Gimmicks For The Win How Using Unconventional Gameplay Methods Can Occasionally Pay Off
For a long time I’ve been interested in using “gimmicks” in Pirates CSG games – this is generally any kind of strategy that uses weird abilities or funky game piece combinations to win. The opposite would be speedy gold fleets, Sac Captains, etc. Over the years I have seen gimmick fleets win a surprising number of times – perhaps not against hyper-competitive tournament fleets, but impressive victories nonetheless. This post will highlight some of the most successful gimmicks with links to the fleets and/or games they’ve been involved in. Feel free to comment below what gimmick fleets you’ve used to win!(game pieces can be found in the Master Spreadsheet)
This is a fleet designed to control the enemy’s fleet using a combination of All-Powerful, L-movers, and powerful Mysterious Island effects. I created it back in 2012, my second year in the online community. It’s still my favorite gimmick fleet and sometimes my favorite fleet overall. Against some other gimmick fleets it went 4-1 in 5 games!
“Invincible” Home Island Raiders
Using the “This ship cannot be shot at while docked” ability, you can make home island raiders even scarier than they normally are. Dock, take a coin or several with Grim the Savage, then redock next turn to take more or simply stall out while your opponent can’t shoot. When combined with a 10 master (very difficult to take down with ramming and boarding) and/or Ghost Ship/Secret Hold (very hard for opponent to take gold back before you dock it home), this is one of the nastiest combos I’ve ever seen. This is a strategy I’ve pulled off a few times – first with 200 point Water World (one of the only games I’ve ever played where EVERYTHING went right; 35-0 victory), and also in a VASSAL game with my Best Raiders of Spain fleet (29-15-0 victory). There were some house rules in play, but the Cursed fleet that won my 6×150 game used the wild Guichuan combo to devastating effect. Check out this crazy turn! This was absolutely filthy.
Grim the Savage teamed with Bianco’s Haulers for an international stealing party for the ages, raking in a TON of gold. I think the Guichuan may have stolen 6 coins from the Golden Cranes fleet and another 6 from the JV’s home island. If someone had been stupid enough to sink her and trigger Neptune’s Figurehead, there’s a solid chance she would have sunk the Eighth Wonder at the end or even gone after the French or EM HI’s for more booty.
Now that it has succeeded twice, it can honestly be called a very viable combo in large games.
I piled all of the ship-stealers (Commander Temple ability) into one fleet. I used it to win a narrow Circle of Blood game 85-81.
Calypso in Small Games
These fleets needs to be tested more, but it showed some potential. This fleet won 55-0. Even in a non-Pirate fleet, Calypso’s whirlpool creation ability can be used to dramatically shorten gold running voyages and allow for sneak attacks on enemy positions. (including a win over a fast Pirate fleet)
LordStu’s funny idea has real potential – it went 2-1 in a 3 game series against the original UPS fleet! I’m not finding the fleet archived from MT or in a saved picture, but it basically uses ships stuffed with oarsmen to win if you can get the DMC UT home and convert all the oarsmen into 16 gold. XD
Thanks for reading about how you can use gimmicks for the win! Comment below your own improbable victories using gimmick fleets!
Hi everyone! This is a thread where you can share what Pirates stuff happened over the past year. It can be just about anything, from accomplishments to purchases to cool ideas. If this seems too vague, you can look at mine for an example. There’s also the option of stating your Pirates Goals for 2020.
It will be nice to look back upon the entire year and find joy and amazement in how much we’re capable of. List (possibly with links and/or a short description) everything you accomplished in 2019 in regards to Pirates that you thought was a good thing that happened. Everyone could make their own post and contribute their own things that they did or are currently doing. When I think about this past week for example, I don’t really think much of it, but when I consider everything I’ve personally done in the entire year, I feel amazed at myself! 😀 I think others could share that feeling as well if they look back at everything. Also, little things count too, so it doesn’t have to be all about one particular event or anything. Once everyone has posted, we can talk about what we accomplished as a whole forum.
Pirates Goals for 2019(set last year)
-Didn’t end up teaching any players. 🙁
-I did make a bunch of videos and podcasts about the game.
