Ranking the rarest Pirates CSG items

This was originally posted at Miniature Trading on February 23rd, 2015

Ranking the rarest Pirates CSG items

While making the Thread of Threads I really got absorbed in reading about all of the old collecting days with new sets, eBay, and rare items.

Is it possible to rank the rarest items in Pirates CSG? Especially with some of the collectors no longer on the forum, it will be more difficult than it would have been a few years ago.

1. “1 of 1’s” – game pieces that have only one known copy in existence

Pirates Adventure Book

(Picture and reply)

-F&S 135 Castigue

-F&S 136 Blue Heron

-Vieil Homme?

All three seem to be on the shelf in this picture. I assume the Sea Dragon is the Vieil Homme because old_man said (without any fanfare I might add) that he had acquired it and it was the “star” of his collection.

EDIT: Apparently old_man does not seem to have a physical copy of Vieil Homme.

-F&S 137 – ???

-F&S 138 – ???

These two (as well as the Ochobrazo) could be out there somewhere. Neither old_man nor any other public collectors can verify their physical existence. There is also a mythical version of Sir Christopher Myngs, brought to light by algorab. Searching google for the picture brought up this site, which I had never seen before. The five master also looks like a prototype because it doesn’t appear to be either the Revenant or Harbinger based on the hull.



As for other goodies, the rankings quickly become more difficult. There are supposedly around 30 Obago Deuce’s, and some small number of Scandinavian Islands: (from Wikipedia)

2008 – Promo Ship Obago Deuce – This extremely rare ship was scheduled to be a late year promo for in-store handout, but was only distributed in very limited quantities to employees and convention-helper Privateers. Some have made their way out on the resellers market as well. About 30 are known to exist, but more are assumed to have been printed. As such, this is the rarest ‘produced ship’ in the series, and highly sought after by collectors, though thoroughly unspectacular in game-play.

(13 of them given to the pdxyar.org (Portland) group, with another 17 apparently out there as well. After at least one (?) was burnt to a crisp (lol) there may be 29 in existence.)

-Two Home islands released with the “Donald Duck & Co. #26” (Kalle Anka) comic magazine only in Scandinavia on 7/20/06 – these packs contained two ships (El Cazadora & Glorious Treasure, both identical to their English releases), a paper slip of treasure coins to cut out, rules, and two cardboard islands which are labelled “Home” on one side. Due to their limited distribution, these two islands are highly prized by completist collectors and quite hard to come by.


Other notably hard-to-acquire pieces:

-F&S LE’s
-CC LE’s

(from Wikipedia:)

2004 – Scrye the Explorer (SM card # PP735) – Exclusive Explorer crew packed in the Sept. 2004 Scrye magazine (issue 75) along with the ship Bloody Throne.

2004 – The Bloody Throne (SM card # PP375) – Exclusive three-masted ship packed in the Sept. 2004 Scrye magazine (issue 75) with the crew card “Scrye the Explorer”.

2006 – Gale Force Nine (SCS card # 301) – A four-masted Pirate ship LE, free by mail with proof-of-purchase when you buy either one of two island terrain sets from the Gale Force Nine game company.

2008 – Rise of the Fiends Cursed Ship (Specter) – originally customers had to mail in the Specter story (a paper insert) from a pack, but after a packaging problem in which few of these actually packed, WizKids changed this to any story from this set, plus a receipt & postage.

2008 – Fire & Steel Cursed Scorpion Ship (Chum Maker) – customers had to mail in the Chum Maker story (a paper insert) from a pack plus a receipt, wrapper and postage.

PP-471 Bust – Advantage Trophy A larger plastic bust given as a prize in 2005 – this one is painted in multiple colors

2008 – Rise of the Fiend “Stories”, one of ten possible paper inserts in booster packs telling different crew/ship stories. A packing error made these stories very hard to collect as they do not appear in every pack as advertised – more like one in ten packs.


Does someone actually have the Scandinavian comic book itself? It would be interesting to see scans of the relevant pages.

Can anyone verify that the Grinder was harder to acquire than the other 3 mega cards found in the tins? I mention this since some of the older topics made me wonder.

Relevant thread

Any help filling out this list would be great, but I realize it’s subjective after ranking the 1 of 1’s and Obago Deuce.

Original thread at Miniature Trading – click to open in new tab for full size

Ranking the rarest Pirates CSG items

Editing the VASSAL module

Link to dropbox folder with all necessary files



These are parts of emails exchanged between myself and B.J., the creator of the Pirates module.

a7xfanben wrote:
Do you know what your basic process was to start making a new ship model for the module? Assuming I can figure out how to edit it, that’s the main thing I would focus on, but I’m not sure where to start (though I’ll soon peruse the Designer’s Guide).


bj_o wrote:
I started off by tearing apart the old French-made module, and figuring out what I wanted to do differently. My version is a bit of a mess, but I did try to build things piece by piece, as in there’s different parts that plug together to make one ship. For example, each ship piece calls a prototype ship definition, which calls a ShipOps prototype, which also calls a ShipStats prototype. There’s a reason to the madness, and part of it was not duplicating and redefining certain actions many times over. I think there was another reason, but I honestly can’t remember it right now. A lot of it seemed to be necessary to get Vassal to play nice and the way I wanted.


a7xfanben wrote:
Do you know if the “observer” category is unlimited? I noticed that I could move things normally even as an observer, so I’d be intrigued to find out if the game could feature more than 4 or 5 players.


bj_o wrote:
I have no idea if there’s any “observer” limit. The main drawback that I know of would be that observers wouldn’t have access to a private window, so any coin flips or other formerly private actions would be public. Each of the private windows had to be coded separately, but more could be added fairly easily.


a7xfanben wrote:
When you created the artwork/files for the different ship types, did you download or take anything from the French version? There is a 10 mast junk on the French module, and I was able to get it in the correct format, but now I’m realizing it’s more complicated because I’ll need individual file pictures for each mast.


bj_o wrote:
I didn’t use anything from the French version. I didn’t want to reuse anyone else’s work without their permission, plus it didn’t work with the scale I picked anyway.


a7xfanben wrote:
Do you happen to have any old files that you didn’t end up using? I ask because I found your Photobucket picture with all of the different ship types, and I can see you had begun working on a squid, shark, and serpent. If you had any old files of artwork or anything like that I would try to put it to good use.


bj_o wrote:
I actually do have a svg file where I drew those out to scale with the existing ships. The shapes were drawn out in Inkscape, then imported that into GIMP to do the shading/texturing/etc. I usually scaled up to work in 4x scale in GIMP, then reduced back down afterward. (See attached files!) [files are on dropbox]


a7xfanben wrote:
I know you used GIMP to create the artwork – did you measure out the scale from real-life ships? Now that I’m actually trying to edit the module I’m even more impressed by how much effort was put into it.


bj_o wrote:
I didn’t use any real-life ships because these didn’t always match up to anything real. I used the assembled game ships as a guide and measured those, ending up with a 30px/cm scale, e.g. the cards are ~8.85 x 6.35 cm, so they are scaled to ~266 x 191 px for graphics (L = 252px, S = 174px).

For all the ships, I had been going with a semi-realistic style, and I pretty much hit a wall when I got to the creatures. After a while of trying to figure out a good way to depict them, I lost interest, and that’s where we are now.


a7xfanben wrote:
Just to clarify – when you say you drew out the shapes in Inkscape, you mean that you drew the parts out and saved each file separately and then uploaded each individual mast picture file along with the hull to complete the ship type? I can’t download Inkscape or GIMP right now but I’m wondering if I could figure out something with Paint.


bj_o wrote:
Not quite. The shapes were drawn in Inkscape, then imported into GIMP. GIMP also converts the Inkscape shapes into paths that I used to finish drawing all the components. For a ship, the hull was created on one layer, and each of the masts were on separate layers. Each layer was then exported to its own image file for Vassal to use.

One thing to understand is that for the “fire” to show up where the center of the masts were, all the mast images and the fire image all had to have the center of the image in the same place. That’s usually the center of the mast. For example, a square rigged mast shows the sails billowing out to the right, but there’s a lot of empty pixels to the left so that the mast is in the middle of the image. I also had to make sure the center of the ship (i.e. the rotation point in Vassal) was in the middle of the hull image.

I’m probably confusing the issue more here. I could probably explain it better visually, but I don’t have the time at the moment. You might be able to experiment with Paint, but it doesn’t support transparency.



bj_o wrote:
I sent you all the remaining artwork I had, so there wasn’t really anything else beyond the squid and shark that wasn’t used.

But if you have an image you can use (at the right scale), it’s easy to add it to the game. If you go into the editor, expand the item labeled “Ocean [Map Window]”, then expand “[Map Boards]”. Right click on [Map Boards], “Add Board”. Name it whatever, and select your image for the Board Image. You don’t have to tell it a size or anything. Save the module, and you’re done after that, but you’d have to make sure everyone has a copy of your modified module.

