Pirates Battle Reports for 2008

Jan 16 — Uniquely French
Feb 27 — Escort Service
Mar 04 — Multiplied Melees
Apr 08 — Dice, Guys - Don't Finish Last
Apr 22 — The Pirate Circle Expands
May 06 — The Five-Way Fray
Jun 10 — Mayhem Times Seven
Jun 13 — The Rich Island and Richard's Sub
Jun 24 — Treasure Island
Jul 08 — Battled Water
Jul 22 — Table for Eight
Aug 19 — The Guardians of the Gold
Sep 09 — (Sealed) Pack Animals
Oct 21 — Guarding the Asgard
Nov 18 — I haven't the Foggiest

Uniquely French
Pirates Battle Report

For our first battle of 2008, the usual suspects agreed on a slightly generous 45 points for fleets. We also had a generous helping of 12 wild islands, in a ring of eight surrounding a ring of four. We had hoped that the Dangerous Lady Lora would join us, but she was busy in the galley, and no pirate ever wants to interrupt the cook.

The inner four islands and half of the outer eight were occupied by dinosaurs. These followed my "Ted the T-Rex" rules; the first ship each turn that loaded gold at a dinosaur island had to roll a die. On a 5, the dinosaur would bite off a mast; on a 6, it would stomp on a crew. The dinos themselves were cute rubber toys from Cadet-Captain Mike's childhood, and didn't look very threatening.

As soon as the fleets were in position, Paul and Richard began trying to make alliances. Mike wasn't interested in team play today. Daniel might have chosen an ally, but Mike pointed out that this would automatically make Daniel and Mike into enemies, and Mike's fleet was Daniel's nearest neighbor. Daniel saw the wisdom in this, and accepted a three-turn non-aggression pact with Mike instead.

Once the ships left port, Mike noted with some amusement that the others were in absolute terror of his big ship. They all assumed that this was the Revolution version of Old Ironsides, which requires two hits to remove a mast. They didn't know there was another version of the Constitution, and he was in no hurry to tell them otherwise.

Paul and Daniel got their first loads of gold just about simultaneously. One of the two treasures on Daniel's first island was a unique, Whirlpool. This had no effect, since we weren't using whirlpools, but this began a trend that dogged him all day long. Le Superbe landed at a dinosaur island, rolled low, and took two low-value coins on board, then resumed course for Richard's fleet.

Very shortly thereafter, the shooting started. Paul fired the first cannonballs of the day when his Cat's Claw took out Richard's Sea Tiger. The Rattlesnake was in position to shoot back, and it got one of Paul's masts, then moved to tow the Sea Tiger home. The Treachery and Sea Rat were about to join the fray when the long shadows cast by Daniel's fleet fell across the bay. Le Superbe plowed into the pack of smaller ships with all guns blazing, and swiftly reduced the Cat's Claw and Rattlesnake to derelicts, and took out four of the Bonhomme Richard's masts and one of the Sea Rat's for good measure. (This might be the best dice rolling we've ever seen from the Flying Frenchman.) The sea was so cluttered with derelicts that, when Le Superbe wanted to turn her broadside and rake the Bonhomme Richard, she couldn't find room to do it, and had to pull alongside instead. Le Courageux found nothing left worth shooting at, so she prepared to join L'Intrepide in loading some gold.

On the other side of the bay, the Cadet Captain's fleet was getting warmed up. His first victim was Paul's Jarvis, which was approaching in a threatening way, or that's how the Mercury's skipper reported it afterward. The American sub rammed the Jarvis twice; the first attempt was ineffective, but the second cost Paul a mizzenmast. The Constitution pulled alongside and used her short-range bow and stern guns to finish the job. The Philadelphia (which had just picked up two one-gold coins) finished the trifecta by crashing into the Jarvis and whisking her home. Home sounded good to Richard, too; both his ships headed for repairs.

Now Mike was on a roll. His next victim was the Shamrock; the Constitution caught her on her second cruise, with two 2-point coins in her cargo holds, and blew her to bits. One coin went to Mike; this doubled the treasure he'd brought home so far. It was only now that he admitted he wasn't using the "old" Old Ironsides with the double-tough masts, but the "new" Old Ironsides with the cannon bonus against Pirates. Even with that bonus, he still managed to miss with one cannon, but the rest did the job.

Suddenly, Paul was down to one ship (Treachery); Richard had two (Bonhomme Richard and Sea Rat) with one mast each; and Daniel's and Mike's fleets were both intact. Can you guess what happened next, or do I have to draw you a picture?

You guessed it — Mike went after Daniel. The Constitution splintered both masts on L'Intrepide, which had just loaded two gold (one of them a unique, Curse of Davy Jones). The Mercury chased down Le Courageux and rammed her while submerged, taking away both her mainmast and her defensive ability. The French ship turned aside to a wild island, successfully ignored the defending dinosaur, and loaded two treasures (one of which was another unique, Weapons).

Daniel's big ship closed the range with Mike's big ship, and the battle of the five-masters began. Daniel's luck remained good; he leveled three of Old Ironsides' masts. If Mike's ship had been acting alone, he surely would have run for home. But he wasn't alone.

The Constitution's last two cannons roared, and both scored hits. Then the Mercury's alarm klaxon blew three times ("Why do you keep making that noise?" asked Paul), and the sub rose to the surface, guns at the ready. Three cannonballs flew from the American sub, and three masts crashed onto the Frenchman's decks. Derelict! Old Ironsides sank her the next turn, and used Divers to claim both her treasure coins.

In the meantime, Le Bon Marin had made her second gold cruise. She cleaned out one island (and found another unique, Scurvy), then landed at another island, outfoxed a dinosaur (it would have killed a crew if he had any), and turned up yet another unique. This was an Abandoned Crew, a Helmsman in this case, and it gave Daniel a much-needed speed boost. The Philadelphia had been about to ram and board her, but now she couldn't catch the speedy Frenchman, so she turned and headed for the sound of the guns. Close behind her, the captured and partially repaired Jarvis was making a run for a gold-filled island. She, too, overcame the guardian dinosaur and picked up some treasure.

Also in the meantime, Paul's Treachery had raised the Thompson's Island fort on an empty island. He tried the same trick with the Devil's Maw fort on another island, but realized, too late, that he didn't have enough gold. The damaged Constitution ran down the Treachery a turn later and left her mastless with two hits from her two remaining masts. Paul spent the next few turns asking people to attack his fort so he could have something to do.

The Mercury now began a frustrating session of target practice. In two turns of firing at the damaged Le Courageux and the mastless L'Intrepide, her three 2-rank cannons scored precisely one hit, which left Le Courageux in a mastless state. The Philadelphia had finally arrived, and she stole home with her second prize of the day, Le Courageux. Mike's sub eventually finished off L'Intrepide and took half her sunken gold.

By this time, Richard's ships had finished their repairs, and both set course for Paul's fort. Their reasoning was simple: Richard needed gold, and the fort had gold in it. In any case, Paul got his wish. The Bonhomme Richard's first salvo took out two of the fort's four cannons. The fort shot back and missed everything.

Mike's Mercury joined the battle and knocked down two of Richard's masts. Richard shot back; his first shot bounced off the American sub's tough hull, causing Mike to gloat a bit about his Le Courageux-like ability (and causing Daniel to make a gesture that looked suspiciously like backhanding Mike across the cheek). Richard's other cannons were able to damage one part of the sub. The fort and sub together finished off the Bonhomme Richard, Mike chipped away one more cannon off the fort, and that was the end of that exchange. The Sea Rat landed on the suddenly-undefended island and prepared to load the gold that once paid for Paul's fort.

All that was left of Daniel's fleet was Le Bon Marin, and that little ship's luck had finally run out. She tried to raid the last dinosaur island, but the smiling green Dimetrodon got the drop on the Frenchman and bit off her only mast. Daniel loaded the island's gold anyway (and got yet another unique, Enemy of the State). The damaged but still angry Constitution was poised to sink Le Bon Marin and take her gold... but it was at this point that the battle was deemed over. The crew of Daniel's last ship could be forgiven for thinking, "Sauvés par la cloche" (saved by the bell).

Mike won on gold by a large margin, in spite of having no gold ships in his fleet. Daniel was second with no ships left, Paul third with only a damaged fort left, and Richard fourth with an intact but crewless junk still floating. Daniel insisted that he would have won if he'd found five more gold coins and five fewer unique treasures, and it might well be true.

If Paul made any mistakes, it was to send the Jarvis to face Mike alone while his smaller ships made trouble for Richard. Richard's error was in choosing very slow ships for his fleet — he would have done better if he'd just taken two small ships instead of three, and put Helmsmen on both of them. It also would have helped Richard if Paul and Daniel hadn't tag-teamed his fleet, one after the other. Daniel didn't make any mistakes; he was simply outfought, and once his fighting ships were gone, his gold ships had no future. Mike took great pleasure in showing the sons of a submariner how to wage war beneath the sea.

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

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Escort Service
Pirates Battle Report

The convoy of merchantmen was drawn up and ready. Nine slow ships, devoid of cannons or fighting crew, were loaded to the gunwales with gold, silver, and pretzels — I mean precious stones. They made a fat, juicy target that few pirates could ignore, and their owners knew it. They contracted with the best sea fighter they knew, Cadet-Captain Mike, to escort them safely home. He, in turn, made a deal with the Dangerous Lady Lora to help out during the treacherous passage through the Straits of Dyre. It was here that the escorts expected the worst attacks, and they were not disappointed.

This was a five-player battle, using Mike's "Convoy Command" scenario as it was at the time. The three attackers — Daniel Repaire-du-Lion, Paul the Pirate Prince, and the Dread Pirate Richard — were all on the same team, with Daniel in overall command. The defenders, Cadet-Captain Mike and the Dangerous Lady Lora, formed the other team, with Mike giving most of the orders. There were no islands in this part of the sea. The defenders' object was to get at least half the gold in the merchantmen from the starting end of the map to the far end. The attackers' goal was to make off with more than half of that gold, either by boarding or by towing derelicts off to either side.

The beginning of the battle saw the convoy entering the map from the west, one or two ships at a time. This was the most dangerous moment for the convoy. If the attackers could weigh in with their entire fleets while most of the convoy escorts were still off the map, they could crush each escort as it appeared, and win a resounding victory. But they had chosen to enter the bay from the east-most edge, rather than from closer points to the north and south. By the time they were close enough to consider an attack, Mike had finally gotten some good rolls for bringing in ships, and the entire convoy had entered the battle zone.

The convoy's formation was two lines of escorting ships, with the merchantmen in a disorderly line between them. Mike's big ships appeared first, with the Seattle and Freedom to the north and the Franklin and Hudson to the south. Mike skilfully maneuvered the entire fleet, keeping the lead ships moving at a crawl until the others could catch up. Lora's Naegling and Reconquistador came in on the north side, while the Sirviente and Longshanks joined the Franklin and Hudson. Lora played little role in this part of the battle, because she had to keep Typhoon Timothy occupied.

The attackers formed a rough line abreast, with Richard's ships staying slightly behind; Daniel wanted him to pounce on the merchies once he and Paul had punched a hole in the escorting forces. The defenders met them with two T-shaped formations, each with three strong ships up front and a weaker ship just behind them. Daniel was getting frustrated as the range closed — he wanted to take the first shot, and Mike was determined not to give it to him. Finally, the Cadet-Captain maneuvered the Flying Frenchman into the same situation he'd achieved in their big death-match battle. Daniel's fleet got to take the first shots, but not many, and Mike would retaliate with every gun he had.

Those first shots were not wasted, though. Paul's Jarvis began the action by landing two good hits on the Seattle. Mike was heard to use some bad language, words like "tofu" and "broccoli," because not only was his ship damaged, but he couldn't use her gunnery bonus against another American ship. The Cat's Claw weighed in for an attack on the Freedom, but both her shots missed, and her Captain Griffin was asleep at the wheel and didn't try a reroll. The Ville de Paris also closed in, but couldn't find a target because the Jarvis was in the way.

Mike wasted no time in getting even. The damaged Seattle rammed the Jarvis and snapped off her mizzenmast, then fired two shots at point-blank range, and missed both of them. The Freedom raked the Jarvis' bow with short-range gunfire and knocked another mast down; her long-range cannons landed two quick hits on the Cat's Claw and took her out of the battle. Paul was dismayed, but his little Chesapeake got a measure of revenge by shooting a mast off the Freedom and killing her captain. The Jarvis hit the Freedom once at the same time. This led Paul to do a little chest-thumping in celebration.

Then it was Lora's turn. The Naegling positioned herself off the Ville de Paris' port bow and let fly with everything she had. Daniel watched in stunned silence as shot after shot struck home, and mast after mast cracked and fell overboard. Lora fired six cannons, and all six were on target. None of us had ever seen a five-masted brute turn into a no-masted barge that quickly! Lora celebrated, but not like Paul did. Seeing the fierce battle developing to the north, the gaggle of cargo ships veered to the south, which looked a lot safer.

The Naegling didn't get a second chance. Paul's Chesapeake and Richard's late-arriving Le Superbe teamed up to blast all three of her masts off, and killed her Helmsman as well. They came within a hairsbreadth of sinking her, but they should have known better than to challenge a hairdresser on hairsbreadths. At the same time, the damaged Jarvis rammed the damaged Freedom, then shot her last mast away. The Reconquistador returned the favor by ramming the Jarvis and ruining her last mast. The Seattle, no longer pinned, joined the ramming party by crunching into the Chesapeake and adding her hull to the cluster of derelicts that were clogging the northern part of the bay. The derelicts also sheltered the Seattle and the Reconquistador from the Superbe's cannons. (Mike had the nerve to suggest that he'd planned it that way.)

Meanwhile, on the south, the battle involved a lot more moving and a lot less brute force. Lora's Sirviente led the charge against the lead attacker, L'Espadon. She landed two good hits, and Mike's Hudson slipped in to finish her off. The Courageux got one of the Hudson's masts, and the purple-sailed schooner returned the favor a moment later. It fell to the Longshanks to finish off the tough little Frenchman.

The Sirviente then boarded Le Provence from a distance, cut down her captain, and sank the ship with accurate gunfire. The Bloody Jewel tried to avenge her fleetmates, but scored no hits. Lora attempted another distance boarding, but this time, the Bloody Jewel's crew fought with unexpected ferocity and won the boarding action. It was the Sirviente's captain who fell, and without him, Lora couldn't shoot. Richard's little ship had a clean shot at the merchantmen.

She was joined by a badly damaged Le Superbe. The Hudson had gotten behind her, and the Franklin had crossed the bay into firing position. Between them, they shot away four of the Superbe's five masts, but couldn't quite stop her. Daniel decided that, since the battle was all but lost, he and Richard would at least try to bag a merchie "for pride's sake." Haven't they read what the Bible says about pride?

