Great competitive game with Xerecs . Really love this game. Funny enough, in this modern age of playing, using no house rules and just duking it out is super underrated in my opinion. All game pieces used found in the Master Spreadsheet.
Through the years many complaints have been lodged by the Pirates CSG community regarding game pieces that are “too good”, “unfair”, “fun killers”, and the like. A problem seen in various other collectible games, it’s no surprise that Pirates has its fair share of broken or overpowered game pieces. One of the biggest issues I see in regards to playing the game is when players do not approach fleet building with similar mindsets. If no discussion occurs prior to the game on the relative strengths of each fleet or general player intentions, you may end up with a highly competitive fleet wiping the map of a gimmick fleet. The result can be less fun had on both sides. In addition, some game pieces have even been deemed “unsportsmanlike” despite no official ban list from Wizkids, their usage often resulting in angry or butthurt players who feel they need similarly nasty things to even compete to a reasonable level of play. Much more could be said about all of it, but I’ll skip straight to what I think are some “game modes” or formats that I hope players can use to avoid feeling disgruntled. If players agree to a game mode before building fleets, hopefully all parties involved will enjoy the game even more than they usually do. 😀 I have included Return to Savage Shores (designed but not released) for the sake of completeness. For reference, all game pieces can be found in the Master Spreadsheet.
Ban List: None.
Rule Changes: None.
Description: Pirates CSG as we all know it – standard, normal, no holds barred, the “proper” game mode for competitive playing, and how Wizkids intended the game to be played.
Ban List: Ships: Banshee’s Cry, Le Bonaparte (DJC), HMS Grand Temple, Zeus, San Cristobal (004 version), Sirène Crew: Captain Jack Sparrow (058 version), Lord Mycron, Capitaine Baudouin Deleflote, George Washington LeBeaux (RtSS) Forts: Paradis de la Mer UT’s: Blood Money, Cursed Natives, Altar of the Loa Events: Mermaids, Hidden Cove, Becalmed Islands: Mysterious Island #1, #4,#5, #6, #11, #12, #14, Savage Shores islands 103, 105, 108
-Treasure is not revealed when unloaded to a home island.
-The “more than half of the game’s starting gold value” endgame condition is not used.
Description: This mode is designed to eliminate the most powerful or broken game pieces in existence. It would likely make the UPS (Universal Pirate Shipping) strategy much less effective by banning CJS and Hidden Cove. Some of the biggest fun ruiners in the game are also listed – mermaids, Bonaparte, and Altar of the Loa. The islands are largely those that bring game pieces in from outside the game or can decide a game on a single d6 roll. The rule change is to prevent gold bonus abilities from triggering the more than half gold rule (as they add gold to the original 30) – although the gold bonus abilities are extremely good, there are bigger fish to fry at this level of OP/broken.
Ban List: Same as Semi-Limited, plus: Ships: Darkhawk II, HMS Titan, Bloody Jewel, La Santa Isabel, Enterprise, Nubian Prince, Tiger’s Eye, Virtuous Wind (both versions), Santa Ana (SCS), Behemoth, Slipstream, USS Kettering, Le Coeur du Lion, HMS Endeavour, Hai Peng, Kray-kin, The Kraken, San Cristobal (both versions), Rising Sun, Sol, Morning Star (205 version), USS Morning Star, Frontier, American and Spanish Native Canoes, Libellule, Baochuan+Admiral Zheng He, Guichuan+The Headhunter, Celtic Fury, Shui Xian, Fortaleza, Zhànfu, Fetu, Orphan. Crew: All 0LR +5 point crew, all crew with the Sac ability (eliminate a crew for an extra action), all crew with +2 gold bonus ability, Davy Jones (both versions), Grim the Savage (FN), Calico Cat (OE), Crimson Angel (OE), Emperor Blackheart, Calypso, Cursed Captain Jack, Griffin (207 version), Master Bianco (SS), Bianco’s Haulers (SS), Captain Charles Richard, Cargo Master (both versions) Forts: Fortaleza Dorada UT’s: Natives, Wolves, Pandora’s Box, Nemo’s Plans, Runes of Magic, Runes of Odin, Lost, Dead Man’s Chest (PotC), Kraken Gong, Voodoo Doll, French Royal Decree, English Royal Decree Events: All Islands: All mysterious islands
Rule Changes: Same as Semi-Limited, plus:
-The Captain keyword is built-in to the Sea Monster keyword.
-Shipwrights do not take up cargo space.
