Pirates Battle Reports for 2010

This is the archive of Pirates battle reports for the year 2010.

Jan 05 — A New Decade
Apr 06 — Swoop's On
Aug 25 — Another World, Part III
Sep 28 — Not All Ships Can Acceptably Race
Nov 23 — Under the Sea, Under the Sea

A New Decade
Pirates Battle Report

For our first battle of the year (and the decade), the usual piratical villains set up for an unusually wild and wooly fray. Each admiral got a four-masted ship, a three-master, a two, a one, and six crew. All ship types were in play, including submarines.

The islands were in an unusual configuration: an outer ring of eight islands with two coins each, then four inner islands with three coins, which were joined by four reefs to Sandbar Island in the very center, with six coins. Sandbar Island is surrounded by shallow water; a ship that rolls less than its number of masts cannot enter the shallows to dock at the island.

This battle marked the first time the Mercenaries had appeared in any numbers. We used Cadet-Captain Mike's house rule for the Mercs: a Merc ship can take any nation's crew except for crew with the Loyal keyword, and a Merc crew can serve on any ship as long as the Mercs don't outnumber the crew of that ship's faction. We completely did away with the Mercenaries' official rules, which we think are stupid. Also, we have decreed that all Cursed ships and crew are really Pirates.

As usual, the Fire Blossom was waving her hand at the Cadet-Captain, hoping for a handshake that would mean an alliance with her. He held off, waiting to see how the battle developed and where his best advantage might lie. "Do you have any cookies for me?" he asked, fishing for a bribe; she shook her head. Almirante Antonio also wanted an alliance with the Cadet-Captain, but he didn't have any cookies, either. Paul and Jake had some kind of teamwork going; it's not known if any other alliances were in play. If they were, they didn't last long.

Antonio began the trash talk by noting that Richard would be a poor choice for an ally, since he hates violence. "He's going pale right now at the very thought of a fight," he gloated. Mike, who's seen Richard in action more than Antonio, had to disagree. "Once he smells the gunpowder, he turns into a totally different person. Doctor Richard and Mister Death." These words proved to be prophetic.

The layout of the islands broke up the action into three separate battle zones. It will be a lot easier to report the action by covering each zone separately, starting with the area that had the most ships involved.

In the east, the Dread Pirate Richard's fleet had set sail in search of action, not gold. But there didn't seem to be any action to be found. His neighbor to the north, Petty Officer Jake, was disinclined to acquiesce to Richard's request for a battle; he stayed on the far side of the reef barrier. To the south, the Fire Blossom was closing in, but she wanted gold, not a fight. All three of her ships that could carry gold were stopping at islands to load up. So Richard's submarine surfaced at the closest wild island, and her crew went ashore in search of what treasure they might find.

That's when Aimee changed her mind about fighting. Her big shark, Carcharodon, closed in fast and rammed hard into the Nautilus, doing no harm. It tried to eat a crew in a boarding action, but the submarine fought it off without loss to themselves. The little HMS Tweed wasn't so fortunate; the shark rammed her next, and her one mast broke at the base and fell overboard. At the same time, the Shadow unleashed all four of her cannons at the Nautilus... and all four missed.

All this time, Bosun Zach's fleet had been pillaging the rich central island; now he wanted more action. His Corazon Dorado became the first ship ever to try and cross a reef. It cost her a mast, but she made it, and got into position to take a whack at Richard's smaller ships. Her first shot was meant to finish off the derelict HMS Tweed, but even without a mast, that little sloop couldn't be hit be long-range cannons. Zach's second shot hit the USS Quigley and splintered her mizzenmast.

"Why did you attack me?" demanded Richard. "You said you wanted some action," replied Zach, who didn't seem a bit sorry. So Richard decided to make him sorry; he'd smelled the gunpowder, and now Mister Death took over. His Freedom went into action against the Corazon Dorado, assisted by the damaged Quigley. Between them, they hit with every cannon they fired, and Zach's big ship found herself with no masts at all.

His next-biggest ship, the Mezquita, came to her rescue; she made it across the reef and took the Corazon in tow. Richard let them go, but he wasn't quite finished with his action. The Fire Blossom's Proud Tortoise had cut behind his fleet in search of some more gold, and he found this intolerable. The Quigley hit her once, denting a turtle panel and killing her Explorer; then the Freedom landed three shots out of four and turned the Proud Tortoise into a sea turtle for keeps. The Quigley then used the gold stolen from the wrecked Tortoise to raise the Thompson's Island fort, and the Tweed, defiant to the last, scuttled herself rather than let Aimee tow her away.

Meanwhile, Aimee's Lilu had finished a gold cruise and was hoping for a second go-around, and her Shadow and Richard's Nautilus were both headed for home with full cargo holds. Both admirals had high hopes of doing well when the gold was counted.

In the north, most of the action was about Paul the Pirate Prince and his attempts to lay waste to his enemies. Among other things, he was determined to show that his favorite ship, the Cat's Claw, could do something besides attract cannonballs. He had an alliance with Petty Officer Jake, so his potential adversaries were Antonio to the south and Zach to the east. Antonio was fully occupied, as we shall see, but Zach's fleet was willing to dance with Paul. It was revealed that Paul had just celebrated a birthday, and Zach's family had given him bananas, which he liked very much. So, to even the score, Zach went from bananas to the Bazana, which shot a mast off the Cat's Claw.

The Cat's Claw tried to take revenge, but her one cannon missed. The President sailed into the fray and shot away both of the Bazana's masts. (Zach forgot that the President's long-range cannons can't hit the Bazana; snooze, you lose.) The final blow came from Paradis de la Mer, a fort Paul had just built with gold brought home by the Jarvis, and the Bazana went to the bottom. Paul's favorite ship then limped home to get repaired, showing once again that she's very good at attracting cannonballs, but not much else.

While this skirmish was taking place, Zach's Majestic and Corazon Dorado had been busy looting Sandbar Island and other islands nearby. The Bosun joined the ranks of the admirals who were hoping to win on gold. Jake, meanwhile, had headed his fleet toward the battle of the Bazana to help his ally. But once it looked like Paul had things under control, he turned away. Near the end of the battle, he turned toward Paul's fleet once again, complaining that he hadn't fired a shot all game, but decided to honor his alliance and turned away yet again.

