Pirates: 2021 Year in Review

Pirates: 2021 Year in Review

Hi everyone! This is a thread where you can share what Pirates stuff happened over the past year. It can be just about anything, from accomplishments to purchases to cool ideas. If this seems too vague, you can look at mine for an example. There’s also the option of stating your Pirates Goals for 2022.

It will be nice to look back upon the entire year and find joy and amazement in how much we’re capable of. List (possibly with links and/or a short description) everything you accomplished in 2021 in regards to Pirates that you thought was a good thing that happened. Everyone could make their own post and contribute their own things that they did or are currently doing. When I think about this past week for example, I don’t really think much of it, but when I consider everything I’ve personally done in the entire year, I feel amazed at myself! ? I think others could share that feeling as well if they look back at everything. Also, little things count too, so it doesn’t have to be all about one particular event or anything. Once everyone has posted, we can talk about what we accomplished as a whole community.


Pirates Goals for 2021 (set last year)
-I played 14 games, my highest total since 2017.
-I played a turn in CG4 that took about 33 hours.
-I taught two players how to play.
-Pirates with Ben still sailing along.
-I’ve learned more about the production side of the game, lucked into acquiring a Cameo 4, bought a regular printer for artwork, and now just need to put it all together.
-I released 63 new youtube videos and 2 podcasts.

General accomplishments:
-Met up with 8 players from the Pirates CSG community and Tiffany O’Brien. Reached new strategic heights in gameplay, theory, and experience.
-More videos and podcasts than in 2020.
-Contributed to the Scan Project.
-Established a new “Washington collection” of over 1000 ships and over 800 packs.
-Acquired various new game pieces, including prime wants such as the RotF LE’s, Specter, and Raptor Maw.
-Made various plans and set things up for the future.

-Played 14 games
-Continued CG4.
-The majority of the games were in person.  Of the 9 players I played against, 8 of them I had never played against in real life before this year!

Pirates Goals for 2022
-Play at least ten games.  Of those, play at least 5 physical games.  (Tentative goal: Play a game on water)
-Organize a Pirates CSG community event in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) for a date or weekend in the second half of the year.
-Play my turns in CG4 when/if I am able.
-Teach at least one person how to play the game.
-Improve Pirates with Ben.
-Be able to make replica ships. (3D printed with artwork on them)
-Release videos that bring value to the game’s fans. Record cool Pirates CSG stuff.
-Release at least two podcasts. Continue trying to get special guests on (former Wizkids employees/etc).

Feel free to comment below with your own 2021 Year in Review!  Or post your submissions for the 2021 End of Year Awards!

Strategic Elements of Pirates CSG

Strategic Elements of Pirates CSG

Welcome to a relatively deep dive on one of my favorite topics – the “strategic elements” of this game. I want this list to be as comprehensive as possible, so feel free to leave a comment at the bottom if you think I should include additional topics. Some of the ideas are more tactical than strategic, but I think they fit in the discussion as well. These are the kinds of things I love thinking about after playing the game more than 450 times over a 10+ year period.  A lot of it is theoretical, situational, irrelevant to casual players, and even gamey in a few cases.  Some of the topics I go “down the rabbit hole” on are more for a thought exercise than any likely practical use.

Would you be scared if you saw this fleet across from you? Based on the ships you see, what named crew would you expect to see revealed during play?

Before the Game
Fleet Construction: If possible, work out a build total with players in advance.  I’ve found that this helps me build more effective fleets than arriving at a venue and having to come up with things on the spot.  The Building a Fleet page has more information.

Questions to ask yourself when building a fleet: Who are you playing against? What are their habits, favorites, and collections like? (might help determine face down crew setups or likely play styles) Is there a ban list? Are there house rules? If so, what are they? (it is important to establish house rules in advance if possible) Will players gang up on you and try to take you out of the game if you use certain overpowered (OP) items? Has a “fleet tier” been established prior to playing? For example, is the game going to be of a casual nature, or more competitive?  In my experience, even in “casual” settings players tend to use pretty high-quality ships.

Look at the other fleets!  Something I forget to do in some casual games is get a good look at the opposition before going into the setup and gameplay.  It pays to know each special ability on each ship in play, which is always public information.  It also helps to know how many crew are on each ship, even if all of them are face down.  For example, if a ship has 5 cargo spaces but 6 crew aboard, there must be a crew that doesn’t take up cargo space (usually an oarsman) or/and a link.  If a player has their crew unpunched in a stack under a ship’s deckplate, ask them how many crew are aboard and what their nationalities are.  It’s understandable that people don’t want to punch out crew chips (especially named crew), but the normal rules of play dictate that there is no hiding the quantity of crew on each ship. This will be important later on when crew start getting revealed and you need to ascertain or assume what else the ship might be carrying.

I recommend checking out my Island Placement Strategic Meta post for thoughts on optimizing setups for competitive standard games.  However, terrain is an additional wild card.  If your fleet would be better served by terrain (fog banks for fog hoppers, whirlpools for extra actions, etc), are you able to argue for the inclusion of the type(s) you want?  Normally fleet building happens before setup, so an opponent may have looked at your fleet and want to deny you from using specific terrain.  Additionally, they might deduce your “terrain strategy” and try to place them far away from any potential home island you may end up at.  It gets a bit “gamey”, but your group may be quite casual about how terrain is placed and you might be able to successfully put extra of your favored type into the mix that ends up benefiting you more than the other players.

Although house rules often feature in the setup phase, it’s good to know the official Wizkids rules as well.  The last player chooses the location of the last island placed.  After terrain is placed, they then choose the location of the first player’s home island.  This makes it very easy for them to screw over the first player by intentionally placing the final island 6L away from the already-most-remote island and then pick that to be the first player’s home island.

If forts are integral to your strategy or play style, it could be a great idea to have each regular gold coin you contribute be valuable enough to build the most expensive fort you may use.  This way, if things go wrong and you only get a single coin home in the early going, you’ve maximized your chances of being able to build any of your forts with said coin. (this works better in non-standard treasure distributions)

0 coins are a good option when you have gold bonuses. At that point, your opponent hopefully can’t benefit from the coins, but you can happily pick them up. On the same subject, low values are better to use with gold bonuses because the bonuses will generate a higher differential for your fleet compared to what your opponent is bringing in (ex: the gold bonuses end up being a higher percentage of the total gold at the end if there are lower values overall).

If I’m running a mostly gold fleet, I often consider maxing out values. In multiplayer games I prefer to have each player contribute an equal number of coins of any value or type, so this can result in something like 4 positive UT’s and 4 7’s.

Using the 8/15 rules makes for some interesting restrictions and possibilities. If going the all-gunship route to try and blast the opponent before they can get a single coin home, 5 negative UT’s and the 7-7-1 distribution is a good default since you don’t really care what they load, you just want to slow them down as much as possible with Missionary, Wolves, Natives, etc.

Ship abilities must be public knowledge, but I prefer to keep my named crew and Unique Treasure cards hidden out of play.  Punching the chips and coins out before you arrive for a game is worth considering, although this level of paranoia is likely beyond the scope of most player experiences.

Knowledge is Power
It is very important to know how everything works with the rules (they’re also at the bottom of the homepage) and The Pirate Code to know the capabilities and limitations of the fleets and game pieces.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Too many times I’ve been playing against people who thought things worked a certain way and thought they were about to pull something off.  Turns out it’s illegal because it would be too unfair, and because it twists the original intent of the rules and abilities as written.  As official Rules Arbitrator Woelf has said in the past, (paraphrasing) if a combo/etc seems too good to be true, it’s probably not legal by the rules.  For newer players with little experience in how the Code usually elaborates on rules and abilities, it’s probably a good idea to read about abilities or game pieces you’re using (not all need a Code entry however) before trying things out in fleets.  Sometimes just reading the Code will give you gameplay or combo ideas.

