Different Set Editions – A Visual Guide

Different Set Editions – A Visual Guide

Although Wizkids released a total of 13 different Sets over the years, some have multiple editions.  You can find them in the Master Spreadsheet, although there are a few discrepancies I address here.  The information is also on the Wikipedia page, but here I’ll look at the different set editions with pictures.  Feel free to click the affiliate links to buy some packs and simultaneously support the site.

Spanish Main – First print run

This is the faded print run, with the old numbering and rarity system. (ES-009 for English Ship #9, and no rarity color or set symbol in the corner)

HMS Dover Spanish Main

Spanish Main – Limited

Regular coloring/not faded, with the same numbering scheme.

HMS Lord Algernon Spanish Main

Spanish Main – Unlimited

Released shortly after the Crimson Coast set, this version of SM has the regular rarity and numbering system on the cards.

HMS Titan Spanish Main

Revolution – Limited

First version of the RV set.

Le Superbe Revolution

Revolution – Unlimited

Same thing, but with “UL” added in front of the card number to denote the Unlimited version.

Le Soleil Royal Revolution

Barbary Coast – Limited

First version of BC.

HMS Durham Barbary Coast

Barbary Coast – Unlimited

Just like in RV UL, these cards have UL in front of the collector’s number.

Davy Jones’ Curse – First print runs, easily scratched cards

The first print run or runs of DJC had cards that scratched very easily.  This set is infamous for being of poorer quality due to this issue, but it’s easy to find the better version.

Harbinger Davy Jones Curse

Some cards are more easily scuffed up than others – here you can see a very worn out Unique Treasure card.  Although it may look like it’s been through a drying machine, it actually doesn’t take much to damage some DJC cards this much.

Witch's Brew Davy Jones Curse

Davy Jones’ Curse – Good print runs

After the card quality disaster, Wizkids made additional print runs of DJC and corrected the issue.

La Corse Davy Jones Curse

Pack Variations

Not all variations are picture, but I think you’ll get the point.  🙂  Feel free to click the picture affiliate links to buy some packs and simultaneously support the site.  Just realize that the version of the pack pictured may not be what you see in the eBay search results.  🙂

Spanish Main limited version pack (photo courtesy of WalMart)

SM first art

Spanish Main Unlimited – you can clearly see the marker in the bottom left corner.

Pirates of the Spanish Main Unlimited Pack

Revolution Unlimited – the first version of RV simply doesn’t have the feature on the bottom right of the pack.

Pirates of the Revolution Unlimited Pack

Barbary Coast Unlimited

Pirates of the Barbary Coast Unlimited Pack

Davy Jones’ Curse – original pack art.  This is where you’re likely to find poor quality cards that scratch easily.

Different Set Editions Pirates of Davy Jones' Curse first pack

Davy Jones’ Curse – pack art for better print runs.

Pirates Davy Jones Curse second pack

Pirates of the Caribbean – 3 different pack variations

Wizkids Disney Pirates of the Caribbean packs

This is more of a note than anything else.  Similar to the bad quality DJC print runs, there are some South China Seas (SCS) cards that scratch easily.  I have not experienced this issue much with SCS, but other collectors have said that a decent or large percentage of their SCS cards are easily scratched.

El Fantasma South China Seas scratched card

 

I know there is a lot more I could add to this post, but I wanted to cover the basics with mostly my own pictures.  Comment below your thoughts!

English Fleet Review – How Good is the English Faction?

English Fleet Review

English fleet Pirates CSG

My English fleet at the 2014 Fleet Review.

Looking at a faction’s capabilities

In this post, I will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the English fleet.  I will analyze the English faction in a concise but detailed manner.  Hopefully you’ll learn enough to decide whether you’d like to play the English fleet in games!

Since the time I got into Pirates CSG, the English have been my favorite faction.  This is partly due to the large amount of reading I’ve done in regards to the Age of Sail time period.  Throughout the Age of Sail, the Royal Navy was a force to be reckoned with, and by the end of the era, Great Britain was easily the most powerful nation on Earth!