In the southeast, it was a straight-up slugging match between Antonio and Mike. This wasn't the Almirante's idea; it looked like he just wanted some gold. The Cadet-Captain has adopted the submarine service as a special project of his, and he brought two submarines and an anti-sub ship, so his intentions were deadly clear. He used the Lynx to grab a bit of treasure, and positioned his subs to block Antonio's advance so he couldn't bother her. Once his one-master was safely headed for home, the first submarine wolf-pack battle in our group's history began.

Both subs rammed into the HMS Concorde; the Lamon did some damage. They attacked again; the Mercury crushed the Concorde's foremast, while the Lamon switched targets to the Le Pique and left that little ship with no masts. The Eagan eagerly joined the battle, leaving the Quigley derelict and shooting off one of the Intrepid's masts. The Intrepid shot back and hit Mike's big ship twice. The Concorde followed this with one cannon hit, then moved in for a ram that left the Eagan derelict. Both of Antonio's surviving ships turned south to catch the Lynx, or to make sure she stayed in port once she got there. Mike's ship was too fast to be caught and too small to fight, so she unloaded her gold and stayed home, rather than become a missing Lynx.

Now came a series of attacks that still have naval historians shaking their heads. Both of Mike's submarines closed in on the Concorde like hungry sharks, each hoping to ram and destroy her final mast. And for two entire turns, the Concorde fought them off (Antonio rolled three 1's in a row). It wasn't the American submarine service's finest hour. If there was a medal for sheer stubbornness, HMS Concorde would have earned it that day. But finally, the Mercury hit the Englishman's hull in a weak spot, and her last mast went past.

While this was occurring, the Intrepid had turned back north, hoping to finally get some treasure. The Lamon chased her and went in for yet another ram that knocked a second mast over the side. The Mercury's captain, however, was getting impatient to try out his excellent cannons. So he ordered "Battle surface, gun action!" and, two shots later, the Quigley and the Pique submerged like submarines, only for keeps.

They were joined a moment later by the hulk of the Eagan, which had been trying to scuttle herself for three turns and finally succeeded. Mike had been encouraging Antonio to finish her off, but that made him suspicious and he kept his distance. Her Eternal crew brought her safely home, but the battle would end long before she could repair herself. What would have happened if Antonio had towed her home, repaired her, and used her anti-submarine cannons against Mike's subs? Mike doesn't like to think about it.

When the Mercury surfaced, Antonio crowed "At last!" He had been waiting very impatiently for Mike to give him a target he could shoot at. The Intrepid fired both her cannons and scored two quick hits, one of which bounced off the Mercury's thick armor. The Mercury fired back and just missed; the Lamon made another successful ram. The Intrepid fired her last cannon and got another hit on the Mercury. Between the Mercury's last cannon and the Lamon's ramming attacks, the Intrepid's fate looked sealed.

As this battle headed for its conclusion, the Fire Blossom's shark broke the surface near the mastless Concorde. She desperately wanted to hurt something, and since her attacks on Richard's ships hadn't gone far, she took a whack at biting a hole in Antonio's three-master. Her first attempt failed, breaking a few shark's teeth in the process.

And that was how it ended; the sun had set and it was too dark to continue fighting. The fleet pursers eagerly counted their ill-gotten gains, and when the numbers were known, Bosun Zach came out in front with 20 gold. Paul was second with 17, Aimee just behind him with 16, Richard fourth with 13, Mike far back in fifth with four, and Jake's and Anthony's pockets were empty. Zach eagerly sought out the Captain's Coin and accepted it from the Cadet-Captain's hand.

Zach won the old-fashioned way, focusing on the gold and not getting distracted by combat until there was no more treasure for him to grab. Paul and the Fire Blossom both went for gold and battle at the same time; one won the fighting, the other lost, and both had a shot at victory if they hadn't shot at the enemy first. Aimee never did get her alliance with Mike, but it's hard to see how he could have helped her, seeing how her fleet went into action far away from his ships. Richard did well, and would have done better if Zach hadn't bothered him; he had to defend himself, and that took time. The other three never even tried to win on gold. Mike certainly had fun with his precious submarines, while Jake was frustrated at never firing a shot, and Antonio was making a mental note to bring some cookies next time, to buy off the Cadet-Captain.

The only ship that earned battle honors was Antonio's HMS Concorde, not for sinking ships, but for extraordinary toughness in the line of duty. If she'd folded up like Mike thought she should have, he could have disposed of the Intrepid and then headed north to bother Paul. The Concorde received the Bronze Sabre, 2nd class, for shrugging off five submarine rams and a shark bite. No other ship's performance was exceptional enough to deserve a medal.

If anyone cares, here are the standings of the Pirates' League as of this battle. Each battle counts for one point, plus 3 points for a 1st-place finish, 2 for a 2nd-place, and 1 for a 3rd. On the chart, points is the number that matters most. Only active players are included:

AdmiralBattles1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7thPointsWin %
Cadet-Captain Mike4818517521012937.50
Paul the Pirate Prince437109105029316.28
The Dread Pirate Richard446810116308813.64
Bosun Zach2154154204523.81
Petty Officer Jake2244135414318.18
Almirante Antonio2241484104018.18
The Fire Blossom2024545003910.00

This is how it looked about halfway through the action. The cluster in the top left is Paul's President in front of his Cat's Claw and Zach's Bazana (with two damage markers), with Paradis de la Mer just behind them. At center top, Jake's Metal Dragon, Fly, HMS Royal, and Floating Stone mill about in search of someone to shoot at. In the center, Zach's Majestic and La Mezquita pillage Sandbar Island. At right, the big schooner at the top is Richard's Freedom, which has just taken some shots at Zach's four-masted Corazon Dorado just below it. To their right is the damaged USS Quigley; just below that ship is the derelict HMS Tweed, which has just been shark-bitten by Aimee's Carcharodon. Next to the shark is the red Nautilus, with Aimee's Shadow just to the left. On the bottom, Mike's two subs (USS Mercury and USS Lamon) maneuver to ram Antonio's HMS Concorde, which already has two damage markers on her masts. The Intrepid is next to the Concorde; the derelict USS Quigley and Le Pique are above the subs, with the mastless USS Eagan nearby.

