Pirates Battle Reports for 2007

Jan 30 — A Battle of Firsts
Feb 06 — The World Turned Upside-Down
Feb 20 — It's All About the Gold
Feb 27 — Changes
Apr 03 — Too Many Islands
Jun 26 — A Truce, but No Two's
Jul 12 — Elite Fleets Meet - Who Got Beat?
Jul 17 — When Good Luck Goes Bad
Jul 26 — In a Crabby Mood
Aug 20 — Crash of the Titan
Aug 27 — That Wasn't a Bit n'Ice
Oct 09 — ...But Not the Last One
Oct 16 — Tag Team
Oct 30 — The Rejoicing Moment
Nov 09 — Beginners' Luck Redux

A Battle of Firsts
Pirates Battle Report for 01/30/2007

When Cadet-Captain Mike swaggered into the Pirates' Pub, he dared the other captains, "You choose the fleet I'll sail with." Young Captain Dan picked the USA, while the Dread Pirate Richard preferred a Pirate fleet. The Corsairs aroused no interest, and Richard was dead set against the Jade Rebellion, repeatedly exclaiming, "Jades are evil!" (He must have gotten this idea from our last battle, when Mike's junks formed a flying wedge that slapped everybody around and stole a treasure from Richard's home island.)

Paul the Pirate Prince wasn't in on this discussion, since he was finishing up his math homework. The Dangerous Lady Lora had planned to join the battle, but she had her hands full with Typhoon Timothy. Dan and Richard had a quick discussion, and decreed that Mike would fight as the Americans. Which is what he'd been hoping for all along.

We fought on a 3x3' battlefield with nine wild islands, arranged in an atoll, but with a twist — five of the islands were occupied by... gulp! dinosaurs! (They were plastic dino's that were put together very much like pirate ships.) Each turn, the first ship to dock at a dinosaur island had to roll a die. On a 1, the beast would bite off a mast; on a 2, it would eat (or step on) a crew. We decided to let ships shoot dinosaurs, eliminating them with two hits from the same shoot action.

We used Mike's random game set-up table; Dan rolled the dice to choose how many points we'd build with. He got a result he liked on the third try, and we all built our fleets with ten masts and ten points for crew. This was the first time every player had four or more ships in his fleet.

As each fleet left port, they tended to break into groups of two or three, rather than stay together. Richard, Dan, and Paul aimed for wild islands; Mike aimed for Paul's and Dan's fleets.

Richard's Bonny Liz and Dan's Le Mercure met at Dogbone Island, other ships moved in to help them, and a civil disturbance broke out. The Bonny Liz got the gold, Le Mercure got a mast knocked down, the Bloody Jewel killed the Lambeosaurus on the island, and Dan's other ships left the Jewel derelict and finally sank her. Dan wound up with three ships close to each other, and Richard slapped a Becalmed on all three of them, freezing more than half of Dan's fleet in place for a turn. This all took about three turns and was quite exciting.

On the other side of the bay, Mike's Franklin jumped Paul's Bonny Kate and left her derelict. He used his other two cannons to blast the Stegosaurus that was making Porkchop Island hazardous. The Philadelphia, following in the big Franklin's wake, moved into contact with Paul's ship, and instantly carried her away to his home island. Paul was not happy, especially because Mike claimed the five-gold ransom for the Flag of Tortuga. The Franklin then turned and smashed the Cursed Blade's masts. Paul's ship had just loaded some gold, and Mike wanted it, or the half of it that he'd get if he sank her.

Near the center, Mike's other two ships maneuvered so they would shoot Dan before he could shoot him. The Delaware got the drop on the Le Martinique, and blew off both her masts with one mighty shot. The Quigley was out of position, and contented herself with slaying the Allosaurus that guarded the center island.

In the west, Paul's Amity and Richard's Serapis both wanted the gold from Round Island, which was also home to a rather angry Daptosaurus. Richard got into firing position, waited out the Mermaids that Paul inflicted on him, and began plinking away at the dinosaur with his cannons. He spent three turns trying to kill it, without success. The Franklin got so aggravated at such poor shooting that she left the Cursed Blade and killed the Daptosaurus, just to get Richard moving again.

Meanwhile, the Amity had braved the huge reptile's anger, docked at the island, and loaded the best of the gold. Mike had been waiting for this. The Franklin moved in and blasted the ghost ship into firewood, grabbing half her treasure as his own. Richard's Serapis then loaded the remaining gold, and Mike sank her as well.

While all this was going on, the smaller ships were bringing home gold for their owners. Richard's Bonny Liz and Rattlesnake both landed some goodies. Dan's Le Courageux did likewise; she was almost caught by the USS Delaware, but the American could bring only one cannon to bear, and the tough French ship ignored his hit. Paul's El Chico zipped home, while the derelict Cursed Blade laboriously crawled in with some gold and her Oarsman. This was the first time anyone in our battles has made use of an Oarsman.

At the center island, Dan's Le Provence had landed and loaded a goodly store of gold, and a big barrel of Rum as well. Since his ship carried no crew, the Rum would be worth 6 gold when he got it home, and Mike didn't like that idea at all. The brightly-colored Quigley sailed around the island, got behind the Frenchman, and left her derelict. Dan brought the L'Intrepide into contact with his mastless ship and transferred her treasure. The Quigley couldn't finish off this second ship, so the Franklin left its battle with Paul's fleet to knock down the L'Intrepide's other mast. The Quigley then sank the Provence to get her out of the Philadelphia's way, and that little American cruised in to claim her second derelict of the evening. And the Rum. Yuck.

At this point, most of the gold had been claimed. Richard had no treasure anywhere near him, so his two ships set out on a long cruise to Paul's side of the bay. He kept trying to arrange a truce with Mike, but Mike saw no value in making deals when he seemed to be winning. Paul had gotten everything worth getting in his neighborhood, and was going back for the one-point coins. Mike had repaired the stolen Bonny Kate and gotten some treasure with her (and a case of Scurvy, which did nothing because the ship carried no crew). Dan had repaired Le Mercure and, together with Le Courageux, set out for the last dinosaur island. This set the stage for the last battles of the evening.

Mike's Delaware had been watching the activity in Dan's home port, and skilfully maneuvered to get the first shot. And she missed! The Le Mercure fired back, and Young Captain Dan finally had the satisfaction of scoring some good hits on a Mike ship. Le Courageux stayed on course for the island, while Le Mercure swung around, turned on her stern to bring all her cannons to bear (the first time any of us has used the Schooner ability), and introduced the Delaware to Davy Jones.

This brought a Marvin-the-Martian "You have made me very angry, very angry indeed!" from Mike, with a very angry USS Franklin to back it up. He got in position to take revenge on Le Courageux... and for the first time ever, the Franklin whiffed. The French ship ignored his first hit, his second and third shots both missed, and his fourth cannon was out of range.

The battle ended at this point; Young Captain Dan had to leave, at the insistence of Big Daddy D. Dan left on a happy note (for him), having just sunk one of Mike's ships and survived an attack from the dreaded Franklin.

But in terms of gold, Mike ran away with the game. Just the value of Dan's Rum, and the ransom for Paul's Flag, would have made the game a three-way tie with Paul and Dan, but his other gold (almost all stolen from sunken ships) put him in front by a two-to-one margin. He accepted the Captain's Coin from Richard, the token of a winning battle.

This was a violent battle, with six ships sunk and three left derelict. Mike and Dan both had forts ready, but never built them. Four of the five dinosaurs were struck down by cannonballs, and only one of them even got a chance to take a bite out of a ship. The rule about shooting dinosaurs needs to be toughened up a bit.

Richard sailed well, but the gold he found wasn't worth enough, and the other players beat him to the good stuff. Paul suffered, as he always does, from having Cadet-Captain Mike as his neighbor, but he used his ships wisely and did better than might be expected. Dan fought a flexible battle with a well-chosen fleet, but he still hasn't solved the mystery of how to get gold home when Mike is in the way. Mike came out swinging and never let up; his boldness (not baldness, boldness!) cost him a ship at the end, but he gained a lot more than he lost.

A rematch is scheduled for next week. Arrr!

Scribed this day, the Thirty-First of January,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The World Turned Upside-Down
Pirates Battle Report for 02/06/2007

When this historian sat down to record the events of February 6, he felt like he had been zapped away to a magical place where everything was backwards from the way it should be. A place where Mike gathered gold instead of blasting everything in sight, a place where Richard went looking for trouble instead of pleading with people not to shoot him, a place where Le Courageux wasn't bullet-proof, a place where the winner could have been changed by any of three actions by three different captains.

We fought on a 3x3' battlefield with an atoll of ten wild islands. The center island was Humpback Island, whose hills break it into three separate areas, so we actually had twelve islands to explore. Our fleets were built with forty points each.

(Note: both Paul and Richard had help choosing their fleets from the Dangerous Lady Lora. She said that picking out the ships was a lot of fun. She's gettin' the fever, it won't be long now...)

To save time, everyone moved at once for the first two turns, since no one could possibly reach an island or a shooting position in that time. Danny's and Richard's fleets stayed together, while Paul and Mike each detached one ship for mischief (the King Edward and the Gilded Monkey, respectively) while their other ships stayed bunched up.

First gold went to Le Bon Marin. And El Duque, and the Amity, and the Gilded Monkey, and the Longshanks, and the Coral. Mike's ships then did some kind of dance where they all handed treasure off to each other. His goal was to keep the Coral's holds clear for robbery and get as much treasure home as possible on his other ships. The Longshanks and the Greed's Hammer turned for home, while the Coral probed another wild island. She found a Castaway there, who turned out to be a Helmsman, a useful addition to her crew.

She toyed with the idea of running for Paul's home island, but the big, slow King Edward was getting close, so she followed the rest of her fleet home. Once there, they took turns unloading one coin per turn through the Greed's Hammer. It took a while to unload, but the +2 bonus for each coin ran up their value in an alarming way. Mike calls this maneuver the "cash-box caper," and it was working perfectly.

Meanwhile, the Gilded Monkey had drawn near Richard's home island, and stopped. Richard's ships were too close, so Mike waited for an opportunity. And waited, and waited. For three or four turns, the Monkey danced off Richard's coastline, making Richard nervous and causing Danny to wonder out loud what Mike was up to. None of them knew for sure if Mike's ship was a home-island robber or not. Paul tried to do a recon mission on Mike's deck plates, but failed.

In the meantime, the Neptune's Hoard had loaded up with treasure. She used her ability to trade away a unique treasure she didn't want, but she got another one instead — Rum! El Duque returned to port with a huge hoard of gold and set sail for more. And what of the huge Le Superbe? Richard had sent her on a mission of destruction against Captain Dan's closely-packed fleet. The other captains weren't used to the sight of Richard rubbing his hands with glee at the thought of making trouble. It made us nervous.

Dan had filled up Le Bon Marin with gold from one island, and then his entire fleet turned for home. He just forgot to load anything on his other ships, an oversight that would cost him dearly. At the last moment, he turned Le Courageux aside for some treasure, keeping Le Mercure close by for protection. And that was how Le Superbe found two targets in range at once.

The big ship's ability to shoot through other ships came in very handy now. Richard could aim two cannons at Le Mercure and three at Le Courageux, and he let fly with all of them. When the smoke cleared, Le Mercure was down to one mast, and Le Courageux, in spite of her ability to ignore the first hit, was a mastless derelict. Le Superbe sank her on the next turn and took half her gold, then sailed on to throw a blockade on Dan's home island. This was the first time that Le Courageux has bitten the briny; Mike has taken repeated pokes at both Dan's and Lt. Dave's Courageux'es, but has always failed.

On the other side of the bay, Mike's ships had finally finished their coin-by-coin unloading and set sail. The King Edward was nearby and looking dangerous, so Mike had to set his course carefully. He sent the Longshanks to the north of Paul's ship and the Coral to the south in a forking maneuver. Paul turned toward the Longshanks, whose answer was to dock at the nearest wild island and raise the Devil's Maw fort. To Mike's disappointment, Paul was just out of range! Worse yet, the distraction didn't give the Coral a shot at Paul's home island, because his other two ships were continuously coming and going with gold. It looked like a stand-off.

Richard's ships were more obliging. El Duque had just loaded up with gold again, and the Neptune's Hoard had just sailed from her home island, when the Gilded Monkey finally made her move. She cruised into Richard's harbor and stole a treasure! It was only a 2-point gold piece, but every bit counts, right? The Neptune's Hoard turned back and got into shooting range, but only her bow cannon could reach Mike's thieving schooner. She scored a hit anyway and knocked down a mast. The Hoard could match Mike's speed and carried four decent cannons. Worse yet, Le Superbe had reversed course and was cruising to cut off Mike's retreat. It didn't look good for the Gilded Monkey.

Of all people, it was Captain Dan who gave Mike the break he needed. His fighting ships jumped El Duque and opened fire. Historians think his gunners had too much wine and cheese before the battle, because their shooting was atrocious. It took two 2-masted ships two whole turns (that's eight shots) to finally knock down El Duque's three masts and leave her derelict.

