Pirates Battle Reports for 2012

This is the archive of Pirates battle reports for the year 2012.

Jan — The Great Campaign, Part VII
Feb — The Great Campaign, Part VIII
Mar — The Great Campaign, Part IX
Apr — The Great Campaign, Part X — the end
Sep — Talk Like A Pirate Day

The Great Campaign, Part VII
Pirates Battle Report

The sun rose on a very different sea tonight. Instead of our usual campaign battlefield, a square-shaped bay with two remote seas, we fought tonight over a long, thin estuary that widened in the middle. That wide middle was where all five home islands were located — Paul, Richard, Jake, and Zach in the four "corners" of the wide zone, and Mike smack in the center.

This left the Cadet-Captain completely surrounded and easy pickings if the others decided to gang up on him. To avoid this, he sent relatively weak squadrons toward the two turtle-islands that lay between him and the other four admirals — one gold ship and two medium gunships to each turtle. The bulk of his ships sailed up and down the estuary, where no adversaries waited. He hoped that this would look like a non-aggressive posture, and that the others would leave him alone, at least until he'd gotten some gold first.

It didn't work.

Actually, he had a 75% success rate; three of the four other admirals counted Mike's ships and decided to leave him strictly alone. Zach, Jake, and Richard probed the nearby gold islands for most of the battle. Zach sent his fleet to the upstream end of the estuary via whirlpools, while Jake sailed his fleet in a long line down the other side, staying as far from Mike's ships as he could. Richard stayed in the center, picking the bones of the islands that Mike had already cleaned out.

But when Mike set himself up in the middle of his enemies, and then divided his fleet four ways, he was just begging to be attacked. Paul the Pirate Prince was the only one to take the bait, but (to continue the fishing analogy) when he took the bait, he darned near broke the line.

The first of Mike's ships to fall was the small squadron that had just loaded some gold off a huge turtle island in Paul's front yard. The Bonhomme Richard and Ghost Walker, along with Le Bonne Chance, tore into Mike's three 3-masted galleys with unparalled fury. "I know one of these ships has gold on it!" Paul was heard to mutter. The Wicked Kareen was sunk before it could fire a shot, the Meshud was badly damaged, and the Golden Peacock high-tailed it for home. "So that's who has the gold!" Paul crowed.

The Meshud tried to sell her life dearly as a diversion, but she scored no hits with her one remaining cannon, and Paul already knew where the goodies were. The French junk polished off the Corsair galley, while the Ghost Walker turned in pursuit of Mike's gold ship. Her accuracy was very good as she pulled all the feathers off the Peacock, and capped the performance by cancelling the galley's Galley ability so it couldn't row away.

On the next turn, Mike's gold ship burbled to the bottom. "Gold!" Paul demanded. "Do you want the one-coin or the two-coin?" Mike asked hopefully. Yeah, right.

Meanwhile, the rest of Paul's ships had formed his trademark bow-to-stern "gold chain," so he could load coins and pass them back from ship to ship until they wound up on a hull that was already close to home. Once he had cleaned out an island this way, his Anglo-Jade squadron headed down the estuary in pursuit of more of Mike's galleys. The HMS Grand Temple and HMS Clear Wind, ex-Jade Rebellion ships that had joined the Royal Navy, had an even easier time of it than his center squadron.

Mike had sent six galleys downstream. The only fighters in the bunch were way out of position to defend his gold fleet — the Fire Djinn was on the far side, guarding the Griffin as the latter scooped up gold, while the Janissaries' Blood had turned back to the center as soon as Paul's perfidious purpose became apparent. That left the Winds of Vengeance, Algiers, and Tiger's Eye pretty much defenseless. Paul's junks divided their fire and made short work of the first two. Then the Clear Wind turned aside for some gold on Sandbar Island, while the huge Grand Temple pursued the speedy Tiger's Eye.

Mike's ship ran for the far end of the estuary, trusting in her great speed to keep her out of trouble. But she couldn't outrun Paul's ship, which was equipped with a skillful Helmsman. So the galley stopped for gold at a small island, now trusting in her defensive ability to keep her out of trouble. Paul pulled alongside and opened fire. His four long-range cannons sent their shots flying far overhead, but the short-range guns took two masts down. "Gold!" cackled Paul, rubbing his hands together with glee.

Mike was running out of options fast, but now he showed his wily side. He threw his gold back onto the wild island so he wouldn't be a valuable target, pulled away, and fired one parting shot, which missed. Paul fired his short guns again and got one more hit, leaving the Tiger's Eye with no masts. Now he had to choose — pursue and sink an empty galley, or take the gold and let Mike's ship escape? He went for the gold, and the Tiger's Eye slowly rowed toward a whirlpool that would (hopefully) get her safely home. There wasn't much gold on that island anyway.

All this time, Mike's other ships had the upstream end of the estuary to themselves. His five-ship Pirate squadron and the tiny Carthage and Dervish had been scooping up all the gold they could find. If there was a medal for nerves of steel, the Dervish would have won it tonight, for the first gold she took was from an island dominated by Zach's sea dragon. The little galley sailed right up to Shal-Bala, explaining in a small voice, "I'm not looking for trouble, I just want the gold; I hope you don't mind." Mike had already been sneak-attacked once tonight, and there was nothing holding Zack back from an attack. But the dragon just sat there, staring down unblinking as the Dervish loaded up some nice coins and went her merry way.

It was at this time that Zach began quietly singing, "The wallpaper, the wallpaper, the wallpaper, I love the wallpaper." Our gaming room has no wallpaper.

Now the great weight of Mike's fleet began to press down on Paul. The Janissaries' Blood had sailed into a whirlpool and taken no damage; now she reappeared in Paul's part of the bay, cutting off Le Bonne Chance from her home island. Mike's gunnery was good, assisted by Murat Rais (who finally earned his keep, after several battles in which all he did was yell "Silence! I kill you!" at his enemies). Ships named Le Bonne Chance seem to live eventful but short lives, and this one was no exception; she went straight to the bottom.

Zach was already very close to having an attack of happy feet, so Mike asked him to do a victory dance. "Why don't you do your own dance?" Paul wanted to know. "Because when he dances, it gives me nightmares," Jake answered. "It's true — I had a dream when Mr. Fischer danced." Meanwhile, Paul spent most of his acquired gold and got another Le Bonne Chance just like the first one, and headed her for the center of the estuary where the big battle was forming up.

The next ships on the scene were Mike's Pirates, the White Rose and Sea Nymph. They ganged up on the Ghost Walker; Paul forgot to cancel the White Rose's Captain, and the omission was fatal. The Pirates avenged the Golden Peacock; then, joined by the Royal James, the late-arriving Fire Djinn, and the "unhittable brothers" Nubian Prince and Desert Wind, they collided with Paul's ships head-on.

