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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Pirates CSG Card of the Day

Set number: 5 – South China Seas

Collector’s Number: 203 – USS Emerald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the Emerald on eBay! (+ David Porter)

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

USS Emerald amid the carnage

A colossal mess of chaos in a huge naval battle.


Picture of the Day

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

Cursed megalaunch in Economy Edition

Cursed megalaunch in Economy Edition

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

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

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

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

Collectible Board Games

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


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

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

It’s a Pirates’ Life for Me.


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