3 Games between UPS 4.1 and Kill That UPS | February 11th, 2024

This was 3 games between two competitive fleets. It was a play-in round for Tournament #3 (T3), which is an 8 fleet competitive tournament I’ll be playing from February to April 2024.

The fleets:

UPS 4.1 (video of me making it)

Kill that UPS (video of me making it)

Made a couple illegal fort plays; sorry about that. (you must have a ship in your fleet of the same faction of any fort you build, unless your fleet is only minor factions which these were not)

Game 1:

Game 2:

Game 3:


Interesting that the fleet that went first won each game.  UPS 4.1 wins the series gold score 34-24, but that’s not what counts here!  I think UPS 4.1 can easily win if they go first and get a good island, but that relies on a bunch of luck.  Looking forward to seeing Kill that UPS face one of my American Pirate fleets in Round 1 of T3; it will be interesting to see if an anti-UPS fleet can actually win a tournament or if it’s mostly just relegated to being a UPS counter.

Thanks for watching and stay tuned for more competitive play!

3 Games between UPS 4.1 and Kill That UPS | February 11th, 2024

3 Games between UPS 4.1 and Kill That UPS | February 11th, 2024

Ranking: Terrain

This is a very subjective Ranking post and a lot more opinion-based than some of the other Ranking posts.  However, over the long haul it would be neat to have a ranking for “everything” playable in the game, so this is a category I wanted to tackle.  Feel free to post your own list in the comments below! You can find all the terrain rules in pages 8-10 of the Combined Set Rules (a slightly modified version of the Complete Game rules).

1. Fog BankRanking Terrain

Fog banks are incredible because they offer near-total protection from the hostile factors of a game. While in a fog bank, a ship can’t be shot at, rammed, or boarded; cannot be targeted by abilities that require range/line of sight, and they can stay in fog for as long as they need to.  No defensive abilities ensure that level of protection from harm. For better or worse, fog banks offer probably the #1 stall tactic in the game. Rolling to determine fog exit location after being lost is a fun mechanic, and can result in some tactical maneuvering opportunities if you get a good roll.  Lastly, fog banks are an essential part of the Fog-Hopping strategy, which is a fun gimmick that The Cursed have a monopoly on.

2. Whirlpool

Massive whirlpool raid during my Command the Oceans campaign game

Massive whirlpool raid during my Command the Oceans campaign game

Whirlpools have long been one of my favorite terrain pieces. They are incredible because they allow you to teleport to different places on the map. While fog banks provide an unrivaled level of protection, whirlpools provide an opportunity to move a ship faster than the fastest ships can travel.  This allows for really dynamic gameplay that often spices up games quite a lot.  It also opens the door to various strategies. One of my favorites is whirlpool attack squadrons that use extra actions to move and shoot coming out of a whirlpool. You can also strategize around the creation of new whirlpools during the game to expedite trips to wild islands, such as with Calypso or the Lost UT.  The downside of having to lose a crew/mast/treasure 50% of the time feels like the right amount of dissuasion.

3. Reef

Frontier shipwreck


Reefs are probably the coolest looking terrain type. They feel like a classic and much-needed addition to the game, evoking stories of old treasure galleons that were dashed on reefs by storms and later looted by pirates.  They also offer a counter to many of the game’s best ships, which are often the largest ships.  Reefs are a popular way to “sabotage” islands and potentially influence someone’s home island choice during the Setup phase. They are the closest thing we got to “shallow water” rules that induce a negative for ships with deeper drafts. While shipwrecks on reefs are quite rare in my experience, they look incredible and add a distinct seafaring flair to the game.

4. Trade Current

The final terrain type to appear – only in the final set, Savage Shores. Trade currents are the only terrain type added exclusively after the game begins, usually by the Navigator generic crew type. They offer a nice little speed boost that can be beneficial many times throughout a game, lending themselves well to large games when a lot of ships can travel over them, as well as games with many return trips to wild islands. However, I do feel they have more cons than most other terrain types.  They are somewhat hard to come by, and don’t look as good as the other terrain types. They can also be confusing to use, because if multiple players use trade currents, there must be something to distinguish which TC belongs to each player.  Last but not least, they sometimes clutter up the board in longer games. If a navigator is able to place a lot of them, they end up littering the sea with trade currents and make the game look a bit less attractive in my opinion.

5. Sargasso Sea

These have never been all that interesting to me, and have by far the hardest rules to memorize for any specific terrain type. They’re almost like the opposite of reefs – worse for small ships but usually inconsequential for larger ships.  The “seaweed” is great to place if your opponent has a lot of small ships in a swarm, since some of them might get stuck. However, they’re generally the most-avoided terrain type in my experience because they are one of the few terrain types that almost never offer a benefit to the player. Fog, whirlpools, and trade currents all have tangible benefits, while reefs and icebergs can be used to sabotage your final ship to try to end the game earlier if you know you’re winning on gold. You can technically get stuck forever in a sargasso sea and thus potentially trigger an endgame condition, but this is quite rare in my experience.  Overall, they just feel like the most boring terrain type.

6. Iceberg

Styrofoam icebergs

If sargasso seas are the most boring, then icebergs are the most annoying. If at least one iceberg is in play, every player must roll a d6 at the beginning of each of their turns, every turn. Players (myself included!) forget this so often that it makes them feel like a chore.  Partly because the iceberg rarely ever damages a ship.  Often they don’t even move, and even when they do, it’s not very far and usually doesn’t result in anything.  Although they are a decent thematic addition to the game, when they’re used they should probably be used in large quantities to make them relevant. I’d argue they’re also the terrain type most in need of house rule help, since they’re even less likely to impact games when they permanently stop at islands.  It can help to have at least one of each number (1-6) in play, so that an iceberg will move every turn. This cuts down on the completely inconsequential d6 rolling that often comes from only having a couple icebergs in play.  It also helps to let them continue moving after hitting islands, and possibly allowing “clusters” of icebergs to combine and move as a megaberg.

Thanks for reading!  I’d be curious to know how you would rank all the terrain types!

Pirates: 2023 Year in Review

Pirates: 2023 Year in Review

Hi everyone! This is 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 2024.

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 2023 in regards to Pirates that you thought was a good thing that happened. Everyone can 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! 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 community.


Pirates Goals for 2023 (set last year)
-Have not made replica ships with artwork yet.
-Released a total of 84 videos on youtube, more than twice as many as 2022 (39) and my highest total since 2018. Looking forward to improving my production/editing/video quality aspects more in 2024.
-I released 13 total podcast episodes, rather than just 2+. A huge highlight was talking to some of the most important Wizkids employees that worked on the game – Mike Mulvihill, Ethan Pasternack, and Shane Hartley!
-Pirates with Ben new account signup process is back in action (new users can actually join the site and participate in the forum more easily). There is more work to be done but the site still ranks #1 in google for the search term “Pirates CSG”.
-I did play at least one game in every month of the year.
-Played an epic CG4 turn in July!
-I taught at least four new players how to play the game. (highest total since that same number in 2017)
-I gave away some of the free hoard to players, but not as much as I would have liked to. (mostly from lack of interest, rather than me forgetting)

General accomplishments:
-Had a great year changing it up from the year prior – more content produced, more players taught, more Wizkids special guests, etc.
-Met Mike Mulvihill! (the primary architect of the game we play today)
-Brought together Pirates CSG players in Tampa after Gasparilla Pirate Fest.
-Gave away various packs to curious onlookers at public games.
-Released 84 videos and 13 podcasts.
-Collecting: Acquired some non-playable rare items – the Adventure Book and a couple new posters.
-Successfully moved collection and Epic Scale fleet from Washington to Nevada.
-Took over and revamped the Scan Project.