-I didn’t play The Hourly Campaign a lot, but I found a lot of satisfaction in playing a handful of games that could actually be finished.
-I made some improvements to Pirates with Ben and saw the site grow quite a bit. I finished reposting ALL of my past Battle Reports, which was great. I did set a new personal record for a one month affiliate marketing total, so the site is sometimes paying for itself in some months.
-Although no real progress was made on the NECA/Wizkids front, I did do some “big” podcasts, along with my first physical game with another member of the online community.
-Helped with somewhat successful transition from Miniature Trading to PwB/FB groups/etc.
-Produced 13 podcast episodes, including those with James Ernest, Mike Selinker, Jason Mical, Tiffany O’Brien, and Tony Vigil.
-Produced 76 videos for Pirates CSG, including plenty of game footage.
-Created 6 fleets
-Got to 3,000 posts and 300 followers on Instagram (though now it’s lower lol).
-Played 11 games
-Continued CG4 and THC
-For the first time, played a physical game with another member of the Pirates CSG community
-Did what I set out to do with specific game objectives: Legend of the Giant Turtle, 4 fleets at 100 points, 6×150, game with Captain Randy, November game with family, and the final (for now) game with Xerecs.
Pirates Goals for 2020
-Play at least one game.
-Play my turns in CG4 when/if I am able.
-Teach at least one person how to play the game.
-Check in to and maintain Pirates with Ben when I can.
-I’d love to do a podcast episode and maybe a few videos, but these seem less likely than the above.
Feel free to comment below with your own 2019 Year in Review!
This post is dedicated to preserving Pirates CSG game history and bringing all time records into the spotlight. This post was made in October 2019, so records set after that date may take some time to appear here. Most of the battle reports for the games mentioned can be found in the Huge Game Legacy Thread, and I also tried to link to them for the first time each game is mentioned.
Largest oceans: 2015 Century of Empires game at ~160 square feet (Xerecs), 2011 cumulative game at ~72 square feet.
These are more debatable, but many are likely true records.
Longest campaign game by turn count: Command the Oceans? (~112 total rounds)
Longest campaign game by calendar months: CG2 for a finished game (10 months); CG4, The Caribbean Game, and The Hourly Campaign are all technically “ongoing” but have no end (or in many cases, continuation) in sight.
Most ships ever used in a non-campaign game: 165? (second 2500 point game)
Largest deathmatch ever? Defence of St. Helens scenario game from 2012 (2,520 total points at start)
Most ships ever sunk in a single day’s action: 74 (Command the Oceans, December 9th 2017)
Most ships ever sunk in one turn by a single ship: ~10, Santisima Trinidad of CoEC 2019)
Most cannons ever seen on a ship: 20, Santisima Trinidad of CoEC 2019 (honorable mention: HMS Dreadnought with 16 during CG1)
Most cancellers ever seen in a fleet: 9 from American fleet in CG3
Most players ever seen in a campaign game? (impossible to know for sure): 6 in CG3
Most players ever seen in a virtual/VASSAL campaign game: 6 in CG3
Most 10 masters used in a game by a fleet: 7 for the English in CG2
Most native canoes used in a game by a fleet: 35 (7 Spanish sets of canoes in CG1)
Fastest Battle Report (BR) turnaround: ~1 minute for the PotC anniversary game. (I was writing the report at Miniature Trading as we were playing the game, and submitted it right after the game ended)
Points in Play PLUS Gold for the win – An Intriguing House Rule
This “points in play” thing is a concept I started really liking in 2017, and now it’s one of my favorite house rules despite needing more time to playtest it.
Canceled user wrote:
Prize Value Ships are valuable beyond their cannons and sails; some have excellent rigging–others have above average food stores on board. Some ships are just better constructed. Set up per usual. For each ship in your fleet roll one of the mini dice: the number rolled represents the ship’s prize value for the rest of the game. Place the die on the bow of the ship for all to see. If the ship is captured and remains in posession of the capturing player until the end of the game, its prize value in gold is added to the capturing player’s total gold. Prize value is only counted if the ship changes hands at least once.
