Monday, 22 September 2014

Pirates of the Spanish Main

Hi folks,
In case you missed it, last Friday was international Talk Like a Pirate Day. It reminded me of a game I played a while back, circa 2005, called Pirates of the Spanish Main. My bucks party that year had a particularly… pirate-esque theme. My close mates bought a broad spectrum of rum and a bog-load of Pirates of the Spanish Main booster packs. We divvied them up, most of us having absolutely no idea what to expect, and constructed our fleets. You generally get two ships per pack, though I managed to get a real monster, the HMS Lord Algernon, which took up a pack all by itself. I also snaffled a nasty Pirate Captain called Blackheart. I have no idea how that game ended, or who won, it was that kind of night.
Anyway, I managed to find my fleet whilst cleaning up my garage the other night, so I cracked it out and had a game with the wifey. The game itself is quite simple. Each player chooses a fleet of ships and can choose to take special crew members. Islands are placed around the playing area, each with a secret quantity of treasure. To win the game you need to get at least half the available treasure to your home island.

Each ship has its own:

1)      movement characteristic based on the edges of the card stock (S/Short Edge, L/Long Edge or any combination)

2)      Number of masts (which act as hit points),

3)      Storage space (used to transport treasure and crew)

4)      Cannons which vary in power and range

5)      Special abilities

HMS Lord Algernon, for example, has S manoeuvrability (blaaargh), 5 masts (wow), 3 storage (not bad), two short range cannons and three long range cannons that all cause damage on 3s (amazing) and the ability to ignore the first mast lost result each turn if it has not lost any masts previously. In short: this ship is an absolute tank.
For the game we split my fleet in two. I took HMS Lord Algernon and the Zephyr, a highly manoeuvrable boat that is good at boarding raids. Wifey took the Batavian Bat, which is a reasonably fast three master which is resistant to long range fire, and the El Ladron, a close range monster with three masts.
Early in the game I zipped the Zephyr forwards to grab some loot, but she was sunk fairly quickly by El Ladron. HMS Lord Algernon replied by stripping the Batavian Bat of its masts over two turns of brutal fire.


El Ladron and HMS Lord Algernon docked at opposite ends of the treasure island and spent a few turns loading up gold. Both ships fired some long range shots as we pulled away and headed for our respective home islands. El Ladron lost two masts but used its superior speed to pull out of range to undergo repairs. Wifey flipped her treasure pieces and found that she had recovered a whopping 5 gold; 1 gold away from victory. HMS Lord Algernon crawled into harbour to unload 3 gold, then headed straight back out.
The race was on, I decided to forego the opportunity to repair in order to make it back to the island before El Ladron. I captured the last pieces of gold but copped a deadly broadside that took me down to two masts. After weighing up the options I rammed El Ladron, taking down its final mast and leaving it derelict. As I pulled away, a sniping long range shot finally sank it.

After the game wifey and I did a quick search to see if we could buy some more packs. Considering the fact that the game is no longer being produced, there are quite a few online shops with boosters still in stock. Maybe sometime in the future we’ll pick up another fleet so that we can play a proper game against each other. In the meantime, I know there have to be some fleets hidden away in my mates’ collections. Have a look guys, it would be great to hoist the colours one more time.
See you across the table,