Mike's gold galleys had mostly ceased to exist, but they had succeeded in their secondary task, which was to draw Paul's best fighting ship away from the fighting. HMS Grand Temple was far down the estuary; even if she took a whirlpool home, she was at least two turns out. That left the Bonhomme Richard, Le Superbe, Constitution, and Le Bonne Chance II to face Mike's very angry fleet.

In the swirling, smoke-filled action that followed, it is not possible to reconstruct exactly who hit who, or when. There was some confusion about rules here and there; one disagreement had to be put to the dice when we couldn't get a majority vote on the subject. But the action was definitely deadly — neither Paul nor Mike could complain about lousy gunners or bad dice luck. Masts were snapping and falling left and right on all sides. Mike gambled on two boarding actions and lost; one was a tie and the other cost the Fire Djinn her Captain. Paul gambled on a broadside attack from the Julius Caesar and won, stripping off all of the White Rose's masts in one mighty shot.

The sun went down on the battle before the issue was decided. Both Mike and Paul had ships that were about to enter the action, but weren't quite quick enough. Adding to the confusion, parts of Richard's fleet sailed through the middle of the melee. He'd decided he didn't like the looks of Zach's dragon and wanted to kill it. He, too, was thwarted by not having enough time to finish the action. At least he could comfort himself with gaining some gold and taking no damage. Jake could make the same claim. Zach was considerably richer than when he'd started, but three of his ships had lost a mast to whirlpools.

And what of the main combatants? Paul lost two ships, Ghost Walker and Le Bonne Chance; Julius Caesar and Le Bonne Chance II were derelict, and the Bonhomme Richard had taken damage. Mike lost five ships, Algiers, Golden Peacock, Meshud, Wicked Kareen, and Winds of Vengeance; the Janissaries' Blood, Desert Wind, Tiger's Eye, and White Rose were derelict, and the Fire Djinn and Royal James were damaged. Just going by the numbers, this was a huge victory for the Pirate Prince.

But keep a few things in mind: (a) many of the ships Paul took out were defenseless gold ships, while everything Mike faced was well-armed and full of fighting crew; (b) Mike's fleet is still bigger than Paul's, even after all those losses; and most important of all, (c) Mike has a gargantuan war chest to replace his losses and expand his fleet, while Paul has spent almost everything he's got. Viewed in this light, the night's results look more like the Battle of Jutland in 1916, in which the British lost more ships than the Germans did, but Britain still dominated the seas at the end of the day. It was certainly a big win for Paul, but not a crushing one. In spite of the thrashing he took, the Cadet-Captain still brought in almost as much gold tonight as all the others put together. Our Pirates campaign is far from over, Mike is still very much a threat, and now he has a new motive: extreme vengeance!

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

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The Great Campaign, Part VIII
Pirates Battle Report

Today was a red-letter day in the history of our Pirates campaign. After watching our numbers decline over the past year, we finally added a new admiral! Timothy Arrr has been collecting ships for some time now, and he has been deemed ready to take his place on the Spanish Main. Starting from scratch would put him at a huge disadvantage, compared to the others who have been campaigning for months, so Cadet-Captain Mike awarded him 75 points, and Paul the Pirate Prince (his oldest brother) helped him pick out a fleet.

Another new thing tonight was the introduction of two new kinds of bennies, which are starting to work just like unique treasures, only different. The red and pink bennies still give one reroll, like they always did; the green ones double the value of one treasure coin when they're unloaded together; and the blue ones give the ability of one generic crew for one turn.

Perhaps the biggest change tonight was in how we handle wild islands. According to the new rules, every island gets a micro-die rolled for it. The only way to load treasure off an island is to own it, and to own it, you must go ashore and conquer it. This works much like a boarding action, with the micro-die taking the place of the other ship's mast count, except you can bring multiple ships into the action to improve your odds. Once you own an island, you put one of your seven numbered markers on it; that number becomes the island's "mast count" if another player tries to take it away from you. Best of all, once an island is owned, it generates one treasure coin at the end of each turn. There are other rules for special situations.

The ocean we fought over was similar to our traditional campaign map — a large main sea and two smaller seas reached via whirlpools — but the central sea was bigger than usual and had more islands. Seventeen of them, in fact, or nineteen if you count Humpback Island as three separate islands. Only three "special" islands were in play in the main ocean — Humpback in the center, Toothbay Harbor to the southwest, and Sandbar to the northeast. As usual, the northern sea held four islands and six icebergs, while the southern sea held two giant-turtle islands, four fog banks, and a live volcano.

All the admirals sent their ships out in groups to conquer some islands; fighting each other wasn't on anyone's mind at the outset. Everyone except the Dread Pirate Richard bought some new ships and crew with the gold they'd brought in last time. Also, Paul and Mike were in damage control mode; Paul had two derelicts and one damaged ship to repair, while Mike was fixing four derelicts and two cripples. Thus, almost half of Mike's fourteen ships were out of commission at the outset. At least most of them were galleys that could get themselves home without a tow.

As the many ships set out to sea, Timothy observed that he didn't have a custom-made crew patterned after himself, like everyone else did. Mike promised him that he soon would have such a crew. Richard looked for his own crew marker and commented, "I lost me."

Zach made a priority of taking over the volcano island in the southern sea. His first attempt, using Shal-Bala, did not end well. The volcano was weakly defended, but he just couldn't roll higher than whichever player was rolling for the island. Once, twice, three times the big dragon tried to take over the volcano, and once, twice, three times the big dragon got less big as it lost battles and body parts. Finally, when nothing was left but the wings flapping in the breeze, it turned away and tried to conquer a giant-turtle island instead. The ill-tempered volcano chose that moment to erupt, flying chunks of hot lava spewed everywhere, and the dragon flew away to meet its Maker.

Zach did better with the islands close to his home; he quickly had one of them producing treasure for him and was aiming for a second one. All the others had similar luck, although it took Mike two tries to take over the island closest to his home. Another squadron from the Cadet-Captain tried to snag the island that Bosun Zach was also trying to claim. One of Zach's sharks actually tried to take a bite out of one of Mike's ships, until reminded that a shark can't move and shoot without a Captain, and the shark hadn't eaten any Captains lately. Mike wasn't looking for trouble (yet), so his ships sheered off toward Humpback Island in the center of the map. Zach almost did a repeat of his volcano debacle, attacking a strength-4 island with a wounded shark; Mike strongly cautioned him to bring up another ship or two first, which the Bosun did, and won the island.