As mentioned earlier, looking at your opponent’s fleets before the game starts can be instrumental to victory. Know what they have, what likely combos might be face down on crew, etc.  If they are using English or Pirate crew, the alternate flag artwork could give away crew from the PotC expansion.

If you have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the game pieces and their stats and abilities, it provides opportunities to “observe” some games from a different perspective.  It is then your choice if you wish to remind a player that their ship actually has an ability that could help them out.  Again, it gets “gamey” but this could also be used to hurt players that oppose you or are fighting you during a game (reminding a player attacking someone who is attacking you that the Cargo Killing ability works on every hit, for example), or avoided altogether as players forget that you have a ship with the home island raiding ability or that they forgot to give an action to one of their ships.  However, I usually prefer to “overinform”, mostly in the interests of helping other players become better or more knowledgeable.

Strategic Elements of Pirates CSG

What might an opponent do with this setup? What cargo might get transferred to a gunship?

This also goes for knowing how Unique Treasures work.  Strange things can happen during a game that catch you off guard.  For example, at one game I brought a small stack of 5-7 UT’s to a game and placed 4 or 5 in the treasure distribution in the interest of helping my fleet.  During the game a player had found a UT, didn’t know what it did, and asked me for the stack so they could look at the ability.  I was fine giving them the stack to look at.  However, it got me thinking – there are various databases out there (like the Master Spreadsheet) that contain all game piece information in an easily accessible medium. I could have told the player to just look the UT up.  By seeing my stack, they not only can learn what other UT’s I contributed, but they can make additional deductions.  If only one punched out UT in the stack has not been revealed (and is a UT loaded face up) and there is only one wild island with coins left on it, they can make a pretty good bet that the UT is on that island.  In addition, some of the UT’s in my stack were still on the card, which only further helps to narrow down what UT’s might be where.

As far as a “Unique Treasure Meta” goes, this could actually be taken WAY further.  I could have included a deke in my stack – if I included a copy of Pandora’s Box without the UT on it, maybe a player would get cold feet on further exploratory ventures – especially if they also saw an unpunched copy of Runes of Death in the stack!  Additionally, you could leave punched UT cards lying around during the game, perhaps prompting players to ask you if you included those UT’s in the mix.  At that point you could answer them truthfully, lie, or decline to say anything at all.  After all, the game is called “Pirates”.  🙂

I have probably won at least a few games based on towing alone.  Knowing all the intricacies and opportunities in the towing rules can be extremely beneficial, especially when valuable cargo is involved or you are close to your home island or a friendly fort.  Woelf’s useful Reference Diagrams mostly contain basics and are not needed by more experienced players.  However, as recently as perhaps 2018 or 2019 I learned something valuable from page 10. I was completely unaware of “Towing Option #1”. For example, you could get rammed by an enemy ship, derelict them on your next turn with a different ship, then start towing them immediately with the rammed ship!

Although the Pirate Code often restricts the crazy combos that players want to exploit, I think towing is one of the specific areas where the Code is surprisingly lenient.  I highly recommend reading the entry on towing at the top of page 10.  Always make sure to give a new capture an action as soon as possible.  For example, the turn after cancelling Oarsman to capture an enemy ship, it can row away on its own with said oarsman (often at S+S if a helmsman is still aboard).  This frees up the towing ship for additional duties.  As soon as a towing ship docks at your home island or a friendly fort, the towed ship docks immediately as a free action and can be given a repair action.  Quick repairing and optimizing crew setups on newly captured ships can be very helpful in the endgame phase (usually around the last ~1/3 of a game).

The Americans use chain towing to remove the wildly burning Paul Revere from a battlefield.

I drop tows and resume them all the time.  Towing is completely voluntary and the towing ship can thematically “cut the line” at any time.  Although towing multiple ships in a chain is not legal, a different take on “chain towing” is legal – towing a ship just to warp it to the stern of the towing ship, releasing it immediately, then towing it with another ship in your fleet in order to move the towed ship again.  If often requires more ships than most games can accommodate, but this tactic can be used to remove a valuable asset from potential disaster.

Very strange things are possible with towing. If you’re towing a 10 master, moving nearly 180 degrees in the opposite direction just a teeny bit will result in the entire bulk of the 10 master flipping around and potentially creating a large “block”. Such a maneuver could result in the 10 master then getting its canceller in range, blocking an enemy trade route for a turn (especially if it’s an Eternal 10 master your opponent doesn’t want to sink), or letting a friendly ship more easily reach the 10 master to exchange cargo.

Whenever you tow a ship and cannot place it directly behind the towing ship (normally because the flag gets in the way), just place it on the side of the towing ship’s stern that is least likely to face attack before your next turn starts.  This might help keep the towed vessel out of shooting or ramming range.  Also, keep in mind that the towing and towed ships can explore each other because they’re touching – this can be useful when the towed ship explores the towing ship to give the latter a valuable piece of cargo.

It’s also good to keep in mind which ships in your fleet should even be towing in the first place.  You might capture an enemy ship with a vessel that has S+S+S base move and no helmsman, but it’s probably far better to have a slower ship with a helmsman tow her home because she can tow at S+S (and S speed is atrociously slow for any ship to be moving).  Ships with extra action capabilities available may help you a lot if they can get a valuable derelict home at S+S+S+S per turn or faster.

Bluffing, Threats, and Deception
Some new players will be overly honest about the quality of the wild islands they explore.  Try not to make it obvious if you’ve found a good or bad wild island in terms of how much total gold is on it (all 1’s/etc).  On the other hand, you could gamify it and tell players that the values are bad in the interest of getting them to not attack you for your coins.  Of course, this could backfire if they think you’re lying.

It might be beneficial to keep a “poker face” whenever you explore wild islands or see face down cargo on enemy ships.  When it’s not your turn, it might be worth it to watch people’s reactions when they explore islands.

Bluffing and lying are two of the most fascinating gameplay aspects of Pirates that I have very little experience with and have not seen very often.  However, the potential ramifications are endless.  Nothing stops you from disclosing information (whether it’s true or not) about what you have in your fleet and the treasures you contributed.  In a 4 player game, you could theorize about what face down crew could be on an enemy gunship, perhaps spooking one or both of the other players into attacking them.

In addition, you can help other players you want to see do well (usually for your own benefit of course).  You can cater your advice to players trying to take down the early leader, or someone who has already attacked you.  You could even intentionally give bad advice to someone to derail their efforts, though I wouldn’t want to and in multiplayer games you’re likely to get busted by the other players.

You can also make threats. Claiming that you’ll attack a player on your next turn may affect what actions they take this turn.  This relates closely to bluffing.  Threatening to reveal a home island raiding crew (whether you have one or not) when paired with a feint towards their home island could result in a player moving multiple ships towards home, potentially opening up additional opportunities.

One thing I have done in the past is offer up ideas on additional options available to a player.  This can be with good intent to help them learn how the game works, or to mislead them.  For example, if you see a player considering 1 or 2 options available to an action a gunship is about to take, you might see a 3rd option that actually does make sense, but you expect to be slightly more beneficial for you in the long run than their other options.  Casually suggesting it might remind them that they could take that route.

Side conversations: Nothing forbids you from having private conversations with other players during the game.  You might see the perfect opportunity for an alliance, or want to share information about a crew or UT one of your ship carries.  The downside is that the other players might assume you are in cahoots.  At which point you can of course tell the truth of what was said, or lie.

