Pirates Battle Reports for 2011

This is the archive of Pirates battle reports for the year 2011.

Jan 18 — Four Score
Feb 16 — Turtles & Ships, Not Turtle Ships
Apr — The 2011 Campaign, Part I
May — The 2011 Campaign, Part II
June — The 2011 Campaign, Part III
Sep — The 2011 Campaign, Part IV
Nov — The 2011 Campaign, Part V
Dec — The 2011 Campaign, Part VI

Four Score
Pirates Battle Report

Our gaming group seems to be dwindling, at least for the time being. We used to count seven or eight players around the table, but tonight, as with the past few games, we managed a little more than half that many. But the mayhem certainly has not decreased.

For our first battle of the year 2011, we built our fleets with ten masts and five crew. All ship types were in play, including submarines. But no one could use anything that cost more than 12 points, and no one could have more than four ships in his fleet. Misunderstandings here caused some last-minute shuffling among a couple of the fleets (Paul the Pirate Prince had too many ships and the Dread Pirate Richard had too many masts). But everyone wound up with a legal fleet, even though Paul had to borrow someone else's ship to make it work. The islands were configured in a double ring, with eight islands on the outside and four on the inside, with a total of 32 coins up for grabs.

The action began with the formation of an alliance between Richard and his neighbor Midshipman Jake. Paul insisted he had no alliances, and Bosun Zach apparently didn't seek any. Zach just wanted gold, anyway, and busily set about getting some. He encountered some early opposition, which cost him his smallest ship and three masts on his four-master.

Zach then had the nerve to ask if his damaged ship could bring some gold home. "I'm letting you live," was the reply, "on the condition that you run for home, yelping like a dog with his tail between his legs." Zach then play-acted putting his tail between his legs, and ran yelping around the room until he ran head-first into a door.

Richard likewise went for the gold; his ally Jake closed the distance between their two fleets, in case fighting broke out. Paul also went full-bore for gold, and although he had multiple chances to take some shots at Richard, he never ran out his cannons.

When the fighting did break out, Jake was quick to honor his alliance with Richard. But, apparently, two admirals together weren't strong enough to handle the threat. So Paul, again acting like he had an alliance with the other two, leaped into the battle from behind, using his newly built Paradis de la Mer fort to good effect. In one wild turn of shooting, it was all over. Nothing was left but an assortment of shattered derelicts, which almost touched off another round of fighting as Paul, Richard and Jake sorted out who would tow whom home. Richard used his crewman Barstow to steal a five-point crew off one derelict, adding five points to his total score.

As the various ships scattered for various islands, with various derelicts bobbing behind them, Jake sent one of his undamaged fighting ships, the HMS Metal Dragon, to the south in search of one last victim. One of Paul's ships (this historian has forgotten which one) tailed along behind him, slowed down by a derelict in tow. When it became apparent that the battle was nearly over, Paul dropped his tow, surged forward, and blasted all three masts off of Jake's junk, using a "bennie" (a special coin that can be traded in for a one-time reroll) to do it. In response to Jake's incredulous look, Paul grinned, "I never actually said I had an alliance with you!" Which was a roundabout way of saying, "Pirate!"

Meanwhile, Zach's plan to make himself rich was coming along nicely. He had had another ship derelicted in the line of duty, but his fourth ship towed it safely home. His damaged four-master also made it home safely, and most importantly, he did not lose a single coin. His eye was on one of the central islands, where he believed he would find a "bennie," and if the game had gone on for one more turn, he would have gotten it. His ship's bow touched the island just as time ran out.

Somewhere around this point in the action, Zach asked if he could eat one more congo bar snack. When asked how many he'd already had, he counted out loud, "One-two-three, four, five... six..." It was agreed he'd had enough.

When the gold was counted, Paul was out in front with 29 points. Some of his gold came off of enemy derelicts that he claimed. A lot of the rest was stashed away in his fort; he has become a master of using forts as gold storage, to shorten the trips his gold ships have to make. He also does a lot of hand-offs, passing coins from ship to ship so his gold collectors don't have to go far from the treasures. Zach wasn't far behind with 20, all gathered by two ships, and Richard had 16, including five points for the crew ransom. Jake had his usual score, but if he plays for the fun of destroying his enemies, he must have been laughing all the way home.

The only battle honors that were awarded tonight went to Paradis de la Mer, which won the Order of the Buccaneer for its role in Paul's gold victory. This is the first time a fort has won a medal in our warfare. Aside from that, no one ship played a huge role in the outcome. Everyone who wanted to shoot did plenty of shooting, and everyone who wanted gold got plenty of that as well. Neither Jake, Richard, nor their half-ally Paul lost a single ship.

Scribed this day, January Nineteenth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Turtles & Ships, Not Turtle Ships
Pirates Battle Report

We managed seven admirals for our most recent battle. We squared off on the ends and sides of one long bay, with a string of eight wild islands zigzagging down the middle. But these islands looked ... different. We quickly discovered that they had a penchant for moving around and disappearing from view. Someone finally concluded that they were not islands at all, but huge sea turtles!

We don't have the rules for Great Turtle islands. In fact, we don't have any Great Turtle islands, either. So Cadet-Captain Mike made up a few, using images of real turtle shells from the internet. The rules were simple — at the end of each turn, one player would either move one turtle up to S, or make one submerge, or make a submerged turtle surface. Ships docked to a turtle would move with it; ships that got bumped by a turtle were rammed. Gold on a submerged turtle was untouchable. There were more rules for other eventualities, but those eventualities never happened. Our fleets were made with 40 points, with at least one ship worth 15 points or more. We could each use one home-made custom crew (another Cadet-Captain creation), which would cost zero points. The custom crew use standard abilities and point costs, with our own names and faces on them.

We also had a no-alliances rule tonight. To enforce this, if any ship was able to attack an enemy but failed to do so, that ship would lose a mast. This promised to change the dynamics of the battle, compared to the way we usually fight each other. Or, as Paul the Pirate Prince observed, "We shall be disinclined to observe non-violence in our quests. Means 'death.' " Well, he didn't actually say that, but he definitely foresaw a lot more shooting.

The action as it began. Bosun Zach's fleet is at left; Midshipman Jake's ships are above them. Cadet-Captain Mike's ships are to the right of center, with the Dread Pirate Richard's fleet above them. In the upper right is Downeast Drew's fleet; under them is Paul the Pirate Prince's Le Superbe. The rest of Paul's fleet, and Almirante Antonio's ships, are out of sight to the right. The turtle islands are plainly visible.

As we began, everyone was close to at least one turtle with gold on its back, so nearly everyone ran for the gold first, even the usually bloodthirsty Midshipman Jake. But "his" turtle decided to submerge just as he got to it (thank you, Anthony), so he went back to his usual tactics, i.e. looking for somebody who needed to have his ships blown up.

Jake's sailors exclaim, "Hey! Where'd the island go?"

