred of the Cursed and S-boarding to steal gold.

The Cursed have done it! The Hare’s Luck eliminates a turtle and shoots a mast off the Gaule, while Koloktos moves the Tenfold in to steal three coins from the French beach!

Tenfold home island raid!

This picture was taken at a difficult angle, but you can just see a coin on the Cursed beach through the opening. Unfortunately for the Tenfold, she would have to go all the way back around.

The Froide sunk a second canoe and towed the huge iceberg into French waters, blocking the Tenfold from taking the easy path home. The Gaule reversed direction and dismasted the Hare’s Luck, but couldn’t reach the Tenfold, who she wanted to capture and not sink.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

With some slick maneuvering and S+S+S speed, the Tenfold makes a break to the north. The slow Gaule can’t quite reach her bow, while a canoe sunk the Hare’s Luck.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

Another French canoe dismasts the Froide, and the end of the game is near. The Fatalis is back with gold, and the Growler is on her way with more. The English have displayed brilliant resilience and good strategy, using their captured gunship to clear their waterways of ice and then blocking the Cursed and French with ship and ice to prevent any spillover of that conflict into their home area. To the right, the Puma has stolen a coin from the Lamprey, but also loses a mast to an iceberg.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Tenfold is obviously making a break for the northwestern whirlpool, from which she can emerge from the southeastern whirlpool and dock home her stolen loot with her hoist within a few turns. The canoes and Gaule are moving a full S slower and won’t be able to capture the Tenfold. Michel Dubois has no choice but to give the order: “Sink the Tenfold”. He doesn’t want to watch his hard-earned gold go to the bottom, but he really doesn’t want it in the hands of the Cursed.

A canoe moves within range, shoots, and misses. Another canoe does the same, and misses. The Gaule moves forward and can only get her 3L jib in range. SHE MISSES! Dubois screams in agony and disgust as the Tenfold gleefully churns away. (At the right, the Torpedo is still lurking in the fog; the Pirates were really patient in their desire for revenge today!)

As the Tenfold emerges in the south, there’s nothing any fleet can do to stop her, with the Fatalis unable to get there in time and the Growler only able to move L. At the right, the damaged Puma is a familiar sight… wait, didn’t she repair?! Yes, and she got hit three times in the course of a turn or two by hostile icebergs. The Puma had the worst “ice luck” of this game – truly abysmal and, almost unbelievable.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

A canoe chases the Tenfold through the whirlpool, but it’s too late. The Tenfold returns home all three coins she stole, a remarkable display of… luck? Either way, the successful raid was an impressive feat. The Growler has returned home with gold, and the Puma is approaching.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

The Fatalis eliminates a canoe but is hit with exploding shot in return. The Gaule gets hit by the Fatalis after towing the Froide to recapture her after all this time. That French canoe that came through the whirlpool actually sunk the Tenfold to eliminate the Cursed from the active game, but it was too late for revenge. The Pirates disagree with that attitude, with the Torpedo finally emerging from the fog to approach the French HI, sensing the end of the game and an opportunity to strike while the French are as weak as they’ve been. The Puma is just happy to make it home!

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

What a mess! The war continues:

ship on fire at sea

On the French turn, the Gaule couldn’t quite block the path of the Torpedo. The English went next, scuttling the Fatalis and repairing the Puma. Then the Torpedo made her move: sailing in at L+L, the Torpedo docked at the French HI… and rolled a 3. This meant that she could only steal treasure rather than eliminate it.

More custom stuff! 5 fleets, 60 points on November 14th, 2015

After an unsuccessful shoot and ram by the Gaule, the Torpedo had another chance! This time she exploded! The final die roll of the game was just a 1, meaning that one random coin would be eliminated from the French HI, and the randomly chosen coin was also a 1! Alas, the Pirates wanted revenge, but the Torpedo went off like a dud.

After 300 total points and many turns of carnage, this was all that remained:

all that remains

With 3 of the 5 fleets eliminated, the game ended! (I wanted to go until all the gold was gone or there was only 1 fleet, but the game had already taken too long at this point.)

The final count:

1. Cursed: 35 gold
2. English: 27
3. French: 6
4. Pirates: 3
5. Mercenaries: 2

What a game! The final scores may look somewhat lame, but this was a memorable and fun contest. The French won the previous game, so there was some desire to hinder them, especially after their luck continued: Turtles, a successful gold run with their canoes, the Mercs being stopped by Wolves and then finished by the French, and the devastating attack on the English by the Froide Vengeance. The French had it all early on, but the long game meant that everything could change, and it did. The Cursed played an excellent game, staying out of trouble for a while and only doing their usual crazy and gimmicky antics (HI raiding with a hoist in this case) after they got a bunch of gold. If anyone is wondering, the Tenfold’s heist (see what I did there?) gave the Cursed 11 gold, so it did matter. They were eventually eliminated, but the Cursed managed to explore three different wild islands and one of the two arches, bringing back a variety of gold. The English also played an excellent game, and like I said made a good strategy play with the captured icebreaker. It was also good to repair their derelicts, and with a little more time they could have eclipsed the Cursed’s gold total. The Pirates didn’t have the best gold game from their fleet build, but they should have done a bit better. The Last Shot and Rusty Hook were both eliminated before they could really do anything, courtesy of the French native canoes. The Torpedo didn’t have enough cargo to run much gold, and sat in the fog for a while before an ineffective strike to end the game. The Mercenaries would have done fine, but they had to contend with Wolves, the dangerous French fleet, and a dependence on Caesar’s ability to have any gold game. The Bashaw Folly is one of my favorite Merc ships, but a 2 master is just too weak to stand up to much competition. The Devil Ray made a heroic effort to eliminate some turtles and revive the Gladius Dei, but it was too much of a long shot.