They teamed up on the closest cargo ship, the Saratoga, and leveled two of her three masts. The Naegling, now free from the threat of the Superbe, used her Shipwright to fix a mast, while the Reconquistador pulled away from the cluster of derelicts to get into the battle. But all of Mike's and Lora's ships were out of position to guard the convoy, which would be on its own for at least another turn.

Remember when I said the cargo ships were "almost defenseless"? Almost, but not completely. Just behind the Saratoga, the captain of the Mohican saw a rare chance for glory. His ship had no cannons on this voyage, but she still had a stout bow, which rammed into Le Superbe and broke off her last mast. The Franklin reversed course again, finished off the Bloody Jewel, and the battle was over.

And what a battle it was! The combat was so fast and fierce, the merchantmen were barely 4L from their starting point when the fighting ended. The attackers were wiped out, while on the defenders' side, two big ships were derelict (one was repairing itself), two other ships took damage, and a third lost its captain, plus one damaged cargo ship. Because this was a team battle, the Captain's Coin (the winner's prize) did not change hands.

Lora was very pleased at the mayhem her longship had dished out, and that "her pretty ship" took no damage (although she did have to hang a "Help Wanted" sign on her captain's cabin door). Paul's Chesapeake hit with every shot she fired, killing two crew in the process, while Richard's Bloody Jewel out-boarded a bigger ship and made it through to the convoy intact. Mike's ships didn't do anything noteworthy, but he handled a seventeen-ship fleet with skill and daring.

The final tally did seem somewhat one-sided. What could have changed the outcome? As mentioned above, if the attackers had pounced on the convoy while it was still forming up, they could have done some nasty things to the lead escorts, and chewed up the convoy one ship at a time. Also, if they had divided their force into three separate fleets with some distance between them, they would have forced Mike and Lora to divide their force as well. Since the overall forces were even, this would have increased the chance that one of the three fleets might have won its battle and gotten through to the merchantmen.

In the end, none of these might have changed the result. Daniel has yet to defeat Mike's Americans in battle, and Lora is still riding an impressive streak of beginner's luck that should have run out months ago. Also, the scenario rules themselves need some tweaking to avoid favoring the defenders. But everyone managed to have some fun, and that's the final measure of a game. The young pirates have firmly requested a more conventional battle next time, though.

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

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Multiplied Melees
Pirates Battle Report

After our last fracas (a convoy-escort scenario), the younger pirates wanted a more conventional battle. They picked the terms (40 points each), while Cadet-Captain Mike picked the locale (nine islands in a tight cluster, surrounded by a ring of close-spaced coral reefs). As it turned out, no ship dared to sail over the reefs except for one-masted ships, which are too small to be hurt by coral, and one ghost ship. Because the islands were so closely ringed with reefs, the four fleets could not charge pell-pell at the center (and each other) like they usually do. The crabs, in particular, had a hard time because they were too big to fit between the reefs. Also complicating the original moves was an alliance between Daniel, Paul, and Richard. Mike's opinion of this has not been recorded, but fortunately for him, it didn't last long. The scene was set for what might be our wildest battle to date.

Daniel's entire fleet threaded its way into the atoll, as did the gold ships of the other three admirals. Richard's crab started a counter-clockwise circuit of the reefs, with the intention of eventually meeting some of Mike's ships. Paul's crab also started counter-clockwise, until he realized that going the other way would be a lot faster. But the Grand Path, which had started toward Daniel's fleet, reversed and headed for El Toro, which frightened the big crab straight back to its home island. This prompted some good-natured taunting from the others, who sang, "Paul is a scaredy-crab! Paul is a scaredy-crab!"

Everyone's gold ships loaded up at about the same time. Mike's East Wind used her ability to swap a less-than-stunning treasure for something on an island Richard was about to loot. It didn't help - the treasure he got was the same as the one he'd gotten rid of.

The first shots were fired at this time. Paul's Chesapeake had gaily sailed right across the reefs and closed in on the Proud Tortoise. Her cannon missed, but her Musketeer was on target, and shot away one of the Tortoise's turtle panels. "And you also lose a crew," gloated Paul . "Too bad I don't have any," retorted Mike, who was annoyed.

Usually, when a loaded gold ship gets attacked, it runs for home. But not this time; the Proud Tortoise turned and rammed the Chesapeake. Paul's one-masted ship defied the odds and kept her mast. (The Dangerous Lady Lora heard this exchange from another room and commented that Mike's missed-a-die-roll noises are funny.) But Mike was still annoyed, so he sent his boarders onto the American ship and cut down her Musketeer. Paul took this as his cue to run away. But the angry Tortoise pursued and rammed again, and this time the Chesapeake's mast swayed, cracked, and toppled over the side.

At about the same time, Daniel decided that his alliance with Richard had outlived its usefulness. His declaration of war consisted of the Ville de Paris pulling alongside the Neptune's Hoard and announcing, "I know we had an alliance, but I want your gold." BANG! (Not honorable, but very piratical.) The big Frenchman opened fire, and in a remarkable display of marksmanship, all five cannons struck home, sinking the four-masted schooner in one blow. No one mentioned it, but this marked the end of all alliances, not just between Daniel and Richard. The Courageux finished off the Chesapeake a few moments later, and claimed the one-gold reward for destroying the Flag of Tortuga.

All the gold-laden ships now headed for home. Mike's three treasure ships were strung out in a long line, with the East Wind in the lead and the Noble Swan bringing up the rear. The Grand Path was nowhere near them - she was headed for a meeting with either Daniel's ships or Brachyura, whoever got to him first. El Toro saw an opportunity!

The big green crab put on a burst of speed and closed in on Mike's fleet. The East Wind got safely home, and the Proud Tortoise barely made it. This left the Noble Swan to face the titan all by herself. Three of its four claws could reach out and touch some Swan, and all three of them connected! Mike's little ship was stripped of both turtle panels and her mast in one blow. It looked like Daniel's attack on the Neptune's Hoard was repeating itself.

But then, to Paul's dismay, the Noble Swan extended her oars, her rowing drummer started his rhythmic beat (on electronic drums, so as not to offend Lt. Dave), and the "derelict" Noble Swan crawled the short distance to home and safety. El Toro was thwarted at the last moment, and it didn't like that at all. But Mike didn't like having a giant crab so close to his home island, either, and this led to the next melee.

To Paul's amazement (and Daniel's amusement), Mike's little ships left port and attacked! The Noble Swan was repairing her mast and didn't take part, but both the East Wind and the Proud Tortoise rammed their stout bows into the huge crab. Neither of them did anything, except to make El Toro mad. It took three swipes at the East Wind and knocked one mast down. Mike's ships returned fire, and their three remaining cannons shot away two of the crab's legs. El Toro beat a fast retreat, but the Proud Tortoise, which was feeling very proud by now, pursued her enormous foe and rammed it again, and shattered another claw.

Paul's crab pulled a short distance away and swung its last claw in a deadly arc that should have smashed Mike's mast into toothpicks. But, lo and behold! The Proud Tortoise cannot be hit by such attacks (red cannons). El Toro had no such immunity, and Mike's little ship fired her lone cannon - and it hit! The enormous sea creature sank to the bottom forever, while the extremely Proud Tortoise painted the silhouette of a crab on her bow and returned home.

There was no gold left anywhere near Mike's home island, so he left his gold ships safely in harbor. The Grand Path, on the other hand, was about to meet the other giant crab. Brachyura had swung around the ring of reefs, past Daniel's home island, and closed in on Mike's big junk with fire in its eyes. The Bon Marin, docked at her home island, decided to stay there until the crab passed by, then made a high-speed dash for the atoll. Mike tried to persuade Richard to turn and attack Daniel's ship, but the crab would have none of it. (By "the crab," I don't mean Richard.)

It was about this time that Lt. Dave wandered in, and began making scandalous comments about Cadet-Captain Mike's sportsmanship, integrity, ancestry, personal hygiene, and probable spiritual destination. Fortunately, Mike's sterling character was unsullied by such slander, and Dave failed in his attempt to incite a mutiny.

Mike's maneuvers to take the first shot were good, but his shooting wasn't, and he destroyed only one crab leg. Then Brachyura waded into the fray with claws flailing. Two of Mike's six masts were swept off his decks in short order. Mike turned away; the crab pursued, and rammed the big junk's fantail. That was a mistake - Mike's ship excelled at boarding, and had a one-mast advantage as well. The Jade sailors scrambled onto the crab's slippery carapace and cut down her captain, which kept the crab from attacking. The Grand Path then atoned for her earlier bad marksmanship by slaying Brachyura with three shots. Mike is now tied with the Flying Frenchman for the title of World Champion Crab-Slayer, with two crustaceans apiece.

The next action occurred at the centermost island, and it involved three poorly-armed gold ships from three different admirals. Richard's Bloody Jewel got there first and used her Explorer to grab the only coin there, a one-gold piece that Daniel had left behind earlier. Then Paul's Amity, which had just loaded gold from another island, cruised over and rammed the Bloody Jewel, knocking one mast down, and stealing the one-gold coin in the boarding action that followed. But someone pointed out that the Amity's holds were already full, so she had to give the coin back.

Then Daniel's Bon Marin sailed in from the other side and rammed the Amity, leveling one of her masts. Paul took a shot at the little Frenchman with one bad cannon and missed. That little Frenchman then took a shot at the Bloody Jewel and hit, leaving her derelict. The Amity, no longer pinned, turned and sailed for home. Richard's ship was at Daniel's mercy, but the Bon Marin's holds were also full, so he couldn't board and take that coin, either. Richard was left with a derelict ship and a one-gold coin that everybody else wanted, but no one could take.

Daniel's fighting fleet had re-entered the atoll after a half-hearted lunge at the Grand Path, and made a valiant effort to catch Paul's ship. But the Amity partially faded from view as she became ghostly, and sailed straight through an island as she made her getaway. Daniel didn't have the speed to catch her, and his crew were creeped out at the sight of a ship sailing through solid land, so he gave up the chase.

At this time, all the gold was accounted for, and the game was considered over. But Daniel wanted a crack at Mike's Grand Path, which was closer to Daniel's home port than anyplace else, and issued a formal challenge. The Cadet-Captain was quite willing to oblige him, "not for pride, but for fun!" So we will look at this last melee before announcing the winner, which was actually determined before Mike and Daniel came to blows.

Mike's ship was missing two masts, and was cut off from its home island by the intact Ville de Paris and Le Courageux. Daniel liked the odds, which dropped only slightly when Mike dashed for the edge of the map, leaving the slightly slower Ville de Paris behind. Daniel was also unconcerned when Mike's turtle ships, the Proud Tortoise with one turtle panel and the Noble Swan with none, pulled out of their home port and sailed to their fleetmate's aid at full speed. Everyone was about to get a lesson in what turtle ships can do.

The Proud Tortoise was slightly in the lead; she rammed Le Courageux, but did no damage. The Noble Swan pulled alongside, blocking the Ville de Paris' line of fire at the Tortoise. Daniel's big ship opened up on the Swan, but he had apparently used up his quota of lucky gunfire earlier; it took all five of its shots to sink the one-masted ship. Le Courageux fired on the Tortoise and missed with both cannons.

Now the Tortoise took a shot at the Ville de Paris. She was dead on target, but the huge ship shrugged off the hit. But this left her vulnerable to other cannons, namely the Grand Path, who landed three hits in quick succession. Dan's ships shifted targets to Mike's biggest ship, and managed to splinter two more of her masts. The Proud Tortoise fired on the Paris again, and hit her again, this time bringing down her foremast. The Grand Path brought the fray to an end by ramming Le Courageux and toppling her mainmast, then firing both her remaining cannons, one at each ship, both on target, leaving them both derelict. Mike permitted himself a rare moment of exultation - he really did not expect to win that battle!

When the treasure was counted, Cadet-Captain Mike was in the lead. Daniel, who had the most coins in his possession, was second, Paul was third, and Richard was fourth. Mike lost one ship out of four, Daniel and Paul each lost two of three, and Richard had all his ships sunk or derelicted. A 62% loss rate is a sure sign of a wild, hard-fought battle.

Richard suffered from all three enemies, but especially from Daniel's unprovoked sneak attack. Paul got beaten up mostly by the Cadet-Captain, with the Flying Frenchman getting a few licks in as well. Daniel, for his part, could have gotten off with a full hide if he hadn't challenged Mike to that last battle. It would not have affected the outcome; that was settled by luck, namely the high-value coins that Mike found.

There seems to be an unwritten rule that, if anyone uses a giant crab, then alliances will be broken before the battle is done, and so it was tonight. Paul was on the right track, using his crab to attack gold ships instead of fighters; it was just his bad luck that Mike's gold ships could fight back. Richard needs to realize that the Flying Frenchman is not his friend when gold is involved. Daniel could have won if he had found more dollars and less pennies, or managed a tie if he had towed the Neptune's Hoard home instead of sinking her. Cadet-Captain Mike has no more complaints about the Grand Path, which has redeemed her reputation. But the little Proud Tortoise, for her role in sinking a one-masted ship, a five-masted ship, and a titan, not to mention bringing home a 7-gold coin, has entered Mike's hall of fame.

Overheard during the battle:

Lt. Dave: Don't make alliances with Mike, because he is evil.
Cadet-Captain Mike: I'm twice as self-righteous as you'll ever be!

Scribed this day, the Fifth of March,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Dice, Guys - Don't Finish Last
Pirates Battle Report

A change in the piratical schedules of the Buccaneer Brothers (Paul and Richard) meant that, if Cadet-Captain Mike was going to get his "fix" of freebooting fun, he would need to look elsewhere for a while. Impatient, he offered a formal challenge to Daniel Repaire-du-Lion and his new-found ally, Almirante Antonio: "Meet me at Betonda Bay on Tuesday, and bring a fighting fleet. If I'm not there, start without me."

This was a 50-point death match (Mike got 100 points because he was alone against the other two). Three home islands, and one large island in the middle of the bay, were the only features of the aquatic battlefield. Mike had offered them the choice of a death match or a conventional game with gold, but by the way their eyes lit up when he mentioned the first option, he knew what they wanted. Well, Mike never turned away from a good scrap, either.

When the battle commenced, Mike split his squadron — the Leicester, Hyena, and Hound headed for Anthony's fleet, and the other four pointed their prows at Daniel. The two allies quickly headed for each other and joined forces. When he saw this, the Cadet-Captain reunited his fleet. After a few turns, Mike had formed line ahead (with HMS Hound behind the line for safety, and because she couldn't get into position quickly enough), while Daniel and Antonio had formed a line abreast, screened by the island in the center of the bay. The Hound made herself useful by peeking at the crew on the Ville de Paris.

Now the great dance began. Mike did everything in his power to entice his enemies into range, while Daniel did everything in his power to keep that from happening. Mike advanced his line; the allies hung back. He pre-measured the distance from several of his ships to the enemy cluster; they remained unmoved. He turned away and ran, scattering his fleet as he did so; the allies followed, but at a discreet distance.

