Ranking the Top 10 Pirate Named Crew
You can find all the game pieces in the Master Spreadsheet, but crew are easy to copy and paste into the post and don’t take up much space for the discussion of each piece, so I’ve included their most important details in some form.
The Pirates are the best and most numerous faction in the game, so it’s no surprise that their list is impressive and could easily be extended to a Top 15 or 20. It was tough to make. You could rearrange the list and it would look pretty good – the crew you might pick depends more on the fleet style or your ability preferences than just blindly including crew from the list in order. The one crew I’ll exclude here is the 0LR +5 crew, which for the Pirates are The Hag of Tortuga and Sean “Cannonball” Gallows from MI – all the major factions except The Cursed have at least one 0LR +5, and a strong case could be made to just put those crew at the top of each of these lists. If you see something you like, feel free to click the affiliate link to see if it’s available on eBay.
Point Cost: 6. Link: All Pirate ships
Ability: This ship can move and shoot using the same move action. When this ship is given an explore action, you can swap a treasure on the wild island a crew on any friendly ship.
Although there are many more well-known classics from the early days of the game, this version of CJS takes the cake as arguably the best crew in the entire game. He is integral to the UPS (Universal Pirate Shipping) strategy, pioneered by Miniature Trading member darrin and proven in VASSAL Tournament #2 as the best fleet strategy ever. It can be a hard concept to grasp at first, but with the correct fleet setups and support for CJS, his signature ability can end even the most competitive of games in just a few turns, often without an opponent being able to do anything about it.
2. Captain Blackheart/Havana Black
Point Cost: 5 (Havana Black links with Bloody Jake)
Ability: This ship may move and shoot using the same move action. Once per turn, you may eliminate one of this ship’s crew to give her an extra action.
The classic Sac Captain crew is extremely tough to beat. Sac is quite obviously worth more than 2 points in game, even with the oarsmen you have to sac to work it properly. There is almost nothing like a guaranteed extra action when you need it. That level of control on gunships that are already deadly is something many competitive and “meta” fleets are built around. There’s no denying these classics are among the most effective crew ever released.
The next handful are a bit of a crapshoot to rank and really just depend on what you need in your fleet.
3. 3 point SAT/Born Leader crew
Calico Cat from SM+RotF, Le Requin from CC, Gunner from FN
Point Cost: 3
Ability: Once per turn before you give this ship an action, roll a d6. On a 5 or 6, this ship may be given the same action twice.
Another classic born in Spanish Main, 3 point SAT is just always nice to have. It’s cheap, effective, easy to include in most gunship setups, and often combined with Reroll (an additional 3 points) to increase the chances of getting the SAT. I ranked them ahead of the next 2 because the cost makes them more flexible/easy to use and because you may not want or need World Hater added on….
4. Crimson Angel (OE version)
Point Cost: 5. Link: Deliverance
Ability: Once per turn before you give this ship an action, roll a d6. On a 5 or 6, this ship may be given the same action twice. This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against any non-Pirate ship.
SAT+World Hater (WH) usually cost 7 total (3+4), but Crimson Angel’s best version gets them into one cargo space for just 5 points. This is one of the best combo crew and discount crew in the game. A perfect choice for nearly any Pirate gunship you’d want to run, with a good link to boot.
5. Calico Cat (OE version)
Point Cost: 6. Link: Cat’s Claw
Ability: Once per turn, roll a d6. On a 5 or 6, this ship may be given an extra action. This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against any non-Pirate ship.
Getting even more of a discount (-3 points) than Crimson Angel from OE, this Cat’s abilities would normally cost 9 total (5+4). Although EA is more flexible than SAT and therefore better on hybrids that will be exploring more than gunships, that 1 point can be crucial in competitive fleet builds or even just for adding an oarsman to protect a vital crew.
Another classic the Pirates originally received via Crimson Angel in CC (but for 6 points), these later versions of 5 point EA (Extra Action) are not quite on par with the above action generators for cost effectiveness, but still great crew to use. They’re better than SAT on hybrids and gold runners because they allow you to move and explore a wild island in the same turn without an explorer if you succeed with the roll.
7. Hammersmith (F&S version)
Point Cost: 5.
Ability: Hostile: England, Captain, Helmsman.
Although he’s “simple” by only having generic crew abilities, I would not fault someone for ranking this version of Hammersmith #2 overall on this list. His versatility is unmatched, being the absolutely perfect crew for any Pirate ship with cannons worth shooting. He especially shines on hybrids by saving a cargo space, and on monster setups where you need every slot available for crew and equipment. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want an oarsman to protect him a little, since if he gets eliminated you lose both important abilities all at once.
8. Tia Dalma
Point Cost: 5
Ability: Once per turn, one crew or ship within S of this ship can’t use its ability that turn.
I’m worried that these major faction Top 10 named crew lists will all just have the cancellers as kind of a token entry, but the list wouldn’t really be complete without them. Dalma is quite important to the Pirates, as she is the only canceller in their entire arsenal, whereas most of the other Big 5 factions got cancellers in both crew and ship form, and/or got more than 1 crew canceller.
From here on the list felt like even more of a tossup….
9. Genny Gallows (SM version)
Point Cost: 3. Link: Genny’s Red Rampage
Ability: One of this ship’s treasures is worth +2 gold when she docks at your home island.
A game-winning ability that sees frequent usage in some of the most competitive fleets of all time, Genny is best on gold runners with as much cargo space as possible. Find ways to get the +2 bonus as often as possible and you will win.
10. The Headhunter (SCS version), Derrik the Red
Point Cost: 6. (The Headhunter links to the Black Heart ship)
Ability: This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against any non-Pirate ship. Once per turn, you may eliminate one of this ship’s crew to give her an extra action.
Somehow a bit underrated or possibly not often used, these are two of the best combat crew in the game. Sac is easily combined with some oarsmen for actions when you need ’em, and World Hater is of course amazingly good on any gunship, especially large ones to max out how many cannons are improved. That works well, since you’re likely to get at least 13 points worth of ship if you use one of these – a captain and helmsman (or Hammersmith!) adds 5, and I wouldn’t want to sail out a Sac ship with less than a pair of 1 point crew aboard (preferably 3+ though).
Now Emperor Blackheart will haunt my dreams for not including him in the Top 10. XD But with basically a guaranteed extra action, I wouldn’t fault someone for wanting to put him 3rd on the list.
Extremely Honorable Mentions: Emperor Blackheart (All-Powerful), Jimmy Legs (Sac), Jack Hawkins (CC version; SAT+Crew Protect), Captain Mission (MI version; EA+Crew Protect), Captain Barbossa and Isandro Ramirez (Captain+World Hater)
Other Honorable Mentions: ‘Don’ Pedro Gilbert, various Captain+Reroll crew that often have better other versions (ex: SCS Calico Cat), AA crew (Laffite and Swann), Calypso, Cursed Captain Jack, Capitaine Chevalle, Gentleman Jocard, Captain Mysion (RotF)
Dishonorable Mentions: Empress (OE)
Feel free to make your own list of the Top 10 Pirate named crew in the comments!