Notes on custom pieces: (perhaps unnecessary due to the report, but possibly of interest to their creators)
captain_vendari (Rusty Hook): The Rusty Hook really wasn’t able to shine; I’d like to see her again, maybe even with the same crew combo from el_cazador.

selvaxri (Froide Vengeance): The Froide was a fantastic ship, but I put so many icebergs out there because I wanted to see what she could do; most games wouldn’t have this many icebergs. Still, she proved a potent force, able to tow icebergs into enemy ships at S+S and potentially disrupt shipping lanes. I pegged her at 15 points for this game, which I think may be about right. Her cost could rise, but again, this game was catered to seeing her in action.

xerecs (Torpedo): The Torpedo’s game-changing Portburner ability didn’t work too well, but her rolls were as bad as they could get. With such low cargo and low durability, she’s effectively a one-trick pony, which makes her a tough choice in any game smaller than 80 or 100 points. Her high price tag should perhaps come down, unless a revision makes her viable to use in an alternate role.

a7xfanben (Last Shot): Similar to the Rusty Hook, the Last Shot wasn’t able to provide much to the Pirate fleet, and the canoes took care of her quickly. I think her cost of 13 points is fine… it’s just another example of one game not being enough to really get to know what a ship can do.

el_cazador (various): Oh my, where to start… I know you’ll read the report and provide your own comments, so I’ll keep it short. Tetra, Purlo, and Onox didn’t really get to use their abilities much, but Koloktos shined in the late game with that daring raid. Caesar is probably fine, but I may make a post about him and the Gladius Dei in Custom Ships soon… the French named crew Radi Jaeger and Michel Dubois were worth their costs, not surprising given their abilities and their “old-school” nature (existing abilities rather than brand-new ones like Caesar). As for the ships… The Fatalis is fun to use with HGold, I still think her cost is fine. The Puma and Growler are relatively simple ships and are also good to go as far as I can tell. The Tenfold is quickly becoming one of my favorite ships (I’m becoming slightly obsessed with it lol), and her power is undeniable. Just like the first time I used her, terrain neutralized her defenses and she still shined… I would want to test her again at this point cost of 22 before raising it or making any changes… again, the original cost of Turbine is more underpriced than the ship itself. The Lamprey is funky for a longship but fine. The Gladius Dei is definitely the piece that needs the most testing along with the Tenfold – I’m still not sure what to think of her (post in Custom Ships coming soon). I think the Gaule and Native Canoes are fine… the canoes are definitely powerful and versatile, but I think their speed and the fact that it’s hard to find a ship that’s appropriate for their chieftain does enough to keep their cost where it is at 13. The Gaule actually didn’t sink an enemy ship during all of that, I don’t think.

Wow, that was a long report. I may be crazy enough to do another game relatively soon with these fleets mostly the same, but add 20 or 40 (more likely 20) points to the build total.

(I’m doing this from my own personal curiosity and love and interest in this game, so no need to thank me or anything. Nobody has requested that I use their game pieces, which I appreciate. I’m doing this because it’s awesome!) [Hoping that didn’t come off too strangely… it’s a Pirates’ life for me!]

Epic Seas – My Custom Fantasy Set is “Done”!

Pirates of the Epic Seas – A Custom Fantasy Set of Epic Proportions

I started making custom game pieces for Pirates CSG back in 2011, but up until 2018 I mostly just made historical customs.  Around February 1st of 2018, I started making some “fantasy”, or non-historical, custom game pieces.

It only took me about a week to really rev up “production” and I was off to the races creating a TON of fantasy customs.  On February 9th I officially announced my second custom set, which would be an all-fantasy set to be the utter opposite of my main custom set, Pirates of the Age of Sail.

Eventually I decided to name the new set: Pirates of the Epic Seas (you can see it on the 4th sheet).  I generally enjoy the “epic” side of things, which you can see in my favorite movies and music.  Throughout the process of making the set I constantly underestimated how big it would get.  The set quickly grew to over 100 game pieces in February 2018:

There is more coming, but I would estimate that I won’t add more than a few dozen more pieces eventually. That could change, but for now the set is mostly done.

Boy was I WAY wrong!!

I am happy to say that Pirates of the Epic Seas has reached ONE THOUSAND total game pieces!!!  O_O

Lately I have been finalizing the set in various ways – almost every game piece should now have flavor text.  The only exceptions should be some of the stuff that normally didn’t have flavor text – UT’s and equipment.  I’ve also been working through some of the unfinished or partly finished customs, to the point where now there shouldn’t be any customs in the set that are “not ready for playtesting”, which I like to denote with a question mark somewhere with the ship stats/abilities.  The “Collector’s Numbers” are mostly inaccurate and simply reflect which game pieces have been publicly released on a forum such as the Custom Ships thread that you can post in.