Timothy Arrr had a bit of hard luck taking advantage of his new riches; his fighting ships were stuffed so full of crew that he had no room for cargo, and he couldn't bring home anywhere near as much as he would have liked. Richard was the first to go for a third island (Toothbay Harbor), but his attempt to take the island failed and he turned away. The nearby Sea Nymph, headed for Humpback, quickly altered her heading and conquered the island in Mike's name. Two of Mike's other ships entered whirlpools; their destination was the northern sea; and that's where the trouble started.

The Longshanks lost its mizzenmast in the whirling turbulence, but pressed on with her mission. The Golden Peacock, freshly replaced after being sunk in last month's battle, did something she has never done before — she made it through a whirlpool without taking damage! Each ship picked a northern island for conquest. Maybe they shouldn't have split up, but the islands were not well defended and Mike thought it made more sense to double his chances of conquest.

The Peacock never made it. A wavering in the fog around the whirlpool announced the arrival of another ship — Paul's HMS Grand Temple, with murder on her mind. The big junk pulled alongside the much smaller galley, opened fire without so much as a howdy-do, and did an impressive job of blasting holes in the air. Only two of her six cannons hit, which still left Mike's galley with one mast and very little hope. Mike knew she couldn't outrun Paul's ship, and she certainly couldn't outfight her. The half-plucked Peacock ran for the nearest island and tried to conquer it as a last gesture of defiance, but failed. Paul's junk joined her there, finished her off, and added insult to injury by taking over the island himself.

The Longshanks didn't do much better. She made it to her chosen island, tried to overcome it, and lost a mast in the attempt. Down to one mast, she decided to go home rather than risk it all... and history repeated itself. An even bigger junk loomed up out of the mist near the whirlpool, opened fire without so much as a howdy-do, and sent the Longshanks to the bottom. "It was such an easy target," Richard explained as his Zeus notched another victim.

These attacks highlighted the odd position that Cadet-Captain Mike is in. His war chest is huge, and he could buy a devastating fleet at any time; this makes him a prime target for the other admirals, who want to cut him down to size before he turns on them. But because he isn't spending his wealth, his actual fleet isn't anywhere near as dangerous as it could be. Indeed, his fighting power is a miserable fourth place, behind Paul, Jake, and Richard. And the power he does have is scattered all over the map, because he has to defend his gold ships against so many enemies. So, at any one point on the map, the campaign's most powerful admiral is probably a weak and inviting target.

That's not to say he's helpless. Paul's attack provoked a strong response; the Nubian Prince, Desert Wind, and Royal James all plunged into various whirlpools and converged on the northern sea. Both galleys lost masts in the journey, which didn't help his fighting prospects. Still, they managed to catch the Grand Temple near the whirlpool entrance. The Prince tried to chainshot the big junk and immobilize her, but failed. The rest of the shooting took two masts off the Grand Temple, and the Royal James killed one of her crew as well.

Rather than fight Mike's squadron, Paul sent his ship past them into the whirlpool. He gave her a strong escort as she got home, which persuaded Mike not to pursue her, and began repairing the Grand Temple for the second time tonight. Since he was already in the great white north, Mike used his ships to try and take the northern island Paul owned, but Paul's islanders fought well and Mike was unable to subdue them, even with three ships trying.

Meanwhile, Richard became the first admiral to cash in a green benny to swell his coffers, Jake quietly added more islands to his empire without stirring up trouble, and Zach finally conquered his volcano, using HMS Hound, El Toro the giant crab, and Squalo the giant shark. This made him very happy. Mike made Paul unhappy by planting his flag on one-third of Humpback Island; Paul had the other two-thirds and wanted it all. Richard's Zeus didn't try to claim any islands after cutting down the Longshanks, but went back into the whirlpool, came out in Zach's territory, and headed for Humpback in the center of the map. Jake was also pointed at the center, although his intentions may not have been belligerent. Timothy's battle fleet joined Paul (very suspicious, seeing how Paul was mentoring Timothy in how to play), Zach was also in the area, and Mike suddenly noticed that most of the fighting ships in the game were converging on his three-ship squadron, which was a long way from home.

He did the best he could. He loaded most of Humpback's gold on his fastest ship, the Tiger's Eye, and sailed the Carthage and Sea Nymph into blocking positions against Timothy's big ships. They paid the price for their courage; once Tim was done shooting, the Sea Nymph had lost three of her four masts, the Carthage would have been derelict except she can't be shot while docked, and the Janissaries' Blood, rushing to the rescue after finally finishing her repairs, lost two masts for her trouble. As Paul moved up to take his turn at Mike's ships, the Cadet-Captain looked at the tactical situation and did something he never thought he would ever, ever do. He begged for mercy.

Well, he didn't actually beg. He just pointed out that there were six admirals who were all supposed to be at war with each other, but four of them were attacking no one but him (Jake was still minding his own business) and it didn't seem fair. His plea touched Paul's stony heart; the Pirate Prince called off his attack at the last moment. Mike tried hard not to sigh in relief — Paul's first victim would have been the Tiger's Eye, which was now fat with treasure.

Another admiral also had a change of heart. Richard secretly made the handshake sign at Mike, offering him an alliance. Most admirals in Mike's position would leap at the chance, but Mike was disinclined to acquiesce to Richard's request. "You're too far away from Paul to do me any good. And besides, I still owe you for sinking my Longshanks. 'It was such an easy target,' remember?" Richard remembered, and went very pale.

The Fates called "time" on the battle at this point. Mike may have been the only one thankful for this; things were not going well for him overall, while the others were looking forward to more victories as well as more gold. Everyone except Paul agreed that the new rules for wild islands are a good thing. Paul disagreed only because his little island-exploring ship, the Zephyr, now has nothing to do. Timothy Arrr handled himself well in his first big battle, and is welcome to come back for more. But the Pirate Lords are frowning on Paul's apparent hijacking of Timothy's ships for his own purposes. Tim may have a different mentor next time we meet, and he certainly won't be home-ported with a brother on each side of him.

At present, Paul has five wild islands in his growing empire. Mike and Zach have four each, Jake has three, and Richard and Tim have two apiece. Six remain unclaimed — three in the northern sea, two (including Sandbar) in the main ocean, and one turtle-island in the southern sea. No one can own more than seven at a time, so Paul's rapid growth will soon reach its limit. Gold is piling up on many of the islands, seven coins deep in one case; from now on, the most treasure an island can hold is four coins.

Speaking of coins, Mike still has more than all the others put together, and he got an impressive amount home to add to that total. Midshipman Jake brought in the second-highest hoard; he may not have the most islands, but he's doing the best job of harvesting them. Everyone is benefiting from their islands that grow treasure every turn; our fleets are going to start expanding rapidly.