Theme – Time to FIGHT!

English fleet taking on the Spanish

English cannons win the day against the Spanish!

The English are a brawler.  By that I mean that they like to fight, and fight often.  I’m glad that Wizkids made the English faction this way, because it’s very accurate to how the Royal Navy performed in real life.  By concentrating on combat, an English player can dominate the waves.

The English are known for their gunnery excellence.  They have a lot of ships with accurate cannons, both short and long range.  Many of their best gunships are also some of the best gunships in the game!  Therefore, when constructing an English fleet, you’ll want to include at LEAST one gunship, regardless of the build total.  In games with at least 60 points, you’ll probably want 2 or more English warships to wreak havoc on the seas.  The linked Rankings pages give you a good idea of the best ships to choose from.

Loaded at the top

HMS Endeavour Pirates CSG

Good luck beating a loaded HMS Endeavour!

As mentioned above, the English have an incredible group of gunships that can compete with the best from any other faction.  Starting with HMS Titan all the way back in the original set of Spanish Main, the English have had incredibly powerful options from Day 1 in Pirates CSG.  This continued from set to set – HMS London in Crimson Coast, HMS Swallow and HMS Oxford in Revolution, HMS Durham in Barbary Coast, not to mention MANY more.  Throw in HMS Endeavour, one of the best gunships EVER, and you’ve got a fierce faction ready to go to war!

Augmenting the abundance of firepower are some of the best crew in the game.  The English boast numerous extra action givers, from the regular EA (Extra Action) and SAT (Same Action Twice) abilities to both SAC (sacrifice) and AA (Admiral’s Action) crew.  On top of that are some crew that give cannon bonuses, including world haters Hermione Gold (Mysterious Islands version) and Admiral Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean.  This is just the tip of the iceberg as they say, because the English have a LOT of good named crew.

Better at the gold game than you think!

HMS Lady Provost

HMS Lady Provost, one of the finest 2 masted schooners.

Although the English are one of the best fighting factions in the game, don’t sleep on their gold running prowess!  Not nearly the powerhouse that the Pirates, French, or Spanish are in the gold game, the English can still hold their own when it comes to getting treasure.  They have a variety of decent options.  Some of those can also be used as hybrids (multipurpose ships) with a captain aboard.

Players often discount the English potential for winning games.  This is due to their gold options being lacking compared to the other “Big 4” major factions.  However, the English are still better at getting gold than most of the minor factions and the Cursed.  The exception there being the Barbary Corsairs.

Conclusion – Do you like the English Fleet?

Of course I’m biased – I love the English!  However, they truly are one of the most powerful factions in Pirates.  Indeed, they’ve won 5 huge games, more than any other faction as of January 2019.  I’d love to hear your favorite stories of the English fleet in Pirates CSG games.

Ready to get started playing the English?  You can find them in any set, but you might even get lucky with a faction lot!

Happy Playing!

-Admiral A7XfanBen

Pirates CSG Rules – Start Here, Complete Game, and More

Pirates CSG Rules

Pirates CSG Rules

My Basic Rules

Here at Pirates with Ben, you can always be sure to find the Pirates CSG Rules in all their various forms and formats.  If you’re a beginner, the Start Here Rules are what you’ll want.  However, that document assumes you only have one pack to start playing, which is part of the reason why I created My Basic Rules that you can use if you’d like (they include some of my own house rules, which I firmly believe make the game better).

Once you have a decent sense of the Start Here rules, you can move on to the Complete Game Rules.  This is a much more advanced version of the game, but the way it’s intended to be played.  These rules are also found in my custom rule set linked above.

Now that you’ve got the main rules, you should be ready to play full games of Pirates CSG without too much trouble.  However, there are some very good supplemental materials that can greatly aid in your playing time.  Woelf‘s Master Keyword List is a classic document containing all of the keywords ever made.  This is great because Wizkids only printed keywords in the Complete Game rules associated with that pack’s specific set.  If you use a copy of the MKL, you’ll never have to search through various Complete Game rulebooks just to find one set-specific keyword.