Mike even resorted to the most undignified sort of trickery. He moved each of his ships S, or that's what he said while talking to himself so the others could overhear him; in reality, he moved them only about half an S. Daniel, who was calling the shots at this point, didn't take the bait (that's a fisherman for you). Instead, he moved his entire fleet by just about exactly the same distance Mike had moved, even though he eyeballed it. (He moved them all with one hand, like a Vegas dealer pushes stacks of poker chips, except these were ships and not chips.) Both Daniel and Mike were getting somewhat frustrated by the other's maneuvers; Mike in particular was not accustomed to being out-maneuvered, and he wasn't taking it well.

At last, the Cadet-Captain ran out of patience (and table room.) On a signal, all his scattered ships put their helms hard over and closed on the allied fleet. To his dismay, only one of his ships wound up close enough to open fire. HMS Burma's bow chaser boomed, and Le Superbe's mizzenmast cracked and tumbled overboard.

From this moment, the orderly battle degenerated into a close-range knife fight. This author will do his best to recreate the action, but it was so confused, and happened so quickly, that some errors are likely.

Le Superbe, Le Bonne Chance, and Le Courageux teamed up to dismast the Burma; they left her hulk afloat to screen the allies' smaller ships. Le Ville de Paris pulled to port, then starboard, and let fly with a salvo that sank HMS Victor in one mighty whack.

HMS Nautilus got into position to hit both of the five-masted ships. Her first cannon tore Le Superbe's foresails away; her second hit the Ville, but did no damage; and her third set the Superbe's #4 mast afire. It was a fine display of marksmanship from Mike's favorite English ship. It was also short-lived — the Flying Frenchman has an allergic reaction to Firepot Specialists, and wages genocide against them. The Ville de Paris wasted no time in adding the Nautilus to her list of victims. Meanwhile, the big Leicester waded into the battle from a different direction, and landed one hit on the Superbe that finished her off. She got a second hit on the Bonne Chance, which had just lost her mizzenmast to the Alexander; this marked the end of the French junk's war cruise, but at least she did some damage this time.

It should be noted that Cadet-Captain Mike had confused La Ville de Paris with Le Soleil Royal, which Daniel had recently acquired. Mike got a very rude shock when the Nautilus' shot bounced off the big five-master without doing any damage. It was a minor mistake that didn't alter the outcome of the battle, but Mike miscalculates so rarely that even a minor goof is noteworthy.

At this point, both sides had one ship sunk and another derelicted. Neither side had any real momentum; it could have gone either way. But that didn't last. Amidst the silent hulks of the derelict ships, the small brigs and schooners met in vicious battle that saw Daniel and Antonio siezing control (once Antonio got past a long streak of bad dice luck). Le Mercure dispatched the Alexander, while Le Courageux and the Hlidskjalf teamed up to derelict the Hound. Mike found himself handicapped by the growing number of derelict ships floating around, blocking his lines of fire. The Ville de Paris didn't join this melee, but circled around it, got the drop on HMS Hyena, and did unto her as she had done unto the Victor. It was the second of Mike's ships to sink without getting a single shot off.

Somewhere in this portion of the battle, somebody shot away the Leicester's mizzenmast; it was most likely the Hlidskjalf, but no one is sure. Whoever it was, two facts were clear: (1) The ignore-first-hit ability of the Ville de Paris and the Courageux was bearing wonderful fruit for the allies, and (2) Mike was suddenly down to one ship. This was definitely not the way he had planned this battle.

The Leicester did the best she could. She rammed the Hlidskjalf, dismasting the tiny longship before it could do any more damage, then opened fire on the Ville de Paris. Even if she could hit the big Frenchman with every shot, the allies would still have enough cannons afloat to finish off the English battleship on the next turn. This last exchange was strictly for pride, and we all know what pride goeth before.

"Fire one!" The huge cannonball missed. "Try again!" ordered The Gentleman, and this time, the shot was on target. The Ville de Paris' tough timbers shrugged it off, but she couldn't take another hit like that. But it didn't matter; the big Englishman's other two shots splashed harmlessly into the sea. Moaning about how "the dice have deserted me," Mike ordered HMS Leicester to strike her colors.

Antonio and Daniel looked at each other in amazement. "We won?"

Overall, the luck of the dice worked out pretty evenly. The deciding factors were Daniel's skillful maneuvering before the fighting began, and Mike's failure to bring his ships into close order before joining battle. The allies never had to face more than half of Mike's ships at any given moment, so they were able to defeat him in detail and earn a well-deserved victory. Battle honors belong to La Ville de Paris, which sank three ships single-handed, two before they could fire a shot.

Cadet-Captain Mike was left with a lot of "what if's," but Daniel and Antonio made no mistakes. Well, maybe one mistake: they've made Mike angry. Their next meeting will probably be very interesting indeed.

Overheard during the battle:

Daniel Repaire-du-Lion: You're trying to shoot through a derelict. You can't do that.
Cadet-Captain Mike: Umm... but my ship is bigger than the derelict, so can't I shoot over it?

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

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The Pirate Circle Expands
Pirates Battle Report

This was originally going to be two battles instead of one, due to the addition of some new pirates to the group. But Petty Officer Jake and Bosun Zach were quite late in arriving. Paul the Pirate Prince was also delayed, but not as badly, so we started a five-way battle just as the Petty Officer and the Bosun arrived. They were each assigned to help another admiral, rather than delay the game any further.

This was a simple 40-point game with six wild islands, five in a ring around the rich center island.

As the battle began, everyone headed for the center of the map except Mike, who sent the President and Philly toward Antonio and the Hudson toward Richard and Zach. This prompted an anguished "What did I do?" from Antonio, followed by a brisk exchange of cannon fire.

The President could fire only two of her four cannons, and managed to crush the San Estaban's mizzenmast. La Resolucion moved to protect her fellow Spaniard with a ram (which did no damage), a boarding action (which cost Antonio his Shipwright), and two cannonballs (which took out two of the President's masts). The San Estaban also rammed the President, but even in her weakened state, the American ship withstood the attack.

The Hudson, like Mike's other four-masted schooner, could fire only two shots, but she hoped to do some major damage to the Hrothgar. She landed only one hit, which slew Richard's Helmsman, but left the blue longship in fine shape to send the Hudson up the river. For reasons unknown, Richard turned away instead of attacking; Mike heaved a big sigh of relief. The Philadelphia, with no derelicts in sight, docked at a nearby wild island to see how the battle would develop.

It was around this time that Mike, with his "gift" for mangling ship names, began referring to the Bazana as the Banana, to the amusement of the others. This was big talk for a guy who got tongue-tangled earlier in the week and referred to Richard as "a yucky lung man."
On the other side of the bay, Daniel's Le Bon Marin and Paul's Bloody Jewel were in a race for the same wild island, which Paul won somehow. Piqued, Daniel brought up both of his big fighting ships, while Paul sent the Tweed to support his treasure-laden ship. "Why are you picking on Paul?" Mike wanted to know. "That was my gold," protested Daniel, "and I want it back!"

It didn't take long for the Flying Frenchman's fierce firepower to fry his friend's fleet. They split the sunken Bloody Jewel's hoard, and Paul's other two ships were left afloat as derelicts. It is believed that Daniel meant to tow them home and repair them eventually. Paul now had no ships left, so he assigned himself as Antonio's subordinate.

Meanwhile, Le Courageux, balked by Paul at one wild island, turned aside to another. That island was also the destination of Antonio's Le Algeciras, and the resulting "clash of the not-so-titans" was every bit as fierce as any battle between the larger ships. Jake got the first shot and left the Spaniard with one mast. Antonio went for a ram that left Le Courageux in a similar condition, then followed by boarding; Jake's sailors fought him off without loss to themselves. The French ship then fired her last cannon and scored the hit that ended this little skirmish, and loaded the treasures they'd been fighting over.

Zach's treasure junk, the Tiger's Breath, was tracing little circles in the ocean, apparently afraid of the Hudson. The Mermaid, Republique, and Rattlesnake eventually made contact with wild islands that were brimming with high-value treasures, and started for home. In any case, the Hudson soon had more important matters to deal with.

The speedy Le Bon Marin had reached the center island and loaded four of its five treasures. This instantly painted a big red bull's-eye on her fantail. Who wouldn't leap at the chance to sink a defenseless one-masted ship and claim half of a goodly hunk of gold and silver? Both Mike and Antonio thought this was a great idea; it was just a question of who got there first.

It was Mike who did the honors. The President got the Frenchman's mast, but couldn't finish her off, even with her second-chance ability. The Hudson had to abandon her harassment of Richard's fleet and position herself between the Bon Marin and the Bonaparte. Mike's cannons finished off the little gold ship and put one of the big schooner's masts over the side, accompanied by her unfortunate Captain.

Daniel's revenge wasn't long in coming. Unable to move and shoot, the Bonaparte rammed the Hudson and took out a mast. Le Bonne Chance pulled up on Mike's starboard bow and landed three straight hits, leaving the Hudson derelict. Antonio's La Resolucion, too late to claim any gold from Le Bon Marin, blasted the President's remaining masts. The Philadelphia suddenly found herself very much alone in a sea of hostile flags, so she loaded the gold at her wild island and scooted for home. Ensign Aimee, who had been in and out of the game area, now announced that she wanted to assist the Cadet-Captain. But she never got the chance.

The battle was called at this time, due to the lateness of the hour. Richard and Zach, who never fired a shot, wound up with the best treasures and a surprising victory. Daniel and Jake were in second place, with Mike close behind in third. Paul, who has some experience in these matters, was able to give Antonio some useful hints in shaking his fist at the others.

In terms of skilful play, the Flying Frenchman and his Petty Officer ally should have won; their tactics and gunfire were superb. Even Le Bonne Chance, which has a long history of disappointing Daniel, turned in a stellar performance. Mike was less than thrilled with the President, whose reroll ability accomplished exactly nothing. Antonio fought well, but his gold ships didn't get to the goodies before they'd been looted by faster ships. Paul's hastily-built fleet had no real fighter, so he might not have done well even if Daniel wasn't his closest neighbor. Richard and Zach didn't seem to have a plan, but they had luck, which is sometimes better.

Richard, as the winning fleet commander, received the Captain's Coin. A quick session of trading and doubles-giving followed. We mean to try this again in two weeks, and hopefully, everyone will be on time.

Overheard during the battle:

(Cadet-Captain Mike was using a die with a picture of a moose instead of a 1)
The President's second cannon shoots — I moosed! Reroll! Aaargh, I moosed again!

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

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The Five-Way Fray
Pirates Battle Report

When four angry young pirates challenged each other to a battle, Cadet-Captain Mike decided that things would go faster and be more entertaining if he didn't take part. Instead, he would offer help and guidance to all parties. Then Ensign Aimee, who now wishes to be known as the Lily of the Sea, asked if she could take part at the last moment, and Mike (who's a sucker for a pretty face) rearranged the home islands for a fifth player. Almirante Antonio was engaged in battle with other pirates all evening (the Pittsburg variety), and Daniel Repaire-du-Lion was just plain missing. He needs a good spanking, says me.

This was a 40-point game with no less than seventeen wild islands, each with two treasure coins. Mike tried to make the map fair for everyone, but he realized after the battle that Zach's home island was further from the action than everyone else's, which held him back somewhat.

This was a swirling, confused battle, and some of the details of this history may be incorrect. Everyone's ships sailed at once. Most headed for one of the many wild islands. The exceptions were Aimee's HMS Victor, which headed for Paul's fleet, and her HMS Nautilus and Zach's Enterprise, which both pointed their prows toward Richard. "They don't like you," observed Mike in his best Star Wars cantina-creature voice.

In no time, most of the gold ships had loaded a pair of coins and were considering their next moves. But all eyes were on the Enterprise, which flew across the waves (thanks to a double move), then got another double move and tore into Richard's fleet with all guns blazing. In no time, the Rattlesnake and the Hrothgar were sent to the bottom, and the Neptune's Hoard lost a mast as well. Things were looking bad for Richard.

With skill and luck, the Dread Pirate turned things around in one turn. The Neptune's Hoard maneuvered to touch a wild island while staying near the Enterprise, so her Explorer could load gold while her Captain gave the order to return fire at the same time. Three cannons boomed, and three masts cracked and fell overboard on the Enterprise. There was no fighting against dice luck like that. Zach saw the writing on the wall (it said "Run away! Run away!") and turned for home, aided by a third double move.

At roughly the same time, the Lily of the Sea met the Pirate Prince in pitched battle. HMS Nautilus (which had changed course to avoid the Hrothgar) and HMS Victor boldly took on his whole fleet. When the smoke cleared, the Muninn had sunk, and the Cat's Claw and Bloody Jewel had each lost a mast, in exchange for two masts hit on the Nautilus and one on the Victor. Cherchez le femme!

Jake was trying to use HMS Forge as a gold ship all this time. Mike suggested an alternate course of action, which Jake gleefully followed. His ship curled around a wild island and closed on Zach's Rattlesnake just after the latter had loaded her with gold. The outcome was never in any doubt, and Jake got some free gold from Zach's sunken ship. He might have kept going and finished off the Enterprise, but that lucky ship got a fourth double move and got safely home.

At this point, Jake's three gold ships had loaded up and were headed for home. His Forge was cruising off Zach's home island, looking for more mischief to get into. Zach had an intact gold ship, the Carolina, half loaded and headed for another island, and the battered but lucky Enterprise docked at home. Richard had one ship left, the Neptune's Hoard, missing one mast and half full of treasure. Aimee had her entire fleet, with her gold ships ready for a second cruise, the Nautilus home for repairs to two of her masts, and the Victor still in position to cause problems for Paul. As for Paul, he had three ships with three masts between them.

Paul sensed that he was in trouble and had to do something, so the Cat's Claw made it to the central island in the atoll and built the Devil's Maw fort there. This made everyone else shy away from the middle of the map for a while. The Cat's Claw then headed for home, only to run into the HMS Victor again. The English ship lashed out with both remaining cannons and left both the Claw and the Rover derelict. This distraction enabled the damaged Bloody Jewel to get home with some more doubloons.

In Zach's corner of the world, Mike strongly advised him to repair his big ship before he tried anything. But Jake's ship was nearby, and Zach rolled a fifth straight double move for the Enterprise; he couldn't resist. His damaged gunship rammed the Forge, but did no harm. Both ships were keen to board, but with Jake's four masts against Zach's two, the result wasn't in much doubt, and Albert Crenshaw's career came to an abrupt end. Then the Enterprise fired both her cannons, but scored only one hit, which the Forge shrugged off. The return salvo left Zach's big ship with no masts, and Jake sank her the next turn.

This left Zach with only the Carolina, which took advantage of Jake's distraction to load from a second island and turn for home. Jake was willing to let him get there safely; the Forge turned away to screen his gold ships against opposition that never came. Trouble overtook the Carolina, though, from an unexpected source. Richard's Neptune's Hoard had unloaded two islands' worth of gold, picked up her Explorer from the second island, and set off in hot pursuit of the Carolina. Zach almost made it home, but Richard had a speed advantage. His dice luck almost deserted him; it took three turns of attacking, but he was able to sink the Carolina and take some revenge for what Zach had done to his fleet earlier.

