Anthony
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So you want to be a Pirate? A Merchants and Marauder's Strategy Guide

Christian Marcussen’s Merchants & Marauders is a highly thematic game which places the player in the role of a ship captain in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. One of the most frequent complaints from a new player to this game is the apparent imbalance between playing as a merchant and playing as a pirate. More experienced players have noted that the imbalance is only a perception created by the difference in learning curves experienced by each play style. Early plays by inexperienced players will lend itself to merchant wins not because of any player fault but due to the more intuitive play style of the merchants. This post is intended to help newer players play more competitively as a Pirate; for I have found that played properly Pirates are well balanced with their Merchant brethren. It is my hope that other experienced pirates will comment as my style is most definitely not the only style of play.



1. Overview

The following is a guide to how I have successfully approached being a pirate. I will begin by discussing your initial decisions that occur when you receive your captain. Certain captains will not make good pirates and should not be forced into that role. Next, I will discuss the environmental concerns that will affect your play including Sea Zone rules and NPC movement.

With this common foundation laid we will move on to actual piracy. We will discuss merchant raids with an emphasis on Ship Selection and Special Weapons. Ship Selection addresses the perpetual misunderstanding of the value of a Frigate over a Galleon to a raiding Pirate. Special Weapons are included as they are one of the most valuable and yet most overlooked tools of the pirate. We will then move into a discussion of Player vs. Player combat again with an emphasis on Ship Selection and Special Weapons, but this time with an addition of Implied Threat. Finally, I’ll address the need to control the consequences of your actions through Bounty Management.

Are you feeling daunted? Don’t feel bad if you are, its ok, if you would prefer to hide behind your mother’s skirts and live the life of a cowardly merchant; not everyone is cut out to be a bold man of the sea. Besides, if you all wanted to be Pirates whose goods would I pillage, whose ships would I burn, and who would I make walk the plank while I say “ARGH!” repeatedly/

2. Captain Selection

Your captain card will tell you your home port, your skill levels, and your unique special ability. The two most important items on the card for me when I determine whether I will play as a pirate or a merchant is my Skill levels in Seamanship and Scouting. To a lesser degree I’ll look at the special ability. Note: There are hybrid strategies that start as a merchant and shift to pirate but that is not the focus of this article and as such I’ll focus on a player intending to go rogue right from the start.


Photo taken by Amoena]


Scouting
You cannot kill what you can’t find. Whether you are pursuing a Merchant Raid, a conflict with a NPC or with another player you must be able to find them in order to engage them. Failing to scout a target wastes a precious action and forces you to re-evaluate your plan and as a result possibly waste even more actions. Therefore, the importance of Scouting for a Pirate cannot be understated. Let’s use the probabilities provided by jediknight83 to look at your chances of successfully scouting a target based off of your skill level:


Scouting Skill..........Chance of Success
1..............................33.3%
2..............................55.5%
3..............................70.3%
4..............................80.2%



Photo by Tycjan




From this I would completely rule out any captain with a Scouting of 1. You will waste at least 2/3 of your scouting actions and that is just too much of a handicap to keep up with an experienced opponent. You may still be successful with a Scouting of 2 as you could focus more on NPCs rather than Merchant Raids since you would also get an extra chance of being spotted by the NPCs own scouting roll. Ideally though your captain will have a Scouting of 3 or 4

Seamanship
Once you find a target you need to have the ability to kill it. The single most important factor to your ability to exert your will on your target is Seamanship. The more dice you get the more successes you can get to alter the cards on a Merchant Raid or to fire all your cannons during a Player vs. Player confrontation. Ideally, your pirate would have a Seamanship of 3 or 4. You can survive with 2 though particularly if you focus on Merchant Raids instead of PvP as you can use Special Weapons to ensure a measure of control over the encounter.