Unfortunately, Wizkids made a number of contradictions, gaffes, and confusing wordings in the rules and abilities for this game.  That is where another fantastic document from Woelf comes into play.  The Pirate Code (FAQ).  This is a life saver.  Although it’s much larger than any of the other Pirates CSG Rules documents, “the Code” (from Pirates of the Caribbean and of course pirate history) is an incredible resource that will answer nearly ALL of the potential questions you could have about the rules of the game.

Finally, although it’s far less necessary than any of the above documents, the Reference Diagrams (also by Woelf of course!) contain a number of useful tidbits.  Veteran players will not need them for the most part, but they can be quite useful for beginners.  Even after playing hundreds of games, I learned of a towing option I had never thought of or realized before!

Now that you have all of the Pirates CSG Rules, go forth and PLAY!!

How to Optimize Your Fleets – Focus on Gold, Speed, Best Abilities

How to Optimize Your Fleets – Focus on Gold, Speed, Best Abilities

Question of the Day: What do you consider the #1 way to optimize fleets for winning?

Focus on gold – better to have more gold runners than gunships because of point disparity, and only gold runner getting crippled can easily take you out of the game.

Always use helmsmen!  Even when you don’t think you need them!

Optimize speed with base moves and helmsmen – speed is most important ship attribute

Try to get extra actions from somewhere – they’re a bit of a luxury, but can massively help win games.  Cheapest and best options are SAT and Sac, likely for gunships. SAT should be combined with reroll if possible (many factions have 0LR rerollers), and Sac requires at least 2 sac crew (preferably 3), usually oarsmen.  Don’t skimp on helmsman for sac food.

Building a Fleet: https://pirateswithben.com/building-a-fleet/

Gameplay: https://pirateswithben.com/gameplay/

If you need to acquire some game pieces to improve your fleets, eBay will often be your best bet: https://goo.gl/CM4rQj

 

-Admiral A7XfanBen

How to Optimize

Best Crew – Optimize your crew complements to WIN

Another part of the Q&A series here at Pirates with Ben.  This was asked in the Facebook group – a question about

which crew to use.

Best Crew

Captain

Best Crew to Use

Captains and helmsmen are the most important. I’m not the biggest fan of explorers but they can be quite good as well. In terms of named crew, anything that gives extra actions is extremely good (SAC/EA/SAT/etc). It does depend on my strategy and the ship though. Empty gold runners can work pretty well, but you’re not going to have an “empty gunship”, so a lot of times the percentage of crew in a fleet is massively biased towards gunships (meaning 75-90% of crew points spent could be assigned to gunships, for example).

C+H necessary to stay competitive

Best Crew

Helmsman

Specifically, if a ship has a base move of S+S or slower, she nearly always needs a helmsman for your fleet to stay competitive (exception is empty gold runner that gets +S with no cargo). Even the recent Savage Shores anniversary game is a good example of this. Gunships always need captains, and almost always need helmsmen too.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  If you don’t use captains and helmsmen on your gunships, you will not win against competent opponents.

Extreme Cases

However, a gimmick fleet might go with very little crew or many “abnormal” crew that don’t get pure results, but are VERY fun to use. These fleets often still use captains and helmsmen as a “backbone” of sorts, in addition to the wacky stuff that make them fun and unique.  That said, if you’re strictly looking to WIN, you’re better off hammering the basics to ensure optimized fleet building.  Personally I get a little bored of winning with the same fleet or strategy all the time, so I like to change it up!

Check out my Building a Fleet page and Gameplay page for more information.  You may also find some specific crew on eBay.

How to repair your ships – for Pirates CSG

How to repair your ships – for Pirates CSG

A question was asked at the Facebook group – how do you repair broken masts?

I do a simple tape job system. I rip off a very small slice of tape and put one on each side of a broken mast. It can still be a bit wobbly or fragile, but usually holds up fine and sometimes can even be taken out and replaced again as normal. If you do this I recommend the very clear tape and not what they might call “transparent” (which is more like a fog color I think).