What was Richard to do? El Duque had a lot more gold on board than Mike's ship did. And Le Superbe was near the last unexplored wild island, which also was worth more than Mike's stolen treasure. He made his decision: letting Mike get away would do the least harm. The Neptune's Hoard turned back to rescue El Duque, and managed to take her in tow. For good measure, her bow cannon spoke again, and took out a mast on Le Provence.

Dan now turned Le Provence into Le Kamikaze. With one mast against Richard's four, he knew his ship was dead beef. But he wanted a piece of El Duque's treasure. Instead of turning for home and safety, he got Le Provence's last cannon into firing position. Would he hit or miss? His marksmanship had been pretty poor so far, but now, when the chips were down, he landed the hit he needed. El Duque went glub, glub, glub, and Danny got half of a very fat treasure. A moment later, Le Provence also went glub, glub, glub.

Le Superbe had turned away from chasing the Gilded Monkey, which was making gear-shifting, tire-squealing noises as she ran for home in a panic. Richard's big ship explored the last wild island, and wound up with one gold and two uniques... one of which was the one that the Neptune's Hoard had traded away earlier. It was a Missionary, who shared the Gospel with the crew so well that both the Captain and the Hog of Tortuga repented of their lives of wickedness. We'll let Lt. Dave figure out how a hog can get saved.

Meanwhile, Mike had done his best to be peaceful, he really had. But Paul's big warship had been in Mike's back yard for several turns, and the Cadet-Captain had had enough. The Longshanks cruised in and let fly, scoring one hit. The Coral, which was in firing position already, also lobbed a cannonball at the King Edward, but missed. Paul shot back at the Longshanks, and managed only one hit himself. Longshanks tried for a ram, which did no harm; then she and the Coral hit the Englishman again and left her with one mast. That mast fired on the Coral, and missed. The Longshanks left the King Edward derelict a moment later.

Could the Coral finally make a run for Paul's home island? No, the Sea Nymph was closing in fast to protect Paul's derelict. Reluctantly, Mike turned aside for some leftover gold (a 3-point coin) on a nearby island. It was at this point that the battle was deemed over.

Mike wound up with 39 gold; Richard had 36. If Richard had wrecked the Gilded Monkey and towed her home, or if Dan had missed his last shot at El Duque, Richard would have won. If Paul had hit the Coral and left her immobile, it would have been a tie. Paul and Dan each had less than 20 gold, and this time, Dan couldn't use the usual excuse of, "Mike clobbered me!"

In fact, except for the King Edward, Mike didn't clobber anybody. Richard sank two of Dan's ships, Dan sank one of Richard's, and a few other masts fell here and there, but it was a surprizingly peaceful "battle."

Mike's cash-box strategy worked, with very little help from his home-island robbers. Paul and Dan brought in bunches of coins, but they weren't worth enough to get them into the game. It was Mike and Richard who found most of the fours and fives and sixes (and a seven, in Mike's case). Richard's strategy also worked well, and he probably had the most fun. It was just luck that Mike had more gold when the gold was counted. Mike keeps the Captain's Coin... for now.

Overheard during the game:

Paul: Can we use your Jade ships next time?
Mike: I thought you said they were evil! I wouldn't want to expose your innocent minds to that.
Richard (age 5): With your skills, they're evil.

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

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It's All About the Gold
Pirates Battle Report for 02/20/2007

Once again, the Dangerous Lady Lora got our hopes up by hinting that she'd join the battle. And once again, our hopes were cruelly dashed against the sharp stones of cold, hard reality — Typhoon Timothy was on a rampage and required her full attention. Personally, I think it's just an excuse so she won't get beaten.

We fought on our usual 3x3' battlefield with eight wild islands and one volcano. Our fleets were built with unusual rules: each player got one free Common ship, one free named crew, and thirty points.

The first act of the battle was for Paul, Richard, and Dan to dice for home island location. No one wanted to be too close to Mike! Richard won the roll, after tying with Dan twice, and took the remote corner. Mike wondered why no one wanted to be next to him; he resolved to take a shower when he got home.

As the battle began, three fleets spread out in search of treasure. Mike's fleet, on the other hand, stayed close together on a westward course that took him toward Paul. This made Dan nervous, because Mike had just finished counseling him not to stay clustered up. What was Mike up to? "I'm trying something different," he said.

It quickly became clear that the northern and western islands, with their substantial loads of booty, would be the centers of some nasty fighting — the north between Richard and Dan, the west between Richard and Paul. Notice that Mike was not involved in either of these battles. He was up to something different, all right.

Paul's big King Edward was the first to approach the western island. Richard's little Lord Cauldwell and Bonnie Liz looked totally outclassed. But, on a suggestion from Mike, Richard grinned and had the Cauldwell ram the bigger ship head-on. They were caught in a double pin, able to fire only their frontmost cannons at each other. But Richard's ship, with its double-tough masts, was immune to anything the King Edward could throw at it, while the Lord Cauldwell could plink away until the much bigger ship was derelict. It took six turns, but that's exactly how it played out.

Meanwhile, the Bonnie Liz had reached the western island. Her initial landing point was under the guns of the King Edward, which cost her a mast, so she scooted to a safer place on the other side of the island. There, she loaded up four treasures, and retraced her steps homeward. Paul's ship would get only one shot off at her. It seemed like a good risk.

Sure enough, the King Edward's bow cannon fired... and missed. But her Cannoneer rushed to that gun and reloaded it. It fired again... and this time, it hit. Richard's ship was derelict, and Paul sank her on the next turn, claiming half her treasure without moving an inch. It was the King Edward's only success. A few turns later, the Lord Cauldwell finished her off and began dragging her back to Richard's home port.

The fighting was just as fierce at the northern island. Richard's El Duque got there first, but Dan's La Belle Etoile used her Explorer to grab all the treasure. El Duque would have given both her anchors for a Captain, but moving and shooting was not something she could do. So she rammed the Frenchman instead, and knocked down a mast, then boarded and stole a treasure. Dan's ship ran for home; El Duque rammed again, and another mast fell. This time, the boarding action was a tie. Again, Dan ran and again Richard rammed, and this dismasted La Belle Etoile. Richard loaded all the treasure he could carry.

While all this was going on, the Bloody Jewel had picked up two treasures from a nearby island and turned for home. She never made it. She never even knew what hit her. It was the enormous Le Superbe; her speed was enhanced by a skillful Helmsman, and her crew were inspired to amazing feats by the fearsome Capitaine Arathiel, who shot his Oarsman "pour encourager les autres." The five-masted ship shot across the waves and blasted the Bloody Jewel apart. The Dread Pirate Richard made some angry growling noises.

Then Arathiel split the gizzard of his Firepot Specialist ("I never use him anyway," he muttered), reversed his course, and sank El Duque, recovering half the gold that he had found and Richard had stolen. (The Dread Pirate Richard made some more angry growling noises.) Le Superbe finished this portion of the battle by towing La Belle Etoile home.

And what of the other ships? La Fureur had stayed in her home port the entire time. Le Bon Marin found some gold and, rather than take it home, gave it to Le Fureur, one coin at a time. Maurice Aristide worked his financial wizardry on each treasure to raise its value by +2, and Dan's treasury was soon bulging with loot. Paul's Amity and Mike's Rattlesnake also made successful voyages for treasure. The Amity then used a double move to reach the volcano island, where she found enough gold to make the trip worthwhile.

But everyone kept one eye on the USS Constitution; they wanted to stay as far away from her as they could. Paul's unfortunate Cutlass was the first to cross her path. She twisted and dodged, but was quickly dismasted, and then stolen away by the Philadelphia, which had been tagging along with Mike's big ship like a puppy-dog following its master. This gave Mike a ransom for the Flag of Tortuga, and marked the end of the first half of the battle.

The second half began with Mike's and Dan's fleets intact; Paul had two ships left, and Richard had one, which was towing Paul's King Edward homeward. There was gold on the eastern island, which Dan soon grabbed with Le Bon Marin; there were a few coins scattered on the small islands near Paul and Mike; and there was some gold left at the volcano. To load this, Dan sent the repaired La Belle Etoile, while Le Superbe kept a distant blockade on Mike's home port. Paul's Amity was a long way from home, with gold in her hold and the Constitution in the way. The volcano blew up at this time, but no ships were near it and no harm was done.

To protect the Amity, Paul sent his Chesapeake on a suicide mission. At first, he just wanted to get in Mike's way, but then he put his helm over and rammed Old Ironsides, bow to bow. The big ship should have made short work of the little one-masted sloop, but even with Jonathan Haraden's second chance, it took two turns to dismast the Chesapeake; CPO Richard refused to help destroy a fellow American. That two-turn delay was enough for the Amity to race home and unload her treasure.

Mike's Philadelphia had just picked up some coins from a small island, but the sight of a derelict ship, even a tiny one, was like waving a red flag at a bull. The Philly took possession of the Chesapeake, but it didn't do Mike any good; Le Superbe was nearby, and neither ship dared leave port for the rest of the battle. The Amity had a bit more gold in sight, and tried to sweep around the Constitution to get it. She didn't quite make it. Mike sank her outright, just to make sure she didn't get in his way.

Paul was now out of the battle (three ships captured, one sunk). But Dan's ship had just reached the volcano, joined by Le Superbe. It was time for the Constitution to earn her place in the fleet! Haraden skilfully placed his ship right where he wanted her, with four cannons bearing on the gold ship and one on the big fighter. Old Ironsides' sides erupted in flames and smoke, and both of Dan's ships shuddered at the impact. La Belle Etoile lost two masts, and the third collapsed when Haraden intervened with a cannon that missed. Le Superbe also saw a mast fall.

Now came the battle of the titans, side by side, fighting to the death (or to the pain). To be honest, it was not a fair fight, not with the Constitution's double-tough masts. But the big Frenchman did knock two of those masts down before succumbing to Mike's twenty-four-pounders. This marked the end of the battle.

When the treasures were tallied, Cadet-Captain Mike had won again. This time, most of his treasure came from his own gold voyages, not from sunken cargoes. Young Captain Dan was a respectable second; this was his best showing so far. Paul and Richard were well behind the front-runners.

Richard's misfortune was to get in fights with Paul and Dan at the same time, without any Captains to fight effectively. Paul had the bad luck to get his only fighter in a double-pin that it couldn't win, while Mike preyed on his helpless gold ships. Dan had some very successful gold cruises, and he also fought skilfully. The only reason Mike won was the high value of the treasures he found. If Paul's Amity had gotten the gold she wanted on her last voyage, it would have brought victory to Dan.

It was a violent battle. Six ships sank into the seven seas (three by Mike, two by Dan, one by Paul); four were derelicted and towed home (two by Mike, one each by Dan and Richard). Three forts were ready, but none was built.

Scribed this day, the Twenty-First of February,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Pirates Battle Report for 02/27/2007

Was Young Captain Dan in trouble with the law? He had an unusual request: he wanted to change his name, preferably to something that reflected his adopted country. He suggested the Fighting Frenchman, or the Furious Frenchman, or even the Fleeing Frenchman. But the focus of his fleets is not their fighting skill, but their speed, and the fact that they spend so much time safely in their home port. So, from this day forward, he shall be known formally as Daniel Repaire-du-Lion (Daniel of the Lions' Den), and informally as the Flying Frenchman.

We fought on a 3x3' battlefield with ten wild islands, one of which was Sandbar Island, whose shallows were hazardous to large ships. Our fleets were built with 36 points, and each admiral had to use at least one ship with four or more masts.

Paul, Richard, and Dan began their campaigns by dicing for home island location. The corner furthest away from Mike has become known as "the safe corner," and everyone wanted to start there, far from the belligerent Cadet-Captain. This time, it was Daniel who won.

Almost from the initial moves, the campaign broke into two separate battles, Daniel against Richard in the north, and Paul versus Mike in the south. The northern battle was less violent at the outset, since both fleets wanted gold more than blood. The two Le Superbe's exchanged cast-iron hello's, which cost each of them two masts; Richard lost a third when Lady Godiva inspired one of Daniel's gunners to fire again. Neither big ship wanted a fight to the finish, so both joined their treasure ships and sailed home for repairs.

Daniel began funneling his gold through Le Fureur, which had stayed in port. Maurice Aristide's financial genius turned each treasure into something more valuable, one coin per turn. It was almost a religious thing, except Aristide was magnifying his Gold instead of his God. Actually, to Aristide, it was the same thing. Richard was content to unload quickly and head out again. The speedy La Monarca was almost home with a second load of gold before Daniel's ships had cashed in their first load.

The tranquility of the northern battlefield was nowhere to be seen in the south. Paul sent his two small ships on gold missions, and boldly advanced El Garante straight toward Mike to protect them. Mike kept both his fighting ships together, skilfully staying out of range until he was ready, then pounced on Paul's ship with a Saratoga on each side. Seven cannons thundered!