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

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Swoop's On
Pirates Battle Report

We thought this would be the first engagement for another new admiral, Down-East Drew, but he turned out to be a no-show, as did the Fire Blossom. That left six of the usual suspects, plus Captain Matt, who was making his second Pirates appearance (but his first in a written history).

Our fleets were made with 45 points, of which at least 10 had to be spent on crew. Alliances were allowed, but not with anyone you were sitting right next to. The atoll we fought over had a central Sandbar Island with six coins, surrounded by a ring of eight smaller islands with three coins each. A ship approaching Sandbar Island had to roll higher than its mast count, or it would bottom out on the sandy bottom and not be allowed to dock at the island.

The above-average point allowance caused many of the players to try and build "ultimate" fleets. The presence of three sea dragons shows how they were slinging build-points around with utter abandon. Just about everybody was allied with somebody, but most of those alliances didn't do anyone much good. The no-immediate-neighbors rule meant that anyone who wanted to help his ally had to cover quite a distance first.

When the action began, nearly all the ships headed north or northwest, which carried them toward Antonio and Paul. The first dust-up of the battle was between Zach and Antonio, who might have been fighting over a gold-filled island, but quickly forgot all about it and turned the struggle into a grudge match. Antonio's El Chico found Zach's sea dragon perched on the nearest wild island, so it boldly took on the much bigger creature and scored one hit. Mike suggested that the Almirante's Shal-Bala make a swoop attack against its twin on the Zach side; it did, and scored, leaving nothing but the head. Somehow, most of the sea-dragon owners had never heard of swoop attacks, and they all decided they liked this idea very much.

Zach's dragon head swooped back at the intact Shal-Bala and missed (it should have quit while it was a head). Its fleetmate, the Horizon, fired its cannons at the Bazana, hitting once and missing once. This was the high point of the Almirante's fortunes. On the next turn, the Pirate Prince's ships arrived, and Antonio was caught between two fires.

Mike's HMS Nautilus was the next ship to be targeted. She had been escorting the HMS Hound to a wild island, but Zach's Sea King saw a distant target and let fly at double range with her best cannon. It missed, but it still affected the battle; Mike immediately declared self-defense, and the speedy Nautilus left her charge and aimed her fine cannons at Zach's Horizon. "It was the Sea King that shot you," Zach pointed out helpfully. "Yes, but my guns are better against American ships," the Nautilus' captain retorted. And he was right; the English schooner hit three for three and sent the Horizon straight to the bottom.

This took some of the pressure off of Antonio, with whom Mike had an alliance. But it didn't make enough of a difference. The remains of Zach's sea dragon made a swoop at Antonio's Bazana, and missed again. Paul's fleet, on the other hand, did very little missing. This was due in part to Le Superbe's well-made guns and in part to Roberto Santana's excellent aim. Paul's first salvo hit Antonio's sea dragon twice and missed twice; its fifth shot brought down a mast on El Chico, which looked like it might become bothersome to Paul. Shal-Bala came back with a swoop against El Garante that levelled two masts, and the battle was joined.

The tiny El Chico tried to support Shal-Bala by ramming the much bigger El Garante, but the ram did no damage. Paul's ship then boarded El Chico, or tried to; the smaller Spaniard fought the bigger Spaniard to a draw. Antonio's little ship then landed one cannon hit on Paul's five-master. That was all Antonio could do; the big French ship landed two hits in a row on El Chico, sinking her, and put another piece of Shal-Bala out of commission as well.

Zach's dragon was about to swoop in and finish Antonio's dragon when Mike intervened with the words everyone else has come to dread: "It is my wish that you not wipe out Anthony's fleet." This is a veiled threat; his "wish" carries the force of a direct order, at least in his own mind, and whoever crosses this "wish" finds himself on the wrong end of Relentless Flaming Death. So Zach's dragon swooped at Mike's Nautilus instead... and missed for the third time.

Paul was under no such constraint; El Garante took two shots at Antonio's dragon, hit it once, and slew it. That left one ship in Antonio's fleet, the battered Bazana, and Zach's sea dragon took it out a moment later with a successful swoop attack (its first and only hit of the battle). The Sea King took another shot at Mike's Nautilus, and missed again.

Please don't think that the other admirals were doing nothing all this time; far from it. The Dread Pirate Richard decided that Matt's big Zeus was his biggest concern, and spent the first three turns trying to close the range on it. Jake was not permitted to have an alliance with his neighbor Richard, but they acted like they had one anyway. Jake's fleet was following Richard's longships, either to cover his back or to get in on the same battle, and nervously watching as Mike's fleet closed in on him from astern. And what of Matt?

Matt was headed for where the actions was, which meant the battle between Paul and Antonio. But it took him a while to get there, and when he arrived, the cannon smoke had already dissipated and Paul was ready for him. Still, Captain Matt maneuvered to get the first shot, but only two of his short-range cannons could get shots off, and both missed El Garante.

Now was Le Superbe's moment, and she showed again that she's a lucky ship. With or without help from Santana, it took guts to sail up next to an intact ten-master and open fire, but that's what she did. And she shot five for five. Matt watched in dismay as mast after mast split and fell overboard, and when Paul was done, the Zeus was down to half the cannons she started with. Matt wanted no more of that party; he swerved away toward Richard instead.

At about the same time, Mike's HMS Leicester had finally overtaken Jake's fleet, using a series of double moves provided by Lt. Chads. He opened fire on her fellow Englishman, HMS Royal, and left her derelict with two hits. Jake's reply was to send his dragon into action. Another swoop attack went in, and the Leicester found out how it feels to lose two masts from one hit.

"No problem," announced her Captain. "Weve got another double action from Chads, so that's four shots we'll be taking at that fell beast, and we need to hit it only twice." Too bad they only hit it once. The dragon swooped again, and now there were two English derelicts that used to have four masts.

Jake's little Coeur de Lion decided to join the fray; it isn't clear if she meant to sink the Leicester or tow her. Before she could get close enough, Mike's HMS Hound tried to intervene, racing over at full speed, but just barely failing to get close enough to ram. The Coeur de Lion fired her one cannon and missed; Jake apparently forgot about his Cannoneer.