Bosun Zach made a half-hearted stab at some gold, but his real goal was to inflict grievous personal harm on his neighbor, Cadet-Captain Mike. That worthy adversary, still smarting from the indignities he'd suffered in our last battle, had brought an extremely battle-worthy fleet (Intrepid, Franklin, and Maryland), but was trying to get some gold before the mayhem started. The arrival of Zach's fleet, led by the USS Kentucky, changed all that. Zach got the first shots, and the Franklin took a pounding. Mike's other ships broke off from their gold hunting to join the fray, only to take some damage themselves. But when it was Mike's turn to fire, he let out all his frustrations at once. When the first clouds of smoke cleared, the Saratoga was badly damaged and, thanks to a ram from the Maryland, had lost her Captain as well. Zach's other ships were dismasted, and all three were sunk a few minutes later. The Sara carried Gus Schulz, though, who enabled the big schooner to reappear at her home docks for repairs.

Zach and Mike go at it, no holds barred.

Was this all the action? Not even close! Paul and Antonio had maneuvered for a battle that Paul won handily. He had brought two five-masters and a newly-acquired Pirate flotilla, the Widowmaker, with which he crushed both of Antonio's ships. One of those victims, the Saber, had an Eternal ability among its crew, and Paul meant to sink that ship so the Almirante wouldn't be completely out of the battle. But he saw other targets and got distracted, and left Antonio to drift. The Almirante never tried to get his eternal ship back by scuttling, for some reason.

Jake's fleet was now mingling with the Dread Pirate Richard's ships, which did not go well for the Dread Pirate Richard; he lost one ship and took damage to a second. But Paul's major assassin, Le Superbe, took a curving course that carried her through the fleets of Richard, Jake, and Mike, inflicting grievous harm on each of them. She failed only in an attack on Drew's Tiger's Eye, which saw her cannonballs fly harmlessly above the galley. Mike probably got off the lightest, because when Paul finished off the Franklin, Ralph David used his Eternal skills to bring her back. At this point, all three of Mike's ships were under repair, he had no way of hitting back, and he still didn't have any gold.

Richard's ships get the worst of an encounter with Jake (left) and Paul (bottom).

Paul had gold, thanks to his Constitution, which had given Drew's big ship a thrashing and then turned aside to clean off a turtle's shell of the gold that was encrusted there. Richard and Drew also had some; Drew was making good use of his speedy Tiger's Eye galley. But on the return trip, that galley ran afoul of Paul again. Paul's luck was good at the start; he left the Tiger's Eye mastless in one attack. But then he fired one of the worst-aimed series of shots in recent memory. The Constitution, a five-masted warship hitting on rolls of 3 or better, hit nothing but the ocean, even with a reroll that cost Paul a bennie, and his flotilla also whiffed. It wasn't until halfway through his second attack that he finally connected and sent Drew's galley to the bottom.

Richard's ship had gotten its gold home and was looking for something else worth doing. That meant taking a little vengeance against Jake, using the Aberdeen Baron as an attack ship for the first time. Jake had taken a beating from Paul and was looking for a way to get even, and his Bonhomme Richard managed to do some harm to Le Superbe. Mike had mostly finished his repairs and was trying again to get some gold. Zach had also finished his repairs and, ignoring some nearby gold, was making another attempt at hurting Mike. The Cadet-Captain wasn't worried, since he knew the Saratoga had no Captain on board. But the turtles struck first. The island that the Franklin had just explored took a sudden lurch to the northwest (thank you, Jake), crashing into the Saratoga and toppling her rearmost mast overboard. The partly-repaired Franklin and the intact Maryland finished the job, and the Sara sank again. And popped up back at her home island again.

This marked the end of the fighting. Paul won the gold count by a 2-to-1 margin over his nearest competitors. Drew and Richard were tied for second place, Antonio was third with some gold he'd managed to load before Paul got to him, and Mike was a distant fourth. Jake and Zach were shut out, although it is only fair to note that Jake at least tried to load something shiny. It wasn't his fault that the island sank as soon as he touched it.

This might have been our bloodiest battle ever. Consider how the fleets ended up:

Paul's Le Superbe won the Silver Sabre, First Class, for the swath of destruction she cut through four enemy fleets and for helping bring in the winner's share of gold, and his Constitution won the Silver Sabre, 2nd Class, for similar reasons. Mike has decreed that Le Superbe needs to learn how to dive like a submarine, but not learn how to surface again. She has been unstoppable the last three times Paul has used her.

Scribed this day, February Nineteenth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The 2011 Campaign, Part I
Pirates Battle Report

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of a Pirate campaign, the first of the year.
On the 19th of April, two thousand eleven —
Only a few who are now in Heaven
Cannot now remember that day and year.

We began a campaign game last Tuesday. We started with 20-point fleets, and a firm warning from Cadet-Captain Mike that, if we didn't focus on gold, we might be sorry. Midshipman Jake decided that one big ship with deep pockets, the Bonhomme Richard, would be a good gold ship. The other admirals — Bosun Zach, the Dread Pirate Richard, and Paul the Pirate Prince — took Mike literally and showed up with an assortment of swift gold ships. Mike himself took command of his Corsair fleet, and was one of the few to field a three-ship fleet. When Paul saw this, he exclaimed, "Oh, great!" But he says this no matter what Mike uses.

The map was a mix of nearly everything we've tried to date. The main bay was dotted with small islands, two long reefs, and four big islands — Dry Tortuga with its four piratical businesses, Humpback Island that's three islands in one, Sandbar Island with its treacherous shallows, and a new one, Toothbay Harbor Island. This one is shaped like a letter "C" with the only usable beach on the inside. Thus, to land and explore there could leave a ship trapped inside by an enemy.

A scattering of whirlpools led to two smaller seas. One was in the far north, and featured four islands and six icebergs. The other was more equatorial, with six fog banks, two islands, and the ever-popular volcano. Every wild island that had no gold at the end of a turn, with no ships docked there, would get one coin added to it, so the supply of gold would never run dry. This was important because we would be spending that gold on new ships and crew, one gold for one point. The winner, who will be chosen at the end of four months if the schedule runs true, will be the one with the most masts. The Cadet-Captain took multiple primitive photographs of the maps, before and after, to help reconstruct the action.

As the sun rose on the first day of the campaign, every ship headed for the nearest gold-laden island. Zach suffered some misfortune; his two-masted ship lost a mast while transiting the whirlpool to the southern sea, and then was left derelict by lava bombs when the volcano blew its top two turns later. His other ship had to make a detour and tow its fleetmate home, after cleaning out the volcano's island of its gold.

Mike also had whirlpool trouble. The Golden Peacock, one of his favorite Corsairs due to her appearance, tried to follow Zach to the southern sea, and also lost a mast on the way. She picked off the gold from an island there, made a bluff move to scare Zach, then headed home. His other two ships, Dervish and Winds of Vengeance, had already arrived, and the combined gold allowed him to buy a new ship, the first of the campaign. He chose the Tiger's Eye, which is probably the best ship the Corsairs ever built, with a Captain on board.