Wizkids Pirates game with Mike Mulvihill, Tiffany O'Brien, Becky and Jared Wilson! Pirates 2023 Year in Review-Set or extended a bunch of all-time records with a ridiculous turn in VASSAL Campaign Game 4.
-Played a game against Mike Mulvihill, Tiffany O’Brien, and Becky Wilson!
-Played in 3 different states (FL, WA, NV), with Epic Scale games outdoors in 2 of them (WA, NV).
-26 games total

Pirates Goals for 2024
-Be able to make replica ships (3D printed + artwork). As a tangent, learn skills associated with small-scale production process (3D printing, artwork process with Silhouette Cameo 4 and color printer, CAD, etc).
-Get a more concrete answer on whether or not the game can come back in a substantial way. Attack my Pirates CSG goals in a more deliberate, focused, and urgent way than I ever have before.
-Release at least 104 videos. (following my current release schedule of every Friday and Sunday, every week)  Improve my video quality, test out new video concepts such as live streamed physical games, and get some long-term video ideas out of my to do list queue.
-Reach 1,000+ subscribers on youtube (~800 at end of 2023).
-Release at least 4 podcasts. Continue trying to get special guests on (former Wizkids employees/etc).
-Finish working through ALL my planned improvements or edits to Pirates with Ben.
-Play at least one game in every month of the year. Would love to technically average at least one play per week (52+ plays total). Start 20th anniversary games with a Spanish Main-only game in the summer.
-Focus on games with new or exciting elements – competitive games, live streamed games, recordings of full games with chess clock, customs, etc.
-Grow the Las Vegas Pirates player base and scene.
-Host at least two major group meetup events – Dice Tower West in March being the first.
-Play my turns in CG4 when/if I am able.
-Teach at least one person how to play the game.
-Give away some of the free stuff I’ve received to players.

Feel free to comment below with your own 2023 Year in Review!  Or post your submissions for the 2023 End of Year Awards!

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2×100 | 12/25/2023

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans 2×100


For the first time ever, I played Pirates CSG on Christmas Day!  Big thanks to kogz03 (Stefan) for hosting!  In this 2 player 100 point game, we used the Vegas house rules with the exception that we would place 5 terrain each instead of 3.

Kogz rolled to go first, leading to me picking a home island in the north. He settled just east of me and we were ready to go!

Kogz03’s Pirates
Revenant + Captain Mysion (F&S version), captain, helmsman, shipwright, oarsman
Black Pearl + Calico Cat (SM version), Hammersmith (F&S version), crew
Raven’s Neck + Le Requin, captain, helmsman, crew
Recreant + helmsman, 2 crew
Bloody Jewel + Genny Gallows, explorer
Banshee’s Cry + silver explorer
Jolly Mon + The Hag of Tortuga (CC version)

A7XfanBen’s Americans
Blackwatch + Commodore Matthew Perry, captain, helmsman, stinkpot shot
New Orleans + captain, helmsman, oarsman
Nene-nui + helmsman, explorer
Tombstone + helmsman
Kentucky + Commodore Edward Preble, captain, helmsman
Julius Caesar + captain, explorer
Coins: Grease Barrels, Runes of Thor, Jack’s Compass, 1,3,4,5,7

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

I lucked out with Preble on turn 1, giving an AA to Nene-nui so she was able to zoom out to the center island and explore in the first round.  I found Rum and 7,3,1 at the island, with Rum stopping the ship for a turn but bumping the overall haul I could take to 14 total gold. Kentucky, Revenant and Recreant redocked, but many other ships scattered.

Raven’s Neck got SAT from Le Requin and shot a couple masts off Nene-nui with her first move action, then ducked into the fog bank with the second move action.  Revenant and Recreant approached the middle, leading me to pounce.  Kentucky and Blackwatch teamed up to sink Recreant, while stinkpot shot froze all of Revenant’s crew for the next Pirate turn!  At the upper left, Julius Caesar and Tombstone have drained the northwestern island of its treasure (Runes of Thor + 4,1,1), but the Black Pearl looms via round earth….

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

With Revenant hitting on her 2L jib cannon and Raven’s Neck getting another SAT, Blackwatch is sunk!

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

I started a pivotal turn by rolling for Preble’s AA, but neither roll worked (Reroll via Kentucky). This prompted me to flip Runes of Thor and force the roll to a 6, giving me a much-needed AA to speed the Nene-nui back home with her impressive gold haul.  I then went all-or-nothing with the Julius Caesar. Black Pearl (BP) had dismasted Tombstone, and the JC’s best shot to dismast the BP was with a Broadsides Attack. It missed with a 2, all but ensuring I would lose the western battle.  I didn’t expect my cannon luck to improve, and so the Kentucky and New Orleans docked home for safety rather than pressing the attack on the Revenant + Raven’s Neck.  I thought about building Thompson’s Island to help JC and repair Tombstone, but didn’t want to risk losing the fort gold to a BP double shoot via Calico Cat’s SAT.

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

Sure enough, the Black Pearl unleashed a devastating cannonade on Kogz’ turn, sinking both American ships at the island and sending 6 gold to the depths!

With half my fleet sunk, it would be tough to get much of the last gold scraps remaining, with Bloody Jewel and Banshee’s Cry having emptied out most of the southern islands.  BC had already used Jack’s Compass to get home and still had Grease Barrels for a little boost on the next return trip.  Raven’s Neck explored the middle island, with Revenant acting as escort.

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

It seemed as though my best play was to get eliminated to force an earlier gold count, since Kogz still had some coins on different ships.  However, this process was started too late. I also thought about building Thompson’s Island in the southwest on a theoretical final turn of play to secure the last coin on that island, but BP could outrace Nene-nui there.  Kentucky and New Orleans doubled back and opened fire on Revenant.

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

Revenant went in guns blazing, but felled two of her own masts via Mysion’s gunners backfiring!  It was a Vegas-style gamble of a shoot action, with two 1’s rolled before the final cannon hit Kentucky for double damage on a 6!  Raven’s Neck pulled up and finished off Kentucky, leaving New Orleans to battle alone.

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

Black Pearl sinks the Nene-nui!

New Orleans did manage to sink Revenant, but Kogz had already turned the tide. Various sources of income were all over his home island – Perry’s Ransom payout, silver, and Genny’s bonus in addition to regular gold.

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023

Black Pearl sinks New Orleans to end the game!

Christmas Pirate! Pirates vs. Americans | 2x100 | 12/25/2023


  1. Kogz03: 22 gold
  2. A7XfanBen: 14

The Christmas Pirate reigns supreme!  A well-earned victory that saw him win on gold and completely eliminate my fleet as well.  The final SW coin was a 2, so snagging that with a fort play wouldn’t have changed the results. Even hitting on that crucial Broadsides Attack may not have been enough for me to win. I was really happy to use stinkpot shot successfully and use the Runes of Thor to force an AA to work at a good time. Hopefully I’ll be able to use the ability of New Orleans next time I use her.

How Stefan stole Christmas!  ;P  Haha!  After playing on Christmas Eve in 2017 and having a Sleigh game last year, perhaps it was time to play on 12/25.  Happy Holidays and thanks for reading!

What to always have with you when playing Pirates CSG

What to always have with you when playing Pirates CSG

Often when playing Pirates CSG at a game store, LGS, or a friend’s house, you have to pack up the necessary items to play a game of Pirates and hit the road. Hopefully you didn’t forget anything! I have accumulated many experiences with the “traveling collection”, where it’s only feasible to bring a bag or box to the game venue.  The basics are easy, so I won’t spend much time discussing those.  However, having played over 500 games of Wizkids Pirates since 2011, I have some additional tips on what to include in the box/tin/chest/etc that you bring to gaming events.