Bringing it together to evaluate the Captains

Let’s use the above concepts along with knowledge of their special abilities to rank the captains into 4 Tiers: Ideal Pirates, Above Average Pirates, Mediocre Pirates, and Poor Pirates

Tier 1) Ideal Pirates: These captains have Scouting and Seamanship levels of at least 3. While their special abilities may help, their stats alone lend themselves to piratical opportunities


Machiel van Riebleeck (3/3/3/1) Get ready for a very aggressive game. Your poor influence means that rumors are of no use, but the rest of your stats are as good as it gets for a pirate. Your special ability to negate a hit from a pirate’s cannon fire means you can prey on merchants, NPC captains, and other pirates alike.

Alexandre Villon (3/3/2/2) This captain’s excellent scouting and seamanship will allow him to both find and kill his targets. His abilities also let him enter illegal ports and has a 50.5% chance of getting to do a port action in those illegal ports.

Percival Whitewood (3/3/2/2) This captain’s stats are great for a pirate. His ability to draw an extra cargo card has made me occasionally consider starting him as a merchant, but he can easily start out as a pirate and go straight into Merchant Raiding.

Tier 2) Above Average Pirates: These Pirates have a scouting of at least 3 and a seamanship of at least 2 or an ability that helps mitigate the shortfall.

Yu Quan (2/4/3/1) A pirate best armed with Special Weapons and sent out Merchant Raiding. The high scouting will minimize lost Scouting actions and the Special Weapons will help ensure the Seamanship of 2 does not become a liability.

Christian Marquis (4/2/1/2) Most captains with a scouting of 2 automatically fell to the Tier 3 status and Christian does make an excellent merchant, but I consider him a Tier 2 captain because of his incredibly high seamanship and useful special ability. He is particularly great when NPCs are on the board as they will help overcome his poor scouting by scouting for him when he comes into their sea zone. I must note that his Leadership of 1 can be disastrous should the enemy manage to board. Select you battles wisely with this knowledge.

Dominique de Richery (2/3/2/3) This is an excellent pirate candidate for Merchant Raids. The excellent Scouting will allow you to often find your targets and the seamanship of 2 while not great can be enough when supported by special weapons. The influence of 3 allows the player to mix in rumors into their game plan as well.

Frances Wright (2/3/3/2) Frances has the required scouting to make it as a pirate and enough Seamanship to do well on Merchant Raids if supported by Special Weapons. I personally tend to start her as a Merchant and switch to Pirate when I can upgrade to a frigate.

Frederico de Silva (2/4/2/2) Excellent Scouting which really lends itself to Pirating, but the lackluster seamanship makes special weapons a must with this captain. The special ability allowing you to reroll your dice when acquiring rumors and to have two rumors can give a nice secondary source of GP.

Meike Beerens (1/3/4/2) You may be surprised to see Meike on here with a Seamanship of 1 but her ability means that she is normally really at a 2. It is still low but shes an atypical captain meant to board. You will find yourself gambling a lot with her due to her unique playstyle but she can get it done even if it is a bit unconventional.

Tier 3) Mediocre Pirates: These captains have at least a 2 in both both seamanship and scouting and an ability that can help bring some level of support to the strategy.

Cinco de Irapuato (3/2/3/2) : This captain has decent stats but has below average scouting meaning he struggles with wasting actions when trying for merchant raids. His stashing ability is better suited for a merchant going port to port as he will likely alienate himself from many of these ports as a pirate and not get to use it very often. You can still have success as a pirate with this captain but it is more of a challenge than some of the Tier 1/Tier 2 options.

Felipe de los Reyes (3/2/2/3): The sub par scouting again makes me prefer to use Felipe as a merchant. He is a fairly middle of the road captain split between Pirate and Merchant. He can be either but I think of him a merely mediocre due to his Scouting of 2. His ability can support a pirate life as he can relocate a hit received during a battle with a NPC or Player captain.

Nicolas Jaures (3/2/2/3) His seamanship is good but his special ability and his poor scouting both tilt him towards a merchant. He can be a pirate but you will get more synergies from playing him as a merchant.

Sikuma (3/2/3/2) Her low scouting and special ability to force pirates to re-roll their scouting checks lends this captain toward a merchant life rather than a pirate, though you can still use the nice Seamanship and Leadership should you choose to play as a pirate.

Tier 4) Poor Pirates: These captains are not suited to be pirates.