In terms of casualties, Mike was the big loser for the second time in a row, with two ships sunk, three battle-damaged, and two whirlpool-damaged. Zach lost his sea dragon and took damage to his crab and a shark, all from attempts to conquer wild islands. His casualties might have been higher, but he just plain forgot to use two ships that were part of his fleet last time. Paul and Richard each have two ships singing "It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord, standin' in the need of repair." Jake stayed out of trouble, and Timothy just made trouble for Mike; their ships are all intact. Mike's fleet is down to 12 ships, Paul has 11 (all but two crewed for fighting), Zach has 10 including three sea creatures, Richard and Jake each have 7 (also mostly crewed for fighting), and Tim has 5 at this time.

Paul's HMS Grand Temple was awarded the Silver Sabre, 2nd Class, for taking Mike out of the northern sea and adding an island there to Paul's pirate kingdom. Zach's Shal-Bala would have gotten the Golden Kamikaze Award if there was such a thing, for its fatal attempts to take over a live volcano. And the great campaign goes on!

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

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The Great Campaign, Part IX
Pirates Action Report

This will be a rather short battle report, mostly because it was a rather short battle. In fact, you'll note that this is an "action report," not a "battle report," because the word "battle" doesn't even apply to last night's action. To put it bluntly, there wasn't any fighting. None. Nada. Not one lousy musket ball's worth.

The problem was set-up time. Under our current campaign rules, every wild island has a defensive strength represented by a micro-die, a given number of treasure coins accumulated from past game turns, and possibly a marker showing who owns that island and how strongly they've fortified it. And there are 31 wild islands, spread across four separate game tables! Cadet-Captain Mike has to set all this up, plus six home islands and 28 terrain pieces, and that's a lot of setting up.

Then there are the fleets. Mike uses a spreadsheet to keep track of six players' ships, the crew they carry, and the damage they incurred the last time we fought. But the individual players have to get their own fleets organized, and some of them don't move as fast as Mike does. To make matters worse, three of the six were over half an hour late — Paul the Pirate Prince had baseball practice, and Midshipman Jake and Bosun Zach were nearly marooned when their ride forgot there was a battle tonight. And to top it off, Jake grabbed the wrong box of ships and left his entire fleet behind.

The upshot of it all was that Mike started setting up at 6:30, he meant for the piracy to begin at 7:00, but we didn't actually start until after 8:00. That lost hour cost us dearly. We just didn't have enough time to get rolling, and most of us barely completed one mission, if that. It will be easiest to describe each player's actions for the night.

Cadet-Captain Mike probably got the least done of anyone. He had scrapped his Pirates and some of his Corsairs for cash value, and spent all his accumulated gold, in exchange for a massive American fleet to supply the fighting power that his Corsairs lacked. But he was so busy interpreting rules, moving icebergs, rolling defensively for wild islands, and the like, that he never got the chance to place his new ships at his home island. They remained on a shelf, looking very menacing to players like Paul, but they never made it into the game.

Mike did keep a few Corsairs, and he sent most of these to the northern sea. He had announced, with great fanfare and bluster, that the northern sea is now the Sea of Fischers, because he intended to own all four of the islands there, and that if anyone else ventured north, it would mean a declaration of war. Paul owned one island there, but Mike had arranged a colony swap — he would let Paul take the Cadet-Captain's slice of Humpback Island away if Paul would let him take that northern island. Five galleys plunged into the nearest whirlpool to make the Sea of Fischers a reality. (Richard's ships were headed for the same whirlpool, but the Dread Pirate assured Mike that he wasn't going to be belligerent.) Two of them took damage on the way through, but the leading three still had plenty of power to subdue the first icy island they encountered. The Dervish lagged behind the others, and fulfilled one of Paul's fondest wishes by getting whacked by an iceberg. Paul even cheered.

Mike's sixth galley, the fighting Janissaries' Blood, lagged even further behind the others, due to repairing battle damage from our previous fight. Her captain saw that he'd never get anything useful done in the northern — I mean the Sea of Fischers before the game ended, so rather than risk more damage from a useless whirlpool ride, she sheered off and headed back home. That move may have saved her more than just one mast. Richard was reaching the end of his rope as far as non-belligerence was concerned, his bombardier ship was getting itchy to bombard something, and Richard made disappointed noises when Mike pulled out of range.

So Mike's score for the night was one island conquered, and one low-value coin claimed off of it. All in all, a very disappointing performance. On the other hand, he didn't lose any ships this time, unlike the last two battles, where his combined losses were almost as big as Bosun Zach's entire fleet.

Zach did somewhat better than Mike did. Inspired by Mike's claiming of the northern sea, he decided that he'd own the southern sea. After all, he owned two of the four islands there, and no one else had made any claim to it. His announcement was met with some skepticism from Richard. Mike simply ruled, "It's his if he's strong enough to keep it." Zach sent some of his ships on a wild whirlpool ride to the south. This cost him a giant shark; Squalo was already wounded, and the whirling waters were more than it could handle. This was the only "ship" lost all night. The remaining ships were not able to conquer the first island they found, which looked suspiciously like a giant turtle sleeping on the surface.

Zach's other ships focused on getting some gold from the islands he already owned, and he did much better there. He may have lost the shark, but he bought another ship to replace it, and he wound up ahead of where he'd started, in terms of gold. But he nearly got himself into deadly trouble when he tried to take away one of Paul's islands. The invasion attempt was a tie, so he didn't get the island, but his ships didn't take damage. They probably would have, though, if the game had lasted its usual length. Paul had plenty of fighting ships nearby, and he was moving to defend his turf when time ran out.

The Dread Pirate Richard may have had the most adventurous time. At the outset, he became seriously interested in Mike's announcement that a new sea, the western sea, had just been discovered. He decided that he would be the first one there, and he might even try to claim it as his own. This was pretty brave talk, seeing how no one actually knew what was in the western sea; it looked like a blank table with one whirlpool. In order to see what was there, someone brave would have to go and have a look. Richard would be that someone!

He sent two ships tumbling through whirlpools into the unknown. When they emerged, they found themselves in a quiet bay whose waters were misty and still. Six islands covered in palm trees could be seen, along with an assortment of colorful but menacing reefs and a second whirlpool. The islands were certainly mysterious. Instead of the usual Pirates rules, where each mysterious island has its own random effect, these islands all drew their effects from a table of mystery, with some effects drawn from the official islands and some custom-made. Richard quickly claimed two of the islands in his own name; one of those islands tried to take away a treasure, but because there weren't any treasures there, it did him no harm.

Meanwhile, his Zeus and another ship went south. Their goal was simple: they wanted to dispute Zach's claim to the southern sea, just to be annoying. They emerged from a whirlpool on the far side of the sea from where Bosun Zach's fleet was active. Once there, they were content to sit and watch Zach's ships beating themselves senseless against the shell of a giant turtle. Richard didn't try to steal any of Zach's islands or do anything else naughty; he was happy just to be there, in Zach's face from a distance.