The Basics

-Your fleet with all ships, crew and equipment, as well as the coins you want to contribute
-Islands and terrain, especially if there are any specific ones you want to use such as Mysterious Islands, icebergs, etc.
-At least one d6
-Rules, Master Keyword List, The Pirate Code, and Reference Diagrams (you can also download PDFs of these from the bottom of my homepage for easy reference on your phone – highly recommended as this can save a lot of time when you need to look up rule text or FAQ answers)
-Spare deckplate for measuring L and S segments so you don’t need to use a deckplate from your actual fleet (more of a preference, but a great way to make sure your fleet’s deckplate area is never disrupted or confusing to other players, and you can keep crew/equipment/coins on the deckplates of your ships throughout the game without upending them)


-Forts: one of each you own! They are applicable to many games, and you never know when you’ll want to build one or more of them.  In addition, you might capture a ship belonging to a faction you didn’t already have in your fleet, which would then allow you to build forts of that nationality.
-Events: great for 0LR+5 decisions. They can also be brought in via specific Mysterious Islands.
-Multiple pieces of every terrain type: great for the Setup phase with terrain contributions to ensure you don’t run out of your favorites. In the case of the Lost UT, you might want to put down 6 of a single type all at once (Lost is from the most common set, Ocean’s Edge).  Extra terrain is also good to have on hand if you have “terrain creators” in your fleet, such as Calypso, smokepot specialists/shot, or navigators.  Sometimes I’ve been surprised by the quantity I’ve needed.
-Equipment: factionless and therefore usable by any fleet even if there are faction-pure house rules in place. Also a decent choice for 0LR+5 contributions.
-Extra coins if using gold bonus abilities (depends on your group’s rules for tracking bonuses at home islands (HI’s)).
-Fire masts
-Pennants or tokens for marking islands explored
-Playmat/fabric for an ocean surface


-A large selection of “essential” or oft-utilized UT’s.  This stack can come in handy if you encounter Pandora’s Box or generative Mysterious Islands.  The Setup rules call for placing treasure after seeing your opponent’s fleets and choosing home islands, so classics like Wolves, Lost and Plague can be great to have on hand if you want to throw in some wild cards not originally in your anticipated treasure contribution.
-A crew for the Castaway UT that is optimal for your fleet. SM Calico Cat (SAT), SM Genny Gallows (+2 Gold), and SM GC-001 El Fantasma (HI Raider) are usually good choices, along with SS Bianco’s Haulers (can’t be shot while docked) and RotF Gus Schultz (Eternal). Generic crew might be better in some cases too. Think about what UT’s other players could contribute that might be found on islands – this maximizes your preparedness for whatever could be thrown at you!
-Paper crew chips in case other players may have forgotten some generic crew
-I like to have a few tiny d6 of different colors available that I can put on the deck of ships that have been hit by special shot types. This might include green for stinkpot/Fear, orange for chainshot, etc. Helpful as a reminder for when my turn comes back around.
-Extra ships and crew in case you are providing fleets for other players. This is especially useful at open play board game events, where you never know when a new player will want to join and learn the game. Having stuff on hand to make a quick beginner fleet is a good way to ensure new players have a chance to play!

Here’s a look inside one of my well-used play tins.  Usually I’ll have a second one for the ships and forts. (that Slipstream card is 3D printed, not cut haha)  The large tins that were released with the Ocean’s Edge and Caribbean sets are ideal for storing a large amount of game items, and can easily be brought safely on a plane (I recommend taping down the sides with some clear shipping tape). You may be able to find some on eBay (affiliate link that helps my efforts to keep the game alive if you purchase from it).

Ben's Pirates CSG heavy playing tin with cards/etc. What to always have with you when playing Pirates CSG!

Did I forget anything that you should always have with you as a player?  Feel free to comment below any thoughts you have on this topic, and thanks for reading!


Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Wikipedia page

Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Wikipedia page

This is the Pirates CSG Wikipedia page (text version; image version here) before Wikipedia’s rules were strictly enforced, leading to a lot of the information on the page being deleted.  This is the full and more useful version, though I’ve made some edits for clarity/brevity/etc.

Disclaimer: I did not invent Pirates CSG, nor did I write the actual Wikipedia page entry for the game.  A lot of the information on this page comes from the supercollector Holofernes.


Pirates Constructible Strategy Game Wikipedia page

The Pirates Constructible Strategy Game is a tabletop game manufactured by WizKids, with aspects of both the miniatures game and collectible card game genres: a constructible strategy game (CSG) produced by WizKids. “Pirates of the Spanish Main” (the initial release of the Pirates line) is claimed to be the world’s first “constructible strategy game,” referring to the mechanics of creating game pieces from components that punch out of styrene cards. The game was created by Jordan Weisman and designed by James Ernest, Mike Selinker, Mike Mulvihill, and Ethan Pasternack. It was released in July 2004. Pirates CSG is a tabletop strategy game depicting naval battles and a 17th century hunt for treasure. An online computer game based on Pirates of the Spanish Main by Sony Online Entertainment called Pirates CSG Online was also created, which ended on January 31, 2011. On September 14, 2009, collectible maker National Entertainment Collectibles Association announced the purchase of the Wizkids name and properties from Topps, specifically including the Pirates line, which was then canceled.


Table of Contents


The general goal of Pirates is to collect more gold than one’s opponents. Additional scenarios also exist, created by WizKids and others. The game’s pieces include ships, forts, sea monsters, crew, equipment, islands, terrain, events and treasure tokens.

A distinguishing feature of Pirates is the ‘constructible’ element of the game; ships and forts are created by popping out the small polystyrene pieces from placeholder cards and assembling them. As the ship or fort is damaged by enemies during the course of game play, pieces of it are removed to record how much damage it has sustained, giving the game piece itself the appearance of slowly being destroyed. The elements removed from the piece – for example, a ship’s masts – can no longer be used in the game unless another game element allows it to be replaced later.

Each game piece has a point value that is related to its overall power. A more powerful piece usually has a higher point value. Players assemble fleets of ships, monsters, forts, and crew based on an agreed-upon point total, similar to the manner in which many miniature war games are played. This helps balance each player’s fleet, and means that the construction of a fleet can be as strategically important as the gameplay itself. The standard build total is 40 points.

The action takes place on a tabletop or similar flat surface rather than a game board; before play begins, players take turns populating the play area with islands and (optionally) various pieces of terrain such as fog banks, reefs, sargasso seas, icebergs and whirlpools. Face-down treasure tokens are then placed on each wild island.

Players take turns moving their ships around the play area, docking at islands and exploring them, which reveals the value of the treasure tokens on that island. Ships then collect treasure and attempt to return it to their home islands before their opponents. Since the game’s victory conditions include both gold collection and the destruction of all enemy fleets, there are several different strategies that can lead to victory: trying to destroy an opponent before they can gather gold; building a fast and strong enough fleet to avoid being destroyed; or, most common, a mix of both.

The game is packaged so that one person may play the game with only one game pack, but several more packs are usually required to play using the full rules. Additionally, the game is far more enjoyable and balanced when each player has a larger selection of game pieces from which to choose when assembling their fleets.

The recommended “sweet spot” for playability appears to be three to five players on a 90 cm by 90 cm (3 foot by 3 foot) ‘ocean’.


The game is primarily sold in “game packs”, foil-wrapped packs of randomized styrene cards and other game components roughly the same size as a pack of baseball cards or other trading card game packs. Each pack includes a randomized combination of two constructible game pieces: ships (including forts and sea creatures), and various crew, treasure and an island/terrain. These game pieces are numbered and collectible, and come in multiple levels of rarity designated by a color-coded triangle on each card’s corner – the most common rarities for standard booster pack items are : Common (white for generic crew, red for ships), Uncommon (silver-grey), Rare (yellow), or Super Rare (black). Other rarity designations for non-pack ships include “Special Edition” (green), a one-off Promo (purple), and “Limited Edition” (copper) for tournament prize ships and some Promos.