Side note: Please don’t take this too far.  Certain elements of the game are meant to be public information at all times – you cannot hide ship abilities, the number or nationality of face down crew on your ships, or the presence of Unique Treasures that must be placed/loaded face up.  It may also be a good idea to consider the “temperament” of your playgroup – if you engage in too much deceit or “gamey” playing, people might quit or decide to play something else.

Exploring, Gold, and Unique Treasures
This section goes along with some of the others already discussed, but is vital to winning. Try to memorize all gold values you see throughout the game, especially those you cannot voluntarily look at again – coins left on wild islands you don’t have cargo space for, gold on enemy ships, etc.  You could even make some notes on your phone to keep track of what gold is where and how much value is left on the islands you’ve explored.  This leads to the chess match of competitive standard games – if you explore 2 of the 4 wild islands and only find 10 gold total, you know the other player is likely to find the other 20 and you’ve got some work to do to win.  Then you need to decide which avenue is most likely to result in you getting enough gold to win or tie – risking your ships to get to the other islands, dropping low value coins to make room for high value coins you haven’t loaded yet, trying to steal their gold whether it’s on their ships or their home island, capturing their Ransom crew, etc.

Knowing what gold was on all the islands you explored is good for later parts of the game.  If you know an opponent reached a wild island after you looted it and only got the last 2 coins, hopefully you remember that they’re both 1’s and can potentially be ignored in favor of protecting the 5 gold in your fort that might get attacked soon.

If you know how much total gold is in the treasure distribution, it’s useful to make calculations throughout the game.  From the gold you’ve seen, you can start to figure out what other islands have and what the other players likely have access to. For example, in a 3 player game with 80 total gold in play, your explored island (1 of 4 wild islands) contains 32 gold, a disproportionately high amount.  If you can get just a bit more from there on out, you might be able to play conservatively or in a defensive way.  In games where the total amount of gold in play is random, the “spying” abilities may become more useful.

Tactical Decisions
Order of Operations – What to do?
Sometimes the hardest decision made in a game is which crew to eliminate after you’ve lost a boarding party. You need to consider the survivability of the ship on your next turn, but also in the long term if you think you can escape in the short term.  This is where valuable crew might be better off thrown overboard.  A named captain might take the bullet in favor of a helmsman+oarsman combo because your dismasted hybrid needs the latter two in order to make it home with important gold next turn.

When you are working with the Canceller ability, what to cancel can also be a conundrum.  It often boils down to the lesser of two evils – cancel the opponent’s captain to avoid being dismasted, or cancel Blackbeard’s gold capture ability to avoid a boarding party where he steals said canceller?!  (which might be unloaded later for a game-winning payout!)

Cancelling logistics get far crazier when multiple ships are involved.  This is when the order in which an opponent moves their ships can matter a lot to you.  You may be facing two enemy ships in the vicinity of your canceller.  If their 3 master moves on you and you don’t cancel its captain because there’s a 5 master lurking nearby, you might take a surprising amount of damage only to realize you wasted an opportunity when they move their 5 master away to go do other things, when you thought it was going to attack you!

The order in which you give actions to each of your ships can matter immensely.  When your turn is approaching, try to figure out the optimal way in which your actions should be given.  The order will be inconsequential on many turns, but things get especially interesting with tight maneuvering, combat, docking, repairing, cargo transfers, towing, and whirlpools.

When docking a derelict at an island after the towing ship docks, consider what your goals are for said derelict.  Can it repair immediately? Will it be capable of movement soon?  How much do you care that it remains in your possession?  Can you use it to block enemy movement or protect the towing ship from attack?  Make sure to dock the derelict in a position that will not block your own maneuvers.  If it’s a large ship that needs many turns of repairing, you might want to dock it at a “dormant” part of the island where it can sit for a while. On the other hand, you might want to dock a derelict ship optimal for gold running near a trade route so it can sail out for a coin in the endgame as soon as it has a mast up.

Here the Shui Xian is completely boxed in, and cannot shoot at the ships on the right docked at their home island. Click for the insane battle report.

There are situations where you might be able to block an enemy’s movements simply by docking derelicts at home, or redocking other ships.  I’ve found this to be especially prevalent when using the ship stealing ability, where you can warp a derelict home by exploring it (first seen on Commander Temple).

Positioning is also extremely important in general – for angling your move segments optimally for shooting, docking, blocking, towing, and more.

This is when you measure L and S segments in advance of something happening, or simply to check lines of fire or see if a target is in range. When and when not to premeasure?  It is critical for determining who might get the first shot in a potential engagement. It is very helpful to determine where your ship will end a move action and what cannons might be in range of your target. This new information must then be weighed against the threat of counterattack, the possibility of a canceller being revealed, bad shooting luck, and more.  Premeasuring is usually worth it, but it could also tip off an opponent to something you’re planning.  If you premeasure an intimidating attack your opponent is not expecting, it might make them hostile or provoke them into trying to get the initiative.

Questions to ask: Should you build a fort in this situation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of building a fort or NOT building a fort?  Where should a fort be built?  Which location (of perhaps two being considered) is more likely to get attacked or not protect the gold or ships you need? If you have options for different coin values used in building the fort (ex: one 4 vs. four 1’s), which values should be used? (might depend on available cargo in your nearby ships, and if you think you can get a single coin home quickly vs. preferring to have multiple coins scatter in different directions if the island is explored after the fort potentially gets destroyed) What fort should be built? (often the Revolution forts are better than the Crimson Coast ones)

Gimmicks, the unexpected, and exotic game pieces
This might go beyond the scope of this post, but there are some exotic game pieces out there that players should be aware of.  Calypso allows for nearly infinite whirlpool creation and therefore opens up entirely new play strategies – whirlpool teleporting on a turn-by-turn basis, using gold runners without helmsmen because they will come out of the second whirlpool within L of a wild island, home island raiding chaos, making extra actions even more valuable, and on and on.  Sea dragons can essentially teleport at will, making them prime executors of Lord Mycron’s ability – with two actions they are guaranteed to get the first strike on any ship in play not docked at its home island.  Fog hoppers are a fun way to essentially weaponize terrain (which Calypso also does, just with whirlpools).  Ship stealers (like the Harbinger) are one way to get derelicts home in a flash – especially when combined with extra actions.  One thing to keep in mind when using that ability is the situation at your home island – whether or not it’s a good time to warp home, what the derelict ship will do upon docking, etc.

Getting into the competitive scene, the common version of Captain Jack Sparrow helped birth the Universal Pirate Shipping strategy, in which coins are magically flipped home and “plused” or “bonused” into near-instant victories against almost any opposing fleet you could come up with.  In general, a close eye should be kept on any game piece that allows for teleportation – of ships, crew, or gold.  Most of these unique game pieces (often “1 of 1”, meaning they are the only crew/ship of their faction or in the entire game with such abilities) are not found in casual games, but are good to be aware of due to their potential to upend strategies or in some cases even destabilize the playing field.

Predicting the Future
Try to play the game on your opponent’s turns as well – this is a great time to observe how the other people play, learn what crew or UT’s they might have in their fleet, keep tabs on conflicts that don’t involve you, and plan your next turn. Premeasuring, even if it’s not during your own turn, can help to predict if someone is about to attack or divert course.  You should be able to premeasure enemy movements and shots to see what kind of threat you’re facing in the near future.