A few of his other ships went about the business of looting his wild islands. He hadn't touched them since he claimed them, and they were brimming with treasure. Our shortened game session was enough to clean out one of his isles, but the other is still brimming. As mentioned above, he thought real hard about giving Mike a taste of his bombardier's flame cannon, but Mike didn't cooperate.

Paul, too, had an eventful cruise. He followed Richard into the western sea, and like Richard, he claimed two of the islands there. One of them gave the Bonhomme Richard such a shaking that two of her masts snapped and fell overboard. Another materialized a treasure from the northern-sea island that Paul used to own; he gave that island up to claim this one, due to the rule that a player can own only seven islands at a time. That same mysterious island later gave Paul the ability to make one of the fog banks in the southern sea disappear.

In the main bay, Paul was able to claim Sandbar Island as his own, and he brought in a king's ransom in gold from his other nearby islands. He spent his gains on three good warships, as yet uncrewed. It is certain that he was looking at Cadet-Captain Mike's undeployed but powerful American battle squadron, and planning for a final showdown.

Timothy Arrr had something happen that's never happened before: his home island was hit by an earthquake that moved it all the way to the other side of the bay. This was because he needs a helper with some of the details of piracy, and when Paul was his helper last time, his ships essentially became Paul's ships. Mike meant to avoid this by becoming the helper himself. Unfortunately, he was so busy doing all that other stuff that, after the first two turns, he had no time for Timothy. He asked Jake, Tim's other neighbor, to supply the help, which the Midshipman willingly did. Tim wound up with a fair amount of gold in his ships' cargo holds. He did not add any islands to his empire, though.

As for Jake, as I mentioned above, he left his fleet home by mistake. He did bring a different box of ships, and he spent his gold reserves to buy a temporary fleet from there. But he was so tied up helping Timothy that his own ships never left home. His achievements for the game: Mike's profound gratitude, and not much else. If there was a Nice Pirate Medal, Jake would have won it tonight. As it is, Mike is awarding him 10 gold, because he would have brought in at least that much if he'd been able to tend his island empire as he intended.

Clearly, our campaign has reached a point where, if it doesn't end soon, it will collapse under its own weight. Our campaign rules are good ones, but one Cadet-Captain can't run the whole thing by himself. We talked it over and agreed that our next session will be the end of the campaign. We could have called it quits tonight, but we thought it would be fair (and fun!) to let everyone prepare for a blaze-of-glory ending.

Mike's fleet is in the #1 position; it is unlikely that the other admirals will let him stay there. Paul is his closest rival for the Captain's Coin. Jake is #3, with Richard very close behind him. Zach has a decent fleet, but his firepower isn't there, so he's in the #5 spot. Tim, the latecomer, is running last, but he, like the others, has some gold to spend on ships and we don't know what his final fleet will look like. It is also likely that some of the admirals will scrap some gold ships in favor of more fighting sail, because our last battle won't have much time for gold gathering. No, our last campaign session is going to be about settling scores, punishing pirates, and getting the aggression out of our systems at our neighbors' expense. The only questions are who will form alliances, how long those alliances will last, and who is going to get hammered first. Prediction: with five admirals on his case, Cadet-Captain Mike will not live to see the sunset. But he'll chop some gaping holes in his enemies' fleets before he's gone.

All hands, man your battle stations and prepare for Arrr-mageddon!

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

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The Great Campaign, Part X
Pirates Battle Report

This was it! Tonight was the long-delayed, much-anticipated grand finale to a Pirates campaign that has been running since April of 2011. We've gathered tons of gold, had a few skirmishes, seen some ships sink and others get added to our fleets, but tonight was the night. Everything was on the line; only one of us could be the ultimate winner.

It was hard to predict who that winner would be. Cadet-Captain Mike had the largest fleet, but it was a near-certainty that some or all of the others would gang up on him. Paul the Pirate Prince, in particular, hasn't missed a chance to beat up a ship that flew Mike's flag. Paul had the second-biggest fleet, and he would be a good candidate for victory. But Midshipman Jake (3rd place) and the Dread Pirate Richard (4th place) might have something to say about that; indeed, if Mike and Paul took each other out, either Jake or Richard might come out on top. Bosun Zach had a good-sized fleet, but not many fighting crew, so the pirate odds-makers considered him a long shot. Timothy Arrr, the newcomer, had a small fleet in comparison to the others, but he could play kingmaker by joining someone else's attack on one of the front-runners.

Unfortunately, the evening started with a sour note — Jake, after moving to a new house, couldn't find his fleet. He brought his box of back-up ships and spent his accumulated gold for a fleet that wasn't much more powerful than Timothy's. It was a sad come-down from his glorious English-heavy battle fleet, but he determined to do his best with it.

As the sun rose on this battle to end all battles, it shone on these ships:

Cadet-Captain Mike:

  1. USS Constitution (RV) + Cadet-Captain Mike (a custom crew who gives the Captain and Same-action-twice abilities) + Shipwright + Brent Rice
  2. Enterprise + Jonathan Haraden
  3. Intrepid + Captain
  4. Franklin + Captain
  5. President + Captain
  6. USS Hudson + Captain
  7. Congress + Captain
  8. Ghost Walker + Captain + Helmsman + Ralph David (SS) + Matthew Perry
  9. Jarvis + Captain
  10. USS Overton + Captain
  11. USS Sioux + Captain
  12. Boston + Captain
  13. USS Maryland + Captain
  14. USS Montezuma + Captain
  15. USS Quigley + Captain
  16. USS Emerald + Captain
  17. Nubian Prince + Captain + Chainshot Specialist
  18. Janissaries' Blood + Captain + Murat Rais
  19. Tiger's Eye + Captain
  20. Paul Revere + Captain (added after the action began)
  21. Minuteman + Captain (added after the action began)
  22. Chesapeake + Captain (added after the action began)

Paul the Pirate Prince:

  1. USS Constitution (OE) + Captain + Helmsman + Gus Schultz (RF)
  2. Bonhomme Richard + Captain
  3. Ghost Walker + Captain + Helmsman
  4. HMS Victoria + Thomas Gunn (RF) + Helmsman
  5. Le Bonne Chance + Captain
  6. Le Superbe + Captain + Helmsman + Flag of Tortuga (a custom crew who gives the Hostage and +5-points-to-build abilities)
  7. Bloody Jewel + Helmsman + El Phantasma (SM)
  8. Julius Caesar + Captain + Helmsman
  9. HMS Grand Temple + Hermione Gold (RF)
  10. HMS clear Wind + Captain
  11. Freedom
  12. Jarvis
  13. La Resolucion (OE) + Roberto Santana + Osvaldo Guillen + oarsman
  14. Raninoidea + Griffin (OE) + Empress (added after the action began)
  15. Clear Wind + Captain + Helmsman + Shipwright (added after the action began)