Unlike most trading card games, due to the limited number of game pieces in each pack, some packs do not contain any Rare or Super Rare game pieces, or may contain multiple Rares. The Super Rares of any given set will always come together in the same pack. Each pack also contains a cardboard island (the reverse side in later sets has printed terrain such as a fog bank, sargasso sea, or reef), a checklist and set of rules, a crew/treasure card (which should include gold pieces for use in the game), and a mini-die. Each pack had an MSRP of $3.99 (USD).

WizKids released other game configurations as well, mostly into mass market channels such as Toys “R” Us, Target and Wal-Mart. These include but are not limited to:

  • Promotional pieces and packs: Various ships since the game’s inception have been sent to retailers to be given away, usually in a clear plastic wrappers. Some of these are Limited Edition items, and some are duplicates of items found in common booster packs.
  • Tins: A small tin box decorated with Pirates artwork which contains multiple Pirates booster packs. With Ocean’s Edge, some Special Edition tin exclusive card packs were also included in the tins. Also released were “Mega Tins” – slightly larger tins containing Ocean’s Edge booster packs, and a special plastic wrapped pack containing faction-specific junk ships and crew. Two of the factions were only available in Tins exclusive to specific US retailers, Wal-Mart and Target. Finally, Rise of the Fiends “Treasure Chest Tins” contained one of four Megacards.
  • Value Boxes: A small cardboard box with a window in it, typically containing one of four possible Special Edition prebuilt ship, crew, standard gold treasure, islands, and occasionally a full-sized die. The prebuilt ships have a green corner rarity indicator which is referred to as “Special Edition”. These have been released for a number of sets since Revolution.
  • Megapacks: A booster pack twice the size of normal packs, containing four ships or creatures, a megacard (double-sized card), one mini-die, and several terrain. Released only for Oceans’ Edge.

On October 25, 2006, WizKids released “Pirates: Quest For Davy Jones’ Gold”, a non-collectible board game version of the Pirates game that uses gameplay elements and game pieces from the constructible strategy game, but is designed to be simplified, self-contained and sold in the board game section of retail stores.


Ships, forts, sea monsters and crew are members of various factions. The factions exist largely for fictional purposes, but there are certain game mechanics that use the factions as well.

  • The Pirates, representing the popular view of Pirates around the “Golden Age of Piracy”. They are mostly absent in Pirates of the Barbary Coast.
  • The English, representing England and later the British Empire.
  • The Spanish, representing Spain and its empire in the new world.
  • The French, introduced in “Pirates of the Crimson Coast”, representing first the French empire and then the Napoleonic empire in later expansions.
  • The Americans, introduced in “Pirates of the Revolution”, who represent the American colonies during and after the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
  • The Barbary Corsairs, who represent the pirates that operated in the Mediterranean Sea during this time period. They only appear in “Pirates of the Barbary Coast”.
  • The Jade Rebellion, a fictional group representing a confederation of Asian pirate-revolutionaries in the South China Sea. They only appear in “Pirates of the South China Seas”, with the exception of a super-rare “intro” pack from “Barbary Coast”.
  • The Cursed, consisting of ghosts and other supernatural characters, ships and sea monsters.
  • The Mercenaries, introduced in “Pirates of the Mysterious Islands”, a collection of steampunk-like scientists, revolutionaries and ships, including submarines.
  • The Vikings, introduced in “Pirates of the Frozen North”, which are not historical Vikings but Norse sailors who use Viking mythology, symbols and names for their ships.

Releases and expansion sets

Pirates of the Spanish Main

“Pirates of the Spanish Main” was the first release, and hit stores on July 28, 2004. It quickly sold out in many places, resulting in a second “limited” print run which featured noticeably higher quality printing than the first print run (the first run cards appear extremely ‘faded’). This set was printed in a number of languages: English, German, French and Spanish. Other sets printed in a foreign language (German) include “Crimson Coast”, “Revolution”, “Davy Jones’ Curse”, “Mysterious Islands”, and “Ocean’s Edge”.

The set introduced the Pirate, English, and Spanish factions, with ships for each faction ranging in size from one to five masts. Twelve named crew members, along with the generic crew of Captain, Helmsman, Musketeer, Shipwright, Oarsman, Cannoneer, and Explorer were also present for each faction. A number of generic treasure as well as named unique treasure were included, along with an assortment of cardboard islands with blank backs.

At the 2004 Origins Awards Pirates of the Spanish Main was one of the winners of the Vanguard Awards.

Pirates of the Crimson Coast

Pirates of the Crimson Coast is the second set and the first expansion to the Pirates of the Spanish Main. The expansion was released on March 2, 2005, and added the French faction, as well as the unit type of Forts, which could be built during a game on islands to defend them. It had 130 total pieces, and had a compass as its expansion symbol. It was the first set to introduce forts and the schooner ship-type and French ships. There was a single “super rare” piece included in the set, the Roanoke, a preview of the American faction from the following set, Pirates of the Revolution.

Pirates of the Spanish Main—Unlimited Edition

This edition was released on March 15, 2005, as a second reprint of the cards from the original “Pirates of the Spanish Main”. The numbering scheme on the cards was updated to conform with the “Pirates of the Crimson Coast” numbering and rarity colors. A checklist of the cards was also added. In Europe, the expansion removed the island cards and in their place issued new rules for ship movement and a playmat.

Pirates of the Revolution

Pirates of the Revolution is the third installment of Pirates of the Spanish Main. Released in June 2005, “Revolution” added the new American faction, and special event cards (Divers, Raft, Mermaids, Foul Winds, and Becalmed). In addition, the Marine keyword and Galley ship type debuted, along with the new generic crew Firepot Specialist. As its name suggests, it takes place during the Revolutionary War. It contains a total of 144 new ships, crew, forts, and treasure, printed on a deep blue background with the star expansion symbol printed in the corner. The set expands the role of the American fleet, previously introduced in Crimson Coast, with 22 new ships, plus a host of unique crew including John Paul Jones. The expansion includes reinforcements for the original factions from the two previous sets. It also contains four ‘Super Rare’ pieces: a Pirate chain shot specialist, Wesley (who shares the name & image of the character from the film The Princess Bride), and two ships: Star of Siam and Asp.

In the 2005 Christmas season, WizKids released six collectible tins containing Revolution packs in an Unlimited Edition. The game pieces are the same, but the collector numbers are preceded by the letters “UL”, and four new ships were added that only came in Special Edition boxes – Hangman’s Noose, Red Curse, Concord, and Franklin. The tins were mostly sold in mass-market retail outlets like Toys “R” Us and Target. By early 2006 the unlimited packs were showing up in regular hobby stores as well.

Pirates of the Barbary Coast

Released on October 26, 2005, this set added the Barbary Corsair faction, and a new generic crew type, the Smokepot Specialist. Four super-rare cards (two ships and two crew) previewed the forthcoming Jade Rebellion faction.

Pirates of the South China Seas

This expansion was released on February 22, 2006, and added the Jade Rebellion’s Junk and Turtle Ship types, as well as the Fear keyword and game mechanic. Six new Events (Hidden Cove, Favor of the Gods, Rolling Fog, False Treasure, Duel, Cursed Zone) were included, as well as the first six-masted ships. The super-rares for this set previewed the new Cursed faction. WizKids offered a mail-in promotion for the first 10-masted ship, a junk treasure ship called the Baochuan and her captain Admiral Zheng He.