I’ve also completed the set description that would theoretically be on the back of any packs for the set:

Chaos reigns. Strife is rampant. With the global political situation teetering on the edge of absolute catastrophe, conflict seems inevitable. The Cursed have risen again, and appear to be far stronger than ever before. A prolonged worldwide arms race and increasing tensions in every ocean can lead to only one thing: WAR. Gold will be lost, and glory will be found. Which side will you take in Pirates of the Epic Seas?

I’ve been wanting to do a “set analysis” for quite some time, and now that I’m pretty satisfied with the set’s progress, hitting 1,000 game pieces is the perfect time to finally look at the numbers.

Pirates of the Epic Seas: By The Numbers


Ships: 157 (127 C/U/R, 6 SE, 24 LE)

Crew: 102 (81 C/U/R, 3 SE, 18 LE)

Forts: 13

Total new game pieces: 272

Jade Rebellion

Ships: 57

Crew: 36

Forts: 5

Total new game pieces: 98

Barbary Corsairs

Ships: 40

Crew: 43

Forts: 2

Total new game pieces: 85


Ships: 32

Crew: 35

Forts: 3

Total new game pieces: 70


Ships: 26

Crew: 24

Forts: 4

Total new game pieces: 54


Ships: 18

Crew: 19

Forts: 2

Total new game pieces: 39


Ships: 43

Crew: 33

Forts: 3

Total new game pieces: 79


Ships: 12

Crew: 23

Forts: 1

Total new game pieces: 36


Ships: 96

Crew: 118

Forts: 6

Total new game pieces: 220


Ships: 3

Crew: 3

Forts: 2

Total new game pieces: 8

English (All LE, as they were never supposed to be in the set)

Ships: 8

Crew: 4

Forts: 1 (Lighthouse)

Total new game pieces: 13

Equipment: 10

Unique Treasures: 15

Super Rares: 5

Special Editions: 34

Limited Editions: 89

Pirates of the Caribbean movie pieces: 10

Islands: 1 (designed to be played as a set of 5)

Unreleased/No Rarity: 2

Total Ships: 492

Total Crew: 440

Total Forts: 42

Total new game pieces: 1,002 and counting (including the 2 “Unreleased” whose designs are confirmed)

The set was NEVER meant to be balanced, in terms of factional parity or in terms of ship/crew ratios within each faction.  That’s part of the reason it’s pretty random.  However, I’m actually quite satisfied with how it has turned out.  Below you can see part of the new sheet with the breakdown of game pieces.

Epic Seas breakdown March 2019


Thanks for checking out my custom set!

Pirates of the Epic Seas

A7XfanBen’s Entry for Ocean Terrain Contest #3

A7XfanBen’s Entry for Ocean Terrain Contest #3

Ocean Terrain Contest #3



Literally my entire goal in the whole process was to $ave Dat MoneyLaughing (Normally I hate songs with autotune but that song just hits me in a way that no other song has lol) That became my theme song and “anthem” if you will when I thought about making stuff. All corners would be cut, all the monies would be saved and nearly zero dollars would be spent.

With that in mind, how would I go about making stuff on such an insanely strict budget? I’m more of an Englishman than a pirate, so stealing stuff was out of the question. Laughing

Well, the perfect combination was already in place. I worked part-time at an Ace Hardware store. Idea So then, how could that translate to saving money on the mammoth project?

-Free foam sourced from the dumpsters and trash cans (almost none of it dirty and the rest very easily cleaned off)
-Infinite amount of free cardboard
-Spray paint was bought on sale AND with my 20% off employee discount Cool (would have spent $8+, instead got it for around $5.50) (I considered trying to get it cheaper somehow or waiting until someone would bring in a defective can or something lol, but wanted to get stuff done so I could start Command the Oceans)
-Use only tools and things I already owned:
–Utility knife that I used for most of the foam cutting and sculpting was literally given to me as a gift by a former Ace employee who had left the store about 4 years prior
–Durabuilt toolbox was also a gift so no money spent there
–Crayola scissors from childhood (likely not purchased with my money lol) didn’t get used much but since they’re in some pictures I’ll just emphasize that they weren’t bought for the project either lol

The second “main idea” of my projects was something that speaks to me on a personal level for the Pirates CSG world as a whole: GAMEPLAY TRUMPS EVERYTHING. By that, I mean that using my stuff in games is far more important than how aesthetic it looks. I want to be able to use epic and unique custom stuff that functions properly and in an “epic” way when I play Pirates. As with other things in Pirates (custom ships, etc), I think it is best to play, not just ponder and pontificate. I realize that this mindset is completely contradictory to how to win this contest, as the most aesthetically beautiful entry will likely win. However, to me playing the game is the most important thing; if the stuff doesn’t get used, why bother making it? (other than selling it for a profit haha)

Full disclaimer: I don’t expect to do particularly well in this contest, because a lot of my stuff is not as aesthetic as what other people make. However, the experiences of playing are second to none for me.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Command the Oceans is the game I played with the stuff I made for this contest. I originally started the game to show off my creations, but it quickly morphed into something FAR bigger than that, both literally and figuratively. I HIGHLY recommend checking out the battle reports for that game to see how this stuff functions in a real game. It was the biggest game of Pirates ever up to this point, and one of the best games I’ve ever played.
MAJOR SPOILERS for CTO are within this post, so read about the game first if you want. (or just don’t look too hard at the “in action” pictures, and avoid most of the videos XD)


So, just how much foam did I really have?