The few times I’ve tried glue with Pirates stuff it went horribly and I would almost rather just leave masts as-is than deal with any complicated or time consuming solutions.

I have left a few ships damaged for a while (Concord from RV being the main one I remember) – as long as you can see the cannon die marking and there’s some sail, it can almost look cool like the ship is just permanently damaged (depending on the break of course).

Check out this video I made about repairing basic mast breaks.  This solution is especially great for repairing the typical break where you have a mast that has splintered near the base.  With a thin piece of tape carefully applied to both sides to hold it in place, you should have your ship back into action and sailing in no time!

Question of the Day: How do you prefer to repair mast breaks?

Do you want to see more videos like this?

 

Alternative “solution”: Make shipwrecks!

If you have multiple mast breaks, your ship is beyond salvaging, or you simply want to experiment with a different solution, you could repurpose a broken ship as a shipwreck!  I created this Shipwreck Cove and it’s quite a neat aesthetic to have in games.

How to repair your ships

My Shipwreck Cove creation during a game

Savage Shores – Mini Set Review

Savage Shores

Pirates of the Cursed Seas Savage Shores Scavenger Pack Box

Follow this link to find the Savage Shores!

Mini Set Review

Product: Pirates of the Cursed Seas: Savage Shores

Average auction box price: $21.33 (as of November 2018)

Cheapest place to buy: eBay

Factions: Pirates, English, Spanish, French, Americans, Cursed

Features/New Stuff: Hoists, Native Canoes, cargo masters, navigators, Great Turtles, trade currents

Ben’s Rating: 16/20

Pirates CSG Savage Shores Native Canoes

3 sets of American native canoes in Economy Edition (2015)


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. You can find all of the game pieces in the Master Spreadsheet, and I’ve ranked the Top 10 here.

Ratings

– Art: 4/5. Definitely stands out, but some ugly ships keep it from a perfect score. I think the named crew artwork was exceptional.
– Set Quality: 4/5. Some great stuff, mostly good. The sea monsters, lack of generic crew, and somewhat unbalanced pieces (navigators, cargo masters, American canoes, Libellule, hoists) keep it from a 5 for me.
– New Content: 4/5. Canoes and hoists are both fantastic, arguably too much so. Hoists are the most excusable Pokeship (if they are even considered to be one) simply due to how interesting they are in terms of gameplay. Navigators and cargo masters are both frustrating to deal with in large games, but they’re a welcome addition to most players.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. The set was almost too easy to acquire, and the box idea caused some consternation among people who didn’t or couldn’t (or still can’t!) complete 10 masters. The SR’s were relatively common as well, but I give the set a 2/3 for collectibility. The Miscellaneous score gets a 2/2 due to the set’s good reputation and a kind of positive farewell after the long decline. The set is generally viewed with very positive vibes due to it being so unique in so many ways, and a beacon of hope that unfortunately never was.
= Overall: 16/20. Very good but not all-time great.

Discover the Savage Shores here!

Below you can check out the entire Set Review Podcast episode for a full overview of all the game pieces.

Fire and Steel – Mini Set Review

Fire and Steel

Pirates CSG Fire and Steel pack

Click to buy Fire and Steel!

Mini Set Review

Product: Pirates of the Cursed Seas: Fire and Steel

Average auction pack price: $1.38 (as of November 2018)

Cheapest place to buy: eBay

Factions: Pirates, English, Spanish, French, Americans, Cursed

Features/New Stuff: Bombardiers, Switchblades, equipment, historical LE’s

Ben’s Rating: 10/20

Pirates of the Cursed Seas: Fire and Steel

The wacky new ship types


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. You can find all of the game pieces in the Master Spreadsheet, and I’ve ranked the Top 10 here.