Richard's ships headed for the Arctic sea, where they found lots of low-value coins, but at least they had better luck with the whirlpools than Mike or Zach did. Paul was content to prowl the main bay, using the Zephyr with an Explorer to probe each island, one of his favorite tactics. Jake did his best with the one ship he'd brought, sailing back and forth between the two nearest islands as they regenerated their coins. But coin collecting was never his favorite hobby, and he was clearly chafing for the moment when he could get down to the serious business of sinking his enemies. Unfortunately, even though he did okay on coin values, he hadn't brought any other ships to buy, so his coin collection sat on his home island.

Mike sent his three gold ships out on another cruise. The Golden Peacock tried a whirlpool to the Arctic and lost a mast again, and the Winds of Vengeance had a very close call. She had just finished cleaning out the southern segment of Humpback Island when the big HMS King Edward came knocking, with a calling card from Paul the Pirate Prince. The "knocking" part meant a hard ram in her fantail that took down one of Mike's masts, and there was never any question whether Paul, now with a two-mast advantage, would board him. But the boarding dice were unkind to Paul; the Corsair crew fought hard and managed a tie. His gold saved, Mike did his victory dance.

Jake was less than thrilled with Mike's dancing. "I wish I didn't see that. Now I'm going to have nightmares."

All this time, the Tiger's Eye was looking for trouble, with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for Paul. The speedy new Corsair caught the little Zephyr and left her derelict, then made a great-circle cruise that took her to Dry Tortuga. There, she tried her luck at the Gold Fields. The rule here was that, on a roll of 4-6, she could examine one coin on a wild island, and keep it if its value was 3 or less. The roll succeeded, but the coin was a 4, so she had to put it back. "Thank you, that's useful information," gloated the skipper of Paul's Bloody Jewel, which was about to explore that island anyway.

Mike got stubborn. If he couldn't claim that coin by luck, he'd try to take it by force. The distance between the ships was small, and the Tiger's Eye had a speed advantage. But Paul had just enough of a head start to get the Bloody Jewel safely home with the loot, heaving a big sigh of relief. That sigh ended a moment later when Mike cashed in some more gold for the Nubian Prince, a ship that Mike loves and everyone else hates very, very much.

Two of his gold ships made the journey to the Arctic, where they gathered some cold gold, and watched from a distance as Paul's Bloody Jewel had an experience that Mike knew all too well. The icebergs took a liking to the ship and began following it around. Unlike Mike, though, Paul was able to stay out of trouble, and Jake's prediction that "the Bloody Jewel is going to get a new coat [of blood]" did not come to pass.

Mike's third gold runner, the Winds of Vengeance, discovered a brand-new kind of bad luck. She coveted the gold on Sandbar Island, but for three straight turns, she hit bottom when she tried to dock. She finally found a deeper approach route and got the gold she wanted, but she was definitely doing it the hard way. As far as Mike can remember, no other ship has ever tried and failed to dock at Sandbar, and he did it three times. His ship stopped at Toothbay Harbor Island on the way home and traded her one-gold coin for a two-gold coin she found on the beach. Zach had planned to land there and claim the coin, but sheered away when he saw Mike's masts in the harbor. Apparently he was afraid of the Corsair's devastating 4S,4S,5S cannons.

Mike now sent his newest fighting ship on a mission of violence toward ... Zach. The Bosun was feeling unfairly persecuted, and said so. Mike was a little bit sorry, but not much; there was no one else nearby and his new ship needed target practice. She took four shots at Zach's newest ship, and did nothing but punch four round holes in Zach's sails. Target practice, indeed! The Bosun shot back, but the range was short, which made all his shots miss. He brought another ship into the battle, and this one managed to score one hit at long range. The Nubian Prince decided to ignore the first ship, which couldn't hit him anyway, and took some more practice on the newcomer, this time with much better luck. Zach had sent a gold ship to rescue the derelict Zephyr, and Mike shot that one up, too. But he stopped after scoring one hit. Apparently, his blood lust was sated for the time being. Zach was allowed to bring his prize safely home.

This marked the end of the night's action. Mike was way ahead on masts, but the others had goodly stacks of gold waiting for the chance to be spent, so his lead will not last for long. Mike is expecting the others to gang up on him, not because he's out in front, but because that's what they always do. Paul has vowed vengeance on Zach for stealing Paul's favorite tiny ship, the Zephyr. No ships won any battle honors tonight, mostly because there was virtually no fighting. On the other hand, the lack of combat and the small fleets meant that the game went very quickly; we played twice as many turns as we usually do.

No one had any mishaps with the icebergs; no one tried his luck with the reefs or the fog banks. The volcano claimed Zach's ship as a victim, but he towed it home for repairs. The whirlpools claimed three or four masts, but none fatally. So even though she had more chances than ever before, Nature was not the winner. In fact, we had no winner, because the battle will be resumed several times before the winner is chosen.

Next month, the southern sea will probably find a giant sea-turtle surfaced and acting like an "island." Aside from that, we'll pick up right where we left off. Are we sure? Yes, we arrrr!

The main game table at the close of the first day's action. Clockwise from the top: Paul's home island, with his Bloody Jewel to the southwest and HMS King Edward to the southeast; Mike's home island, with the four-masted Nubian Prince challenging the King Edward and the two-masted Dervish cleaning out Starfish Island; Zach's home island, with his four ships (including the stolen Zephyr) all nearby; Richard's home island, minus his ships, which are far away in the southern sea; and Jake's home island with a neat stack of coins, with his big Bonhomme Richard making her lonely way between wild islands. The four big islands in the center are Humpback Island at the top, Toothbay Harbor Island (shaped like a backwards "C") on the right, Dry Tortuga (divided into quarters) on the left, and Sandbar Island (surrounded by whitecaps) at bottom. An assortment of wild islands, reefs, and whirlpools dots the bay.

Scribed this day, April Twenty-Fifth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The 2011 Campaign, Part II
Pirates Battle Report


The next round of our campaign game began exactly where the previous round had left off, with one important difference: Almirante Antonio joined us. He was allocated points to start his fleet, based on the average gold take of each of the other admirals, so we all started on an equal footing. The only change in the maps was that, in the southern sea, the two normal islands had been replaced with giant-turtle islands that would not move, only submerge and surface, based on random dice rolls. (Mike had planned to use turtles the whole time; he just forgot.)

As before, the action began with a mad rush for gold. But this time, because our fleets were a lot bigger than before, the possibility of action was there from the beginning. Cadet-Captain Mike and Paul the Pirate Prince nearly came to blows over an insignificant little islet, but Mike sheered off to look for fun elsewhere. He didn't have to wait long.

Away in the southern sea, Mike's galley, the Winds of Vengeance, had filled her holds and was headed home. Her crew were bracing themselves for entering the whirlpool, when another ship suddenly emerged out of it! It was Bosun Zach's Glaive, and Mike was not totally astonished when she opened fire. The astonishing part was the accuracy, which turned Mike's ship into a derelict in one turn. His galley slaves ran out the sweeps and hauled her into the safety of a nearby fog bank.