Pirates of Davy Jones’ Curse

This expansion was released on May 31, 2006, featuring the new Cursed faction and the Sea Monster unit type, which act as ships but cannot carry crew. A mail-in promotion offered a 10-masted Cursed ship, the Guichuan, and her captain The Headhunter. The Super Rare cards in this set were printed on a semi-translucent plastic stock, giving them a ‘ghostly’ appearance.

Pirates of the Mysterious Islands

Released on November 15, 2006, “Mysterious Islands” added the new Mercenary faction, along with Jules Verne inspired Nautilus-style submarines. The titular “Mysterious Islands” were added as special islands with effects decided by dice rolls.

Pirates of the Frozen North

Released on February 14, 2007, FN added the Norse Vikings faction and the Iceberg terrain type, as well as the Longship and Icebreaker ship types. Islands were numbered for the first time in this set. A mail-in promotion offered the “Nordic Raiders Pack” with the Polaris and Serpent’s Fang ships and the Odin’s Revenge unique treasure.

Pirates at Ocean’s Edge

Pirates at Ocean’s Edge is the ninth expansion in the series. The set was released on April 18, 2007. It added new sea creature types including giant crabs, prehistoric sharks, and sea dragons. Ocean’s Edge also added whirlpools as an additional terrain type, and Windcatchers and Catamarans as new ship types. A 10-masted ship called the Zeus and her captain Emperor Blackheart were available as a mail-in promotion. The expansion includes the return of the junk and galley ship types. Along with being sold in the traditional booster pack format, the set features new two-player ‘Mega-Packs,’ which is how a player could obtain sea dragons, wind catchers, or catamarans. This is the first set to feature 32 islands instead of the customary 16. A number of ships from South China Seas have been converted to English, French or Cursed.

Pirates of the Caribbean PocketModel Game

The 10th expansion was released on November 6, 2007 as a tie-in to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It featured many characters and ships from the first three films in the series, plus some other Disney-created pirate ships. The new keywords ‘Parley’ and ‘Eternal’ were included from the films, along with the new unit type, the Kraken (an eight-segmented version of the five-segmented Sea Monster).

Development and Disney partnership

Wizkids announced on July 23, 2007, its partnership with Disney, to create a Pirates set using content from all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It was scheduled for release in October 2007, but was delayed until November 6th. This set was the first release to use WizKids’ new PocketModel name to describe their constructible games. The expansion features ships and characters from all three films, and is completely compatible with all previous sets. Like most Pirates releases, each game pack includes two non-assembled ships, one island/terrain card, a treasure or crew card, a rule book and a miniature die, with an original MSRP of US$3.99. Wizkids also released collector tins, as with previous Pirates sets. The game was sold at hobby shops nationwide, as well as traditional retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart.

New features

  • Krakens – Sea Monsters which have eight segments and can “wrap” around ships.
  • “Eternal” keyword – Eternal ships, when destroyed, appear back at the player’s home island, essentially making them immortal.
  • Ship cards have a new, sturdier design. Masts have been redesigned with fewer cutouts and wider mast ‘notches’ to prevent snapping, cannon rank dice appear on both sides of a mast, the pennants for the center mast are gone, and there are some new faction flag designs.

Rise of the Fiends

Released January 30, 2008, RotF added the Scorpion and Flotilla ship types. The Loyal and Hostile keywords were added, and the Kraken keyword changed to Octopus. In addition to the standard checklist and rules sheet, numbered collectible stories were also included in the booster packs; the mail-in offer was for the Specter, which was a glow-in-the-dark ship. The Octopus Ochobrazo was to appear in this release, but was pulled; this unit does not exist.

Fire and Steel

F&S was released April 9, 2008, adding new ship types with movable parts – Bombardiers and Switchblades. It also added Equipment, a new type of cargo similar to crew. More numbered, collectible stories were distributed in packs; a mail-away offer was given for the Chum Maker Scorpion ship.

Savage Shores

SS was the final expansion, released on November 5, 2008. It added the new generic crew types Navigator and Cargo Master, the new ship type Hoist, and the new terrain type Trade Current. In addition, several new island types with special effects were added, as well as the new keywords Dories, Secret Hold, Born Leader and Chieftain. Two new 10-mast ships, the Shui-Xian and the Celtic Fury, were also released.

Return to Savage Shores

RtSS was scheduled to be released sometime in early 2009 – the design phase was supposedly complete and the set was ready to send to the printers when WizKids was shut down by Topps. While some information on the units that were to appear in this set is available, the set has not been released and probably never will be.

The Pirates storyline

The Pirates Constructible Strategy Game and its expansions feature flavor text on the styrene cards for each ship, fort, and unique “named” crew game pieces. The flavor text forms a roughly connected story that centers on several recurring characters: Jack Hawkins, the cursed pirate El Fantasma, the femme fatale known as the Calico Cat, and others. Although the Pirates expansions span several hundred years (Admiral Zheng He sailed in the 14th century, and Pirates of the Mysterious Islands is set roughly in the Victorian age), the recurring characters never seem to age, but they do develop. As such, continuity in the Pirates universe is difficult to establish. Many pieces of flavor text in later expansions reference events, ships, or characters in previous expansions, so there is a coherent – if factually and historically unlikely – plot that continues to develop with each new release.

Jack Hawkins is a typical roguish pirate type, similar to Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He can often be found stealing ships and gambling them away. El Fantasma’s ghostly status was left ambiguous in Pirates of the Spanish Main; in later expansions, he received his own ghost ship and became a member of the Cursed faction, cementing his role as an actual undead pirate. The Calico Cat is a strong female character who provides a dramatic balance to Jack Hawkins; she is often depicted as a plucky adventurer who uses both brains and brawn to further a quest for revenge. The Cat also mentors a girl by the name of Bonny Peel. It has been hinted that “the Cat” has a personal grudge against Hawkins, and is rumored to be the missing Gunn in the Pirate stories.

Several additional recurring characters appear in Pirates fiction, including Blackheart, a pirate similar to the historical Blackbeard; the Crimson Angel, another mysterious female pirate; and non-pirates such as Charles Southwyn, a weaponmaster who helped create several ships in the Pirates of the Spanish Main release. Other notable characters include: Capitan Alarico Castro, a Moor who, despite a grudge against Spain, becomes an Admiral; Davy Jones, captain of the cursed ship the Flying Dutchman; Genny Gallows whose father was killed by the English; and many others.

In addition to the flavor text on styrene cards, several pieces of fiction collectively called Tales of the Spanish Main by Noah Dudley and Nancy Berman appeared on WizKids’ website before and after the launch of Pirates of the Spanish Main in 2004.

While some ships are historical and contain accurate historical descriptions of real events, others are either original fiction, fiction in the public domain (the Pequod from Moby Dick), mythological creatures, or are homages to fictional ships or characters. For example, some of the Sea Monsters in the Pirates of Davy Jones’ Curse expansion are obvious homages to creatures from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos.

References and homages in Pirates fiction

A good deal of Pirates flavor text contains references to historical events or people, other fictional characters or events, or are simply references to the game’s writers and designers. Pirates fiction also contains homages to other pirate fiction. Some ship names are references to other games created by Jordan Weisman. The Pandora (from Pirates of the Spanish Main) is a reference to the zeppelin of the same name owned by Nathan Zachary, the main character in Weisman’s Crimson Skies game. The Black Swan is a reference to a character from Crimson Skies or possibly to the Pirate movie of the same name.