Midshipman Jake:

  1. HMS Grand Temple + Captain
  2. USS Stephens
  3. HMS Victor + Captain
  4. HMS Duke of York + Captain
  5. Metal Dragon + Captain
  6. The ships he should have had in addition to the above: Bonhomme Richard + Hermione Gold (RF); HMS Royal + Jake (a custom crew who gives Captain and Shipwright abilities); HMS Forge + Captain + Helmsman; Monaque + Captain + Helmsman; La Sirviente + Captain + Helmsman; HMS Nautilus + Captain; HMS Iron Prince + Captain

The Dread Pirate Richard:

  1. Zeus + Captain + Helmsman + Shipwright + Richard (a custom crew who gives the extra-cargo-space and "one coin is worth +2" abilties)
  2. Neptune's Hoard + Hammersmith
  3. La Resolucion (OE) + Captain
  4. USS Concordia + Captain
  5. Draconum
  6. Bonhomme Richard + Captain
  7. Hrothgar (added after the action began)
  8. HMS Granville + Captain (added after the action began)
  9. HMS Richards + Captain (added after the action began)

Bosun Zach:

  1. El Toro (OE) + Captain
  2. Corazon Dorado + Bosun Zach (a custom crew who gives the Captain and Explorer abilties)
  3. Meropis + Captain
  4. Glaive + Captain
  5. HMS Hound + Captain
  6. Winds of Vengeance
  7. Valeroso
  8. Carcharodon
  9. Hades' Realm
  10. USS Atlanta
  11. Jikininki (added after the action began)

Timothy Arrr:

  1. USS Constitution (OE) + Captain + Helmsman + Shipwright + Kikowa
  2. Black Swan + Captain + Helmsman + Shipwright + Musketeer
  3. HMS King John + Captain + Helmsman
  4. Hades' Flame + Helmsman + Explorer
  5. La Monarca + Explorer

Those who have followed our battles may note something very odd about Mike's huge fleet: it was slow! There was only one Helmsman to be seen in the entire fleet. Mike reasoned that his enemies would be coming to him, and he wouldn't have to go very far or fast to find a fight. So he saved the points he would usually have spent on speed, and spent them on fighting power instead. He knew he would not survive a coalition attack, so he was determined to have fun and go out in a blaze of gory. I mean glory. Technically, Paul should not have been allowed to use both the Clear Wind and HMS Clear Wind, but we let it slide for our big final battle.

Also note that, to save set-up time, we fought only over the central bay. The northern, southern, and western seas that played such a role in our campaign were shut down and inaccessible. No gold would be added to the wild islands during the action, either. The winner would be the admiral with the most masts standing at the end of the action.

Oddly, everyone's first moves were focused on grabbing whatever treasure they could find on the islands that they owned. Mike was the most successful at this; his speedy Tiger's Eye and double-moving Enterprise quickly cleared out three islands for 42 gold, which he spent on three more ships for his fleet. Paul and Richard also went for gold, but their coins were of lesser value, and the ships they bought weren't as powerful. (Paul was very dismayed to learn, after the game, that the one untouched treasure coin on his Sandbar Island was a 7.) Zach and Tim did their best with their limited resources, while Jake was muttering darkly about going on a suicide mission, and left his gold-laden islands alone.

This was too much of a temptation for Timothy. He'd gathered all the gold he could find on his own islands, and wanted to do something else fun. Attacking his powerful neighbor, Mike, didn't look like fun. But Jake's islands were gleaming golden in the morning sun, and a pirate like Timothy knew what to do about that. He kept his fleet concentrated and made a one-two attack on two of Jake's islands, and conquered them both. He was able to get the gold home from one of them; he didn't quite have enough time to load from the second one.

At the same time, Paul attacked and conquered Jake's third island, along with Mike's portion of the triple-divided Humpback Island; he, too, wanted more gold than he had. Zach looked like he might take another poke at one of Paul's islands, but Paul sternly warned him off. So Zach, along with Richard, headed their ships into the nearest whirlpool. Their motives were unknown, as were their intended destinations.

And what of Mike and the grand coalition of fleets he expected to wipe him out? Nothing happened! No one tried to attack him; nobody even headed in his direction. Richard went so far as to assure him that his whirlpool-bound ships were not a threat. Mike's ships were formed up in line abreast, ready to deploy the moment he was attacked, but the others left him strictly alone. This wasn't the Armageddon he'd envisioned; this wasn't why he'd built the ultimate battle fleet. So he headed for the center of the bay, moving at a ponderous pace to keep his ships together. "Maybe I need to find my own target," he thought out loud.

Paul's reaction to this offhand comment was amazing. He immediately pulled his three five-masters out of the center, and sent his whole fleet scurrying for home at full speed. Was this the same Paul who had repeatedly attacked Mike in the past and sunk half his ships? Mike actually broke out laughing at the Pirate Prince's panic.

His laughter faded as a new threat materialized. Zach's Valeroso, USS Atlanta, and Carcharodon emerged from a nearby whirlpool and headed for Toothbay Harbor Island, which Mike had annexed recently. "Stay away from my island," Mike warned him.

"I want to go there. And there isn't any gold," Zach protested.

"Doesn't matter, it's my island," Mike insisted. Zach just kept moving his ships.

"Okay," sighed Mike. "It's nothing personal, but I want to fight somebody, and you're the only one who's close enough." The Nubian Prince started the party by knocking two masts off the Atlanta. Then the President weighed in, and, as usual when Mike uses her, she fired as though her gunners were blindfolded, dizzy, and hopping on one leg. Four decent cannons, plus her own reroll, plus another reroll from a "benny" coin, added up to six pathetic misses. "You have failed me for the last time," Mike growled in his Darth Vader voice, which left the other 17th-century pirates wondering what a "Darth Vader" was.

The Enterprise redeemed the honor of Mike's fleet with four hits that left both of Zach's sailing ships derelict. He didn't shoot the giant shark, which was already missing its tail from a mishap in the whirlpools. He allowed the turbine Valeroso to tow the Atlanta away, with another stern warning to "Stay away from my island," and Zach's attempt to do... whatever it was he wanted to do... on Toothbay Harbor came to nothing.

That brief cannonade was the beginning and the end of Mike's offensive action for the whole engagement. But a much fiercer battle broke out near Paul's home island. Jake had decided on his suicide mission — he would attack Paul with a fleet barely one-third Paul's size. We all agreed it was pretty suicidal.