Robbed of his target, Zach decided to pillage a nearby island while he was in the neighborhood. The island turned out to be a giant turtle, and the footsteps of Zach's crew on its shell tickled it. The entire "island" suddenly dipped beneath the waves, taking its treasure with it; Zach's crew dashed for their boats and narrowly avoided drowning.

That was the least of his worries, though. His unprovoked attack had gotten Mike's dandruff up — I mean his dander up. What is dander, you ask? Well, if you're next-door neighbors with a Cadet-Captain who is angry at you, it's a bad thing. Mike sent his two new fighting galleys, the Janissaries' Blood and the much-hated Nubian Prince, on an intercept course with the rest of Bosun Zach's fleet, which was headed for the whirlpool located between them. "What are you doing?" Zach asked. Let's be honest — that was a silly question.

The cannons of most Corsair galleys are not great, but Mike had a lot of them. It took him one turn to blast Zach's own Winds of Vengeance out of existence and deal some damage to El Toro, the giant crab. Then Zach's fleet plunged into the whirlpool and vanished from view. Mike's warships took up a blockading position and waited for them to return.

Zach's exact intentions were unknown. His fleet gathered in the southern sea, and quickly met more trouble, with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for Paul. His Bonhomme Richard waded into the Bosun's fleet and they mingled like fish in a barrel, blasting each other's masts off left and right. When the smoke cleared, the Bonhomme was derelict, the Zephyr likewise (for the second time so far in this campaign), and Zach's fleet was hurting across the board, with El Toro down to one claw. Mike tried to stick his nose into the battle, bumping and boarding Zach's HMS Hound with his derelict Winds of Vengeance in hopes of killing Zach's Captain, but all he did was add a fifth damaged ship to the mess.

All this time, Antonio, Richard and Jake were shuttling back and forth between the nearest wild islands and their home isles, slowly adding to their treasure hoards but not taking any risks. Paul was mostly doing the same, aside from the Bonhomme Richard's ill-fated southern cruise. And Mike's fleet was roaming all over the map, with multiple cruises to the northern sea as well as the main map. His galleys failed their whirlpool rolls almost every single time, which cost him many a mast, but he had confidence that his oars would get him home, and his bank balance was soon overflowing. His fleet was up to eight ships by the end of the battle, twice as big as anyone else's.

That was the extent of the action. The only shooting was Zach against Mike, Mike against Zach, and Paul against Zach (are you seeing a pattern here?). The name of the game was gold all the way, and whoever was getting the most of it was probably going to win. Right now, the winner's cup seems to have Cadet-Captain Mike's name on it. Jake and Paul are stocking up on big fighting ships instead of gold runners, Richard and Antonio don't seem to be getting much value out of the coins they've found, and Zach has distracted himself with battling his neighbors.

Scribed this day, May Nineteenth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The 2011 Campaign, Part III
Pirates Battle Report


Round 3 of our Pirates campaign began pretty much where Round 2 left off — with Bosun Zach and Paul the Pirate Prince sorting out the remains of their battle in the southern sea, Cadet-Captain Mike running all over the map and adding new ships in a steady flow, and the Dread Pirate Richard and Midshipman Jake staying close to home and playing it safe. Almirante Antonio decided not to honor us with his presence tonight. Mike made his opinion of this very clear when he pointed out to the others that, if anyone had a ship that could rob enemy home islands, Antonio's island was unguarded. No one took him up on his kind offer.

There was no fighting to speak of in this round of the campaign. Mike gave up his blockade of Zach's home island to cover some of his other ships, especially when Paul and Jake took note of his growing fleet and began making alliance noises. Zach pantomimed a handshake toward Mike, which meant he wanted an alliance, but Mike turned him down flat. His sense of honor did not permit him to make deals with people who just finished attacking him. But he did make a non-aggression deal with Richard, which made Richard quite happy.

But that wasn't the pinnacle of Richard's happiness. That happened the previous turn, when he finally brought enough gold home to buy the ship he really wanted — the Zeus! He'd acquired it for his collection the previous week and was dying to see what it could do for him. The only thing the Zeus fears is ships that can't be shot within S range, and Mike had two of them in his fleet, the Nubian Prince and the Desert Wind. The big ship, and the deal that kept her safe from Mike, was a wonderful combination for the Dread Pirate. His fleet is up to four ships, mostly gold-grabbers, and he is keeping a very low profile.

Zach, meanwhile, was working out arrangements with Paul to rescue the various damaged ships from the southern sea. Paul sent one of his other ships to tow the Bonhomme Richard home, and Zach agreed (after a quick detour for gold at the foot of the volcano) to tow the Zephyr back to Paul's part of the sea and cast her adrift for Paul to recover. We'll see if he really does it. His fleet's growth has stalled; he has two 2-masters and a wounded crab, and he is the only player so far to see one of his ships sunk.

Jake continued to shuttle his ships back and forth from the nearest of the wild islands to his home, bringing in bits and bobs of gold here and there, and slowly adding to his strength. His fleet has grown from one ship at the start to three, all big fighting ships except for the Aberdeen Baron, which is a big not-fighting ship. He and Paul are considering an alliance.

Paul is bringing in plenty of gold, and focusing on fighting power when he spends it. He's up to six ships if you count the Zephyr, and three of them are five-masters. He is getting somewhat nervous about the burgeoning size of the Cadet-Captain's fleet, whose home port is very near his own home island. There may be a showdown soon.

Oh, yes, Mike's fleet. He is up to 13 ships, the biggest fleet we've ever seen in our battles, ranging from the tiny Carthage to three speedy four-masters with fighting crew. His home island is getting so crowded that several returning ships have had to wait their turn to dock. His gold ships have made many cruises to the northern sea, dodging the icebergs and bringing back much gold with no competition at all. It is only fair to mention that everyone else is rooting for the icebergs, but so far, there have been no hits.

When we began this campaign, the original intent was to play for four rounds, one round a month, and then proclaim a winner. But the majority of the admirals are apparently in favor of going longer, yes indeed they arrrr. So this longest of all Pirate battles may keep running for quite some time.

Scribed this day, June Twenty-Fifth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The 2011 Campaign, Part IV
Pirates Battle Report


We fought Round 4 of our campaign game last Tuesday night. To celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day (which happened over a week before this battle), each of the usual five villains got 20 points to spend only on ships, in addition to all the ships and crew we had accumulated in the previous three rounds.

To speed things up, we moved simultaneously, rather than take turns and wait for each player to finish. We used our plus-sized measurement cards to open up the game, both in movement and in battle range. Everyone sent their burgeoning fleets out in search of gold; most of them found bits and pieces here and there, without much excitement. The only gold-hunter who had anything interesting happen was Bosun Zach. He used our trade-in rule (scrap a ship at your home island to reclaim half its cost) to get some value out of his badly-wounded El Toro, added Shal-Bala to his fleet with his TLAPD bonus, and then saw his new sea dragon's tail blown off by an exploding volcano in the southern sea.