This historian was forbidden to write down what the seven thunders said. But the outcome was plain enough. Out of seven good shots, Mike managed a paltry two hits. Paul shot back with his remaining three cannons... and landed three hits on the Saratoga-R. This was another one of those times when Mike wished he had some hair, so he could tear it.

The Saratoga-R turned and ran for home, with one mast and some yelping noises from King George. The Saratoga-D maneuvered around Paul's big ship, hoping to finish her off and then savage the gold ships. But Mike's appalling luck held; his ship fired three times and completely struck out. Combined with the previous turn, this was the most colossal gunnery failure in pirate history.

The Bloody Jewel helped El Garante turn Mike's ship into a derelict, and all of Paul's ships headed home, two with gold and one with a prize in tow. The battle had hardly begun, and Cadet-Captain Mike was already out of it. Was this payback for all the mayhem he'd caused in the past? Was it punishment from God? Was it because he'd let Paul use his lucky dice? Either way, Mike was down to one intact ship, and a very slow one at that.

A lull in the action now occurred, as all four admirals repaired their biggest ships and sent their small ones on gold missions. Richard's Monarca was preparing for her third cruise, even though there wasn't much treasure left. Paul's ships finished off the gold in his neighborhood and took the best treasures from Sandbar Island. As usual, it was Paul who found the Rum, but this time, he was able to take it home unmolested. Mike's Rattlesnake arrived at Sandbar a few turns later, asking, "But why is the rum gone?"

The Flying Frenchman's gold ships ran into problems, however. Big, five-masted problems. Richard's Le Superbe had repaired her damage and was looking for trouble. Daniel's five-master tried to shield Le Bon Marin, but he'd forgotten that Le Superbe can shoot straight through other ships, even another Le Superbe. Le Bon Marin glubbed into the depths, and Richard claimed half her cargo, inflicted some punishment on Daniel's Superbe (with help from the Violet Death), then maneuvered to take aim at L'Intrepide. The two Superbes traded shots, and this time it was Daniel who came out worst, with his big ship losing all her masts. L'Intrepide tried to take her in tow, but Richard sank them both, then headed south. It was Mike he was after now.

The Saratoga-R had repaired most of her damage, then put to sea; Mike was afraid that if he spent another turn repairing his worst mast, he'd miss the action. His initial target was the Bloody Jewel, which was angling for a wild island. The little ship danced away from Mike's bigger ship for a turn, but Mike was too vengeance-driven to be denied. His cannon luck changed at last, and he blew the Jewel to fragments before it could chip away at his own masts. Paul hadn't loaded any gold yet, so all Mike got was one gold for sinking the Flag of Tortuga.

Now what? Paul's El Garante was getting close, and "his" Saratoga-D wasn't far behind. But Mike was badly behind on gold, and the Bloody Jewel's island was nearby. Mike turned to keep the island between himself and Paul, and loaded as much of the gold as he could carry. It was about now that the Rattlesnake finally got home with Mike's first gold of the game.

Mike had done a good job of navigating; Paul's ships would not be in position to fire until the Saratoga-R was long gone. But he hadn't counted on Richard's big ship. Le Superbe poked her bow around the island and smashed one of Mike's three remaining masts. Mike was in trouble, and he knew it.

He ran for home at full speed. In so doing, he gave up the shelter of the island, letting Paul get into firing position. Richard came right alongside and knocked down another Mike-mast. Surrounded by enemies, unable to outrun them, and with only one mast still standing, Mike was running out of options fast.

In desperation, he turned and rammed Le Superbe, hoping to knock down a mast and even the score. He failed. Then he tried to board, hoping to take out one of Richard's crew. Again he failed, and this time, one of his crew paid the price. It was King George, cut down by a musket ball on Le Superbe's deck.

"Hey, that was my dog!" shouted the Saratoga's Captain. "You illiterate sons of a cushion-footed quadruped, you killed my dog!" The infuriated Captain ran to his ship's last cannon and fired it himself. He had the satisfaction of seeing Le Superbe's mainmast sway, crack, and topple overboard.

Maybe he should have chosen something more inspiring for his last words, though. El Garante fired and left the Saratoga derelict, but couldn't finish her off. Le Superbe did; Richard got half of Mike's cargo out from under Paul's nose. The battle was deemed over, since only one small treasure remained unclaimed. Everyone counted his gold, and Richard was proclaimed the winner. He received the Captain's Coin from Mike's hand.

But wait! Daniel was so accustomed to earning second place that his own gold total didn't really register. He did a quick recount, and (with some amazement) announced that he had won by six points! The Captain's Coin changed hands again, and Daniel Repaire-du-Lion finally became the Pirate King. It is, it is a glorious thing, and long overdue.

Daniel won by the margin of Maurice Aristide's gold improvements; he had only one weak ship left when the shooting was done. Richard was a close second, and he had sunk four enemy ships. Paul was last in gold, even with the Rum and the ransom for Mike's Commodore Perry, but he had the satisfaction of laying a world-class smackdown on his arch-enemy. Cadet-Captain Mike is still trying to figure out what happened.

As usual, no one remembered to build forts. Paul and Richard used multiple Helmsmen and Captains for the first time, and their value has never been clearer. Even if Mike's luck returns, he probably won't be able to push the other admirals around so easily in the future. Nevertheless, he has made a solemn vow: "No more Mister Nice Guy!"

Scribed this day, the Twenty-Eighth of February,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Too Many Islands
Pirates Battle Report for 04/03/2007

Cadet-Captain Mike had rolled an odd set of conditions on his Random Fleet Tables tonight. Each captain got 38 points to build his fleet, but could not use any ship with a cargo of 5 or more. This was complicated by the game map. We fought on a 3x3' battlefield with twenty-four wild islands, with two treasures on each.

Mike, for his part, couldn't make up his mind which fleet to use tonight. He'd made up eight possible combinations, and they all looked good. So he asked the other three captains to choose numbers at random, and with each number, he crossed off a fleet. Daniel made the last choice; Mike looked at the fleet that was left and grinned, "You have just signed your death warrant!" Daniel, who uses only French ships, had unwittingly picked a Corsair fleet that included the Meshud, a very anti-French galley.

As usual, the first action of the game was to dice for "the safe corner," the home island farthest away from Cadet-Captain Mike. Daniel won this roll handily. Richard then won the roll to move first.

As the battle began, an odd feature manifested itself: no one could resist making fun of Daniel's ships. Mike mangled L'Auguste into "La Goose," which prompted some wisecracks about how his Goose was cooked. When Le Bon Marin reached its first wild island, Mike broke into a chorus of "Bon bon bon, Bon bon Marin" (to "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys). Daniel hardly had time to protest, "Not again!" before he was drowned out by Paul and Richard joining in the song.

The various ships scattered in various directions. Dan and Mike tried something new; they each sent out a ship (Le Mercure and Griffin) without its Captain, so as to have more room for gold. Paul was stunned to realized that his Zephyr, with full cargo holds and no Captain, was just about useless; Mike counselled him to use her to explore islands for his other ships. As before, the battle broke in two: Daniel versus Richard in the north, and Paul versus Mike in the south.

The southern battle ended very quickly, and was the complete opposite of the last Paul/Mike battle. The Pride advanced on Mike's Meshud and Terror, and Paul got the first shot. Three cannons boomed, but only one mast fell on the Meshud. The other two, plus the Terror's guns, left the Pride feeling very humble, not to mention derelict. Mike left her where she was; the Meshud made a quick Shipwright repair and went west, while the Terror turned north.

In the north, things were getting interesting. Richard got two ships to wild islands quickly. El Duque explored the two coins on her island and got two uniques — Rum and a Missionary. (Now there's an unlikely combination.) The Missionary persuaded Richard's Captain and Helmsman to renounce their lives of sin, so they left El Duque and enrolled in Bob Jones University. The Rum would be worth plenty when Richard got it home, three turns later. Meanwhile, HMS Frolic realized that her cargo holds were full of crew and she couldn't load any gold. So, in a very strange move, she turned around and sailed back to her home island.

In the meantime, Daniel's big four-masted schooner, Le Bonaparte, had made a beeline for Richard's part of the map. The Lord Cauldwell rammed Daniel bow to bow, pinning both and knocking down a mast. But everyone soon realized that, with their respective special abilities, neither ship could hurt the other. So there they sat for the next five turns, unable to move, making faces and calling each other names because they couldn't shoot each other. Eventually, Richard's Frolic joined the party at extreme range, plinking away ineffectively at Daniel's ship while enjoying her immunity to long-range return fire. It looked like a three-way standoff.

By this time, most of the gold ships had returned to their home ports and unloaded a growing fortune in treasure. Mike's Griffin and Daniel's Le Mercure swapped their gold for a Captain each, and set sail in search of mischief. Paul got a short lesson from Mike in trading crew at sea, and quickly swapped crew and treasures all around his fleet. The only gold ship still heading home was Mike's Dervish, which was limited to "dead slow" movement when fully loaded. She figured she wasn't in a hurry anyway, so she glommed onto Paul's derelict Pride and slowly dragged her home. They eventually got there, but it took so long that Mike was still repairing the Pride when the battle ended.

L'Auguste was making her move by this time. She had explored one wild island, finding some gold and a case of Scurvy that did no harm, and was now closing in on Paul's home island with larceny on her mind. Paul left the Treachery in port to guard his stuff, and his Amity was coming home fast. His Zephyr was too far out at sea to intervene.

Then the Meshud met her, and soon there was no more Zephyr. Why was Mike so mean? The one-masted ship posed no threat to him and had no gold. But Mike hadn't sunk anything yet, and he was getting twitchy; he had to do it. The Meshud almost turned on the L'Auguste next, but figured that she would have to pass him on her way home, so he had time for fun elsewhere. He stopped to clean out a wild island and set course for the Daniel/Richard battle.

That battle was wrapping up quickly. The Terror of Gibraltar had almost joined the fray, but Mike faced a dilemma. He didn't want to turn Le Bonaparte loose, so he couldn't attack Richard's ship. But he didn't want to come within range of Daniel's cannons, either. So he went back and forth for a turn or two, looking for an opportunity.

Meanwhile, Le Mercure closed in on the Lord Cauldwell and rammed her hard. Not quite hard enough, though; her masts held, and Richard made such a face that Mike was sorry cameras weren't invented yet. But French gunnery ruled the day. In two turns, both of Richard's stout masts cracked and fell, and Le Bonaparte was free. Worse, she was now accompanied by Le Mercure, giving Daniel a huge concentration of firepower in one part of the bay.

HMS Frolic saw the writing on the wall and left the area at high speed. The Meshud met her in mid-ocean and blew off one of her masts. Richard turned and ran for home (again), chased by Mike's fast galley. The Terror was suffering badly by now. "I never got to sink one of your ships before," explained Daniel, who was trying to be reasonable as his ships closed in for the kill. (This wasn't true; he sank the USS Delaware three months ago. Nanny nanny boo boo.) Le Bonaparte fired all three of her remaining cannons... and got only one hit. This prompted a strange display of rejoicing from Mike. He called it "the engineer's dance;" the others were worried that he was having a siezure or something.

Mike's celebration was short-lived; his ship was too slow to escape the Flying Frenchman's fast fighting fleet, and Daniel was using Richard's lucky die. The galley tried to run, and took a shot from her awful stern gun. She needed a six, and got a one. Then Le Mercure pulled alongside. One by one, the Terror's masts snapped and fell overboard. She tried to crawl away under oar power, but Le Mercure shouted, "Vive le France!" and finished her off. Daniel claimed the one point for sinking the Hag of Tortuga, but the satisfaction of blasting something of Mike's meant more to him. El Duque took advantage of Daniel's distraction to scoot home with some gold in her holds.

Back in the southwest corner, Paul did a superb job of defending his home island. The L'Auguste actually made it to land and stole a treasure, but with a combination of cannon fire from the Treachery and ramming by the Amity, Daniel's ship was dismasted and captured, and he got his gold back. Now that the threat from Daniel was removed, the Treachery put to sea in search of golden goodies. Mike's Griffin had paused to snatch some of those goodies, but was back on course to meet her.

At this point, Mike had one ship (Meshud) preparing to take on Daniel's fleet with her French-hating cannons, another (Griffin) in position to wreak havoc on Paul, and a very slow gold ship, plus the captured Pride. Daniel had two fighting ships together, ready to sweep away any opposition, and a swift gold ship. Richard had a slow gold ship and a damaged fighter, while Paul had three gold ships, counting the captured L'Auguste. Battle was about to be joined!

But nature intervened. The sun went down, darkness fell, and no one could see to fight anymore. (Actually, we called the game because Daniel's ride had arrived.) Four or five islands still had treasure, but we were out of time. We counted up all the gold at home and on ships, and Mike found himself in first place, thanks to some spectacular treasures (a 7, a 6, and two 5's, among others). Paul was in second place, Daniel in third, and Richard... well, umm, his ships spent a lot of time sailing around in circles.