Description: By far the mode with the most comprehensive changes, Limited is designed to cover most bases in regards to what players see as overpowered. The rest of the ships with the “UPS ability” are here, along with many of the game’s best overall pieces. Some inclusions (such as the Runes) are designed to limit the “swinginess” of a game, lessening the direct impact a single game piece or combo can have on the outcome. The omission of cancellers is largely because they are one of the only defenses against submarines becoming nearly invincible. Whereas Semi-Limited only aims to tamp down on overpowered or broken game pieces, Limited has an additional goal of making the game more fun/fair as well as balanced for a casual audience.
Please let me know what you think of these game modes for Pirates CSG in the comments below. I would especially consider editing the Limited format, with feedback from the player base.
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.
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!
The islands were set up in a pyramid fashion to change things up. HMS Grand Temple v 3.0 (now referred to as GT3) rolled to go first, followed by the Gold Race fleet. Since the Gold Race fleet was entirely Pirate, the Headhunter’s world-hater was nullified. However, GT3 figured it wouldn’t matter with no opposing ship having more than 2 masts.
The GT and Oxford couldn’t hit any of the Pirate ships docked at their home island.
The Gold Race fleet followed the 1st turn protocol laid out by darrin in his fleet description. However, I noticed a few issues. When trading away bad UT’s with Pedro Gilbert, the ship “must load the traded treasure“. However, with Jonah and so many crew/equipment on the ship, there’s no space with which to load it. Halfway through the first turn I decided that the Banshee’s Cry never started the game with English Letter of Marque aboard, which let the Cry trade later in the turn. For the first island she decided to keep Enemy of the State since the Cry didn’t plan on docking at her HI at any point in the game.
In addition, this fleet may be the most confusing fleet I’ve ever played. Evident by selvaxri’s comment above, Captain Jack Sparrow is probably the biggest conundrum in Pirates. (On another note, how does the crew/treasure swap work thematically?) I didn’t get it at first either and evidently I’m still having trouble with how powerful he is because in this game I made another mistake. Not only is the gold NOT loaded by the ship carrying CJS, the traded crew doesn’t go on the ship either, it just sits on the island in place of the coin. I thought there was an issue where since Jonah makes the oarsman take up space, there wouldn’t be any space with which to load the traded crew (which you would want to sac with Pedro anyway).
Lastly, Sunken Treasure probably shouldn’t be in the fleet because as darrin alluded to in his introduction to UPS v 2.0, CJS can’t trade away UT’s that are loaded face up.
On the first island that the BC explored, she found Enemy of the State, Sunken Treasure, and two 2’s (not enough to win). After trading a 2 home (which got +3’d by the Bonnie Liz), the BC sacced a crew to move to the next island to the north. Here she found Natives, which was traded away by Pedro for a 6 from another island. In addition to trading Natives away via Pedro, she traded a 4 home via CJS, giving the Pirates 12 gold at the end of the first turn.
The Grand Temple sacced an oarsman but still couldn’t reach the Banshee’s Cry. The Oxford was partially blocked by the Pirates’ HI and sailed around it, sinking the Rover in the process.
The BC dumped her explorer and oarsman on the second island to make room for another explorer from home, which in hindsight was actually unnecessary because the crew isn’t actually loaded. She then traded a 2 home for a 17-0 victory!
Because of the cargo complications (which I’m still wrapping my head around, lol), I don’t know if I played Darrin’s Gold Race fleet 100% correctly. However, it still won by the end of the second turn without the Grand Temple firing a shot!
The next three game series would be between my Hai Peng Fort Frenzy fleet and a fleet that was created recently with some of my new ships. The first game was particularly long and exciting, even complex to a degree.
The American Pirates (abbreviated AP’s) went first, using Hidden Cove to catapult the Amity out to the middle island. She explored and found Barbary Banner.
This Hai Peng can move 4S and 4L total distance because of Mycron on the Patagonia. She couldn’t quite reach the furthest island, and since the Amity had already docked at the middle island, the Hai Peng was forced to sail to the northwestern island. However, she found Holy Water, Pirate Globe and two 2’s. This was a problem because all forts cost at least 3 gold and therefore the Hai Peng couldn’t build a fort on the first turn. The HP took one of the 2 coins and traded the other one home via CJS and the Lezard.
The Bandido docked at the northeastern island, while the Roanoke was not yet in range of either the Hai Peng or the Banshee’s Cry. With a helmsman and Blackheart the Roanoke could move up to L+S+L+S, quite fast but technically only half the total speed of the Hai Peng.