Near the center of the map, the Cat's Claw had run out her oars and was pulling for the fort as fast as she could. HMS Victor finished her and the Rover off, then turned aside to one of the last islands with gold on it, loaded a choice coin, and repaired a mast while she was there. The Nautilus, fully repaired, was chasing after the Neptune's Hoard, while the three English gold ships were slowly headed out to sea, to see what might happen.

What happened was that HMS Forge decided to attack the fort! She got the first shots off, and scored two hits. The fort shot back and landed three hits, which cost the Forge two masts. The Nautilus saw an interesting battle in the making and joined the attack on the Devil's Maw, but her first shots missed everything, as did Jake's next salvo and the fort's next attack.

The Nautilus did better the second time, leaving the Forge derelict and chipping away at the fort. It fell to HMS Victor to finish off the Devil's Maw. This left the fort's purchase price, and one other coin, free for the taking. It was the Lily of the Sea who did the taking. But this battle distracted her from pursuing the Bloody Jewel, which escaped her again and scooted to safety with one last coin before the battle ended. Paul might have had the Cat's Claw, but it was the Bloody Jewel that had nine lives tonight.

When the loot was counted, Aimee was in front by a huge margin — she had brought home more coins than anyone else, and they included a 7-coin, a 6, and four 5's. She traded all those coins in for the Captain's Coin, the prize of victory. Jake was second with a score that would have won most games, Paul and Richard were tied for a distant third, and Zach was left feeling a little depressed.

Aimee fought a flexible battle, shifting targets as opportunity arose, and keeping her gold ships moving even when Mike suggested that their work was done (he was wrong). She also showed a bloodthirsty streak that was actually scary from one so young and so blonde. Lily of the Sea? "Tiger Lily" would be more like it, or maybe "Fire Blossom." Paul suffered from having her as a neighbor, and from the good aim of her cannons; most of his ships never got a chance to show what they could really do. Jake played a conservative game, taking no risks until near the end, and it showed in the many coins his ships brought home. Richard was as aggressive as ever, and this time, he had some good dice luck to help him through. The only reason he didn't do better was because the Enterprise wiped out most of his fleet in one turn. Speaking of which, if Zach had used that last double move for a double repair instead, he could have chased off the Forge on the next turn, and probably saved the Carolina. He wants to use the Enterprise again in his next battle, so something must have gone right for him.

As for ships, the two expensive longships were both sunk before they could fire a shot. It seems that people are so afraid of them that they get sought out and sent down very quickly. The Enterprise was as dangerous as anyone could dream, until she got sent into battle with only two masts. HMS Forge and HMS Nautilus both had a busy day, sinking ships and chasing off opponents. Battle honors go to the Neptune's Hoard, for outfighting the much more dangerous Enterprise, sinking the Carolina, and bringing in every treasure Richard found; and to HMS Victor, for sinking or damaging everything Paul owned, ending the Forge's cruise, and finding a 7-gold coin.

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

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This, You Call Fun?
Pirates Battle Report

It had been several weeks since any of the local pirates had stolen a doubloon or fired a cannon, and they were getting itchy for action. Some of them had fought an unofficial battle or two, but it just wasn't the same as mixing it up with non-family members. Only four of them arrived at tonight's rendezvous, so Cadet-Captain Mike decided on the spur of the moment to join the party. This distressed Richard somewhat ("You're always mean!"), but that's life on the high seas.

This was a 40-point game with thirteen wild islands in a tight cluster, each with two treasure coins (except for the central isle, which had five). We've found that keeping the islands closer together than the rules specify makes for a more interesting game. To make the map fair, Mike took the home island that was furthest from the action.

When the pirate flagman waved the green flag, five fleets scattered in three main directions: Jake and Richard headed for each other, Aimee and Mike headed for each other, and Antonio headed for the gold. The Santa Isabel found Aimee's Noble Swan in its path, but the Lily of the Sea quickly sent her small ship scurrying for safer waters, giving Antonio a clear path to the rich center island.

In the northeast, Jake's Nautilus gave Richard's Neptune's Hoard a pummeling, only to be blown into toothpicks by the Minuteman and the remaining guns on the Hoard. This didn't make Jake happy, to which Richard replied, "Hey, I gave you some fun!" HMS Forge was not amused; she tried to salvage the situation, and did unto the Minuteman as Richard had done unto the Nautilus (her Cannoneer came in very handy here). But then the Black Lotus weighed in with her intense hatred of the English, and did enough damage to send the Forge home to repair two shattered masts. The Forge had left her mark on the Lotus, though, and both of Richard's remaining ships also went home for repairs.

In the southeast, the huge Grand Path steered aggressively toward Mike's fleet. His Nubian Prince met the threat, not with fine gunnery, but with immunity to all six of the big junk's cannons. Aimee was not expecting this, and made some kind of protest about it being unfair. "Pirate," replied Mike. His first salvo took one cannon off the Path; his second got another. Annoyed, the Lily of the Sea rammed the galley and got a mast in return. Mike shot two more masts off before he disengaged; he saw bigger game to hunt. Aimee was grateful for the end of this battle, which could have ended only with the loss of the Grand Path; she joined the flock of ships headed home for repairs.

Also headed home were the Noble Swan, San Salvador, El Cervantes, HMS Hound, and the Griffin, all filled with gold for their owners' treasure hoards. The Virtuous Wind and the Tiger's Eye had also loaded up, but instead of sailing for home, they joined the Nubian Prince in shaping a course toward the center of the map, where the richest prize of all awaited.

The Santa Isabel had reached the center island and siphoned all five coins into her cavernous holds. Then, just to rub it in, she landed at another island and dumped her low-value coins in exchange for two better ones. Antonio's flagship was now a floating treasure trove, and everyone on the map knew it. Richard and Jake weren't in position to do anything about it, but Aimee and Mike could, and they were determined not to let the Almirante get that fortune home. Not without getting a piece of it themselves!

The Virtuous Wind got the first crack at Anthony's big schooner, and shot away two of her masts. The Isabel and the San Salvador combined to leave her derelict, but didn't sink her. The Tiger's Eye had crossed halfway across the bay, taking one successful shot at the Noble Swan on the way ("Nothing personal, it's just target practice," he reassured her owner), before getting into range of Antonio's ships. She got the San Salvador's mainmast before the Almirante's ships took all three masts down in short order. The Tiger's Eye crawled away on oar power as the Nubian Prince took her place in the fray.

El Cervantes was in position to shoot, but the Prince's ability kept her safe. The San Salvador managed a ram that got the galley's second mast, then tried to shoot, forgetting the lesson that the Cervantes had just learned. Mike's galley then shot the San Salvador derelict and splintered the Isabel's third mast. Frustrated in his attempts to shoot the annoying galley, Antonio resorted to a series of rams and boards with the Cervantes while the Santa Isabel, down to one mast, tried to escape. She tried to get out of the Prince's range, but Mike's ship had a 2L cannon on her bow. If Antonio had started for home a bit sooner, he might have made it; his ship was faster, and the distance was short. But this time, Mike would not be denied. He fired his bow chaser cannon, and landed the hit that left the Isabel derelict, almost within spitting distance of her home island.

It was now a question of whether the Cervantes could stop Mike from finishing off the big schooner. Antonio made another ram that cost Mike another mast, and in the boarding action that followed, one of the Spanish crew got lucky with a pistol and shot down the Prince's Captain. Mike fired his last cannon twice, and missed both times. El Cervantes made another ram that failed to do damage, and although he won another boarding action, there were no crew left for him to kill. Frustrated, the Cervantes turned away to tow the Isabel home. That gave the Prince one last shot, and at last, his cannonball punched through the Isabel's hull and sent her to the bottom. (This prompted Mike to cut loose with a chest-pounding Tarzan yell, which the others found somewhat embarrassing.) Mike had successfully stolen half of Antonio's biggest treasure collection. But would this be enough to win the battle?

Antonio didn't like this turn of events very much. El Cervantes turned and rammed the Nubian Prince again and left her derelict. But Mike didn't know when to quit. His mastless ship ran out her oars, came about, and bumped into the derelict San Salvador, and stole a treasure from her by boarding. Now Antonio was getting positively steamed; the Cervantes rammed Mike for the fourth time and took the coin back. Mike rammed the Cervantes to recover what he thought was rightfully his, but failed. Then he rammed the Salvador, but failed to steal her other coin.

And while all this chaos was going on, what of the other captains? Jake had sent the Hound to raid the island where the Santa Isabel had dumped her low-value coins, figuring that any gold was better than none. Aimee's Noble Swan sailed out to tow her Virtuous Wind home, while the Grand Path finished her repairs. "What should I do with my big ship?" she asked Mike. "Go that way," he pointed. "It'll be fun."

"That way" was toward Richard. The Dread Pirate had fixed all the masts on the Neptune's Hoard and the Black Lotus, and was now trying to catch Mike's Tiger's Eye. The galley was rowing home, so catching it wasn't hard. But Richard's first three shots splashed into the sea, and Mike began to hope that his ship might survive. That wasn't in the cards; the fourth shot hit the Eye and sank her. Mike and Richard divided the ship's small treasure, which turned out to be the only gold Richard acquired all night. "I didn't know she had gold," Richard explained after the battle; "I just sank her for fun."

At the same time, Jake had sent HMS Hound out for one last gold run, with the Forge covering her. Once the Hound had loaded up and turned for home, the Forge made as if to follow her. "Don't do that — go after Richard!" urged Mike.

"I don't want to get involved," shrugged Jake. This was about the fourth time he'd said that tonight, and no one really understood why he thought "getting involved" in a ship battle was a bad idea.

"You've got all the gold you're going to get, so you've got nothing to lose," Mike added. Bosun Jake still wasn't convinced.

Mike tried one more approach. "It'll be fun!" That lit up the Bosun's face, and HMS Forge headed for the action.

Oh, yes, the action. Richard had pursued Mike's ship into Aimee's home waters, and the Lily of the Sea was out for blood. It took very little effort for the Grand Path to dismast and sink the Neptune's Hoard. Then she turned to pursue the Black Lotus, but found the Forge in her sights instead. Richard was discouraged by the way his battle had turned out, and kept asking them to "Sink me! Sink me!" but they ignored him. The two big ships slugged it out for a turn or two while Richard made a slow getaway, but the battle came to an end before either ship could badly hurt the other.

Almirante Antonio had pursued a gold strategy all game long, so it surprised no one that he won by a goodly margin. Jake trailed him in second place, Mike was one gold behind him in third, Aimee managed a respectable fourth place, and Richard had seemingly forgotten one of the main rules of the game: no gold, no win.

Antonio, as was mentioned earlier, was single-minded in his pursuit of gold, fighting only when he had to, using his ships skilfully to that end. Richard, on the other hand, did nothing but attack. The other three followed a combination strategy. All these tactics showed in the final tally; the one with the most gold still wins. Battle honors go to El Cervantes, which overcame the handicap of poor cannons to bring home some gold, cripple the Nubian Prince by ramming and boarding, and reclaim a stolen coin from that stubborn galley.

Scribed this day, the Twenty-Ninth of May,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Mayhem Times Seven
Pirates Battle Report

We set a local record last night; no less than seven bloodthirsty pirates gathered around the table to duke it out for the Captain's Coin, which has become a much-sought-after prize. Daniel Repaire-du-Lion meant to make it an even eight, but some useless activity like his job got in the way. We played with 30-point fleets so the sheer number of ships wouldn't bog the game down. Twelve wild islands each had two coins on them, so there would be plenty of opportunity for a multitude of ships to find some action. The order of the players around the table was settled by die rolls, to keep friends from teaming up, and to keep belligerent captains (like Mike) from choosing who their unlucky neighbors would be. Aimee was thrilled to discover that she would be the first admiral to walk the decks of the Janissaries' Blood; the fact that Mike had never used her before struck her as something remarkable. Jake had to borrow two small ships from Mike to finish his fleet. Mike then asked him, politely, to stop studying Mike's deck plates. Jake explained that he was deciding whether he wanted to get involved, whatever that means.

Something happened at the start of the battle that almost never happens: Mike won the roll to go first. Everyone more or less headed toward the center of the map, stopping at whichever island they bumped into first, and then turning for home; nobody tried to visit two islands in one cruise. The only exception was Mike, who made no attempt to gather gold, but headed straight across the bay toward Antonio's fleet. Halfway there, the President peeled off to pick on some other admirals.

Most of the gold ships went about their business unmolested. But a few of them ran into trouble, and thereby hangs a tale. The first one to draw fire was Jake's HMS Antelope, which had the misfortune to load gold in sight of Aimee's Janissary. She decided it was time for blood. "It will be fun for me," she explained to no one in particular, "until I sink him, which will be a sad ending for him, but good for me."

But the real misfortune belonged to the Janissaries' Blood. Three of her cannons could bear on the target, but she landed only one hit. The next thing she knew, the avenging HMS Forge had jumped her and unloaded all four cannons, plus a second shot from Rhys Griffin Owen. The Lily of the Sea's flagship was down to one mast, so she scooted for home. The Forge followed at a distance to make sure she didn't turn and come back, while the Antelope loped for home to unload and repair.

The Hyena saw a clear path to another wild island, but Mike's ships were nearby, and Jake hesitated. "I'm not after you," Mike tried to reassure him. "I've got other targets in mind; I promise I won't bother your ships." Jake shied away, saying, "I don't trust bald guys." Mike answered with a loud, evil laugh that make Jake cower. "I'll give you something to mistrust me for!" he grinned, but he kept his promise about the island.

At the same time, Aimee's Griffin made a fast run to a more distant wild island and loaded up quickly. Mike's President was in the neighborhood, and saw the chance for an easy kill. The four-masted schooner swooped in, shouting, "Arrr! Avast!" and a bunch of other "A" words. The last time Mike used the President, her dice luck had been horrible, and sad to tell, nothing had changed. She fired four point-blank shots and landed only two hits. "But I get a reroll for one missed shot," Mike stated. "Oh, shoot!" exclaimed Aimee. "Okay, I will," he said, and he did. And he missed again.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bay, the Franklin was on an anti-Antonio crusade. She caught the San Jose first, and scored two hits out of three shots to leave her derelict. Mike expected the Santa Isabel to come to her fleetmate's aid, but he got trouble from an unexpected quarter: Zach's Jarvis was cruisin' for a bruisin', and she took two shots at the Franklin that cost Mike his mizzenmast. Then the Santa Isabel weighed in and shattered two more masts. Mike was regretting dividing his fleet, but it was too late to do anything about it.

With one mast left, the Franklin wouldn't survive another turn no matter what she did. So she went out with a bang and sank the San Jose, claiming half her treasure. Zach's ship left her derelict, and Antonio's ship finished her off... and then turned on his ally and knocked down the Jarvis' mainmast.