Paul's Le Superbe then aimed her guns at Zach's dragon, and now Paul had two dragon's heads to hang on the wall in his trophy room. Matt's Royal James realized she was both outclassed and outnumbered, so she grabbed two coins from the nearest island and ran for home. The Zeus, still feeling confident, boldly took on both of Richard's longships. She rammed the Hrothgar and failed to do any damage, then boarded her and lost the fight (and her Musketeer). For reasons unknown, she failed to open fire. Richard had no such problems, and while he wasn't anywhere near as accurate as Le Superbe, he didn't have to be. His longships opened up a long barrage that shattered one mast after another on their much bigger target, until the Zeus' battered hull slipped beneath the waves forever.

As it stood now, Antonio was out of the battle; Paul had one intact five-master and one damaged one; Matt and Zach each had a two-masted ship; Richard's three-masted longships were both intact; Jake had half a dragon and a one-master; and Mike had a three-master and a two-master, both undamaged. Richard had a big advantage in cannon power, but Paul's lucky Frenchman could not be ignored. But, quite suddenly, the battle ended, due to a total eclipse of the sons. That is, Lt. Dave announced that both his sons had to go home with him. Matt's Mom made a similar announcement, and Mike had little choice but to announce that the fray was finished. Everybody counted their gold.

For most of the admirals, it didn't take much counting. Four of them had picked up no treasure at all. Cadet-Captain Mike's HMS Hound had three coins, but they were all low value. Zach had gotten two coins, as did Matt, but Zach was smiling. He had a 6 and a 5, and given the limited assortment of coins we use, the only way Matt could have beaten him was to have found the other 6 and the lone 7.

Wouldn't you know, that's exactly what Matt had found? He lost his big ship, but his little ship won for him. He had forgotten to bring back the Captain's Coin from his last victory, but it didn't matter, since he now gets to keep it until our next skirmish. Zach came in a close second, Mike was third, and there was a four-way tie for fourth.

This was the first time that sea dragons had played any major role in our fighting. All three of them landed at least one swoop attack; Antonio's and Jake's hit twice each, and both of them were awarded the Bronze Sabre, second class for Antonio's for causing general mayhem, and first class to Jake's for stopping Mike's rampage and thus keeping Jake in the game. Paul's Le Superbe won a rare Gold Sabre for crippling the Zeus, sinking El Chico single-handed, finishing off Zach's dragon, and damaging Antonio's dragon, while taking no damage in return. Matt's Royal James, which had entered the battle armed for fighting, not only wound up serving as a gold ship, but received the Order of the Buccaneer for winning the game for him.

With the exception of the Zeus not firing on Richard's ships, no one made any mistakes tonight. It was a hard-fought battle, as proven by the damage reports: of the eighteen ships that started the battle, six were sunk, two left derelict, and two more damaged. The Dread Pirate Richard was the only admiral who took no losses. But he, like the majority of the admirals, made no attempt to pick up any gold, and gold is still the way to win these battles. Speaking of which, no one ever made it to Sandbar Island and its bountiful hoard. However, it is believed that everyone had a fine time anyway.

Overheard during the game:

Several admirals were contending for some Starbursts they found on a shelf. Mike cautioned them, "Don't eat the big pink Starburst!" When they greedily looked where he was pointing, it turned out to be a Pink Pearl pencil eraser.

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

Another World, Part III
Pirates Battle Report for 08/25/2010

Legends tell of an isolated sea, dotted with small islands, that can be reached only by those daring (or foolhardy) enough to sail their ships into the heart of a raging whirlpool. The rewards for such daring, or foolhardiness, are great; those small islands are filled with more gold than a pirate crew could spend in five lifetimes.

We had no shortage of pirates who were willing to try their luck tonight. In fact, there were six of us — Downeast Drew, Petty Officer Jake, Bosun Zach, Paul the Pirate Prince, the Dread Pirate Richard, and Cadet-Captain Mike. Several of our regular opponents were missing, though, mostly due to getting too big for their britches. Almirante Antonio was at another church's youth meeting (a certain pretty blonde may or may not have anything to do with that), the Fire Blossom had decided she was going to be ladylike and piracy didn't fit her new code (yeah, like that'll last!), and Captain Matt was visiting some faraway make-believe land called Disney World. But as we noted during our last Star Wars battle, we can play a lot more turns when we have fewer players.

We used two game tables. One had all our home islands, and three whirlpools in the center. The other table, the "other world," had two whirlpools, eight wild islands around the edge, and Humpback Island (three islands in one) in the very middle. Each island had three coins, which added up to ... a lot. This is the third time we've played with a map like this; the first two never got battle reports because the action was too confused for historians to remember and sort out.

Each player's fleet was made up of ten masts and five crew; each fleet had to contain at least two 2-masted ships. This meant that combat was usually quick and deadly. Longships and submarines were not allowed. No one recorded the player's fleets, so in some cases, this historian will have to guess at a ship's identity. To speed up the game, we experimented (for the second time) with using Star Wars Pocketmaodel cards for measurement; this effectively turned every S into an L and every L into an S+S.

When word reached the Pirates' Pub that gold had been discovered on the far side of the whirlypools, all the officers and swabs dropped their root beers and ran for the docks. Thus, all the ships left port at the same time, each headed for the nearest spinning water portal. Some admirals, like Richard, took no damage as their ships plunged into the pools; others, like Mike and Drew, lost multiple masts as their ships were crazily spun around. Mike's speedy Ghost Walker was the first to reach "the other side," and set her sights on a nearby island. Soon, other ships were surging out of the whirlpools and choosing targets of their own. And that's where the fun began.

Jake's HMS Nautilus emerged intact and chose her target: the Ghost Walker. But as she pulled alongside, her Captain suddenly fell ill and was unable to give the order to fire (that means the Ghost Walker cancelled him). Trying to salvage the situation, Jake sent the HMS Algiers up along the windcatcher's unengaged side. Mike pointed out, quite reasonably, that he hadn't done anything to provoke such an attack, and in an ill-chosen moment of mercy, Jake agreed to hold his fire. The next thing he knew, Mike's Jarvis had appeared out of the whirlpool and attacked the Nautilus, scoring two quick hits. It was a remarkable display of piratical perfidy by Mike, who usually plays the "straight and honorable" role.

