Pirates Battle Reports for 2006

Jan 10 — The Battle of Volcano Island
Apr 25 — The Battle of the One Gold Piece
Jun 27 — Winners Never Quit, But Squidders Sometimes Win
Jul 16 — Poor Richard's a Maniac
Sep 19 — The Six Maniacs
Oct 14 — Up to My Nick in Trouble
Oct 17 — Concord Before He Left Port
Nov 04 — Fight Twice, Not Nice

The Battle of Volcano Island
Pirates Battle Report for January 10, 2006

The black, cone-shaped mountain was rumbling ominously, sending plumes of steam and smoke high into the air. Any sensible sailor would have stayed in port. But Captains Paul, Richard, Dave, and Mike were undaunted. They had stumbled on a bay filled with small islands, and the smell of gold was in the air. Not even the threat of a volcanic eruption would hold them back!

(Note that this is the second time all four of us have met in battle. Also, Captains Paul, Richard, and Dave have squared off several times without Captain Mike. Lt. Dave has been the consistent winner in these battles, even when he also had to deal with the dangerous Lady Lora.)

The battle area was a 3'x3' bay with four home islands and nine wild islands, the middlemost of which was a live volcano. At the end of each turn, someone would roll a die; if it came up 1, the volcano would erupt, and every ship within 2L of it would lose a mast to flying lava bombs. Captain Richard spent most of the battle hoping the volcano would blow up and injure his enemies.

This was the first time that all four captains made their fleets with their own ships, without having to borrow from one another, although Captain Mike freely loaned his generic crewmen to the other three. This was also the first time we used Mike's handmade islands. They look okay, and they stay where they're placed, which is good.

As the battle began, each fleet fanned out quickly. Every ship headed for a wild island except Captain Mike's HMS Oxley, which aimed for Captain Richard's biggest ship, the Pride. He figured that Richard would come out shooting, so Mike would make it easy for him. But the Pride, after making a first move toward Mike, changed course and steered for the volcano. Mike's attempt to quickly join battle was thus thwarted for several turns, during which time his best ship was neither collecting gold nor harming the enemy. It was a good move on Richard's part, although he may not have known it at the time.

To no one's surprize, Lt. Dave's ships won the first races for gold, and his treasury was soon bulging. Paul, too, was bringing in treasure, but most of it was of low value. Richard had some gold headed home, with plenty more within reach. Mike was beginning to regret choosing such a slow fleet; his gold-gathering ship, the Sultan, had just reached its first island when most of the other treasure ships were already on their way home.

The Oxley finally caught up with the Pride after the latter had docked at the volcanic island. Richard repeatedly protested, "I will do you no harm!" but after all the havoc he'd caused in earlier battles, Captain Mike didn't believe him. The Oxley let fly with her three double-deadly cannon, and scored three direct hits ... on the ocean. Captain Mike was so frustrated, he could have torn his hair, except he didn't have any.

Captain Richard was trying to focus on the gold, he really was. But the smell of gunpowder was in the air now, and nothing could hold him back. The Pride answered with her own cannons, and the Oxley watched helplessly as her foremast and mizzenmast came crashing to the deck.

Captain Mike now made a mistake. The Oxley probably should have turned and run for home and repairs. Richard would not have chased him. His best ship would have been a lot more valuable with three masts than with just one. But instead of turning away, Oxley maintained her course and docked at another wild island, claiming the one gold treasure that would fit in her crew-crowded holds.

It was here, off the shores of an island so small that it didn't even have a name, that the situation got interesting. Not only did the Pride sail near this island (heading home with full cargo holds), but Captain Paul's Cutlass also entered the fray, and the two ships blocked the Oxley's direct route home. The Hades' Flame was also in the neighborhood, but had turned ghostly and passed straight through most of these ships. What would Captain Mike do now?

True to form, he found a way to attack. The Oxley looped around the Cutlass' fantail, pulled alongside, and fired her last remaining gun. The extra-heavy cannonball would have totally dismasted its target had it hit, but instead, it sailed right over the Cutlass' decks and thudded into the nearby island, making an impressive crater in the sand. It was the Oxley's fourth shot and her fourth straight miss, and she never got another chance — the Cutlass shot back and smashed her mainmast, leaving her derelict and helpless.

It was at this moment that the rumbling volcano finally blew its top! A huge roar drowned out the sounds of battle, thick smoke rose in a mile-high pillar, and great globs of red-hot lava flew in all directions. Both the Cutlass and the Pride lost a mast; the Oxley suffered some burns on her battered decks, but nothing worse. The falling boulders and lava passed right through the Hades' Flame, which continued on her ghostly way to the next gold-bearing island (but her crew were thoroughly shaken up by the experience).

At this point, Captain Mike was down to one ship, creeping home with a hold full of gold. Richard's position was good but not likely to improve, Paul had all his ships but not much treasure, and Lt. Dave seemed to be winning, even though he hadn't fired a shot.

Paul found a quick solution to his problems. He would tow the stricken Oxley home and claim her, and her gold, as his own. But he had a long way to go. Richard decided that discretion was the better part of valor; once his ships got home, they stayed there. Since there was no gold left to claim on his side of the bay, his decision made sense (although his crew were grumbling at his lack of fighting spirit). The Sultan reached an empty island and raised Fort Ramsgate on it, but no one really cared — the battle was almost over, and the fort was too far away to matter. But Lt. Dave's ships would not leave this battle without firing their cannons at least once. He set out in high-speed pursuit of Captain Paul's little fleet as it slowly made its way homeward, with Mike's formerly mighty flagship in tow.

The Hades' Flame was out of position to overtake Paul's ships, and Dave wanted to get her treasure home safely. But the Courageux bent on every stitch of canvas and fairly flew across the waves. Just as the Cutlass rounded the headlands and entered the bay of her home island, at the last possible moment, the Courageux fired. One cannonball missed; the other shot struck the Oxley near the waterline and sent her to the bottom, robbing Paul of his prize. Adding insult to injury, half her sunken cargo went to Lt. Dave.

This marked the end of the battle. When the booty was counted, Captain Dave was the winner. This surprized no one; the surprize was that Captain Richard came in a fairly close second. Captain Mike was a distant third, and Captain Paul was left shaking his fist at the others.

Dave has a winning strategy and the ships to pull it off. He seems unbeatable at this time. Mike went with his usual mixed tactics, but his slow ships and poor dice rolls thwarted him. He has sworn a mighty oath to bring Lt. Dave down next time. Richard has learned the value of a doubloon (perhaps), and has become a formidable opponent. Paul's tactics were good, and so was his shooting; the only thing that held him back was bad luck in finding low-value treasures. The next battle will probably be very interesting. Arrr!

(For those who are curious, Captains Paul and Richard are brothers, and sons of Lt. Dave, who is also married to the dangerous Lady Lora. I, Cadet-Captain Mike, am unrelated to any of the above, but I take all blame for getting them into PotSM.)