This battle continued our long, proud tradition of providing forts but forgetting to build them. The highlight of Paul's battle was his stubborn defense of his home island against thievery. Daniel suffered because La Bonaparte spent half the game stuck to a Richard-ship half her size, and he probably would have come in second if his L'Auguste hadn't been captured with gold on board. Richard knows how to get gold, but he needs ships with enough cargo to do it right. Mike sank only one ship, captured another, and lost his biggest ship in return, and his anti-French ship never did take a shot at a Frenchman. But who will take the Captain's Coin away from him next time?

Overheard during the game:
(Mike discovered that his Pirate ship, Pride, wasn't quite the same as Paul's Pride)
Show me your Pride!
Mike: I'm trying to repent of it.

Scribed this day, the Fourth of April,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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A Truce, but No Two's
Pirates Battle Report for 06/26/2007

When the usual four captains learned of a remote bay that needed pillaging, their best ships were all engaged elsewhere. But a true pirate always has a Plan B. We fought with 40-point fleets, but ships with 2-rank cannons were not allowed. Each captain was allowed one free named crew if that crew linked to one of his ships, but none of us was able to take advantage of this.

We fought on a 3x3' battlefield with eight equally spaced wild islands. In the center was Dry Tortuga Island, divided into four separate sections: the Shipyard, the Tavern, the Money Changers, and the Treasure Field. Each had special rules, but in the event, only the Shipyard saw any action.

Dan won the roll for the "safe corner" (he usually does). Everyone moved simultaneously for the first two turns to speed up the game. Richard sent two of his ships toward Mike's fleet, and the other two to wild islands elsewhere. Dan sent two ships toward Paul and two toward Richard. Paul aimed two ships at Dan and two at wild islands, and Mike sent Champ toward Richard and his other two ships toward Dan. It looked like a wild melee was brewing.

The first action occurred in the east, where Paul's Sea Nymph got the drop on Dan's Le Triton and left her derelict in two salvos. The Amity and Bloody Jewel loaded up with loot, while the Treachery decided to tow the Triton home.

In the west, Champ surfaced and rammed HMS Frolic, snapping off both her masts with the ram and her boarding ability. The Sea Rat cut inside her derelict sister ship and filled her holds from a nearby wild island. Rather than ram again, Champ dipped beneath the waves, then bobbed up a turn later and smashed the Sea Rat's masts with a direct attack. The Philadelphia carefully threaded the gap between Richard's two derelicts and stole the gold-laden junk home, to Richard's dismay.

Dan had had a hard time deciding what Le Bonaparte should do. He almost blasted the Rattlesnake to matchwood, but decided to let her go. His first victim was the Treachery, which was about to drag Le Triton away. Instead, the Treachery joined the Triton in a steadily growing flotilla of drifting derelicts. Dan then got mixed up with the Sea Nymph, but he gave better than he got, and Paul's big warship broke off the battle with two masts down. He took one repair at the Shipyard, which cost him one gold piece, then returned to the fray. Le Bon Marin and Le St. Michel used this lull in the action to get home with some pieces of eight.

It was around this time that Cadet-Captain Mike made a very controversial move. He offered Paul a truce, a non-aggression deal for three turns, which Paul accepted. Other pirates have been making such deals for years, but this was the first time it had been tried in one of our games. When Richard's protests went to no avail, he tried to strike a deal with Dan, but Dan declined — Richard didn't have much to bargain with.

While Paul's big ship was carrying the brunt of the action, his other ships were not idle. Once his two fast gold ships had unloaded, they took turns passing Commodore Temple to each other, using him to steal the Triton and rescue the Treachery. Neither ship was repaired in time to affect the battle, but it was a shrewd piece of maneuvering nonetheless.

Mike's Hudson finally got into the action just before the Treachery was whisked home. The Hudson and the Bonaparte began the "dance of the four-masted schooners," whose steps were very complicated because the Bonaparte could not be shot from S range. Dan would close the range, fire, and do little or no harm because of appallingly bad luck. Then Mike would open the range, use his Schooner turn to improve his angle, fire, and get one mast (his luck wasn't much better). Things might have been different if Mike had been paying attention, but he forgot about the Hudson's crew-killing talent, and Dan's Captain remained untouched.

Dan finally tipped the scales by sailing the St. Michel into the fray. She was trying to deliver a load of Dry Powder to the Bonaparte, but her captain decided to play a more direct role, ramming Mike's ship and knocking a mast down. The Bonaparte rammed and accomplished nothing, but her cannons got a third mast. Mike retired, but fired his last cannon and reduced Dan's ship to one mast as well. The Sea Nymph joined the dance at this time, gunning for the Bonaparte, but had great problems trying to stay out of S range of Dan's ship.

Meanwhile, the Hades Flame had made a second voyage to the last island with gold on it, which was near Mike's home island. Champ couldn't catch her, but he was close enough that, once the Flame de-ghosted to load, he could ram and board her with deadly effect. If the Flame stayed ghostly, the sea monster could use his "cannons" and get the same result. Reluctantly, Richard's ship left the gold and scooted for safety, passing right through Dry Tortuga Island with inches to spare, then turned for home. The Rattlesnake had picked up some doubloons from an island near Dan's home port and was creeping home as well. Champ, robbed of his prey, headed for the big battle to see if he could add any mayhem there.

Mike had finished repairing the Sea Rat, and borrowed a page from Paul's book. The Philadelphia loaded the gold from the island that Richard had wanted, transferred it to the Sea Rat, and headed out to sea, meaning to steal the Frolic away while the slow junk took the gold home.

The big battle between Mike and Dan finally ended when the Bonaparte got the Hudson's last mast. "I really like this ship!" Dan kept saying. He turned to deal with Paul's Sea Nymph; both his ships rammed her, and she was soon a mastless derelict. But Mike played his ace in the hole, repairing a mast with his Shipwright while Dan was distracted, and took one last shot to finish off Le Bonaparte. "Go out with a blaze of glory," her captain chanted as the last cannon fired. And missed.

This marked the end of the battle; it was getting late, and only one coin remained unclaimed. Champ never got to join the main battle, and the Philadelphia never stole her third victim. Dan won the gold count by a large margin. Paul came in second, Mike was close behind him in third, and hopefully Richard learned something about putting Captains on some of his ships.

No ships were sunk this time, oddly enough, but six were left derelict and three of those were snatched by ship-stealers. The absence of accurate cannons made the big battle a long, drawn-out affair. Bad dice luck didn't help, either; even Paul's Cannoneer didn't score many hits, and Dan's luck was just plain atrocious. Le Bonaparte couldn't hit le large côté d'une grange with her cannons, but she absorbed a huge amount of punishment without going down. Champ did well in his debut, smashing two ships and chasing off a third. Mike and Paul both used their ship stealers to very good effect. Almost everyone had a good time, and that's the final measure of a Pirate battle, right?

Overheard during game set-up:

Paul: I know I don't want to use Chihuahua.
Mike: I think that's "Kikowa."

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

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Elite Fleets Meet - Who Got Beat?
Pirates Battle Report for 07/12/2007

Daniel Repaire-du-Lion and Cadet-Captain Mike both were itching for some pirate action. The other two usual suspects, Paul the Pirate Prince and the Dread Pirate Richard, were unavailable (they were probably groggy from too many root beers in the Pirates' Pub), so Mike and Dan met on their own for a 120-point death match.

We fought on a 3x3' battlefield with an atoll of nine wild islands. Each island had one 2-gold treasure, in case someone wanted cash to build a fort, but gold would not be the focus of this game. No, this game would be about mayhem!

Mike surprised Daniel at the very start by sending the Ghost Walker and the Philadelphia after gold, instead of joing the rush as the two fleets closed on each other. Daniel planned to gather some treasure and erect a fort later in the game, but Mike couldn't wait. The Ghost Walker used her speed to reach the nearest island in one turn, load a coin, then transfer it to the Philly. The windcatcher then rejoined the fleet, while the Philadelphia turned for home with two coins.

Daniel's fleet seemed to have a speed advantage; he was past the midpoint of the bay when the fleets sighted each other, and most of the action took place on Mike's side of the water. Mike had divided his ships into two squadrons, while Dan's ships remained in one broad formation. Twice the French ships advanced, and twice the Americans gave way. Neither admiral wanted to give the other side the first shot.

Finally, Daniel saw an opportunity, and hoisted the signal flags for "General Chase." His fleet surged forward, and the frontmost cannons boomed. He brought down two masts on the Boston, and landed a hit on the Emerald. This caused Mike to blow a raspberry at him (Dan thought this was very immature) just before he gleefully announced that it took two hits to remove one of the Emerald's masts. Her damage resistance was a thorn in Daniel's side for the rest of the battle. That was all the damage he could do, and in so doing, he gave Mike the opportunity he was waiting for. The American fleet came about and bore down hard on Daniel's formation, firing every gun they had.

On the right, the Overton, Delaware, and Quigley ganged up on Le Ville de Paris. The Overton fired first, scoring two misses and one hit, which the big Frenchman ignored. But that was okay; the Overton's goal was to land that one ignorable hit, so the Delaware's double-damage cannons could hit with full force. And they did. Daniel was treated to the astonishing sight of a two-masted ship blowing his five-masted brute into matchwood; suddenly she had only one mast left. The Quigley saw that her help wasn't needed against the Ville de Paris, so she turned on the next ship, Le Superbe, and landed a hit that killed her firepot specialist.

On the left, the Boston was already out of the battle with only one mast left. The Hudson's guns hammered Le Bonne Chance, Daniel's newest ship and a priority target, and left her derelict. The Hudson then joined the Ghost Walker in blasting Le Bonaparte (another priority target) with a combination of remarkable accuracy and the Ghost Walker's canceller ability. The Emerald crossed from left to right to join the battle against Le Superbe.

So far, Mike had had things all his way, but that was about to change dramatically. The Ville de Paris fired her last cannon at the Overton, using her Firepot Specialist, and got a hit. The Overton's mizzenmast burst into flames, which soon spread to the mainmast. Her working cannons dismasted the Ville de Paris, but it looked like it was all over for the Overton.

Meanwhile, Le Mercure and La Martinique had joined the battle on the left and done serious damage to the Hudson. The Ghost Walker transferred her shipwright to the Hudson and made another long move to ambush Mike's third priority target, Le Courageux. She negated the Frenchman's ignore-first-hit ability and fired both cannons that would bear on the target... and rolled snake-eyes. The last of Daniel's two-masters got into the battle at last, and in no time, the four of them had sunk both the Hudson and the Ghost Walker.

The Emerald's captain decided that a bow-to-bow double pin was just what Le Superbe needed. This was not smart. For one thing, the ram did no damage. For another, he forgot that the big French ship might board him, which she did, cutting down the American helmsman on his quarterdeck. Then, because of the angle of the two ships, Daniel was able to fire two cannons, not one, at the Emerald. He put two consecutive hits on her and got one mast, then turned his aft cannons on the Delaware and blew off one of her masts. The Delaware returned fire and hit, paying Le Superbe back double. The little Emerald added a hit, and the burning Overton got the Superbe's fifth mast with its last working cannon. The Emerald, freed from the double pin, turned for home and repairs.

At this point, Daniel's five-masted ships on the right were mastless wrecks, while his small ships on the left were cleaning up the seas. The injured Boston limped away to the shelter of a nearby island, while the intact Quigley and the damaged Delaware crossed over to the left. Together, they sank La Provence, and together they themselves sank when the rest of Daniel's fleet jumped them. Le Martinique, with her passionate hatred of all things American, was particularly effective. Le Mercure followed up by chasing the Boston, shattering her last mast, and coming, oh, so close to sinking her.

Mike was now down to one intact ship that was useless as a fighter (Philadelphia), one damaged ship (Emerald), one fiercely burning ship (Overton), and a derelict (Boston) against Daniel's three intact ships (Le Courageux, Le Mercure, and Le Martinique) and three derelicts (Le Bonne Chance, Le Superbe, and La Ville de Paris). Daniel had siezed control of the battle; Mike's position looked bad.

Two things saved him. One was the sudden, swift contribution of the Philadelphia, which had done almost nothing up to now. Her first act was to return home with enough gold to raise the Thompson's Island fort. The Boston might be derelict, but she was touching an island, and that was enough. Le Mercure suddenly found herself under fire from land-based cannons, and while the American gunners were inaccurate, they were not abject failures, either. Now it was Daniel's ship that was down to one mast.

The Philly's next trick was to race out to the fort and rescue the Boston. She had always specialized in stealing enemy ships, but a derelict is a derelict, and the Boston's crew were relieved to find themselves home again. Unable to hurt the Boston any more, Le Mercure moved away, but not far enough; the fort's gunners found the range and sent her to the bottom with two quick hits.

Le Courageux skirted the fort's cannon range as she pursued the fleeing Emerald. An impressive display of cannon accuracy knocked down the American's last tough mast just before she got home. But it was all for nothing. The Emerald was so close to home that the Philadelphia could leave port, touch her, and bring her home in one turn, safe and ready to repair. Dan's other ships turned away; Le Martinique took Le Superbe in tow, while Le Courageux took up a rear-guard position.