Shocked Laughing

Thought you might need a ship for scale! XD

Just immense, immense quantities.

4 or 5 feet in the air!

Tools of the trade. Although, the utility knife and large scissors were used far more than anything else. I did try a few “hammer shots” lol, but it just kicked up a ton of the foam beads into the air. In case you’re wondering, that black plastic sheeting was also free. I took it off the top of the pallets we have outside when it covers the mulches and rocks. It came in VERY handy as a foam catcher/workspace/dropcloth for all of the messy work.

Very strong and very thick corrugated cardboard. Had no idea what I would use this for, for a decent amount of time, until I thought about DOCKS!

Captain Mission’s Pirate Kingdom

That big middle chunk turned into an awesome Pirate base…

… but I had to start somewhere. Once I looked at the block from this angle, I knew what I wanted to do. I always try to take what the foam/cardboard is giving me and go from there. So, I thought it could be cool if I hollowed out the middle part for a “cave” type hideout location, with a raised area for troops/defenses higher up where you see the crescent on the left.

The bottom was far less inspiring, but it seemed like a solid idea to create arches on both sides of the enclosed area.

The messy part. Tons of shaving and hacking.

It took a lot to get it less blocky and manmade-looking.

The Kingdom after being blasted with spraypaint. As I said in the CTO thread, I did NOT intend for that “melted” look haha. The paint partially affected the foam a bit to create that on its own. However, some people like it so it worked out fine.

The unfinished Pirate Kingdom from the front. I purposely kept that “pillar” thing in the middle since maybe it could protect ships inside from potential mortar fire/etc. XD At the bottom you can see the ledge I glued on, specifically for a situation that would soon arise….

Showing the double archways:

THE PIRATE KINGDOM IN PLAY! Command the Oceans began with the first of many grand reveals, and the Pirates were up first.

Using the ledge to get some shipwrights onto ships waiting below. That way they don’t have to go inside and experience the traffic jam of gold runners. XD

There’s a decent amount of space inside, especially for a more reasonably sized game:

The ledge was added partly for this reason: perfect for a fortress!

A great place to come home to with Eternal. I think Gollum would like it, rather dark and evil. XD

Over the course of Command the Oceans, it truly became a Pirate Kingdom!

Large enough to sustain considerable operations of a decent-size fleet, with coins, resources, ladders and army units on/inside it as well.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the cool gold waterfall inside!
Making the gold waterfall

You can also see it in action here:
The biggest fleet ever seen in a game…

Captain Nemo’s Mercenary Submarine Hideout

I loved the idea of having this cardboard molding used as a hideout. The openings at the bottom are perfect for submarines, whether they’re underwater or on the surface.

After getting the right cut, I used the spray paint to get it looking more “natural”, almost like a volcanic island with sea caves. As this picture shows, I cut cardboard doors to put in the openings in the “rock”!

The current piece, with Nemo and his Mercenaries operating the doors from within to protect the submarines inside.

Shoot me if you can! The metal doors are resistant to cannon fire.

The doors/openings are the perfect size for keeping submarines safe and keeping ships out!

You can just see some subs entering here. Lightweight and relatively small, it’s easy to take the Sub Hideout off the ocean to get at the stuff inside. For example, I let the Mercenary submarines repair while inside.

The Tunnel

Here is the GIANT piece of foam that was eventually turned into the Tunnel, one of my personal favorites of the project!

The Tunnel! After being cut out, having a fitted piece glued onto the open wall to close it off, and getting spray painted.

The fitted piece was actually the hardest part because it was difficult to make right, with plenty of trial and error finally leading to a decent but not perfect piece that worked well enough for my satisfaction. I LOVED how the Tunnel was not the same on both sides up top – one side has a wall going up from the flat part, while the other is not enclosed and is a sheer drop. The ends were great too since they were also different without me having to do anything. One is a sloped wall while the other is a nice little opening and the perfect spot for a cannon to fire from!

As previewed on my Instagram before CTO even started….

Things got even more interesting when I realized that things could be dropped down from the top. Cutting a very thin piece of screen makes a perfect ladder, which could be used to get supplies or troops from the top to ships waiting below, or vice versa to supply and reinforce a garrison defending the Tunnel!

Inside the Tunnel is dark and foreboding…

I really enjoyed adding to the top of it. After painting it to get a rocky black look, I wanted to make it look more natural with rocks and some sparse grass.

Overall the Tunnel is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made for Pirates.

The Tunnel in play

The top is great as a platform for troops and artillery:

One end shrouded in fog for maximum mystique:

VERY tall inside, to the point where you could comfortably fit multiple 10 masters side by side! This makes the top very difficult to access, which is cool from a logistics perspective.

The Pirates wanted to “tunnel” through the Tunnel!

After much hard work, they finally made it through! O_O

Doesn’t get much more epic than this. A HUGE battle happening INSIDE and around the Tunnel, with the Pirates firing down on the Cursed from the fort they built in the new opening at the top.

Angelica used flamethrower to set the fort alight and burn some of the Pirate infantry!

