VASSAL IS HERE! The first modern VASSAL BATTLE REPORT! (January 29th, 2016)

A HUGE thanks to el_cazador for reaching out to me! And once again, a HUGE thanks to B.J. Olejnik for getting this module up and running. I literally had VASSAL on my to-do list for today (part of a series of VASSAL ironies that keep happening – el_cazador literally PM’d me a few minutes after I responded to B.J.’s email), where I was going to experiment with it and play around a bit. Instead, my (and el_cazador’s) first game was played on VASSAL!!

I think VASSAL is going to be an extremely valuable tool. It’s the only known reliable way of people being able to play Pirates remotely, which is huge. This forum is full of the absolute, hardcore, diehard fans of the game that are still left supporting it and keeping it alive. The fact that we can play games of Pirates with each other for free and without the hassles of traveling is so cool!

This is a Battle Report of the game that myself and el_cazador played on 1/29/2016. It’s my first BR using “pictures” of a virtual game, which is crazy cool and crazy unique. You can’t get angled shots or closeups (edit: you can with a snipping tool or by editing and cropping full pictures), but the pros include not needing a camera of any kind, not having to worry about how the shot will look, and of course the nature of an overhead shot: every picture gives the viewer a great idea of what’s going on everywhere on the ocean.

Neither of us had much experience at all with VASSAL prior to this impromptu game. Nevertheless, we were determined to see it happen!! (I’m very excited about this lol.)

First, we didn’t even know how to set up the ocean. I’ll make a post within the next 24 hours where I do my best to give a comprehensive sort of “setup guide” for everyone. For now, I will focus on the report. This will eventually go in Battle Reports, but I think that this first game should definitely go in this thread, not to mention xerecs’ massively epic Economy Edition game going on right now. As always I’ll post it on BGG and Pojo (and I think reddit this time too!), so hopefully that will drum up additional interest.

I began creating a fleet. A day or two I was on VASSAL very briefly, and I created HMS Dover just to refresh my memory of how to create a ship and its associated deckplate card. As a result, she was the first ship I chose. My fleet was constructed somewhat randomly and haphazardly, but the English are my favorite faction and the Lord Algernon is my favorite ship, so it should come as no surprise that my first game on VASSAL featured them.

English: (Ben)
HMS Lord Algernon + Administrator Scott Bratley, captain, helmsman
HMS Dover + Thomas Gunn, explorer
HMS Hound + explorer

el_cazador, on the other hand, had a fleet ready.

Spanish: (El Cazador)
Spanish Cursed Seas Showcase (fleet was on Miniature Trading)

At this time it is necessary to explain the dumb setup. Once we had an ocean created, we got excited and started dumping stuff everywhere!  We didn’t know how to delete islands and terrain!  As a result, the setup was very abnormal and unfairly biased in favor of the English. Once our first ship was introduced to the sea, we both simply gravitated towards the nearest islands, so the HI placement was random as well. However, the treasure distribution was fair, with 4 coins on each of the 4 wild islands. There are no native canoes in the module so they’re represented by the 1 masted galleys.

The English rolled to go first, and the fleets were off! The Hound and Dover were quick to exploit the bad setup, docking and exploring nearby wild islands on the first two turns. The Lord Algernon headed out as the most dangerous but also slowest ship in play.

The Spanish sailed out, with the San Pedro easily navigating a reef successfully. The native canoes, however, couldn’t explore on the first turn.

The Dover docked home treasure, while the Lord Algernon moved within firing range of a native canoe!!


The Lord Algernon easily blasted the canoe to smithereens, and war was on! The remaining canoes had no choice but to run from the English flagship, but the Castigue had something to say about the Lord Algernon, hitting 2/3 to take out a mast!

Here the San Pedro docks and explores. a7xfanben, commander of the English forces, knew how valuable the +1 and +2 gold abilities (aboard the canoes and San Pedro) are, and therefore prioritized eliminating those ships from the game.

The Hound has docked home while the Morning Star takes gold from the western island. However, the English used their two gunships to sink the Castigue! This netted them 1 gold for eliminating the Ransom crew Anita Amore. The dots on the islands are explored markers, something el_cazador was brilliant enough to think of and find on the module. Nicely enough, they’re color-coded by player, and here they turned out to match the nationalities as well!

Surprising the English, the Spanish now attacked the Lord Algernon with their treasure runners! The San Pedro rammed and boarded. However, she failed with both rolls, losing her explorer. The canoes began to head towards the Lord Algernon, which El Cazador would later admit was a “canoe screen” to help shield the Morning Star. Mid-turn, you can see the S and L rulers in the directions ships have moved and are going to move.

The English strike again, and sink the San Pedro! After a brief discussion, it was decided that any gold on ships would sink to the bottom with the vessel carrying it. (Woelf does this and it’s obviously more historically accurate.) At this point the English finally remembered to use the Hound’s ability and revealed a 2 on the Morning Star, who was heading towards the southern island while the English were distracted by the canoes.

Here, the Morning Star has docked at the southern island, where she explores and finds some UT’s that were placed by a7xfanben. However, I didn’t define what they were when I placed them, so I decided to let El Cazador use them as “wilds” since the setup was so biased in my favor. This meant he could pick any value for the two “UT’s” from 1-7. Naturally, he picked 7 for both of them.


With a powerful broadside, the Lord Algernon stays put and sinks the remaining native canoes! The Dover returns home for the time being, while the Hound added to the English treasure haul.

The Morning Star began sailing away, but the Lord Algernon shot two of her masts off. The Dover docked home, only for me to realize that she didn’t have any gold on her after all!

The Morning Star continued to run, but the English continued to shoot! The Lord Algernon connected twice more, and the Dover moved into position to end the game.

The Dover fired and hit, sinking the final Spanish ship! The Royal Navy reigns supreme! (My shoot action die rolls were much better for this game than they are in the physical world, a promising sign for me lol.)

This image simply shows the English gold revealed on their HI, and they won by a 24-0 blowout! (The gold in the water is from the sunken San Pedro.)

Find more information about how to download and use VASSAL here!

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