What to always have with you when playing Pirates CSG

Often when playing Pirates CSG at a game store, LGS, or a friend’s house, you have to pack up the necessary items to play a game of Pirates and hit the road. Hopefully you didn’t forget anything! I have accumulated many experiences with the “traveling collection”, where it’s only feasible to bring a bag or box to the game venue.  The basics are easy, so I won’t spend much time discussing those.  However, having played over 500 games of Wizkids Pirates since 2011, I have some additional tips on what to include in the box/tin/chest/etc that you bring to gaming events.

The Basics

-Your fleet with all ships, crew and equipment, as well as the coins you want to contribute
-Islands and terrain, especially if there are any specific ones you want to use such as Mysterious Islands, icebergs, etc.
-At least one d6
-Rules, Master Keyword List, The Pirate Code, and Reference Diagrams (you can also download PDFs of these from the bottom of my homepage for easy reference on your phone – highly recommended as this can save a lot of time when you need to look up rule text or FAQ answers)
-Spare deckplate for measuring L and S segments so you don’t need to use a deckplate from your actual fleet (more of a preference, but a great way to make sure your fleet’s deckplate area is never disrupted or confusing to other players, and you can keep crew/equipment/coins on the deckplates of your ships throughout the game without upending them)


-Forts: one of each you own! They are applicable to many games, and you never know when you’ll want to build one or more of them.  In addition, you might capture a ship belonging to a faction you didn’t already have in your fleet, which would then allow you to build forts of that nationality.
-Events: great for 0LR+5 decisions. They can also be brought in via specific Mysterious Islands.
-Multiple pieces of every terrain type: great for the Setup phase with terrain contributions to ensure you don’t run out of your favorites. In the case of the Lost UT, you might want to put down 6 of a single type all at once (Lost is from the most common set, Ocean’s Edge).  Extra terrain is also good to have on hand if you have “terrain creators” in your fleet, such as Calypso, smokepot specialists/shot, or navigators.  Sometimes I’ve been surprised by the quantity I’ve needed.
-Equipment: factionless and therefore usable by any fleet even if there are faction-pure house rules in place. Also a decent choice for 0LR+5 contributions.
-Extra coins if using gold bonus abilities (depends on your group’s rules for tracking bonuses at home islands (HI’s)).
-Fire masts
-Pennants or tokens for marking islands explored
-Playmat/fabric for an ocean surface


-A large selection of “essential” or oft-utilized UT’s.  This stack can come in handy if you encounter Pandora’s Box or generative Mysterious Islands.  The Setup rules call for placing treasure after seeing your opponent’s fleets and choosing home islands, so classics like Wolves, Lost and Plague can be great to have on hand if you want to throw in some wild cards not originally in your anticipated treasure contribution.
-A crew for the Castaway UT that is optimal for your fleet. SM Calico Cat (SAT), SM Genny Gallows (+2 Gold), and SM GC-001 El Fantasma (HI Raider) are usually good choices, along with SS Bianco’s Haulers (can’t be shot while docked) and RotF Gus Schultz (Eternal). Generic crew might be better in some cases too. Think about what UT’s other players could contribute that might be found on islands – this maximizes your preparedness for whatever could be thrown at you!
-Paper crew chips in case other players may have forgotten some generic crew
-I like to have a few tiny d6 of different colors available that I can put on the deck of ships that have been hit by special shot types. This might include green for stinkpot/Fear, orange for chainshot, etc. Helpful as a reminder for when my turn comes back around.
-Extra ships and crew in case you are providing fleets for other players. This is especially useful at open play board game events, where you never know when a new player will want to join and learn the game. Having stuff on hand to make a quick beginner fleet is a good way to ensure new players have a chance to play!

Here’s a look inside one of my well-used play tins.  Usually I’ll have a second one for the ships and forts. (that Slipstream card is 3D printed, not cut haha)  The large tins that were released with the Ocean’s Edge and Caribbean sets are ideal for storing a large amount of game items, and can easily be brought safely on a plane (I recommend taping down the sides with some clear shipping tape). You may be able to find some on eBay (affiliate link that helps my efforts to keep the game alive if you purchase from it).

Ben's Pirates CSG heavy playing tin with cards/etc. What to always have with you when playing Pirates CSG!

Did I forget anything that you should always have with you as a player?  Feel free to comment below any thoughts you have on this topic, and thanks for reading!


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