Overall the Tunnel is very unique to me because I want it to have a “story” as a “legacy piece” that encompasses all the games it is involved in. Command the Oceans was hopefully just the beginning for this epic terrain piece. I have many more ideas with it, so more modifications will take place in future epic games.

Check out a short video with the Tunnel in it!
The War for the Sea of Allost (Command the Oceans)

The Harbor

This idea was borne from this piece of foam. It originally sat on top of another piece of foam as a sort of box top for the thing inside. However, once I flipped it over and saw how the middle could get punched out (notice the cracks towards the top), my mind was off to the races. I was still unsure of what to do with it for a while, but I took this picture once I had a vague idea. It could be a massive harbor structure with high walls on all sides except for a double entrance at the front! That idea is illustrated here before I did any of the cutting.

I cut out the middle area and did a quick blast-over with paint for the basic premise.

An example of my “workshop” area, showing the concept of a giant jetty/pier going all the way out of the Harbor and into the ocean!

Tunnel and Harbor, two peas of the same pod! XD Before really delving into the Tunnel idea, I really considered a ton of options with the bigger piece here. I nearly left it completely intact so it could be a double tunnel thing with a side alley where a big fleet could be contained within (imagine it upside down). I decided it would be far too boxxy from any angle, but worse, it would be a NIGHTMARE for gameplay unless I developed an elaborate system with multiple removable tops (but I would want things on top during gameplay, which would be difficult with RISK army units and whatnot. In the end, I cut it nearly down the middle and then glued a separate piece to cover the opening of the Tunnel to complete that piece, setting the other big chunk aside for a while.

The Harbor in play

The French had the Harbor as their “home island”/base in CTO, and here you can see the completed dock system (they started with just one dock and bought them for 10 gold apiece) at nearly full capacity:

Overhead view from the back:

Truly a gigantic and amazing piece, I love the modular customizability of it!

I LOVE how the docks are perfect for carnage, debris, and destruction.

An invasion by a hostile nation can SEVERELY complicate things!

Videos including the Harbor:
Sea of Karkuda on Turn 72 (Command the Oceans)

The Roost

With this HUGE piece of foam, I wanted to do something epic with it.

Here you can see it upside down at the upper left with some other stuff:

I cut some of the sides and part of the back out to have 4 ways to get into the huge tall “hall” of sorts. Then I hacked at some of it (mostly the top/upper structure) to get a jagged, sinister look. Then I blasted it with black spray paint because I had decided the height and evilness would be perfect for a Cursed sea dragon roosting area!

The “front” top area, where dragons can nest in the slots:

The Monkey’s Paw sailing into the intimidating structure:

The Roost in CTO!

I love how huge ladders can be dropped down through the holes to put Cursed infantry on unsuspecting enemies waiting below!!

A Sea Dragon nest!

Videos with the Roost:

The Castles

Not in the original form here, these were cardboard protectors for candles or something like that.

Once I thought about flipping them upside down, I thought about making castles!

The bottoms and scraps of those cardboard cutouts used to hold candles or whatever was inside them.

At the right you can see the main Castle that features heavily in Command the Oceans. There’s a ton of great stuff you can do to customize these, similar to the modular nature of the Harbor. Bridges, extra docks, artillery/sharpshooter platforms, roofs, a town/citadel inside, etc. Lots of great possibilities, most of which still need to be explored in future games.

There’s not a ton of space for ships on the inside “harbor” portions of the Castle, but it further suggests the more defensive nature.

A roof over the main command station, or even crazier – a retractable roof that doubles as a bridge to a castle extension!! O_O

The Castle in play


I love how the archways going through are low enough to let shorter ships through, but not the bigger ships:

The Americans took over the former Spanish Castle and made it into a base of their own!

So many cool things you can do with something like this. Blast a hole in the wall, station troops and artillery on the walls and ramparts, and set it on fire! XD

Like a sea castle with medieval siege ramifications:

With a Castle extension! O_O

With a “moat” or bridge high enough for tall ships to pass underneath!

With enough time and resources it could become a sprawling fortress of epic proportions:

The Castle in all its glory:

Videos of the Castle in play!!
American operations on Turn 70 (Command the Oceans)
The War for Karkuda (Command the Oceans)

Broken Horn Island
At first I was excited about Broken Horn Island as one of my easily made customs, but I didn’t like the way it turned out and I may put more effort into it after the game to make it a little better. It’s a sloped piece of foamy material (not at all like the regular foam though, way stronger, almost impossible to cut, and not as beady/messy) that held screwdrivers so I left some of those holes and just put stuff I found in my childhood in place of them. I cut a slope down to the water level where ships can now dock.

The island is pretty large, and I might edit it more in the future. The Cursed used it as a resource island/gold island, the latter due to the Gold Ship.

These are icebergs with shipwrecks attached to them – in Command the Oceans, the ships were Cursed and still “possessed”, meaning the Cursed could move the icebergs S in the direction they wanted, rather than a random direction.

This is how I reused some of the wrecks from my Economy Edition game, at the left you can see a broken 4 masted galley icewreck driving a regular iceberg into the Clear Wind:

These work great in games and add a nice 3 dimensional aspect to things:

(wood cracking and splintering sound)

Scary to face a faceless, possessed foe:

This shows 3 of the icewrecks:


Inspired by the custom Lighthouse idea from Vixenishcoder66, I decided to try making a few of my own for potential use in Command the Oceans!

