Cadet-Captain Mike's Guide to Basic Piracy
How to pick a good ship or crew? You might consider how you plan to use them. You can just sail out to an island, load gold, and sail back. Or you can use your ships to best advantage, with maneuvers that make your enemy's jaw drop in awe even as his ships gurgle to the bottom of the sea. Well, maybe that's a bit melodramatic. But there are a few moves you can try, if your ships support them, that can change the course of a game.
Part 6: Ships and Maneuvers
- The Bogus Bandit: if you have a ship that can dock at an enemy home island and load a treasure, let the enemy know this. Move your ship toward his home island, and watch him pull his fighting ship(s) back to defend against you - he won't dare ignore you. But you never meant to go near the place; your goal was to pull his fighters out of position. Since your own ships stayed on course, you've gained a turn or two to grab gold unmolested, or savage his gold ships, while his fighters react to your feint and then try to get back into the battle. Your "robber" can pick up some doubloons from a wild island, just so it wasn't a wasted trip. If he doesn't react to your robber, then go ahead and rob his home island; it's morally wrong to allow such a scabrous blighter to keep his money.
- The Cash-Box Caper: you'll need a ship or crew that gives one gold coin +1 or +2 to its value when you bring it home (a "gold-plus" ship). Load this ship with only one treasure and sail her home; gather most of the gold with other ships. Bring a loaded gold ship near home so its bow touches your gold-plus ship. Each turn, transfer one and only one treasure to the gold-plus, which immediately unloads it and raises its value. Thus, you get the gold-value bonus on every coin, instead of just one per load. If an enemy tries to break up this good thing, dock the gold ship at your home island for safety; you'll lose the bonus for its remaining gold, but you'll save the ship. Running up the value of one boatload of gold may well give you the game.
- The Decoy Derelict: it's tempting to finish off an enemy ship once you've knocked down all its masts. But if it's a worthwhile ship, it might be worth more to you alive. Sail away, and see if the enemy moves another ship to tow the derelict home for repairs. If the odds look good, your fighter can turn and blast that ship as well. If the odds look bad, find greener pastures. If the enemy wants to keep a good ship tied down to towing at S speed, let him; that's one ship that won't be bothering you for quite a while.
- The Dirty Rat: this happens when two gold-running ships are racing for the same wild island. If yours has an Explorer and the other ship doesn't, you can let the other ship get to the island first and get his hopes up. Then your ship docks and loads the gold in one turn, leaving the enemy with nothing but dashed hopes, and maybe a 1-gold coin if you couldn't carry it all. This doesn't change the outcome, but it's a fun psychological move.
- The Double Deuce: you need a ship or crew with the SAT (same action twice) ability, and a Captain or similar crew. You can improve your odds for getting that second action by adding a crew who lets you reroll one die roll per turn. The Double Deuce is two move actions, with the Captain giving a shoot after each move. This move-shoot-move-shoot combo can leave an enemy fleet in tatters, with multiple ships damaged or dismasted, while the opposing player wonders how one ship did all that harm in one turn.
- The Explorer-less Explore: this is a little ploy to let your ships load gold quickly without giving up a cargo space for an Explorer. Send two ships to the same wild island; one should be faster than the other. The one that gets there first uses an Explore action, but doesn't load anything. When the second ship gets there, the island is already explored and that ship can load up immediately. Meanwhile, the first ship has set course for another wild island, which she will explore and loot normally.
- The One-Two Punch: you can do this if your ship has a Captain, and one or two more masts than a nearby enemy fighting ship. Your ship rams the enemy in the hopes of knocking down a mast. You have to angle your ship when you ram so all your guns can bear on him, even though you're pinned. Then you give him a shoot action, courtesy of your Captain, and finish him off. Hopefully, you'll leave him derelict, and since you're already touching him, you can explore him or tow him on the very next turn. You can also do this with a shoot/move combination; first blow off as many masts as you can, then ram and finish the job.
- The Pseudo-Ram: there aren't many things that a Schooner's ability is good for, but this is one of them. Move alongside an enemy until your stern is level with his bow. Then pivot on your stern until your gunwale (side) hits his bow. He's in position for boarding now, just as if he'd rammed you, but you don't risk losing a mast. Or, if you have a Captain, you can open fire, secure in the knowledge that he can't fire all his cannons back at you even if you miss. Galleys, Longships and Turtle Ships can also pull this trick.
- The Redundant Ram: boarding to steal gold is usually a losing move, since the enemy will give you his lowest-valued treasure. You can get around this by boarding the same ship repeatedly, using a fast Galley or other unpinnable ship to back off and ram again, or overtake and ram again if the enemy runs away. Unless he's carrying all one-gold coins, if you keep ramming and boarding, you'll eventually get down to the good stuff.
- The Sandwich Bites Back: in this move, you need a big ship with a Captain, and the enemy needs to set you up by keeping two of his ships close to each other. Your big ship becomes the "meat" in the "sandwich" by moving between the two enemy ships and blasting both with one shoot action, half your cannons for one and half for the other. If the enemy ships have 1 or 2 masts, you can probably dismast both in one turn.
- The Stealer's Deal: there are a few ships that can move themselves and a derelict to your home island in one turn. These ships usually have poor cannons, so they can't make an enemy derelict by themselves. The trick is for the ship-stealer to follow a fighting ship into battle. As soon as the fighter leaves an enemy derelict, the stealer pounces and takes it home. The enemy can't intervene without going through your fighter first, so it's a done deal.
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