The reveal of Pirate Globe on the first turn proved to be very beneficial to the Hai Peng fleet (Hai Peng Fort Frenzy or HPFF). The Globe revealed that on the western island where the Banshee’s Cry was about to dock, there was Maps of Alexandria, Jailhouse Dog and two 5’s. On the northeastern island where the Bandido had docked there was a 5 and three 2’s. Because the Bandido was about to take treasure from her island and that island was closer to the AP’s HI (plus the fact that it had more gold on it), the HP sailed off to the island where the Bandido was docked. With 8 total move segments she was able to get there easily and also position herself in a way that let her shoot at the Bandido while staying out of range of the Roanoke. One of her two shots hit to dismast the Bandido. She then sent the 5 home to build Paradis de la Mer on the island as the Banshee’s Cry docked at the western island.
(The gold is already on the AP’s HI because I forgot to take a picture at the end of the turn.)
The Amity docked home her 10 gold including the 5 from Barbary Banner, giving the AP’s a 10-2 gold advantage. Knowing that of the 11 gold that was on the northeastern island (with Paradis), only 7 could be transferred home (making the score 10-9 at a maximum), the Roanoke made the decision to keep sailing west towards the Banshee’s Cry.
The Hai Peng couldn’t quite make it to the western island where the Banshee’s Cry was docked, partly because she had docked on the other side of the island on the previous turn to shoot at the Bandido and avoid the Roanoke. As a result the HP couldn’t build a fort on this turn either, with three islands either emptied or having a fort on them already. The HP also realized that there wasn’t enough gold in Paradis de la Mer to win by simply transferring it home via CJS, not to mention that the oarsmen aboard the Lezard would run out anyway. Knowing that the HP would have a shot at the western island on the following turn, the Banshee’s Cry sailed away from the island because it would be easy for the Roanoke to sink her on the next turn and take the gold with Divers. The Banshee’s Cry and Hai Peng both made sure they were out of the Roanoke’s range.
The Bandido was scuttled since Paradis would have sunk her anyway, leaving the AP’s with the Roanoke and Amity. HPFF forgot about the explorer on the Roanoke, and the Roanoke used him to grab both 5’s from the western island, saccing one of her two oarsmen to make enough space. Jailhouse Dog was used to eliminate the Holy Water that the HP had loaded. This was a blow to HPFF because they had wanted to use Jailhouse Dog to eliminate Barbary Banner to deny the AP’s 5 extra gold. The Roanoke’s foremast cannon was just out of range of the Banshee’s Cry.
HPFF now realized that to win the game they would have to steal at least one of the 5’s on board the Roanoke. The Banshee’s Cry had nowhere to run and no islands to explore, so she rammed the Roanoke out of desperation, losing both rolls and one of her two oarsmen. The Hai Peng sailed back to Paradis and transferred home the original 5 used to build the fort by leaving two 2’s as the gold necessary to keep the fort in operation. The gold count was now 10-7 in favour of the AP’s.
The Roanoke sank the Banshee’s Cry, while the Amity wasn’t fast enough to ram the HP. The Hai Peng sent home 2 more gold from Paradis, leaving 4 gold permanently in the fort (10-9, AP’s winning).
The Roanoke started to sail home. The Lezard, with no more oarsmen to transfer and no gold to unload at her HI, finally set sail. At this point the game was up to the HP and the Lezard (but realistically only the HP) to steal gold from the Roanoke and get away with it. The HP still had the 2 in her cargo hold from early in the game. This Hai Peng is so fast that she was able to go all the way home from Paradis and still sail back out again and catch the Roanoke.
The Roanoke moved twice by saccing her second oarsman. The HP dropped off her 2 coin at her HI, giving HPFF an 11-10 lead.
The Roanoke sacced her explorer to move twice once again, leaving her about a centimeter from her HI.
The moment was finally at hand! The Hai Peng was faced with her greatest challenge yet. With Mycron she was able to move and shoot twice before ramming the Roanoke. She missed both shots on the first action but hit both times on the second action, leaving the Roanoke with three masts. The Hai Peng rammed the Roanoke on the port side to avoid a potential ram by the Amity on the following turn. However, the ram roll failed, leaving the Hai Peng at a slight disadvantage going into the boarding action. With great drama the boarding action failed! The Hai Peng only lost an oarsman but in reality she had lost the game, as the Roanoke ended the game on the next turn by docking home her two 5’s to give the American Pirates a thrilling 20-11 victory!
This was one of the more interesting games of this winter so far. It was definitely one of the longest 40 point games I’ve ever played, with 9 total turns counting the Roanoke’s final turn. During the game I noticed some problems with my HPFF fleet. I’ll look to correct them as I go along.