A very incomplete list of other references includes:

  • Revenge (PP376/PS-007) – Homage to the Dread Pirate Roberts‘ ship Revenge in The Princess Bride or the real pirate Black Bart Roberts‘ ship Revenge.
  • Wesley – Another homage to The Princess Bride, the name of the main hero. Also appears in film version.
  • Scrye the Explorer (PP-375) – Reference to Scrye magazine, in which the promotional piece appeared as an insert.
  • Pandora (PS-006) – Reference to the zeppelin of the same name from the Crimson Skies universe, also created by Weisman, along with the legend of “Pandora’s Box“.
  • Tsuro – Reference to WizKid’s board game Tsuro.
  • Jack Hawkins – Reference to PotC’s Jack Sparrow (in name and looks) and Jim Hawkins (Jim and Jack are interchangeable names) who was once in the British navy and turned to piracy.
  • Sea Monkey – reference to the Lucasarts adventure game Secret of Monkey Island the flavor text tells the story of it from the game.


In 2007 Pinnacle Entertainment Group released a Pirates of the Spanish Main source book for their Savage Worlds role playing game, set in the same world as the CSG.

Shuffling the Deck card game

Announced March 7 2012 and released on July 18 2012, “Pirates of the Spanish Main™ Shuffling the Deck” is a non-collectible, stand alone card game set in the Pirates of the Spanish Main universe. Aside from the theme and some artwork, it has no relationship to the collectable miniatures game.

Cross-promotional (i.e., advertising related) game pieces

  • 2004 – Scrye the Explorer (SM card # PP-376) – exclusive Explorer crew packed in the Sept. 2004 Scrye magazine (issue 75) along with the ship Bloody Throne.
  • 2004 – The Bloody Throne (SM card # PP-375-C) – 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.
  • 2006 – 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.
  • 2007 – USS Denver (Ocean’s Edge card # SOE07) – four-masted American ship available with a $25.00 purchase from the cross-promoted Sony Online Entertainment online version of this game.
  • 2007 – Flying Dutchman (POTC card # 300) – Special Edition Promo ship with advertising text, tied into the Disney related Pirates of the Caribbean set. Widely available as a hand out with purchase from retailers.

Convention-exclusive game pieces

  • 2004 – Shrink wrapped four-masted Pirate ship Revenge handed out free to attendees of the Origins 2004 game convention. The ship’s card contains promotional text advertising the game rather than flavor text. Collector’s Number PP376.
  • 2005 – Convention Megapack – Added two new American ships Providence and Destiny and an American Helmsman crew.
  • 2006 – Shrink wrapped 10-Masted Jade Rebellion Treasure Ship Baochuan and Admiral Zheng He crew.
  • 2007 – Shrink wrapped package with two Cursed nautilus-style submarines, the Locker & the Pyre, the crew Edward Low, and a Unique Treasure (UT) called Gem of Hades.
  • 2008 – Convention package with four Pirate ships Royal Rover, Queen Anne’s Revenge, Amity, Minerva and four Pirate crew Bartholomew Roberts, Blackbeard, Thomas Tew, Christopher Moody.

Value box, hand-out & mail-in redemption pack game pieces

  • 2005 – Value Boxes (Revolution) – Special Edition (green cornered) assembled ships in a box which includes a stack of cards from the set. This release included four new Pirates of the Revolution ships, (Franklin, Concord, Red Curse, and Hangman’s Noose). These four ships only exist in the “UL” (Unlimited) version.
  • 2005 – Pirates of the North Pole Ship & Crew (Sleigh & Captain Whitebeard – Distributed to WizKids employees, envoys, registered retail venues and business associates as a Holiday present. Also given away in a drawing for members of WizKids online Pirates community. On Christmas Eve they gain special bonuses. They are not legal for regular play.
  • 2006 – Value Boxes (Davy Jones’ Curse) – Wave 1 had new ships (Boneyard, Fool’s Gold, Electric Eel, and Drowned Man) and Wave 2 included new ships (Broken Key, Black Diamond, Nightmare and HMS Richards). Wave 2 was released in October 2006 – this was the only set to feature eight total Value Boxes.
  • 2006 – 10-masted Cursed Treasure Ship (Guichuan) – A customer loyalty promotional piece for customers who sent twelve proofs of purchase from “Pirates of Davy Jones’ Curse” to WizKids along with a redemption certificate.
  • 2006 – Value Boxes (Mysterious Islands) – new ships (Tasmanian Devil, Revolution, Empty Sky, Independence).
  • 2006 – “Message In A Bottle” promo pack – two submarines (USS Mercury, Slipstream), crew (Thane Hartless) and the Unique Treasure Abandoned Crew. This was a customer loyalty promotional piece for the Pirates of the Mysterious Islands set in return for proof-of-purchase for four boosters, four booster wrappers and one each of the four special messages (paper slips) from the boosters.
  • 2007 – Promo ship Obago – a giveaway sent to retailers to hand out as they saw fit.
  • 2007 – “Nordic Raiders” promo pack with two longships (Polaris and Serpent’s Fang) & a Unique Treasure Odin’s Revenge. Available after sending in ‘four lost pieces’ of armory found on crew/treasure cards, four wrappers, receipt of purchase, and postage.
  • 2007 – Value Boxes (Ocean’s Edge) – new ships (Last Hope, Jape, HMS Burma, USS Seattle).
  • 2007 – 10-masted Pirate Treasure Ship (Zeus) – Same requirements as the Guichuan (12 “regular” wrappers or 12 “mega-pack” wrappers or a combination of both, alongside a coupon from the site and proof-of-purchase).
  • 2007 – Value Boxes (Pirates of the Caribbean) – new ships (HMS Diamond, HMS Phoenix, Neptune, Sea Nymph).
  • 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 the stories were actually in the packs, WizKids changed this to any story from this set, plus a receipt & postage.
  • 2008 – Value Boxes (Rise of the Fiends) – new ships (HMS Forge, Rusty Harpoon, Hades’ Realm, Isabela).
  • 2008 – Value Boxes (Fire & Steel) – new ships (HMS Resolution, Nox, Lucky Seven, Crocodile).
  • 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.
  • 2008 – Promo Ship Obago Deuce – This extremely rare ship was scheduled to be a late-year promo for an 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.