Meanwhile, on the right, occurred the second event that saved Mike. The Overton's crew were desperately fighting fires on two of her three masts; the crews of the mastless Le Superbe and La Ville de Paris looked on, chanting, "Burn, bébé, burn!" Somehow the hard-pressed sailors cut enough lines to let the ruined mizzenmast topple overboard. But in what was almost a miracle, they also put out the fires on the mainmast. Against all odds, the Overton had survived the flames and was still in the battle! She turned for home, and soon Mike's home port was crowded with damaged ships undergoing emergency repairs to their masts and rigging.

Gamer's note: one reason the Overton's survival was so dramatic was her second die roll. Mike had just thrown a 6 to save one fire mast; now he had to do it again, and if he threw a 1-3, it meant another fire mast and the end of his ship. The pressure was on. He rolled, and it was about to come to rest as a 1... but it slid off the edge of the game surface onto the table, tumbled, and came up 6. Mike leaped and shouted "Yes!", pumping his fist with joy, while Dan groaned loudly and covered his eyes, exclaiming, "I can't believe how lucky you are!" Believe it, Brother.
The Overton was repaired first, and she was ready for vengeance. The Boston and Emerald finished their repairs a turn later and set out in pursuit, but they might as well have stayed home; the end of the battle was all about the Overton. Her first victim was Le Courageux, which was still intact and a tough opponent. After what they'd already been through, the Americans weren't afraid of anything, and sailed in with guns blazing. All three cannons hit, and Le Courageux joined the list of derelict ships.

Meanwhile, the Philly took her third derelict home; this time it was an enemy, Le Bonne Chance. This was more for honor than to affect the outcome, since the battle would be done long before the French junk could be repaired.

The Overton sank Le Courageux as she passed by, then caught up with Le Martinique. Why Daniel didn't cast off his tow line and attack is a mystery that has puzzled naval historians. Perhaps he saw Mike's other two ships closing in and decided it didn't matter. The Overton's captain offered surrender terms to Daniel's crew, but they shouted, "Nerd!" (or something like that) and continued towing Le Superbe. So Mike fired two more well-aimed shots, and the battle was over.

It was a vicious fight to the death, with much pinpoint maneuvering and careful measuring of cannon ranges and angles. Either player could have won; the tides of fate shifted back and forth several times during the battle, and neither admiral has anything to be ashamed of. Daniel apparently feels like he suffered a major defeat, but he came very close to winning in the middle part of the battle.

Some historians find it interesting that the biggest ships were the first to be destroyed, and that the small ships inflicted most of the damage. There were many emotional highs and lows for both admirals, but the Overton's putting out two fire masts in one turn was certainly the high point for Mike. For Daniel, sinking the Hudson and the Ghost Walker in the same turn was probably his best moment.

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

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When Good Luck Goes Bad
Pirates Battle Report for 07/17/2007

This was the event that Cadet-Captain Mike and Daniel Repaire-du-Lion had been waiting for! At last, after many pleas and threats, the Dangerous Lady Lora was weighing anchor and setting sail. Her piratical sons were both chasing fancies in other seas, so this would be a three-way battle. We fought on our usual battlefield, with an atoll of nine wild islands and a lot more gold than the rules call for.

Rather than reconstruct the action on a blow-by-blow basis, this battle report will report on the success or failure of each ship in turn, then sum up the entire battle.

Daniel Repaire-du-Lion:

Cadet-Captain Mike: The Dangerous Lady Lora: Le Courageux was the last ship to be sunk. Mike's gold ships scooted home, and his shark had no intention of letting itself get shot, so the battle ended. Cadet-Captain Mike ran off with well over half the gold; he also sank a ship and lost one. Lora was second in gold; she sank two ships, lost one, and captured one — a very creditable performance for her first outing since last September. Dan... well, it just wasn't Dan's day.

His bad luck in completely missing Lora's Antelope was equalled only by Mike's inability to get a second action out of the Crimson Angel or land more than two hits at a time from El Ballista's four guns. Lora's luck ran hot all through the game, but she was kept so busy fighting and dodging the shark that she didn't get enough gold. Daniel is thinking of renaming his junk Le Mauvaise Chance, or "Bad Luck."

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

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In a Crabby Mood
Pirates Battle Report for 07/26/2007

Paul and Richard were getting restless. Both had recently added a giant crab to their respective fleets, and both they and the crabs were itching for action. Cadet-Captain Mike was willing to oblige them, the Flying Frenchman agreed to join the fray, and the long, narrow bay became a crustacean combat zone.

The agreed terms were that each player got one ship, and all the crew they could fit on that ship, for free, plus fifteen points for whatever else they wanted. Everyone wound up with a similar fleet — one big fighter, one small fighter, and one gold ship apiece. Our usual 3x3' battle boards would not fit on the table we used, so our ocean became 2x4'.

Paul won both the roll for the "safe corner" and the roll to see who went first. Unknown to Mike, the other three had made a secret treaty with each other; they would smash Mike's fleet first, and settle up with each other when the menace of the Cadet-Captain was no more.

The battle's first victim was the secret treaty. Paul's giant crab and Daniel's little gold ship both approached the same island, with Paul's gold ship closing in from behind. El Toro crawled up onto the island, waving its claws in a very menacing way; Le Bon Marin was hardly a threat to it. Whether Daniel would have tried to steal the gold out from under the crab will never be known. Why Paul did what he did next is also a mystery; he later insisted that he wasn't shooting to score a hit, whatever that means. In any event, the crab opened fire on Daniel's sloop, missing with two claws and the other two out of reach.

Daniel's revenge was swift and overpowering. Both La Ville de Paris and Le Bonne Chance converged on El Toro with all guns blazing (including Capitaine Arathiel's pistol, which cost him an Oarsman but got him into the battle faster). A minute later, Mike observed that "Daniel's fleet is having crab cakes for supper." The Pirate Prince protested about their agreement; the Flying Frenchman flatly denied breaking the deal, on the grounds that Paul fired first. This debate went on long after the battle had ended, and as far as this scribe knows, they're still arguing about it.

Upon seeing this display of French aggression, Richard earnestly exclaimed to Mike, "I will be very nice to you!" Daniel found this very amusing.

Meanwhile, on the western end of the bay, Richard's two ships headed for the same wild island as Mike's Nubian Prince. Richard's small fighter got a double move and got there first; Mike's big fighter also got a double move (the first of many) and blew HMS Algiers' masts off. Richard's gold ship wisely sheered off and headed for the center of the bay, where things were somewhat quieter.

By "somewhat quieter," I mean there were only two ships involved there, Richard's giant crab and Paul's turtle ship. Apparently, turtles and crabs don't get along. There was a violent collision and a wild snapping of claws; when the spray had settled, the Green Dragon was draggin' its fantail, wrapped up in Brachyura's arms, derelict.

The commotion attracted more attention than Richard wanted. Daniel's fighting ships held their northwesterly course and came upon the huge crustacean, which was about to drag Paul's ship back to its home island. Capitaine Arathiel shot one of his Shipwrights in the head, which encouraged the other crew to double their efforts. Again the French cannons thundered. This time, the crab survived the initial attack. But there was no way it could withstand another blow, nor could it escape. It strove to go out in a blaze of crabby glory and attacked Dan's big ship with its two remaining claws, but the Ville de Paris' tough masts withstood the blow. Le Bonne Chance added her cannons to the battle, and the Flying Frenchman painted a second silhouette of a crab on his mainmast. He took down Paul's Green Dragon while he was at it.

All this time, Le Bon Marin and the Tiger's Eye were quietly loading up on gold and returning home with it. The Dervish was doing the same, but much slower. That little galley finally got to the island that the Algiers and the Nubian Prince had fought over, and among the medium-valued treasures, she found a Castaway — a Smokepot Specialist. Cadet-Captain Mike had never used one of these before, and was curious. So the Nubian Prince turned away from her aggression for a moment, swapped the Hag for the Smokepotter, and returned to living dangerously. (Mike realized after the battle that the Hag wasn't allowed to leave her ship, especially to join a ship that didn't support Pirate crew. This might have affected the length of the battle, but probably not its outcome.)

Danger wasn't far away; Daniel's two fighting ships were on a roll and closing in fast. Mike's galley got another double move, and used it to close the range on Dan's French junk. Barbary cannons were not on target yet; Mike landed only one hit. His last cannon, a 5-rank, had even less chance of a hit, so Mike launched a Smokepot squarely onto the ocean where Le Bonne Chance floated. Dan's ship quickly escaped the smoky cloud and closed in on the Nubian Prince, accompanied by La Ville de Paris.

Now came the moment Mike was waiting for. Both of Dan's ships were at close range, and the Flying Frenchman was counting his cannons. "So that gives me —" he began, when Mike cut him off, "— absolutely nothing!" Mike then waved the Nubian Prince's deck plate in Dan's face like a soccer referee waving a yellow card. His galley was immune to short-range cannon fire! "I don't like that ship," Daniel decided.

In the midst of all this, Richard's last ship, El Chico, had reached a wild island and loaded up. Paul's last ship, Cutlass, had almost done the same, but Dan's Le Bon Marin was nearby and would surely steal the gold from under Paul's nose. Paul wisely turned away to another wild island. This one was perilously close to the battle between Mike and Dan, but Paul hoped that Dan would be too distracted to worry about one little gold ship.

Mike's four-masted galley now got another double move. On his first move, he rammed Le Bonne Chance, and his boarders swarmed over the gunwales. In a hard-fought battle, he slew the French Captain. Then his gunners took aim at La Ville de Paris and hit her hard enough to take down one mast, and smokepotted her for good measure. On his second move, he crossed Le Bonne Chance's bow and splintered her remaining two masts, one from an improbable hit with his 5-rank cannon.

An odd phenomenon was now evident. When the battle had started, all three players were going to gang up on Cadet-Captain Mike. But now that the battle was raging, both Paul and Richard were openly cheering for Mike. Daniel did not think much of this.

His big ship escaped the smoke at a good angle, and with a bad attitude. Abandoning all restraint, the five-masted ship rammed Mike's galley hard. But not hard enough; no masts fell. The two ships then boarded each other, and Mike's luck remained hot; Daniel lost his other Shipwright in hand-to-hand combat. He then began sizing up his cannons' chances against the Nubian Prince, when Mike gloated, "Aren't you forgetting something?" Again he waved the deck plate in Daniel's face. "Oh, why did I do that?" moaned Dan, covering his eyes. "I really don't like that ship!"

Mike gave him even more reason to dislike it when his cannons returned fire and connected twice, plus the obligatory smoke cloud. When Dan's ship emerged from the smoke this time, she was blocked by the cloud behind her and an island on either side, forcing her to leave the battle. But another target was now in front of her. Paul had finally gotten his mitts on some treasure, and was on the verge of heading home. But Mike suggested he'd have more fun if he rammed the nearby Bon Marin. He did, and left the little gold ship derelict. He then won a boarding action, but since Paul's ship had no room for more gold, and Dan's ship carried no crew, it made no difference.

Or did it? If Paul had run for home, he might have gotten away clean. But his ram attack left him close enough that when the huge Ville de Paris loomed up out of the smoke, she was already close enough for gunfire. Overjoyed at finally having a target they could hit, the French gunners concentrated their fire and sank Paul's last ship. Having to divide the treasure added insult to injury.

Revenge came up quickly. The Tiger's Eye had looted her second island, but rather than turn for home, she sped across the waves to join the battle. Her cannons all missed, but her entry into the fray was totally unexpected by Dan. "That's your gold ship!" he objected. "She's dual-purpose," Mike explained.

The Nubian Prince also closed in, but her cannons missed, one after the other. After the battle, Mike realized that a lot more of his shots would have hit if he'd remembered to use Murat Rais' ability of +1 on cannon fire against infidels. Apparently, Murat Rais spent the battle trying to pray toward Mecca, but he was actually facing toward Hackensack, New Jersey.

Dan had two cannons left on his one remaining ship, and he fired both at the Nubian Prince, which was finally in the right range. And now, the last of Daniel's luck deserted him. Both shots missed. Mike commented, "I actually feel sorry for you now." But that didn't stop him from finishing off his enemy with the Nubian Prince at the first opportunity.

Richard had gotten El Chico safely home. Only two gold coins were left unclaimed, and he didn't think much of his chances against Mike's intact fleet, so he decided to stay put. This ended the battle. Mike won on gold by a huge margin, Dan was second, and Richard improved his standing in the Fantasy Pirate League by coming in third.

Obviously, giant crabs aren't a substitute for a good fighting ship. In this battle, their main role was that of magnet, attracting iron cannonballs. We'll have to experiment and find out what crabs do best. Daniel fought hard and well, but he was thwarted by the Nubian Prince's immunity to S-range gunfire, and by the many double moves that Jack Hawkins gave, aided by Griffin's reroll ability. This is ironic because, in the last two battles, Daniel used a ship with the exact same ability — Le Bonaparte. Paul and Richard should definitely consider teaming up instead of turning on each other; Dan is now just as dangerous as Mike, and with two ornery admirals prowling the seas, something drastic needs to be done.