Scribed by Captain Mike on this eleventh day of January,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six.

Back to the Pirates page

The Battle of the One Gold Piece
Pirates Battle Report for April 25, 2006

Brendam Bay was a pretty harbor, dotted with green islands and the smoking cone of Mount Sukiyaki. It was also a popular place for pirates to bury their treasure. Today, three pirate captains came looking for that buried treasure. The last time they had fought, Captain Mike's "pirate swarm" had devastated his enemies, who both wanted revenge. When they all met, it wasn't going to be pretty. The battle began when Richard's and Mike's ships fanned out in search of treasure. Paul's fleet was eager to go, with sails set and crew at battle stations, but they couldn't weigh anchor until he finished his English homework. As a result, he missed the first three turns of the battle.

The Neptune's Hoard and the Terror of Gibraltar met on the south side of the bay. The Hoard got to the gold-filled island first, but before she could load up, the Terror rammed her amidships. This wasn't the smartest move Captain Mike made — the ships had the same number of masts, so his ship had no advantage in the boarding roll. But Mike was no peaceful pirate; he tried to board anyway. Richard's crew beat him back, and killed Mike's Helmsman in the process. First blood went to Captain Richard.

Meanwhile, the Lord Cauldwell, Mike's Bloody Jewel, and the El Chico had loaded up with gold from nearby islands, and the Bonny Kate was headed for Richard's ships, looking for a fight. But when Captain Paul finally finished his homework and set sail, the Kate changed her heading to challenge him instead.

The Terror was still looking for someone to board. The Lord Cauldwell looked close enough to ram, and small enough to overcome. But when Mike's boarder's swarmed over the gunwales onto Richard's ship, the Lord Cauldwell's crew put up an amazing fight, and the result was a tie.

In the center of the bay, the Bonny Kate challenged Paul's Cursed Blade. Mike's ship was brave, her English captain was skillful, and her gunners accurate; Mike got the first shot from long range, and the Blade's mizzenmast toppled, landing on her Helmsman as it fell. Paul's crew quickly cut the mast away and braced for a hard collision. The ram evened the score by knocking down the Kate's mizzenmast. The Blade then tried to make off with a piece of Mike's treasure, but the Bonny Kate carried none. Finally, Paul tried to board and kill Mike's captain, but the Bonny Kate's crew fought hard, and the boarding action was another tie. Thomas Gunn lived, and both Paul and Richard would suffer as a result.

Both of Richard's ships were running home with their treasure. But the Lord Cauldwell was still close enough for the Terror to try another boarding action. This was the third time Mike's ship had tried to board, and he finally succeeded — and stole the one teeny-weeny gold piece that the Cauldwell carried. The Terror of Gibraltar turned for home, disgusted. So much effort, and so little in return!

The battle in the center ended as quickly as it started; the Bonny Kate turned for home and repairs, leaving Captain Paul in control of the center of the bay. He quickly sent the Cursed Blade to loot the volcano island, which had more gold than any other. The Bloody Jewel stuffed her holds with a treasure trove from a northern island and headed home unmolested, while the Sea Nymph closed in on Mike's fleet.

Richard's ships got safely home and unloaded. The Lord Cauldwell stayed in harbor, while the Neptune's Hoard set out for another gold-filled island to the west. When he got there, he grabbed the treasure and built the Thompson's Island fort, but since this island was far from the action, its crew spent the rest of the battle polishing their guns.

If Mike's Terror had just run for home, she might have stayed out of trouble. But there was one gold treasure left on the south island, and the galley stopped to grab it. This allowed the Sea Nymph to get close. The Terror of Gibraltar fired surprizingly well, considering her terrible cannons; two of the Nymph's four masts fell. Paul answered with a ram that smashed one mast on the galley. Then he boarded and stole a treasure — that measly one-gold piece! It was hard to make money by boarding in this battle. But while the Sea Nymph was pinned, Mike's gunners knocked down her other two masts, leaving her derelict.

Richard's ships had all unloaded, and he was thinking about staying home and letting Mike and Paul knock each other silly. But Captain Paul had grabbed a speaking trumpet and was shouting suggestions to Richard across the waves, mostly cries for help. So the Neptune's Hoard put out to sea once more. Her goal: to stop Captain Mike from towing the Sea Nymph home. Everybody wanted that one gold piece! Maybe dragging Paul's ship home wasn't the best way for Mike to get it. But he had already declared, in his best Marvin the Martian voice, that "You have made me very angry, very angry indeed!" Stealing Paul's ship seemed like a good way to express that anger and get the gold at the same time.

Mike's other ships were not idle. The El Chico and the Bloody Jewel headed for the volcano, hoping to grab the gold that the Cursed Blade had left behind. The Bonny Kate had repaired her damage and was making all sail to help the Terror of Gibraltar.

She needed help; the strain of towing the Sea Nymph had slowed her to a crawl, and Richard's big ship was catching up fast. Richard's plan (which was also Paul's plan) was to sink Paul's ship so Mike wouldn't get the one gold piece. It was a good plan, and it looked like it would work.

But the Bonny Kate got one long-range shot at the Hoard first. One of Richard's masts fell in a tangle of lines and sails. The shot also killed Richard's Helmsman, reducing the Hoard's speed. (It was a bad day for Helmsmen; all three of them were killed in the fighting.) Richard shot at the Sea Nymph with his bow gun, and missed.

Meanwhile, the two Bloody Jewels had met at Mt. Sukiyaki. Mike's ship got there first and grabbed the one treasure that remained, and (you guessed it) it was just a one-gold piece. Paul's ship moved in for a ram, which left Mike with just one mast. Paul then boarded and took the gold piece, forgetting that the Hag of Tortuga would have been worth five gold as a hostage. The El Chico was too far away to join this battle; rather than charge in, she sheered off to the nearest island and raised the Devil's Maw fort on it. This would hopefully give Mike's Bloody Jewel a safe place to hide.

She never made it. A low rumble grew until it drowned out the sounds of cannon fire. The volcano was erupting! Glowing globs of lava flew through the air as smoke rose to the heavens. Both Bloody Jewels lost a mast, but Mike's ship had only one mast left to lose, so she wallowed on the choppy waves, derelict.

Back on the south side of the bay, the Bonny Kate sailed between the Terror and the Neptune's Hoard, and this was probably the smartest move Mike made. His guns belched smoke and flame, two more of the Hoard's masts tumbled into the sea, and Ralph David's life as a pirate came to a quick end.

Richard's ship was down to one mast now. He thought about steering around the Bonny Kate to take a last shot at the Sea Nymph, but that would take him too close to the Devil's Maw. He reversed his helm and headed home instead, leaving the Terror of Gibraltar to bring the Sea Nymph safely into port with her one lousy gold piece. Paul's Bloody Jewel took Mike's Bloody Jewel in tow as well; he'd decided to take the Hag home with him and hold her for ransom, or maybe make her clean his room for him.

