Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Pirate's Life for Me! - Pirate Skirmish AAR

My first post of the New Year! 

Every few months, Bob Fanelli runs events at 7th Dimension Games. I've missed a few of these, regrettably, and so I made sure to make time for his Pirates game.

The rules are Bob's adaption of another ruleset, called Pieces of Eight, with additional rules from Bob's Revolutionary War rules used for ship damage (more on that in a bit). 

A big feature of these rules were the use of 'event cards', which could be played to various outcomes - special events and turn cancellations were perhaps the most influential. Additionally, Bob made great use of Paizo Publishing's GameMastery Plot Twist cards, which made for some pretty memorable, well, twists in the game. 

Each player was given a choice of 5-man crews to take - these ranged from pirate gangs, to town guards, and even the port's Governor himself!  

The little port consisted of a few buildings surrounding a small market, with a church up on a hill. One corner of the table was engulfed by a large swamp, and the other corner was dominated by a fortification that bristled with cannons and muskets. 

I decided to take a crew of Dutch pirates, led by Captain Balthassar and assisted by his first mate, 'Lucky' 'Blind' 'Pegged' Dirk. 

If I remember correctly, I started the game off with a bang, firing a blunderbuss into a small merchant ship I had been eyeing since seeing the table. The blast knocked down the ship's captain and one of the crew. One of my swabbies took advantage of the situation and leapt aboard, only to be skewered by one of the ships's crew, and he fell down. The commotion alerted the Governor's men who had been relaxing at the nearby cafe, and this started a little war in the town. 

My blunderbuss-wielding crewmember was shot in the back and was downed, but my Captain retaliated and neatly capped the Governor's man. He then skewered the Governor's assistant (who had charged in a drunken rage), but only after the man had negotiated a deal with a French pirate crew - 25 gold coins for every Dutch head taken. The French first mate and Captain proceeded to mix things up with my crew for most of the game. 

One thing that everyone had there eye on was the arrival of a crew of British pirates, replete with pirate ship, which every other crew had apparently misplaced. For the most part, the boat floated past the town, but there were a few standout moments in the game.

Another skirmish broke out between Spanish and American Colonial pirates. Swords were swung and pistols were fired before peace broke out - one of the players used their plot twist card and the two captains discovered they were long lost cousins. 

Remember those British pirates from earlier? They decided to pull up alongside the ship I was trying to steal. One of their crew jumped down and after searching the ship found a keg of gunpowder. This was quickly lit and, even before the British ship could pull away, the keg exploded. Remarkably the small vessel was unharmed (except for a couple of her crew), and the larger ship was the one to sustain damage! The Brits slunk away in their now-slower-moving ship before anyone could retaliate. 

On the other side of town, another crew of pirates was having their own little adventure. An attempt to rob a 'lady of the night' ended poorly when the woman's booty turned out to be cocked and loaded. A missed shot was repaid by a deadly ball through the heart. Spying a ladder, the crew's player decided to assault the walls of the Governors building, thinking he could get a good bit of plundering done. Things went downhill from there. The whorehouse (I did mention that building was a whorehouse, correct?) produced not only the enraged lover of the murdered wench, but another two men driven to a killing frenzy by the French pox. 

Meanwhile the Governor had his hands full after a couple of ladies scaled his walls and avoided the cannon he had set up as a trap. A few heated words even led to a bit of infighting amongst the Governor's men!

The stalemate between family members was soon over thanks to a bit of gold one crew had picked up from a townie. Freshly loaded pistols barked and chipped swords sparked as the fighting restarted. 

A group of Spanish pirates that had found some buried treasure in the swamp fell into a bit of bad luck. The crews were activated by the drawing of player cards - when your number was drawn, you could activate a crew member. Bob had both aces - which represented the various townsfolk and guards - and jokers. To the dismay of the Spanish pirates, Jokers saw crocodiles crawling out of the swamp - but the two that attacked where quickly turned into boots. 

While my pirates were forcibly attempting to take their ship, another crew and coerced/boozed/hired the adjacent ship. Deciding to cause a little mayhem of their own, that crew fired their front cannon, which had been loaded with canister, through the deck of my eventual ride! The blast chummed one of my swabbies and two of the ship's previous crew. 

The British crew, in what can only be described as a piratical drive-by, blew past the two crews fighting it out on the other docks. A hastily loaded cannon fired its canister directly at the pirate Captain who had just regained his feet on the dock - and missed! Realizing that discretion in the better part of valor, the Brits once again quickly made their way past the skirmish before anyone else could fire back. 

One of the highlight moments of the game came from the Spanish player who had been dealing with the crocs. One of his crew members went to the nearby church for aid, which the (decidedly swashbuckler-esque) priest provided. The newly converted pirate repaid the holy man by chucking a rock at his head, which missed. What didn't miss was the jaws of the rabid dog that had gotten into the church, which killed the priest faster than he could yell, "Ay! Dios mio!"

Finally clearing the ship of most of its resisting crew, my own remaining pirates clambered aboard and were about to give chase to the fleeing scalawags in the other boat. The French Captain, realizing his gold was about to float away, leapt aboard, killed my last swabbie, and put a round in my Captain's chest that pushed him off the boat. Knowing I was done for (and realizing that I run out of time and needed to head out), I used my own Plot Twist card. My Captain, unseen after falling overboard, dissipated without a trace, living for another day and harboring a grudge against a certain orange-coated Frenchman. 

I definitely had a great time - Bob put on a great session as he refereed the game. Plenty of laughs were had as we attempted, in out best buccaneering fashion, to loot, plunder, and gather as much glory as possible!


  1. Amazing pictures, the terrain is just awesome!

    1. A belated thank you for reading!

      I'm on Bob's mailing list eagerly awaiting the next game he's putting on, sometime in February.