Unable to help her fleetmate, the President stayed on her original course of destruction. She finished off the Griffin and claimed a chunk of her treasure. Paul, who had been pretty peaceful up until now, smelled action and waded into the fray. The Cat's Claw rammed the much bigger President, doing no damage. "I'll board you, you insolent young pup!" snarled the Cadet-Captain, but the results were a tie. The Claw then shot away the President's mizzenmast, finally doing some damage. The Chesapeake joined in, but missed with her one cannon.

Mike returned fire and stripped the Chesapeake's one mast away, but couldn't make a scratch on the Cat's Claw. Richard, who had been minding his own business up to now, joined the party with the big Neptune's Hoard, which sank the Cat's Claw just for the fun of it (she had no gold). Mike's ship took on Richard's fleet in turn and got one derelicting hit on the Mermaid, but that was all that her ill-starred cannons could do.

Antonio, on the other hand, wasn't quite finished. He knew he was low on gold, and he knew that Zach's Carolina had some. So he pulled out all the stops. First, he rammed her, but Zach rolled a lobster (he was using Mike's special die with a lobster where the 1 should be) and all his masts stayed standing. Then Antonio boarded and won. Mike explained the rule to Zach: "Either you lose a crew or give him a treasure (lose the crew)." Zach's Helmsman valiantly gave his life to keep Antonio's boarders away from the pieces of eight. Finally, the Santa Isabel's cannons opened fire at point-blank range. Her gunners must have had something else on their minds, because only two of the four scored hits. The Carolina could still move, and Zach's gold was still safe.

There were still two coins left unclaimed by now, but time had run out on the battle. When the gold was counted, Jake was excited to realize he'd won; Zach was very close behind him in second place, Richard the Third, and fourth place was a three-way tie between Aimee, Mike, and Paul. Antonio was very quiet at the Pirates' Pub that night.

Jake's favorite ship, HMS Forge, did a fine job of defending his ships tonight. Zach's Carolina did a lot better for him than she did last time; with some better treasure values, he could have won easily. (The last unclaimed treasures were both 1's, so they wouldn't have helped unless he somehow got them both.) There was nothing wrong with Antonio's tactics; he just had the bad luck to lose a big coin to Cadet-Captain Mike's unprovoked aggression. Aimee had the same problem, plus a tussle with Jake that was a lot sadder for her than it was for him. Paul and Richard were pretty much left alone for most of the game, so it was just bad luck with the doubloons that kept them out of the winner's circle. No ship earned battle honors tonight; the fighting was over too quickly, and no ship really distinguished herself.

Overheard during the game:

Jake: Are you 53?
Mike: No.
Jake: Are you 50?
Mike: Why are you so curious?
Jake: I want to know how old I'll be when I go bald.

Scribed this day, the Eleventh of June,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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The Rich Island and Richard's Sub
Pirates Battle Report

Few things are more gratifying to a veteral pirate than seeing an occasional sailor "get the bug" and decide to go on the account. That's what happened tonight. The Dangerous Lady Lora invited Cadet-Captain Mike (and his Lady Eileen) over for pizza, followed by some piratical mayhem with the Dread Pirate Richard making it a trio. She hadn't been able to fight a battle in a very long time, and she couldn't hold off any longer. We played with generous 60-point fleets and our usual tight cluster of wild islands, light on gold except for the centermost island, which got six coins. All the fleets pretty much headed for each other at the outset. Mike contemplated dividing his fleet to attack both opponents at once, but re-concentrated his force when Le Gaule took up station in his path. Lora's intention was clearly for her 400-lb gorilla to block the passage between two islands, and thus screen the Darkhawk II as it approached the rich center island. Mike was having none of that. Richard's fleet was on the other side of that island, so he missed out on the initial clash.

(Let it be noted that the Carolina went unmolested through the entire battle, and did nothing noteworthy except bring home gold. Quite a bit of gold, actually; the first coin she found was a seven. That's all there is to say about the Carolina.)

All three of the Cadet-Captain's fighting ships converged on Lora's five-master. The congested waters between islands became even more crowded as four big ships tried to get lines of fire on each other. The Sioux and the Eagan could each bring only one cannon to bear, and they landed one hit each. Then Thomas Jefferson, acting as his own Secretary of War, supplied three more hits to leave Le Gaule mastless. Mike was considering towing her home at this time, more for the ransom for the Stag of Tortuga than for any desire to use the ship.

Lora was not defenseless, though. El Relampago was able to fire all her cannons at the murky form of the Nautilus below the surface. But two of them missed, and the third did no harm to the submarine's tough iron hull. The Raven and the Cumberland both found gold and raced home with it; there were too many angry fighting ships in the area to risk losing a single doubloon. The Darkhawk thought about landing at that center island, but in spite of Mike's repeatedly urging her to do so, she decided against it.

Richard entered the action at this time, chuckling, "What a beautiful brawl!" The Nautilus, running silent and deep, rammed the Relampago and tumbled her foremast over the side. The Hrothgar added her cannons to the action, but her marksmanship was poor; it took all six of her shots to land two hits and take Lora's anti-submarine ship out of the action. Rattlesnake and Neptune's Hoard both took advantage of the other players' distraction to grab some gold from nearby wild islands.

Now, Mike did divide his fleet. The Eagan closed in on the Nautilus, the Sioux sheered off to chase down the Rattlesnake, and the TJ took on the Darkhawk and the Hrothgar at the same time. The Eagan had some success, crushing the tail of Richard's submarine. But before her crew could reload, or even gloat, they found themselves under fire from the other direction; the Darkhawk was sniping at them. Lora's gunners got one of Mike's masts. The damaged Nautilus got another with a ram, and the Hrothgar finished her off, shooting three for six. "Thanks for helping me sink her," said the Dread Pirate to the Dangerous Lady. Didn't she realize that, if the Eagan didn't stop Richard's sub, he'd have everyone at his mercy? But that's why we call her dangerous; she has a history of backstabbing other players who might have helped her. One sub-hunting ship was now sunk and the other was derelict. Could anything stop the Nautilus?

The answer was, "Yes, her own timid admiral could stop her." The Nautilus had both Mike's and Lora's fleets at her mercy. Driving one or both of them back to their home ports would have been easy. But instead, the submarine turned for home and repairs. (We forgot the rule about how Mercenary ships can't dock at a home island. We always thought that was a stupid rule anyway.) This gave Mike and Lora some breathing room, which they used to pound on each other.

The Jefferson's first move was to board the Darkhawk from a distance with small boats. This backfired badly; the American boarders were repulsed, and Mike lost his Helmsman in the process. His gunners aimed to take out the Hrothgar, whose bad luck might turn good at any moment. The Jefferson left the longship derelict, and used one cannon to knock a piece off the Darkhawk as well. That ship fired back and shot away one of the TJ's masts. The Hrothgar tried to creep away on oar power, but Mike put a quick stop to that, and sank the Darkhawk at the same time with some good shooting.

Meanwhile, the Sioux had made a very good showing for herself. She caught the Rattlesnake just as the latter finished loading, and scored three hits with three shots. Nothing was left of the Rattlesnake but some flotsam on the surface, and some treasure that Mike and Richard divided between them. Richard made his infamous growling noise to show his displeasure. Then the Sioux cut around the fantail of the submerged Nautilus and crossed the bows of the Neptune's Hoard. Again she shot three for three, and the Hoard was down to one mast. Richard growled again.

He decided he'd had enough of that. His submarine bobbed to the surface and ran out her guns, aided by the Hoard's last cannon. Now it was Richard's turn to shoot three for three. The Hoard wasted no time in running a towing hawser to the Sioux and began dragging her home. That annoying ship would get repaired, and would take the place of the Hrothgar in his fleet.

Mike now owned the center of the map. The Jefferson contemplated chasing the Hoard and recovering the Sioux, but without her Helmsman, there was no chance of catching them. "Hmmm," thought her captain out loud. "There's a lot of treasure on that center island, and I've got three cargo spaces free. It seems a shame to waste them..." Suiting action to words, Jefferson shifted from Secretary of War to Secretary of the Treasury; she claimed the three best coins on the island (two sixes and a four), and built the Thompson's Island fort to guard the rest.

Lora was down to two small ships at this point, but they were both doing what they could. The Raven set herself the goal of towing the Relampago home (aided by a promise from Mike to let her do so, since the Relampago was the only thing standing between the Nautilus and everything else on the board). The Cumberland snarfed up some more gold, and built the Paradis de la Mer fort to cover Le Gaule. Mike was not about to mess with that fort. His dreams of towing the big Frenchman home were dashed, so he let the Thompson's Island gunners take some target practice against the motionless hulk. It took only one hit to send her to the bottom.

At this point, nearly all the gold was claimed, and as it was getting late, the battle was deemed over. Mike ran away with the gold score, thanks to all the high-value coins he found. The goodies he'd stolen from Richard wouldn't have affected the winner, but they would have put Richard in second place instead of third.

If the battle had gone on longer, there's no question who would have won. Richard had his submarine, and he had both the Neptune's Hoard and the captured USS Sioux to sweep the Relampago aside and leave the Nautilus untouchable. The sub could have done even more damage if Richard had used her more aggressively. The Darkhawk II did nothing as a gold ship, but by defeating Mike's bigger TJ in a boarding action, she saved Richard's fleet from even more destruction. The Thomas Jefferson lived up to her promise as a gunship (unlike Le Gaule, which sank without firing a shot), and earned battle honors for sinking the Darkhawk and Hrothgar, doing most of the damage to Le Gaule, and for bringing home enough gold to have won the day all by herself. USS Sioux would also have won battle honors for 100% marksmanship and for sinking a laden gold ship, but she ended the battle in enemy hands, so she doesn't qualify.

Scribed this day, the Sixteenth of June,
the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eight,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Treasure Island
Pirates Battle Report

No less than eight pirates were gathered around the battle zone this evening. At issue was a fabulously wealthy island that held sixteen treasures. But strange forces were at work on this island. No one could explore it properly; any skipper who wanted its gold had to load it blind, and couldn't look at what he'd claimed until it was safely in his holds. This island was surrounded by twelve other islands in a double ring. The inner ring of islands had two treasures each, the outer isles had one each. So you'd think there was enough gold for everybody, and no one had any reason to fight over it, wouldn't you? I hope you're not that naive. It surprised no one that most of the ships headed straight for the rich central island. Some of the smaller treasure ships were content to grab a coin or two from the other islands and run home, and these ships were generally left untouched.

The fighting ships, on the other hand, were out for blood. Multiple brawls broke out all over the bay as various fleets, headed for the center, drew near enough to each other to take some potshots. Paul and Richard were the first to exchange friendly cannonballs, with the Jarvis sending the Hrothgar back home as fast as she had sailed out, but with only one mast left to sail with. The other Jarvis, in Zach's fleet, also got into a scuffle with Jake's Forge and Victor. Jake had some cross-eyed gunners or something; shot after shot splashed harmlessly into the sea, and it wasn't until his sixth shot that he finally got on target... only to see that shot also miss, due to the Jarvis' ability. The Forge did get one shot home, but it wasn't enough to stop the Jarvis from sinking HMS Victor with two salvoes.

A really nasty running battle broke out between Cadet-Captain Mike and Almirante Antonio. The San Salvador was the first Spanish ship to go glubbing into the depths tonight, a victim of the Seattle. "Nothing personal," Mike reassured him. "It's just good business."

"I don't want to fight you," Antonio protested. "I just want to get to the center island."

"That's fine," replied Mike. "I'll let you. And once you get there and load up, then I'll sink you and take half your gold." True to his word, Mike's fighting ships backed off from the attack and joined the Carolina for a rush at the center. Mike was the second admiral to get there (Paul's Minuteman was first), and each of his ships loaded a pair of coins of varying values.

Back in Zach and Jake's corner, the action was heating up. HMS Forge rammed the Jarvis and splintered her mainmast, then shot her foremast away with her S-range cannons. The now-derelict Jarvis was a short distance from Jake's home port, so he ran a hawser to her from the Forge and took her in tow. Zach's Saratoga swerved aside from her course to the center island and tried to rescue his other ship, but got tangled up with the Lady's Scorn before he got there. Each ship shot away two masts on the other; then the Forge showed up and left them both derelict. And the Aberdeen Baron, aside from a failed attempt to keep the Sara away from the Jarvis, sailed around in circles and didn't do much of anything.

In the center, La Santa Isabel had arrived unmolested and filled her capacious holds with gold. Mike kept his promise to the letter: he let Antonio load up, then attacked. It took two turns of fighting, including a ram from the Spanish that did no harm, and a boarding action that cost the Isabel her Oarsman, but when the cannon smoke had drifted away, the Santa Isabel was a helpless derelict, and Mike was gleefully preparing to count his half of the treasure he was about to steal. At the same time, the Ghost Walker was taking out El Cervantes, eventually sinking her. Chris put up a tough fight, though, ramming and boarding to steal one of the speedy windcatcher's treasures before Mike's cannons took their final toll.

Mike's plans for the Santa Isabel got the deep six, however, when the Seref showed up at the center island. There was still plenty of gold to be had, and Aimee wasted no time in grabbing some. But as she left, Mike suggested that she take a shot at the Isabel and get some free treasure. Her face lit up; then she lit up her cannons, which quickly found the range. The Fire Blossom's half of Anthony's gold added up to more than her Bloody Jewel brought in all game long.

She had barely counted her loot when she saw the Seattle running out her guns toward the Seref. "Why?" she demanded. "I haven't attacked you all game!"

"I wanted to steal Anthony's treasure," Mike explained, "but you stole it first. So I'll steal your treasure instead." He had to repeat this twice before she understood, at which point she folded her arms and pouted. She need not have worried, however. The Seattle landed three hits out of four shots, but couldn't finish the galley off. The Seref ran out her oars and rowed for her life.

Meanwhile, Paul's Minuteman had safely returned from the central island with the one doubloon she'd been able to load. His other ships had run around in circles, waiting for something to happen. They got their wish when Richard's Hrothgar finished her repairs and came out, looking for trouble. But neither admiral had much interest in attacking the other. Mike had to forcefully point out that, if they didn't start shooting, the game would end before they got close enough to anyone else. That got them moving in the right direction.

This historian didn't take careful notes on the battle that followed, but it went something like this: the Saratoga landed two good hits on the Hrothgar, which shot back with the two cannons on its remaining mast and missed. Old Sara dismasted the Hrothgar, but couldn't finish the job, so the longship did what the Seref had just done: she ran out her oars and rowed for home. She was avenged by L'Espadon, which did enough harm to the Saratoga to take her out of the battle, but then the Jarvis joined the action, and the two ships took turns damaging each other. This battle ended in a draw, as both sides withdrew to lick their wounds and repair damage.

Richard used this distraction to run the Rattlesnake out to an island that still had two coins on it, and built Thompson's Island there to guard those treasures. One of them turned out to be a hogshead of Rum, which was quite valuable, since the Rattlesnake had no crew to imbibe it before they got it home. Good thing, too; Richard is still under age.