Now to start a new game with your map, you’d need to go into the “Build your own” option in the Ocean Layout and select your new map board.


a7xfanben wrote:
Out of curiosity, did you create the artwork for the stern flag and the deck/sail details in GIMP as well? (We’re adding a Dutch faction; creating a crew chip was easy but the stern flag will be a bit tougher.) I’m not a fan of doing artwork stuff on a computer, so I’m struggling to make a 10 master look very good lol.


bj_o wrote:
I did do it in GIMP, although a lot of it was drawn in Inkscape as shapes first, then imported into GIMP to add textures/shadows/etc.


I have edited the module again! Very Happy

This is version “2.1” finished on 3/2/2018 and released yesterday with the start of the Caribbean game. The module size is smaller, and it did take less time to boot up than with the previous module version.

An important aspect of this edit that I should have mentioned in this post:

Page 103 of the VASSAL Designer’s Guide has instructions for deleting unnecessary files. This was important in making the module size smaller when I deleted all the world territory files and replaced them with much less space from the Caribbean territories.

Not the most important thing to keep in mind while editing the module, but something I had to search for a while to get. Deleting files while in “editing mode” on the module itself is not the same as deleting the files permanently by going into the BuildFile.

All Rankings


It has become a tradition to formulate all sorts of Rankings ideas over at Miniature Trading.  I started the original series, which reviewed my opinion on the top 5 or 10 gunships and gold runners for each of the factions.  Godmason has continued the series and we have many threads still to go!  Here you can find my ideas on the various factions and their best ships.  This is a good way to learn about the game, learn about the factions, and discover which ships you might be interested in acquiring to build your fleets and expand your collection.

Ranking the Factions

Ranking the Sets


Ranking: Top 10 Gunships

Ranking: Top 10 Gold Runners


Gunships and Gold Runners by Faction

Top 10 English Gunships

Top 10 English Gold Runners

Top 10 French Gunships

Top 10 French Gold Runners

Top 10 Spanish Gunships

Top 10 Spanish Gold Runners

Top 10 Pirate Gunships

Top 10 Pirate Gold Runners

Top 10 American Gunships

Top 10 American Gold Runners

Top 10 Cursed Gunships

Top 5 Cursed Gold Runners

Top 5 Barbary Corsair Gunships

Top 5 Barbary Corsair Gold Runners

Top 5 Jade Rebellion Gunships

Top 5 Jade Rebellion Gold Runners

Top 5 Viking Gunships

Top 5 Viking Gold Runners

Top 5 Mercenary Gunships

Top 5 Mercenary Gold Runners


Set Rankings

Top 10 Spanish Main game pieces

Top 10 Crimson Coast game pieces

Top 10 Revolution game pieces

Top 10 Barbary Coast game pieces

Top 10 South China Seas game pieces

Top 10 Davy Jones’ Curse Game Pieces

Top 10 Mysterious Islands Game Pieces

Top 10 Frozen North Game Pieces

Top 10 Ocean’s Edge game pieces

Top 10 Pirates of the Caribbean game pieces

Ranking: PotC multi-version game pieces

Top 10 Rise of the Fiends game pieces

Top 10 Fire & Steel game pieces

Top 10 Savages Shores pieces

Top 10 Return to Savage Shores game pieces


Ship Types

6 masters








Sea Dragons







Sea Monsters

Turtle Ships




Ships by Point Cost

1-3 point ships

4 point ships

5 point ships

6 point ships

7 point ships

8 point ships

9 point ships

10 point ships

14 point ships

15 point ships

16 point ships

17 point ships

18 point ships

19 point ships

20 point ships

21 point ships


Named Crew by Faction

American named crew

Cursed named crew

Barbary Corsair named crew

Jade Rebellion named crew

Viking named crew

Mercenary named crew


By Rarity

Ranking the rarest Pirates CSG items

Super Rare packs

Mail-in game pieces

Tournament Pack ships

SE box 4 masters



Ranking: #001 ships – Flagships of their sets

Pirates CSG Master Spreadsheet

Pirates CSG Master Spreadsheet (shared Google Sheet)

Pirates CSG Master Spreadsheet (.xlsx file download)

I have also put these on the front page of the site to accompany the various useful documents near the bottom of that page.

The main difference is that the google sheet can be viewed online in a browser, while the file can be changed to your liking if you want to edit it.  The file also has the filters enabled properly, which can be difficult to do in shared google sheets.

Credit to:
-Original Wizkids documents provided by Woelf
-Jolly Roger spreadsheet by Holofernes
-Miniature Trading database

Pros of my spreadsheet:

-Don’t have to scroll to the right for anything important (flavor text and treasure values off to the right) (Basically a rule of Pirates CSG spreadsheets in my opinion – if you can’t easily see all gameplay-relevant data without scrolling, columns should be shrunk down for ease of use.)
-All flavor text included
-Factions color coded for maximum ease of use (I like the new design so much that I think I will be converting my custom sets to the same color scheme!)
-Took the best stuff from each resource used (Holofernes’ notes from Jolly Roger + filtering, flavor text from Wizkids spreadsheets, Miniature Trading database for cannons and some flavor text (a/b for crewfer twofers/etc are lowercase because that is how they appear on the WK documents)
-Includes unreleased and “lost” items from official Wizkids documents

-Some columns do not display well at all with the filter view.  Those are the ones I slanted so they would be more legible (it gets worse if they are horizontal).
-Filter view does not seem to work with Google Sheets version for online viewing, unless you create a temporary filter view yourself.  Even tried allowing editing mode and locking the sheets, but that didn’t work either. (https://productforums.google.com/d/msg/docs/68RwOGYUCqA/PFFYjiaKBwAJ)
To view filters in online version: Data>Filter Views>Create new temporary filter view
The .xlsx file of the spreadsheet has the filters.
-Likely some minor mistakes due to copy/paste errors or excessive dragging of cell data. (please point out so I can fix them)



Pirates CSG Master Spreadsheet

Question of the day: Which of these game pieces would you most want to use? Which ones excite you the most?




The following should eventually be updated from ShoutEngine so they will be available when they get the podcast.



Google Play Music



Info on the Miniature Trading crisis: http://m.miniaturetrading.com/im/forum/viewtopic/t=9350///

Pirates CSG Master Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/18Z-x-z9gaWiKFLk-kw1weamc0A1-NxMN3xLjWWKsUmA/edit?usp=sharing

Pros of my spreadsheet:
-Don’t have to scroll to the right for anything important (flavor text and treasure values off to the right) (Basically a rule of Pirates CSG spreadsheets in my opinion – if you can’t easily see all gameplay-relevant data without scrolling, columns should be shrunk down for ease of use.)
-All flavor text included
-Factions color coded for maximum ease of use (I like the new design so much that I think I will be converting my custom sets to the same color scheme!)
-Took the best stuff from each resource used (Holofernes’ notes from Jolly Roger + filtering, flavor text from Wizkids spreadsheets, Miniature Trading database for cannons and some flavor text (a/b for crewfer twofers/etc are lowercase because that is how they appear on the WK documents)
-Includes unreleased and “lost” items from official Wizkids documents

-Some columns do not display well at all with the filter view. Those are the ones I slanted so they would be more legible (it gets worse if they are horizontal).
-Filter view does not seem to work with Google Sheets version for online viewing, unless you create a temporary filter view yourself. Even tried allowing editing mode and locking the sheets, but that didn’t work either. (https://productforums.google.com/d/msg/docs/68RwOGYUCqA/PFFYjiaKBwAJ)
To view filters in online version: Data>Filter Views>Create new temporary filter view
The .xlsx file of the spreadsheet has the filters.
-Likely some minor mistakes due to copy/paste errors or excessive dragging of cell data. (please point out so I can fix them)

Listened to this playlist while working on the master spreadsheet: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR_xCgMZxpEhsLTENwBgZUWQ2FnpuZCnW

Woelf has shared some original Wizkids spreadsheets with me to help in my process to create a “master spreadsheet” that I hope to turn into a second database, similar to the one at Miniature Trading. In these incredible documents are many “juicy tidbits” of information, a true treasure trove of cool stuff for a Pirates fanatic like me. Smile

How crazy is this?! New Pirates information 13 years later! XD I can’t wait to use these new game pieces in games sometime.


Take the podcast survey! https://goo.gl/forms/CsnwVmi3qhtqik323
Podcast length poll on MT: http://m.miniaturetrading.com/im/forum/viewtopic/t=9155///

Sign the Petition! https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bring-back-pirates-of-the-cursed-seas

If you’d like more Pirates audio content, check out my blog.

Guide to huge games of Pirates CSG

Guide to huge games of Pirates CSG

A HUGE game of Pirates CSG!