However, I would caution against trying to plan things out too far in advance.  Gore Verbinski said about filming Pirates of the Caribbean: “Everything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  The same is very often true of playing Pirates CSG.  The best-laid plans often go awry.  The problem with predicting too many turns or actions in advance is that you cannot predict exactly what other players will do, unless they are silly (or complacent) enough to say so. I have had times during a game where I got excited about a potential future course of action that I saw during a game – an avenue towards victory had opened up!  Alas, I was not anticipating an opponent doing X maneuver with X ship to foil my plans. This is where a bit of experience in playing solo might come in handy – if you can put yourself in your opponent’s shoes throughout the game, you can get a better understanding of how they are likely to optimize their playing going forward.

Ending the Game
There are times when you know you’re winning, even if you don’t know the total value of gold in the treasure distribution.  At that point you may want to end the game as fast as possible. If your fleet has weakened or an enemy is in position to take the lead from you by raiding your home island or by some other means, there may be ways to end the game when you need to. Deliberately slamming your ship into an iceberg or running it over a reef might cause a dereliction that triggers an endgame condition.  If flat earth rules are being used, you might be able to sail your last ship over the edge of the map and out of play.  You might also be able to force an opponent’s hand by attacking them, which might result in a boarding party where you choose to eliminate an oarsman that was preventing your ship from being derelict.  I don’t enjoy when games end this way, but I haven’t seen it often at all either.

That wraps up the strategic elements of Pirates CSG!  Please leave a comment below if you think I missed anything, or if you want to further the discussion!  I LOVE talking about these deeper gameplay aspects and I want to hear and know more about them. Thanks for reading!

Pirates CSG Podcast #53: Chatting with PirateCaptainAndrew! (doubleAAsauce)

Pirates CSG Podcast #53: Chatting with PirateCaptainAndrew! (doubleAAsauce)

You can listen to the audio via Anchor!


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Questions of the Day: What set do you think Hill’s Wholesale Gaming will restock next? (if any)
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100 Point Game vs. Witch – December 21st, 2021

100 Point Game vs. Witch

December 21st, 2021

I met up with Witch of the Discord server at Around the Table in Lynnwood WA!  We played a 100 point game using round earth rules, 5 coins per island, and a custom Queen Anne’s Revenge in his fleet.  The custom QAR is 18 points, 5 masts, 5 cargo, S+S speed, all 2S cannons, and has abilities of Fear and “If this ship wins a boarding party, she may be given an extra action”.

I rolled to go first, and we placed 6 total islands with no terrain.  I went with a Spanish American fleet consisting of the Independence (my first time using her!), Frontier, Buscador, San Leandro and Diablo.  He chose all Pirate with the QAR, SCS Lady’s Scorn, Minerva, Raven and Coral.

100 point game vs. Witch in Lynnwood WA

On the first turn I split my hoists to load as much gold as possible.

With the help of Bruce Grey, the Calico Cat’s Lady’s Scorn blasted the Frontier, dismasting her!

Check out Tilorfire27’s Etsy store if you want the tokens he makes! (affiliate link)

Knowing I had a pretty solid defensive setup on the Independence (OE Montana Mays for SAT and Crew Protect, Eternal Ralph David, and an oarsman), I sailed her out to combat the Pirate threat.  She dismasted the Lady’s Scorn but the QAR was left intact.  Unable to reach home at her rowing speed of S+S, the Frontier heads north to dock at the island she already explored with her hoist crane.  The Buscador can’t dock at home either, but touches the island with her crane to unload her gold.

At the end of my turn I built Thompson’s Island at the island the Frontier was docked at.

The carnage continues!  The QAR dismasts the Independence!  She also rams and boards, with Blackbeard capturing Montana Mays for a potential 7 gold payout!  To the right of them you can see the Lady’s Scorn has boarded the Frontier to steal a coin.

Off the southern coast of my HI, the Minerva has been spoiled by Nemesio Diaz, whose reveal cancels the Minerva’s captain and protects the Buscador from harm!

At the right, the San Leandro has docked at the most remote wild island; the Coral has round earthed to an area even further east but is hesitant to approach due to the Diablo flotilla.  At the upper left, the Raven has unloaded 3 coins at Witch’s home island.

My next turn saw the salvage work begin.  The Independence ran for the safety of the home island, hoping to not get boarded by Blackbeard again.  The fort did its part to help out, hitting 3/5 to smash up the QAR.  The Frontier had a rather unique turn.  I flipped Nikos Chelios (!?) to steal a coin back from the Lady’s Scorn (in hindsight, the Frontier has Secret Hold so this wouldn’t have happened. I also forgot to have the Frontier start the game S away from her home island, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered).  Then the hoist used her crane to unload ALL the island’s gold BACK to the island!  This was to protect it in the fort, since the Frontier might sink any turn now.  However, she finally was able to use her actual action for the turn to repair a mast.

The Buscador has repositioned to dock at my HI for safety and prepare to help the San Leandro secure some eastern loot.

Now it was Witch’s turn to repair and regroup, with the early game conflict severely weakening both fleets.  The Minerva and Lady’s Scorn round earthed to switch places, with the Minerva sinking the Frontier!  The fort shot her mizzenmast off as slight payback.  The QAR leaves the bloody waters behind, sailing west towards the Raven who has taken the last two coins off the southwestern island.  At right, the Coral has explored the eastern island.  She cannot be shot at while docked, but the San Leandro rammed her derelict.  With that situation under control, the Buscador has again repositioned, with Nemesio’s sights now on the Lady’s Scorn – if he could cancel her oarsman, I could capture the ship.

The Independence and QAR will take considerable time to repair to adequate strength, potentially leaving the mid-phase part of the game up to the other ships.  The Buscador is primed and ready, getting into position to cancel the LS’s oarsman two turns in a row so she can stop her and then capture her.  At the right, the Coral exchanged her explorer for an extra coin but is then captured by the San Leandro.

The Buscador captured the Lady’s Scorn.  With the Minerva lurking I wanted to protect the prize.  Thinking about the odds I decided to sail the Independence out half-repaired, taking the Minerva down to one mast.

I had a slight conundrum in the east, where the San Leandro was towing the captured Coral at just S speed.  Diablo could provide decent cover fire against the Raven, but I really didn’t want the Raven stealing any gold from either of the ships.

Big developments!  The Lady’s Scorn returned to my home island on oar power, freeing the Buscador to sail south and construct Fortaleza Dorada on the southern island!  I agonized over whether to build the fort there or in the east to try and secure the San Leandro and Coral’s gold.  In the end the San Leandro broke for home, knowing that the Coral didn’t have very high value coins and there was 8 total on the San Leandro.  The Independence has bested the Minerva, setting me up for my third prize of the game.  However, the dangerous QAR has sailed out….

Aagh!  Frustration for both players as plans are foiled.  The QAR slams into the Buscador, but Witch’s luck fails him with the ship going 1/4 between shooting and ramming!  However, Blackbeard was looming, and I had decided to have Nemesio Diaz cancel his gold capture ability instead of the Captain ability.  I believe the Buscador won the boarding party, resulting in Genny’s Red Rampage being eliminated from the QAR.  Witch did maneuver the QAR to be out of the fort’s cannon ranges.  My frustration simply came from realizing that at this point I was very unlikey to be able to use a combo I really wanted to pull off this game.

Witch also maneuvered smartly in the east, with the Raven ramming the Coral to steal a coin while remaining out of Diablo’s range.

Desperate to escape the QAR, Nemesio sails the Buscador around the earth to dock at Thompson’s Island.  At my home island, the LS repairs, the Independence captures the Minerva, and the San Leandro unloads her treasure.

At this point the Buscador’s other face down named crew was obvious because I had to disclose a link on the ship earlier in the game to Witch when the Buscador first loaded gold.  Once Nemesio Diaz was flipped, it was easy to figure out that Fernando Sanchez was the linked crew.  I was really hoping to steal a coin from Witch’s home island, one of many “sneaky” combos or face down crew I had purposely included in my fleet this game.