Scribed this day, the Twenty-Sixth of July,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Crash of the Titan
Pirates Battle Report for 08/20/2007

Cadet-Captain Mike faced a dilemma. In his most recent battle, he had watched Daniel Repaire-du-Lion cut down two titanic crabs in quick succession. Giant crabs weren't really that weak, were they? He hoped not; he had just recruited a crab for his own fleet. So he decided to pick a fight with Paul the Pirate Prince and the Dread Pirate Richard, and find out what crabs were good for. He also hoped to learn about sea dragons. As for Paul and Richard, they just wanted gold, and maybe a chance to beat up on Mike a little. Mike had suggested that the two brothers work together, partially to see if they could do it. They didn't exactly cooperate with each other, but it was true that they didn't go after each other at the beginning of the fight.

At first, Mike sent his crab toward Paul's fleet, while his sea dragon took up a threatening position on a wild island near Richard. But the dragon counted the masts on Le Superbe and decided she couldn't handle a ship that big, so they swapped assignments. Raninoidea headed for Richard's fleet, and Angelica parked herself on an island near Paul's ships. She figured she was safe from ramming attacks there, and only Le Courageux's guns would be a threat.

She didn't count on some aggressive tactics from Paul, though. Everybody knows that submarines are supposed to stay under water where it's safe, but Paul had never read that book. The Nautilus bobbed to the surface and joined Le Courageux in a cannonade that left Mike's dragon with a head and not much else.

Meanwhile, the purple crab and Le Superbe had met at sea. The French ship got off the first shots, and in a sign of things to come, she hit only one arm of the crab. Raninoidea replied with a ram that did no damage, then lashed the big ship with her claws and scored one hit. This trend went on for two whole turns; one hit, one hit, one hit, one hit. The crab was winning this exchange, since each of its hits removed two French masts, but even its Cannoneer was no help in this display of bad shooting. But then the Nautilus poked her metallic snout into the battle, still firing cannons, and still quite accurate, until there was no more giant crab. Le Superbe trimmed her last remaining mast and turned for home.

By this time, some of Paul's and Richard's gold ships had managed to load up with treasure. What was left of Angelica lined up on Richard's gold ship, the Bonnie Liz. The range was perfect for a swoop attack, and Richard's fighting ships were too far away to help. One swoop would derelict her, and the dragon's one remaining cannon would finish her off. It was a perfect plan.

Too bad the swoop attack missed.

The Bonnie Liz shot back at point-blank range, and just like that, Mike was completely out of the battle, with no ships, no monsters, no gold, no hair, no nothin'. Now it was down to Richard and Paul to settle the details. Paul had something of an advantage, since all his ships were intact. The Nautilus and Le Courageux went on the offensive.

First they chased down and sank the Bloody Jewel, taking half her treasure; they couldn't quite catch the Bonnie Liz as she dashed into her home port. Then El Chico made a break for the north side of the bay. Paul's ships gave chase and soon blocked her way, both to the only wild island in the area and to her path home.

The little Spanish ship's crew knew they were as good as dead, so they took the only action they could — they put the helm over and rammed Le Courageux. It was not in vain; the Frenchman's mainmast broke off and fell overboard. Then the two crews boarded each other, and again, the desperate Spanish sailors won, striking down Paul's Captain. A moment later, there was no more El Chico, just drifting smoke from the Nautilus' cannons. The damaged Le Courageux turned for home.

But while both of Paul's ships were chasing El Chico, Richard's other gold ship, the Bonnie Liz, was making a hasty run to the last wild island in the south. Le Superbe, repaired at last, sailed out to meet her, and to get in the way if Paul tried to stop her from getting home. He tried just that, but the submarine was a hair too slow. The Bonnie Liz made it home safely, winning her second sailing race of the day.

All this time, Paul's Bloody Jewel had been cleaning out island after island. The Zephyr, too, had been busy bringing back one gold coin at a time. On one island, she found a load of Fruit that would have been a burden to any other ship. But it was so big, she couldn't fit it in her cargo holds, so she was allowed to leave it where she found it. On the next island she visited, the Zephyr helped raise the Devil's Maw fort, but it never got a shot off.

When the Bonnie Liz got home, all the gold had been claimed, so the battle was over. Paul won by the margin of the gold he stole from the sunken Bloody Jewel, and rejoiced as he received the Captain's Coin for the first time. He also had the satisfaction of slaying Mike's crab and inflicting most of the damage on his dragon. Richard killed the dragon (all hail Richard the dragon slayer!) and did most of the damage to the crab, so he had nothing to be ashamed of, either. As for Mike, well, he got what he deserved for choosing such a strange fleet.

Both Paul and Richard did well with combo fleets, a mixture of fighters and gold ships. They should remember this next time they make up a fleet. The Nautilus was the most dominant ship in the battle, helping to sink two ships and kill two monsters, even though she never made one submerged attack. Mike still doesn't know what crabs are good for, aside from dying. He didn't learn much about dragons, either; his dragon accomplished exactly nothing in this battle. This is especially odd when you remember that he has never lost when using sea monsters. Perhaps he needs to go on a low-crab diet.

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

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That Wasn't a Bit n'Ice
Pirates Battle Report for 08/27/2007

The Dread Pirate and the Pirate Prince had been curious for some time about how piracy works in the northern seas. Today was their big chance to find out. We fought over our usual atoll of nine wild islands, but the sea was also cluttered with icebergs. Twelve of them. They were destined to play an important role in the mayhem that followed. Someone shouted, "There's gold in them thar islands!" and nine ships left port as if shot from a cannon. Each fleet fanned out slightly, but stayed within hailing distance of its fellows, particularly in Richard's case. This turned out to be wise.

The gold ships (Amity, Antelope, Bonnie Liz and Bloody Jewel) and the Neptune's Hoard all loaded up quickly. The first two, and Richard's big ship, headed for home; Richard's small ships continued toward the center island, where the most gold was. It was in these congested, contested waters that the first fighting took place.

The first aggression was from Paul's Zephyr, of all unlikely ships. The little one-master rammed the Bloody Jewel, smashing her mizzenmast, and then disgorged a horde of boarders. They grabbed the first treasure they saw and returned to their ship with it, only to find that it was just a 1-gold coin. The Bloody Jewel quickly hot-footed it out of there with her treasure.

(Note that there may be some mistakes in the details of this battle. When six ships mix it up in a space not much bigger than two islands, it gets very confusing.)

Meanwhile, the two big fighters, Paul's Sea Nymph and Mike's Burma, were maneuvering for position while dodging icebergs. Mike managed to get in position first, and with a nice bit of gunnery, shot away three of Paul's four masts.

At about the same time, the HMS Nautilus, in which Mike placed so much confidence, joined the melee in the middle. She could aim only two cannons, but they were enough to shatter the Bonnie Liz's mainmast. Then the Zephyr got into the act by ramming the Nautilus. This cost Mike a mast, but in the bloody boarding action that followed, Mike stole the one-gold coin from Paul's ship. The Bonnie Liz evened the score by shooting out the Nautilus' foremast. The Nautilus' last act was to leave the Zephyr derelict. To Mike's surprise, the damaged Bonnie Liz didn't run away; she fired her lone cannon instead, but missed.

The crippled Sea Nymph waded into this battle now, and her last cannon got the Nautilus' last mast. The Bonnie Liz finished her off and claimed her treasure. That little one-gold coin had gone full circle; Richard loaded it, Paul stole it by boarding, Mike took it away from him by being boarded, and Richard got it back at last by a sinking.

By this time, the HMS Burma had found her way into the central seas. Her guns were still on target — in just two turns, she sank the Sea Nymph, the Bonnie Liz, and the Zephyr. Her captain now waited for Richard's other ships to emerge from port so he could smash them too. He used the lull in the action to explore the central island, and, on a whim, he loaded the best treasure he could find.

It was at this point that Cadet-Captain Mike tried to sit down in his captain's chair, only to find that Typhoon Timothy had sneaked in behind him and stolen his place. "Hey, you're in my seat!" Mike protested; Timothy grinned and didn't budge. The other two admirals found this very amusing.
Richard's remaining ships, the Neptune's Hoard and the Bloody Jewel, came out together, but the Jewel pulled ahead somehow. Mike jumped on the chance to divide and conquer, but only two of his cannons would bear, and he got only one hit. It was Mike's last hit, thanks to cleverness, determination, and ill luck.

The ill luck came calling first. All game long, it seemed as though the icebergs were following Mike's ships around ("They must like me," he muttered at one point). Now, one of them did more than follow; it crashed into the HMS Burma and knocked down one of her masts.

It was now that Richard pulled what might be the cleverest move he's ever made. Rather than run away or fight, the damaged Bloody Jewel ran herself onto the nearest wild island, and raised the Thompson's Island fort there. The fort's gunners weren't bull's-eye artists, but they were close enough to get two more of Mike's masts. The Burma was in serious trouble, but if she could break away, she could probably escape and return home.

Then came the determination part; Richard was determined not to let Mike get away. The Neptune's Hoard threaded her way into the narrow space between island, iceberg, and Jewel, and fired both her fore cannons. Both were on target, and the HMS Burma joined the HMS Nautilus on the HMS Bottom of the HMS Ocean. As a bonus, Richard got half the gold that the Burma had loaded from the center island.

In the meantime, Paul's last ship, the Amity, had been avoiding trouble as best she could, and swiping quite a bit of gold while she was at it. When the time was right, she helped build the Devil's Maw fort in the middle of the bay, not for fighting, but for a shortcut to drop off treasure. The fort's presence probably doubled the gold that Paul was able to claim.

Richard, for his part, cleaned up the center of the bay and brought a goodly trove home. Mike's last ship, the Antelope, was scurrying about as fast as she could, bringing in what bits of gold would fit in her small cargo holds. But she cut her scurrying a little too close, and another iceberg crashed into her, robbing her of a mast. The other captains thought this was a wonderful thing; Mike thought the icebergs were picking on him.

When the sun set on the battle, only one coin was yet unclaimed. The admirals greedily counted their gold, and the results were unprecedented: Richard and Paul were in a tie! Mike wasn't that far behind them, thanks to some high-value coins, but now we had two contenders for the Captain's Coin. Who would claim the winner's prize? They both wanted it. So they settled it in time-honored pirate fashion. Mike counted, "One, two, three, shoot!" and they both took their best shots. Rock broke scissors, which meant Paul kept the Coin.

Mike's English ships didn't disappoint him; he just got outfought by Richard, with a little help from the big bad ice cubes. Paul's fighting didn't go so well, but his gold tactics could not have been better, seeing how he fought half the battle with only one ship. As for Richard, he was just dominant. He fought a very flexible battle and made some clever moves. If Mike's Burma hadn't loaded the best gold from the center island, Richard would have gotten all of it instead of half, which would have made him the winner.

There are some battles that are so close and so hard-fought that it seems a shame that someone has to lose. This was one of those battles, and this time, two of the admirals didn't have to lose.

Scribed this day, the Twenty-Seventh of August,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike,
who isn't having a bad attitude about the icebergs, not even a little, honest!

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...But Not the Last One
Pirates Battle Report for 10/09/2007

Owing to some confusion in the household of Paul the Pirate Prince and the Dread Pirate Richard, we missed having a big battle in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19. (Things are always confusing when a new baby pirate arrives. Congratulations to young "Jetsam" Josiah; to Lt. Dave, the proud but humble papa; and to the Dangerous Lady Lora, who did all the work.) This battle would be our belated celebration of all things piratical. Each admiral got a free one-masted ship, a two-master, a three, a four, and four crew; crew that give an extra five points were not allowed. By coincidence, all of our four-masted ships were schooners. Mike's request not to be the object of a conspiracy had an unexpected side effect. The younger captains were willing to cut him some slack, but Daniel still wanted an ally. Richard volunteered; he's wanted to team up with Daniel for a very long time. Paul, not to be outdone, offered to take the Cadet-Captain's side. And thus it was that the battle was fought two-on-two. This isn't the first time that alliances have been made, but it might be the first time that they were not treacherously broken.

At the outset, every ship headed for the center of the bay. The first collision came when Paul's Freedom exchanged salvos with Daniel's Le Bonaparte. Paul got the first shots off, but the Flying Frenchman's guns were more accurate, and Le Bonne Chance quickly joined the fray as well. Le Bonaparte lost two masts, but the Freedom lost all four, making her the first of the big schooners to become a zero-masted schooner (but not the last one). Richard's L'Espadon was too late to affect the battle, but she got some useful target practice by finishing off the Freedom.

Meanwhile, the various gold ships were loading up and heading home. Mike's Maryland got close enough to Richard's Violet Death to begin taking her apart, one hit at a time. Richard's ship tried to run for home; it took four turns for the Maryland to sink her. Mike claimed his share of her treasure, a two-gold coin, which turned out to be the only gold Mike got all night.