Guide to huge games of Pirates CSG

As many of you know, I love making my Pirates games as big as possible. With considerable experience in this field, I have learned a lot about what it takes to play long games. I may expand upon this thread in the future, but at least this is a start. This is not meant to deter anyone from attempting these kinds of things, but rather as a warning to be prepared.

A “huge” game is subjective, but I’d start by suggesting anything that exceeds 1,000 points is huge. That can be 1,000 points at the start (ex: a 2 player 500 point game, or a 5 player 200 point game), or 1,000 points at the game’s peak if it is a cumulative game. This is not to say that 800 points is low, but rather big or “quite large”. There’s no exact science to it, but I think 1,000+ points is about right.

Now that I’ve established what I’m talking about, here are my tips and tricks to making these behemoths work.

1. You must have immense amounts of passion and time.

These games are not for the faint of heart. You really have to LOVE Pirates CSG to even make it through to the end. It’s also a big plus if you like the historical topic of naval warfare (specifically during the age of sail), since with larger games come more realistic navies and battles. As for the time portion, I would recommend establishing some kind of endgame rules if you know you have a limited amount of time. It could be a certain date, a certain number of turns, or whatever else fits your criteria (also consider the biggest fleet by point size when an endgame condition is met). Obviously if you’re playing a “regular” non-cumulative game, the game still ends with the last treasure coin. However, cumulative games have the potential to be infinite in length, which is why you may want to consider an artificial endgame scenario, rather than playing until there’s only one fleet left.

2. Planning is huge.

For Economy Edition, I allowed two full weeks for preparation and planning. It can be shorter if your “real life” isn’t busy at the time, or if you’re planning something smaller than a game like Economy.

Ask yourself these questions:

Where will the game be played?
How many players?
How many points? (Including the starting fleet for a cumulative game; I’d recommend 20, 30, or 40.)

What playing surface will be used? Are you going to write battle reports? Are you going to take pictures? If so, how aesthetically pleasing do you want your game to be? Will you make or purchase custom islands and terrain for use in the game?

How many islands will be used? (home islands? wild islands? mysterious islands?)
How much terrain will be used? Do you want to string terrain together and/or feature certain types of terrain more heavily than others?
Will any house rules be used?

Which factions will be participating? Are there pre-set/permanent alliances to beef up weaker factions? What about privateer rules?

Will there be unique treasures?
How will the gold system work? For a cumulative game, how often is treasure replenished? What is the maximum number of coins that can be on a wild island? If treasure is replenished, are UT’s ever replenished as well? (Not necessarily the same UT’s you’ve already used in the game, but do UT’s appear outside of the setup?)

Lastly, what are your goals for the game? Do you want it to exceed a certain point total? What strategies are you focusing on? Does each fleet have certain game pieces and combos they’re looking to use since they can’t use them in a smaller game?

3. Tips from experience

These tips are mostly from things I’ve done wrong. I generally get better and better at doing this with every huge game, but it’s almost inevitable that something will come up or that something will go wrong.

– Don’t place the islands too far apart. The more open ocean there is to travel, the slower the game will progress, and the more time you’ll spend sailing around. Once you have dozens of ships in play, it does become tedious to move each and every one of them turn after turn. Also, games are generally more exciting and fast-paced when things are closer together, and huge games are no exception. I would recommend ~2L between islands, but definitely make a few closer or farther so the ocean doesn’t look or play too artificially. I would recommend stringing terrain together and placing it next to and touching islands.

– Don’t play on the floor, especially if it’s the room where someone sleeps! Even if the ocean is out of the walkway and away from potential disturbances, your game is never safe! Don’t suffer like I did. If you do play on tables, you may need more than one to accommodate such a large playing area.

– Don’t overestimate how much you can play. Depending on your life circumstances, try to play an hour or two per day, or possibly 1 turn per day. The key is to be consistent. It may go fast at first, but when purchases are made in a cumulative game, it really slows down. For games exceeding 1,000 points, I’d allow at least an hour for turns, with more time necessary for purchases and battles.

– Be realistic about how long the game is going to take. I only allowed 3 weeks for my Century of the Empires (CotE) game, which I wrongly thought would be enough. Depending on how ambitious your goals are, try to allow multiple months. Giving the game a longer window also allows you to (hopefully) focus more on non-Pirates stuff, which gives you flexibility. That being said, if your game exceeds 2,000 points, it’s very difficult to make much progress unless you devote a considerable effort to the game. I have found that each round of turns takes around 1 hour for every thousand points in play, though it certainly varies. (ex: a game with 2,500 total points in play could take around 2.5 hours to play one round of turns)

– Plan out your purchases. For a cumulative game, it’s tempting to want to play constantly so the game can progress and the fleets can grow larger. However, it’s possible to fall into a “purchasing trance” and simply launch random ships turn after turn until all of the fleets just resemble massive gold fleets with no direction or strategy. This is fine at the beginning of games, but once you’ve got between 100 and 300 points running gold, you should think more about the specific strategies that each faction should use to try and dominate the sea.

– The more table space and time you have, the better. I cannot overemphasize that enough, especially the time part.

4. My history of huge games

Here are the different huge games I’ve played at various points in time. I’ve linked to the battle reports for them, as well as a summary of each one.

– Cumulative game from June 2011

Battle Report

Summary: My first cumulative game, at least as far as I can tell. This may be my favourite battle report I’ve ever written, even though I wrote most of the report years after the game took place. This is my most nostalgic game of Pirates. It’s the only actual game to feature the harbour system, which was mostly used during Historical Fantasy Scenarios.

Pros: Epic battles, massive fun with the Cursed Conch and it’s effect on the game, and using the harbour system in a real game.

Cons: Far too much distance between islands and harbours, not to mention the locations of the harbours themselves on the ocean. I used an entire room for this game, and as a result the English and French harbours were considerably more isolated than the Spanish, Pirate, and American harbours near the middle of the sea.

Overall size: Unknown. I never did a point count, but according to my original reports, there were over 100 ships in play at some point. Estimated size between 1,200 and 2,000 total points. I used almost my entire room for the ocean, so it was a very long rectangle with another rectangle for part of it (shaped somewhat like 00oo). After measuring the same area, the total length was about 15 feet. The narrow end of the rectangle had the English and Spanish harbors (3.5 feet wide), while the bigger end with the Pirate, American, and French harbors was 6.5 feet wide. When combining these two areas (8.5×3.5 and 6.5×6.5), it gives a total ocean size of 72 square feet!

– First 5 player 500 point game (August 2011)

Battle Report

Summary: Still the largest “regular” game I’ve played, this was the first of three 5 player 500 point games. The first one was definitely the best of the three, and it remains one of the absolute best games I’ve ever played. It featured a lot of memorable moments, and the finish was downright epic, including the top 3 fleets being within 5 gold of each other!

Pros: Start out with long turns, and then the game gets faster as you go along (the opposite of cumulative games). Very fun and fast-paced gameplay, with a lot of big decisions affecting the outcome.

Cons: None.

Overall size: 2,520 points at the start of the game. This includes the four 0LR +5 crew. Essentially a 2,500 point game. 157 total ships.

– Second 5 player 500 point game (February 2012)

Battle Report

Summary: Similar to the first one, just not as exciting and memorable.

Pros: Same as before.

Cons: Not as exciting as the first 2,500 point game.

Overall size: 2,520 total points. 165 total ships.

– Pirates CSG combined with RISK (June 2012)

Battle Report (the rules are in the post, and more recently I’ve posted them to BGG)

Summary: This remains my only personal custom ruleset. Combining the land warfare of RISK with the naval warfare of Pirates, this game was epic indeed. Coming up with the rules and designing a global ocean took a lot of time, but I was eventually satisfied with the setup. This was also my first time playing a huge game that utilized a custom ruleset.

Pros: Truly realistic “global” scale, using real-life territories, continents, and locations. Very interesting take on the world of Pirates CSG to combine it with another game. Grand scale that makes you feel like you’re playing a game of life rather than just a petty war in the Caribbean.

Cons: The RISK portion was underpowered. If I play this game again I’m going to edit the ruleset so troops can acquire gold over land.

Overall size: Unknown. Definitely a huge game, but probably under 2,000 total points. The only clue is that at the beginning of the final battle, the two combatants combined for 62 total ships, with the other fleets having already been eliminated.

– Third 5 player 500 point game – Defence of St. Helens Island (June 2012)


Battle Report (background info in the previous post, but a very short battle report)

Summary: The biggest deathmatch I’ve ever played. A fun scenario, but the fleets were probably too big (maybe the only time you’ll hear me say that!) for it. It was more memorable than the second 2,500 point game but slightly disappointing overall. However, the scenario itself is brilliant and rather interesting.