Jake's ships fell back on their fleetmates who had just emerged from the spinning waters, but the Jarvis and Ghost Walker pursued them and boldly took them all on. In a fine display of shooting (mostly by the Jarvis), Mike left both the Nautilus and another two-master derelict. In another stunning turnabout, he then held offered the Petty Officer a cease-fire; his exact words were, "I've had my fun. Want an alliance?" Jake didn't have a lot of options at that moment, so he agreed. Freed from the need to fight, Mike's other ships fanned out in search of gold. Jake's ships, the ones that could still move, fanned out in search of whatever they might find. The Nautilus set about repairing herself, using Griffin's ability.

Nearly everyone else was headed for Humpback Island and its concentration of doubloons. The first shoving match came when Drew felt threatened by Zach's Lady's Scorn. That four-master was intact, while Drew had a fleet of all two-masters, mostly damaged by their passage through the whirlpool. Nevertheless, he joined battle, and the USS Emerald fired on the much bigger ship. She missed.

The battle that followed was fierce, and reflected no glory on the Lady's Scorn at all. She fired all four guns and scored three hits, but owing to the Emerald's extraordinarily tough masts, only one mast toppled. Zach's one-masted galley joined the fray and also scored a hit, but it, too, did no harm. Four hits, and only one mast to show for it — shameful! Drew's Emerald, Delaware, and Flying Fish, all with just one mast left, teamed up to raze every one of the Lady's Scorn's masts. Drew, who was using ships borrowed from the Cadet-Captain's fleet, was feeling pretty smug.

That smugness lasted only as long as it took for Paul's ships to arrive on the scene. The Pirate Prince demanded that Drew not sink the Scorn; for one thing, he knew she was Eternal, and for another, he wanted to tow her home himself. Drew replied by attacking and sinking Paul's Bloody Jewel just after she loaded up on gold, so Paul opened fire without mercy. The Maryland went down first, a victim of the junk Duke of York, followed by the Philadelphia. The Delaware towed the Scorn a short distance, then dropped her tow and ran herself onto the beach on Humpback Island; Drew wanted to load some gold while there was still some left.

His Emerald ran around the other side of Humpback Island, pursued by one of Paul's small ships. They both wanted gold, and they both lost sight of their goal and attacked each other instead. When the ramming and shooting was done, both ships wound up derelict, but Paul's HMS Tweed (one of his favorites) took a long-range potshot and eliminated the Emerald. She then turned back and landed another longshot, taking out Drew's Flying Fish.

At the same time, Zach's smaller ships were looking for trouble, and finding more than they bargained for. One damaged ship ran for home, but lost her other mast in the whirlpool transit and was stranded, derelict, within spitting distance of her home island. Another went back and forth between the whirlpool and Humpback several times, unable to make up her mind what she wanted to do. Jake's Nautilus nearly decided for her, but Mike warned him off at the last moment, reminding him that this was Zach's last functional ship. He seems to think he can order the other admirals around like this, but as long as they keep listening to him, he'll never learn his lesson. Of course, the price they pay when they don't listen to him is a lesson in itself.

While all this was going on, what of Richard? His entire fleet had entered the other world intact and turned away from the fighting, headed for one wild island far from the action. He cleaned it out and turned his fleet for home. This was the first time in a very long while that he didn't go for guts and glory.

What was even more unprecedented was that one of Jake's ships actually loaded some gold! It had been so long since he had tried this, he didn't remember how the rules for loading went and had to be reminded. And then one of Paul's ships rammed and boarded him and stole his coin. Phooey.

Paul's and Jake's small ships then got into a shoving match off the shores of Humpback, which ended when Mike's huge Ghost Walker cruised into the area, angling for gold but quite willing to use her fine cannons as peacemakers. He used them to sink some forgotten derelict ship nearby, just to show how peaceful he was. Paul quickly arranged a deal — if Mike took the gold and didn't attack, Paul wouldn't bring his entire fleet to bear against him. The Cadet-Captain didn't worry much about Paul's fleet, which was on the far side of Humpback and never could have caught up with him, but he accepted the deal anyway, just to get his gold and get clean away.

His two-masted ships, the New Orleans and the Montezuma, had finished siphoning up all the gold at a remote corner island. Both had lost a mast on the way in, and were nervous about another whirlpool passage. The Montezuma went first and got through safely. That left the New Orleans clear to make a move that was quite unprecedented. She sailed up to the two-masted Jake ship the Jarvis had left derelict earlier, made gentle contact, and then used her "Philadelphia effect" to take them both straight to Mike's home island. Then, while the New Orleans repaired her broken mast, the Jarvis towed Jake's ship out into the bay and dropped her there for Jake to tow home. The battle ended before he could take advantage of this, but it was still a generous gesture from one ally to another. (The crew on Jake's ship were heard to mutter, "Big deal — he's the one who shot our masts off in the first place.")

Zach's last working ship finally made up her mind and returned home, towing her crippled fleetmate out of the whirlpool as she went. The other surviving ships were also headed for their home islands; Paul used his Commodore Temple to get his derelict ships home double-quick. Almost half the gold in the other world went unclaimed when time ran out. It didn't take long to count the treasures; Mike ran away with 22, followed by Richard with 10, Drew with 8, Paul with 7, and Zach and Jake with empty pockets.

Paul never did make it home with the Lady's Scorn. Nearly everyone chose fleets that were heavy on combat ability, and with the exception of Richard, everyone got all the combat they could handle. Mike noticed that, even though the Ghost Walker was only a three-masted ship, her great length had a very intimidating effect on both Jake and Paul. Drew has the correct aggressiveness to be a successful pirate, but needs to learn when to fight, when to negotiate, and when to run for his life. Richard's lack of aggression was quite out of character for him, but it also got him into second place.

Several ships earned battle honors tonight. Paul's HMS Tweed earned the Bronze Sabre, 2nd Class, for 100% accuracy at long range, taking two ships out of the battle with two shots. Mike's Jarvis received the Silver Sabre, 2nd Class, for inflicting heavy damage on Jake's fleet, encouraging him to accept an alliance, and then getting home with the lion's share of Mike's gold. And this historian awarded himself a pat on the back for finally writing a battle report on an "other world" game, after failing twice before.

Overheard during the game: Paul was gloating to somebody, "It's a good thing for you that I didn't use my super Captain!" They all gathered around to see this super Captain, who turned out to be Osvald Deus de Celemente. "He looks weird," offered Jake. Mike cut in, "You mean you don't like men with no hair?" That discussion came to a quick end.