HPFF rolled to go first, and the HI setup was reversed with the AP’s in the south and HPFF in the east. Instead of two oarsmen on the Banshee’s Cry one was swapped out for an explorer.
The Hai Peng couldn’t reach the western island and so was forced to dock at the northwestern island, where she built the Devil’s Maw.
The Banshee’s Cry explored the middle wild island and found Jailhouse Dog, Barbary Banner, Maps of Alexandria, and a 2. She took the gold and the Hai Peng was able to see what treasures were on the remaining two islands. She sailed to the northeastern island and built Paradis de la Mer.
The Amity reached the western island and took the gold from it. In the first big move of the game, the Roanoke was Hidden Cove’d to the middle island. The AP’s had decided to use HC with the Roanoke rather than to run gold with it. This extra boost of movement got the Roanoke within saccing striking distance of the Hai Peng. Blackheart sacced an oarsman and the Roanoke sunk the Hai Peng while she was docked at Paradis!
Two turns in and the Hai Peng is gone.
After a great start HPFF was now in big trouble. On the bright side, Mycron could now give the Patagonia’s action to the Banshee’s Cry, which let her return home at L+L+L+L speed from the middle island. In the meantime Paradis de la Mer exacted some revenge on the Roanoke by hitting twice with both of the cannons that were in range.
Since the Devil’s Maw was an easier target, the Roanoke turned west and sacced herself into range of the Pirate fort, hitting twice in five tries between two shoot actions. She could only get two of her three remaining guns in range for the first action. It was now up to the Roanoke to take out a fort since they held all the gold left in play that was needed for the AP’s to win.
The Banshee’s Cry zipped out to Paradis and grabbed the 5 coin, which was the last coin that could leave the fort since the two 2’s had to stay. This is actually one of the biggest weaknesses of the HPFF fleet because they can only get so much gold home from the forts they build. The Devil’s Maw took a mast off the Roanoke with her three remaining cannons to establish a slight numerical advantage.
The Amity returned home with 8 gold, making the score 8-7 in favour of the AP’s. The Roanoke sacced her explorer to shoot twice at the Devil’s Maw but only hit once in four tries.
The Banshee’s Cry docked home the 5 from Paradis to take the lead 12-8. The Devil’s Maw connected for a hit on the Roanoke, leaving the flagship with just one mast.
On the AP’s turn the Roanoke sacced her valuable helmsman to shoot twice at the Devil’s Maw. The risk paid off as the Roanoke hit both times to make the fort abandoned and render it useless!
This is when the game started getting down to the wire. With the Hai Peng long gone and the Roanoke with one mast standing, the lesser ships would finally decide the outcome of the game.
Since the Roanoke was still around the Devil’s Maw island that the Banshee’s Cry had to get to in order to load the winning gold, HPFF decided to use Mycron’s action for the Lezard, who had been sailing northwest ever since her partner in crime (the HP) had sunk. HPFF was worried about the speed (S+S+S) of the Bandido to ram the Banshee’s Cry out of commission. The Lezard was given an extra action which she used to ram the Bandido, needing just a 2 to hit. She rolled a 1, leaving the AP’s with 5 masts in the area and HPFF with 2.
With no crew left to sac and no helmsman, Blackheart fired the Roanoke’s last cannon at the Devil’s Maw, but it missed. The Bandido sailed around the Lezard and rammed her in return, but somehow the Bandido also rolled a 1.
With the Roanoke now in ramming range, the Lezard now rammed her and succeeded in taking out her last mast. The Roanoke was now derelict. The Banshee’s Cry used Mycron to approach the crucial northwestern island, which was actually the first island to be explored in this game.
The Amity returned the favour by ramming the Lezard, leaving three ships (two derelict) all in contact with one another.
The Banshee’s Cry docked at the Devil’s Maw and loaded 4 gold, which would be enough to win the game for HPFF.
This was already a great, close, hard-fought game, but now it really started getting ridiculous. The Banshee’s Cry had measured multiple times and determined that there was nowhere at the northwestern island that she could dock without being in ramming range of the two Pirate ships. She docked on the far side of the island anyway.
The Bandido came around the north side of the island and rammed the Cry. Needing a 2 to dismast the Cry and probably win the game for the AP’s, the Bandido rolled another 1! The Amity sailed around the south side of the island, rammed the Banshee’s Cry and rolled a 1! O_O The boarding rolls were ineffective and the Banshee’s Cry had inexplicably survived!
Is this die cursed?