Pros: HUGE deathmatch! Lots of chaotic fighting, especially around the forts and entrance points.

Cons: Fleets were a bit too big – lots and lots of rolling dice.

Overall size: 2,520 points. 137 total ships.

– Century of the Empires (June 2013)


Battle Report

Summary: A monumental achievement for me on so many levels. The MT era of battle reports was born, as well as the advent of pictures. This was the first cumulative game ruleset created by someone other than me that I played. This game and its reports redefined my standards for battle reports, and I’d like to think they’ve only gotten better and clearer since then. The game itself was absolutely fantastic; CotE is one of the best rulesets created for this game.

Pros: Epic ruleset, huge ocean, big fleets. There are certain things in the ruleset that mimic real life, colonization, and empire in ways that RISK cannot. I love upgrades and the slow but natural pace of the game. Definitely a ruleset worth playing over and over again.

Cons: Inevitable rich-get-richer/poor-get-poorer nature of a cumulative game. Also takes forever, which I didn’t realize. 3 weeks was a decent start, but not long enough.

Overall size: 1,212 points in the sea at the end of turn 41, when gold production stopped. This sounds low based on the scope and nature of the game; it felt bigger than 1,200. The game ended up taking 62 total turns. The ocean was somewhat of a giant square, as you can see in the pictures, somewhere around 6 feet by 6 feet.

– Pirates: Economy Edition (June 2015)


Battle Report

Summary: After two years of smaller games, it was finally time to take on my most ambitious project yet. The ruleset was key, and it proved to be possibly my favourite ruleset yet, mostly because it limits the rich-get-richer/poor-get-poorer aspect that usually dominates cumulative games.

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking to myself that I wanted to make this game bigger than anything I had ever done. I accomplished that goal, but at what cost?

Pros: Biggest physical game ever (at the time). Best-looking game I’ve ever played (at the time). Unique, custom made islands, terrain, and locations used for the first time ever. New concepts including the lagoon, arch, and gold-laden shipwreck. A blue ocean was used for the first time. MASSIVE fleets, huge launchings, epic strategy plays, incredibly diverse fleets, extremely unique ruleset that made the game more fair, shiny gold, shiny silver, chain exploring with native canoes, tons of fun, very intense battles, crazy house rules. Also introduced stuff from my custom set, CC Mike’s set, and RtSS. Nuff said?

Cons: The biggest disaster in my history of Pirates CSG. A horrific accident destroyed the entire setup and many ships were destroyed beyond repair. The bigger the stakes, the bigger the potential fall.

Overall size: 2,846 points at the end of turn 33. At the time, this was the biggest game I’ve ever played. Turn 33 alone saw over 1,000 points’ worth of purchases, meaning that one turn saw more stuff introduced than entire games start off with! Those 2,846 points accounted for 163 total ships, showing how heavily crewed a lot of them were. A number of turns later, another ship count revealed 181 ships in play, making this one of the biggest games ever by ship count as well as point count. In addition, with a higher number of ships the second time around, it’s possible that the game exceeded 3,000 total points. The ocean was about 5 feet long by 3 feet wide.

– VASSAL Campaign Game 1 (February-May 2016)

Battle Report

Summary: After reviving the VASSAL module, Xerecs and I became excited by the possibilities of campaign games on the module. We hastily planned the first one, which would be a “regular” cumulative game with no special campaign ruleset or many house rules. Each of us controlled 3 fleets, which we HAD to play independently.

Pros: First campaign game played remotely (as far as we know). The first of many campaign games between Xerecs and a7xfanben! Plenty of custom game pieces were used. In addition, the interaction between leaders through the VASSAL chat was very unique (much of it wasn’t recorded, but the game was more complex than the battle reports show). It also became the largest game of all time (making my Economy Edition the biggest physical game ever played haha).

Cons: Typical negatives of a standard CG. The rich got richer, and the poor got poorer, almost without exception throughout the entire game. As the game swelled to enormous size, the map started to look a bit too small, but the chaotic and bloody War for CG1 brought the game to a relatively quick end. This was about as “normal” as campaign games get, but it was a fantastic test of VASSAL’s capability (as well as Xerecs and I’s capability!) to run a long campaign game. One of the biggest problems concerned the lag – when the game size reached ~2,000+ points, zooming out to see more of the ocean produced a lag in the module. This was countered by simply ignoring the lag, and sometimes by not zooming out at all.

Overall size:
Official new records: (some since broken, see Command the Oceans below)
Total points: 3,516 (likely reached about 3,700 soon afterwards)
Total ships: 208
Largest single-turn launching: 628 gold (English battle fleet)
Largest recorded single-fleet point total: Spanish at 1,631 points
Largest fleet of any faction: Spanish at 111 ships
Ocean size: Using a pixel-to-feet converter (a standard ocean block on the module is 3000×3000 pixels), the ocean was 7.8 feet long by 5.2 feet wide (40.56 square feet).

– VASSAL Campaign Game 2 (February-December 2016)

Battle Report

Summary: For the second VASSAL campaign game, which started just a few days after the first one began, Xerecs and I wanted more than just 2 players. The game would be played at a slower pace than CG1, and we managed to bring El_Cazador and ownage98 into the fold. This brought us to a whopping 4 players, a large number of people to play a campaign game with, let alone remotely using VASSAL. Each player would control 1 faction-pure fleet, and just like CG1 there was no special ruleset.

Pros: This gave El_Cazador his first campaign game experience, and allowed Xerecs and I to have a distraction from the intensity of CG1. It was also a great chance to try out some custom game pieces, which we did. As the game took longer than CG1, an edit to the module was completed during the game, which allowed the first usage of 10 masters on VASSAL, during a campaign game no less.

Cons: A huge disappointment. After committing to the game, ownage98 realized he was in way over his head, leaving the game after just a few turns. This took the Americans out of the game and left a void in the western area of the sea. It also left us with 3 players, which was only 1 more than CG1. Other problems began to develop. The ocean was a bit “tall”, and I should have made it as wide as the ocean for CG1. El_Cazador’s frequent absences and hiatuses were a much bigger problem, as he was too busy and/or disinterested to pursue remotely consistent play. As you can see from the battle reports, the game went for long stretches with no turns being played, and even when turns were played, they often ceased soon afterwards for another hiatus. There was no combat until late June, after starting the game in February. You’d think that would spark more playing, but again the game suffered a huge delay, with the next turn happening in late September. El_Cazador tried to sail his fleet off the map before Xerecs and I convinced him to keep playing. The game became lopsided towards the end, and an interference by the dominant faction unintentionally caused the game to stop and end prematurely after a chain reaction which would have led to a predictable finish even had we kept playing.

Overall size:
Final point count: 82 ships, 1,417 points
Largest fleet: English at 1,222 total points (a half-turn after the last report with some launchings)
Possible records:
The longest campaign game I’ve played by how long it took (10 months), but certainly not close by how many turns were played or total time in hours spent playing the game.
7 ten masters in the English fleet (though “only” 6 for most of the late-game action)
6 cancellers in the English fleet
Ocean size: about 27 square feet (a 2×2 grid using regular ocean tiles)

– Command the Oceans (September-December 2017)

Battle Report

Summary: With the introduction of the third Ocean Terrain Contest, I made a bunch of cool new pieces to use in games. However, I wanted a way to show them off in an actual game where they were used. Thus, a “last hurrah” of sorts in regards to physical campaign games. A HUGE game was planned, with house rules created for the gameplay and for the new island/terrain pieces I made. The game quickly became the best-looking and biggest game I’ve ever played, eventually far surpassing even Economy Edition in just about every category you can think of.

Pros: I got to show off many of my cool island/terrain pieces. However, the game became much more than just that, since now this game is more about its own legacy than OTC3. I experimented with various house rules. I got into some video content for the first time for a physical game. I did a lot of awesome narrative stuff to make the game exciting and fun to read about, including some big surprises and twists. I had a lot of fun with the strategic and tactical side of things, especially with a whopping EIGHT factions participating. For some factions, I got to use almost my entire collection since the game got so big. I have over 3,500 awesome pictures to use for years to come. The battle reports have inspired multiple people with their own CG efforts, and tons of people have enjoyed reading about the game. Almost the same things about EE could be said here, as it became the greatest campaign game ever by most aspects you could consider.

Cons: The most frustrating, trying, and difficult game I’ve ever played. The physical hardship of EE was multiplied by 3, both for the length of the game (1 month vs. 3) and the points involved. A full round of turns in a 9,000 point game can take 8 hours, so things progress at a glacial pace regardless of how often you play. There was a lot of bumping things, knocking stuff over, moving between rooms to check a crew setup for a gunship, etc etc. Overall it’s an experience I would not want to repeat again. The lessons hold though – have an unlimited amount of time to play the game, and try to play entirely on tables. You need serious real estate and literally unlimited time to get these things right.