A lot of cardboard cylinders could be used for making lighthouses. The ones used for paper towels and toilet paper are a bit wide, but could still work. I was able to find some thin cylinders with thick walls. This meant they would be a decent width (still a little too wide to be realistic), but punching holes in the sides for “light” and windows proved somewhat difficult without ruining the small structures.

To get the windows, I usually started with a small screwdriver and sometimes widened it after with unopened scissors. Gets a little gnarly inside, but the exterior ends up looking decent.

Nobody wants a hollow lighthouse with rain pouring in, so I had to figure out a practical idea for tops. I traced a line with pencil on the thinnest corrugated cardboard I have, then cut the circle out. Some of the roofs fit better than others but it works well enough! This also allows for fun things like hiding coins in the lighthouse during games, or perhaps something even more fun….

The French introduced the first lighthouse in Command the Oceans, on an island made years ago by RossinAZ.

Blue striping makes it a good option for a French or American lighthouse. A bit stocky/stubby, but small enough to fit on an island and not look obscene.

I used an L-range straw from the lighthouse to simulate the effect of the ability:

The Pirates built a black lighthouse of their own on another of RossinAZ’s custom islands. (ISLAND NOT MADE BY ME, NOT PART OF MY ENTRY!)

Here are all of the lighthouses I made:

The red one is based on Smeaton’s Tower.

I made sure to make each one slightly different between height/paint/width/windows. The black one also has a depressed roof.

One of my favorite pictures from Command the Oceans, Google Photos edited the coloring on this one for me for some reason.

Minor additions

I also used some old rocks in Command the Oceans, though even this one could hardly be considered “custom terrain”. No need to factor these into your voting on my entry, but they were glued together during the contest period. XD
Luck Island (rocks with holes in them are considered “lucky stones” by some; you can also see a tiny fossil or two)

Top left: Pearl Island
Bottom left: Fish Island
Top right: icewreck

Grand Shots

Some pictures showing more than one of my creations at a time. These really show how large and dominant the pieces are, and how fun and “commanding” they are during gameplay.

The Sea of Allost, showing the Roost, Tunnel, Kingdom, and part of Broken Horn Island. (other islands/terrain not to be considered for the contest!)

Tunnel and Roost! (island in foreground made by RossinAZ, obviously not for my entry)

Here you can see the Tunnel, Kingdom, and Pirate lighthouse:

Kingdom and lighthouse:

With fort:

Kingdom of Heaven?

The Sea of Karkuda, showing the Castle, Hideout, and Harbor. (other stuff in picture (outside of the lighthouse) not to be considered for the contest!)

Along with the lighthouse:

Another angle focusing on the Castle:

So! How much did I spend? Well, approximately $5.18 for the whole project. O_O AKA the spray paint, which is pretty much the only thing I spent money on. Everything else I either already had, or sourced for free.

Sadly I haven’t even used this stuff yet, as almost all of the stuff I made was worked on in August 2017. I used a $20 gift card at Michael’s on some more stuff, but I’ll have to use it another time. Still, I’m even saving money on future ocean/terrain projects!! XD

Huzzah! Hopefully someday there will be an “OTC4”! XD

My Custom Stuff for Pirates CSG


My Basic Rules – Custom Rules for Pirates CSG

My Basic Rules

My Basic Rules (not Windlass) (.pdf file with more common fonts)

Basic Rules (.docx file download, with the Windlass font)

This is my attempt to combine the Start Here rules and Complete Game rules into one document, while simultaneously changing a few things that I believe are the best house rules, and also keeping the overall document relatively short by saving space where practical.  These are the basic rules that I intend to teach new players with.  I talk about some of the changes in the video below.

Custom Board Game Pieces – Ships, islands, and more!

Custom Board Game Pieces – Ships, islands, and more!

In my vast experience with Pirates CSG, I have made a LOT of custom board game pieces.  By “pieces” I mean both physical and “virtual” items that help me enjoy Pirates Constructible Strategy Game to the fullest.  This includes custom made islands and terrain for the game, in addition to game pieces that can be proxied into the playing experience or used easily on the VASSAL module.


Making custom islands for board games can be pretty fun!  There are a variety of building materials to choose from, not to mention the variety of supplies and accessories to consider.  I’ve had some success with various types of foam (not all of it will melt under spray paint, but be careful!), along with various cardboard chunks and molds.

Here’s an example:

Custom island

Custom island I made for Pirates CSG

For this island, I took a thin flat piece of somewhat weak foam and modified it in various ways.  I cut out a shape that I liked, then added a coat of black spray paint (some more porous foams may melt when applying spray paint, so test outside or simply avoid using spray paint in general if you plan to make your own islands).  Some grasses and sands (found at Hobby Lobby; Amazon has similar) came in handy for the realistic layer above the paint.  I applied the powdery grass and sand with spray glue (glue and water in a small spray bottle that came in the kit I bought), and then added some rocks or “boulders” as well.  You can see them on the shore at the bottom of the picture.  Towards the top (where the action is happening) I added some bushes for a more 3D landscape.