Cadet-Captain Mike kept warning Paul the Pirate Prince, "You may want to delay moving until after I've moved, in case you want to respond to something I did." The first time he said this, two of his Corsair gunships had lunged toward Paul's ships, but did not attack. The second time, Mike had backed off and was closing in on two of the three sectors of Humpback Island (he likes gold, too). Paul now assumed that he was bluffing. But the third time, he couldn't hold back any longer, and attacked.

The battle lasted two rounds. Actually, it lasted one and a half rounds, because after being attacked twice, Paul didn't have much left to shoot back with. Mike missed most of his shots at the outset, in spite of a concentration of 2-rank and 3-rank cannons, but kept pounding away with many, many cannons until he got a few hits. The first to fall was the OE Constitution, which Paul was using as a gold ship, and which went from five masts to no masts in record time. The Fire Djinn then added insult to injury by S-boarding the derelict hulk and stealing her lone coin.

Mike's next victim was the hated Le Superbe, which has bested him on several occasions and which he had marked for death early in the game. The big Frenchman lost three masts, all courtesy of the French-hating Meshud. Le Bonne Chance also took some damage in an exchange with the Wicked Kareen. Jake looked on in dismay at the carnage, afraid to intervene, while the others were too far away to take part even if they wanted to.

Paul was not afraid to shoot back, but he ran into two problems. Those problems were the Nubian Prince, which could not be shot at close range, and the Desert Wind, with the same ability. Paul knew about the Nubian Prince but forgot; the Desert Wind was an unpleasant surprise. After wasting several good shots on the unhittable pair, he settled for knocking two masts off Mike's flagship, the Janissaries' Blood, and leaving the Meshud derelict as payback for its shooting 3-for-3 against Le Superbe.

Cadet-Captain Mike had to retaliate for this, using his favorite justification: "He started it! He hit me back first." The above-named Corsairs continued their triple-pronged attack, with better luck this time, and with results most dire for the Pirate Prince. Le Superbe and Le Bonne Chance lost the rest of their masts (but, like the Constitution, were not sunk, thanks to Mike's unusual sense of honor). When the Bonhomme Richard tried to intervene, she lost three masts as well. Thus, after two rounds of battle, three of Paul's nine ships had become helpless derelicts, and a fourth was heavily damaged. Mike had one derelict and one damaged ship, and the derelict would have no difficulty rowing home.

Paul had some more ships nearby that could have inflicted more hurt on his enemy. But he could plainly see that Mike's battle fleet was nearly intact, with two squadrons of Pirate reinforcements closing in fast (the White Rose and Sea Nymph from the south, the Royal James, Longshanks, and Dragon from the west). So he wisely focused on taking as many derelicts in tow as he could. He got lucky - the sun set on the battle before Mike could do any more damage. Paul's derelicts would make it safely home, and would even rejoin the battle after lengthy repairs.

Meanwhile, Mike's gold ships had been doing their usual routine, which meant sailing to other seas via whirlpools, losing masts every time they tried, but rounding up enough gold to pay for several more ships and crew. His fleet is now more than twice as big as his two closest competitors (Paul and Richard) combined. The other admirals are enthusiastically rooting for the icebergs that are seemingly pursuing Mike's gold ships, but so far, he has been able to dodge them.

What next? Paul is out of the fighting for at least six turns due to battle damage, but he has a handful of speedy gold ships that can still enrich him. Zach still has not recovered from the spanking Mike gave him at the start of the campaign. Jake's and Richard's fleets are slowly growing, with an emphasis on fighting power. Mike has a non-aggression deal with Richard, so the smart money is on a confrontation between Mike and Jake. The only way the Cadet-Captain can lose is if multiple players gang up on him, but so far, no one has made any attempt at forming alliances.

Scribed this day, September Twenty-Fourth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The 2011 Campaign, Part V
Pirates Battle Report


The piratical campaign continues! And our numbers continue to dwindle. Bosun Zach did not join us tonight; he stayed home so his aunt, the pirate formerly known as the Fire Blossom, would have some company while she rested a recently sprained ankle. (My mind still boggles that his aunt is younger than he is, but that's how their family worked it out.) That left four of us to fight over the gold that was scattered across a variety of wild islands.

This was our second night of using what I call the "Homeward Bound Rule." Rather than trying to reconstruct the entire battlefield from month to month, we just put all the islands and terrain where they belong, using a hand-drawn map. (Mike had trouble with his own map notations this time; Paul had to remind him that "RfRf" didn't mean "arf arf," but showed two Reefs put together.) Our ships don't return to where they were at the close of hostilities; recording the names, locations, and facings of all 40+ ships on the battlefield just isn't feasible. Instead, they all begin at "L" distance from their own home islands, facing inwards. This simplifies the game's set-up, and vastly simplifies the end-game record keeping. A hand-written list reminds us of each ship's crew, cargo, and battle damage.

The Homeward Bound Rule was also a huge benefit to Paul the Pirate Prince tonight. Our last encounter ended with half of Paul's fleet derelict or badly damaged, courtesy of Cadet-Captain Mike's angry Corsairs. Thanks to the Rule, his derelicts were just a turn or two away from home and repairs, which got him back into the game much faster than he could have managed otherwise.

Mike, too, benefited from the Rule. He hadn't taken much damage from the battle with Paul — one three-masted derelict and a four-master down to two masts — but his gold ships had taken a beating from the whirlpools they used for jumping among the three gaming tables that constitute our battle zone. When the curtain went up on the action, all his ships were ready to dash home for repairs, or to turn and grab some more action if they were intact. His biggest problem was that he didn't have room for all his damaged galleys at once; some had to wait their turn for a shot at his home island.

Midshipman Jake and the Dread Pirate Richard had no such worries — they had not been in any battles at all during the entire campaign. Their problems stemmed from their lack of gold, which kept their fleets considerably smaller than Paul's, never mind Mike's. Their tactics consisted mostly of shuttling back and forth between pairs of wild islands, collecting a coin each time an island's treasure got refreshed (at the end of each game turn, we put one coin on every wild island that has no treasure and no ships docked at it), and running home to unload as soon as each ship was full. Richard had played this game slightly better than Jake, and his fleet was somewhat bigger (including the Zeus, which was much bigger).

When the action started, Mike sent gold ships to both the northern and southern seas, as well as the nearby islands in the main battle zone. In the north, he went unchallenged, probably because the others were afraid of the icebergs there. Richard sent a treasure ship, the San Pedro, to the southern sea, where it encountered some bad luck. He had just docked at a giant-turtle island when the nearby volcano blew its top, and a flying chunk of lava wrecked his mizzenmast. Perhaps startled by the eruption, the giant turtle then submerged, but Richard's crew moved fast and were able to load its gold before it sank below the waves. Mike's Algiers scraped the gold off another huge turtle's shell; when it dipped underwater to talk to its friend, he sailed right over it to the now-harmless volcano and added some more shiny things to the collection in his cargo holds.