Ratings

– Art: 4/5. Plenty of variety and good designs, with some ugly ones as well. The named crew portraits seem below average.
– Set Quality: 2/5. The gold standard for mediocrity in Pirates. So much quantity, and so much of it boring and/or below average.
– New Content: 2/5. Another colossal failure that partly led to the game’s downfall. Giant flamethrowers and freaky blades that pop out from the sides of a hull. Not as bad as Scorpions, but two Pokeship designs instead of one is just sad. On the other hand, equipment would have been perfect to introduce early in the game, such as CC or RV. However, at least it was great when it arrived – lots of variety, mostly historical, and good point costs (once you see the errata). The 0-value gold coins are evil but funny.
– Collectability/Misc: 2/5. Somewhat fun to collect due to the sheer number of game pieces, including cool SE’s and LE’s. However, it’s a little TOO hard to collect – beyond the LE’s being pricey, you’ve got a Big 3 of very tough acquisitions – the Chum Maker, Raptor Maw, and the big one, the Obago Deuce (and I’m not even including the SiaB’s!). I would say this is the most boring set, so the intangibles are bad. It gets a 1/2 for Miscellaneous due to the Historical Pack and having just enough cool stuff to be worth investigating.
= Overall: 10/20. The most boring set in my opinion. I still enjoy all the sets, but I usually enjoy this one the least.

Find Fire and Steel here!

Below you can check out the entire Set Review Podcast episode for a full overview of all the game pieces.

Rise of the Fiends – Mini Set Review

Rise of the Fiends

Rise of the Fiends pack

Click to buy Rise of the Fiends!

Mini Set Review

Product: Pirates of the Cursed Seas: Rise of the Fiends

Average auction pack price: $1.29 (as of November 2018)

Cheapest place to buy: eBay

Factions: Pirates, English, Spanish, French, Americans, Cursed

Features/New Stuff: Name change (Pirates of the Cursed Seas Pocketmodel Game), Scorpions, red islands/terrain, story inserts, 2 glow in the dark Special Edition ships

Ben’s Rating: 11/20

Pirates of the Cursed Seas: Rise of the Fiends

A Scorpion ship in action


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. You can find all of the game pieces in the Master Spreadsheet, and I’ve ranked the Top 10 here.

Ratings

– Art: 4/5. Very colorful ships and crew – many great, but some a bit over the top. Most of the larger ships are quite beautiful. Using different artwork for generic crew is cool, but it does make it a bit confusing and harder to use for new players. Actually one of the most interesting sets for artwork, but too much focus on the red theme was detrimental (mostly with the red island/terrain cards, which look truly disgusting next to any other set’s). I don’t like the cards either – the red and yellow looks great with SM and CC, but combined and brighter it seems unappealing for some reason.
– Set Quality: 3/5. I’ve underrated this set many times, but it has a lot of interesting game pieces. However, there’s a bunch of mediocre stuff as well. Most ships are either slow or have small cargo holds, so it’s not a good set for getting gold at all. There are a few balance issues with the extremes of the set – mostly the San Cristobal and Blood Money being OP, while stuff like Merrow and some of the 1 masters should not have been made.
– New Content: 1/5. I nearly put 0/5 and said “am I allowed to do this?”, but flotillas and the glow in the dark stuff just barely make up for the atrocity of scorpions and the Hostile/Loyal stuff. Scorpions are my least favorite ship type, though the sharks are up there as well. Only one of them stands out, while all the flotillas are usable and quite good. The Hostile/Loyal keywords feel like an unnecessary gimmick to lower point costs (Eternal for one point?), though I do like when flavor text is part of the gameplay. The Turbine and Double Catamaran randomly thrown in at the end of the set really show that the game was completely coming off the rails at this point. The Turbine keyword is underpriced and weird from a historical perspective, while the Double Catamaran ship type is way too wide and big, not to mention awkward. Though the ship types weren’t new, I love the glow in the dark concept.
– Collectability/Misc: 3/5. Another small set, but a decent one to collect. Positives included a cool variety of SE’s and LE’s, some of which are very expensive to acquire. Negatives include a silly rarity distribution with generic crew and an SR pack that was too common. Not much to say about the story inserts. Throw in the mythical Ochobrazo, and it’s definitely a unique set for collectors. The Miscellaneous score is 1/2 since the set is just not that great when you consider everything. Throw in the odd name, “Rise of the Fiends”, and you can’t even find a sea creature outside of an SE kraken nor an abnormally strong Cursed presence. (sure they got Scorpions and a 10 master, but any of the large gunships from the set easily outclass them)
= Overall: 11/20. Not one of my favorites, but the positives of the set are pretty cool.