Custom game pieces for use

I’ve made a LOT of custom ships, crew, and other game pieces for Pirates CSG.  There is nothing wrong with creating your own stats and abilities for your very own creations.  I am consistently working on a historical custom set (Pirates of the Age of Sail) that I hope will eventually encompass nearly all known ships and historical figures (crew) that played a part in the Age of Sail time period.  I also sporadically work on my custom fantasy set, Pirates of the Epic Seas.  This is where my creativity shines more (though I’m not normally a very creative person), as I make all sorts of interesting stuff.

Pirates CSG custom set

The first handful of historical customs in my first set, Pirates of the Age of Sail

If you like playing Pirates CSG, I highly recommend experimenting with making your own custom board game pieces.  Both islands and customs (shorthand for custom ships/crew/equipment/etc.) are fun to make and very rewarding to use in games.  Although I haven’t made any of my customs into physical form, there are various ways to do so if you’re inclined (stickers, marker, 3D printing, etc).  If you still feel hesitant to get started, you could watch a tutorial or buy some islands, not to mention using other people’s custom sets!

You can check out the My Custom Stuff page for even more details on my personal contributions.

Ring of Fire – Pirates CSG customs post (10/12/2018)

This has already been posted in the forum, but occasionally I plan to convert larger posts of mine there into general posts as well.

Lately I’ve been going through Pirates of the Epic Seas and doing one game piece per faction (or UT/etc) at a time. I’ve gotten down to the SE’s again, and there are so many “unreleased” that I like, it’s tough to know what to reveal! XD I made some more fantasy customs today, some of which are rather amusing. For today, I’m in the mood to go out of order and reveal something I just created today. I’ve wanted to make something with a “Ring of Fire” theme for a while now, somewhat based on the real life volcano chain.

Ring of Fire (Islands)
Place these 5 Mysterious Islands in a circle during setup. These islands cannot be chosen as home islands, and should be placed 2L or 3L apart. When a ship docks at this island, roll a d6.
1 – Catastrophic Eruption: All ships docked at this island have all of their masts (including eliminated ones) replaced with fire masts. All ships within 3L of this island receive 3 fire masts; this effect can sink ships. Eliminate all crew and forts on this island.
2 – Violent Eruption: All ships docked at this island receive 3 fire masts. Ships within 2L of this island receive 2 fire masts. Eliminate all crew and forts on this island.
3/4 – Eruption: All ships docked at this island receive 2 fire masts. Ships within L of this island receive 1 fire mast. Eliminate all crew on this island.
5/6 – No effect.
*Game pieces that are submerged are not subject to receiving fire masts.

Ring of Fire (Canoes)
Faction Affiliation: Mercenary
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 14
Number of Masts: 1
Cargo Space: 1
Base Move: S+S+S
Cannons: 3L
Ability: Mercenary. Native Canoe. Captain. Fire Shot.

Flavor text: Hailing from the most volcanic region in the world, these tribal natives have preyed on worried sailors for centuries. They have learned to detect when an eruption is imminent, and then use the chaos and death of such a cataclysmic event to pillage both victims and survivors. Named after the devastating region they sail around, there have been reports of canoe”rings” surrounding enemy ships and lighting the sails and rigging on fire with flaming arrows, watching from afar as the crew are burned alive and the ship is burnt to the waterline. They are known as perhaps the most clever and secretly evil tribe in the Pacific, and use the speed and agility of their canoes to avoid being wiped out by the frequent eruptions.

Kinda overdid the flavor text, but it really helps give context to their background and the fleshing out of the “Ring of Fire” concept, especially with Epic Seas having a more Mercenary/tribal/Pacific slant the past few months.

The last piece of the “saga”, at least for now….

Ring of Fire
Unique Treasure
Ability: When discovered, assign this game piece to a named crew on this ship. If this ship isn’t assigned a named crew, place this treasure face down on a random wild island without revealing the treasure to any players. Once this treasure is assigned to a named crew, it is treated as equipment and cannot be removed from this ship unless the crew is removed. If the assigned crew is eliminated, eliminate this game piece. When this ship shoots, up to 3 hits may be fire hits instead of regular hits (you must declare which cannons are shooting fire shot before rolling). If this ship is within L of a Volcano island, you may eliminate one crew on this ship – if so, one enemy ship within L of this ship cannot move on their next turn.

Flavor text: This mysterious ring bears an inscription that starts with a “V”… many scholars have attempted to decode what the name means, but they always end up murdered for the ring’s power. Multiple “giants” have been seen wielding the ring for evil purposes in the Pacific, leaving a trail of smoke in their wake….

So there you have it. Pretty convoluted already, and it might get more wordy and complicated if I add things to the concept. Funny enough I already have an epic volcano-based 10 master with linked crew combo, so if I get them involved… yikes…. O_O

Man, sometimes I find it surprisingly easy to create a lot of fantasy customs. So many things to draw inspiration from, either just a simple word like “dove” or some complex convoluted backstory of chaos. XD Just looking up “cursed art” in google images gives me plenty of random ideas! Epic Seas is about to reach 700 total game pieces, and it’s inevitable that someday I will break 1,000 on that set, and eventually many more I hope. In times like this I have to consciously try to stop staring at what I’ve created or plan to create, just so I don’t spend many hours a day doing it! XD


Historical Custom of the Day #248

John Watling
3 points
Ability: Captain. This ship gets +1 to her d6 rolls against ships with the Chieftain keyword aboard. This ship gets -1 to her d6 rolls against forts.
Link: Bartholomew Sharp

Strange abilities, but read his brief and strange story for why I gave them to him. Almost some weird parallels with Captain Jack Sparrow.