The highlight of the early action on Jake's side was when he scrapped his Aberdeen Baron for her gold value. Paul was focused on towing his wrecked fighting ships home and getting them back into fighting trim, but he did not neglect the gathering of treasure. His Bloody Jewel played the back-and-forth game just like Jake and Richard, and had some good luck with medium-valued coins. His HMS Clear Wind also took a turn at gold-running, and that's when the fun began.

Paul's ship set her eye on one of the treasure zones of Humpback Island, whose hills divide it into three separate areas, each of which is considered a separate wild island. The problem was that Mike's piratical galley Dragon had also set her eye on that part of Humpback. The galley actually got there first, but Paul had already explored Humpback, so his junk was able to swoop in and grab the gold out from under Mike's nose.

Was Mike pleased with this? Not on your life. "That... was... my... treasure," he growled in the slow, measured voice that means someone is about to die. (He hates it when someone else tries to take what he rightfully stole, or wanted to rightfully steal.) The Dragon was not a good choice to pick on the bigger Clear Wind, but she was not alone. Like a child on the playground calling a bigger friend for help in a fight, she raised signal flags that brought in the even bigger Fire Djinn. That angry red ship pulled within S of Paul's gold ship and sent across a boarding party in boats. The boarding action that followed was quite one-sided, and when Mike's crew rowed back to the Fire Djinn, they brought with them the gold that they were fighting over. "I'll call it even if you don't attack me," Mike suggested, and Paul nodded eagerly — the last thing he wanted at this time was another clash with Mike's galleys, especially the angry red ones. The Dragon continued poking around Humpback Island, now unmolested, until she was full of treasure.

Meanwhile, Richard was looking for ways to bring in some more gold, and he decided to send the Zeus, with her huge cargo holds, through a whirlpool to another sea. The monstrous junk nearly dwarfed the whirlpool, but she still took damage to a mast on the way through. Richard tried to position the Zeus entirely within the whirlpool, but was frustrated... until he hit upon the idea of standing her on end! Incredibly, her poop deck and twin rear masts held her upright, and there she stood, accompanied by much laughter. (Both Mike and Jake pulled out their cell phones to photograph the ridiculous sight. Jake's photo came out better because he caught the Cadet-Captain making faces in the background.)

The mighty Zeus does a tailstand.

Mike wound up sending three ships — Winds of Vengeance, Griffin, and Tiger's Eye — to the northern sea, with its four wild islands and six icebergs. Every turn, one of those icebergs would shift positions, and every turn, three admirals hoped and prayed that one of the giant ice cubes would bump into something that belonged to Mike. They were destined for disappointment, although the Griffin had one close call. What amazed Mike was that all his ships transited the whirlpools without taking any damage, a huge change from the past few gaming sessions, when his galleys would lose a mast almost as soon as they sighted a whirlpool.

The bulk of Mike's ships, however, stayed in the main sea and sailed clear across it; destination: Jake. He hadn't decided for sure if he was going to pick on the Midshipman or just scare him. But Jake made an ill-timed comment on Mike's lack of hair, and that settled it. His fleet descended on Jake's HMS Royal like a pack of wolves, led by his Pirates but with a couple of galleys in support. Jake looked around for allies, but there were none to be found; Zach wasn't there, Paul still had ships under repair, and Richard wanted no part of that action because he feared what Mike's Nubian Prince and Desert Wind could do to his Zeus. Jake braced himself for the worst.

At first, the "worst" seemed cursed. Mike's four-masted Pirate schooner, the White Rose, led the attack, and her four cannons made four lovely splashes in the sea near Jake's flagship. "Guess which Pirate ship I'm never going to use again," he growled; Paul cheered (from a safe distance). The Sea Nymph, one of Mike's favorites, followed suit, and got one hit out of three tries. Then it was the dark Royal James' turn, and her one hit also took out the Royal's captain. Finally, the Barbary Corsairs got frustrated with all this Pirate incompetence; the Nubian Prince weighed in and blasted the Royal's remaining two masts. Mike stopped shooting there, leaving the big Englishman derelict.

What did Jake do in response? Did he bring up his remaining gunships, which were already concentrated nearby, and start a pitched battle in his own home territory? Did he scoot his ships for the safety of his home island? No, he sent his entire battle squadron plunging into the nearest whirlpool. Mike had no complaint about this, since it cost both the Bonhomme Richard and HMS Nautilus a mast each, without any effort on his part. They all reappeared in the southern sea, emerging from their destination whirlpool just a few minutes after Richard's Zeus got there. Mike's Algiers decided that the southern sea was getting too warm for his liking, and turned for the other whirlpool and home. She snarfed one more coin off a turtle's back on the way by, though.

Now that Jake was safely out of the way, the Cadet-Captain put the second part of his plan into effect. The White Rose might have been terribly unlucky at her first attempt at gunnery, but she had a second talent, robbing enemy home islands. And Jake had a small stack of coins on his home island, just begging to be stolen. He considered spending his money on crew so Mike couldn't swipe it, but apparently decided against it. So the White Rose stole a coin. "I do not like you," Jake growled. Mike's big schooner left Jake's island on the next turn... and immediately did a 180, came back, and stole another coin. "I really do not like you," Jake growled.

While all this was taking place, Mike had finished fixing his favorite gold galley, the Golden Peacock, and sent her into a nearby whirlpool. She retained her perfect record, losing a mast on her way in. Her original destination was the northern sea, but Mike already had three ships there, and the southern sea held a lot more hostile ships than coins. So he decided to pick on the only admiral he hadn't picked on yet. The Peacock popped out of a whirlpool near Richard's home island, and ran at full speed for a nearby wild island that was one of the Dread Pirate's favorite gold spots.

"See, he's stealing your gold," gloated Jake with an I-told-you-so air. Mike picked up the island, looked underneath it, and announced to Richard, "Oddly enough, I don't see your name on it." This was the exact opposite from the logic he used on Paul during the Humpback Island controversy, but that kind of hypocrisy comes easily to pirates once they smell gold. His colorful galley picked up two more coins in Richard's back yard, and although the Dread Pirate sent his Neptune's Hoard to keep an eye on the situation, he did not attack.

The sun went down on the action at this point. This was a huge benefit to Mike; the Homeward Bound Rule will bring his many far-flung gold ships to within spitting distance of home by the time we meet again. On the other hand, the Rule will hurt Paul this time, because he had just finished laboriously setting up a chain of ships touching each other, so he could load a coin at one end of the chain and pass it all the way home in one turn. Now his chain is broken and he'll have to start all over. Richard and Jake will break even on the deal, neither better nor worse for the change. Zach, by not being here, is also neither better nor worse off.

Mike's fleet is still bigger than any two of his competitors combined, and he found a lot of gold tonight to expand even further. Paul is growing his fleet at a reasonable pace; his losing battle with Mike last time was only a temporary setback, and he is probably in second place in terms of mast count. Richard is also growing; he put two ships' worth of points into getting the Zeus, so he has fewer hulls than Paul, but his fleet looks just as impressive when viewed at sea level. Jake is growing more slowly (as is Zach), although near the end of the battle, Jake concluded a trade with Paul that added the awesome HMS Grand Temple to his collection of English gunships. Mike has now attacked everyone except Richard, with whom he still has a non-aggression treaty, so no one can guess what his next move will be, not even him. The others seem content to play the back-and-forth gold game and add a ship or two with every battle session.