The infamous and now apparently invincible Banshee’s Cry:
The Banshee’s Cry was trapped between the Amity and the Bandido, and if you read my report from the game using El Garante a few weeks ago you’ll remember the moment where the huge ship was trapped on both sides by ships that had rammed her. I feel that it would be very unfair for a fleet to lose in such a way and therefore the “no ship may turn more than 90 degrees” house rule was temporarily broken to allow the Banshee’s Cry to move. She took off with the help of Mycron and there was no hope of the Amity or Bandido of catching her.
The Bandido used a shoot action to finally destroy the Devil’s Maw, and the Amity used her explorer to grab the 7 gold that was in the fort.
Turns 10 and 11:
The ships raced for home with their gold, but it was no contest. The Cry docked home 4 gold to give HPFF a 16-8 win!
This was one of the craziest games I’ve played so far this run and one of the better ones I’ve played overall. It was even longer than the last one between these fleets (11 turns and 9 for the first one). They seem to be unnaturally evenly matched, which makes for awesome gameplay. HPFF appears better on paper, but the advantage of having Hidden Cove is HUGE. This really evens out the fleets and even gives the American Pirates the upper hand in some ways.
It was good to see the smaller ships see action after the Roanoke and especially the Hai Peng were knocked out of the game. HPFF showed their mettle by winning the game even after their main ship was sunk on the second turn.
Despite the game’s length and overall excitement, I think I’ll always remember this game as the failed ramming game (or the ram game maybe?). I believe there were SIX ram attempts on ships with one mast, and only two of them succeeded! Mathematically you’d expect 5/6 to work. Perhaps shoot actions aren’t the only time where huge amounts of 1’s are rolled… XD
The third game featured the HPFF HI in the west and the AP HI on the northeast island. HPFF rolled to go first.
The Hai Peng explored the middle island, finding Holy Water, Maps of Alexandria (thus turning over all the other treasure on the islands), a 5 and a 1. She sent the 5 home and kept the 1 and Holy Water. Then the HP went south and explored another island, sending another 5 gold home which came right back in the form of the Devil’s Maw.
The HP now went to the northwestern island and grabbed Jailhouse Dog in order to potentially cancel Barbary Banner, which was on the eastern island near the AP HI. The HP sent a 2 to the Lezard. The Banshee’s Cry loaded 4 gold from the Devil’s Maw. At the end of the turn Paradis de la Mer was built on the northwest island.
The Amity used Ghost Ship to sail through the northwest island and ram the docked Hai Peng. The ram and board were successful, leaving the HP with one mast and the Amity with 1 gold in her cargo hold. The Bandido docked at the eastern island. The Roanoke was Hidden Cove’d to the middle island from which she sacced an oarsman to sink the Banshee’s Cry to the south. Divers was flipped to give the AP’s all 4 gold on their HI. The Roanoke was 4 out of 5 on her shoot action, with her last two hits coming against the Devil’s Maw.
HPFF began the turn by opening fire with their two forts. This was probably the most triumphant game I’ve played with forts. The Devil’s Maw blasted the Roanoke 3/3 to leave her with two masts remaining. Then Paradis de la Mer let loose a flurry of shots on the Amity, shredding her to pieces and leaving her derelict! Once again the rage of the gunners on Paradis had gotten revenge on the AP’s for attacking the Hai Peng. When the smoke cleared from these battles the Hai Peng had already sailed away and was almost to the Bandido in the east.
The Bandido explored and took Barbary Banner and a 5 and a 2. The Roanoke retreated, with no interest in engaging the Devil’s Maw.
The Hai Peng dismasted the Bandido with her first action and captured her and explored the island with her second action. This left the Roanoke as the only AP ship left that could move.
The HP towed the Bandido back the way she had come to the northwest, desperate to stay out of the Roanoke’s range. The Roanoke sailed north, dismasting the Lezard, which had sailed out to capture the Amity.
The Lezard had plenty of oarsmen aboard (including her French one) and captured the Amity. HPFF had now captured two of the three AP ships and the Roanoke only had two masts standing. The Hai Peng sailed south with the Bandido in tow (still moving S+L+S+S+L+S because of the bonuses and Mycron), once again avoiding the Roanoke. The Roanoke turned south but was just out of range.
The Hai Peng docked, bringing in 14 gold between her and the Bandido. This gave Hai Peng Fort Frenzy a 16-4 victory and means that they win this series 2 games to 1!
