Wizkids released a whopping 13 sets in just 5 years of production.  Here you can find some general information and my opinions on them, as well as links to purchase if they suit your fancy.

You can see my detailed set rankings here, which is where my ratings below come from.

In 2004, Wizkids launched the Pirates of the Spanish Main product line.  The first set introduced three factions – Pirates, English, and Spanish.  Spanish Main (SM) was the first set I bought and it is still my favorite set.  If you like the basics of the game, a limited number of factions, and a more historical set than most of the others, this is the set for you.

My rating: 18/20

Pirates of the Spanish Main pack
Click to buy Spanish Main!

The second set came out in 2005 – Pirates of the Crimson Coast (CC).  This set introduced the French, the Schooner ship type and forts.  This is another classic set with a TON of great ships and crew.  It can also lay claim to the title of “most perfect set”, as it got the highest rating from me when ranking all the sets.  It also has the lowest number of votes for “least favorite set” in the Pirates CSG Survey.

My rating: 19/20

Pirates of the Crimson Coast pack
Click to buy Crimson Coast!

Pirates of the Revolution (RV) came out in 2005 as well, featuring the introduction of the American faction.  Revolution is sometimes considered the “best” set, with fast ships and some of the most usable ships in the game.  RV also marked the first time Events were used, as well as new tins with varying artwork.  One of the most historical sets, it’s also a favorite of American fans.

My rating: 17/20

Pirates of the Revolution pack
Click to buy Revolution!

Pirates of the Barbary Coast (BC) was the last set from 2005.  The Barbary Corsairs and their Galleys gave players the best “minor faction” to use.  This is another set with some historical tie-ins, and the only set without the Pirate faction.  Overall the set is very balanced and playable, but not quite as exciting as the sets released just before and after it.

My rating: 16/20

Pirates of the Barbary Coast pack
Click to buy Barbary Coast!

Pirates of the South China Seas (SCS) is by far the hardest set to acquire, and the first set released in 2006. The Jade Rebellion and their new ship type, Junks, highlighted the set.  This is another fantastic set on par with the first three sets, doing extremely well on gameplay, theme, and artwork.  Tough to beat, but tough to find.

My rating: 18/20

Pirates of the South China Seas pack
Click to buy South China Seas!

Pirates of Davy Jones’ Curse (DJC, 2006) is easy to acquire and features the Cursed and their sea monsters.  This is when the game marked a dramatic turn from mostly historical content to some fantasy content.  In some ways one could argue it was the “beginning of the end” since it drove away some of the player base, but it did attract a younger audience for the sets to come as well.  In addition, this set is when the reverse power creep began – meaning that the general effectiveness of game pieces began to decline.  The Cursed faction and sea creatures were part of it in this set, but ships also began getting slower in this set.

My rating: 14/20

Pirates of Davy Jones Curse pack
Click to buy Davy Jones' Curse!

Pirates of the Mysterious Islands (MI, 2006) featured the new Mercenary faction and introduced Submarines.  Honestly it was not a great set, as the artwork seemed dull and the ships were worse than the ones from DJC.  In addition, the Mercenaries are the worst of the minor factions since they cannot dock at their own home island!  However, you’ll enjoy the set if you like subs and the tie-ins to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

My rating: 10/20

Pirates of the Mysterious Islands pack
Click to buy Mysterious Islands!

Pirates of the Frozen North (FN, 2007) saw the Vikings sail into battle aboard their Longships.  The Vikings are another very poor minor faction, as they have small fragile ships and have trouble in the gold game.  Icebergs were featured as a new terrain option.  FN is another slow set, but there are a bunch of very solid game pieces among the mediocre stuff.

My rating: 11/20

Pirates of the Frozen North pack
Click to buy Frozen North!

Pirates At Ocean’s Edge (OE, 2007) was a large set that got produced in huge quantities, featuring a ton of different ship types as well as new types of sea monsters.  Due to the massive production, it’s both the cheapest set and the easiest to find.  It features the “Big 6” factions together again, marking the end of minor factions being introduced in their own sets.  OE is a great set for beginners due to the variety, quantity, and price.  Highly recommended if you’re on a budget and just getting into the game, though it can get boring once you’ve used the stuff from the set a lot.  It’s also not balanced at all, as some game pieces are terrible and some are among the best in the game. 