Scribed this day, August Twenty-Fifth,
The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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Not All Ships Can Acceptably Race
Pirates Battle Report for 09/28/2010

If nothing else, our local pirate admirals have learned to be flexible. They've been thrown into outer space, they've had to sail through whirlpools, they've been attacked by submarines and giant crabs, and they've even had to fight two-hour battles without any snacks. So when Cadet-Captain Mike promised them something really different tonight, most of them were curious, but not in a state of panic.

The "something different" was obvious the instant they looked at the battlefield. Instead of a bay dotted with gold-laden islands, we were fighting over an odd-shaped oval that bore a striking resemblance to Daytona International Speedway. Gold treasures were scattered around the outside lane; those looked familiar, at least. But a lot of the rules of piracy had changed. New plans and tactics were needed.

This was the first trial of my NASCAR scenario, a somewhat silly crossover between Pirates and its constructible cousin, Race Day. The rules for NASCAR are posted among my scenarios, but briefly, two spaces on the track equal an S move, three equal an L, and you get points for finishing laps as well as for bringing gold home (Pit Road is everyone's home island). There were also rules for drafting, going for extra speed, and even spinning out an enemy ship after a ram. More importantly, every ship effectively becomes Eternal and can be repaired after sinking.

Our fleets were built to the NASCAR standard — 30 points for two ships with a total of six masts, plus crew and events. Downeast Drew doesn't have his own fleet yet, so he borrowed a speedy Spanish fleet from the Cadet-Captain. Mike himself used his Americans; he had used the President several times before, always with very back luck. If the big schooner disappointed him again, he'd do what he usually does to ships that displease him: make her a prize for someone else to win in battle. The other admirals used ships that pleased them, either a four-master and a two, or a pair of threes; no one used a five and a one. Some had heeded Mike's advice to build a very fast fleet, and some didn't. It was a motley-looking bunch that lined up at the starting line. It didn't help that there were two each of the President and the Julius Caesar.

The only thing that kept the game from degenerating into instant carnage was the rule that you can't attack a ship that hasn't crossed the starting line yet. As soon as a ship made it that far, however, it was fair game. A few players tried to get a gold game going, but most of them were content to beat the post-nasal drip out of each other.

Battle, not gold, was the order of the day. The most common event in the game was for a ship to pull alongside a potential enemy on the crowded track and ask, "Whose ship is this?" before letting the cannonballs fly. There were some alliances in play, although they were never publically announced; both Jake and Zach had golden opportunities to smash somebody else's ship into toothpicks, but held their fire.

The rule about sunk ships going to Pit Road was a popular one. The pits were soon filled with ships in various states of disrepair, as many as seven of them at one point. Several ships were sunk twice, and Mike's little Rattlesnake went down for the third time. Actually, she sank four times, but one of them was called back after Mike realized his attacker hadn't crossed the line yet. All this destruction was sometimes welcomed by the victims, because a ship scored five points every time it exited the pits (and thus crossed the finish line).

Paul the Pirate Prince was utterly merciless. He probably sank and damaged more ships than anyone else, although no one kept track. After Mike thanked him for wiping out his entire fleet (and thus handing him ten points), Paul switched tactics and went for towing derelicts instead of sinking them outright. His Julius Caesar eventually paid the price for making too many people angry, but the Jarvis made full use of her immunity to red cannons and slowly cruised from target to target, smashing everything in sight.

Petty Officer Jake and Bosun Zach followed a similar path, but with not as much success. Jake did his best work against Mike; HMS Nautilus' bonus against American ships cost the Cadet-Captain at least two ships during the battle. Zach and Amirante Antonio got mixed up with Jake and Paul, and their ships spent as much time in the pits as on the track. The Dread Pirate Richard and the Fire Blossom were very late to the party, because they didn't believe Mike when he'd warned them to use fast ships. They didn't even make it across the starting line until the battle was three or four turns old. Once there, of course, they wasted no time in picking out targets.

The only admiral to focus on gold from start to finish was Downeast Drew. His four-masted Santa Ana kept getting shot up and sunk, but the speedy La Monarca broke away from the pack and never looked back. The only thing that slowed her down was that she kept stopping to see if a nearby gold coin was better than the ones she already had. She was the first ship to complete a lap on the track, scoring ten points for Drew, plus eleven for the gold in her hold.

The only other ship to complete a lap was Mike's President. After sinking once and getting repaired, she shifted her sails into high gear and sped around the course, ignoring the gold and shooting at enemies only if they happened to be in range at the end of her move. No one tried to stop her; Paul and Jake had ships in position (somehow they made it almost halfway around the track without getting sunk), but they either let her go or could not do her any harm. Mike's ship stuck her bowsprit across the finish line just as the battle ended. That lap, plus three partial laps brought on by sinkings and one little 2-point treasure coin, gave him the victory with 27 points.

Drew came in second with 26 (a close one there!), Antonio got third with 17 followed by Zach with 16 (another close one), Paul's aggression got him fifth place with 14, Richard and Jake tied for sixth with four points each, and the Fire Blossom... well, bring faster ships next time, Aimee.

Battle honors were hard to award, because the action was so confusing. Paul's Jarvis and Jake's HMS Nautilus certainly deserve a Bronze Sabre for the damage they caused; it's hard to tell if those medals should be first class or second class. La Monarca definitely gets a first-class Order of the Buccaneer for bringing in almost all of Drew's points, both by gold and by completing a lap. There aren't any medals for just going fast, so Mike's President didn't get any awards, but she did redeem her reputation in Mike's eyes; he won't be scrapping her any time soon. (She would have gone even faster if he hadn't completely forgotten about Montana Mays' extra-action ability.)

There weren't many humorous quotes overheard during the game, but a few odd scenes were acted out. At one point, Richard stepped on Mike's toe by accident. Mike began hopping on one foot and moaning in mock agony, "Oww! My foot! My piggie toe! You stepped on it, you brute, you big meanie!" Jake was concerned — "I thought you were having a heart attack." "Yeah, I always hop on one foot when I have a heart attack," replied Mike. A few minutes later, when Drew had to go to the men's room for the fourth time in two hours, Mike slipped into Aladdin mode and quoted, "Now there's a big surprise! I think I'm going to have a heart attack and die from not-surprise," ... and began hopping on one foot.