Paul was out of fighting ships, but his ally was not slow to come to his aid. Mike's fast ships, the Jarvis and the Chesapeake, weighed in for an attack that left Le Bonaparte with one cannon. She used that cannon to blow off the Zephyr's only mast, and then came under fire from the tiny Chesapeake, to Daniel's amazement. But Mike had read about David and Goliath a few times, and his one cannon was a good one. Le Bonaparte became the second derelict four-masted schooner of the evening (but not the last one). Le Bonne Chance tried to avenge her fleetmate; she crushed the Jarvis' mainmast and lost her mizzenmast in return. This battle kept Dan busy and ensured that Paul's Amity and Shamrock went their way unmolested.

In another section of the bay, Mike's powerful but slow Intrepid had finally gotten within range of something — the Neptune's Hoard. Mike fired and got two masts; Richard returned fire and knocked down one. Mike then rammed the Hoard and fired another salvo to finish off his victim, the third four-masted schooner to fall (but not the last one). Richard's revenge was swift. His brand-new fighter, L'Espadon, unleashed her cannons with terrible effect, and the Intrepid became the fourth big schooner to be left derelict (and the last one!).

At this point, Paul had his two gold ships; Richard had his fighter and the dual-purpose Bloody Jewel; and Mike and Daniel each had three of their ships left, some with battle damage.

Also at this point, all four admirals got distracted by an amusing interlude between Lt. Dave and Typhoon Timothy. Three times, Dave gave Timothy a piece of popcorn and told him, "Take this to your mother." And three times, Timothy stuffed it in his own face instead. The lieutenant's iron discipline seems to be breaking down somewhat.
With the big ships gone, Le Bonne Chance and Le Courageux got into a wild fight with the Jarvis and the Chesapeake in the center of the bay. All four ships had good cannons; Le Courageux's immunity to the first shot was balanced by the Jarvis' immunity to long-range cannon fire (which annoyed the dickens out of Daniel when he found out about it). Daniel had an advantage in masts, and also had a Firepot Specialist on board, while Mike's Chesapeake had a crew-killing ability. But the real equalizer was Daniel's cubic random-chance generator (that means his dice).

He just couldn't roll high tonight! The only times he managed a hit were with his long-range cannons, which could not hit the Jarvis. (It didn't help that Daniel kept forgetting about the Jarvis' ability and shooting cannonballs that could never hit.) Meanwhile, Mike's cannons banged steadily away, splintering mast after mast until both of the Flying Frenchman's fighters were helpless. Mike sank them both, just to make sure they didn't get towed home. It was yet another loss for Le Bonne Chance, which might have the most inappropriate name in our piratical universe.

At one point in this battle, Daniel announced, "Le Courageux's front cannon fires, three or better to hit, with a Firepot." Paul, who was unabashedly rooting for Mike, begged the die to come up a one. "A two would be fine," commented Mike as the die rolled. It came up a two. Paul found this very amusing. For some reason, Dan didn't.
Le Bon Marin and the Amity were both on their second cruises of the day. The Amity seemed to have more on her mind than just gold; her course took her quite near Daniel's gold ship. Mike encouraged Paul to ram Le Bon Marin, but Paul decided to wait until she had some gold on board. The Shamrock stopped at an island near Paul's home port and built the Devil's Maw fort there, but no targets were in range. The Amity began towing the Zephyr home while she waited for Daniel's gold ship to pass by again.

Meanwhile, the USS Maryland had just finished off the Violet Death, and now found herself in trouble. L'Espadon was between the little ship and her home port, and Richard's ship was faster, better armed, and very angry. The Maryland danced away; Richard followed Daniel's advice and didn't close the range right away, but positioned herself for the kill.

Mike, figuring he didn't have much to lose, danced away again, this time quite close to Richard's home island. The Bloody Jewel saw her opportunity, left port, and rammed Mike's ship. She tumbled a mast overboard, but in the boarding action that followed, Mike's sailors beat the odds and cut down Richard's Captain, which kept Richard from firing. And, like L'Espadon, the Maryland's revenge was swift and fearful. She pulled away, then turned and rammed the Bloody Jewel. One mast fell from the ram, the second fell from the Maryland's ability, and Mike's one remaining cannon finished off the red pirate ship in a stunning turnaround.

At the same time, Mike's other two ships caught up with L'Espadon from behind and sent two of her masts over the side. Richard made the best maneuver he could — he rammed the Chesapeake and left her derelict, then hit the Jarvis with her last cannon, leaving both ships with one mast. Mike's last cannon landed a hit, though, and Richard's fleet was through. Lt. Dave instructed Richard to make sad puppy-dog eyes at Mike (something Richard does well) and ask why he was being picked on.

Unnoticed in all the cannon smoke, Le Bon Marin finally made it to Sandbar Island, the central island in the bay. There, she found a fine collection of pieces of eight, and a valuable cask of Rum as well. And it was at this point that the battle was declared over, owing to the lateness of the hour.

The admirals counted their ill-gotten gains, and Daniel found himself in first place, thanks to his last-moment looting at Sandbar. Paul came in second (something he does very often), Richard was close behind him in third, and it was Mike's turn to shake his fist at the others. (He always gets that way when he's hungry.) Daniel received the Captain's Coin with gratitude and some amazement.

Paul's decision to not ram Daniel's ship cost him the game. The Flying Frenchman's treasures had been of very low value right up until that last island. If the Amity had taken out Le Bon Marin with a ram, Daniel never would have gotten the treasure from Sandbar Island, which would have dropped him into third place. Of course, this would have turned Paul and Mike from allies into enemies, since they would have been the last two captains afloat and Mike needed that gold. Such a battle would have been interesting, because Paul's ships were undamaged and had a speed advantage, but Mike's ships had Captains and better cannons. On the other hand, if the battle had not been called off early, Paul probably would have rammed Daniel's ship on its way home and stolen enough gold to win anyway. We'll never know what might have been.

Of the sixteen ships that started the battle, only five were in action at the end — Mike's Jarvis and Maryland with one mast each, Paul's Amity and Shamrock, and Le Bon Marin. 69% casualties made this the deadliest battle we've ever fought. I guess that's what happens when you Talk Like a Pirate. The Firepot Specialists were quite ineffective; Dan's only Firepot shot missed, and Paul never got a chance to use his Firepotter. But Paul and Richard both used brand-new ships they'd never seen before, and both ships performed very well for them. This was the first time Mike has ever finished dead last in a four-way game, but that's what happens when you don't try to get gold, and he had fun taking Daniel's and Richard's fleets apart. Daniel planned his battles well, fought on through a run of terrible luck, and found enough treasure at the end to squeeze out a win. It was a fine battle for all concerned. But not the last one!

Overheard during the game:

Dan: Paul, your Freedom just lost two masts. Do you want me to remove the long-range cannons for you, or the short-rangers?
Paul: Take off my shorts.
Mike: I beg your pardon?!

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

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Tag Team
Pirates Battle Report for 10/16/2007

Paul the Pirate Prince and Daniel Repaire-du-Lion are often on opposite ends of a cutlass, but they agreed on one thing today. They set the terms of the upcoming battle, namely, ten masts and four crew. Our center island was Dry Tortuga, with its four action areas (the Shipyard, the Pub, the Money Changers, and the Treasure Field); all four went unused today. When the battle began, there were no alliances; it was every pirate for himself. Everyone except Paul sent a gold ship to a nearby wild island; Paul sent three. Unfortunately, two of them quickly fell to the Santa Ana and her double actions. Mike left them derelict instead of sinking them; he was thinking of towing them home later.

While Mike was walking all over Paul in the south, Daniel was doing the same in the east. Le Superbe and Le Mercure met the Freedom in an unfair fight that cost Paul's ship three of her masts, and also left his Santa Teresa derelict. The Jarvis entered the battle and did some damage to Le Mercure, but things didn't look good for Paul.

It was Dan, who was doing all the damage to Paul's ships, who actually saved him. He decided that Paul's fleet wasn't much of a threat anymore, and began plotting with Richard how best to take on Mike. The Cadet-Captain didn't like the sound of that at all, and quickly offered an alliance to Paul. The Pirate Prince agreed at once, and they struck hands on the deal; Paul struck so hard that Mike exclaimed, "Ow!" Paul did a quick job of forgiving Mike for taking out two of his ships, and Mike made a quick change of plans, from attacking Paul to defending him.

Now the situation was turned around. Instead of Daniel bulldozing Paul's fleet, he suddenly had to deal with the double-moving, double-shooting Santa Ana, which swiftly smashed Le Courageux's masts and inflicted major damage on Le Superbe. The Frenchman rammed, which did no harm, and boarded, which took Mike's Helmsman out of the battle. She also took some shots at Mike's big ship, including a Firepot hit that he was able to extinguish, so the Santa Ana broke off the battle; the Algeciras finished off the big Frenchman.

Mike's attack had distracted Dan and allowed the Freedom to escape certain destruction, and get home with just one mast. He had also allowed the Jarvis to take out Le Mercure without interference. Without this intervention, Paul would certainly have been out of the battle.

And where was the Dread Pirate Richard all this time? His fleet had made its way across the northern half of the bay, then hooked south around Dry Tortuga when the deal with Dan was made. This meant that, while Dan, Mike, and Paul were shooting each other to bits, Richard's ships were left intact. They entered the battle together, with calamitous results for their enemies.

The first victim was the Santa Ana, overtaken and overwhelmed by the Neptune's Hoard and the Cat's Claw. The Jarvis got into a scuffle with the Lord Cauldwell that saw Paul's ship added to the long list of derelicts. The Algeciras took a hit from a cannon that had nothing bigger to shoot at; Mike quickly retreated toward Paul's home island, then turned for home once she'd opened the range.

At this point in the battle, Richard's ships were undamaged and concentrated, except for Teach, which was lagging far behind the rest. Paul had one big ship (the Freedom) under repairs, and three small derelicts. Mike had an intact combo ship (Santa Isabel) heading for the action after unloading two islands' worth of gold, and a small fighter (Algeciras) with one mast left. Daniel had only the Bon Marin, which was bustling back and forth unmolested.

Richard now suffered an attack of indecision. For two turns, his ships did not move; he contented himself with sinking most of Paul's and Mike's derelicts. This delay allowed the Freedom to finish her repairs, and the Santa Isabel to close the range. Under Daniel's guidance, Richard slid away from Mike's ship toward Paul's home island, an odd decision when Paul's pirate-hating ship was by far the bigger threat.

Paul was not asleep at the helm; he quickly put the Freedom where she could do the most harm, and opened fire. Her crew were not happy at the way their ship had been knocked about at the start of the battle, and they took out their anger on the Neptune's Hoard. Three cannons hit out of four, and all of a sudden, the Hoard wasn't looking so good. The Cat's Claw and Lord Cauldwell tried to take revenge of their own, but they managed only one hit on the Freedom.

Mike now honored his alliance and waded into the fray with both his ships. He couldn't quite get in range, and Richard took the first action, ramming the Neptune's Hoard into the Algeciras. The little Spanish ship defied the odds; when the dust had cleared, her one mast was still standing. Then she defied the odds again and survived a shot from the Hoard's last cannon.

The Santa Isabel finally got her four cannons into range. Her marksmanship was poor; it took three shots to finish off the Hoard, and she scored no other hits. Richard's two remaining ships tried to even the score, but in an even more stunning exhibit of gunnery incompetence, all four cannons shot holes in the ocean.

The battle was called at this time, due to the lateness of the hour. Daniel wound up with the most gold, so he kept the Captain's Coin; he is the first player other than Mike to score back-to-back wins. Mike came in second, a much better showing than last time. Richard had one gold, plus a one-gold ransom for sinking the ship that carried Mike's Contessa. Paul didn't do so well this time, but he's still in second place in the Fantasy Pirate League standings. It is doubtful if anything would have changed had the battle gone on longer.

Richard's lack of gold capacity hurt him, but he used his fighting power well, taking out two of his most dangerous enemies (Santa Ana and Jarvis) and sinking numerous derelicts. His slow-moving shark never saw any action, though. Paul got hammered from two sides at the outset; it was a wonder he had any ships left at all (he could thank Mike for part of the hammering and most of his survival). Mike went for a combination gold and fighting approach that saw half-success in both, but full dominance in neither. His favorite, the Santa Ana, crippled four ships and fought magnificently, but was brought down by the cannons of two fleets against her. Daniel inflicted major damage on the Freedom and the Santa Ana, but the main reason he won was the Bon Marin and the three islands' worth of gold she found.

It was Daniel's alliance with Richard that made this possible. If Richard had attacked Dan and sunk the Bon Marin, Mike probably would have won, although Paul had enough gold nearby that it might have been close. Thus, it was Richard who chose the winner. Whoever he attacked would probably lose.

Put quite simply, our new habit of alliances and team play has changed the entire balance of the game. Mike can no longer dominate the battle with his fine collection of ships and crew. Anyone can attack anyone else without fear, trusting his teammate to bail him out of trouble if necessary. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Today's winner certainly seems to like the idea.