The last act in the drama was back in Jake's corner of the map. His Forge took Zach's Saratoga in tow; it was the second time in the battle that he'd made off with one of Zach's ships. The Aberdeen Baron was preparing to do likewise with the Lady's Scorn, but that's when Mike intervened. He put strong pressure on Jake to sink her instead of tow her, and he may have left himself open to a charge of undue command influence as a result. But Jake finally yielded to the pressure and blew the Lady's Scorn apart. He thought. No one but Mike knew what the word "Eternal" meant, and Aimee's frustration at losing her best ship was wiped away in an instant when the mastless ship bobbed up out of the sea, right at her home island.

There were a few pieces of eight still unclaimed, but the hour was late and the battle ended there. Mike won on gold; Aimee and Richard were tied for second place; the dynamic duo of Antonio and Chris were third, Zach was fourth, Paul came in fifth, and Jake claimed no gold at all. This didn't seem to bother him, mostly because he won our last battle.

Antonio and Chris probably would have won if their ships had gotten home with all the gold and silver they'd loaded. Historians are still wondering why they didn't even try to shoot at Mike's warships early in the battle, especially since Mike had promised to sink them once they were loaded, and Mike is known for keeping promises like that. As it was, their fleet was wiped out. Zach was down to one small, swift gold ship as well. If the game had gone on for another turn, Aimee would have lost her Seref, and Mike's lead would have been even greater. But if we'd played for a few more turns, Jake's stolen fleet would have gotten repairs and wrought havoc on the high seas. Battle honors go to HMS Forge, for derelicting three ships and towing two of them home; and to the Seattle, for sinking one ship, derelicting two others, and bringing home two fine treasure coins.

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

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Battled Water
Pirates Battle Report

The hard-to-explore central island in our last battle was so successful (in terms of causing fights to break out) that we used it again tonight, surrounded by ten islands with lesser treasures. Our fleets were made of nine masts and four crew, without regard to points. Mike announced to the other six admirals at the outset, "I am not playing to win. I am playing to be a pain in the neck." With that veiled threat hanging over everyone's head, the battle began.

Almost immediately, the shooting started. Antonio steered toward Mike, breathing out threats and slaughter. Mike's Leicester put a quick stop to that; she fired two shots, and half of Antonio's fleet was derelict. Antonio had never met the Leicester before, and wasn't expecting that kind of destruction. Mike then offered the Almirante a cease-fire. "I've had my fun with you," he explained. "Now I'll go pick on someone else. If you don't attack me, I won't destroy you. Deal or no deal?" It's not like Antonio had much choice. He briefly threatened to use the El Paso's canceller ability on the Leicester, insisting that this wasn't really an attack. But when Mike made it clear that he was flirting with disaster, Antonio relented. His two good ships took his derelicts in tow, and Mike's fleet sailed off in search of another victim.

Paul and Zach got into a running scuffle at about the same time. Paul's Shamrock loaded some gold, and threw an unwanted coin onto an island Jake was about to explore. We don't know what he got in exchange, but the evidence suggests it was a 7 coin. What evidence, you ask? I'm glad you asked! The Shamrock didn't even get a chance to raise her anchor before Zach's Jarvis was all over her, cannons blazing. This particular Shamrock wasn't good luck for Paul, but Zach had no complaints, since he got the 7 coin when the Shamrock sank.

Paul gladly returned the favor a moment later when his Pride blew away Le Pique and took half her treasure. Then the Pride, Bloody Jewel, Cleveland, and Jarvis got into a swirling fight that saw many shots fired and not many masts knocked down, although several masts were taken down by ramming. After three turns, both of Paul's ships had lost a mast, as had the Cleveland, and the Jarvis was derelict. The Cleveland fired her two remaining cannons in a Broadside against the Pride, but missed. Paul finished off the Cleveland, and took the Jarvis in tow.

The next battle broke out between the Dread Pirate and the Fire Blossom, whose fleets both wanted the same wild island. Aimee's Pride got there first and loaded its gold. Richard's two junks were primed for battle; his lead ship, the swift Le Bonne Chance, pulled alongside the Lady's Scorn at close range... and then, for reasons known only to God and Richard, he didn't fire. The Fire Blossom's flagship did shoot, however, and smashed two of the Frenchman's three masts. She was avenged by the Black Lotus, which shot three for three and sent the Lady's Scorn limping home. Her crew passed the time by breaking toothpicks into pieces and arranging them next to the hull so they looked like the oars of an Oarsman.

Richard then turned on the Pride and shot all her masts away. This caused Aimee to make a growling noise that defies any attempt at spelling it out. He clearly meant to tow her ship home, and Aimee couldn't stop him. So she offered him a deal: she wouldn't attack him for the rest of the game if he allowed her to tow her ship home. He accepted. (Gotta watch out for those feminine wiles, Richard!) The Dread Pirate's two small ships headed for the rich center island, while the junks headed home. Aimee's Executioner passed a tow line to the Pride and began a long, slow voyage back to her home port as well. The Pride's crew passed the time by launching toothpicks into the air as if they were guided missiles.

And while all this was going on, what of Jake? He had grabbed some gold from nearby islands with his fast ships, passed the treasure to his less capable ships, and formed up for an attack on Paul's fleet. But a new set of sails appeared over the horizon; Mike had finally arrived. Jake and Paul quickly made common cause, formed up their own fleets in something that might have been a battle formation, and prepared for a mighty clash of arms.

This historian will leave you in suspense for a moment to bring everything up to date. Antonio's ships had repaired all their damage and put to sea in a group, headed for the center but willing to stop at the unexplored islands along the way. Zach was down to one small, slow ship, Le Fureur, which was gamely trying to get some gold. Mike had announced his intent to pick on Zach next, but now that the Bosun's fleet had been cut down to almost nothing, he decided that Paul had a much greater need to be picked on. Paul had joined his fighting ships with Jake's, while the Bloody Jewel had built the Thompson's Island fort in a commanding location, and was now trying to use El Phantasma to steal one of Zach's few treasures from his home island. Aimee was repairing the Lady's Scorn and towing the Pride home, while Richard was fixing the damage to the Bonne Chance, and his small, slow ships were creeping toward the center island.

Mike maneuvered so his fleet got the first shots, as he often does (what a bully!). The Algiers waded into the crowd of hostile ships and landed one hit on the Fly. HMS Victor was next, and she accomplished absolutely nothing, unless you count making big splashes next to the ship she was shooting at. Now it was the Leicester's turn. Mike held his breath; this was a very powerful ship, but she had often disappointed him in the past with bad luck.

He need not have worried. Three of her cannons hit their targets, and The Gentleman reloaded and re-shot the fourth one himself. In a few moments, a fleet of ships had turned into four wallowing derelicts, with shattered masts and tattered sails lying about their decks or trailing in the water behind them. The Leicester's gunners stared open-mouthed at the carnage they had inflicted. The gunners on the Algiers and Victor stamped their feet in frustration that they had added so little to the battle. The crews of the Fly, Cutlass, Jake's Algiers, and Pride had no comment.

The Nautilus got behind the Leicester and tried to avenge her fleetmates, but her aim was awful and she missed both her shots. The Bloody Jewel made a final dash for Zach's home island, but came up just short and was unable to steal any gold. Richard's ships also came short of their goal in the center of the map. And that brings us to the final conflict of the evening, the most dramatic of them all.

Zach's La Fureur had finally reached a wild island and cleaned it out, then turned for another one to fill her holds. She had just arrived when Antonio's fleet came tearing over the horizon. He was behind on gold, thanks mostly to the rough handling that Mike had given him, and he wasn't in the mood for deals, or for being nice. La Habana visited a wild island and loaded its gold, while his three two-masted ships all headed for La Fureur.

El San Salvador was first. She rammed her bows hard into the little French ship. "This would be a good time to roll a moose," said Mike (Zach was using Mike's special die with a moose instead of a 1). Zach rolled for the ram, and... "He moosed!" Then the boarders swarmed over each other's gunwales. When the swordplay was done, it was Zach's ship that had won. Not only did this save his gold, it also saved his ship; El San Salvador lost her Captain in the fighting, so his ship couldn't shoot her two 2-rank cannons after moving.

But now El Paso weighed in. Again, the Spaniard rammed the Frenchman, and again, against the odds, it did no damage. Again, they boarded each other, and again, Zach won the encounter. The Bazana tried to make a third ram, but couldn't get through her own fleetmates, and without a Captain on board, she couldn't shoot.

And that was where the battle was called, due to the lateness of the hour. Thanks to that 7-gold coin and the Fureur's unexpected toughness, Zach won the day on gold. When Mike presented him with the Captain's Coin, his face lit up, even brighter than the Coin. The Fire Blossom was in a close second place, Paul and Jake were tied for third, Antonio was fourth, Richard fifth, and Mike got what he deserved for being a pain in the neck.

This battle poses many questions for historians. Why didn't Richard's ship shoot Aimee when he had the chance (the Bonne Chance)? Why didn't Aimee and Antonio move their Shipwrights to the ships that needed them, so they could repair at sea instead of being towed home? What did Richard's Le Sirviente do during the battle? (This historian has completely forgotten.) Aimee might well have won if Richard hadn't waylaid her, which did him no good and blocked her advance to the center. Jake and Paul both could have pulled out a win, but it seems likely that, if Mike hadn't intervened, they would have shot each other to bits instead. Antonio had the bad luck to start the battle next to Mike, and made it worse by picking a fight with him; the results took him completely out of the first half of the battle. As far as anyone can recall, not one ship made it to the center island. The Dread Pirate Richard set a new record by knocking the same ship's deck plate off the table twice in five minutes.

Instead of awarding vague "battle honors" to successful ships, this report marks the debut of a new set of medals, freshly invented by the Cadet-Captain. To win a medal, a ship must survive the battle under the control of its original admiral, and do something out of the ordinary. The medals are, in increasing order of value:

So HMS Leicester earned the Bronze Sabre for leaving no less than six ships derelict. But the battle's real hero was Le Fureur, which earned the Gold Sabre for resisting two rams, winning two boarding actions, staying alive when her faster, more powerful fleetmates were all sunk or captured, and hanging on to her gold just long enough to give Zach the victory.

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

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Table for Eight
Pirates Battle Report

We've had eight pirates gather around the table before, but one or two had always been new recruits who learned the ropes by helping an established admiral. This was the first time we had eight separate fleets in play at once. The eighth pirate was Admiral Abigail; it was her second battle ever, and her first with her own ships. Fleets were made with 40 points, but each admiral got a new ship tonight, which he/she was required to use. The contested water was a double ring of 13 mysterious islands with two coins each. As the time to weigh anchors drew near, some of the younger admirals spoke of banding together for protection. It was probably the sight of Abigail's enormous junk that spooked them, but Mike's Constitution didn't help (they weren't sure which version it was, and the Revolution version scares the daylights out of them). Paul, Jake, and Antonio passed several plans for alliances around the table. Richard and Zach would play along with any deal that sounded good, Abigail was trying to stay above it all, and Mike, of course, just wanted to blow things up. But when the ships sailed, the agreement was that Abigail, Mike, and the Fire Blossom would stand against the other five. Exactly why this was considered fair, no one seems to know; maybe it was based on the mast counts. The Cadet-Captain never actually agreed to the deal, but he acted as though he had, to Abigail's great relief.

Paul was the first to risk fate by exploring a mysterious island, but he got a good result: he was told to pull two coins from every other island onto the island where he was docked. Since every island had exactly two coins, this looked like a problem. Mike thought fast and ruled that Paul could take any two coins from islands where no one would dock in the next turn. The Zephyr looked at all these coins, then ignored them because she had no room for them. Paul's Chesapeake pulled up alongside her, but her mysterious result sent two coins back to other islands; she loaded the ones that were left.

Antonio had almost identical problems. His new Corazon Dorado got to pull two coins in (one of which was a cask of Captain Morgan's Rum), while the Fool's Hope had to throw away the two coins on her island, leaving her with nothing. The Corazon turned for home with full holds, while the Hope pointed her bowsprit toward the action that was impending. Antonio got one more mysterious result, which allowed him to move someone else's ship. He chose the Zeus and pushed her straight back the way she came. (This probably saved Paul's neck later.) Abigail was also getting some treasure, but she misunderstood and thought that cargo capacity meant total value of gold, not number of coins. Mike soon set her straight. "Well, in that case..." she said, and greedily grabbed a coin and slapped it down on the Black Arrow's deck plate.

When the fighting broke out, it took place as two separate battles. In the west, Mike took on Richard and Zach, who weren't very well coordinated. In the center, Abigail took aim at Paul and Jake, who were working as a team, with Aimee and Antonio coming up from behind to help their respective allies. Mike's battle started first, ended first, and took less time, so we'll begin with that one.

Mike began by trying to overtake Richard's fleet, but the Dread Pirate turned his heels to the Cadet-Captain's ships while wailing to his allies, "I just became a target!" Mike was unable to catch him. But then the Saratoga crossed his formation, and Mike pounced. The Constitution could get only one cannon in range, but that cannon was on target. The Sara replied with two hits from her three remaining cannons, aided by Cdr. Crenshaw's added range. Then the new Paul Revere moved for a ram, while simultaneously touching Old Ironsides. The ram failed to do damage, but in the resulting boarding action, Crenshaw was cut down by a sabre. The Revere's cannons then shot down two of the Saratoga's masts, and in a final wise move, she transferred Ralph David to the Constitution.

Zach didn't have much left to fight with. But his ally, Richard, was quick to come to his aid... sort of. Le Superbe altered course to join the battle, but HMS Clear Wind stayed with the Bloody Jewel, which was avoiding anything that might be even a little bit dangerous. Mike's Constitution shot away the Sara's last mast, and got one hit on Richard's big ship. Le Superbe replied with all her cannons, and watched with satisfaction as Mike's biggest ship sank beneath the waves. That satisfaction turned to dismay as the Constitution bobbed back to the surface at Mike's home island. "He made it eternal!" groaned Paul. Ralph David had done his patriotic duty, and Old Ironsides would fight again.

Now the Paul Revere mixed it up with Le Superbe, with mixed results. The schooner tried a boarding action from S range, which succeeded; Richard's Helmsman bit the briny. Mike got one cannon hit, but Richard answered with three, leaving the Revere in dire straits. At the same time, the brand-new new Philadelphia had turned from her quest for gold and maneuvered to touch the derelict Saratoga. In a final act of defiance, the Revere made a schooner turn and fired her last cannon into the Saratoga, sinking her and robbing Zach of his prize. Mike's ship joined her in the depths a moment later, thanks to Le Superbe.

Meanwhile, Jake's HMS Hound had reached a promising wild island, but it backfired badly. A string of freak waves appeared out of nowhere and hammered the two-masted ship, quickly turning her into a no-masted ship. HMS Royal turned aside to leave her Shipwright on the Hound; he fixed one mast, and then the Hound was baying in pursuit of her fleetmates. She didn't even get any gold out of the deal, because that island got cleaned out by Antonio's mysterious result. Abigail's small ships, and the Rattlesnakes of Mike and Zach, had also gotten their greedy mitts on some doubloons. Mike had to throw one of his coins away, so he lobbed it onto an island where one of his allies would get it; it ultimately fell into the Fire Blossom's hands. Even the Zeus grabbed a coin on her way toward the sound of the guns.