It's also worth noting that everyone had pen and paper to keep track of their fleets and the laps they completed, but everyone used them for other purposes as well. Among the more creative doodles: Richard drew rolling dice, a skeleton hanged from a gallows, and three jet airplanes; Aimee drew a flower on a burning altar (a fire blossom, of course); Anthony created four stick figures with scowls and medieval weapons; and Drew came up with a machine gun, a face with swords through it (labeled "Zach is dead" after Zach sank Drew's ship), and a skull-and-crossbones flag where the skull looked very much like Cadet-Captain Mike, right down to the beard and glasses.

Scribed this day, October Eleventh,
The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

Under the Sea, Under the Sea
Pirates Battle Report for 11/23/2010

We usually fight two battles each month. The first one draws a small crowd, and Cadet-Captain Mike uses those sessions for the less-popular games, or to try out some crazy new idea of his. The second session has more players, and we tend to play either Star Wars or Pirates on those nights. Tonight, it was piracy.

Our fleets were built with 47 points (Mike picked a strange number on purpose), and everyone had to use at least one sea creature as part of his fleet. I don't say "his/her fleet" because the Fire Blossom, our sole female of the opposite sex, has dropped out of the group. We certainly got a good mix of creatures — a giant crab, a sea dragon, a giant squid, a sea serpent, and two giant sharks. We used Star Wars cards for measuring movement and cannon ranges, which speeds up the game enormously.

The map was one long table instead of the usual two, with seven wild islands in a straight line down the middle. The central island was Mount Pocahontas, a live volcano with a ton of gold at its feet. We used our usual rules for volcanoes — at the end of each turn, if a die roll came up 6, every ship within L+L would lose a mast from flying lava. The volcano could erupt only once, and submerged and ghostly ships were immune to its effects.

We did the usual wheeling and dealing for alliances at the outset. Midshipman Jake made a non-aggression pact with the Dread Pirate Richard, and a full alliance with Paul the Pirate Prince. Almirante Antonio offered Mike an alliance; Mike, who usually likes to see how the game develops before he commits to any deals, accepted at once. He probably remembered the thrashing he got in our last game of Rocketmen, when all the players were allied against him. Antonio also had a secret deal with Paul, which became known later in the game. If Bosun Zach had any allies, this historian is unaware of it. A seventh player, Down-East Drew, was a no-show. More's the pity; Mike had picked out a fine fleet for him, with the result that some of Mike's best ships stayed in port the entire game.

The battle got off to a slow start, due to various distractions and confusions, including the discovery that Jake's fleet was almost twenty points over the limit. But once we got going, we played the first four turns in less than ten minutes. This was because no one was shooting anyone else. Mike and Zach went heavily for gold; Jake, Richard and Antonio were maneuvering for a favorable position, and Paul was putting everything into a rush for the volcano island. That volcano blew its top in the second turn, damaging Antonio's dragon, one of Paul's ships, and both of Richard's ships. The irony is that Richard was the one who rolled the six and caused the eruption.

By this time, there was a huge traffic jam around the volcano, with ships and sea critters from Antonio, Jake, Richard, and Paul all trying to get close to it or steal its gold, and Mike's squid and Zach's crab getting close. It was Paul's plans that bore the most fruit, though. His speedy gold ship, the Amity, had found some gold on another island and ran it home, so when his Sea Nymph reached the volcano, he could quickly build the dreaded Paradis de la Mer fort on it. This staked his claim to the center of the map, and he also claimed all the gold on the island. The rest of the nearby ships scattered to avoid the fort's guns. Mike tried to organize a temporary alliance to gang up on the fort and take it down, but no one else was very interested.

It was now that Jake's misfortunes really began. Paul's Sea Nymph had accomplished her mission of building the fort, so now she was looking for something else to do. Blasting Jake looked like it might be fun, so she did. HMS Royal lost all four masts in one amazing attack. Jake's protest about their alliance fell on legalistically deaf ears. At first, Paul defended his actions by saying, "I promised I wouldn't sink you, but I didn't say anything about derelicting you." When Jake didn't fall for that, Paul fell back on the oldest excuse in the book: "Pirate!"

Shal-Bala, Antonio's sea dragon, had been hovering near the volcano all game. Now she saw weakness, so she made a swoop attack on the HMS Nautilus. She missed, but she gave Jake the distinct impression that he was being ganged up on. When the Nautilus tried to tow the Royal home, the Sea Nymph jumped her and dismasted her in two attacks. And when Mike reminded Jake that the Royal had an Oarsman on board (something Jake had forgotten), Paul sank her, and sank whatever was left of his alliance as well. Shal-Bala added to Jake's woes by trying another swoop attack on the Nautilus, even though she was in easy range of all her "cannons," but missed again.

All this time, Bosun Zach's fleet had been heading up the middle of the map. El Toro was on one side, saying, "I like to pinch;" his ships, Valeroso and La Academia, were on the other. The crab and La Academia teamed up to sink Antonio's L'Afrique, which was trying to claim the last gold coin; La Academia added insult to injury by swiping the coin herself, just before she opened fire. This caused Zach to do his happy dance. Richard's Le Voleur, in the same neighborhood, ran afoul of Paul's Sea Nymph and quickly found herself in L'Afrique's neighborhood.

And why wasn't Antonio attacking anyone else? His alliance with the Cadet-Captain was holding firm, perhaps because Mike's ships were nowhere near the action yet. He was leaving Zach and Richard alone because they were equally out of range. He was beating on Jake as hard as he could, which wasn't adding up to much. But why not attack Paul? It came to light that he was allowing himself to be bought. In exchange for the fort full of gold and a junk (HMS Clear Wind) that also carried gold, he was letting Paul do what he pleased. It seemed like a very lopsided deal to the others, but they were both happy with it.

Mike, on the other hand, wasn't happy. He had tons of gold from the coins his Congress and Philadelphia had brought home, but he hadn't shot anyone yet. His giant squid, He'e, was the butt of many jokes about his name, but once He'e moved toward the center of the map, He'e got out of Jerky Johnson's speed-enhancing range and He'e was moving at a crawl. Luckily, He'e saw a huge green shape looming up over the horizon — El Toro was looking to join the fight between Paul and Jake. He'e rose to the surface and used He'e's special attack, which works a lot like a dragon's swoop attack. Unlike Antonio's dragon, however, He'e was right on target, stripping away two of the big crab's claws. He'e accomplished nothing else for the rest of the battle, but Mike was glad that He'e had finally done something useful. He'e also violated Mike's own advice about how sea creatures attacking sea creatures wasn't worth it. Maybe He'e knew something Mike didn't know?