Both players were deliberating on many of their actions by now.  It was turning into a classic chess match of a game, with things quite possibly coming down to the wire, or final coin(s).  Knowing that Diaz would likely cancel Blackbeard’s gold capturing efforts on every turn, Witch had the QAR sink the Buscador!  I was sad not to use Fernando Sanchez, but also since both hoists were now in the locker.  However, I had new ships to play with – both the Lady’s Scorn and Minerva are repairing at my home island.  The Raven sprints for home with a stolen coin, while the San Leandro heads back out to resume towing duties – either of the Diablo flotilla or the Coral.

With the Raven docking home, the Coral now contained the only non-fort available gold in play.  Both players looked to repair their forces to full strength.  We were entering the endgame.

Some turns later and all ships have been fully repaired.  I believe Witch’s strategy was generally to use Blackbeard to capture Calico Cat (6 point crew aboard the Lady’s Scorn and now the most valuable in my fleet), then use the QAR’s “extra action after winning a boarding party” ability to inflict enough damage on any ships in the vicinity to be able to return home safely, hoping that gold would turn the tide.  I would mainly be looking to get the Coral’s final gold home safely and use my numbers advantage to protect both forts.

This is when the cat and mouse “chess match” really amped up.  Seeing the QAR move even a partial action towards Thompson’s Island prompted me to surge my forces northwest, ready to protect the 3 gold in the fort at almost all costs.

This is when capturing the Lady’s Scorn came in very handy.  With Calico Cat’s link and only a helmsman and oarsman for other crew, the LS had 4 open cargo spaces.  Under protection from the rest of my many cannons, she docked at Thompson’s Island and loaded all but one coin that the Frontier had re-deposited there earlier in the game.  Lots of premeasuring was now taking place pretty much every round, with Witch ensuring that I couldn’t get the jump with any of my ships and me making sure the Lady’s Scorn stayed out of the QAR’s total range (which was close to 4S since she still had grapple shot aboard which paired nicely with Blackbeard’s gold capture).

With her impressive escort force the LS gets the coins home, leaving the Minerva to load the final coin I could take from Thompson’s Island.  The Raven round earths back to the east where the Coral is, making me wonder if I should have split my forces slightly.

We added Fortaleza’s fort base to it since Witch was premeasuring a potential attack on the fort, and the base is considered part of the fort for drawing lines of fire to it.  Even though now it looks like the fort is on a glacier sliding off the island.

The Raven got away with stealing another coin from the Coral!  It was a 1 and I was just hoping it wouldn’t make a difference.  I still surged my ships east to make sure she didn’t take the Coral’s final coin, and because I knew I wanted every cannon I could get in a potential fort battle climax, and the Coral has a 2L and the ability to not be shot at while docked. (making her truly perfect to use at Thompson’s Island, which gets a +1 cannon bonus when a friendly ship is docked there)

The premeasuring and maneuvering metagame continued, while I got the Coral home and repaired her.  At this point 3 out of my 5 sailing ships were from Witch’s fleet.  The Raven docked home her stolen coin, leaving the gold in forts the last available.

The chess game was grinding along.  Even if the QAR didn’t make a feint towards Fortaleza Dorada, I pointed some ships there since it had 5 gold in it compared to the 3 in Thompson’s Island.

It was clear neither player was willing to budge.  Witch told me he wasn’t going to botch any opportunity I gave him to capture crew with Blackbeard or give him an opening.  I said I was going to do everything possible to win, which at this point mainly meant keeping all the gold in both forts in my possession.  I knew I had an overall firepower advantage and that he had to make a move to try something. We admitted that things would likely continue, with ungodly amounts of premeasuring and jockeying for position happening over potentially another hour or more. (the game lasted around 3 hours total)  However, I said we could at least pre-count and reveal what gold we had on our home islands, especially to make sure that the fort gold even mattered to fight over in the first place.

We totaled it up, and sure enough Witch was winning 23-21 based on home islands alone.  This meant I could win 29-23 as long as I kept all the fort gold.  In hindsight, theoretically we could have tied 26-26 in a crazy scenario if he got TI’s 3 gold and I held on to Fortaleza Dorada.

I wasn’t going to split my fleet or give him an opening to take advantage of Blackbeard, so Witch went for the attack on Thompson’s Island.  The QAR hit 4/5 to cripple the fort, but then my fleet was inevitably on her.  After the Coral docked to give the fort +1 to cannon rolls, Thompson’s Island, the Minerva and Diablo blasted away some masts while I finally revealed the San Leandro’s crew to be a captain.  The Lady’s Scorn and Independence were headed to the fight when it ended.  Although the QAR shot back with her remaining two masts, the final blows were dealt and she sank.  Witch had decided to keep the Raven out of the scene and conceded, as I would have sank her in her attempts to smash either fort.

With that it was over! The count was simple as it was identical to how we counted just before the final battle.

  1. Ben: 29 gold
  2. Witch: 23

What an awesome game!  Witch is a GREAT person to play against, and I really love and respect his style of not giving in and continuing to strategize every round.  Rarely do I meet someone who will engage in the kind of tactical and strategic “chess match” on the same level and to the same degree as I do.  This is why I love Pirates!  😀

Here is my entire fleet.  I really wanted to try new setups and use fun named crew.  Chelios on the Frontier is almost bizarre but could potentially work pretty well. The Buscador benefited from Diaz though I really wanted to pull off a raid with Sanchez.  I used the Independence for the first time, and she has just enough cargo and point cap space to add the crew required for a nasty Eternal setup.  I never got to reveal Ralph David!  However, she was ready to fight, with SAT+Reroll, Crew Protect to force an opponent to sink her or cancel something, Eternal, and oarsman to prevent dereliction and therefore capture.  The San Leandro and Diablo filled out the points, gave me some additional firepower, and evened out the Spanish American alliance numbers in the fleet.

12/21 100 point fleet
(25) Frontier + Nikos Chelios, helmsman, oarsman
(27) Buscador + Nemesio Diaz, Fernando Sanchez (link), helmsman, oarsman
(28) Independence + OE Montana Mays, Wayne Nolan, Ralph David (RotF), captain, helmsman, oarsman
(20) San Leandro + captain, towing Diablo

Thanks for reading!

4 Player 100 Point Game at Mox Boarding House Bellevue! (December 19th, 2021)

4 Player 100 Point Game at Mox Boarding House Bellevue!

December 19th, 2021

This was a 4 Player 100 Point Game at Mox Boarding House Bellevue with FOUR members of the Pirates CSG online community!  I met up with Witch, Luke and BuffBabyBandit for a memorable time!


1. Ben: 36 gold
2. Luke: 6
3. Cutty: 0
(5 on Dan’s home island from earlier in the game)

With forts included:
1. Ben: 70 gold
2. Luke: 13

If Luke managed to destroy both forts and get all their gold while retaining his own fort, he would have won 47-36.

A Pair of Games with fellow Pirates in Tacoma Washington!

A Pair of Games in Tacoma Washington

December 11th, 2021

I met up with Luke (for the second time) and Cutty (for the first time) at Terracrux Games in Tacoma Washington!  It was convenient to “dress for the occasion”, as I wore my Pirates with Ben hoodie and a shirt that has a picture of one of HMS Victory’s gun decks on it.

The first game would use a 40 point build total, round earth rules and Luke’s gorgeous custom islands! Cutty opted for a fleet using the Soleil Royal, HMS Nautilus and Banshee’s Cry.