This was an amazing series that was hotly contested. These fleets are very evenly matched, with both of the first two games taking a long time and going down to the wire. The third game finally featured a near-perfect game from HPFF, which shows how fast and powerful it can be. Hai Peng Fort Frenzy beats the American Pirates 2 games to 1.
I’ve played another 3 game series, this time between a different version of UPS and the EA Gold Runners fleet. Again, if you haven’t checked out these fleets yet I suggest you do so. The links are below.
The island setup was a little bit different after a comment by marhawkman on BoardGameGeek.
The Coral was Hidden Cove’d to an island but she only found one silver coin on the island. She traded it home for +4 to give UPS4 7 gold at the end of the first turn, but she wouldn’t be able to get the extra +1 from the silver explorer back home if she continued to use that first island. However, because of the Sea Crane’s +1 and Gallows’ +2 there would always be at least +3 to the coin no matter the color. The Coral could go to another island and look for silver coins there, but she decided to stay at the first island.
By the end of the second turn UPS 4 had 12 gold on their HI.
On the third turn both of the EA rolls for the EA Runners fleet succeeded, with the Joya del Sol bringing home 7 gold. However, it was too little, too late as the Coral traded a 2 coin for the win after adding the +3 to make it 17-7 in favour of UPS4.
For the second game the HI’s were closer together towards the middle. UPS 4 went first and the Coral actually found the same treasure mix on her island as in the last game (one silver 3 and three gold 2’s).
This second game was quick and predictable after the Coral found the exact same treasure mix (the treasure was mixed up, it was just a coincidence). There was a little excitement however, with the Algeciras taking out two masts on the Longshanks after she docked at the island. The Joya again made it home, making the final score 17-8 in favour of UPS 4.
The third game saw the HI’s a medium distance apart. The Coral once again only found one silver coin, but this time it was a 1, with all three gold coins being 2’s. This meant that it would take four turns instead of three for UPS 4 to win the game since there were no 3’s on the island and therefore UPS 4 couldn’t bring in more than 5 gold in one turn.
The Algeciras was approaching the Coral’s island, forcing the Coral to act and build Dead Man’s Point.
The third turn of this game was the most exciting of the entire series. The Algeciras finally had a chance at the Coral, but only with a ram since the Coral can’t be shot at while docked. The Algeciras rammed but rolled a 1! She did manage to hit both times against the Longshanks, leaving the pirate ship with 1 mast. The Pirates retaliated on their turn by dismasting the Algeciras with both the Longshanks and Dead Man’s Point, but Captain Jack Hawkins died in the boarding action. At the end of turn 3 UPS 4 led 12-7.
The Star of Siam and Joya del Sol couldn’t get any gold home on the fourth turn, and the Coral traded another coin to a 17-7 victory!
For this series UPS version 4.0 beat EA Gold Runners 3 games to 0. This UPS fleet is fun to play although I think my favourite of the three UPS fleets (now that I’ve played them all) is the second one with the extreme speed of having a sac crew on a ship as fast as the Hai Peng.
The EA Runners fleet went first in both games. The Joya del Sol got the EA from Castro and was able to explore a nearby wild island, finding 6 gold and Turtles.
The Hai Peng was Hidden Cove’d to a wild island where she found Homing Beacon, Cross of Coronado, and Screu Engine along with just one 2-gold coin. After trading this to the Intrepide she sacced to the next island and found the 7, sending it home and using the +2’d first coin to build Paradis de la Mer (I feel like this fleet makes a verb out of everything). This left 9 total gold on UPS’s HI (7 + 2).
On the second turn the EA fleet failed to get any extra actions and was relegated to sailing to and from islands at S+S+S, quite slow in a game like this haha.
Since the Hai Peng knew there was no point in going back to the first island with only UT’s, she redocked twice at Paradis on the second turn, sending home 4 gold total. This was upped to 8 via Aristide and it gave the Pirates a 17-0 victory!
At the end of the first turn the Hai Peng had loaded Homing Beacon, which UPS considered using because the first island was mostly a dud and they couldn’t send coins home from it. The Hai Peng would load two coins from the second island (Paradis), teleport home via the Beacon, then sac an oarsman to catapult to a new island that the Star of Siam had just docked at but not explored. However, it was easier to just use Captain Jack Sparrow and send home two coins from Paradis, upon which Aristide doubled their values and gave UPS enough gold to win. Also, although it was a shutout for UPS, the EA fleet had 6 gold on the Joya and all 10 Turtles approaching their HI.
The Joya del Sol got an EA from Castro on the first turn and found 17 gold on one island! She found the 7 and 6 that her fleet had contributed as well as two 2’s.