Zach wasn't dead yet, though. El Toro saw another threat arising as Mike's Congress appeared, all guns run out. The big crab (El Toro, not Zach) rammed into the big ship, doing no harm, and then boarded her. Zach rolled a 6, which would have won the day if he hadn't just lost those two claws. So He'e saved the Congress after all. Mike rolled a 3, which, added to his masts and his boarding bonus, made the boarding action a tie. Had Zach won, he could have claimed a nice gold coin. He did his happy dance again anyway, just because. Mike tried to do the same, but he can't dance; it just looks embarrassing when he tries. So he finished off the crab with the Congress' guns instead. That made him happy.

By this time, Richard had dropped out of the action. Something had taken Teach the shark out of the battle, so he had only one ship left, the Galeon de Gibraltar, with no gold to claim. He asked for alliances with several players, but none of them saw any benefit in such a deal, and they all refused. Zach's ships turned and headed for home, with Paul's shark Squalo in wet pursuit, trying to spread Fear onto both of them at every opportunity. Antonio's ships also took up the pursuit, but he was too far away to catch them. He settled for a blockade of Paul's home island, which never reached the point of breaking his deal because Paul never tried to get a ship home after that.

On the other side of the map, Jake was bitterly lamenting his decision to side with Paul. "I'm never allying with you again, because you always break 'em." He was down to Champ the sea monster, thrashing around the middle of the map in search of something to attack, and one derelict, the HMS Nautilus, near his home island but with no way to get there. Help came from an unlikely quarter; Cadet-Captain Mike offered him an alliance, which he accepted after a moment's hesitation. Mike immediately took the Nautilus under tow by the Philadelphia. Everyone else expected him to steal the derelict ship — that's what the Philly does, right? But instead, she towed Jake's ship back to Jake's island and maneuvered so the Nautilus touched home. Then he left, as Jake's dock workers labored frantically to repair her in time to rejoin the action.

Near Zach's home island, Paul's Squalo had successfully slowed down La Academia with Fear, overtook her, and rammed into her. Somehow, all of the Spaniard's masts stayed up. Zach wasn't so lucky in the boarding action that followed, though. He lost a coin, which went to the bottom of the briny when Paul realized that Squalo has no cargo spaces to carry gold. Jake's monster and Antonio's ships tried to join the party, but weren't quite close enough.

Now the last act of the battle played out. Paul's Sea Nymph had been on the run, cut off from friendly shores, ever since Mike struck his deal with Jake. She ran further and further from her home, while Mike played cat and mouse with her with the Congress, knowing she had to come to him sometime. Of course, Paul could have simply waited out the end of the game, which was very near. But he finally decided to go out with a bang, and allowed the Congress to close the range. Mike's ship scored two hits; he might have gotten a third, but as usual, he forgot that he had a reroll crew on board.

But the last act of the game belonged to Jake, who had done just about nothing so far. The Nautilus was still short one mast, but the battle was nearly done and it was now or never. She scooted out of port, got into range of the Sea Nymph, and fired twice. One cannonball hit, which set off some low-key rejoicing from Jake (no happy dance). "You didn't derelict him," Paul reminded him, to which Jake replied, "No, but I blasted him." He felt a little better about his battle now.

When the gold was counted, Antonio had some gold of his own, some of the gold Paul had found, due to his deal, and all the gold on the volcanic island, for a fine total of 22. Unfortunately, the coins Mike had found were of high value, and both of his ships had loaded up twice, so he won with 25. Paul was third with 11, followed by Richard with 8, Zach with 4, and Jake with his usual.

The long, skinny game area changed the usual game dynamics, and the alliances and treaties made things even more complicated. Mike had no enemies nearby (that's unusual right there), so he had plenty of time to round up a ton of treasure before seeking action. Jake was almost surrounded by people he couldn't attack, which meant he couldn't do any shooting until one of them broke the deal, after which it was too late. Zach chose to start on the far end, which meant he had a long way to go to get into the fray. Paul saw the opportunity of building a fort on the central island, and saw his plan through to a successful conclusion. If he hadn't traded most of his gold away, he would have won the game. Richard got caught in a sandwich between Zach and Paul;I guess those two like sandwiches. Antonio played his own game, not trying to upset anyone unless he could pick on the weak and damaged, but it was his odd deal with Paul that put him in second place.

Paul's Sea Nymph earned the Bronze Sabre, First Class, and deserved every bit of it, for slapping Richard around and taking Jake out of the battle single-handed. A Bronze Sabre, Second Class, went to Squalo the shark for making Zach's fleet go wee, wee, wee, all the way home, and winning a boarding action on the way. The Amity got the Order of the Buccaneer, Second Class, for rounding up the gold that made Paul's fort strategy happen. That's three battle honors in one game for Paul, which is a record. Mike's Congress won a Silver Sabre, Second Class, for slaying a crab, badly damaging a big ship, and bringing in half of the winning gold. Mike would also win the "nice guy" medal for bringing Jake's derelict ship home instead of stealing it for himself, but pirates don't give out medals like that.

Lessons that everyone needs to remember:

As usual, some of the players got artistic on the papers they used to track their fleets. Zach drew a pirate hanged from the yardarm, while a sea serpent, giant shark, and giant squid waited for the rope to break so he'd fall in. Nearby, a dog-monkey-creature dangled from the yardarm with a key ring in its hand. Richard drew a skeletal pirate hanging from a gallows on land, with part of his leg missing. Richard explained, "That's what happens when you get Mr. Fischer mad — a broken leg and you get executed." Instead of a dog-monkey-creature, he had a spider dangling next to the pirate. Nearby were two things that looked like squirrels, something with big, nasty, pointy teeth, and a T-Rex with a rifle. The Fire Blossom joined us as the action was winding down, and drew a stick figure saying, "I'm mean, I steal ships and gold. But I'm Paul. That's pretty nice for me." Not entirely true — he just spent this battle giving away ships and gold!

Scribed this day, November Twenty-Fourth,
The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten,
by Cadet-Captain Mike

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