My rating: 12/20

Pirates at Ocean's Edge pack
Click to buy Ocean's Edge!

Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC, 2007) saw Wizkids partner with Disney to produce a movie-themed set, with only the Pirates and English as playable factions.  It’s a very unique set, and it changed the design of the ships along with the rarity/numbering scheme.  For me it’s a fantastic collaboration that makes perfect sense given how similar DJC and OE already were to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but there are some issues.  The lack of a Cursed faction and the collation issues (a whole booster box full of commons, for example) plagues the set.  Great idea, imperfect execution.

My rating: 12/20

Pirates of the Caribbean pack
Click to buy Caribbean!

Rise of the Fiends (ROTF, 2008) signalled the decline of the Pirates game. New “pokeships” alienated much of the player base and the set was smaller than most that came before it, with an abundance of slow ships.  Only a few of the widely despised Scorpion ships were even produced, and the red islands didn’t make things any better.  Interestingly enough a lot of the regular ships and crew were pretty decent, the saving grace for an otherwise poor set.

My rating: 11/20

Rise of the Fiends pack
Click to buy Rise of the Fiends!

Fire & Steel (F&S, 2008) continued the trend of the game delving more into the fantasy aspects, with new ships equipped with movable steel blades and huge flamethrowers.  It was a large set, but a slow and boring one.  There’s just not a lot in the set to get excited about.

My rating: 10/20

Pirates CSG Fire and Steel pack
Click to buy Fire and Steel!

Savage Shores (SS, 2008) became the last set of Pirates CSG.  The set was only the size of half of a normal set (just over 50 game pieces), released in Scavenger Pack boxes instead of the normal game packs.  It featured a bunch of new game pieces and ship types despite the small size, and was notable for being the best set for gameplay since at least the Caribbean set.  A small blaze of glory before the game went out of print just days after release.

My rating: 16/20

Pirates of the Cursed Seas Savage Shores Scavenger Pack Box
Click to buy Savage Shores!

Why was Savage Shores so small? Wizkids intended to release Return to Savage Shores soon afterwards, but they were shut down by Topps only a few days after Savage Shores was released in the heat of the financial crisis.

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  1. Ben,

    Found myself just hanging out this morning, checking emails, etc… Since I was on my home computer, which is rare at busy times, thought I would check out MT and make sure it was still there, hopefully forever. Glad to see that it was, although not much in the way of communications. Sad to see. I always check the eBay link when it’s highlighted. Immediately after getting done there, I bounced over to your site, being in my Pirates state of mind, to see what’s cooking. TBH, I haven’t checked out the entirety of your site. I did find myself reading your quick synopsis of the various sets on this link. Very well written and I pretty much agree with your rankings and like your comments very much. The first set is and always will be near and dear to my heart. That set started it all. It created a lifelong bond with my sons, who very much like Pirates, especially my oldest. His dream is to buy the patent and reboot the franchise. Lofty goal to be sure, but who knows. My other very favorite set is POTSCS. Huge fan of the Far East, especially Japan. I think I was Japanese in a former life, LOL. I also agree that there were many pros and cons with many of the sets. To me it didn’t matter too much, I was gonna collect it all, because I love Pirates. I believe there are only a dozen or so that may have more than myself as far as complete collections. Hard to know anymore with the current state of MT and so many lost followers of this great game. Anyway, sorry for the long memo.

  2. @Daniel: Don’t be sorry, I love long posts about Pirates CSG! Thanks for the comment! Your eldest son and I share the same goal then. 🙂
    I’ve got a ton of pages and posts by now, so it’s tough to check out everything on my site by this point haha. Just trying to populate it with as much content as possible, and saving and bringing stuff over from all the stuff I’ve made at MT over the years.

    -Admiral A7XfanBen

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