The Hai Peng traded back 2 gold as normal, but due to the island setup she wasn’t able to reach a second island. Their HI was the middle island and the Joya’s island and the EA fleet’s HI were the only islands she could have gotten to.
The island setup proved irrelevant on the second turn when the Joya got another EA and docked home her 17 gold to win the game for the EA Runners!
This third game was the fastest of the three and proved that even UPS v. 2.0 can be beat by a ship using extra actions that happened to get very lucky with the gold. It also made me think of the “more than half the starting gold” rule for two player games, which really does make things a bit boring and predictable. These games are meant to use the official rules (which actually help these particular fleets, especially UPS), but it would be interesting to see what would happen if the treasure was more random and it was kept face down on home islands.
Conclusion: UPS v. 2.0 beats EA Gold Runners 2 games to 1. The third game was a bit of a fluke because the Joya found 17 gold on one island and the UPS HI was in a bad spot. I would say that this version of UPS is better than the original fleet because of Jimmy Legs. The Longshanks didn’t really do a lot anyway and this Hai Peng is so fast and active it’s kind of scary.
The next three game series will pit UPS v. 2.0 against the Extra Action Gold Runners fleet. I was only able to play the first game of the series just now. Again, if you haven’t checked out those fleets yet I suggest you do so. The links are below.
UPS (v. 2.0) went first. The Hai Peng was Hidden Cove’d to the middle wild island and found Screu Engine which was left behind. A 2 coin was traded via CJS/Intrepide/Aristide (you know the deal by now) and the Pirates were in business with 4 gold. At the next island the Hai Peng found both Turtles and Homing Beacon, making the EA Runners fleet look bad by finding their UT’s before they even left home! Paradis de la Mer was built on this second island. The Rover sailed towards the middle island.
For the EA Runners fleet, all three (counting Vaccaro’s reroll) of the EA rolls failed and therefore the Star of Siam and Joya del Sol were unable to reach islands.
Turn 2 was incredibly predictable. Thanks to darrin’s comprehensive fleet description I was able to follow his instructions to a tee:
1. Move the Hai Peng away and then re-dock at the same island with your first fort. Send another coin to L’Intrepide.
2. As a free action, swap Maurice Aristide back onto L’Intrepide and put another oarsman on Le Coeur de Lion.
3. Use an explore action to unload L’Intrepide’s coin for +2 gold.
4. Sacrifice an oarsman to Jimmy Legs, load the traded oarsman as a free action, and move back to the first island you explored. Send another coin to Le Coeur de Lion.
5. As a free action, move Maurice Aristide to Le Coeur de Lion.
6. Use an explore action to unload Le Coeur de Lion’s coin for +2 gold.
7. Build a second fort at the island where Hai Peng is docked.
Dead Man’s Point was built on the middle wild island.
The EA Runners were luckier than on their first turn with the Joya getting an extra action from Castro without having to reroll. The Joya explored the northeastern island and found 10 gold (the UT’s required the EA fleet to put a 7, a 6 and a 2 into the treasure mix), then turned around and made it halfway home.
Because the gold in forts doesn’t technically count towards victory anymore the UPS fleet would have to make do. The Hai Peng traded another 2 (4 after Aristide) to her HI, leaving the Pirates with 12 gold total on their HI. The Hai Peng then went back to Paradis and loaded both 2’s for 4 gold total. At this point there were no more oarsmen left on the HI for which to trade to the Hai Peng. The Rover had meanwhile picked up a 2 from Dead Man’s Point and was sailing home with it.
For the EA fleet, all 3 rolls failed once again. The Joya del Sol docked home 10 gold to narrow the score to 12-10 in favor of UPS. In the meantime the Algeciras had approached the Rover and managed to get her 3L gun in range, but she missed (this was the only shot fired in the game).
The Hai Peng simply raced home and sacced Cotton (the helmsman) to make it the whole way. She unloaded her cargo of 4 gold to give UPS the 16-10 victory!
Observations: This UPS fleet is obscenely complicated and involved, not to mention FAST. I’d like to congratulate darrin for making such a well-thought-out fleet. It really is interesting to play. I had to look at the fleet description to know what I was supposed to do with all the crew and treasure transfers! What really struck me was how long the turn takes. With the Hai Peng doing so much and getting the two ships at the HI involved, the UPS turns took FAR longer than any normal turn for other fleets, including the EA fleet.
It’s funky to do so much with crew. I started to get confused as to how many crew and points I was supposed to fit on the Hai Peng and which oarsmen were supposed to be on the Intrepide vs. the Coeur. Then the crew ran out! Jimmy Legs and Aristide just make things even more interesting. The explorer is a good candidate to be sacced because after the first turn you really don’t need him since you’ve already explored the two islands you need to hit.