As an aside, we have collected a set of coins that we award to each other for special circumstances. These coins include:

  • the No Cash Value coin, for someone who went to great lengths to grab a treasure coin and then found out it was just a 1
  • the Big Y coin (from a nearby store), for doing something so mind-bogglingly stupid that everyone else asks, "Y did you do that?"
  • the Lucky Horseshoe coin and the Lucky Wooden Nickel coin, as recognition for amazing good luck with the dice
  • the Guardian Angel coin, given to someone as a declaration of war ("You're going to need this")

Scribed this day, November Ninth,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The 2011 Campaign, Part VI
Pirates Battle Report

. Something was clearly wrong as the sun rose on the latest round in our Pirates campaign. As the other four admirals organized their fleets, there was a conspicuous lack of anything around Mike's home island. Seeing how he had 18 ships last time, the sudden drop to zero ships drew attention and comments. He explained that he'd been too busy setting up the game to get his own fleet ready. He retired to the area outside the game room so he could search his storage boxes for the ships he wanted (and so no one else could see what he was doing). Because he was winning by such a large margin, he said he didn't mind missing a turn or two.

The others didn't mind, either. Paul, Richard, Jake, and Zach happily went about their business, which mostly meant scrounging bits of gold from nearby wild islands, and getting a feel for how their newly-acquired ships and crew worked. Paul, Jake, and Richard took turns with the "No Cash Value" coin, indicating that each of them had just loaded a coin that wasn't worth the effort. Jake also towed his crippled HMS Royal home and began repairing the damage Mike had inflicted last time. Nobody was threatening anybody else; all was peaceful. Until ...

Near the end of the second turn, the orchestra began playing a low-pitched minor-key march. "Dom dom dom dom da-dom dom da-dom." That's when Mike unveiled his fleet — a Star Wars Imperial battle fleet! Eight TIE fighters of various kinds escorted a shuttle, an Imperial lander, the Nebulon-B frigate Harasser, and the monstrous star destroyer Devastator out of a wormhole in space, to appear right next to Mike Island. Zach, Richard, and Paul screamed one after the other in surprize and fear, which was quite comical in effect; Jake didn't make a sound, but his eyes goggled anyway.

Mike's ships came from Pirates' sister game, Star Wars PocketModels. Mike had made up some simple crossover rules in his head during his commute home that day. The Star Wars ships would move and shoot according to our home-made Star Wars rules; a Pirate ship's Defense was its mast count plus five, or 11 for anything with more than 5 masts. Pirate ships would shoot at Star Wars ships using Pirates rules. He had made no attempt at matching stars to points or otherwise choosing a fair fleet; he just picked some ships that looked interesting.

The Cadet-Captain's intentions were obvious; Star Wars ships don't gather gold. Just to make sure there were no misunderstandings, he slapped a Guardian Angel coin down in front of Paul. "You're going to need this." Paul, whose fleet was scattered and unprepared for pitched battle, promptly began begging for help in a panicky and very undignified way. Remarkably, all three of the other admirals dropped everything and set an intercept course for Mike's fleet. Well, they almost dropped everything; one of Zach's ships stopped for gold on the way over. First things first, you know.

Mike divided his fleet; half took on Paul on the right and half cruised toward the center, to take on whoever else got there. The first shots were fired by a squadron of TIE fighters led by Darth Vader himself; they tore four of the masts off Paul's USS Constitution in strafing runs. Paul's ship ran for it, covered by the approach of Le Superbe, but the big Frenchman quickly joined the big American in running for home with one mast left. Vader almost grinned as he intoned, "I find your lack of masts encouraging."

By this time, Richard's fleet was almost in range of the other half of Mike's fleet. When I say "Richard's fleet," I mostly mean the Zeus, although the Neptune's Hoard was closing fast to support her flagship. The Zeus paused to take a Shipwright aboard from another ship and do one repair, a fateful decision. Then she squared off to meet four TIE fighters, an Imperial shuttle, and the Harasser. Jake's fleet was making its way slowly across the bay, growing more concentrated with each passing turn, but it was clear that the Pirate Prince and the Dread Pirate would bear the brunt of the action.

Meanwhile, Zach almost flew his sea dragon into the rear of Mike's fleet, until reminded that he couldn't move and shoot in the same turn. So he sent Shal-Bala to the northern sea instead, for reasons that no one quite understood. Our puzzlement turned to gentle laughter at Zach's reaction when we reminded him that icebergs can move. The gentle laughter turned to howls when the nearest berg lunged toward him like a big frozen guided missile. It came up short by about an inch, but Zach had had enough of the arctic. The dragon high-tailed it out of there (which was hard, seeing how it had no tail) and took up residence on a giant turtle island in the southern sea, just out of range of the volcano that had de-tailed it last time.

Now the Zeus went into battle, for the first time since Richard had acquired her. Evidently, the big junk's gunners were eager for action. Their first set of shots was deadly; three TIE fighters folded up and exploded (Zach's HMS Hound damaged the fourth), and the shuttle ST-007 took damage as well. The Neptune's Hoard weighed in for a follow-up attack on the shuttle which inflicted only one hit. Zach's Glaive didn't fight, but hid in the Zeus's shadow and snagged a coin from Toothbay Harbor Island; first things first, you know. Mike decided that his star destroyer, which had not yet committed to one foe or another, would have to face Richard, and leave the battle with Paul to Vader's squadron and the Imperial lander.

That battle was now turning against Mike. Paul's fleet is long on firepower, and once he got several ships together, they began landing hits that the fragile TIE fighters couldn't afford to take. Paul's brand-new HMS Grand Temple led the charge (tonight was a good night for large junks, apparently), supported by HMS Clear Wind, Le Bonne Chance, Julius Caesar, and Ghost Walker. In the fierce exchange that followed, the Clear Wind went clear to the bottom (the first ship Mike has actually sunk since the first session of our pirate campaign), the Ghost Walker lost all her masts, the Grand Temple took some damage, and all five ships in Mike's right-hand fleet were hammered into space dust by cast-iron cannonballs. Vader's TIE-Advanced fighter was the last to go, screaming "No-o-o-o!" until he splashed into the sea.

The Devastator took a well-aimed parting shot as she turned to face Richard, and blew the Grand Temple into matchwood. Or did she? Paul had the foresight to put himself on the Temple, and one of his abilities is Eternal. The six-masted junk reappeared at her home island and commenced repairs, right next to the Constitution and Le Superbe. The Julius Caesar took the dismasted Ghost Walker under tow, and Le Bonne Chance fell back to cover the Bloody Jewel, which was still acquiring gold here and there, and which the Devastator had shot at and missed with her secondary guns.