A Pair of Games of Pirates CSG in Tacoma Washington December 2021

I was excited to use my newest ship, which arrived in the mail during a port visit in Pearl Harbor Hawaii!  The Gale Force Nine is mine!

Gale Force Nine ship Pirates CSG

Luke went with the Spanish, using the Santo Columba and Valeroso.

This aquarium decoration would only allow smaller/shorter ships to pass through safely:

This gives me a new idea… perhaps large ships can go through, but lose any masts that would normally prevent passage?  Imagine the carnage during an escape attempt!

I quickly revealed my plan, with Calypso being flipped on turn 1!  She was aboard the Gale Force Nine (GF9) along with OE Griffin to help reroll her ability, but alas I somehow had no whirlpools in my traveling collection tin.  Luckily Luke bailed me out with some SM islands, which are blank white on the backside and we proxied them for whirlpools.  The flaw in my small-scale Calypso fleet design became immediately evident, with the Lightning losing her only mast to the whirlpool. With the GF9 setup coming in at 30 points total (she also had a helmsman and oarsman), I had 10 points for gold runners and chose to run the Lightning and Rattlesnake without any crew.

Calypso creates whirlpool

The rest of my fleet arrives on the scene!  The Rattlesnake lost a mast, with the GF9 coming into the area in order to protect the runners from the Santo Columba.

In the meantime, the Soleil Royal round earthed and the Banshee’s Cry found land.

Combat erupts!  The Santo Columba docked within striking distance of the GF9, and I couldn’t resist.  Likely with a bit of help from Griffin, the pirate gunners shot well, blasting away 3 masts from the Spaniard.  The wounded Rattlesnake docked at Luke’s picturesque island.

Pirates CSG combat in action

The pennant used as an explored marker shows that the Rattlesnake’s American explorers found no presence of the Pelegostos here….

Pirates of the Spanish Main explored island

The Rattlesnake found Neptune’s Figurehead among the loot:

The Santo Columba ducked into a fog bank for safety.  The Soleil explored the island she found, loading up all 4 coins from it.  The Rattlesnake took the whirlpool home while the GF9 started towing the Lightning.  However, a newcomer has arrived via round earth…

… but without a captain, HMS Nautilus cannot be effective! The GF9 drops the Lightning and pounces, dismasting the schooner.

On the other side of the map, the Banshee’s Cry has unloaded gold for Cutty but is shadowed by the Valeroso.

Playing this game brings me so much joy!

Pirates Constructible Strategy Game

The Rattlesnake warped through the same whirlpools in search of more treasure. The GF9 captured the Nautilus.  Soon she would drop that tow as well to shoot at the Valeroso!  Once more I was unusually lucky with shooting, dismasting another 3 master!

Valeroso ship dismasted

Soon afterwards the Rattlesnake loaded the final coins in play, which led to Cutty sailing his ships towards my home island in a likely blockade attempt.

Indeed, the Rattlesnake was now the center of attention!  Her slow speed would likely be an issue, with three enemy ships now converging on her location.

The Banshee’s Cry successfully rammed and boarded the Rattlesnake, eliminating her final mast and allowing Cutty to steal Neptune’s Figurehead!  However, this left the Rattlesnake’s abandoned oarsman safe in the brig, with his rowing expertise paying off next turn as he rowed the ship through a whirlpool and into home waters!  The GF9 escorted her back.  This was effectively game over since no extra actions would be available to Cutty or Luke’s ships to be able to do anything about the Rattlesnake rowing home on my next turn.

With that, we totaled up the treasure:

  1. Cutty: 24 gold
  2. Ben: 17
  3. Luke: 0

Congrats to Cutty on the victory!


Game 2

For the second game, we agreed to use more competitive fleets, a 50 point build total, and flat earth rules.  No terrain was placed, and the islands were placed at the standard 3L-6L distances.  We used the Spanish Main GF9 islands I had brought along to make things slightly more “official”.  They ended up being rather far apart, which I was quietly happy about.

A Pair of Games at Terracrux in Tacoma

I kept the Rattlesnake, but swapped the GF9 for the OE Deliverance and the Lightning for Enfant Terrible.

Ocean's Edge Deliverance OE 022

Cutty’s fleet was similar but added the Executioner from RV:

Luke turned pirate and sailed out with the RotF Lady’s Scorn along with the Panda and Bloody Jewel from RV.  On the first turn I flipped Calypso to create a pair of whirlpools!  She was now aboard the Deliverance and up to her old tricks.  Alas, the Rattlesnake once again lost her mainmast while in transit to a wild island.

In a fleet building decision I nearly didn’t make, I had decided to forego a helmsman on the Deliverance in favor of Le Requin for some potential SAT shenanigans.  He came through at the perfect time, allowing the Deliverance to move through Calypso’s first whirlpool, then use a second action to move from the second whirlpool and dismast the Lady’s Scorn!  Based on Luke’s crew setup aboard the Scorn, I decided not to try and sink the Eternal ship, thinking there actually wasn’t an oarsman aboard.  The Deliverance docked to protect the Rattlesnake, whose crew of helmsman and explorer were busy exploring the island.

Deliverance dismasts Lady's Scorn

The Enfant Terrible docked at and explored another island, and my strategy was working – use Calypso to essentially bypass the wide distances between islands, and cut off the other player’s advantages of going before me in the turn order.

My hunch was correct: no oarsman was aboard the Lady’s Scorn, allowing Griffin’s Deliverance to capture the mighty prize on my next turn. The Rattlesnake has just escaped to home waters via the whirlpool, while the Enfant can’t quite make it.  However, the latter was quite fine with me, as I purposely put the whirlpool within L of the wild island closer to the other player’s fleets, knowing I would need to get that gold home quicker than the island further away. In addition, the Enfant has L-immunity, which could help her survive any potential attacks that resulted from her being near the center of the map for longer.

In the meantime, an extremely ugly development was occurring: Luke played the mermaids event against Cutty’s Soleil Royal, freezing the 5 master for 3 turns!  It’s been so many years since I played a game with mermaids available that I forgot to even mention it as a potential ban list item despite the “competitive” agreement we came to before building fleets for this one.  I would try not to let it sour my mood; I was grateful (and surprised) it wasn’t played against me.  Cutty’s gold runners continued towards the lone unexplored wild island, but HMS Nautilus hung back as Luke’s 2 masters luffed up to the port side of Le Soleil Royal.

At this point I was starting to get comfortable in the “driver’s seat” with the other two players likely squabbling over pittances. ?  The Enfant arrived in home waters with additional gold, while a successful scuttle attempt on the Lady’s Scorn allowed her to warp home via Eternal and quickly start repairs.

The mermaids situation turned into a chain-ramming melee, with three of four ships pinned at left in this picture.  Various shots and boarding parties were exchanged with mixed results.  The Deliverance was free to terrorize as Griffin, Calypso, and Le Requin saw fit.

Receiving Le Requin’s SAT, the Deliverance could have tried to dismast the Soleil or corner the Banshee’s Cry (now getting gold). However, Luke’s Panda was headed towards the island the Rattlesnake had explored, with the latter en route to her old haunt.  In the end I had to shoot at the mermaiding player, and so the Deliverance sunk the Panda!  Cutty dismasted the Bloody Jewel with HMS Nautilus, eliminating Luke from the game.

Deliverance dismasts Panda because mermaids

The remaining fleets regroup:

The Lady’s Scorn (with 3 masts repaired) got Crimson Angel’s SAT to warp into the center and broadside the Soleil. The Deliverance finished her off but needed all her cannons to do so, leaving HMS Nautilus with 2 masts.

The Pirates finished off HMS Nautilus on the next turn. Soon after the game was called because it was apparent that the last two coins in play wouldn’t affect the outcome.