Overall size:
Official new records:
Total points: 9,078
Total ships: 509
Largest recorded single-fleet point total: Pirates at 2,347
Largest fleet of any faction: Pirates at 131 ships
Ocean size: 42 square feet between the 3 oceans involved.

– VASSAL Campaign Game 3 (September 2017-March 2018) 

Battle Report

Summary: After having 3 different players combined between CG1 and CG2, CG3 set a big new record at 6 players, with 4 of them being new to campaign games. It was decided that the Economy Edition ruleset would be used, and the ocean would be the same size as CG1.

Pros: Having a lot of players was fun, and gave them some valuable experience with a large game. The EE rules are good, and some players utilized game pieces from RtSS along with some customs.

Cons: The game eventually became lopsided and one faction was able to run away with the game. Unfortunately there was a domino effect that resulted in 3 of the 6 players hardly getting to play, so their first CG experience was quite limited.

Overall size: 2,414 points (American fleet at the end)
Ocean size: Same as CG1, so 40.56 square feet.
Official new records:
Largest recorded single-fleet point total: Americans at 2,414 points
Most cancellers ever seen in a fleet? (likely): 9 (Americans)
Most players ever seen in a campaign game? (impossible to know for sure): 6
Most players ever seen in a virtual/VASSAL campaign game: 6

Game Ideas – Pirates Constructible Strategy Game

Game Ideas

This is a page for all the different ideas for games that I have heard about or created. I think it will be useful for reference in case any players want some fresh takes on Pirates CSG. Hopefully it will also spark interest for people to start playing. 😀  If anyone has more ideas, please post them here!

Huge compilation of scenarios all in one document (tocoking)

Cadet-Captain Mike’s Pirates Page (there are a few scenarios that aren’t listed in the above document)

PotCS Adventure Book Game Scenarios

Scenarios at Pojo

-There are some scenarios towards the bottom of this page from the old Wizkids site

ChaosReaper’s scenarios

captain_vendari’s scenarios

Defence of St. Helens (deathmatch scenario) (Gustawicyryl)

Circle of Blood scenario (Riz’s website was taken down, but luckily I copied the scenario into my Pirates google doc.)

Water World (brettb45)

Uncharted Territories

Scenarios from a fansite (docbrown)

-An idea by godmason to have a single wild island with at least 100 gold on it, surrounded by terrain and possibly some forts and flotillas.

The Curse of the Flying Dutchman Scenario (Prince Rana)

The Governer’s Daughter Scenario! (CasualSax)

Hole in the bottom of the sea (marhawkman)

Race scenario (BootStrapBill)

Jade Invaders (el_cazador)

Joyful Seas (marhawkman)

Balancing Secret Missions Scenario (unknown)

Captain Nemo scenario (captainhawkins)

Luxury Goods to Ports Square Scenario (Ed+Capin’Gerg)

Campaign Games:
The Caribbean Game (a7xfanben, xerecs, and likely some guests)

Economy Edition (cannonfury) (absolutely amazing campaign game that I played in June 2015) (original post) (Battle Report of xerecs’ Economy Edition game)

Century of the Empires (Sariouriel) (fantastic ruleset with a battle report that gives an idea of how the game would play) (Battle Report of xerecs’ CotE game)

Century of Economy (xerecs’ fusion of Economy Edition and Century of the Empires)

Pirates CSG combined with the board game RISK (a7xfanben)

Pirates of the Cursed Seas Campaign (commodore vendari)

Colonize the Caribbean (louisxiv)

ARMADA (Wired_Wolf)

-Cumulative games – treasure is spent as the game progresses, making the game bigger and bigger (these games usually either end with a time limit where you count up how many points each player has, or it devolves into a deathmatch).

To check out how fun, grand, and long these games can get, check out The Huge Game Legacy Thread.

Variant Rulesets:
The Pirates of Catan (Pirates CSG combined with the game Settlers of Catan) (woelf) (Quick Reference Guide)

Tattered Sails and Shattered Gunwales (Custom rules that incorporate the effect of wind) (ThomasC)

Complete Alternate Rules (EarthwormJim)

Buccaneer (crikeymiles)

Letter of Marque (Uethym)

Wooden Ships and Iron Men (scribidinus)

Master Mariner (Tim Kask)

Custom Sets: (Use existing ships as proxies, or create your own game pieces)

Pirates of the Age of Sail and Pirates of the Epic Seas (A7XfanBen)

Return of Davy Jones (Xerecs)

Fiends of the Blood Islands (Xerecs and j_w_darkhurst)

Pirates of Spherus Magna

Cadet-Captain Mike’s Set

Pirates of the Cursed Seas: The Great Sea (el_cazador)

Pirates of the Cursed Seas: Rise of the Moon Sorcerer (el_cazador)

Pirates: Treachery on the High Seas (vladsimpaler)

Pirates: The Golden Age (vladsimpaler)

Pirates: Back to War (Player-Made Set) (the_grandmaster)

Pirates of the Forgotten Coast (Riz)

Pirates of the Kraken Sea (mr_awesome) (original discussion thread)

Pirates of the Tolling Depths (alanqsmithee)

Custom Ships Organized Version (Custom ShipsCustom Ships 2PwB version)


Cadet-Captain Mike’s Random Setup Tables

New Pirates CSG Concepts for a New Age (relatively recent thread on here containing many interesting ideas)

Multiplayer setups thread (linked to the post concerning custom terrain rules, but there are other ideas throughout the thread as well)

-Have a Sealed Pack game!

-Look up fleets and use them.

-Pick your absolute favourite game pieces and create fleets just for fun. Also check out Miniature Reviews of game pieces you have to inspire their usage!

-Use the Return to Savage Shores game pieces by using proxies. This post contains links to all of the RtSS flashbacks.

-500 point games – these are huge games that take a while but are quite fun. I’ve played 3, including one as the Defence of St. Helens scenario, but the first one was the best.

-300 point games pitting a fleet of huge ships against a fleet of small and tiny ships. The third paragraph of this post gives a brief insight into my experience with this idea.

-100 point deathmatches (when you’re looking for a bloody battle without gold)

-Regular 40 point games. What I like to do is have a 3-game series between the fleets to determine which one is better. Sometimes I do a tournament with at least four fleets, and one time I did eight.

-Make fleets using ONLY game pieces that you’ve never used before. This will open your eyes to some ships and crew that are overlooked and underrated, not to mention that it’s actually fun to change things up and stop using your HMS Titan and La Monarca.

-Vary the playing area. Use a bigger table/floor space than you usually do, or confine the game to a very small space.

-Points in play + gold for the win. (Whoever has the most points in play AND gold in play at the end of the game is the winner.)

Keen eyes in the fog (Ritterton)

Wind Rules v1.1 (LionFish42)

Simultaneous movement and phased turns (Lufbery)

Hiring Mercenaries during the game (etcmn)

Alternate abilities for mysterious islands (woelf)
New ideas for Mysterious Islands (louisxiv)

Aaaar Me Hearties! (Chris H)

Pirates of the Cerulean Seas: Miscellaneous House Rules (Ryan Hackel)

I had a flurry of ideas once I heard about and played Water World. This is what I wrote down; I may expand upon it or explain myself better in the future:
-Fog home islands (HI’s move around, combine with HI raiding)
-One HI for all fleets (+ one HI for all fleets but with islands that have multiple beaches (inspired by rossinaz’s islands))
-Sea is entirely made of terrain – no open ocean (maybe with icebergs) (example game)
-Every ship automatically has the HI raiding ability (maybe with one HI for all fleets, fog HI’s)
-All gold starts on HI’s, players rob each other (probably have every ship get the HI raiding ability)
-Use only Unique Treasures, possibly with just 1 wild island (tested out)

Prize value/incentivize captures

-All sunken ships become wrecks at the bottom of the ocean.  Submerged submarines can be given explore actions underwater where they sunk to recover gold (which is NOT revealed when ship is sunk), + crew that now have Ghost Ship or Eternal keywords.  If shipwreck within S of an island, can use an action to try and raise it (only works on 5-6 or with Hoist ship, etc).

-Uneven tables at different heights.  Waterfall into bay. Can only go down onto lower ocean, not back up unless Turbine/Submarine (perhaps sea creatures too).  1 whirlpool on lower table that can be used to get to 2+ whirlpools on higher table.

-Table bottleneck – line up 2 tables diagonally with small space connecting them.  Can also create a bottleneck with land dividing ocean with tables still aligned.

Beginner’s Guide to Pirates CSG

Beginner’s Guide to Pirates CSG

Beginner's guide to Pirates CSG

An epic game of Pirates in progress!

Welcome to the world of Pirates CSG!  Glad to have you aboard the ship!  😀

This might be a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s meant as a comprehensive Beginner’s guide to Pirates CSG for people who have just gotten started.