At this point, the sun had set, and the battle had to end before any of the captains was ready. When the gold was counted, to everyone else's amazement, Captain Paul had finally won his first battle. No more shaking his fist at the others! Mike and Richard were very close in gold, but Paul was the clear winner. This is even more impressive when you remember that he missed the beginning of the fight.

After the shooting ended, Captain Mike disposed of some excess ships and crew to Captains Paul and Richard, and also to Lieutenant Dave (who was recovering from a musket ball in the knee) and to the Dangerous Lady Lora. Lady Lora had had no ships of her own until now. Captain Richard was especially pleased to add the Bonhomme Richard to his fleet, although no one can think of a reason why.

This was definitely the most exciting battle we've fought so far. Gun battles, ramming, boarding, towing derelicts... it was all there. Everyone fought hard and brought many treasures home. The game was finally decided by who had the best luck finding good treasures, and today, luck was with Captain Paul.

Scribed by Captain Mike on this twenty-sixth day of April,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six.

Back to the Pirates page

Winners Never Quit, But Squidders Sometimes Win
Pirates Battle Report for June 27, 2006

The usual suspects gathered for a grudge match in Harbor Bay, with a difference: tonight, the Dangerous Lady Lora intended to put in an appearance in place of Lieutenant Dave. All the other captains were looking forward to this, to the point where, when she decided to step aside so Lt. Dave could sail instead, both Paul the Pirate Prince and the Dread Pirate Richard urged Dave not to play! But, because she was dangerous, her will could not be thwarted; Dave's fleet formed up at the docks, while the Lady Lora gave assistance to Paul and Richard. A lot of assistance, as it turned out.

Harbor Bay was the usual set-up: nine square feet of water, four home islands, eight wild islands, and a live volcano in the middle. At the end of each turn, someone rolled a die; if it came up 1, the volcano would erupt, and every ship within 2L would lose a mast. This could happen only once per game.

As the battle began, the ships fanned out in search of gold that some other pirate had buried and forgotten. Paul's ships paired off, two going east and two headed south. Richard's ships all headed for the center of the map, where the volcano guarded the biggest pile of treasure. Dave sent his two best ships south, where they would almost certainly exchange pleasantries with Mike's fleet, while the little Lynx went west. Mike sent the little Mermaid northwest, the Longshanks north to say "hello" to Captain Dave, and the Bloody Jewel and his fast-moving mystery ship west to meet Captain Paul.

The ships reached their respective wild islands and began loading up. Dave grabbed gold from two wild islands, Paul and Richard from one, and Mike was a little slow on the draw. The Mermaid eventually loaded one lousy gold piece, the Longshanks was looking for a fight instead of treasure, and when his Bloody Jewel reached its destination, it found that Paul's Bloody Jewel had already snagged all the goodies. It was at this point that the fireworks started.

The Longshanks was on a desperate mission. Captain Mike had sworn to defeat Lt. Dave the next time they met, but he hadn't planned on meeting him tonight, so he hadn't prepared his special anti-Dave fleet. Now he had one fighting ship against Dave's favorite pair, the Hades' Flame and the Courageux. Could the Longshanks do what no other ship had been able to do — lay a smackdown on the toughest captain on the Seven Seas — and do it while outnumbered two to one?

It got off to an okay start. Only two of its three cannons could bear on the Hades' Flame, and one of them missed. The other didn't. The Flame scurried for home with one mast and a hold full of gold, while the Courageux tried to find a maneuver that would either protect the Flame or give her a shot at the Longshanks.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bay, something was happening. Bubbles were rising near Mike's marker; whirlpools began to appear. Something was rising to the surface, something big. It was a... a... A SEA MONSTER! Captains Paul and Richard went bug-eyed in amazement, while Lt. Dave looked disgusted and prepared to protest. Mike had to show him the kraken's game card and printed rules to settle him down. Then Calim went on a rampage.

Its first victim was the Cutlass. The huge monster rammed into the side of the ship, knocking down one mast. Then its tentacles swept the decks in search of human prey. The Cutlass' crew fought back hard, but unsuccessfully, and Calim snapped off the other mast like a toothpick.

It was around this time that the volcano erupted, but no ships were nearby and no harm was done. In fact, considering the chaos that was breaking loose on the east and west sides of the bay, it's a wonder anyone noticed the erupting volcano at all.

Calim now swept around the Cutlass' fantail and crashed into Paul's Bloody Jewel. It was the same story; the collision stripped away one mast, and the "boarding action" of the monster's tentacles got the other, leaving two derelicts side-by-side. This time, the sea monster also pulled a treasure overboard.

On the east side, the Hades' Flame and the Longshanks were in a death race. Dave's ship was faster, and if he'd had a bit more of a head start, she might have made it home. But Mike's ship was too close. He pulled up along the Flame's starboard quarter and let fly with the two cannons that would bear on her. One missed, the other got a mast and left Dave's ship derelict. Longshanks' third cannon couldn't reach the Flame, so she took a potshot at Le Courageux. The shot was well aimed, but just bounced off the Frenchman's stout bulwarks. Le Courageux fired back with both cannons and scored two good hits, leaving the Longshanks with one mast.

Around this time, Captain Richard had to use the head, and left the Dangerous Lady Lora in charge of his fleet. She was filling his ships' small cargo holds with gold and thanking her God that all this fighting wasn't aimed at her.

The two battles came to an end almost at the same time. In the west, Calim decided to sink the two cripples outright. Its tentacles ripped the Bloody Jewel apart and sent her to the bottom, but couldn't finish off the Cutlass. Captain Mike sent in his Divers to claim all of Paul's treasure, which did not make Paul happy.

In the east, Longshanks faced a simple choice: run for home and safety, or try to finish off the Hades' Flame and probably be sunk herself. With Mike at the helm, the choice was never in doubt; it was just a question of whether his last cannon could score a hit or not. It did, and the Hades' Flame was extinguished. Mike gleefully accepted half the sunken treasure.

But his rejoicing was short; the Courageux was able to knock down his ship's last mast, leaving him derelict within easy towing distance of Dave's home island. Worse, the Hag of Tortuga was on board, and her ransom price might well give Dave the game. Mike gave his ship a scuttling order, and rolled high enough to succeed. But Dave would have none of it. Le Courageux pulled alongside, patched the holes in her battered hull, and took her in tow. Dave was pleased with the victory, happy to bring home a prize, and when he learned about the ransom rules, there was much rejoicing on his home island.

Now what? Richard's ships had some gold and were turning for home. Paul's fleet had been reduced by half, but that half also had gold. Dave had lost his fastest ship, and Mike had lost his fighting ship. But there was still that big, angry squid. It turned its greedy eyes on the rest of Captain Paul's fleet.

One of Paul's ships ran for home; the other ran for Captain Richard's ships, which offered him some protection. The one that ran for home never had a chance. Calim intercepted it and repeated its ram-and-board sequence, stealing a treasure in the process. Then, burbling "I'm going to eat you," it sank below the surface and pursued Paul's last ship.