Ahh, yes, the sound of the guns in the center. This started as a confrontation between the huge Zeus, heading up from the south, and the Divan's Punishment and Cat's Claw, meeting her from the north. The Zeus would have cut them to ribbons if she'd had one more turn to attack them, but because Antonio had moved her backwards, she didn't have that one more turn. HMS Royal and Nautilus soon joined Paul's ships from the northwest, while Antonio's attack from the east was blocked by Aimee's appearance from the southeast. The Fire Blossom needed a lot of encouraging from her allies to join the battle. "They're going to sink my gold ships — they said so!" she protested. Abigail and Mike pointed out the wall of fighting ships between "them" and her gold ships, and when she finally got into the battle, she carried her share well.

First blood in the center went to the Divan's Punishment, which took her first shot ever at the Black Arrow, and landed a good hit at extreme range. The Fool's Hope also took a shot at the Arrow, but missed. (Her S cannons couldn't have hit this particular pirate ship anyway, but it was fun to let her try.) Abigail's ship realized that she was unpopular in these waters, turned and ran, and didn't stop running until she was safely home. (Is that any way to treat a nice lady, I ask you?)

Paul's pursuit was interrupted by the arrival of the Zeus, which got hits on both of Paul's ships. He would have been toast if Petty Officer Jake had not intervened. Jake's two ships fired their cannons repeatedly, and the big junk's masts fell, one by one. Jake rejoiced in the damage he was doing, unaware that, with seven cannons of 2-rank or better, he should have been scoring twice as many hits as he did.

But this was a common problem in the central battle. Paul's marksmanship against the Zeus was just plain mediocre. Aimee's Black Pearl and Seref engaged Antonio's Fool's Hope, and although they eventually left the big ship derelict, it took a lot more shots than it should have. She also had bad luck when shooting Paul's ships; she couldn't finish off any of them. As for the Zeus, she got some good hits on the Nautilus, and she successfully resisted several rams and boarding attempts, but in the end, she died the death of a thousand cuts, surrounded by no less than five hostile ships. Even the tiny Zephyr had rammed her and taken a shot with her awful cannon.

When the battle ended on account of lateness, Abigail had her monster ship derelict, the Black Arrow damaged, and the Banshee's Cry untouched. Mike had his Rattlesnake intact and his Constitution under repair. Richard had some damage to Le Superbe, and his other two ships had avoided damage by doing nothing but trace figure-eights in the sea all night. Zach had his Philadelphia and Rattlesnake, both undamaged. Jake had the HMS Royal with all her masts, the Nautilus with heavy damage, and the Hound derelict again (Zach had rammed her with the Philadelphia, hoping to steal some gold that wasn't there). Paul's new galley had one mast left, the Cat's Claw was derelict, and his two one-masted ships were in fine shape. Antonio had one ship (the Corazon Dorado) with no damage and one (the Fool's Hope) with no masts. In spite of the Fire Blossom's fears for her fleet, not one of her ships had a scratch on it.

Gold was another story. Jake and Richard had loaded no coins at all. Paul, Mike and Aimee had single digits, Zach had a decent score from the Rattlesnake's one full load, and the winner was... Antonio and Abigail, in a tie. Antonio had won before, so Zach presented the Captain's Coin to Admiral Abigail.

With all the fighting that took place, you would expect all kinds of battle honors. But very few ships performed as well as they should have. The only fighting ships that shot better than average were Zach's Saratoga, which did not survive the battle, and Richard's Le Superbe. The latter sank both of Mike's big ships and earned the Bronze Sabre medal. The surprize was Antonio's El Corazon Dorado, which earned the Order of the Buccaneer for bringing in enough gold to single-handedly achieve a tie for first place. Not bad for a brand-new ship on her first cruise.

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

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The Guardians of the Gold
Pirates Battle Report

Before we consider the wild, swirling battle we fought on Tuesday night, we must give a quick mini-report on a battle that took place two weeks ago. This eight-player fray was based on Cadet-Captain Mike's "The Other World" scenario. We used two long tables, one with whirlpools and home islands, the other with whirlpools and gold-laden wild islands. Most of the pirate admirals had never encountered whirlpools before, but they quickly grasped the concept and were soon bounding all over the bounding main. Most of this bounding was in pursuit of Mike's Enterprise, which was heavily crewed and very aggressive toward anything that came near it. He and Richard started the battle with a non-aggression treaty, but Richard's Hrothgar broke the deal to finish off the Enterprise and sink the Lady's Scorn of the Fire Blossom. Both of those ships were Eternal and didn't stay sunk, but this was only the second time we've seen a longship play a significant role in a battle. Time ran out on the fighting long before we were ready, which is why there was no formal report on that battle. When we counted our meager treasures, Mike thought he'd won, but Paul was surprised and pleased to find that he had the most.

Tonight, we reverted to our usual twin ring of wild islands with a rich one in the middle, with two differences: there were four whirlpools (three in the outer island ring and one near the center island), and that center island was protected by the Guardians of the Gold, three sea monsters controlled by Mike, which would mercilessly attack any ship that tried to steal "their" treasure. The Guardians started the game near their center island.

Because the action was so confused and moved in so many different directions at once, it will probably be easier to describe each ship's cruise in turn.

When the gold was counted, Admiral Abigail was on top, with Jake one point behind her. Zach had only one coin, but it was a fine one that put him in third place. Antonio was fourth, Aimee was fifth with one point, and Paul went from the top of the world to the bottom. Antonio presented Abigail with the Captain's Coin, but Aimee felt it should be done with more pomp and circumstance, so she grabbed it and gave it to Abigail again, with much bowing and scraping. Paul, the one who should have given her the Coin because he held it last, was not consulted.


...as this historian was writing this report, he realized that Jake had sunk Abigail's Cursed Blade, with the Hag of Tortuga on board, and Paul's Freedom, which had the Flag of Tortuga. Both of these crew have the Ransom keyword, which means Jake got a point for sinking each one. That means Jake was the actual winner, and Abigail was second by one point. Not only did the wrong people award the Captain's Coin, they gave it to the wrong person. Look ashamed, you two.

It was a wild battle that spread all across the map. No less than 13 ships were sunk or derelicted, and some of the whirlpools were as busy as Grand Central Station. The Guardians of the Gold did their job well; only one ship even tried to steal their treasure. Mike had expected the other players to gang up on the Guardians, and loot the rich central island (and fight each other) once the main threat was gone; instead, they contented themselves with the lesser islands, and allowed Paul to face the Guardians and pay the price by himself.

For its role in derelicting four ships, Champ earned the Bronze Saber; this is the first time a sea monster has ever won a medal. But those heroics paled before the exploits of HMS Royal. That ship finally lived up to her excellent potential, sinking (or helping to sink) four big ships, and bringing in enough gold with those sinkings to help her admiral into first place. For that performance, HMS Royal wins the Silver Saber.

Overheard during the battle:

Mike: Aimee, what are you doing?
Aimee: Uh huh.

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

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(Sealed) Pack Animals
Pirates Battle Report

Cadet-Captain Mike ran a sealed-deck battle for nine (yes, nine) pirates at once. What a nice guy. He did this as an early celebration of Talk Like A Pirate Day, and because it would be the "last hurrah" for several of our regular players. Each player got two packs, one Revolution and one of his/her choice of Revolution, Barbary Coast, or South China Seas. We built 40-point fleets from the ships and crew we got, and used eleven wild islands in a double ring with the usual heavily-loaded center island.

This game marked the return of Daniel Repaire-du-Lion after a long absence, and the departure of Admiral Abigail as a regular player for a season. Paul the Pirate Prince and the Dread Pirate Richard will also be appearing less frequently. This "school" nonsense is cramping our piratical style!

Because it was a sealed-deck game, the pulls were as exciting as the battle. Some of the highlights:

(Note to pirates who would like to host a sealed-deck game: in addition to allowing extra time for making up the fleets, be sure to allow time to assemble the ships. We lost quite a bit of time on this, in large part because Mike had to do the shipbuilding for six younger players as well as himself. Some of them were impatient, with the result that several ships sailed into their first battle with broken masts.)

The battle itself was a mad scramble for gold, and with nine players, there wasn't enough gold to go around. Three players (Abigail, Paul, and Mike) had Captain crew; Abigail was hindered by slow ships, but the other two used their fighting ships quite aggressively. The others did a lot of ramming and boarding, and some shooting when they could.

With over thirty ships in play, reconstructing every move would require a camcorder, and since this was a battle of sailing ships, camcorders weren't invented yet. However, there were some highlights to the action that are worth recording.

Bosun Zach's fleet went after Daniel from the first move. Without Captains, Zach had to start by ramming and boarding, then shooting once he was in position. He did a lot of damage to one of Daniel's ships that way, but he took some damage in return as well. Jake came to Paul's aid, but when Zach peeled off to do other things, Jake turned on Daniel instead. The Flying Frenchman later reported that there wasn't a single turn in which he was not attacked in some way.

Mike's initial course alarmed Abigail greatly. That wasn't his plan, so he altered course to starboard, which alarmed the Fire Blossom greatly. "Just don't take the gold I want, and I'll leave you alone," he said. But he must have had his fingers crossed; as soon as Aimee's Cursed Blade got close enough to Mike's Le Courageux, he attacked. And he got what he deserved for breaking an agreement: even though he had Michel Bordeaux on board for three cannons, he rolled three one's and missed everything. L'Atalante had to move for a ram to redeem his fleet's honor. But he left the Fire Blossom's ships alone for the rest of the battle.

Richard decided that Mike needed to be taught a lesson. His course alarmed the Fire Blossom all over again. "I won't hurt you, I'm after Mike," he promised, so she let his fleet pass through hers. But her gold ships inadvertently got in his fighter's way, his ship blocked another of hers, and it became a huge traffic jam. Only the Hades' Flame could keep closing in on Mike, and that was by sailing right through the island that Aimee was pillaging. He knew he couldn't take Mike on with that ship alone, and he really wanted to be aggressive against somebody, so his ghost ship came about, ceased to be ghostly, and rammed into Zach's one-masted galley instead.

The hottest action came at the center island, which was almost covered with gold, and which became a magnet for ships from many different navies. At one time, there were four ships docked and ready to claim its treasure — Tiger's Eye (Daniel), Bloody Jewel (Mike), and two of Abigail's ships, Le Soleil Royal and La Anunciada. It was Daniel who loaded the treasure, and thanks to First Mate Ismail, he took all six coins. The moment he did so, Mike's Le Courageux jumped him and fired every gun she had. This time, she performed the way Le Courageux usually does in someone else's hands; she hit all three shots (including her Marine crew) and left the Tiger's Eye derelict.

"Are you going to sink me?" Daniel asked. "No, now we're all going to board you and take your gold, one coin at a time," gloated Mike. Daniel instantly invented a new and unconventional naval maneuver: he turned to Paul and begged him, "Sink me! Sink me!" Paul's Julius Caesar had been sparring with Jake's fleet without success, but now he landed the one hit needed to finish off the Flying Frenchman's ship. They gave each other a high five (something else that hasn't been invented yet); Daniel got to keep at least some of his gold, and Paul got his first treasure of the night.

Paul's Hannah took on Antonio's much bigger and better-armed USS Intrepid for some reason. Neither ship had crew or cargo, and the Hannah had no cannons to speak of, but she tried. The American schooner fired back with a Firepot and hit with it, then stopped shooting. She finished off Paul's other mast the next turn, then left her to scuttle herself (but Paul's scuttling roll never worked). Le Pique came up, built Paradis de la Mer on the nearby island, and took a turn attacking the Intrepid, successfully ramming and shrugging off a losing boarding action. The schooner and the fort traded shots and were slowly whacking each other down to nothing when the battle ended.

Meanwhile, Abigail had wanted a piece of the center island's treasure, and she had also been quite willing to join the boarding-fest that Mike had planned. She was balked in both endeavors, so her La Anunciada ran for the last island with gold and loaded it. Paul took a whack at her with the Julius Caesar, but landed only one hit with three cannons before time ran out on the battle. Abigail kept her gold, which made her almost giddy with delight.

Also at this time, Mike's Bloody Jewel was also thwarted from getting any center-island gold. She took out her frustrations on Abigail's Le Soleil Royal, which took some chutzpah, even with the Firepot Specialist on the Jewel. For two turns, Mike's popguns banged away at the huge ship. But he had gone back to rolling nothing but one's, and accomplished nothing except to irritate the Soleil. Finally, as if annoyed by a buzzing insect, the big French ship ran out her guns and swatted the bothersome Bloody Jewel out of existence.

When the gold was counted, it was another tie between Jake and Abigail; he graciously allowed her to get the Captain's Coin. Mike and the Fire Blossom were tied for second, or maybe it was third; it was all so confusing. Nearly everyone got at least a little gold this time. No ship earned battle honors, because no one ship made a significant difference in the outcome.

A quick trading session followed, in which everyone was energetically wheeling and dealing, but only a few trades were actually made. Mike brought home a handful of ships with broken masts and hull parts, awaiting his skill with the super glue. Everyone else went home well satisfied with their new ships, forts, and crew. The Dangerous Lady Lora, who caught the end of the action, decided that she wants to play a sealed-deck game (hey, who wouldn't want free ships?), and since Mike still has a few packs left over, it could happen.

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

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Guarding the Asgard
Pirates Battle Report

First off, the author wishes to apologize for the lack of recent battle reports. We fought a humdinger of a battle a few weeks ago, but Mike dilly-dallied too long on writing his report, and forgot what happened. Fifty lashes with a wet noodle for the Cadet Captain!

Anyway, owing to a strange concept known as "school," the number of able-bodied pirates who gathered for battle tonight was lower than usual. We took this as a mixed blessing; maybe, with fewer combatants, we could fight to a conclusion instead of running out of time. Mike set up a map with two rings of six islands, with two treasures on each isle in the outer ring and three on the inner ring. In the empty center of the map, he placed the longship Asgard, which he never uses and wished to give away. It was an abandoned ship; the first player to explore it could add it to his/her fleet. In addition, if the game ended with the Asgard at someone's home island, that player got to keep it. Mike thought this would add some new wrinkles to the usual strategies. We played with 40-point fleets.

When the curtain went up on this battle, almost everyone was off like a shot... but not toward the wild islands. No, it was that abandoned longship that held everyone's attention. It quickly became a race to see who would get to her first, and whether the others would let him/her make off with it. Antonio was already boasting that he'd rather sink the Asgard than let anyone else get it. Only Richard, Jake, and Mike were immune to its spell; Richard's entire fleet was fixed on gold tonight, while Jake and Mike set their eyes on each other's fleets. But Jake took a second look at Mike's longships, had second thoughts, and sheered off, so Mike altered course to port and headed for the center of the map.