This is an intriguing idea, and could really incentivize capturing ships in smaller and shorter games when it’s usually less practical. However, I find the die roll a bit too random. Perhaps the prize is worth 1/3 or 1/4 of its point value in gold. Or, make it a full 50% (the Bragi could round down to 4, for example) and completely change the game. This could be a way to alleviate the emphasis on getting gold, which is one thing that some players dislike.
On a similar tack, I’m interested in the way the game is played in regards to points afloat and making it more of a practical game. In reality, there weren’t gold-laden islands lying around waiting to be explored ad infinitum. The real value was in resources, political power, and of course winning engagements in a decisive manner.
– Whoever has the most points in play AND gold in play at the end of the game is the winner.
Here’s an example. Two people set up for a 40 point game, so both start the game with 40 points. These points can fluctuate throughout, but you’d rather have that number go up (through captures) than down (through sinkings and deaths). Player A captures two 5 point ships from Player B, giving him a 50-30 point advantage at the end. Player B collects 15 gold to Player A’s 7, resulting in a 57-45 victory for Player A.
This can’t be new, but I also haven’t seen it discussed that I remember. There are variations you could try, such as those in the thread linked above. Perhaps ships are only worth their full point cost if they have all their masts. Each lost mast could be -2 to the final tally.
The problems include making combat too important, and making the treasure game almost irrelevant if low value coins are used. In games with this (or similar) rule, perhaps only coins with a value of at least 4 could be used.
I never got to play the Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Online version released by SOE (Sony Online Entertainment). I have learned a lot about it from the radio show hosted by RedDragon and Captain Ron.
Available for Download
You can actually grab the game here if you want to mess around with the basics a bit. I finally downloaded it just now to see what it looked and sounded like. Made me miss a game I never even played! Don’t get too excited though – as far as I can tell, you cannot actually play the game at all, just access the fleet builder.
I had some trouble at first. You can get an error message like the one I got (shown below) if you try to run the wrong file.
Luckily someone at the Pirates CSG Facebook group was able to help me out. You need to go into the directory of files from the download and run “pirates.exe”. For me the chain was Windows (C:)>Program Files (x86)>Sony>Worlds Apart>Pirates CSG Online>pirates.exe. Last edited 10/26/2006! O_O Very cool! 😀
Although the game looks better than the current way to play Pirates virtually, it wasn’t without some flaws. From the aforementioned podcast/radio show (really good – give it a listen!), it sounds like there were numerous bugs. Some tactics that were made illegal in the tabletop (“TT”) version were some of the best ways to win in the online version – reverse pinning with a ship that can’t be hit by ships within S of her, getting more than 2 full actions for one ship during a turn, etc. That would definitely provide a learning curve for someone like me, who has played the main version extensively but without such overpowered tactics being legal. In addition, the game was flawed due to the lack of sets. Not all of the sets were available, so fleet building and combos would be limited compared to having the full scope of game pieces available either in the physical version or on the VASSAL module. Finally, there was a timeout system where you could win the game by taking your turns faster than your opponent, similar to how a chess clock works. That is definitely an aspect that I would not like to see, so although I wish I had gotten involved (I didn’t know about anything to do with Pirates CSG in the virtual/internet world until early 2011), I love playing on VASSAL due to the freedom it allows.
Check out the trailer for the game here: (not my video of course)
Did you ever play Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Online? Did you like it? What is your favorite memory of the game? Please comment below your thoughts! 😀
Most of this post is from 2017, when it was originally posted to Miniature Trading. Most of these average prices come from the time I wrote the post.
My 10 master story starts at Pojo, where sariouriel (the creator of Century of the Empires no less) linked to some Amazon stuff. From there I found a Plunder Pack for $25 (the original price I believe), which at the time was an absolute steal because the Delusion was going for over $60 a couple times on eBay. That was in February 2012.
Last December I became the forum moderator and xeriousone teamed up with wantkrakens to give me a very generous gift – the SCS SR’s from xeriousone, and the Celtic Fury from wantkrakens. An example of hard work and dedication paying off unintentionally for some extra unexpected benefit. And thus, my fourth 10 master.
Last week godmason posted an eBay lot on the subreddit, which I snatched almost immediately because I was afraid someone else would buy it first since it looked like such a good deal. Along with 60+ other ships including some very rare stuff, I had a bargain Guichuan. Broken, but already repaired and ready for action. #5!