Get Rise of the Fiends here!

Below you can check out the entire Set Review Podcast episode for a full overview of all the game pieces.

Pirates of the Caribbean – Mini Set Review

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean pack

Click to buy PotC on eBay!

Mini Set Review

Product: Pirates of the Caribbean

Average auction pack price: $3.01 (as of November 2018)

Cheapest place to buy: eBay

Factions: Pirates, English

Features/New Stuff: Rarity based numbering system, different die cutting method, no pennants, UT’s on crew cards, krakens, pack art variation

Ben’s Rating: 12/20

Wizkids Pirates of the Caribbean game

The Black Pearl surrounded by The Kraken in the PotC 10th anniversary game, just like in the movies!


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) plague the set.  Great idea, imperfect execution.  You can find all of the game pieces in the Master Spreadsheet, and I’ve ranked the Top 10 here.

Ratings

– Art: 3/5. Design changes actually annoyed me, as I found the old look more pleasing and I like using pennants. However, limiting how often the ships break is definitely a good thing. In addition, more rounded hull and mast tabs usually make for easier assembly.
The actual artwork was pretty cool and fun to look at. However, a bunch of it was reused from earlier sets, but the biggest problem was the total failure to make the Endeavour, Dauntless, and Interceptor look ANYTHING like the ships from the movies. An inexcusable gaffe that nearly ruins the experience of playing those ships (so silly looking that the excellent Flying Dutchman and Black Pearls don’t make up for it). Notable for introducing the split card colors which stayed until the end. I did enjoy the crew and UT pictures, as it really ties the movies into the game quite well. I think the kraken design and artwork is about as good as could be expected.
– Set Quality: 3/5. Lots of good ships with a few great ones as well. This gave the Pirates and English that many more options (including very nice crew options), which neither of them really needed. I deducted a point for not having other factions, and another point for the OP stuff (mostly Captain Jack Sparrow, but the Endeavour, Cursed Captain Jack and Kraken Gong have all had somewhat detrimental effects on the game).
– New Content: 3/5. Krakens were quite well done overall, as a relatively playable sea creature that effectively incorporated the movie theme. The Parley keyword can be confusing at first and is probably underpriced a little, but it’s definitely a cool addition to the game and another effective movie tie-in. Going a little deeper, this set also introduced a handful of new “1 of 1” game pieces such as CJS, Calypso, the Hai Peng, and Jailhouse Dog. Most of the unique stuff was either confusing or ruined some of the fun, but there’s no denying the importance of those and other game pieces on modern competitive play.
– Collectability/Misc: 3/5. Mostly negatives here unfortunately – a small set is easier to collect (which can be a good thing), and there wasn’t much extra stuff (SE/LE/PR pieces) to get. The real problem was when the distribution went awry, with some packs having all commons, and in extreme cases, “god boxes” full of SR packs. Throw in just 2 factions, and even the PotC name can’t save the set from having major collectibility problems. However, the partnership with Disney was absolutely perfect for a game like Pirates, so the Miscellaneous score is definitely a 2 and could be bumped to a 4/5 overall if you value intangibles more than collectibility (or are just a huge PotC fan heh). Though, the change to a rarity-based checklist was a negative.
= Overall: 12/20. A great effort with Disney’s help, but with some glaring flaws that make the set quite polarizing.

Find Pirates of the Caribbean on eBay!

Below you can check out the entire Set Review Podcast episode for a full overview of all the game pieces.