First off, introduce yourself!

Next, you’ll want the rules for the game. You likely received them in a pack or other purchase, but if not, here they are:
Start Here rules
Complete Game rules
Master Keyword List (very useful to have on hand since your copy of the Complete Game rules won’t have all the keywords in it)

-You’ll need a BoardGameGeek (BGG) account in order to download those Complete Game rules and the Master Keyword List, but we’d highly recommend signing up. BGG is a great website, and in terms of Pirates CSG it has a very unique files and pictures section not found anywhere else on the web.

-Alternatively, you can download my Basic Rules, which combine the Start Here and Complete Game rules into one document. However, keep in mind that I’ve made some edits to the rules to make the game more realistic and adding a few house rule tweaks. (House rules are custom rulings that players come up with based on playing preferences and other factors) If you use them, just make sure to tell anyone else that uses them that some stuff has been changed. That said, the changes are generally for the better, so have at it!  🙂

Sometimes the rules won’t cover how to deal with a situation when playing the game. In those cases, you’ll want to have these documents:
The Pirate Code (FAQ/Errata)
Reference Diagrams

-AFTER consulting the various rules documents, if you still don’t have an answer to your question, ask it in the Rules thread (where you can also clarify what violates the No-Duplicates rule and what doesn’t). Luckily for the community, Woelf, the former official Rules Arbitrator for Wizkids when the game was still in production, has remained active! If nobody else can answer your question, he will definitely be able to. (but he’s a very busy man, so give him time to answer!)

What to buy

Link to “Pirates CSG” general search on eBay + Wizkids Pirates packs

The cheapest set is Ocean’s Edge. This is a nice starter set between the cost, the diversity of game pieces it offers, and the fact that it has all of the “Big 6” factions.

The first five sets (Spanish Main, Crimson Coast, Revolution, Barbary Coast, and South China Seas) are the most historical, and many people agree that they are the highest quality sets as well, ranking high in various surveys and polls over the years. The sixth set, Davy Jones’ Curse, is where Wizkids began to experiment more with the supernatural with the introduction of the Cursed and sea creatures. The few sets that followed DJC (Mysterious Islands, Frozen North, and Ocean’s Edge) were a mix of historical stuff and plenty of fantasy/less historical stuff such as Vikings and submarines. There were a few design changes in the Pirates of the Caribbean set, where Wizkids partnered with Disney for a movie tie-in set (keep in mind this set only has the English and Pirate factions). The final 3 sets (Rise of the Fiends, Fire and Steel, and Savage Shores) were the most “out there”, with odd ship designs joining the sea creatures and ship speeds and point costs reaching a new low in the reverse power creep (in other words, as sets were released they became less and less competitive with the stuff from the older sets).

In general:
-The older the set, the more historical it is.
-The older the set, the “better” it is (in terms of gameplay).
(There are exceptions to these rules but this is a good guideline)

Hill’s Wholesale Gaming is a great place to buy packs, but eBay is better for specific game pieces, used lots, great deals, and finding rare stuff like 10 masters.  You can check out my eBay history guide to see what things have sold for at auction on eBay in the past.


So you’re ready to play the game! But where to start? You’ll need a fleet, and some kind of opponent to go up against (which can include yourself playing another fleet).

If you don’t know how to play, you can check out my simple tutorials on youtube:
How to play Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Part 1: Start Here rules tutorial

How to play Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Part 2: Complete Game rules tutorial

Since Pirates is such a wide-open and customizable game, there’s really not a definitive “fleet-making guide”. There are so many options that it would have to be an encyclopedia! 🙂  However, I made a page on my fansite that gives the general information that you’ll want to keep in mind.

You’ll probably want to start at a small build total, such as the standard 40 points, in order to get used to the gameplay mechanics and fleet construction strategy aspect. Over time, you may develop an affinity for a specific faction or handful of factions. My Sets and Factions pages can help you determine which sets to buy and which factions to try out, based on your preferences.

If you’re very unsure of how to make a fleet or want more guidance, there are 300+ 40 point fleets at Miniature Trading (MT) that you can try out!  The fleets section in general is a great resource.

When discussing gameplay on the various Pirates sites, there is a lot to know and learn. This page has an acronym list can help you navigate the waters. I’ve also compiled some tips for gameplay, and Cadet-Captain Mike’s page has a TON of great info.

Feel free to post what happens in your games in the Battle Reports thread. (a report does not have to be long or include pictures to be good)

What if I don’t have anyone to play with? What if I don’t have any Pirates stuff right now?

Guess what? You can play remotely with anyone in the world over an online server! Even if you don’t have any physical stuff!

VASSAL is an free, open source engine for running boardgames over an online server. Luckily for all of us, former MT member bj_o created a module for Pirates CSG! I made a few edits to the module in 2016, which you can find here: VASSAL module

That page has links to download the program and module, as well as a guide to getting started. In addition, I made a tutorial for how to use it.

The module has seen at least 23 players on it since it’s “rebirth” in early 2016. I’m on the module every week, and I’d love to have more opponents, especially for campaign games!


If you’re more of a collector, eBay is generally the best site for purchases. Check out this price history to see about what things are worth or have been going for recently.

You can also take advantage of Miniature Trading’s main purpose – trading miniatures! This page gives a nice overview of the site’s various features, including adding items to your haves and wants lists. Use the search for a miniature function to figure out what you have, don’t have, and want. The trading how-to guide is also quite useful. It’s often better to PM (private message) a user to ask them about a trade offer before sending it, but don’t hesitate to reach out to people either way!


Go forth and plunder, new pirate!  😀

After playing your first game, there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Try out a trade. Collect the rarest of the rare. Seek out admirals in other countries and challenge them to games on the VASSAL module.

For those who want to go deeper into these waters, boy do we have stuff for you!  😀

If you really want to “go down the rabbit hole”, there is an endless amount of content to dive into. Checking out Game Ideas would be a good start, not to mention the entire Thread of Threads. Beyond that, you can give up your soul.

Finally, Pirates with Ben might be the best site for Pirates CSG, but it’s not nearly the only one. Check out this page for a plethora of other options, many of which have unique features and community members. I am a member on all of them, so if you ever have a question, just ask.

Thank you for reading. Now go play!  😀

Ranking the Sets

Ranking the Sets

Here are my rankings based on godmason’s criteria, originally posted on Miniature Trading. However, I have some different opinions on how to apply the different categories, which you can tell from my comments. Also, I’m almost treating the Collectibility as /3 and Miscellaneous as /2 for the total of 5 for that score. This is partly to add extra points for overall set greatness, or “likeability”. (Also, I had a little too much fun bashing stuff in the “new content” section, so some of my comments there can be taken with a grain of salt haha)

Spanish Main
– Art: 4/5. Great historically-based artwork that set the foundation for how the hulls and decks would look for the rest of the sets. It may look bland nowadays but I’ve always liked the historical theme of Pirates a lot. The cards are the perfect parchment color for the 17th/18th century.
– Set Quality: 5/5. Tons of great ships, most of which are at least playable today. Large numbers of ships per faction meant that each was quite competitive. The standout ships are some of the most beloved and useful in history.
– New Content: 5/5. Tough not to give a 5 here – without this set, there’s no game. Things were fun right from the start, with enough abilities and combos to keep things interesting.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. Relatively easy to find, both back then and today. Not extremely difficult to get a full set, and rares were plentiful enough to keep you happy and not get bored with the typical rarity of CCG’s. Loses a point due to the somewhat inferior numbering system used in the first print runs, which becomes more confusing with the Unlimited edition’s release.
= Overall: 18/20. The gold standard and foundation for everything that came afterwards. Still a fan favorite!

Crimson Coast
– Art: 4/5. More nice historical designs, with slightly more flair than SM. Nice red background on the cards.
– Set Quality: 5/5. Large quantity of good or great ships for all main factions. For me, the forts make it from a 4.5 to a 5. Also, some rather memorable UT’s.
– New Content: 5/5. The final entry to the “Big 4”, France was immediately established as a powerhouse faction. Terrain was a HUGE addition, while forts were a great mechanic – very aesthetic and fun, while providing a nice diversion from the usual naval affairs.
– Collectability/Misc: 5/5. Picked up where SM left off with the faction-based checklist. A perfect little introduction to the super rare concept, and plenty of fantastic commons and uncommons for people with less money to spend. Almost loses a half point due to the cards seeming to fingerprint easily, but perhaps that’s just my experience.
= Overall: 19/20. I actually prefer SM, but CC could be considered a more “perfect” set.