Lt. Dave yielded to exhaustion at this time (he had to get up early next morning for a long voyage). He allowed Lady Lora to finish the game for him, which meant that, since Richard was still in the head, she was now controlling two fleets. This was no source of joy to her, since she had no idea what to do about the rampaging kraken.

She did have some ideas about other ships, though. Mike's Bloody Jewel was approaching the volcano island, which still had some gold on it. Richard's La Furia was close by, and while it wasn't in position to shoot, it could ram, and did. One of Mike's masts crashed down and fell overboard. Neither ship felt like boarding; the odds were too close. Mike took a look at Richard's double-shotted cannons and decided that fighting might not be his best move. He ran for home with his holds nearly empty, leaving the volcano gold behind.

This commotion drew the attention of Calim, which was about to overtake Paul's last ship. It turned aside and rammed itself into the Furia, with the same results as before — a ship derelict, a treasure stolen.

At this point, both Captain Paul and Captain Richard were showing signs of being ready for bed. Everyone agreed to end the battle, and to count up all gold on home islands and in ships. To Mike's amazement, even the ransom for his Hag didn't offset all the gold he had won in battle or grabbed with his sea monster. Lieutenant Dave had been defeated at last!

This was the wildest battle we've had to date. No less than six ships were sunk or left derelict, and a seventh damaged. Mike's and Dave's gold scores were close; it could have gone either way. Paul found some good treasure but, thanks to the sea monster, he never got it home, while Richard's ships couldn't carry enough gold to make a real difference. Mike and Dave both provided forts for themselves, but never used them. This is the first time a captain has won a battle with a fighting strategy, instead of a gold-grabbing strategy.

Scribed this day, the twenty-eighth of June,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six,
by Captain Mike.

In hoc squiddo vinces.

Back to the Pirates page

Poor Richard's a Maniac
Pirates Battle Report for July 16, 2006

It looked like a slow day in Bar Nothing Harbor. The weather was very hot and humid, the breeze barely adequate to move a sailing ship. Perhaps the local pirates would take a break from looting and pillaging. Anyone who thought this might happen, didn't know much about pirates. Cadet-Captain Mike had brought some new ships over in his new Card Coffin, which aroused much admiration from the other pirates, and soon everyone was preparing for battle. The battle was fought on a dining room table with four home islands and five wild ones, with greater distances between them than usual. This obviously gave the fast ships a big advantage.

As the battle began, Richard sent all his ships north toward Captain Paul, and toward a wild island that happened to be in the way. Paul dispatched his kraken south to meet Richard, while the Pride went east on a gold hunt. Dave sent two of his three ships southwest toward the center island where the most gold was, and La Monarca went south to another wild island. Mike thought it best to send the Gibraltar and the Gallows north to meet Dave, while the Griffin rowed west to a wild island that no one else was looking at. He had expected at least one of the sea monsters to challenge his fleet, and when they aimed at each other instead, he chose to pick on Lt. Dave, with whom he had a long-running feud.

The sea monsters met in mid-ocean, surfaced, and tore into each other viciously. In no time, Jormungandr had lost three body segments, while Calypsos had lost three tentacles. This left Richard's monster with a head and not much else, so he dived and swam for the middle of the bay, in case his head could be useful there. Calypsos (or what was left of it) turned for home and safety.

The Griffin, Pride, Bloody Jewel, and Monarca filled up with gold from various wild islands. Dave's ship got a head start on its run home, thanks to its special move ability. But the delay in exploring the island allowed Mike's fighting ships to get close. The Terror of Gibraltar, with good speed but bad cannons, was the only ship that could catch up with Dave. It fired four shots and scored the two hits needed to dismast him; the last hit was from a pathetic 5-rank cannon. This cannon had also scored a surprise hit the last time Mike used this ship, and he started thinking of it as his lucky cannon.

Dave wheeled his other two ships around to rescue the Monarca, Mike's Gallows caught up, and a lively two-on-two battle broke out. The four-masted Terror made short work of the one-masted Lynx, but the Bloody Jewel was an even match for the Gallows. Mike fired first, but scored only one hit. Dave went for a ram that evened up the damage, but couldn't finish off the galley with her one remaining cannon. Mike's ship returned fire and, in a shockingly short time, Dave's entire fleet was left derelict. This was not the way Dave planned it.

Meanwhile, Richard's Bloody Jewel had looted the central island of a treasure trove of gold and was headed home. The Pride got home with an amazing stash of gold, traded its Helmsman for a Cannoneer, and headed south, joined by Calypsos. Paul wanted to catch Richard's ship, but neither his ship nor his kraken was fast enough. The Rattlesnake had delivered its cargo home and headed for the center to claim the rest of the treasure there. Mike was towing two of Dave's ships, but the Terror decided that Richard's ship was a juicier target than Dave's mastless hulk, cast off her towline, and headed for the center to see what kind of trouble she could cause. The Gallows slowly dragged the Monarca south toward home, while Dave took the only action he could, and scuttled his other two ships.

Richard got his Rattlesnake to the center island and filled her holds. His Jormungandr was nearby, and Paul's ship and monster were closing in, so the waters around that island were getting crowded. Mike then attacked with the Terror of Gibraltar, hoping for another gold-filled derelict to tow home. But his lucky cannon betrayed him; he needed two hits, but got only one.

At this time, the fighting ended (it was getting close to Captain Mike's bedtime). This decided the battle. If it had continued, Mike's Terror would certainly have finished off Richard's Rattlesnake and claimed its cargo. This gold would not have won the game for Mike, but losing it would have pulled Richard down to second place and given the win to Paul. But when the gold in ships and on home islands was counted, Richard was the clear winner. Mike was a distant third, and Dave was left with empty pockets for the first time ever.

This was a very fast-moving, confusing battle. Paul and Richard got nothing out of their expensive sea monsters, beating them senseless against each other instead of attacking ships. Hopefully, they will use their dreadful creatures better next time. Paul also needs to think about using faster ships. Dave is beginning to see the need for flexible tactics; a straight grab-the-gold approach only works if everyone else does the same thing. Mike, on the other hand, is learning that an attack-everybody strategy often won't win, even though it's a lot of fun. His Corsair fleet sailed fast and fought hard, but it was low on cargo space, so he couldn't bring home the golden goodies. Richard's two inexpensive ships won the day for him, bringing in so many gold coins that even the 1-point treasures helped bring victory.

Inspired quotes during the game:

Lt. Dave: "I'm sending my treasures home from my derelict ship via Western Union. Can I do that?"

Capt. Richard: (when asked if he wanted to go to the center island) "No, I want to go to the center island."

Scribed this day, the Seventeenth of July,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

Back to the Pirates page

The Six Maniacs
Pirates Battle Report for September 19, 2006

This battle was going to be special. For one thing, this was our first official celebration of Talk Like A Pirate Day. For another, it would be the piratical debut of Young Captain Dan. Well, not quite his debut; he'd had a role in a home-school production of "Pirates of Penzance" a couple of years ago, but those pirates never amounted to anything. Anyway, this would be a big, wild battle, and everyone knew it.

