The Pirates have always been just about the best faction for gold running. You’ll notice that they got most of their best runners in the first handful of sets, followed by a long drought of slower ships and more combat-oriented ships. However, even if you limit their ships to CC and RV alone you can make a case that they have the best treasure running fleet in the game.
Top 10 Pirate Gold Runners
Widely considered to be the best ship in the game. Also the most undercosted ship in the game. Only 4 points (with an explorer) gives you L+L movement with room for three coins. Have you heard enough about this ship yet?
2. Darkhawk II
Depending on your preferences for large vs. small treasure runners, this ship could be moved down to #6 since the following four ships are all quite similar. However, the Darkhawk deserves recognition as one of the best ships in the game and quite possibly the best ship overall, because unlike the Cry she can put up a good fight. Even after you add a captain, helsmman, and explorer you’ll have 5 cargo spaces available.
The following four ships are all quite similar and therefore can be interchanged. I ranked them as follows based on their total point cost. All four are incredibly popular and make the Pirates the best faction in the game.
3. Bloody Jewel
9 points (with helmsman + explorer): S+L+S speed with 3 spaces.
4. Bonnie Liz
11 points (with helmsman + explorer): S+L+S speed with 3 spaces.
5. Star of Siam
9 points (with explorer): S+S+S speed with 3 spaces.
11 points (with explorer): S+S+S speed with 3 spaces.
This is the flagship of the old Norvegia setup with crew like Don Pedro Gilbert. Even after the ruling on gold was changed the Hoard remains one of the best ships ever. She’s even got serviceable guns to use if you wanted to make her a hybrid ship.
8. Hai Peng
This is the fastest ship in the game when you add a captain and helmsman (S+L+L+S). If you add a crew like Captain Jack Sparrow you can save a cargo space (you can also use Hammersmith to combine abilities). Using Captain Jack also opens up possibilities for crazy fleets like this one. This is one of the most interesting ships in the game.
This is one of my oldest ships and one of the best one masters. It would be nice if she had one more cargo space, but even with an explorer she has two spaces available for gold, which isn’t bad when you consider that the other coin or two on the island is probably a 1 or 2 since you’ll take the highest value coins. She is vulnerable to ramming, but her ability makes her tougher than most one masters, not to mention the fact that her 2L cannon could come in handy. A very good ship overall.
For the last spot I chose one of the only three masters in the game with S+S+S speed. She’s a bit pricier than most of the other ships on the list, but her speed and ability make her very evasive and difficult to stop.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Barnacle, Dragon, Grand Barnacle, Jolly Mon, Paradox, Song, Swift, Foresight, Mystic, Sea Crane, Adventure, Cassandra, Eagle, La Victoire, Mermaid, Rover, White Rose, Shamrock, Cursed Blade, Hades’ Flame, Lightning, Bandido, Black Heart, Gale Force Nine, Longshanks, Pandora, Raven’s Neck, Shadow, Akua Lapu, Cannibal King