But because Paul wasn't expecting an attack from that quarter, and because his fleet was in disarray from its panicky retreat from Mike, he couldn't mount a good defense against Jake's first strike. The exact details have been lost in the cannon smoke, but one fact is known: Jake's HMS Duke of York loosed a broadside attack that split the shell of Raninoidea, Paul's giant crab, from one side to the other and sent it straight to the bottom at one blow. Jake's and Paul's ships went at it full-force until the battle ended. Each inflicted about the same amount of damage as the other. Jake counted this as a minor victory because his fleet was so much smaller. It would have gone badly for him if the battle had lasted another turn or two.

Nearby, another skirmish broke out. Richard's ships, led by the mighty Zeus, had emerged from a whirlpool on the far side of the bay from their home, and a-hunting they would go. Their first and only victim was Timothy. The Zeus pulled up next to the island Tim had just conquered from Jake, and let go with enough cannons to sink the Black Swan. Tim desperately wanted to return fire, but it wasn't his turn.

And that was it. Time ran out on the battle, and thus the year-long campaign ended. All that mattered now was who had the most masts. Mike picked up the Captain's Coin that he had earned, and said sadly, "This wasn't how I wanted to win." Paul was in second place, Richard the Third, Zach fourth, Jake fifth, and Tim sixth.

Mike's Tiger's Eye, one of the few galleys left from his original Corsair fleet, earned the Order of the Buccaneer, Second Class, for bringing in most of the gold he earned today. Timothy's Hades' Flame and La Monarca shared the same award; they brought in enough gold to pay for another ship, and if he'd had enough time to buy that ship, it probably would have moved him into fifth place. Zach also had enough coins to buy another ship or two, but it wouldn't have changed the outcome.

It turns out that it was Jake, not Mike, who went out in a blaze of glory. He has decided to drop out of the gaming group to pursue other interests, so his battle against Paul was his last hurrah. The addition of Tim to the group will keep our numbers at five, but Jake's unorthodox tactics, and his comments about Mike's lack of dancing talent and hair, will be missed.

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

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Talk Like A Pirate Day
Pirates Battle Report

Yes, we know, TLAPD is September 19. But most of our admirals have limits on when they can set sail, and this was as close to the actual date as we could get. Six of those admirals celebrated this year's holiday for pirates, including Midshipman Jake, who had handed in his doubloons at the end of our big campaign, but joined us again for one more round of mayhem.

The map consisted of an outer ring of eight islands with three treasures each, an inner ring of four islands with five treasures, and our faithful favorite, the volcano, smack in the middle with a whopping nine coins on it. The volcano would erupt on a roll of 1, checked at the end of every turn. If it did, every ship within L+L would lose a mast from flying lava bombs. Ghostly ships and submerged ships would be immune to this, but no one brought any, even though this was one of our rare games when submarines were allowed. We actually decided not to check for eruptions until some ships had entered the danger zone; it's no fun if a volcano erupts and doesn't break anything.

To celebrate this holiday, we built our fleets with a generous 65 points; that number came from the sum of the Cadet-Captain's age and wedding anniversary this year. (Does that mean we'll get 67 points next year?) The Cadet-Captain also decreed that this battle would have two winners, the one with the most gold and the one who inflicted the most damage on his friends. I mean enemies. We scored one point for knocking down a mast or successfully ramming, and a sinking scored as many points as the sunk ship had masts.

Remarkably, there didn't seem to be any signs of alliances as our ships set sail. With all those well-crewed battleships, everyone was nervously watching everyone else for signs of aggression, even though our initial focus was all on the gold. The most common dialog in the early going was "Are you going to attack me?" "No. Are you going to attack me?" "No." Soon, everybody had some gold and was going back for more; Paul got a head start with his trademark "gold chain" maneuver, in which his ships form a bow-to-stern line and the foremost ship passes the gold back to the hindmost as soon as she loads it.

Paul also wasted no time in building a fort, Paradis de la Mer, and using it as a gold repository. In fact, this battle was remarkable for the forts that were built — Paul, Mike, and Richard each built one, and Tim built two of them. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first sign of aggression came from Cadet-Captain Mike. He was using two ships he'd never tried before, the Talon and the Ark Royal, and he was dying to see what they could do. Well, actually, he was dying to see if they could make somebody else die. His victim was Zach's Hades' Realm, which was peacefully aiming for an island with some gold on it. "I'll take these two islands," he explained to Mike, "and you can have those two."

"You're very generous, giving me the three-gold islands and keeping the fiver for yourself," retorted Mike. "This is nothing personal, I just want to see what this ship can do." With that, the Ark Royal positioned herself for a crushing broadside attack, and successfully crushed some seashells on the nearby beach. Zach's ship replied with a ram and a cannon salvo that left Mike's new ship derelict. Mike gave her a scuttle order, but it turned out to be unnecessary.

On the following turn, the Hades' Realm turned to unmask her entire port battery, and it was a good thing she did; her first three shots missed, and only her last shot struck home to sink Mike's ship. That's when Mike grinned and slid aside the Captain marker on the Ark Royal's deck plate, revealing the word "Eternal" right next to the words "Broadside Attack." That took all the joy out of Zach's victory; he waved his fists at the ceiling and groaned, "I was going to tow her home!" as the mastless Ark Royal surfaced at Mike's home island. Mike almost did a victory dance, but he remembered the effects of his dancing on Jake's digestive system and settled for a big smile.

Mike had intended to take his one shot and go his merry way, but Zach's retaliation changed his mind, and Zach knew it. "Why are you attacking me?" he pleaded. "You started it; you hit me back first!" Mike retorted. The Pioneer and Valeroso formed line abreast near the five-gold island, which Mike's Hound was about to pillage. Two ships side by side was the kind of target that switchblade ships like HMS Talon were made for! Mike's big ship ran out her nasty-looking blades and crashed into both of their bows at once. And, just like the Ark Royal, he accomplished nothing. Fine, he'd do it the hard way; Mike opened fire with his cannons ("So uncivilized!") and scored two hits on the Valeroso and one on the Pioneer.

Now the battle was joined. Zach's fleet shot back, and shot very well; even with all that battle damage, and even with the Talon's ability to ignore the first hit, they still shot away two of her four masts. HMS Talon turned for home, running faster than Zach could manage, while Mike built Fort Brompton on that five-gold island to keep Zach distracted. The Bosun tried to retreat, but the English fort sank the Valeroso and landed two more hits on the Pioneer, which limped away home for repairs.

This wasn't the only battle, of course. On the other side of the bay, Timothy Arrr had scooped up all the gold he could find. His neighbor on the port side, Mike, was far away and already busy, so he announced that he was going to attack Jake. Everyone tried to talk him out of it, including Jake, but Tim was determined. So Jake, showing callous disregard for the feelings of a little kid who wanted to kill him, attacked first, and blew Tim's two best ships out of the water in one turn.