We decided to spice up the game a bit. Instead of the usual 30-point game, each player got ten masts' worth of ships and four crew, regardless of point values. This would let each captain build something close to a dream fleet.

The islands were also different from the usual. They formed a tightly clustered atoll of six wild islands, with Humpback Island in the center. This island has four hills that break it into three sections; each section is treated as a separate island.

The battle began with a mad rush, as nineteen ships and two sea monsters all left their ports at once. It quickly became apparent that Dave and Lora were on a collision course, as were Mike and Dan. The Hades' Flame, with a helmsman raising her speed to S+S+S+S, was the first to reach an island. Indeed, she was the only one to claim gold for several turns as multiple fights broke out. There were so many combats that reconstructing every move is quite impossible.

The Enterprise got the first of many double moves (thanks, in large part, to Jonathan Haraden's reroll ability) and plowed into the middle of Captain Dan's fleet with all guns blazing. Within the space of a few heartbeats, the Le Mercure was derelict and the Le Triton was down to one mast. The New Orleans followed up by removing the Triton's last mast and then sending it, and herself, straight back to Mike's home island. When Dan learned that his ship and treasure now belonged to Mike, he exclaimed, "I never liked you!" "Pirate," replied Mike.

Meanwhile, the Julius Caesar was about to grab some gold from a nearby wild island. But Mike remembered his last battle, when he wasted his fighting ships doing other things than fighting, and resolved not to make that mistake again. The Caesar sheered off and headed east, toward the Dread Pirate Richard's fleet.

On the other side of the bay, Dave and Lora collided violently. Lora's Santa Isabel and Dave's Apollo were soon reduced to mastless derelicts. Dan and Paul were both crossing the bay with all their ships, intent on helping the Dangerous Lady. But Paul's Calypsos did nasty things to one of Dan's ships; Lora, being dangerous, turned on Dan ("I was coming to help you!" he protested) and blasted his other one. Dave tried to tow the Apollo home, but soon had to cast off the tow line and fight. Lora's Furia tried in turn to tow the Apollo, but Paul's Calypsos then attacked her, and even the Spaniard's double-shotted cannons couldn't help against the huge kraken. The four players got into a tangle of ships, tentacles, and derelicts that Neptune himself couldn't sort out. Only Dave's leaving the area to chase Richard and Mike, and the destruction of Dan's fleet, resolved the confusion.

Somebody sank Paul's Bloody Jewel at this time. It was probably Captain Dan, since he had the only warship in the area, but no one can say for sure.

Back on the south side of the bay, the Enterprise caught La Monarca as she left Humpback Island with a hold full of treasure. Suddenly there was no more Monarca, just floating debris, and half her treasure was in Mike's greedy hands. The Enterprise used her leftover cannons to take a poke at Le Courageux, but failed to damage her extra-tough masts.

Perhaps hoping for revenge, Lt. Dave advised Richard to bring his sea monster to the surface so it could attack Mike. Unfortunately, it surfaced under the guns of the Julius Caesar. "An unclean beast of the sea!" shouted her captain. "Give it a broadside, me lads!" All three of her cannons roared as one. The broadside attack struck home with deadly effect, and Jormungandr sank back into the depths, mortally wounded. Richard was quite upset about Dave's bad advice, but the deed was done.

The Lynx now made Richard's only attack of the day, ramming the Caesar, but doing no damage. Mike's ship circled around the Lynx, docked at the wild island the Lynx was aiming at, dismasted the hapless ship with cannon fire, and loaded the treasure. To complete his domination of this part of the bay, he raised the Thompson's Island fort on the island.

Dave got some payback, though. Le Courageux and La Cazadora teamed up on Mike's much bigger ship and knocked down two of her masts. Mike decided to run for home, rather than risk losing his star ship, the Enterprise. As an afterthought, he sank the Lynx on the way by. And as an after-afterthought, he saw to it that Le Courageux was distracted by Mermaids for two turns.

Lt. Dave was getting frustrated by his dice luck, especially compared with Mike's unbelievable run of 5's and 6'es when rolling for the Enterprise's double action. He swapped dice with Mike, and sure enough, Dave's next roll was a 6. Unfortunately, it was for a ram by Lora against his own ship, and a 6 was the last thing he wanted. This caused much merriment among the other captains.

At this point, Dan had no ships usable; Dave had three of his five; Richard and Lora each had one ship left; Paul had one ship and one slightly wounded kraken; and Mike had all his ships plus one captured from Dan. There wasn't much gold left to be claimed. Mike's captured ship, Le Triton, had put to sea with just one mast repaired, and had filled its holds with treasure. Dave's Hades Flame made a long, fast journey across the waves and through his opponents to get to the last wild island first, only to have the gold stolen out from under his nose by Paul's Cursed Blade and her Explorer. "Thanks a lot," snarled Dave. "Pirate," replied Paul.

Lora's last ship, the Shadow, barely outran Calypsos and made it home with some doubloons. Richard's last ship, the Bonhomme Richard, picked up some pieces of eight from Humpback Island, but didn't get far before Dave's fighting ships jumped her and dismasted her. He wanted to sink her and claim half her gold, but his cannons weren't quite good enough. That honor went to Thompson's Island; the fort's long-range guns finished off Richard's ship and snatched a second boatload of gold away from Dave. The New Orleans toyed with the idea of wading into Dave's fleet, but counted masts and decided to stay near the friendly fort instead.

Now there was only one gold coin left unclaimed, and the battle was pretty well over. When the last whiff of gunpowder had faded on the breeze, the captains counted their loot. Mike was definitely the winner; Dave was second, and the others lagged behind.

Cadet-Captain Mike has won more than his share of recent battles, partly due to his large collection of ships; he needs to think up a new way to make things fair. Dave fought a good and flexible battle, hindered more by bad luck with the dice than anything else. Paul also fought well, especially with his sea monster, but was held back by his slow ships. Lora and Dan were hindered at every turn by their warlike neighbors, while Richard somehow never really got rolling (unlike last time, when he won the battle).

Overheard during the game:

Mike: "Your crew become fascinated by Mermaids, and your ship can't move for two turns."
Dave: "Oh, yeah? Well, I used the 'Blinded all my crew before they sailed' event, so they can't see the mermaids!"

Dave: "This game is a total waste of time! We should be spending our time doing something worthwhile, like praying."
Mike: "What do you think I was doing every time I rolled the dice?"

Scribed this day, the Twentieth of September,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

Back to the Pirates page

Up to My Nick in Trouble
Pirates Battle Report for October 14, 2006

Captain Nick was new to the world of piracy, but was willing to try his hand at it. His adversary, Cadet-Captain Mike, had won a name on the Spanish Main for clever play and hard fighting. Mike had just handed Nick a string of defeats on land (five straight games of checkers and six out of eight games of ring-toss) before Nick agreed to raise the skull and crossbones and try his luck at sea. Some observers thought they saw a total slaughter coming. They were right, in a way.