In a fit of mindless generosity, the Cadet-Captain has used his computer to turn each of us into named crew, with our choice of abilities and an appropriate point cost. Paul the Pirate Prince, for example, has Captain, Eternal, and +1 against the USA, along with Loyal and Hostile keywords, for six points. Mike's own crew is an American Captain/SAT combo. Jake combines Captain and Shipwright, Zach chose Captain and Explorer, and Richard has a "one coin worth +2" and "one extra cargo space" combo. Mike is the only one not using his own crew in this campaign, because he isn't using his beloved Americans.

As an aside, when the Clear Wind sank, she took one coin down with her. Since the winner gets the odd-numbered coin when a ship sinks, Mike's Imperials achieved something no Star Wars unit had ever done before: they collected a treasure coin. This was the only gold Mike found all night.

In the center, Richard's big Zeus was ruling the roost by virtue of her many cannons, even though her luck had gone sour. Mike's fleet had shot poorly; the Harasser didn't score a single hit in the entire battle. Richard dispatched the frigate and the shuttle on the following turn, scoring more misses than hits, and taking only two hits in return. Mike's fleet was suddenly looking very sparse.

He turned that around when he remembered that the Devastator has the Carrier keyword, which (according to our rules) lets her bring in 0-2 stars' worth of ships, depending on a die roll. He rolled lucky, and the star destroyer launched a pair of TIE fighters to join their damaged comrade. They gave the Devastator some much-needed moral support against the Zeus, which somehow looked even bigger than the star destroyer. But with the junk's high Defense rating and the Dev's poor Offense, it didn't look good for the Empire. "I'd just like to go out with a bang," Mike lamented.

Bang! He rolled two sixes for a lucky and deadly hit on the Zeus, stripping off six masts at once. The Zeus decided she'd had enough fun for one night and turned to run for home, yelping, with only one mast left. If she hadn't taken a turn before the battle to repair damage with her Shipwright, it would have been all over for her. The Devastator's secondary shot hit the Neptune's Hoard and sent her down to join Neptune. Jake's fleet was still a couple of turns away, and for now, Mike owned that part of the ocean. He awarded himself the Lucky Wooden Nickel coin for his good shooting.

He was abruptly challenged by — the Glaive? What was Zach thinking, sending a two-masted schooner alone against the equivalent of a six-master with three small ships in support? Everyone wondered this, and Paul actually asked him why he was doing it. Zach's answer was "I'm protecting Richard." This was certainly brave and noble, but it made as much sense as using a pillow for protection against a Gatling gun, so Mike slapped the Big Y coin on him, for making us ask "Why?" And there was much rejoicing. Then Mike threw down the other Guardian Angel coin, the Empire opened fire... and they shot just like stormtroopers. One TIE fighter got a glancing hit that took one mast down; that's all they could do. But it was enough. The Glaive joined the Zeus in running away with one mast left, while the ship's band took up a chorus of "Brave Sir Robin Ran Away."

Mike had gotten the "bang" he wanted, and he was feeling very good about that. But he knew his days were numbered; Jake's battle fleet had arrived, bolstered by Richard's brand-new USS Concordia. The Devastator tried twice to launch more TIE fighters, and failed both times. In desperation, Mike did a repeat of what Zach had tried — he sent his three remaining TIE fighters to hold off Jake's entire fleet. Like Zach's ship, they never had a chance. Actually, Jake never had much of a chance at them, either. Richard attacked first, he got his luck back, and his Concordia blew two fighters in half and damaged the third. Jake's HMS Royal finished it off, taking one hit in return.

While all this was going on, Richard's La Resolucion had dropped through a whirlpool into the northern sea, losing her foremast in the effort. Zach's HMS Hound had been on a course for a distant wild island, but Jake firmly warned him off — "That's my island" — so the Hound turned tail and joined La Reso in northern waters. The two ships got into a race; they agreed that whoever got across the halfway point in the northern sea first would be the winner. No one said what the prize for winning would be. In fact, both of them gave up prizes by racing; if they had gone for the gold instead, they would have found some high-numbered coins, as the post-game examination revealed. As it was, the battle ended before either of them won, although Zach seemed to be in the lead.

While Jake considered his next move, Paul wasn't waiting for help. His freshly-repaired Le Superbe joined the intact Le Bonne Chance in a devastating attack on the Devastator, the Empire's last ship. The two Frenchmen shot eight for eight and reduced the big star destroyer to a leaking hulk on the verge of destruction.

And that was how this bizarre battle ended. Mike really didn't expect to survive, given the odds against him, and if the battle had gone on for one more turn, that would have been the end of him. Because this wasn't a "real Pirate battle," he announced at the end that all ship damage and sinkings never really happened, and everyone would start the next round of our campaign with their fleets intact. Everyone picked up some more gold to spend, so it wasn't a wasted evening by anyone's standard. And it was certainly fun.

It was interesting to see how the four other admirals responded to the need to gang up on the Imperial intruders. Except for one of Richard's ships joining Jake's fleet, and Zach's suicidal stand with the Glaive, they didn't cooperate at all. They went into battle separately, they didn't coordinate their plans, and they essentially fought three separate battles instead of one big one. Paul can be forgiven for this; he was under immediate attack and couldn't wait for help to arrive. The others still have a thing or two to learn about cooperation. Mike will probably take advantage of this in the near future.

He has enough gold saved up to buy a battle fleet that could take on Paul all by itself, leaving his existing ships free to gather treasure and fight the others. So his sailing fleet will die a lot harder than the Empire did, even if the others do get their act together. Paul is clearly in second place; Jacob and Richard are close to each other but well behind Paul. They all need to get a lot of gold, especially Zach. They all took damage from Mike this time, so they may be a bit more inclined to cooperate next time.

Richard's Zeus and Paul's Le Superbe both earned the Bronze Sabre, 1st Class, for their heroism and gunnery against a frightening adversary; Richard's USS Concordia got the Bronze Sabre, 2nd Class. Mike's Devastator would have received the 2nd Class as well, but Imperial ships can't receive pirate medals; too bad. Paul's Bloody Jewel was long overdue for the Order of the Buccaneer, 1st Class, for all the gold she has brought in. Without her contribution, Paul's powerful battle fleet would be about half its size. Several of Mike's ships also deserve awards, but none of them were here tonight, so they'll have to wait for the next round of battle to receive their medals.

One other detail is worth noting. Zach is distressed that his sea dragon lost its tail to a volcano a few battles ago. Mike suggested that, if he took it home and allowed Paul's Ghost Walker to cancel the sea-dragon ability, he could then do a repair action. Zach seemed interested, but Paul was extremely intrigued at the thought. The Ghost Walker would have to pass through Mike's waters to get to Zachary Island and back, but Mike being who he is, he'll probably allow it under a flag of truce.

Oh, and Paul? Your "Paul" crewman has the Loyal: Pirates and Hostile: England abilities, so what was he doing on HMS Grand Temple? We'll let tonight's results stand, but you'll have to change something before the next session.

Scribed this day, December Seventh,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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