The Pirates have always been the best faction in the game when you consider the quantity and quality of ships. While they’re generally a bit better at getting gold (through various means), they can really put up a fight as well.
Top 10 Pirate Gunships
Sometimes I forget about the Zeus since I don’t own her yet, with my biggest Pirate ships being the five masters. She is something to behold, and although I don’t generally think ten masters are worth paying for, the Zeus is the cheapest of the bunch. Her guns leave something to be desired – I would highly suggest using Bruce Grey since the more cannons a ship has, the more value you get out of improving each and every one of them. With Bruce Grey and the standard captain and helmsman, this ship will be dominant. She is viable in 40 point games, and her ability and huge size makes her perfect for stealing lots of gold from your opponent’s poor treasure runners.
After the Zeus, things get a lot harder in a hurry. The next 6 or so spots could easily be changed around.
2. Black Pearl
For some reason I always underrate this ship, so I was surprised to rank it this high. This is the best version of the Black Pearl. Her ability is key, allowing her to move L+S+S with a captain and helmsman with 2L, 1L, 1L, 2L guns. This is a great package.
This is the original Pirate flagship! The Revenant is and will always be a classic. I find her ability to be a bit more practical than the Harbinger’s. This is one of the only Pirate ships with 4 or more masts to have unmodified rank-2 guns.
These two are the same ship thematically and similar in gameplay, so I’m combining them to make room for another ship in the top 10. The derelict ability is powerful, but the problem is twofold in a game, especially a smaller game. The Harbinger will be transported away from where the action was, so depending on the situation, you may not want to use the ability. In addition, the odds of repairing the captured ship and actually using it effectively against your opponent in the same game are relatively small, especially in smaller/faster games. The Harbinger will have to dismast an enemy ship and capture her very early on in the game. That being said, you can’t go wrong with either of these gunships.
5. La Victoire
This ship loses out to the above ships because her cannons are a bit less accurate. However, the Victoire is one of my favorite new ships and one of the most unique ships in the game. You can use French crew on the Victoire, and she’s got 6 cargo spaces! This makes her ideal for leaving some spaces open to run gold and/or steal it. Her point cost is great and probably even a little too low, making this ship a great option. She looks black in the picture but is actually a very dark purple, making her even more unique!
Here’s another version of the Black Pearl, trading speed and point cost for a nice ability and S-range guns. Her ability makes her ideal for packing crew aboard, and this is a gunship to be reckoned with.
7. Darkhawk II
This ship is legendary. She has more cargo spaces than most ten masters and almost as many cargo spaces as points! On top of everything else, she makes for a great gunship. If you want to go overboard you can use tailor-made Jonah to turn this ship into a monster. Easily one of the best ships in the game. I remember CC Mike saying that he thought this was the best ship in Pirates. In addition, possibly the best overall hybrid ship.
I have a soft spot for the original Deliverance (listed below as an honorable mention), but this is the better ship. The Deliverance is the fastest Pirate five master, making her intriguing right off the bat. She would be ranked higher on this list if she wasn’t lackluster in other areas. If you’re looking for a very large gunship that’s also very fast, this is the best the Pirates have got.
This is one of the best 3 masted gunships in the game, with great speed, solid cannons, and a nice ability, all for just 9 points! If you haven’t used the Windjammer I would highly recommend doing so. For more details check out my review of her.
This was a tossup. Any of the ships in the “almost” list can be subbed in for the Recreant, but I felt that she deserves more recognition than she’s gotten so far. The Pirates have a plethora of awesome 3 masted gunships (see below for more), and the Recreant is one of the best. For 14 points she’ll move L+S with the move-and-shoot and built-in crew-killing.
Very close to being in the top 10 (in no particular order): Empress/Empress, Morning Star, Eagle, Selkie, Diamond Strike, Black Swan, Golden Medusa, Accused, Doombox, Ophidious
Other honorable mentions (in no particular order): Black Pearl, Flying Dutchman/Flying Dutchman, Kray-kin, The Kraken, Revenge, Freedom’s Hand, Minerva, Splinter, Widowmaker, Angelica, Deliverance, Raninoidea, La Morte de Yarborough, Raven, Royal James, Treasure, White Rose, Devil’s Pay, El Tejon, Xiamen’s Claws, Cutlass, Executioner, Panda, Pride, Red Curse, Greed’s Hammer, Sister’s Rage, Carrion Crow, El Ballista, El Ladron, Longshanks, Raven’s Neck, Sea Nymph, Fool’s Hope/Fool’s Hope, Lady’s Scorn, Akua Lapu, Bruja