These battles were all fought on a 2x2' battlefield with three wild islands. The two captains met for four separate battles.

Battle #1:

This was a 20-point battle with no crew, to introduce Captain Nick to the basic rules. Cadet-Captain Mike picked three Pirate ships for Nick, since he had no idea how to go about it; he gave him the Ballista, the Royal James, and the Banshee's Cry. Mike chose two decent English ships, HMS Nautilus and HMS Henry VIII.

Nick's ships fanned out, one to each wild island. Mike kept his two ships together and headed for the center island. He was able to leave the Ballista derelict, but the other two ships got home with enough gold to give Captain Nick his first victory.

Battle #2:

This was a 30-point game, introducing Nick to the concept of crew. Mike gave up the Henry VIII for the Lord Walpole, while Nick tried his hand at picking one ship himself; he traded the Royal James for the Neptune's Hoard, a ship that served him well.

The tactics were the same, but the results were more what Mike was used to: enemy derelict ships all over the map. Mike dominated this battle with his usual warlike tactics, even though he brought no gold home. He liked this result much better, but Nick was catching on fast.

Battle #3:

Another 30-point game. Nick chose his own ships this time, now that he understood the principles; he kept the Neptune's Hoard, but traded the Ballista for the Bloody Jewel so he could have more crew. Mike kept the ships he'd used last time.

This time, Mike's luck with the dice completely deserted him. He fired shot after shot, and after a couple of hits at the start, scored nothing but miss after miss. Nick was happy to shoot back, and while his luck wasn't great, it was better than Mike's. The result was the opposite of the previous battle; it was Mike's ships that were derelict all over the bay. He did sink Nick's Banshee's Cry and collected gold for the first time in three battles, but this had no impact on the outcome. Two for Nick, one for Mike.

Battle #4:

30 points. Nick knew what he was doing now, and chose some good ships — Neptune's Hoard, Darkhawk II, and Bloody Jewel. Mike ditched his ten-point ships in favor of HMS Leicester and the slow-moving HMS Cumberland, which he renamed "Pokey." He picked the mighty Leicester for one reason: revenge!

Again, Mike's gunners couldn't hit a bull in the backside with a bass fiddle. The Leicester dismasted the Darkhawk II, but the Neptune's Hoard fired back and left Mike's ship with two cannons. Those cannons, even with help from a Cannoneer, scored a 1, a 2, and a 1, and the Hoard finished off the Leicester a moment later. Mike actually got some gold home this time, using Pokey, but it wasn't anywhere near enough. Nick completed the victory by towing his own derelict home.

Thus, when all the cannon smoke had drifted away, Captain Nick had beaten Cadet-Captain Mike in three battles out of four. After this performance by a brand-new, eight-year-old captain, Mike does not want to hear any more complaints from the lovely Lady Eileen about how piracy is too complicated for her to understand.

Scribed this day, the Fourteenth of October,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

Back to the Pirates page

Concord Before He Left Port
Pirates Battle Report for October 17, 2006

Lt. Dave was taking a holiday from piracy; he was undoubtedly far away on some uncharted island, spending his ill-gotten gains in riotous living. Or maybe he was painting the church. Anyway, Young Captain Dan was ready and willing to take his place at sea, so we still had four bloodthirsty captains when the curtain went up on this battle.

We fought on the usual 3x3' battlefield with eight wild islands, but they were arranged in an atoll this time. In the center was Sandbar Island, surrounded by treacherous shallows. Any ship wanting to enter or move in those shallows had to first roll equal to its masts or higher, or it struck the bottom and its move was done. This favored smaller ships over big ones; as it was, every ship that tried to enter the shallows was able to do so on the first try.

We played with one additional rule: each player had to use one brand-new ship that he'd never used before. Captain Dan was exempted from this, since the shipyard hadn't known he was coming when the new ships were procured. The others had to improvise tactics for their new acquisitions, which all did pretty well.

Young Captain Dan's ships were first out of their harbor; they headed for the nearest wild islands, with the Provence carefully guarding her sister ships. Paul and Richard each scattered their fleets toward multiple islands, while Mike scattered his fleet with a very different goal; the Concord-R headed for Richard's fleet, while the Concord-B steered for Paul.

The Bon Marin fulfilled her promise by snatching an island full of gold in record time, and the Triton and both of Richard's small ships found pieces of eight a-plenty. But the Bonnie Liz's island was being evangelized by a Missionary. Her Explorer repented of his sins, gave his money to the church building fund, got an honest job as a lion tamer, and gave up piracy forever.

Further progress was blocked by Mike's unprovoked acts of aggression against his peaceful neighbors. The Pirate-hating Concord-R got into a shooting match with the Black Swan, which was trying to load some gold, and sent the bigger ship scampering for home with only two masts standing. Mike would have done more damage if Paul hadn't intervened. A trio of mermaids surfaced right next to the Concord-R; the crew totally forgot that they were supposed to be fighting a battle while they stared at the sight for three whole turns.

On the other side of the bay, the Concord-B rammed the Cursed Blade and knocked down a mast, and finished her 1-2 punch with cannon fire that left her enemy derelict. The Amity curled in for a ram, which did no harm; the Concord-B's expert boarders then swarmed over the gunwales and struck down Paul's Helmsman.

Now came the first of many odd incidents from Mike. Paul's only working ship, the Amity, was a sitting target. Taking her down would have been easy. But Mike didn't even try. Instead, he altered course to the northwest, where Captain Dan's ships were unloading and preparing to sally forth again.

Why didn't Mike even try to take Paul out of the battle? Was it mercy? Was it stupidity? Was it an attempt to keep the battle fair for everyone? All we know is that, as the Concord-B sailed away, her captain was heard to growl, in a low tiger-like voice, "It makes the chase more interesting... for me."

Richard's small ships had unloaded a small fortune, and now headed west to a meeting with Dan's ships. No one knows what would have happened if they had met, since Richard hadn't arranged anything with Dan. But it never had a chance of happening, because Mike's ships attacked both fleets. In a very short time, Dan's Provence and Richard's Bonnie Liz had been sent to Davy Jones' Locker, the Bloody Jewel had lost a mast and was quite bloody, and Le Bon Marin was derelict and wasn't feeling "bon" at all. But the Provence had knocked down one of the Concord-B's masts, and Mike's fastest ship would spend the rest of the battle with just two cannons. Several of the players began talking about ganging up on Mike at this time, but nothing came of it.

Meanwhile, Paul's Amity had been very busy. She had loaded up with gold and a stash of Rum, towed the Cursed Blade home, unloaded, and set sail for Sandbar Island. The Cursed Blade began repairing herself, eager to get back into the battle.