Gaspar de Rivera (2/1/3/4) Extremely low scouting and average Seamanship . Stay away from playing as a pirate with this captain

Pepijn van Avezaath (2/2/2/3) His ability can be used by either but his extremely average combat stats lends him to better performance as a Merchant than a Pirate

Thomas Nelson (3/1/2/4) Not a great choice for Pirate as you must find your target in order to kill it. The high influence lends itself to focusing on rumors while trading.

3. Environmental Considerations

If you ended up with a captain that lent itself to piracy then great you can move on. The next step is to understand the environment your in. There are two things to consider: Sea Zone Rules and NPC Movement. Let’s look at each:

Sea Zone Rules
The following sea zone rules are ones that every pirate should be aware of as they can make your life easier or harder. Use these to your advantage:


Photo by henk.rolleman


Basse-Terre If a French NPC is present or adjacent they could end up getting to scout you twice in this zone. Be aware if you are not prepared to fight them.

Cartagena No skill check required to find a Spanish merchant. This eliminates the need for a Scouting roll and therefore gives you a sure target. It is also right next door to a place that gives you nice bonuses for having a Spanish bounty.

Havana If you choose to raid a Spanish merchant, you get to draw a 4th card and keep it if it’s a hit icon. This can be very useful in getting to the 12 gold you require for a glory Point

Nassau Naval ships will have have to scout you twice to find you so this is a good place to avoid combat if you need to.

Old Providence If you have a Spanish Bounty then you can repair for free here and buy Special Weapons for only 1 Gold. This can save significant money which means hitting your 10 Glory Point goal faster

Petite Goave Pirates cannot Recruit or Repair here. Only go here if you are selling an in demand good.

Port Royal Pirates can recruit for free and can enter port even with an English bounty if they pay 2 gold or make an influence check.

San Juan Get 3 extra gold when fighting a Spanish merchant. This is my favorite place to launch my first raid if I start anywhere near it. Its so much easier if you can get that first successful raid off and have the money to upgrade or get close to upgrading your ship. Getting a frigate out early can really make a difference.

Tortuga You are safe from French ships here unless you have a French bounty. This combine with Nassaus sea zone ability makes this a relatively good corner of the board when hiding is required

Trinidad You can’t be found by a Naval Ship in this zone.

NPC Movement

You should already understand the hunt priorities, but you can also get a decent idea of where naval ships may move in the near future when none of their priorities are met. This can help you get a feel for whether a certain avenue may open up or close down. Ships are more likely to move in some directions than others because of the rule which cause a ship to move the next clockwise direction available when the one on the card is not present. Therefore, when there is a swath of directions in a row not present as is true of many of the sea zones on a border then all direction cards causing it to move in one of those directions will actually move in the same direction…ie. If there is no North, Northeast, or East directions then we know if that ship moves with a North or East direction it will still end up going south. A ship in this situation is far more likely to go south than west due to the greater number of directions that it could get that would result in it moving South. This concept can help you decide whether a ship may move into your way or move out of your way…of course once your adjacent to it all bets are off and the hunt priority commences.

4. Merchant Raids

We have discussed picking an appropriate captain and the general opportunities available on the board for all captains, but to win the game you will need to win Glory Points. The two routes for this specific to pirates are Merchant Raids and ship to ship combat. This section will focus on Merchant Raids, particularly the Special Weapons and Ship Selection.

A merchant raid consists first of a Seamanship roll. Each success (skull) will give you the ability to affect the encounter. For each special weapon you use, you can change a non-success to a success. You now flip over the first 3 cards of the cargo deck. Each success you had from your seamanship roll allows you to add, remove, or replace these cargo cards. To win the engagement you need to have less escape symbols than your Ship’s Maneuverability and you need to be able to sustain the damage given without having any portion of your ship destroyed. If you win you get to keep the gold on the cards along with any of the cargo you want. To get a glory point as well, the value of the cards must be equal to 12 or higher.