You can find my custom sets here: Pirates of the Age of Sail and Pirates of the Epic Seas

My Custom Stuff

My Custom Stuff

On this page you can find my customized “things” for Pirates CSG.  This includes my custom game pieces, my Basic Rules, and custom islands, terrain, and structures I’ve made.

My Basic Rules

My Basic Rules (not Windlass) (.pdf file with more common fonts)

Basic Rules (.docx file download, with the Windlass font)

This is my attempt to combine the Start Here rules and Complete Game rules into one document, while simultaneously changing a few things that I believe are the best house rules, and also keeping the overall document relatively short by saving space where practical.  These are the basic rules that I intend to teach new players with.  I talk about some of the changes in the video below.

Please disregard the Explore Action part of the “Start Here” snippet at the bottom of the first page of my Basic Rules. You should always play by the full exploring rules where ships look at the treasures on the island and choose which to take.



My Custom Sets

Pirates of the Age of Sail (PotAoS, or AoS) is my first custom set, which I started in 2011.  I have since been modifying and adding to it.  The set is entirely historical in nature, encompassing a huge number of ships, historical figures (as crew), forts, and equipment from the real Age of Sail.  The total number of game pieces is therefore only limited to the amount of historical knowledge that is available on the topic and can be discovered.  The current Custom Ships thread has some of my daily “releases”.  This set is constantly undergoing changes and additions, and due to the sheer number of game pieces still to add, it may never be “complete”.  Any suggestions are welcome.  You can find the set on the 1st sheet, with custom crew links and keyword abbreviations on the 2nd and 3rd sheets.


Pirates of the Epic Seas (PotES or ES) is my second custom set, which I started in 2018.  It is the complete opposite of the Age of Sail set, containing only fictional game pieces.  The set is based on “epic” things and a general theme of global war, or at least the grand threat of it.  Just like Age of Sail, the set is currently “under construction”, though much more complete than Age of Sail.  You can find the set on the 4th sheet, with keyword abbreviations on the 3rd sheet.


Custom Islands, Terrain, and Structures

Normally I would leave out the structures part, but I’ve found myself building an increasing amount of man-made things that cannot be classified as islands or terrain.

Custom Islands and Terrain thread

Ocean Terrain Contest #3  (ended August 1st 2018)

My entry for OTC3 (details the stuff I made in 2017 – a lot of my cooler stuff!)

Also, feel to reach out to Ross in AZ; many of the islands you see in my battle reports were made by him!

Here is the video I made for my OTC3 entry:


Grand Shots

Some pictures showing more than one of my creations at a time. These really show how large and dominant the pieces are, and how fun and “commanding” they are during gameplay.

The Sea of Allost, showing the Roost, Tunnel, Kingdom, and part of Broken Horn Island.

Tunnel and Roost! (island in foreground made by RossinAZ)

Here you can see the Tunnel, Kingdom, and Pirate lighthouse:

Kingdom and lighthouse:

With fort:

Kingdom of Heaven?

The Sea of Karkuda, showing the Castle, Hideout, and Harbor.

Along with the lighthouse:

Another angle focusing on the Castle:
My Custom Stuff


Custom islands and icewreck

Top left: Pearl Island
Bottom left: Fish Island
Top right: icewreck

Custom Lighthouses Pirates CSG

Custom Lighthouses – idea by vixenishcoder66 of Miniature Trading


Some of my older stuff made in 2015!


My Custom Stuff (islands and terrain) from 2015
Some of the islands and terrain I’ve made. The arches are quite fun. In the middle is a large sandbar. White foam looks perfect for icebergs. Custom shipwrecks (often on reefs) can make the game look really neat.


Duke shipwreck
The Duke shipwreck. I put a few drops of metallic gold paint down the center of the hull to create the spilled gold effect.
Custom Shipwreck Cove Pirates CSG version
My version of “shipwreck cove”, inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean and created with lots of glue, reefs, and shipwrecks.

Franco Spanish military port in Economy Edition 2015

A busy Franco-Spanish military port atop one of my custom islands during Economy Edition.

The Lagoon

The Lagoon, which was used for the Economy Edition game. This is a fun concept, especially if you only make it accessible to submersibles (submarines and sea monsters).

The Arch

The Arch. This is a triple archway with 3 different levels for clearance height. The highest arch is passable by almost all ships, while the smaller two can only be traversed by ships with lower mast height. The low are was a perfect spot for gold. This was created with two chunks of styrofoam from a keyboard box, spraypainted black, which were glued together at an angle (you can still see the remains of some glue on top of the right archway).

The Arch with fort on top

This gives an idea of the main middle archway, as well as the height of the entire arch. As you can see, it’s also the perfect spot for a well-positioned fort!

Bombardier pieces as Bow Chasers on the Nox from Fire and Steel

You could probably add physical Bow Chasers with a variety of different pieces; here I’ve used spare Bombardier cannons and attached them to the bow of a ship.