Speaking of repairs, the Black Swan had made good her damage and sailed out, both to challenge the Concord-R and to protect the Bloody Jewel. Richard's ship and Mike's ship began a curious dance in which each ship took turns cutting in front of the other and loosing a raking broadside. Richard had more cannons, but they were not shooting well, while Mike's gunners were red-hot. After four steps of this "dance," the Black Swan decided to sit out the next round and run for home again. But the Concord-R followed and knocked down her last mast. Again, Mike didn't pursue his advantage, but turned for the center of the map, minus one mast but otherwise in fine shape. Her captain was heard to mutter that the battered Black Swan would take so long to fix that, even if Richard did tow her home, the battle would be over before the big pirate ship could sail again.

The Concord-B had also declined to finish off her derelict foe, in this case the Bon Marin. Oddly, instead of heading home for repairs, she dropped anchor at Sandbar Island (the first ship to do so) and took on one treasure, which was all she had room for. Then she moved off and waited for the Amity's arrival.

Dan, relieved to still be in the game when Mike could have annihilated him, pulled a clever move to bring the Bon Marin home quickly, fixed her up, and sailed both his remaining ships for the gold on Sandbar Island and in Mike's part of the map. Richard turned the Bloody Jewel aside to tow the Black Swan home. Paul's Amity landed at Sandbar and loaded up, and was promptly jumped by the Concord-B. But now, Mike's schooner ran out of luck. Her cannonballs made lovely craters in the beach, but missed their target completely. Fortunately for Mike, the Concord-R was close enough to attack, and did, with deadly results. Mike gladly took half the treasure, which didn't amount to much.

Now the Bon Marin approached Sandbar, and the story repeated itself. The gold ship loaded up; the Concord-B attacked; the Concord-B missed everything; the Concord-R had to finish the job; and Mike got half a load of gold. Dan and Paul were both down to one ship each.

The Cursed Blade finally weighed into the battle at this time. The Concord-B swung behind her and fired both cannons, and finally scored two hits. Paul decided he'd had enough of running away; he fired his last cannon, and hit. Then Lt. Hardwicke took his first and only shot of the battle. His hatred of all things American made the difference; he landed a hit, and the Concord-B was derelict.

The Concord-R quickly avenged her, sinking the Cursed Blade; he didn't dare leave her afloat with that American-hating Marine on board. Mike then loaded one treasure onto his one ship, and made as if to tow the other Concord home. Dan's Triton siezed this opportunity to land at one of the last wild islands. But Mike cast off his tow line, closed on Dan's ship, and opened fire. One mast fell, two masts fell... and Mike stopped, with one cannon left unfired.

Dan was dumbfounded. "You're mean!" he protested. But veteran pirates nodded their heads; they knew what Mike was up to. He was waiting for Dan to load up with gold, and then sink him quickly and claim half the loot.

That's almost exactly how it turned out. Dan needed gold to win; he had little choice. He loaded, Mike opened fire, but the Fickle Finger of Fate favored the Frenchman. The Concord-R blew holes in the ocean instead of in the Triton. Dan might have run for home and safety, but he needed more gold, and there was one island nearby with gold on it. He tried, but never made it; Mike's gunners made up for their mistake by blasting his ship out of the water.

At this point, the Black Swan had finally finished her repairs, and came boiling out of harbor with the Bloody Jewel close behind. But something was wrong. Had there been a mutiny? It looked like Lt. Dave had taken over! He was shouting orders, manning the helm, trimming the sails, doing everything but scram the reactor. And he was clearly setting a collision course for the Concord-R.

Maybe Mike should have run away; the Pirate ship had a two-mast advantage. But he'd learned to trust his gunners' skill, and running from a fight was against his nature. The battle was fast and fierce, but Mike's luck finally deserted him. This was the third time these two ships had traded cannonballs in one battle, and this time, the winner had no mercy. Mike's belligerent battleship burbled to the bottom, and the battle that began so bravely ended with no more "b" words..

When the gold was counted, the Dread Pirate Richard came out on top. Dan was a close second; he really thought he'd had enough to win. Mike was a distant third, and while I won't say that Paul was shaking his fists at the others, he did have trouble finding a date for the Pirates' Ball that night.

Paul did well with the ships he had, but he should really think about using more than just two ships at a time. Mike's acts of compassion at sea made the battle more interesting, but they almost guaranteed that he wouldn't win. Dan fought a good game; his only problem is that he hasn't figured out how to deal with Mike. As for Richard, he made a good plan, stuck with it, and brought home a hard-fought but well-deserved victory. He also received the Captain's Coin, a shiny doubloon Mike had found in his travels, and which he had put up as a prize for the winner.

Historians have noted that Paul, Richard, and Dan never fired a shot at each other all night.

Let the record show that Lt. Dave and the Dangerous Lady Lora got a new house-rule crew tonight. Lora got the Stag of Tortuga, which gives her five extra points, even though it's an 8-point buck; and Dave got the Haggai of Tortuga, who lets him build with five extra points as long as he build's the Lord's house first.

Scribed this day, the Eighteenth of October,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Six,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

Back to the Pirates page

Fight Twice, Not Nice
Pirates Battle Report for November 4, 2006

Cadet-Captain Mike's grandchildren showed up at his door last Saturday. Dame Alicia just wanted to learn to sew from her memere, but Captain Nick had piracy on his mind. Mike was all too eager to agree, and soon, sailors were scampering across the decks and clambering up the ratlines, getting an assortment of ships ready for sea. The battleground was about 2x2', using Mike's new ocean-print fabric instead of his blue-painted cork tiles; it looked much better. Three wild islands lay in a line in the middle, each with four treasures.

Mike went first, and with the order, "Run out the sweeps!" his ships fanned out; the Peacock went north, the Griffin went west, and the other two headed northwest to the center of the map. Nick's fleet all went south or southeast, leaving one island for the Peacock to pillage unmolested.

First blood went to Mike, whose Griffin turned aside from the western island and knocked down one of the Bloody Jewel's masts. The Jewel hit back and left the Griffin with one mast as well. The Gallows jumped into the fray and finished off the Jewel's remaining mast with one cannon, and wrecked one of the Neptune's Hoard's many masts with her other cannon. The Hoard, which had reached the center island, delayed loading gold to shoot back. But her luck was awful; with three shots, she only scored one hit on the Gallows.

By this time, the Golden Peacock had loaded most of the gold from the northern island and turned for home. But the sight of two sister ships with one mast each triggered Mike's main tactic for the day. The Peacock would deliver the Shipwright to wherever he was needed, thus saving the fighting ships a lot of time sailing back and forth from the home island. The Gallows turned to meet her, while the Griffin aimed her one cannon at the Hoard and splintered another mast. Neptune's Hoard turned and rammed the little galley hard, but the Griffin's crew were amazed to see their one mast still standing.

In the middle of all these flying cannonballs, the Dervish finished her slow passage to the center island, stole all the gold from under the Hoard's nose, and began an even slower voyage home. Gallows and Peacock met at sea, the Shipwright clambered over the gunwales, and set to work. Soon, the Gallows was as good as new, and headed off in search of more battle. Her place was taken by the Griffin, who took the Shipwright aboard in turn.