Other collectible elements, tins and other unusual releases

  • 2004 – Set of eight mini-busts (statuettes) of Pirates of the Spanish Main characters, including: Calico Cat PP388, Captain Blackheart PP389, Jack Hawkins PP390, Christopher Myngs PP391, El Fantasma PP392, Diana Doone PP393, Luys de Alva PP394 and Skyme the Monkey PP395.
  • 2004 – A series of Pirate-themed temporary tattoos were given out at conventions. At least 8 are known, all images of crew from the PotSM set.
  • 2004 – Gold coins were purchasable with the styrene “coins” from the treasure cards in this set, which could be used in the Pirates Gold auction at GenCon 2004.
  • 2004 – Several one-off prizes were created for the Pirates Gold auction event at GenCon 2004, including a wooden replica period ship with a Pirates of the Spanish Main plaque, several constructed game pieces signed by Jordan Weisman and Mike Mulvilhill and mounted in shadowboxes, pirate items such as a replica cutlass, and more. Most of these pieces had a small gold sticker “seal of authenticity” from WizKids.
  • 2005 – Jack Hawkins Advantage Trophy (PP471) – a full color “trophy” / bust featuring pirate Jack Hawkins, which was larger and much more detailed than the earlier mini-busts.
  • 2005 – Six different tan Pirates of the Spanish Main tins containing three Spanish Main and one Revolution booster pack.
  • 2005 – Six different blue Pirates of the Revolution tins, sold in mass market retail outlets such Wal-Mart (contained no unique new pieces).
  • 2006 – Gale Force Nine licensed items for use in the game, including a ship (Gale Force Nine), a special vinyl map, a booty finder pack (containing island exploration tokens and a range finder tool), and two different 3-D island sets.
  • 2006 – Special “UK only” tins containing one pack of each of the first five releases available at Toys “R” Us (which contained no unique new pieces, despite WizKids’ announcement that they would).
  • 2007 – Ocean’s Edge “Megapacks” containing 1 of 6 random “megacards” (Skipping Stone, HMS Hermes, Shal-Bala, Angelica, Ghost Walker, Mystic).
  • 2007 – Six different “Ocean’s Edge” tins featuring OE packs and multiple faction specific, tin-exclusive cards (card numbers 143-162) released to various retailers (two designs of which were exclusive to Target and WalMart stores respectively, and contained factions not found in the other tins).
  • 2007 – Four different “Pirates of the Caribbean PocketModels” tins featuring one of four Special Edition “Megacard” Krakens, 10 ships, three terrain cards, five or more crew or treasure cards, two dice, complete game rules. Each of the four distinct tins features cover artwork of one of the main characters from the movie and randomly contained one kraken (A Fearsome Creature, Beastie, Kray-Kin, The Kraken).
  • 2007 – “Pirates Plunder Pack” box containing various packs, a new vinyl map, and an exclusive glow-in-the-dark 10 masted Cursed junk ship (Delusion).
  • 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.
  • 2008 – Fire & Steel “stories”, one of ten possible paper inserts which appear randomly in every booster pack.
  • 2008 – A “treasure chest” shaped tin containing various packs and one of four exclusive Rise of the Fiends megacards (USS Mercury, Polaris, Terrox and Grinder).
  • 2008 – A “Scavenger Pack” box containing three packs worth of Savage Shores items, one pack each of Rise of the Fiends and Fire & Steel, and one of six exclusive pre-assembled Megacard ships (visible in a window on the box). Purchasing all six variations of the box will net the buyer two new exclusive 10-masted ships (Celtic Fury and Shui Xian). To build Celtic Fury, you need one card each from the boxes containing ship #s 045, 046 & 047. To build Shui Xian, you need 1 card each from the boxes containing ship #s 048, 049 & 050. MSRP $14.99.
  • 2009 – proposed but not released – “Admiral’s Armada” box set containing 13 Pirates booster packs (one for each previous set), Dice, Rules of play.
  • 2009 – proposed but not released – a “Pirates Adventure Book” box including new ships, crew and treasure: one Pirate fleet with ships Charming Mary and Mercy, and crew Sean ‘Cannonball’ Gallows; and one Cursed fleet including ships Demon’s Heart and Wraith, and crew El Fantasma; also four Unique treasures (a Red, Blue, Yellow and Green ‘Gem Shards from the Eye of the Leviathan’); a new plastic Map with 6 preprinted islands on it, and four “fiction pieces” with scenarios. At least two prototypes exist, but neither contain the new ships, crew, or UTs.
  • 2009 – proposed but not released – “Ship In A Bottle” boxes containing one of four new exclusive prebuilt ships (visible through a clear, bottle shaped window), three Fire & Steel packs, two Rise of the Fiends packs, one Ocean’s Edge pack, and dice. Two pre-production examples of these Ship in a Bottle ships are known to exist (Spanish ship #135 Castigue, and Pirate ship #136 Blue Heron), though both are missing deckplates and as such are incomplete for actual game play purposes.


The game won the Origins Award in 2006 for CCG or Expansion of the Year Winner.


External links


First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG!


Captain Randy and I met up at Sunset Park in Las Vegas for the first Epic Scale game ever played in Nevada! The Epic Scale fleet has a new home after my move from Washington state.  We did a draft to make 80 point fleets.  As usual, we’d be using the Las Vegas house rules.

Video introduction:

Randy rolled to go first, so I picked my home island (HI) first.  Here are the mixed fleets!

Captain Randy:
Revenant + captain, helmsman, musketeer, oarsman
HMS Interceptor + explorer
Crocodile + captain
Grinder + explorer
HMS Sea Phoenix + helmsman

Muninn + captain, helmsman, firepot specialist, oarsman
Emerald Rose (custom made by PDXYAR) + Lawrence, captain, helmsman, oarsman
Terror of Gibraltar + helmsman
Fathom + helmsman, explorer
Le Coeur du Lion + helmsman
-I’ve been wanting to change up my fleets and strategies a bit, so here I was looking to run gold with the Fathom by cancelling the Mercenary keyword with Lawrence. He could use his abilities on the Emerald Rose due to her “Free Ride” ability to let crew of any nationality use their abilities on the ship. For the draft, Muninn was my first overall pick as the main warship. Terror of Gibraltar is a bit of an underwhelming ship, but helped keep the minor faction theme and added another oared ship. Coeur filled out the points since I was getting tight on cargo if I added more crew to the main ships.

Epic Scale Pirates CSG fleet

4 coins per island and we were ready to start playing Epic Scale for the first time in Las Vegas!  Ironically there was a bit too much wind for the ships to handle in the first half of the game, but we were able to weigh down the coins and islands/terrain with some objects as the game went on.

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

My fleet completely scattered away from my central HI location, while Randy had two groups of ships.  Revenant, Interceptor and Sea Phoenix headed “west”, while Grinder and Crocodile went south.

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

I was in the mood for some decisive action!  Muninn emerged from fog to blast away at Interceptor and Revenant, but only shot 2/6!  She did manage to set the Interceptor aflame.  Making matters worse, it appeared that my poor cannon luck would be in full swing today, as Emerald Rose shot 0/3 to completely miss the Sea Phoenix!  Overall it was 2/9 shooting on cannons with an average rank of <2.5.  The Muninn also failed to do ram damage on the Interceptor, making it a very poor combat showing.

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

As expected, swift retribution followed!  Revenant used her ability to shoot through the Interceptor, and was aided by the English to sink the Muninn.

Fathom docked home a couple coins after Lawrence cancelled her Mercenary keyword as planned.  Terror of Gibraltar stole a coin from the Grinder after the latter explored in the east, but took some damage for the gesture.  Coeur du Lion is exploring at the outskirts.  Captain Randy looks at coins with feigned despair as HMS Sea Phoenix explores for the first time.

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

What I lacked in cannon luck, I made up for with fog bank exit location rolls.  Terror of Gibraltar (ToG) got a perfect roll to dock home her stolen loot.  Emerald Rose shot a few masts off the Revenant, with HMS Interceptor struggling to contribute due to her shipboard fires.  Fathom dove underwater in anticipation of chasing down HMS Sea Phoenix, who had 3 coins aboard.

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

From another angle:

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

Revenant stayed put to not have her captain cancelled by Lawrence, shooting at Emerald Rose.  Emerald Rose was crippled, but managed to dismast Interceptor on the next turn.  Coeur gets home with a couple coins, while Crocodile struggles to get into action with no helmsman to boost her speed.  Fathom and ToG both have their sights set on HMS Sea Phoenix.

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

Fathom surfaces to ram and board the Sea Phoenix!  A 5 is stolen!  ToG gets another ideal fog exit roll and does the same, grabbing a second 5!  Interceptor is doomed to burn as Revenant is dismasted by Emerald Rose.  A turning point in the game (with the benefit of hindsight, and if there were stats such as predicted gold score on each round).

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

Grinder rams ToG to steal back a 5!

Epic Scale Pirates CSG ram

The late-game excitement continued, as HMS Sea Phoenix came to my HI to steal a 3!  This marked the second time in as many days that I was robbed at my HI by an English ship! (my favorite faction)  Alas, perhaps that’s a bad idea – karma against A7XfanBen doesn’t work too well.  😉  For I had the gold advantage with the goodies that Fathom brought back – her 6 gold (an extra 1 from Sea Phoenix ramming her back to try and steal the 5) transferred to Coeur (who then explored my HI) would make a big difference. Coeur then rammed the Sea Phoenix to steal the 3 back, dismasting her in the process and effectively ending the threat.  Revenant was able to row at S+S and shoot her musketeer since she wasn’t derelict, but her and Crocodile couldn’t quite do enough to win the endgame.  I think Sea Phoenix stole a 1 as well that got transferred to Crocodile, but I was content to let it slip away, especially with darkness falling on the game by this point.