– Art: 5/5. Absolutely agree with godmason above – simply fantastic!
– Set Quality: 4/5. The “best” set for gameplay, but unfortunately it was plagued by a small handful of OP (and arguably game-breaking) pieces. Also, I haven’t seen it discussed much, but the small Spanish representation and lack of inspiring named crew don’t help.
– New Content: 4/5. The Americans are the highlight, with events as the lowlight. Another batch of interesting UT’s and the SR pack help make things interesting.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. Collectibility gets a 3/3 here, but a point is lost due to the overall “likeability” being lower than SM and CC in my opinion. Indeed, the named crew options are rather atrocious for 3 out of the 5 nations, while the massive mistake that was events has not been fully corrected (banhammer please).
= Overall: 17/20. The favorite of many old-school players, and for good reason. The reasons listed above keep it from being the best set ever.

Barbary Coast 
– Art: 5/5. Tons of great artwork – the Barbary Corsairs are arguably the prettiest faction, while the crew art feels very thematic.
– Set Quality: 4/5. The Corsairs are the strongest minor faction in the game and arguably better overall than the Cursed, one of the eventual Big 6 factions. Many other quality ships from the other factions, and the set feels very balanced overall – a return to normalcy after some problems in RV. However, the lack of the Pirate faction and (for me at least) the lack of any larger (4 or 5 masted) square rigged ships hold this set back from being a standout.
– New Content: 4/5. Corsairs and galleys are welcome additions, but sometimes the set feels rather lackluster, especially in comparison to the first 3 sets. However, the combination of good named crew, fun UT’s, an awesome SR pack, and new editions of SM crew make up for the set being a little boring.
– Collectability/Misc: 3/5. The Corsairs hogged almost all of the rare ships, while the cardboard crew PR’s were somewhat obnoxious and bizarre after the already-established crew chips. IMO, this set feels like the least likable of the first 5, so it loses a point for miscellaneous/intagibles as well, partly due to the above deficiencies.
= Overall: 16/20. Interesting and cool, but doesn’t stand the test of time as well as SM/CC/RV.

South China Seas
– Art: 5/5. Godmason already nailed it: “Huge variety of artwork. Creative, yet keeps the factions distinct.” Very colorful, pretty, diverse. Throw in the crew and UT’s, and possibly the best set for artwork.
– Set Quality: 5/5. Absolutely amazing – as I’ve said before, I’ve fallen in love with this set over the past year and a half or so. The brief return of events can’t even keep it from a perfect 5, especially with the surprisingly good PR’s and the cool SR pack.
– New Content: 5/5. I agree that the Junk and Turtle Ship keywords were somewhat underwhelming, but the Jade Rebellion faction makes up for it. Throw in the first 10 master, and there’s not much to dislike.
– Collectability/Misc: 3/5. The hardest set to collect by far – commons from SCS can be harder to acquire than rares from other sets. It’s simply tough to get, and not quite as much fun to acquire since it will usually cost you a lot. However, this can also make you appreciate the ships more, as you’ll treasure them. The common PR’s make for a truly bizarre rarity distribution, as they can be cheaper than commons!
= Overall: 18/20. Probably my favorite set of the last 2 years, but imperfect due to collectibility problems and the return of events.

Davy Jones’ Curse
– Art: 4/5. The wacky advent of the Cursed highlights an underwhelming set for artwork. However, the crew art, American ships, and SR pack certainly keep the score from being a 3.
– Set Quality: 4/5. This set began the long slow decline of Pirates CSG. A reverse power creep started, and wouldn’t be reversed back until the final set. Sea monsters stink in-game, and the set features more boring ships than previous sets. However, a nice selection of named crew and a few standout ships per faction make it somewhat memorable.
– New Content: 2/5. The Cursed have always been the worst faction of the Big 6, even with their introductory set. Sea monsters have always been overpriced. A large portion of the existing customer base was alienated by the overemphasis on the supernatural and magical elements, which is arguably what started the end. Very close to a score of 1, if not for the inherent “coolness” factor.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. A point deducted for the low quality first print runs, but otherwise a fun one to buy. All 6 major factions for the first time, which leads to much collecting. I’m actually glad the Guichuan and LE’s are rare (they should be), and the SE boxes and cool SR pack are great reasons to buy DJC.
= Overall: 14/20. The beginning of the end. The glory days of Pirates were over, with the dark cloud of Cursed madness threatening to take over the beloved game. OK, I’m being too dramatic! Heh, definitely a good set but the reputation is somewhat horrible between how many people left the game soon afterwards and the scratching issues.

Mysterious Islands
– Art: 3/5. Some boring ships with a small handful of incredible standouts (including those little-known SE’s), along with decent artwork overall. Submarines were the highlight of the set, but they’re very lackluster and even hard to tell apart. I also didn’t enjoy the boring gray cards, though it fits with the Mercenary faction. (perhaps a tropical look would be too much)
– Set Quality: 3/5. The Mercenaries introduce an interesting dynamic to the game, and some of their game pieces have affected fleet-building ever since. Each faction got some solid if unspectacular ships, but plenty of mediocre/boring ships were introduced as well.
– New Content: 2/5. I enjoyed the Mysterious Islands, but some of them can be OP. The Mercenaries have always been the worst faction in the game, and submarines are often either useless or borderline OP (think deathmatches, marines, cancellers, etc). Novelty and excitement barely keep the score from being a 1. (for the second set in a row – when a lot of people can agree that the new stuff stinks, you know things are in decline)
– Collectability/Misc: 2/5. Not entirely collectible, between the low playability and lackluster PR’s (with the exception of the MiaB pack). The miscellaneous score has to suffer as well – this set can be rather boring and hasn’t stood the test of time that well for me. It doesn’t help that this set came out at a bad time – soon after the general brilliance of the “golden age” and when DJC (a superior set) and its sales likely set expectations too high. In addition, I noticed that the ships are generally more brittle than usual, which is especially bad for newer players.
= Overall: 10/20. As godmason said, bad execution. Perhaps more playtesting could have improved the new mechanics.

Frozen North
– Art: 3/5. Pretty much all of the longships are interesting, but most of the regular ships are not. The repetitive UT’s and mostly boring named crew don’t help. However, the French and Americans have some very pretty ships, and I think the rather dull look actually fits the theme rather well, keeping the score from being a 2. Though the white look of the cards is also very thematic, it’s hard not to prefer the vibrancy and color of the first 5 or 6 sets in terms of cards.
– Set Quality: 3/5. FN continues the trend of more mediocre ships where MI left off. I’ve noticed that the named crew, UT’s, and LE’s seem either fantastic or terrible. Plenty of playable ships, just not a lot that people prefer to use. In addition, I believe Cadet-Captain Mike proved that this was the slowest set for ship speeds.
– New Content: 1/5. Wow… where do you even start with this one? Icebergs are by far the most obnoxious terrain type – of course they should damage your ships, but moving them at the beginning of each player’s turn has consistently been the most-forgotten aspect of gameplay in my experience. They’re annoying to no end, and they look silly compared to the reefs and sargassos because they would never be flat. Then we have the Vikings, where the historicity of the set comes into question. Many people have lamented the Viking faction even more than the Mercenaries, simply because the timing of their exploits in real life is so far from the Age of Sail. However, I think the Longship keyword takes the cake for worst new content in this set. Viking longships didn’t even carry cannons as far as I know, but here they get the most potent offensive ability in the game just because they have small ships. The Vikings would be far better off with a different version of the keyword while functioning as a swarm nation.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. Not much to say here, other than the fact that FN remains one of the pricier sets.
= Overall: 11/20. A decent set strictly from a gameplay perspective. A rather strange direction to take the game in, and the reverse power creep continues.

Ocean’s Edge
– Art: 1/5. The ugliest ships are from this set. Overall the artwork is quite boring (Le Musarde lol – even the French got it), with a couple standouts (Zeus). Some of the ships are absolutely garish, and not in a good way (Salte el Tiburon).
– Set Quality: 3/5. A lot of mediocre and extremely boring ships. However, I didn’t give a 2 because there are some absolutely amazing finds here – the brief return of 6 masted junks, a few cool SE’s, two All-Powerful crew, surprisingly playable sea creatures, and some good 5 masters (except for the “new” Acorazado). In addition, the sheer quantity, especially when including the SE’s and LE’s, gives a ton of options for playing, which is great.
– New Content: 3/5. Titans are the best sea creatures by far, and can be rather good. Sea dragons aren’t so hot, but they’re also few in number. The sharks are absolute trash, so thank Wizkids for not releasing any more in later sets (or condemn them for even releasing them in the first place!). Catamarans have always seemed overrated to me, and their disproportionate size looks silly. Windcatchers have always seemed like a glorified 3 masted schooner, but the ones that came out are certainly interesting to play. I happen to love whirlpools, despite them not being realistic at all. Obviously a ton of new stuff – once again the sheer quantity helps the score because it gives options and pleases most people to some degree even if you only like one or two of the new things.
– Collectability/Misc: 5/5. I rate the collectibility as a 3/3 easily, and though I would normally put the miscellaneous score as 1/2, the collectibility is so high that I’m giving the overall category 5/5 (collectibility breaks the scale heh). The biggest set ever, extremely cheap packs (great for new players), very easy to get most of the main set. SE tins rereleased some older ships, while they and the SE’s weren’t terribly difficult to find. Throw in megapacks, the legendary Zeus, and a tough LE set to collect, and you have a crazy collector’s dream while still being the most accessible set to new players due to how common it is and the low price.
= Overall: 12/20. A set famous for being very diverse, common, and cheap. The prevalence of OE makes it very easy to get sick of; I have once again tired of it after a short renaissance last year.