Both the Neptune's Hoard and the Darkhawk II were converging on the western island, which still had some gold on it. The Darkhawk took a detour to tow the Bloody Jewel home, so the Gallows had only the Hoard to deal with. It didn't take much dealing; Mike's gunners were on target, and the Hoard was quickly left derelict. The Darkhawk used this distraction to drop her tow and load the western island's gold.

The Gallows cut behind her and sent the Jewel to the bottom, just to get her out of the way. Her captain figured that the Darkhawk, without a Captain, wouldn't be much of a threat. But Nick surprised him and came in for a ram, which left the Gallows with one mast again. They exchanged cannon fire, and both scored a hit, but one hit was more than Mike's ship could take. The Gallows became a derelict, and Nick captured her before she could row away. Mike's other ships were too far from the action to make a difference, so everyone headed home, Nick with the Gallows in tow.

Nick got a ransom for capturing the Hag, which seemed to bear out his fears about using her. But Mike's ships had brought in twice as much gold as Nick had found, giving him a clear victory.

Mike liked the way his Barbary fleet had performed; the usefulness of the Shipwright was a pleasant surprise. Nick, on the other hand, decided that the Neptune's Hoard had outlived her usefulness, and that he needed more ships if he wanted to show Mike who the real captain of the sea was. They met again, this time with four wild islands in a line, for a rematch.

Nick sent all his ships toward the two center islands. Mike scattered again; the Sea Tiger went northwest, the Proud Tortoise went north, and the Grand Path headed straight for Nick's fleet.

Nick saw trouble coming, and took some unconventional action. The Banshee's Cry docked at an island and prepared to load up, while the Sea Nymph and Longshanks came up close along both sides of her, protecting her from harm. The Rover stayed close to the other three, while the Darkhawk came up slowly, too late to prevent Mike from getting the first shots. The Grand Path, looking very grand indeed, pulled alongside the Sea Nymph and let fly with all six of her excellent cannon.

Well, the lying scrap dealer who sold Mike the cannons said they were excellent. But only half of them hit! He couldn't even finish off the Nymph, or prevent the Banshee's Cry from filling her holds with loot. The Sea Nymph and the Darkhawk II both fired one cannon, and both scored hits. Now it was Mike who saw trouble coming, but he was committed to battle and didn't back away.

The Grand Path rammed the Darkhawk II bow-to-bow, but failed to knock down a mast. Her boarders were more effective, killing the Darkhawk's Captain. Then she fired all four remaining cannons at the big pirate, taking advantage of her Junk ability... and scored only one hit. One lousy hit! This ship was supposed to be unstoppable! But he'd forgotten to tell Captain Nick that she was unstoppable, so Nick just kept taking her apart. The Darkhawk shot mast #3 away, the Sea Nymph got mast #4 with a ram, and the Longshanks was closing into firing position. With two guns left, the Grand Path wasn't looking grand at all. More like a So-So Path.

While all this was going on, the Sea Tiger had grabbed the better half of the gold from the other center island (including a valuable stash of Rum) and headed home, where she would be safe. The Proud Tortoise expected a peaceful trip to the northern island. But it looked like the Rover meant to challenge her for the gold there. Nick kept his distance, but he didn't reckon on the long reach of the Tortoise's one cannon. The turtle ship's gunfire was dead-on (unlike certain larger ships I could name), leaving the Rover mastless with one shot. She then picked up some gold from the northern island. To her surprise, there was a Castaway there, who turned out to be a Captain!

It looked like that Captain might come in very useful. The Darkhawk and Sea Nymph had unceremoniously finished off the Grand Path, freeing the Longshanks to challenge Mike's ship. Longshanks had no Captain, so the Proud Tortoise felt secure. Proud, even. But, truly, it is written, "Pride goes before destruction." Nick didn't bother with gunnery; he just rammed the Tortoise and knocked her one mast down before her new Captain got a chance to fire a shot.

Now began one of the strangest battles this admiral has ever seen. The Proud Tortoise was mastless and couldn't shoot. But, as a turtle ship, she could still move, very slowly. And she had treasure on board, which Mike had to have if he wanted to win. The Longshanks meant to stop her, and she had a huge speed advantage, but without a Captain, shooting was difficult. He couldn't board and steal the treasure because the Proud Turtle still had her tortoise panels... no, I mean the Proud Tortle had turtiss panels... no, the Torsel... the Turliss... oh, forget it. He couldn't board, okay?

So anyway, the Longshanks began repeatedly trying to get into firing position, while the Tortoise desperately twisted and dodged to get away, partly trapped against the edge of the map, while still trying to head for home. The ship that wanted to run had a hard time running, and the ship that wanted to fire had a hard time firing. Who would win this death race?

Nick got one shot off, and a turtle panel fell into the sea. The Tortoise pulled away. Nick raced ahead of Mike's slow-moving wreck and got another hit, crushing the other turtle panel. Mike's ship crawled away again, but she was still in range, and now open to boarding as well. It looked like nothing could stop Nick now. But rescue came from an unexpected place. The Sea Tiger came racing out of port like a bright orange streak, on a collision course with the bigger pirate ship. She had poor cannons and no crew, but she was ready to do whatever it took, even sacrifice herself, to get the Proud Tortoise home.

The Tiger rammed into Nick's ship, but failed to do any damage. Nick shot back and knocked down one of Mike's masts. Mike's one remaining cannon barked hollowly and, unbelievably, scored a hit, toppling Nick's mizzenmast. The Longshanks returned fire and finished off the brightly-painted junk, but her sacrifice was not in vain. Nick had gotten distracted from chasing the Proud Tortoise, which limped into port with no masts and no turtle panels, leaking from every seam and on the verge of sinking, but with her precious golden cargo intact.

If this was a fairy tale, it would end by saying how the Proud Tortoise's brave voyage and the Sea Tiger's noble sacrifice won the battle for Mike. But while all this was going on, the Banshee's Cry had unloaded her cargo, then looted the westernmost island as well. The Darkhawk II and the Sea Nymph cleaned out the islands where Mike hadn't been able to load everything, and Captain Nick won, with more than twice as much gold as Mike had.

Cadet-Captain Mike didn't have much cargo capacity in his fleet, so losing on gold shouldn't have surprised him. The surprise was the absolutely awful performance of the Grand Path. Okay, maybe she shouldn't have taken on three tough ships at once. But that wouldn't have mattered as much if her cannons had shot as well as the Proud Tortoise's, or even the Sea Tiger's. Mike intends to find the Grand Path's designer and have him shot, "pour encourager les autres."

As for Captain Nick, he made no mistakes except for letting the Proud Tortoise get away, and that didn't matter in the end. Almost every cannon he fired scored a hit. He is now ahead of Cadet-Captain Mike by four battles to two. Lt. Dave may have quit the seas for a season, but Mike has a new arch-nemesis now.

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

Back to the Pirates page