The next two games in this series will be played tomorrow (12/23).
Dead Man’s Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping
I’ve started to test out a multitude of fleets that I’ve wanted to play for a while now. First up: Universal Pirate Shipping (by darrin) vs. the Dead Man’s Chest UT Fleet (lordstu). (Note: if you aren’t familiar with these fleets it would be very helpful to read up on them, or else the battle report probably won’t make a lot of sense.)
Because this was a more “serious” game (just as the others between such competitive fleets will be), the islands were placed at their usual distance of 3L apart rather than 2L or 1L. No terrain was used. Since Captain Jack Sparrow can’t trade away the UT’s in the original UPS fleet they weren’t used. In this way the fleet utilized 7 2’s and a 1 so they’d be able to build Paradis de la Mer on the first turn no matter what. The DMC (Dead Man’s Chest) fleet only used the actual UT Dead Man’s Chest since that was the entire object of the gimmick.
For the first game the UPS fleet rolled to go first. The Hai Peng immediately jumped to the first island in the middle and was able to build Paradis de la Mer with the Longshanks and Jolly Mon following.
The DMC fleet Hidden Cove’d the Banshee’s Cry to the northeastern island and she redocked in order to explore, improbably finding the Dead Man’s Chest! The nature of the game (with the original “more than half the starting gold” aka 16 gold) lent itself to a quick ending. The Cry essentially contained an instant win if the UPS fleet couldn’t hit her or eliminate some crew. However, this is where another event, Becalmed, came into play. It was placed midway between the Hai Peng and the Longshanks, partially freezing both ships and the Jolly Mon. I say partially because all three ships had oarsmen and were able to move a little bit on the following turn. They couldn’t move enough to be able to catch the speedy Cry, leaving her to race home and give the DMC fleet a quick victory! The Cry also had 2 gold on her from the island so the final score was:
DMC fleet: 18 gold
UPS fleet: 0 gold
I was stunned that a fleet as slow and gimmicky as the DMC fleet could beat UPS so handily. However, Hidden Cove and Becalmed gave them a huge advantage, and the Cry was lucky to find the DMC UT at the first island she went to.
For the second game the home islands were reversed. UPS went first again, with the Hai Peng springing out to build Paradis de la Mer on the middle island. UPS tried to position their ships farther apart than in the last game but Becalmed still managed to reach the Hai Peng and Longshanks.
The Banshee’s Cry didn’t find the DMC on the first island she went to. However, the abilities of the Morocco and Raven’s Neck revealed it to be on the southwestern island.
Because of Becalmed the UPS fleet couldn’t build another fort on the second turn, but the Hai Peng saw the Banshee’s Cry and decided to go after her because she’s so vulnerable.
The Hai Peng used her extreme speed to catch up to the Cry and knock down her lone mast. At this point the game was looking dismal for the DMC fleet, but the Cry had an oarsman which she used to crawl towards the island with the DMC on it.
Despite their slow speeds the Morocco and Raven’s Neck started to reach the action, turning two all-gold fleets into a couple of fighting fleets! The Morocco rammed the Hai Peng but it backfired when she lost the boarding action and therefore one of her six oarsmen.
On the next turn the Longshanks took out a mast and oarsman on the Raven’s Neck, but the Hai Peng really sealed the game for the UPS fleet. She blocked the Cry, explored the island, took the DMC and built Dead Man’s Point (via Sparrow/Aristide) all in one turn!
At this point the game was safely in the hands of the UPS fleet so the DMC fleet forfeited the game to save some time for one final game to decide the winner of the three game series.
The third and final game was the shortest of them all. The DMC fleet went first for the first time and was therefore able to use Becalmed to freeze the Hai Peng for the UPS’s first turn. The Cry was Hidden Cove’d to an island where she found the DMC. With a turn already lost it was too late for the UPS fleet. The Hai Peng almost managed to catch the Cry since she moves so fast, but she came up just short, allowing the Cry to dock the DMC home for another instant win!
The Cry brings home the DMC just in front of the UPS fleet (unintentionally in line of battle lol).
For this series the DMC fleet beat the UPS fleet two out of three times. This really surprised me, although the original UPS fleet probably isn’t the most effective one. I’ll be testing the others very soon. The two events really help out quite a lot, part of the reason I made that thread recently. I’ll likely use these fleets in some other games soon, especially once more of the 40 point fleets are out.