  1. Ben: 20 gold
  2. Randy: 14

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

Blackbeard’s descendant showing off his haul:

First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

What a contest for the Epic Scale fleet’s first time in Las Vegas Nevada!  This was one of the better Epic Scale games I’ve played so far. It had a good amount of combat and piracy in it, and if things had just gone slightly differently, Randy would have won.  I was really happy with how all of my ships contributed to the victory – Muninn didn’t last long but helped neutralize Interceptor, ToG and Fathom both played essential roles exploring and stealing gold, Coeur quietly added to my total and had a clutch transfer (from Fathom) and a ram of Sea Phoenix at the end, and Emerald Rose was a workhorse throughout.

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First time in Las Vegas for Epic Scale Pirates CSG! (November 26th, 2023)

4×80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

4×80 in Henderson


I met up with Stefan (Kogz03) to play at this meetup in south Las Vegas!  We were able to teach 2 new interested players, making it a 4×80 game! (4 players, 80 points)  We used the Las Vegas house rules.  I made a couple quick beginner fleets for the new players. Stefan and I probably had an advantage with our named crew, but we didn’t know if anyone would want to join us (fleets made in advance) and I think it can be best to avoid named crew for a player’s first game.  Here are the fleets in the order of play:

Marco’s Frenchmen
La Ville de Paris + captain, helmsman
Tepant + captain, helmsman, oarsman
Cleopatre + captain, helmsman
L’Intrepide + explorer
La Courageux + captain
Le Bon Marin

Ben’s Spaniards
El Corazon Dorado + Victor de Alva (F&S), helmsman, Contessa Anita Amore (23)
El Neptuno + captain, tribal chieftain (24)
La Santa Ana + Dominic Freda (LE version), captain, helmsman, oarsman (22)
Concepcion + helmsman, explorer, oarsman (16)
Spanish native canoes
Coins: Rats, Fireworks, Weapons, 5 0’s
-My strategy was to bump up the 0 values with my gold bonus ships, which works better in a 1v1 game due to the 0’s taking up a greater percentage of the total coins in play. Rats would hopefully make it an even more low-scoring game that I could benefit from while hurting an opponent. Fireworks would be quite useful on any of my captained ships (especially Neptuno!), unlike something like HMS Gallows that already has essentially perfect cannons.  I’ve always loved the high-cargo Spanish 4 masted square rigged ships, which evoke themes of Spanish treasure galleons from the Age of Sail. I often like to use them in tandem, with the Neptuno acting as a third galleon of sorts, but with some armament as well.

Spice’s English
HMS Goliath + captain, helmsman, oarsman
HMS London + captain, helmsman
HMS Sultan + captain, helmsman
HMS Lady Provost + helmsman, explorer, oarsman
HMS Bletchley

Stefan’s Cursed
Divine Dragon + Davy Jones (OE), captain, oarsman
Flying Dutchman + El Fantasma (OE), helmsman, oarsmen x3
Grinder + crew
Sea Duck

We were ready to set sail!

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

The English draw first blood!  HMS London blasts masts off the Concepcion after she loaded some loot.

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

Fleets scattered about, with L’Intrepide snagging coins from the middle, leaving a 0 coin for HMS Bletchley to find.  The Lady Provost has explored for 4 coins, denying the Spanish native canoes that island as HMS Sultan also round earths to provide escort protection.  The Divine Dragon starts her night by shooting poorly, but eventually manages to dismast the Courageux.

The Tepant wades into the fray, deepening the Franco-Cursed conflict:

Tepant fires on Flying Dutchman

Both of my “bonus galleons” got home with 3 coins apiece, while the Neptuno explored for 3 coins of her own.  El Corazon Dorado had her hands full watching both the London and Sultan.  My canoes scattered, unlikely to get any gold with how fast it was flying off the wild islands.  In the east, the Cleopatre takes a third mast off the Flying Dutchman while Intrepide docks home her coins.  The Cursed have Grinder and Sea Duck explore.

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

With the nearby Spanish 4 masters all docked at home, HMS London heads east to continue her cannon barrage!  She shoots 3/4 to sink two canoes and dismast the Bon Marin!

HMS London blasting away

Victor de Alva didn’t give his Corazon Dorado an extra action all game, but that didn’t stop him from blasting 2 masts off the London.  Concepcion is looking to “plus up” a 0 she left behind on her first gold trip.  Neptuno is looking to offload her gold to Freda’s Santa Ana (to get the +2 bonus on at least one coin) and receive the Fireworks UT in return, potentially setting up a deadly weapon where Neptuno could hit on 4-6 at L+L range.  HMS Lady Provost gets the English on the board, while the Goliath searches for treasure of her own.  The eastern firefight has calmed down slightly – Tepant shot masts off the Divine Dragon, who explores rather than continue the bloodshed.  The Cleopatre raids The Cursed home island (HI) of a coin, but is staring down a bunch of 2L cannons on the FD and Grinder.

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

Unfortunately time was running out, so we had to call for a last round – Stefan would get the final player turn so all players could have an equal number of turns.  With this knowledge and the multiplayer rule that gold on ships counts towards victory, it got more desperate in a hurry.  The following picture shows the second to last round of play.

London pivots to starboard and shoots at Corazon!  Lady Provost makes a beeline for my home island, with a raid imminent! That would wreck my plans of having a gold factory and getting Neptuno set up for firework carnage (since I wanted to offload the gold but also stop Lady P if possible).  Maybe the combo will work another time!

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

On the final round, the Spanish desperately tried to maximize their gold score while denying Lady P from stealing anything.  However, Corazon only shot 1/3, and Neptuno missed all 5 shots at L+L range, with no 6’s rolled.  She did dock home her 3 coins, while Santa Ana sped north to load the final coin from her previously explored wild island, in case it would matter in the final count.  With 1 mast standing, Lady P was able to sneak around Corazon at S+L+S speed and steal a coin, which would count for the English in the scores.

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

The carnage continues out east!  Cleopatre was dismasted by a Broadsides Attack from the Flying Dutchman!  This allowed Grinder to capture the Cleopatre, but Tepant and Ville de Paris were on the scene to make sure The Cursed didn’t get their stolen coin back.  Both ships were shot to the ocean floor!  Overall the French had very good cannon luck in this game – lots of their shots hit, while a lot of enemy shots against them missed.  Alas, they had only explored one island and it wasn’t very valuable.

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

Nearly at an end:

4x80 game in Henderson Nevada (November 25th, 2023)

On their final turn, The Cursed broadsided the Ville de Paris and had Sea Duck pick up a final coin that would count towards victory.


  1. Spanish: 26 gold
  2. The Cursed: 22
  3. English: 14
  4. French: 3

A rousing adventure to start two new pirate careers!  This 4×80 game featured shooting, stealing, and plenty of good action! The gold bonuses proved key, as I believe they accounted for at least 6 of my gold.  Stefan also found the Rats UT, which took a couple gold off his total.  The Lady Provost’s raid only stole a low-value coin – if she had snagged the 5 instead, it would have been a very close 22-21-19 Cursed victory!  However, the Spanish made up for their lack of EA and cannon luck with a big gold haul.  I feel like a bunch of recent games have seen UT luck not go my way, so it was nice to have that strategy pay off a bit – I might even use a similar fleet in the future to try the Fireworks combo again.  Neptuno using it could be spectacular, but Santa Ana or Corazon Dorado could have made good use of it as well.

Thanks again to all who played!  For anyone reading that wants to play, let me know if you’re in Las Vegas!  😀