I think my history of buying 10 masters is possibly the best example of my collecting strategy overall – possibly more patient than anybody and just waiting and waiting for years on eBay until I can strike to get my deals. (hence my large amount of “best memories” on there compared to the quantity of others)
Delusion: $25 but with 10 ships from OE and the Plunder Pack map (all-time average is $29.44 so I saved about $5 but more like $10+ when you factor in the OE megapacks and the higher cost of the Delusion back in 2011/2012)
Shui Xian: $19, saving about $10 off the average of $28.69 but again that all-time high listing of $61 was around that time so realistically I got an even better deal than the all time average suggests.
Baochuan: $26.02, only a little under the average of $27.53
Celtic Fury: free (saving me $30.71)
Guichuan: $49.99 but realistically just about FREE when you consider the value of the 60+ ships in the lot which included the Crypt, Monkey’s Paw, Samedi’s Curse, Soul Crusher, and two DJC SE’s, which combined could possibly sell for $50 by themselves if they were unpunched. Either way, still technically saving me about $15 off the Guichuan’s average of $64.35.
Zeus (acquired 2019): $10; was going to be free as a gift from a fellow community member, but I didn’t want to take it for absolutely nothing and the $10 helped pay for the shipping. (saving me ~$44.39 off average price of $54.39 as of July 2019)
Total 10 master savings (most conservative number): $105.10 (which could buy me another TWO 10 masters!)
Now I have all 6. 3 were acquired in the first half of 2012, followed by a long hiatus of about 4.5 years before getting the CF and Guichuan within the past 9 months. It probably goes without saying at this point, but getting all 6 has been a high long-term priority. Check out my 10 master collection in this video:
The Baochuan is my favorite for a variety of reasons. It looks the most realistic (and I actually think it looks very cool), it’s the first one released, and it’s an amazing ship overall. I love the biggest cargo hold in the game and how it combines with the Treasure Ship keyword. The ship also single-handedly makes an entire minor faction better, since the JR’s don’t have a ton of stuff. Just a perfect flagship, and the most historical of them as well.
Shui Xian is probably my second favorite due to the English being my favorite faction and having the potential for quite decent cannons with one of my favorite crew aboard. The Delusion would probably come next since it was my first 10 and glows in the dark, though I haven’t used it in a while. The CF is overrated and the English naturally have a rivalry with the French, while the Guichuan is completely new to me for playing purposes. I do love the Guichuan’s flavor text (and all of them, actually) and how the ship looks, but S speed and Cursed faction aren’t my favorites lol. Zeus is the best for gameplay but I’ve only used it on VASSAL since I still need to get my physical copy. For what it’s worth, I did enjoy playing the Zhanfu and Fortaleza from RtSS in CG2.
Feel free to check out my tutorial on how to build one of these behemoths:
Warning: This may be my most arrogant and self-congratulatory piece of content I have ever made or will ever make for Pirates CSG. It is a way for me to look back at my best and favorite game moments where my obsession with the game’s strategy and my vast experience with playing the game culminated in big wins. After hundreds or thousands of hours spent on the game in general, I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished in terms of playing the game.
For a long time I only played solo games. I didn’t play my first game against a human opponent until January 2015. Since then I’ve played against a few dozen players, some in physical games but even more on the VASSAL module. This post documents some of my greatest moments as an experienced and extremely passionate player of Pirates CSG.
My first non-solo campaign game featured a ton of amazing moments, and it remains as possibly my favorite huge game. It was smart for my Spanish to optimize their gold system very early on, purposely launching pretty much all of their ships and crew with gold bonus abilities. The massive fleet of native canoes peaked at 35 total (7 sets), which helped the Spanish rake in a ton of gold throughout the game. This allowed them to spend on battle fleets, which were used to take on the other factions. The Americans were forced to pay tribute, and ironically became a vassal state of the Spanish Empire. The French put up an amazing fight but were crushed by the strength of the Spanish war fleet. The Pirates were next. The Cursed and English were also smashed by my Spanish, who steamrolled through the game. Even though my English fleet looked superior in the endgame, the Spanish managed to wear them down and pull out a well-deserved victory. My superior launching strategy (of not saving gold for almost any reason) gave me the win. Check out the factional analysis in the reflection at the bottom of the reports to get a better idea of how dominant the Spanish were.