It was around this time that Mike took a long, hard look at Tim's fleet. "Richard, are you sure he's got 65 points?" Richard insisted he'd done it right; Paul said something about a calculator; Mike quickly counted points and came up nine short. "How did I miss that?" asked Richard, honestly perplexed. Mike promptly added his own La Monarca to Tim's fleet (only eight points, but close enough), and gave her several free moves to compensate for the fact that she should have been there all along. The gold that she found enabled Tim to build two forts, Thompson's Island and the Devil's Maw.

And what of Paul and Richard? The Dread Pirate had built his own Paradis de la Mer, but it never played a role in the fighting that followed. He used the Zeus to collect some gold, then formed up his fleet and headed for the center of the map, in order to be ready for anything. The Pirate Prince, meanwhile, had sent his entire fleet straight up the middle to pillage the volcano. His HMS Grand Temple got close enough to Mike's Fort Brompton that the English fort shot a mast off the English ship; such is piracy on the high seas. And that's where things stood when the volcano, after four turns of safety, blew its top!

Nearly everyone took some damage from the eruption. Paul was the big loser, with two ships and a fort suffering damage. Mike's Talon lost a third mast, and that extra damage kept her out of the rest of the battle. But now that the volcano had worked through its anger issues, Paul proceeded to clean out all nine coins from the beach at its base. Mike's HMS Hound had meant to gather the leftovers, but when he saw that there would be no leftovers, he turned his ship to starboard, where Tim's forts lay.

You see, Jake had decided that Tim's forts were an obstacle to progress (Jake's progress), and one of them had to go. He began negotiating with Tim — "If I blow up this one, then I'll leave that one alone, okay?" "No!" "Okay, then can I blow up that one?" "No!" The Midshipman was trying to be reasonable about things, from his point of view, but Tim would not yield an inch, even though he had only one 2-masted fighting ship left to challenge Jake's entire battle fleet. Finally, Jake gave up negotiating, and set sail to cut off the forts from Tim's home island.

"But I'm not going to wipe you out, because Mr. Fischer won't like that," he said reasonably. "He's sending a ship —" he indicated the HMS Hound "— to help protect you, right?"

"Actually, I was sending a ship to steal his gold after you knocked the fort down," Mike confessed. Jake was stunned into silence; he wasn't expecting that answer, not from Mike.

At the same time, the shape of the battle on the other side had changed radically. Zach was the catalyst, when he lamented, "There's no gold left." Mike pointed at Paul's fort, where he had stashed all his loot from the volcano. "There's plenty of gold there. Let's attack it together and split the treasure."

Mike meant that he and Zach should cooperate; Paradis de la Mer is notoriously hard to destroy. But Zach had other ideas. He offered a fort-busting alliance to Jake, and then to Richard, who both accepted. They moved as if to continue the action, but Mike interrupted. "Hey, wait a minute! You left me out of the party, and that upsets me." In a move that no one expected, he made the alliance sign at Paul, who laughed out loud with surprize and relief that he wasn't fighting everybody at once. Mike took that as a "yes." In a panic, Zach made the alliance sign at Mike, but the Cadet-Captain brushed him off — "Too late!"

Paul immediately sent the Bloody Jewel and Le Superbe to take the best of the gold home from the fort. Mike renewed his attack on Zach, somewhat relieved that he now had a good excuse for it. The Ark Royal, freshly repaired, lined up for another broadside attack, and this one succeeded; the Xiamen's Claws was declawed in one shot and left on the beach where she'd gone to scoop up a leftover treasure. HMS Dover teamed up with the fort to bash the Hades' Realm and send her limping home to join the Pioneer in the shipyards. That took care of Zach, and it looked like Jake wasn't going to honor the alliance because he was too busy busting up Timothy's forts. That left Richard, who had rounded the volcano island and was now in Mike's neighborhood.

"And just what do you think you are doing?" Mike demanded. "Nothing," was Richard's ready reply.

"Then what are you doing in my back yard?" Richard didn't have an answer for that one. So Mike answered for him, in true pirate fashion (and with a lot of nerve, considering that his best ship was still being repaired). His fort and the Dover teamed up again to strip away half of the Zeus' masts. The Ark Royal tried for a third broadside against the huge junk, but missed again, as did the Antelope. The Hound couldn't take any shots, so she rammed the Freedom and succeeded in shattering one of the big schooner's masts. It was a costly gesture; the Freedom teamed up with HMS Granville to sink the little Englishman. The Zeus accounted for another little Englishman when she took the HMS Antelope apart.

Meanwhile, Jake had successfully reduced Thompson's Island to a pile of loose bricks (HMS Nautilus used her anti-American talent to shoot three for three), and claimed the money that was hidden inside. This made Tim unhappy; he made some growling noises that we haven't heard since the last time Richard got unhappy. But it made Jake happy, so happy that he did it again with Tim's other fort. Tim decreed that his fast La Monarca would grab his fort's money back before Jake could take it.

Everyone in the battle, including Jake, tried to talk him out of it. But Tim was determined, so La Monarca loaded the coin. And, in accordance with prophecy, Jake's ships sank La Monarca and took the money anyway.

At this point, the Dangerous Lady Lora called a halt to the hostilities. This made none of us happy; Mike and Richard, in particular, wanted to fight their battle to a finish, and Paul hadn't fired a shot yet. But that's how it goes on the high seas sometimes. Here are the results of our two-tiered scoring system:


Paul won on gold because he risked his fleet to get to the volcano first, and because Mike broke up the alliance that would have stolen that volcanic gold. Jake's combat success came entirely at Tim's expense, especially his forts, but — unusually for him — he brought in some nice gold as well. Mike took second-place honors in both categories, which is nothing to be ashamed of. If the battle had run longer, Richard and Mike would have scored more hits on each other, but probably not enough to change the outcome. Zach hasn't learned yet that, if he lets Mike get his aggression out of his system early, he's not a bad neighbor, while Tim has some lessons to learn about taking good advice when everybody tells him not to do something.

Paul's Bloody Jewel earned the Order of the Buccaneer, 1st Class, for her contribution to his gold victory. Jake's ships divided the work pretty evenly among themselves, so none of them earned any battle honors. Mike's Fort Brompton won the Bronze Sabre, 2nd Class, for hitting four different ships and helping Mike keep control of the center of the map.

Out of 31 ships and forts in this big battle, nine were destroyed (one came back as Eternal), one was left derelict, and eight took damage, for a casualty rate of almost 60%. That's a sign of a hard-fought battle, and a worthy way to celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrr!

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

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