What is a 0LR+5? How should they be used?

What is a 0LR+5?

How should they be used?

Contessa Anita Amore, Spanish 0LR+5

Contessa Anita Amore from Crimson Coast, one of the original 0LR+5 crew.

The “0LR+5”.  An oft-mentioned acronym in Pirates CSG, yet possibly unfamiliar or even esoteric to the unintiated.  It’s used as an acronym for one of the best types of crew in the game, truly essential for many of the top fleets.  Here we’ll discuss their pros and cons as well as how to best utilize them for optimal gameplay and strategy.

What are they?

Breaking down 0LR+5, we get 0=0 points (a free crew!), L=Limit keyword, R=Ransom keyword, and +5 meaning that the primary ability of the crew is to give you +5 points to the build total of the game.  Limit means you can’t have another game piece with the Limit keyword in your fleet, while Ransom is a negative ability that gives your opponent 1 gold for eliminating the crew or 5 gold if they capture it and unload it at their home island (HI). Full ability text: “Limit. Ransom. Place this crew face up during setup. You may build your fleet using 5 more points than the game’s build total. This crew cannot leave this ship unless captured or eliminated.”

These crew are most often used to fit more into a build total than you normally can. In a standard 40 point game, 5 extra points represents an additional 12.5%, potentially giving your fleet an advantage over any opponent not using a 0LR+5. Oftentimes the crew is used to bring in a captain and helmsman on a main gunship, a canceller, or sometimes dirt-cheap treasure runners like the Banshee’s Cry and Rover.

Rules Review

Commodore Matthew Perry, American 0LR+5 crew from Pirates of the South China Seas

Commodore Matthew Perry, American 0LR+5 crew from Pirates of the South China Seas

It’s worth reviewing entries in The Pirate Code for the various abilities that these crew have, because it can get a bit confusing.  In my experience, the biggest mistakes or things to keep in mind are usually these: 0 point crew must be assigned to a ship of their own nationality (regardless of any abilities on board). The additional 5 points come into play AFTER building your fleet, so you must have 5 or less additional points in some form – if you’re already at 38 and want to add a 7 point crew, it doesn’t work. You have to divide it up and plan ahead so that you’re only adding a maximum of 5 points with the +5 crew – not simply using a different build total than your opponent.  That said, it almost always works out because usually you have cheap crew somewhere in a fleet that can easily be brought in via the +5 as opposed to being in the original starting fleet.

As for Ransom, crew with the keyword can only be eliminated by an enemy ability or action, or by some Unique Treasures (UT’s).  This means you cannot just sacrifice the crew with a Sac Captain (this would be too easy and eliminate the negative that Ransom is there for), but you can choose to eliminate them in a lost boarding party if you don’t mind your opponent getting the automatic 1 gold payout. If the Ransom crew is sunk with a ship, the crew (now worth 1 gold) goes straight to the sinking player’s HI, which is an exception to the normal rule where crew are removed from the game when a ship is sunk.

How to Use

The Hag of Tortuga Crimson Coast

The Hag, possibly the most-used 0LR+5

The best use of 0LR+5 crew is often the most typical way – filling out the fleet with ships or crew that you wanted to include from the start but didn’t have the points for.  However, I think it is worth considering the “meta” of competitive gaming and how the crew functionally work, and using that to your greatest advantage.  Notably, the rules have Placing Crew towards the bottom of the Setup phase – AFTER the entire map is constructed with islands and terrain, and after home island locations are chosen.  This is important for decision making, as a poor home island choice might make a player more likely to be more aggressive with their extra 5 points – maybe they’d whip out the Becalmed event instead of some extra oarsmen.  If the opponent deliberately placed islands the maximum distance apart, a navigator might be a better choice than a cannoneer.  If there ended up being way more terrain on the map than you anticipated, various 3 or 4 point crew allow you to ignore terrain as part of a move action.  This could even lead to bargaining and threats between players during the Setup phase – perhaps you detest a certain terrain type or a home island location – you could threaten to bring in the Mermaids event or a canceller with your +5, though in a competitive scenario they would likely be expecting it anyway. (you could also bluff about what might be brought in)

One of the most interesting aspects of this “+5 meta” is the player turn order.  If you go second and see that your opponent didn’t include any events in their fleet for their extra 5 points, you know you won’t have to deal with Mermaids and can therefore pass on including Favor of the Gods as a counter, freeing up the 2 points for Hidden Cove instead.  If your opponent brings in 3 events and 1 crew with their +5, you also know you won’t be dealing with Mermaids or Becalmed, because no single game piece of those four can cost more than 2 points.  You could adjust accordingly and not have to settle for counters based on fearing what might be revealed once the game starts.  However, because of this it could be argued that Player 1 must use their +5 more aggressively, even if only as a deke – possibly including a cheap event like Divers along with a face down crew in the hopes of getting the other player to needlessly include Favor of the Gods when it won’t help them.

Letter of Marque equipment

Letter of Marque equipment art

Many playgroups may ban events, but other notable possibilities abound.  I would argue that the most underrated choice could be the Letter of Marque/Soul Mark equipment.  These can be used to force a Parley situation against most of the major factions (with the exception of the Pirates).  You’ll always know which faction(s) your opponent is playing by the time it comes to your +5 decisions, so including the correct Letter of Marque (possibly more than one) could be an easy way to deflect an attack later in the game at an opportune moment.  Even if they’re using a multi-faction fleet, in a lot of games it won’t be difficult to see which ship is likely to be their main gunship, based on size/crew complement/etc.

The Roster

The 0LR+5 crew are as follows: The Hag of Tortuga (Pirate), Administror Scott Bratley (English), Contessa Anita Amore (Spanish), Vicomte Jules de Cissey (French), Li Quin (Jade Rebellion), Commodore Matthew Perry (American), “Cannonball” Gallows (Pirate).  Notably, the Pirates are the only faction to receive two 0LR+5 crew, while the Jade Rebellion is the only minor faction to receive any.  The Cursed, Barbary Corsairs, Vikings and Mercenaries don’t have any.

I hope you enjoyed this article on 0LR+5 crew and would love to hear about your strategic or “meta” use of them!

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