Pirate dominance in Pirates Constructible Strategy Game


  1. Ben: 34 gold
  2. Cutty: 8
  3. Luke: 0

This was a neat game where I benefited greatly from island placement and good dice luck (both with Calypso and shooting).  Indeed, overall I had one of my best days at the cannons in physical games in quite some time.

I had a great time with Cutty and Luke and look forward to playing with both of them again!  Thanks for reading and please let us know if you’re in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) area!  😀

Ranking: Top 10 Gunships for 40 Point Games

Top 10 Gunships for 40 Point Games

Although I’ve already made a Top 10 Gunships ranking, there have been some requests for a similar list based on the standard 40 point build total.  I agree that it’s a good idea, so here is my opinion it!  Thanks to Arshellan for his great Pirates CSG site used for the ship information!

1. HMS Grand Temple

For a criminally low 15 points, you get awesome firepower, good speed, and insane crew options.  Probably most often used with either EA or SAT with Reroll for 6S speed (assuming a helmsman of course).

2. HMS Titan/Enterprise

I did a quick little exercise to look at a basic comparison of this pair and both versions of the San Cristobal.

With each ship having a crew setup of Captain, Helmsman, Oarsman (+6 points total), and a 0LR Reroller:
HMS Titan: 23 points for L+S+L+S
Enterprise: 24 points for 6S, no L range cannons
San Cristobal LE: 21 points for 6S, all rank-3’s (25 points to get them to rank-2’s)

San Cristobal R: 28 points for S+S+L+Sx2, all rank-3’s (F&S linked de Alva, helmsman, oarsman, Vaccaro)

Based on pure gunship stats, it takes a bit more to get either San Cristobal to the level of the Titan and Enterprise.  You can argue that the 25 point SC setup gives more value than either Titan/Enterprise setup (due to 6S speed AND having some L-range cannons), but these are all so close that it will come down to personal preferences for the other factors involved.

3. San Cristobal (LE version)

4. San Cristobal (R version)

5. Franklin

Getting more into the budget options, this ship allows for easy S+S+S speed with essentially 1S cannons on a 4 master.

The rest of this list feels like a crapshoot!

6. HMS London

Quite similar to the Franklin, just a bit cheaper for worse accuracy. (though the L-range cannons and access to English crew make up for that pretty well)

7. Le Bonaparte

Just trying to be as objective as possible here. In my opinion the most unsportsmanlike ship in the game. Absolute piece of crap.

8. HMS Oxford

For just one point more than the London you get better speed, similar firepower, and slightly more maneuverability with the Schooner keyword.

9. HMS Endeavour

Absolutely devastating damage output and very accessible crew options (you can effectively double her speed and potential mast elimination numbers with only 3 points by adding Sir Christopher Myngs and the 0LR version of Commodore Rhys Gryffyn Owen makes this a beast even in standard games.

10. Soleil Royal

Tossup for the last spot goes to one of the best “cheap” 5 masters.  Extremely good value for points here with lots of firepower, cargo and a great ability.

Soleil Royal and Le Superbe. Top 10 Gunships for 40 point games

Honorable mentions (NOT a comprehensive or ordered list!): Zeus, OE Deliverance, HMS Gallows, Blackwatch, USS Kettering, Harbinger, Revenant, Black Pearl (025 and 026), Le Superbe, La Resolucion, Santa Ana (SCS), El Acorazado (SM), Darkhawk II, HMS Apollo (RotF #201), El Algeciras (OE), La Bonne Chance, Gibraltar flotilla, etc.

Island Placement Strategic Meta

Island Placement Strategic Meta

Lately I’ve been thinking about some rabbit holes.  Specifically, those involving the thinking man’s strategic aims when setting up for a game or playing it.  This is one of my absolute favorite topics in Pirates CSG – competitive optimization from thinking through options and deciding on a best course of action.  It’s a bit more theory and less experience-based than I usually am, but it’s real fun for me to think about.  These snippets come from the Pirates CSG Discord server and I hope to add more over time.

The player who goes first chooses the location of the first island. The second player chooses the location of the final island, which they can place 6L away from the island in play that is already in the most remote location. Then the second player chooses the home island location of the first player, which at that point, why not put the first player as far away as possible?

I can’t believe I haven’t thought of or noticed this before, at least not to a clear strategic goal. This makes it seem like the optimal standard setup (1v1 at 40 points with 6 total islands) would pretty much always have at least one island farther out than all the rest, or would even make the island placement look a lot less like the typical circle or pyramid shape I’m very accustomed to seeing since people often default to placing islands no more than 3L away from other islands.

I think the follow up is: Does an “island placement meta” emerge where because Player 1 knows they will be placed 6L away from an island to start the game, do they place their 2nd and 3rd islands (the 3rd and 5th to be placed) the maximum distance (6L) away from other islands because they know that they will HAVE to place Player 2 at an island that would otherwise be closer? It is suddenly obvious that they will want ALL the islands to be 6L apart to minimize their relative distance to getting gold compared to Player 2.

This could also exacerbate the existing “issue” of speed being the most important attribute in the game along with extra actions. If both players are well aware that one of them (50% either way) will start the game 6L away from the nearest island, they are almost forced to build speed fleets that attempt to make up for such a distance. Which results in more Hai Peng/Banshee’s Cry/Lord Mycron type fleets. This in turn forces the other player to build a more competitive fleet as well, and results in even less average or below average ships and crew from being used.

You would see the ships you’re going up against, but would have to make educated guesses on the crew. That’s where experience and having a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge of the game pieces could come in handy. A bunch of face down crew on the Hai Peng and a potential Mycron ship is a pretty decent bet you’ll be seeing some crazy S+L+S+Lx2 stuff going on in the game. But opponents could also bluff what their crew setups are or just lie about what they have, which gets into the strategic elements I’m also thinking about…

I’ve just been thinking more in-depth about the rules than usual in the past month or two. Plus I keep going first and losing, though this certainly isn’t the reason why. XD

When you go as deep as the rabbit hole goes, you could even say everything is playing the game. Even what you say to the other player prior to meeting up. Bluffing that you’re using a casual fleet and saying the roommate took your tin by accident that morning. XD

I might lose competitive games in the future because I’m bringing this topic up right now. O_O

I just think if you “reverse engineer” it or go backwards, Player 1 realizes that they will have terrible positioning either way. Even if the first 4 islands are set up in a square 6L apart, and Player 1 puts the 5th island 6L away from a corner of the square, Player 2 can still place island 6 (which they know will be 1’s HI) 6L away from the square in the same direction. I think I’ll have to draw this out or make a video about it soonish.

Player 1 would want some powerful ships to stop P2 from getting gold home. This could even affect fleet building for everyone involved – if you know you’ll get screwed with a gold fleet in Player 1 position, BOTH players might just hedge their bets and bring loaded fleets with minimal points invested in gold running.

Terrain is vastly harder to talk strategy about and theorize a “meta” around, simply because it’s FAR more variable than the islands. So many types of terrain, with so many places they can each go on the ocean.

I countered my own idea from earlier. Player 1 would anticipate Player 2 placing the final island as far away as possible, and therefore would likely place island 5 in the middle. (this is very basic with the first 4 all maximally 6L apart. Then P2 picks the final location 6L off a corner of the area which they choose as the P1 HI.

I think P1 starts to depend on whirlpools at this point.
the rules don’t specify about agreeing on the TYPE of terrain, so players would potentially just bring a lot of everything and base their choices on whether they go first or second.