Scribed this day, the Seventeenth of October,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven,
by Cadet-Captain Mike
who isn't sure he likes the idea

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The Rejoicing Moment
Pirates Battle Report for 10/30/2007

Few things are sweeter to a pirate than the Rejoicing Moment. Such Moments can come from many things — a lucky roll of the dice, the discovery of a high-value coin, a calamity that befalls an enemy, or the thrill of laying a trap and watching the enemy step into it. Today's three-way battle had several such moments.

We played with 40-point fleets. We also used mysterious islands for the first time, nine of them arranged in an atoll. Each island had two gold on it, except the central island that had five.

Because there were only three players, there were no alliances this time. The three fleets headed out in three tight clusters. Richard got the first of many extra moves from his brand-new Neptune's Hoard; his dice luck was quite hot with that ship through almost all the battle. Paul went for two islands at once, while Mike headed for the rich central island. Once there, he used the Algiers' ability to swap out a 1-gold coin for something on an island Paul was about to explore. He pulled back a 6-gold coin instead — definitely a Rejoicing Moment. But the mysterious island hammered his hull with algae, slowing him to an S move next turn.

Paul saw the writing on the wall (it said "Nubian Prince") and transferred his Firepot Specialist to the Le Courageux. That ship then explored its island, where it found a small coin and a Missionary, who quickly showed the Courageux' Captain the error of his ways. The Captain dusted off his old family Bible, jumped ship, and began learning how to say things like "thou shouldest" and "be ye holy" instead of "avast, you scabrous dogs!" This mysterious island was much kinder to Paul than Mike's island was; it let him replace his coin with something better from his collection, which turned out to be a 6-pointer — another Rejoicing Moment. The Shamrock got to an island and loaded its contents, then gave them to the Colera; the slow Spaniard took them home while the Shamrock looked for more treasure.

Meanwhile, Richard's fleet swept on toward Paul's side of the bay; only the Neptune's Hoard stopped to pick up gold, and the mysterious island held her there for an extra turn. Mike strenuously urged Richard to get some more gold with the Rattlesnake, and the Dread Pirate finally agreed. This time, the mysterious island left him alone.

Now, Mike's aggressive tendencies came out. "Whom shall I pick on?" he asked. He looked at Richard, who shook his head vigorously; Paul smiled and nodded "yes." He looked at Paul, who shook his head vigorously; Richard smiled and nodded "yes." He finally cast lots to choose his first victim. Richard watched from a distance as Mike plowed headfirst into Paul's fleet.

The Nubian Prince began with a long shot that wrecked the Shamrock's foremast. Then she rammed the Le Courageux. This was one of those times when a galley's inability to knock down a mast by ramming was a vexation of spirit to Mike. But his boarding party did better. Paul gave up his newly-acquired six-gold coin rather than lose his crew. Mike then opened fire with cannons and Musketeer, knocking down one of the Frenchman's masts. His last cannon, a 5L, couldn't bear on Le Courageux, so it took a long, unlikely shot at HMS Tweed — and scored a hit! But Mike's Rejoicing Moment suddenly turned into Paul's, as Paul reminded Mike that the Tweed can't be hit by L cannons. Mike's lack of rejoicing wasn't helped by recalling that the Tweed used to be his ship.

Mike got a Rejoicing Moment out of the battle anyway. Le Courageux took a Firepot shot at the Nubian Prince with its last mast, and missed. It couldn't have hit anyway, thanks to the Nubian's immunity to S-range gunfire, but Mike still thought it was nice to see the die come up low. He then turned his ship around and headed west. He'd been picking on Paul for several turns, and he thought it wasn't fair to leave Richard out of the fun.

Richard's two fighting units, the Sea Tiger and Teach the shark, both closed in on Mike's ship at once. Mike's cannons opened fire first and blew the red junk into floating junk. Teach was close enough to go for a ram, which did no harm, and a board, which the shark lost but which also did no harm. The Nubian Prince's gunners chanted "Allah sharkbar!" (which means "God, help us hit that shark!") and fired again. When the cannon smoke drifted away, there was no more shark. "That was easy," said the gunners, who quickly followed up by derelicting both the Tweed and the Courageux, which were ineffectively banging away at Mike's fantail.

In the midst of all this, the Carthage had embarked on a string of odd adventures with wild islands. The first one was so mysterious, it baffled us all. It allowed the Carthage's crew to find one more gold coin, of lesser or equal value to one they'd just found. But the only coins on the island were uniques — Rum and Davy Jones' Curse. What value could we assign to them? After some piratical discussion, we agreed to let the dice decide. Mike threw a 6, which made a nice addition to his cargo.

The Carthage then hit a second island, and this one had some nice gold and a nasty effect: it allowed the Dread Pirate Richard to decide where his ship would take its next move. Richard wanted to send it halfway across the board, but even the speedy Carthage couldn't cover that much ocean in one turn. The little galley wound up in the center of the bay, which gave Richard a Rejoicing Moment, but didn't change much else.

The third island was very nearly the end of Carthage. A series of huge waves came out of nowhere and hammered the one-masted ship as she lay at anchor. She rode out the first two, but the third one shattered her mast, leaving her derelict. If Mike had wished his ships weren't Galleys when he rammed Le Courageux, he was grateful for it now; even a derelict Galley can move by its oars. The Carthage decided she'd had enough of wild islands, and she began dragging home at the best speed her laboring oarsmen could manage.

The Algiers, watching all this, was feeling lucky and landed on one more mysterious island. This one had no negative effect, but its treasure was quite remarkable — a Castaway Captain. The Algiers changed gears from gold to combat, and rushed to help the Nubian Prince finish off the battle.

Richard's remaining ships had gotten home, and decided to stay there, since almost all the gold was claimed. Paul's Shamrock had found some treasure, but Mike's four-masted galley was about to get between her and her home port. The Colera came out to try and help, but without a Captain, there wasn't much she could do. She rammed the Algiers, but the galley withstood the impact, and the boarding action that followed was a tie. (Paul wanted to choose a winner by rock-paper-scissors, but Mike insisted that they stick to the rules. The big meanie.)

The Algiers then took out the Colera, while the Nubian Prince dismasted the Shamrock, then boarded her to steal her treasure — and a case of Scurvy. Razzafratz! At least the battle ended before any of the Prince's crew could fall victim to the dreaded disease.

When the gold was counted, Cadet-Captain Mike had more than twice as much as the other two put together, including the Rum (which wasn't gone). Paul and Richard were tied for second place. This was due more to Mike's luck with treasure values and mysterious islands than to bad tactics on either of the brothers' part.

A big factor in Mike's win was his speed advantage. Paul had some swift ships, but their speed didn't seem to get them very far. Richard's ships were all L-speed, except the Neptune's Hoard, which got an extra move on almost every turn. Mike, on the other hand, was zipping all over the map.

Mike also had very good luck with his cannons; even his 5L gun scored two hits (only one of which counted, however). Richard never got a shot off, and Paul couldn't score one hit all game, even though he took at least six shots with good cannons. Mike never got a chance to flaunt the Nubian Prince's immunity to close-range cannon fire, which would have been another Rejoicing Moment. But after losing four straight games, just winning was a Rejoicing Moment of its own. It would have been more fun if the score had been closer, though.

Paul the Pirate Prince has announced that he will also scribe a battle report, his first ever. It will be interesting to see how his view of the action matches up with Mike's.

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

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Beginners' Luck Redux
Pirates Battle Report for 11/09/2007

Six captains got together in the Pirates' Pub one night and began exchanging sea stories. One thing led to another, and before you could say "pieces of eight," six fleets were forming up to decide who was the most piratical of them all. (Actually, we played this game at a teen prayer vigil and sleep-over at the church.) Three of the captains had never sailed before, and the fourth (the Dangerous Lady Lora) had never won a battle. If Daniel Repaire-du-Lion and Cadet-Captain Mike were feeling confident, they didn't show it.

To keep things simple for the beginners, and to keep such a big game from going too slowly, we used 30-point fleets, all made up by Cadet-Captain Mike from ships in his collection (Daniel had left his French ships in the wrong car). We used our usual nine-island atoll, with a volcano in the middle. At the end of each turn, Captain Karen rolled a die, and if it came up 1, the volcano would erupt and every ship within L+L of it would lost a mast.

Most of the newcomers quickly grasped the concept of moving ships by S'es and L's, and all showed a good grasp of tactics as well. Everyone headed straight for the atoll. This meant that, even if the fighting ships didn't try to load any gold, there wouldn't be enough islands to go around. Thus, some combat was guaranteed.

Lora's gold ships were the first to load up. The Rover picked the best gold from one island; the Banshee's Cry cleaned out another, then finished off the Rover's island. The Darkhawk went straight for the volcano island, where the biggest gold concentration was found, and sucked all six coins into her huge hull.

Abigail was the next to find treasure. Both the big Santa Isabel and the little Monarca landed at wild islands. The latter loaded up unmolested, then forgot to take her free move after loading; this oversight could have cost her dearly in the very near future.

The Santa Isabel was not left unmolested, though. Daniel's Virtuous Wind luffed up on her port quarter and fired two cannons, knocking down one mast. Abigail's schooner returned fire with her three remaining masts... and scored three direct hits on the ocean. The little Algeciras had to redeem the honor of the Spanish Navy; she left her position in the middle of her squadron, got into firing range, and hit with both her cannons. The Virtuous Wind sheered off with one mast left, and spent the rest of the battle running for home and repairing her damage. The Santa Isabel turned back to her wild island, and found some useful treasure and a stash of Rum, which Abigail's parents will certainly disapprove of when they find out about it.

Midshipman Mike's Le Pique had found an island to clean out. Daniel's two turtle ships each emptied a wild island of treasure, thanks to a unique treasure on each island. Mike's Carolina finally got an island's worth of gold, the last gold ship to load up; his Rattlesnake, the other Mike's L'Intrepide, and both of Ryan's gold ships were too late to find anything.

About this time, CPO Ryan was indisposed and left Daniel temporarily in charge of his fleet. (Actually, it was Ryan's turn to pray. If he prayed for good luck in the game, it didn't work; there must be sin in his life or something.) Daniel sent the Burma into battle against Mike's Le Soleil Royal. The Englishman could only get her two foremost cannons into range, and they landed one hit. The big Frenchman replied with a crushing broadside that, with help from her Cannoneer, left the Burma with one mast still standing, and slew her Helmsman as well.

Daniel now made a controversial decision. The smart play would have been to send the Burma home to repair her damage. But Daniel didn't think so, maybe because the battle was nearly over. He went for a ram instead, which did no damage. Ryan returned to his quarterdeck just in time to deal with Midshipman Mike's boarders swarming over his gunwales. Ryan lost this action, and lost his Captain as well. On his next turn, Midshipman Mike blew the Burma out of the water.

Back on the other side of the bay, Cadet-Captain Mike's USS Seattle finally got into firing range of something, namely Abigail's La Monarca, which would have been well out of range if she'd remembered her ship's special ability. He had nothing against the fair Admiral, but he hadn't shot anything all game long and was getting twitchy. His two long-range cannons boomed, and Abigail heaved a sigh of relief when they both missed. La Monarca scooted for home as fast as she could, so the Seattle continued toward the center of the map, where the Darkhawk was an inviting target.

The younger Mike also had designs on attacking Lora. His L'Intrepide, balked in her quest for treasure, rammed the Royal James and knocked down a mast. He lost the resulting boarding action, but he had neither crew nor cargo, so the loss cost him nothing. Lora swung the damaged Royal James across the Darkhawk's fantail to block the Seattle's progress. The Darkhawk got away; Cadet-Captain Mike contented himself with finishing off the Royal James.

Meanwhile, there was one more flash of action on the near side of the bay. Ryan's HMS Antelope had wandered far from its home in search of... something, no one knew what. It wasn't gold, because there wasn't any left. The little Englishman cruised right through Daniel's patch of ocean, but Daniel was snug in port and didn't contest his passage. Abigail, on the other hand, was showing flashes of real piratical potential. The Antelope posed no threat to her, but her Algeciras went after it anyway, and blew off its foremast.

The battle was deemed over at this point. Midshipman Mike still wanted to take a whack at Lora's ships, but all the gold was claimed and some of the admirals were getting restless. (Why not? It was only 12:30 in the morning.) Lora brought home the most gold, with Abigail fairly close behind her. Daniel came in third, Midshipman Mike was fourth, Cadet-Captain Mike managed a fifth, and CPO Ryan will probably never entrust his ships to Daniel again.

This was Lora's first victory, after many attempts. Not only did she achieve this in a six-way battle, but she did it with Cadet-Captain Mike as her neighbor, which is usually the kiss of death. She has decided she wants a Darkhawk II for her own fleet. Abigail and the younger Mike both did well in battle; the only reason Mike didn't do better in gold is that Lora and Daniel grabbed it all before he could get there. Ryan's heart wasn't in the battle, but he seemed to have fun. Daniel struggled with unfamiliar ships, but managed to use them well enough. Mike's (the Cadet-Captain's) slow gold ships meant he'd never win on treasure, and his fighter didn't have a chance to shine because he forgot her Helmsman. Karen never did roll a 1 for the volcano. But a good time was had by all.

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

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