Here is the retrospective video for a quick summary of the game, with the Spanish theme of the game playing:
This game was short compared to CG1, but still featured some interesting plays. My theme in this game was attacking the Pirates (the main rival of my English) through whirlpools. I pulled off multiple whirlpool raids, most of which were successful in general. The final one was a huge move that swung the momentum permanently to the English side. At that point I was building up an insurmountable points lead, and the game ended somewhat prematurely after my English intervened in a battle between the Pirates and French. I was able to use 10 masters and submarines to devastate opposing forces, and eventually controlled seven 10 masters and six cancellers! I mostly accomplished my goals within the game, which were to capture the Zeus, hinder or eliminate Captain Jack Sparrow, and of course win in the end. Check out my path to victory in this video:
CG3 would be perhaps my greatest test yet. In CG1 I controlled half the fleets (3/6), and in CG2 I still controlled a third (1/3). In CG3, I’d be at just 1 fleet out of 6 total, with 5 other players trying to win the game. I still thrived. Lying low early due to bad resource rolls for my islands, the Americans watched as the Spanish burned brightly but then fizzled out. After some long-awaited changes in the resource values, my Americans began to have serious spending power. As usual, I first concentrated on optimizing my gold system, and then began to steadily launch ships for war.
The game’s turning point was an epic display of momentum shifting – the French crushed the Spanish at the central Gateway island, but then my Americans struck and crushed the French in the same location. From there it was a matter of eliminating the other factions. My fleet ranged far and wide, with the Zhanfu and others going to the far west to take out the Spanish and English. The French were eliminated after trying to invade my home waters through a whirlpool. I correctly anticipated a betrayal by my Pirate allies, and launched a preemptive strike to take care of that threat to my gold system. The Cursed were the toughest opponent to beat, but yet another whirlpool strike (like in CG2) with the first shot advantage proved to be decisive. You can even see my epic opening turn of that conflict here. A long battle at the Cursed home island eventually saw the American numerical superiority victorious, with a massive wave of cancellation coming to dominate the Frozen North.
This grand victory was my third consecutive non-solo campaign game victory in as many efforts, improving my record to a perfect 3-0 and initiating comparisons to Tom Brady and Thanos in terms of utter dominance and early “championship” success. At the bottom of the battle reports you can see my long strategy explanation for the game. In this retrospective video you can see the dominance of the American fleet play out.
This is one of those extremely rare games where everything goes according to plan. My strategy was applied, and it worked flawlessly. Everything I did went right. It was a bizarre combination of luck, timing, and good gameplay on my part.
The Guichuan’s heist totaled 22 gold, but in reality the final score was about 35-0. I had won the game in a complete shutout despite the big build total. I only lost one ship, the Celtic Fury (plus one canoe haha). I had captured or destroyed Xerecs’ entire fleet.I was also happy because I was intimidated when I saw the enemy fleet – the Zeus and San Cristobal (by some people’s accounts the 2 best gunships in the game), along with the Baochuan and some of the best gold runners in the game. However, with some negative UT’s, effective crew placement, and brilliantly executed gimmick strategy, I was able to pull off the victory!
To be fair, this was against a slow fleet. However, it was still one of my most impressive wins, with Calypso going ballistic with whirlpools to give the Pirates every single coin in the treasure distribution for a 55-0 victory! O_O
In a huge blowout, the Pirates defeat the Spanish 55-0! This is one of the only games I’ve ever played where a fleet gets every single coin in the treasure distribution. No gold was sunk, and the Pirates collected and stole the rest for a massive victory. This game made me want to use Calypso more, and it’s also one of the best gimmick games/fleets I’ve seen.
This 5-hour long game was captured in full on video, found at the bottom of the battle report linked above. I scored two massive coups that helped me pull out a narrow victory in the end. The first involved a brilliant combination of using the Harbinger’s ship-stealing ability in conjunction with the special rules of the scenario, where the first island your fleet explores becomes your home island. This happened early in the game, but there was a ton of action left.
