The automatic/mandatory unloading as home has brought up a few issues over the years (mostly when interacting with a few key abilities), so I’d rather that rule get scrapped entirely. Make unloading require an actual [explore?] action instead, or at least make it something that has to be actively triggered by a player beyond just arriving.
That would certainly open up some rather interesting possibilities. I think I mentioned on Podcast #40 (not released yet) with Xerecs that you could have a gold ship dock at home, and then an enemy could use Hoarding Gold to take the gold before it could be unloaded! I do see it as a somewhat realistic alternative rule, since it would certainly take some effort to get heavy stuff off the ship and secured on an island or base. That said, I do like how gold is automatically unloaded at home.
I agree with some of your thoughts in the last paragraph. I still think faction packs could be a good way to go for Pirates specifically. However, I LOVE how much quantity there is in the game (especially since it helps with massive campaign games), so less variety and customizability is a trade-off I’d be hesitant towards. Although it would be fine if any new stuff was completely compatible with the game we know, since then there’s a lot of variety from the original sets where you’d never come close to running out of potential fleets/etc.
Just thought of another idea that I’ll make a new thread about….