That center had become a hubbub of activity, as the fastest ships from three navies (Fire Blossom, Bosun Zach, and Almirante Antonio) converged on the Asgard. It turned out that Aimee's Bloody Jewel got there first, and she took proud possession of the longship. Her first act as its temporary owner was to turn its cannons on the other two ships that were docked to her, and she swiftly turned Le Pique and El Chico into derelicts. She then sailed away toward Mike's fleet (she seemed to think he would protect her or something), while her other ships maneuvered to keep anyone else from catching her prize.

As the other admirals tried to pursue her, more battles broke out. Paul and Antonio apparently had some kind of truce at the start of the battle, but as their fleets approached the center and mingled, somebody called somebody a rude name, somebody else made a rude face, and suddenly the cannonballs were flying. The Divan's Punishment and Cat's Claw led the charge for Paul, but their shooting was poor and they hit only one mast on the Rusty Harpoon. That ship swatted the Cat's Claw down and did some damage to Paul's galley as well, then joined the Diamond Strike to smash Aimee's Cursed Blade before that ship could load some nearby gold. They also crushed Zach's Boston, just because she was in the way. The Lady's Scorn tried to avenge her fleetmate, but with two four-masted ships against one, the result was a shorn Lady's Scorn (shorn of her masts, that is). No one wanted to finish her off, knowing that she was Eternal, so there she sat.

At the same time, Le Pique had used her Shipwright to get back in the battle. The Divan's Punishment closed in on her and began peeking on Le Pick. No, sorry, she was picking on Le Pique. Her gunnery was better this time, and the little Frenchman became the first ship to actually sink. Jake's HMS Nautilus also joined the party, knocking a mast off of Paul's Bloody Jewel.

It was at this point that Mike's longships got close enough to start picking targets. The Cadet-Captain uttered his war cry, "What a beautiful brawl!" This brought a chorus of "Uh-oh's" from the others, except the Fire Blossom, who still thought Mike was on her side. The Asgard sailed right between Mike's two ships, a prescription for disaster if there ever was one. But Mike always was a sucker for the dames, and he held his fire.

But not for long. The Hlidskjalf veered to starboard, trusting in her defensive ability to keep her safe, and began plinking at anything within range. She quickly reduced Jake's Nautilus to one mast, then none, then began knocking pieces off the Divan's Punishment. Both ships fired back for as long as they could, but their marksmanship was wretched. It wasn't until the sixth shot that Paul could finally crow, "Hit!" To which Mike replied, "Miss!" and revealed his longship's ability. Frustrated, Paul's Bloody Jewel rammed the little Viking, but not hard enough; she did no damage. In the boarding action that followed, Mike lost his Cannoneer. He was still accurate enough to sink the Lady's Scorn, though, which made Aimee happy; she began repairing her Eternal flagship the very next turn.

At the same time, the Huginn turned to port and engaged both the Diamond Strike and the Rusty Harpoon, both of which had taken some damage. But now, they found out what "damage" really meant. "I'm just going to give you a big Hug...inn," Mike grinned. His gunnery was dead on target, and both of Antonio's four-masters became no-masters in one turn.

Now another threat loomed up out of the mist. Zach's last "ship," El Toro the giant crab, was paddling the water for all he was worth, trying to overtake the Asgard, and swatting Aimee's Bloody Jewel under the waves on the way by. He had a good angle on her, and if it had just been him and her, he would have succeeded. But Mike's Vikings saw the titan approaching and began shouting, "Krusty Krabby Patties for supper!" The Huginn, in turn, got a good angle on the crab, opened fire, and landed just enough hits to fill his lockers with crab meat for months to come. This is the third giant crab Mike has slain, which makes him the champion crustacean-killer in the Plainville Pirate League. Historians have still not figured out why he ran such risks to protect Aimee. It's not like she batted her eyes at him or anything.

All this time, the Dread Pirate Richard's ships had been shuttling back and forth, building up a steadily growing pile of gold on his home island. No one bothered him; they were all fixated on the Asgard. But once Richard got most of his ships home, he got bold and took some shots at Jake's Jaguar, which was creeping toward the action in the center. The Golden Peacock was surprisingly effective, landing two hits with two shots from her inferior cannons, and the Rattlesnake got the Jaguar's last mast. I never knew a peacock and a rattlesnake could kill a jaguar, but you learn something new every day.

Richard learned something, too — don't aggravate Jake if you aren't better armed than he is. Jake's remaining ship, the superb HMS Royal, caught the Neptune's Hoard with full holds and sent her to Davy Jones, minus half her treasure. Jake then jumped the Golden Peacock, which utterly failed to do any damage, and sent her down as well.

All this time, Paul's Shamrock had also been shuttling back and forth unmolested, using her ability to grab the best coins she could find. Some of those coins had gone into building the Devil's Maw fort (Richard had built the Thompson's Island fort, but it played no role in the battle). The Asgard was approaching her new owner's home island, escorted by the freshly-repaired Lady's Scorn. Mike's Huginn, with no targets left that he felt like shooting at, docked at a wild island, dropped her Shipwright to free some cargo space, and loaded one coin. "I don't want to be shut out," he explained to no one in particular.

There remained one last unresolved battle. The Hlidskjalf decided that it would be a lot of fun to chase down and sink the Shamrock. She cruised right next to the Devil's Maw, which was unable to target her. The Divan's Punishment still had her bow chaser cannon, but for some reason, Paul never tried to fire it. Instead, he maneuvered the Bloody Jewel so her long-range fore cannon was out of S range. But he didn't clear his fantail, which was still within S range, so the shot couldn't hit. Paul was getting very aggravated by now, and sent the Jewel to ram Mike's ship again. This time, he succeeded, and the longship became a derelict. Undaunted, the Cadet-Captain ran out the oars, waited until the Bloody Jewel moved away, and rammed her back. Now there were two derelicts, one with oars and one with a bad attitude towards longships.

At this time, the sun set on the battle, by order of the Dangerous Lady Lora. Aimee was one turn away from getting the Asgard home, and several sea lawyers said she shouldn't be allowed to keep it. But Mike ruled that, if they'd played until 9:00 like he'd planned, she would have gotten the longship home, and was thus entitled to make it her own. This made her quite happy.

In terms of gold, Richard ran away with the game. (It helped that Mike kept whispering to him, "Go for the gold! Go for the gold!") Paul came in a fairly close second, due almost entirely to the Shamrock. Mike was third, Jake was one point behind him in fourth, and the other three players were shut out. We couldn't award the Captain's Coin to Richard because it's still in the hands of its last winner, Admiral Abigail, who is taking a sabbatical from piracy.

Mike had hoped that the abandoned longship would be a distraction from the gold game, and he was right. Of the three players who tried to grab the Asgard (Aimee, Zach, and Antonio), not one of them loaded a single piece of eight. Mike spent his entire battle fighting, and picked up one coin as an afterthought, while Jake spent his battle dodging Mike, and got one coin from sinking Richard's ship. Paul did well on gold and not so well at fighting, but he managed a better balance of the two than anyone else. Of the 23 ships that began the game, only nine were still afloat and navigable at the end, and one of those had made an Eternal comeback after being sunk.

Between Richard and his gold, and Aimee and her new ship, who was the real winner? I'd say they both won. That's not something you see every day.

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

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I Haven't the Foggiest
Pirates Battle Report

The last time our group met, we suddenly found ourselves in another world, specifically the world of Rocketmen (another WizKids constructible game). We found the rules very much to our liking, and were just getting into some major mayhem when our time ran out. Aimee and Zach were deemed the winners, based on who had the most remaining pods (equivalent to masts in Pirates).

Tonight, the bay was obstructed by six large fog banks. Each "bank" was made of two adjacent banks, arranged so that one of the six possible exit points would take you straight into the other bank. This isn't according to the rules, but the official rules for terrain are just plain boring. We fought with 40-point fleets.

Before the action began, there was a flurry of negotiations for alliances. It appeared that Zach, Aimee, and Mike were left out of these deals, and everyone else was on the same team against them. The evidence suggests that this alliance was aimed at Mike.

Mike celebrated his "most wanted" status by turning on his nearest neighbor, the Fire Blossom, on the second turn of the game. The Santa Ana, his favorite Spanish ship, got the first of many double actions, leaped ahead of his other ships, shot four for four, and left the Lady's Scorn a drifting derelict. "She's close enough to your home that you can tow her back easily," he explained, as though that made it okay. "Now I'll go pick on someone else." This brought a simultaneous "uh-oh" from Antonio and Paul.

Mike's La Monarca did a quick load-and-go, bringing back a decent hoard. As he weighed La Reconquistador's next move, Antonio offered him a deal; "I won't attack you if you don't attack me." Thus reassured, Mike sent his two-master to a rich island and loaded the one coin that would fit in her holds. He figured La Monarca could clean the island out later, now that it was already explored.

That was when perfidious Antonio broke his word. The Rusty Harpoon rammed Mike's ship, doing no harm, then boarded and won. "Ha!" exclaimed Mike. "I half-expected something like this, so I loaded the worst coin on the island! Take your lousy one-gold coin!" Antonio, miffed, blew La Reconquistador out of the water. His Diamond Strike then got the drop on the Santa Ana and shot two of her masts off. Mike's big ship hid in a fog bank until he got a double action, which he used to race home for repairs. "Why did you break your word?" he demanded, outraged. "Pirate," explained Antonio with some smugness.

At this point, Antonio's two ships were leading a charge from the east side of the bay toward the center, followed by Jake's ships, then Paul's. Richard's Hrothgar was trying to join the action, but she was too slow and was soon left far behind. His Minuteman made a gold run, while Teach the shark was cruising slowly toward the center. Aimee's Bloody Jewel was towing the Lady's Scorn home, and her Shadow was pointing her bows toward the center. Zach's ships and crab were happily darting in and out of fog banks as though that were the object of the game.

The Fire Blossom was watching the ships of three angry fleets heading straight at her and feeling rather alone. She began making hand-shaking gestures at the Cadet Captain, indicating that she wanted an alliance. He wavered — her fleet was a tempting target with little to offer him, but she was a dame and he's a sucker for the dames. Finally he said, "Let me eat some more cookies and think about it. Eating cookies makes me feel better about things." The next thing he knew, she was feeding him cookies. He sighed, yielded to her persuasions (none of you saw that coming, right?) and agreed to an alliance.

She needed help immediately, but with his one remaining fighting ship under repair, he couldn't do much. The Shadow squared off against the Diamond Strike and all four shots hit nothing; I guess that's what they call Shadow boxing. Antonio's ship was a better marksman and quickly sent Aimee's ship to the bottom, then joined the Rusty Harpoon in a blockade of Mike's home island.

As soon as the Santa Ana was repaired, Mike took decisive action: he stayed home until he got an extra move. Then, in one crushing double turn, he left the Rusty Harpoon with one flaming mast and the Diamond Strike with no masts. Both used their Shipwrights to make repairs, and Antonio was able to put out the fire, but the Santa Ana got another double action and sent both ships to Davy Jones. "You sank my whole fleet!" protested the Almirante. "That's what you get for breaking your word," retorted Mike, who was still highly displeased at being betrayed. Now that the blockade was broken, La Monarca set sail and hid in a fog bank until Jake's fleet had passed by.

Oh, yes, Jake's fleet. He had arrived in the area, watched Mike's ship blast two four-masted ships apart, and changed his mind about taking her on with his own pair of four-masters. Instead, he turned the Royal over to Antonio's control so he'd stay in the game, while HMS Forge attacked the repaired Lady's Scorn. He inflicted serious damage on her with one salvo. "Now what do I do?" she asked Mike quietly. "Let them sink you; you're Eternal," he answered. So she did, and Jake did, and the big blue ship returned home for her second major repair job of the game.

At this point, Richard's Hrothgar turned back and headed home, intimidated by some threat that Jake had made, even though Jake's fleet was on the other side of the bay. Paul's HMS Tweed had transferred her Captain to the Serapis, which was hot on Jake's heels along with the Concorde. Mike had just dispatched one antagonist and was plotting his next moves, Aimee was down to one ship, and Zach was still playing tag with the fog banks.

HMS Forge, meanwhile, was looking for more trouble. Her next victim was Aimee's Bloody Jewel, which had just escaped a fog bank and loaded some gold. Not much, apparently, judging by how little the Almirante got out of the deal. His ship then got a visit from a surprise target, El Toro the giant crab, which suddenly loomed up out of the fog, waving its huge claws and looking very dangerous indeed. HMS Forge wasn't intimidated and let fly with two cannonballs, sending the crab scuttling back to the fog with only two claws left. Zach decided maybe it was time to get some gold, so his other two ships stuck their prows out of the fog and headed for a nearby island. That's when the music from "Jaws" started playing.

Richard had announced at the beginning that he'd never used Teach before and wanted to see what it could do. He quickly found out. The big shark rammed its snout into the sides of the Cleveland so hard that the ship's mizzenmast split and fell over the side. The beast then stuck its mouth over the gunwales, and faster than you can say "Chomp! Burp!" the Cleveland's Captain was gone. The American ship shot its remaining cannons, but their aim was off and they hit nothing but ocean. The shark then lashed the ship with its head and tail, knocking another mast down, and left the Cleveland a derelict on the next turn. Le Fureur tried to get revenge by shooting the foul beast, but couldn't achieve any hits.

Mike, meanwhile, was still on the warpath. The Santa Ana got a good tailwind and attacked the HMS Forge, but that's where her remarkable run of gunnery luck ended. She achieved only one hit, which the Englishman ignored. Antonio fired back and got three hits, which sent Mike tearing home for another major repair job.

Back in the center, El Toro had come out of the fog again, only to be slain by Paul's Concorde. Jake's Royal finished off Bosun Zach's derelict Cleveland, leaving him with the little La Fureur. At the same time, Mike's La Monarca made a fast run for the central island that La Recon had explored earlier, and filled her holds with some fine coins. Paul's Serapis caught her there, and in the last act of the game, he sank her with two salvos and took half her gold.

The half that was left, however, was just enough to win the battle for Cadet-Captain Mike. The Dread Pirate Richard was a very close second, Paul was third with no gold except what he stole from Mike, and the others lagged far behind.

Paul, Jake, and Richard ended the game with their fleets intact. That wasn't saying much for Richard; aside from his successful shark attack, his ships didn't do much. Jake and Paul, however, were in continuous action in the entire second half of the battle. They probably survived because of their alliance, which meant their only dangerous enemy was Mike's Santa Ana, and one ship, even the Santa Ana, can only do so much. Hopefully, Antonio learned something about making promises to Cadet-Captains and then breaking them.

All three of the "neutrals" took heavy casualties from the allies. Mike won due to high-quality gold more than anything else, but he took some satisfaction in making a mockery of a very strong alliance against him. No battle honors were awarded, since no ship made an extraordinary contribution to the outcome. It was just a hard-fought slugfest where four of the combatants never loaded a single coin from a wild island.

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

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