The second “coup” netted me another capture. I was able to capture a derelict galley and then row her S+S towards the Europa, who used an extra action and Commander Temple’s ability to warp the galley home. Making it even sweeter was the fact that the 2 gold runners captured in these incredible game moves are two of the best to ever sail: the Banshee’s Cry and Star of Siam. Quite the prizes indeed!
This second coup of the game for me was triply effective – it made the Hound less of a target, it got the SoS and Europa out of harms’ way (the Black Pearl), and it gave me another capable gold runner in my fleet. All in all one of my favorite moves I’ve pulled off in this game, showing how important it is to consider all options and really think through how you want to tow or “untow” things to your greatest benefit.
I then captured the Black Pearl a la Captain Jack Sparrow retaking his favorite vessel. In the end it appeared that my moves were needed to keep me in the race, as I won a narrow 85-81 victory. Truly a memorable game.
These massive tournaments full of uber-competitive fleets were played between myself and Xerecs. 23 games in T1 and 53 in T2 combined for 76 games of competitive high-stakes action. I played my ass off consistently, winning a lot of games and having a lot of incredible strategy moments. A lot of it was gold calculation and making decisions based on available gold and fort strategy. Really fun and incredible, and Xerecs had plenty of great moments as well. I also made the somewhat incredible pick of choosing UPS 2 as the fleet to win T2 before the 16 fleet tournament even started! (so technically 6.25% chance of picking the right fleet, though UPS 2 was an obvious favorite among some others) This was based on my prior experience using UPS 2 in physical games and knowing how ridiculously effective, efficient, and overpowered that fleet is. It was a total crapshoot, but I also won the 16 fleet game (using every fleet from T2) by 1 gold, and you can see footage of that game in my Games playlist.
This game was a bit controversial at the end, but my American Pirates fleet made things right with an impressive victory. Not necessarily my best game in terms of strategy or specific plays, but it was one of the games I was happiest to win.
That was the first of two games with the “Other Worlds” scenario, where you use whirlpools to access multiple tables to dramatically change the setup compared to most games. My opponent tried to use gunships to blockade my home island after I returned with gold from the other oceans – that way he didn’t have to brave the whirlpools. I foiled that real quick. The Philadelphia’s ability (ship stealing just like the Harbinger and Commander Temple) warped home a capture and I charged right back in. I proved the ineffectiveness of the blockade strategy, and won in a 32-2 blowout. I basically did the exact same thing a year later against a different opponent. That game ended up 31-0 in my favor.
Here I used a gimmicky home island raiding strategy with the Spanish to win by a decent margin.
My record speaks for itself. I have by far the most wins of any player on VASSAL (at least since it’s rebirth in 2016), and I am the only player to win a campaign game on the module that I know of, having won all 3 thus far.
Inspired by the annual “State of the Union” address, as the arguable leader of the current Pirates CSG community, I hope to make this an annual tradition.
2018 was a very dark year for the game of Pirates CSG. The potential closure of Miniature Trading prompted me to create a new forum on this website, which is an upgraded version of my old Weebly site. The community has become somewhat fractured, although it was already like that before the Miniature Trading crisis hit.
However, there is plenty of good news. The forum at Pirates with Ben is up and running, and Miniature Trading is still alive! Various parts of the community grew in the past year, with the Facebook group surpassing 200 members and the Discord server being created. However, the scattered community is part of the reason I plan to do things mostly on Pirates with Ben going forward.
Plenty of content is still being created, between my youtube channel and the Pirates CSG Podcast. It is quite possible that 2019 will see a bit of a decrease in video and audio content overall after the explosion of those in 2017 and 2018. Of course, there is still plenty to talk about, and plenty of games to play.
There is a lot of uncertainty in the Pirates world going forward. After a slight dip in some prices, it seems that the market is still one for sellers, with the Shui Xian recently auctioning for $79 and an Obago Deuce commanding a whopping $500 on eBay. Regardless, it seems like a great time to finish the decade strong!
Feel free to respond to this State of the Community address, and add your own thoughts! 😀