– Art: 3/5. Design changes actually annoyed me, as I found the old look more pleasing and I like using pennants. However, limiting how often the ships break is definitely a good thing. In addition, more rounded hull and mast tabs usually make for easier assembly.
The actual artwork was pretty cool and fun to look at. However, a bunch of it was reused from earlier sets, but the biggest problem was the total failure to make the Endeavour, Dauntless, and Interceptor look ANYTHING like the ships from the movies. An inexcusable gaffe that nearly ruins the experience of playing those ships (so silly looking that the excellent Flying Dutchman and Black Pearls don’t make up for it). Notable for introducing the split card colors which stayed until the end. I did enjoy the crew and UT pictures, as it really ties the movies into the game quite well. I think the kraken design and artwork is about as good as could be expected.
– Set Quality: 3/5. Lots of good ships with a few great ones as well. This gave the Pirates and English that many more options (including very nice crew options), which neither of them really needed. I deducted a point for not having other factions, and another point for the OP stuff (mostly Captain Jack Sparrow, but the Endeavour, Cursed Captain Jack and Kraken Gong have all had somewhat detrimental effects on the game).
– New Content: 3/5. Krakens were quite well done overall, as a relatively playable sea creature that effectively incorporated the movie theme. The Parley keyword can be confusing at first and is probably underpriced a little, but it’s definitely a cool addition to the game and another effective movie tie-in. Going a little deeper, this set also introduced a handful of new “1 of 1” game pieces such as CJS, Calypso, the Hai Peng, and Jailhouse Dog. Most of the unique stuff was either confusing or ruined some of the fun, but there’s no denying the importance of those and other game pieces on modern competitive play.
– Collectability/Misc: 3/5. Mostly negatives here unfortunately – a small set is easier to collect (which can be a good thing), and there wasn’t much extra stuff (SE/LE/PR pieces) to get. The real problem was when the distribution went awry, with some packs having all commons, and in extreme cases, “god boxes” full of SR packs. Throw in just 2 factions, and even the PotC name can’t save the set from having major collectibility problems. However, the partnership with Disney was absolutely perfect for a game like Pirates, so the Miscellaneous score is definitely a 2 and could be bumped to a 4/5 overall if you value intangibles more than collectibility (or are just a huge PotC fan heh). Though, the change to a rarity-based checklist was a negative.
= Overall: 12/20. A great effort with Disney’s help, but with some glaring flaws that make the set quite polarizing.

Rise of the Fiends
– Art: 4/5. Very colorful ships and crew – many great, but some a bit over the top. Most of the larger ships are quite beautiful. Using different artwork for generic crew is cool, but it does make it a bit confusing and harder to use for new players. Actually one of the most interesting sets for artwork, but too much focus on the red theme was detrimental (mostly with the red island/terrain cards, which look truly disgusting next to any other set’s). I don’t like the cards either – the red and yellow looks great with SM and CC, but combined and brighter it seems unappealing for some reason.
– Set Quality: 3/5. I’ve underrated this set many times, but it has a lot of interesting game pieces. However, there’s a bunch of mediocre stuff as well. Most ships are either slow or have small cargo holds, so it’s not a good set for getting gold at all. There are a few balance issues with the extremes of the set – mostly the San Cristobal and Blood Money being OP, while stuff like Merrow and some of the 1 masters should not have been made.
– New Content: 1/5. I nearly put 0/5 and said “am I allowed to do this?”, but flotillas and the glow in the dark stuff just barely make up for the atrocity of scorpions and the Hostile/Loyal stuff. Scorpions are my least favorite ship type, though the sharks are up there as well. Only one of them stands out, while all the flotillas are usable and quite good. The Hostile/Loyal keywords feel like an unnecessary gimmick to lower point costs (Eternal for one point?), though I do like when flavor text is part of the gameplay. The Turbine and Double Catamaran randomly thrown in at the end of the set really show that the game was completely coming off the rails at this point. The Turbine keyword is underpriced and weird from a historical perspective, while the Double Catamaran ship type is way too wide and big, not to mention awkward. Though the ship types weren’t new, I love the glow in the dark concept.
– Collectability/Misc: 3/5. Another small set, but a decent one to collect. Positives included a cool variety of SE’s and LE’s, some of which are very expensive to acquire. Negatives include a silly rarity distribution with generic crew and an SR pack that was too common. Not much to say about the story inserts. Throw in the mythical Ochobrazo, and it’s definitely a unique set for collectors. The Miscellaneous score is 1/2 since the set is just not that great when you consider everything. Throw in the odd name, “Rise of the Fiends”, and you can’t even find a sea creature outside of an SE kraken nor an abnormally strong Cursed presence. (sure they got Scorpions and a 10 master, but any of the large gunships from the set easily outclass them)
= Overall: 11/20. Not one of my favorites, but the positives of the set are pretty cool.

Fire & Steel
– Art: 4/5. Plenty of variety and good designs, with some ugly ones as well. The named crew portraits seem below average.
– Set Quality: 2/5. The gold standard for mediocrity in Pirates. So much quantity, and so much of it boring and/or below average.
– New Content: 2/5. Another colossal failure that partly led to the game’s downfall. Giant flamethrowers and freaky blades that pop out from the sides of a hull. Not as bad as Scorpions, but two Pokeship designs instead of one is just sad. On the other hand, equipment would have been perfect to introduce early in the game, such as CC or RV. However, at least it was great when it arrived – lots of variety, mostly historical, and good point costs (once you see the errata). The 0-value gold coins are evil but funny.
– Collectability/Misc: 2/5. Somewhat fun to collect due to the sheer number of game pieces, including cool SE’s and LE’s. However, it’s a little TOO hard to collect – beyond the LE’s being pricey, you’ve got a Big 3 of very tough acquisitions – the Chum Maker, Raptor Maw, and the big one, the Obago Deuce (and I’m not even including the SiaB’s!). I would say this is the most boring set, so the intangibles are bad. It gets a 1/2 for Miscellaneous due to the Historical Pack and having just enough cool stuff to be worth investigating.
= Overall: 10/20. The most boring set in my opinion. I still enjoy all the sets, but I usually enjoy this one the least.

Savage Shores/Return to Savage Shores (latter not released but found here)
– Art: 4/5. Definitely stands out, but some ugly ships keep it from a perfect score. I think the named crew artwork was exceptional.
– Set Quality: 4/5. Some great stuff, mostly good. The sea monsters, lack of generic crew, and somewhat unbalanced pieces (navigators, cargo masters, American canoes, Libellule, hoists) keep it from a 5 for me.
– New Content: 4/5. Canoes and hoists are both fantastic, arguably too much so. Hoists are the most excusable Pokeship (if they are even considered to be one) simply due to how interesting they are in terms of gameplay. Navigators and cargo masters are both frustrating to deal with in large games, but they’re a welcome addition to most players.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. The set was almost too easy to acquire, and the box idea caused some consternation among people who didn’t or couldn’t (or still can’t!) complete 10 masters. The SR’s were relatively common as well, but I give the set a 2/3 for collectibility. The Miscellaneous score gets a 2/2 due to the set’s good reputation and a kind of positive farewell after the long decline. The set is generally viewed with very positive vibes due to it being so unique in so many ways, and a beacon of hope that unfortunately never was.
= Overall: 16/20. Very good but not all-time great. RtSS is sort of included since it’s so similar.

Best to Worst:
19/20: Crimson Coast
18/20: Spanish Main
18/20: South China Seas
17/20: Revolution
16/20: Barbary Coast
16/20: Savage Shores/Return to Savage Shores
14/20: Davy Jones’ Curse
12/20: Caribbean
12/20: Ocean’s Edge
11/20: Frozen North
11/20: Rise of the Fiends
10/20: Mysterious Islands
10/20: Fire and Steel

Compared to my original or “favorites” list, CC jumps to the top spot! As I expected the top 4 are all very close, with the “perfection” of CC and the flaws of RV narrowly keeping them from a 4-way tie. SS climbed ahead of DJC, while FN and MI dropped a bunch. Very interesting. It will be interesting to see how my favorites change over the years, and if I edit any of the ratings to reflect more comprehensive experience with the sets.