Man the meta continues! Because with terrain, P1 can now try to MAKE other islands more appealing for P2 to choose as P1’s HI! By putting whirlpools near a faraway island, it could make P2 think twice about making that P1’s HI.
Maybe this all circles back to the official HI selection choice rule being quite good?

Continuing the discussion on the Discord on 9/27/2021:

This gets into more island placement strategy. Player 2 knows they can put P1’s HI wherever they want. They can place it near their own HI with the full intention of blasting away on their turn (the end of “round 1”) because they had HI protection while P1 doesn’t (unless they keep ships there and likely forfeit actions).

This could also dramatically impact terrain type selection AND placement by P1 because they know they’re going first and will have their HI chosen by P2. If they think P2 will blast them in R1, it could benefit them to place fog banks near as many islands as possible so they can hide right after the game starts if necessary.

UNBOXING THE MOTHERLODE | Massive Pirates CSG Collection Haul


Documenting my hoarding habits from purchases made in the time period of November 2020 through September 2021.  Most of it is contained within this youtube playlist, with 18 separate videos showing the stuff I got!

Before it was all unveiled.  The 11 boxes totaled 138 pounds!!

Phase 1 Comics and Games order:

Phase 1 Comics and Games order

The same order at the bottom right.  8 Ocean’s Edge Special Edition boxes from the UK at left, Troll and Toad order at upper right.

Packs of SM, RV, and OE along with some Plunder Packs:

Pirates CSG Packs

Super awesome to get a set of Revolution from Holofernes himself. (one of the most legendary and complete supercollectors ever, and the main editor behind the Wikipedia page for the game as far as I know)

Holofernes Revolution complete set binder

Finished the boxes with one from Matt L.  Quite excited to finally get most of the CC LE’s, MI SR’s, the Independence and HMS Mirage.

This weekend it took quite a while to get everything sorted and organized.  My way of organizing ships is by faction (based on a combination of history, preference, and size), then mast count (biggest to smallest), then ship type (ex: 5 masted square rigged before giant squids), then set (chronological), then collector’s number.  In this way, English 5 masters from SM would be the first ships in my collection, followed by those from CC and so on until the 4 masters start with SM again.

Here are some in progress sorting pics.  The big stack at lower left is 133 Unique Treasures.  Left of that are a bunch of Ocean’s Edge megacard ships, with punched deckplates above those.  In the middle section are each faction’s ship and crew piles, with the huge stacks at the back being the second stacks of unpunched ships for each of the Big 5 factions.

Sorting English ships by mast count:

Absolutely ridiculous towering stacks of unpunched ships and crew:

styrene cards

This is after I got the Big 5 into a 5000 count storage box.  The box can hold over 1000 ships, as it is not full here with 970 unpunched ships in it.  For now I thought it would be fitting to store the UT’s in the treasure chest tin.  🙂

Pirates CSG storage

I’ve always wanted to have a massive card box full of Pirates stuff after seeing artisturn’s collection, and here it is!  Almost 1000 ships!  O_O

970 Pirates CSG ships in 5000 count storage box

And now it is time!  The full grand pictures!



The Motherlode (Pirates CSG)

Unboxing the Motherlode The Motherlode (Pirates CSG)

The Numbers

Unboxing the Motherlode final stats

So there you have it.  870 packs, 3109 ships including over 1100 not even in packs, 509 crew, 133 UT’s, and a dream come true.

I think this concludes UNBOXING THE MOTHERLODE.  XD   I am officially a Hoarder!!

Game with Luke at Mox Boarding House in Seattle! (September 19th, 2021)

Game with Luke at Mox Boarding House in Seattle

September 19th, 2021 (Talk Like a Pirate Day)

I met up with new Pirates CSG player Luke in Seattle, coincidentally on Talk Like a Pirate Day!  We played at Mox Boarding House Seattle, the sister location of the venue I visited with Tiffany O’Brien the day before.

We went with a 60 point build total, round earth, and generally my Basic Rules, with the exception that rams could still cause damage and terrain was literally tossed onto the map and played where it landed.

I went first with this Anglo-French fleet:
La Belle Etoile + captain, helmsman, oarsman
La Belle Poule + helmsman
Maui’s Fishhook + LE Griffin, captain, helmsman

He followed with this mixed fleet.

Mox had a nice playmat lying around that worked well as a unique ocean I’ve never played on before.  More of a snowy/icy look than water, but certainly good enough for us!  Luke included his nice custom made island along with a few rocks.

Game with Luke at Mox Boarding House Seattle 2021

Luke Menzie custom island for Pirates CSG

The Maui’s Fishhook (MF) flew out at L+S+S and grabbed some coins with her shiny crane:

Luke’s fleet sailed out, but the Belles would reach wild islands first.  I docked the Belle Etoile at an angle where she could shoot all three cannons at the Santa Isabel, but true to form my characteristically terrible cannon luck continued, shooting 1/3 and only eliminating a minor crew from the Isabel.

This left the Belle Etoile open to attack, and the Spanish pounced, dismasting the ship!

La Santa Isabel dismasts La Belle Etoile

A different angle showing my ships coming home with gold:

The Belle Etoile tried to sneak away on oar power:

The Maui’s Fishhook caught the Pride sailing off my home island, and eliminated two masts!  While the Santa Isabel was busy grabbing gold, the Belle Etoile escaped into a fog bank.

The Pride did a hit and run on the Belle Poule on her escape attempt, but the MF caught and dismasted her.

Overhead shot showing the MF capturing the Pride, while Luke’s ships gather gold at home and abroad (Courageux at top of frame).

I wanted the center island’s gold more than a derelict Pride, so the MF dropped the tow and hoisted more booty aboard.

The Belle Etoile took up towing duties, but the similarly speedy Santa Isabel was ready to strike!  She sank the Belle Etoile shortly afterwards.

Pirates Constructible Strategy Game on Talk Like a Pirate Day

The Santa Isabel also sunk the other Belle (Poule).  The MF grabbed (now friendly but probably not voluntarily obliging) Calico Cat off the captured Pride, with Griffin (English LE version, not the one still on the Pride!) looking to throw her overboard as insurance policy against potential whirlpool damages.  Only now is it occurring to me how strange this situation was thematically, especially with Calico Cat’s history with the English, Griffin’s backstory and two versions in play in the same fleet, etc.  O_O

However, the Santa Isabel turned around and blasted two masts off the MF!  At the upper right, you can see the final coin in play, which is all that stood between us and the final gold count.

The MF did manage to whirl towards the coin, but there was too much ocean and game left…

This is where Luke’s luck abruptly ran out, going a combined 0 for 5 on his turn! (Santa Isabel and Coeur missed 4 shots and the Courageux failed her ram attempt)

Maui's Fishhook lives

The Maui’s Fishhook lives!  She used her unique ship ability to nab the final coin, but it wasn’t likely to survive with it in her secret hold.

Pirates CSG game with Luke on TLAPD 2021

Luke sank the MF and the game ended!

  1. Luke: 24 gold
  2. Ben: 20 gold

We had a great time and some interesting Pirates CSG discussions.  I highly recommend Mox Boarding House (both WA locations) and hope to meet more Pirates CSG players and fans there!  😀

After the game we did a really cool impromptu trade!  Luke gave me an Isle of Fire from Savage Shores (my first one I believe!) so I returned the favor by giving him a sealed pack of Revolution!  He opened it on the spot and found a neat pack including his first fort (Ramsgate), first event (Divers), and favorite ship! (Le Courageux)

We noticed a sliding part above the table which made me think about potential waterfall ideas, or something thematically opposite of the Bowen sub-ocean….

As an aside, I seem to keep going first, but keep losing all the time (5 straight losses now).  They have been mostly casual games, but something needs to change perhaps….