Special Weapons
It is possible to have a successful merchant raid right off the bat, but as the average value of each card and the majority value present in the cargo deck are both 3 you will mostly likely average a value of 9 on the inital flop. This means to get the glory point you are going to need at least one skull so that you can get a 4th card (Alternatively you can make use of Havana or San Juan sea zone rules to get an edge). While you still have a sloop you cannot take a hit to cannons and to succeed you will probably want a second skull to be able to avert a disaster if a cannon hit comes up. Its better to get some money and lose the glory point than take the damage and let the ship get away. The only way you can guarantee two skulls is with special weapons. I cannot understate the importance of buying these early in the game a pirate. They will make the difference between a calculated risk to get your game started off right and an outright gamble that could bankrupt you .I advise if you plan to start right into pirating then skip buying cargo and buy special weapons instead. Further to the point, use them. Don’t try to game it to guess how many successes you need, use as many as it takes to turn all of your seamanship dice to skulls if you can. Your first victory will help fuel your way to a bigger ship and give you the finances to repair any damage sustained. If you lose the first merchant raid you will have a hole to climb out of so stack the deck anyway you can.

Ship Selection
The other important issue in Merchant Raids is not letting the ship escape. A ship escapes when you have an equal or greater number of escapes than your ship has maneuverability. Galleons appear on the face to be superior to Frigates in every area on your player mat: Hull, Cargo, Mast, Crew, and Cannons and they even cost the same. The question therefore frequently arises as to why anyone would want a frigate and the solution to this is Merchant Raids. A frigate can absorb two escapes while a Galleon can only take one. Since the average card is worth 3 and a glory point is gained at 12 gold we can say that the average successful raid that nets a glory point will take 4 cards. The odds of having one or less escape with 4 cards is: 31%, while the odds of having two or less escapes with 4 cards is 68%. Your odds went up dramatically simply because you had the frigate. The use of special weapons and of rigs and sails can bring these odds up higher as well since you may be able to take another escape card (again dramatically helping your odds) or be able to replace a card. Merchant Raids can be very fast glory points with little serious damage to a frigate. If you’re a pirate who plans on raiding merchants and I personally think its more efficient than PvP due to the amount of damage you can take in PvP then you should be in a Frigate and not a Galleon.


Photo by henk.rolleman


5. Player vs Player (or vs NPC)

Merchants Raids may be more efficient sources of Glory points but they aren’t the only one. Player vs. Player can be a great source as well and can be more satisfying especially when you sink the leading player or seize the Man-o-War (not because its any good, but just because you can). The most important skill in these battles is seamanship. I highly recommend avoiding fair fights. Look for the captain that has less seamanship or has a maneuverability of two less than yours to give you the bonus seamanship dice. If you can go into a fight with more seamanship you will likely win even if your ship is slightly inferior. Our ship selection in this case is not as clear cut as the Merchant Raids. The galleon is an excellent ship for fighting NPCs and other players especially equipped with Long guns. This doesn’t mean the Frigate is out though. If you have easy access to Rigs and Sails (because its revealed nearby and remains unpurchased or you had it and upgraded at St. Johns) then I believe the Frigate is the superior choice as you can get the extra Seamanship dice against Galleons and Man-o-Wars. I’ll take an extra dice for Seamanship over the extra points of the Galleon any day of the week and twice on Sunday because it sets me up nice for these PvP battles while allowing me the option of Merchant Raids without the hamstringing effects of the Galleon.
Special weapons are still important in this as well. Early on I liked Grapeshot the best, but I have since migrated to preferring Chainshot. If you can destroy an opponent’s mast then the battle is pretty much over as they only get one seamanship dice. Take your time and blow them out of the water. If you are a captain like Meike who relies on boarding then you will want a grappling hook. Remember, you’re a pirate…we don’t fight fair.

Finally, I would like to note the idea of Implied Threat here. I rarely actually attack other players because even when you win you can take quite a beating. I only attack when I’m sure I will overwhelm them. Despite that I always leave the option open. I like to play with the metagame a bit and do things like asking a player whose near me how much money they have or remarking that it appears they have a lot of money on board. The mere threat of action is enough to make most merchants change their plans and in doing so take a less efficient path that buys you more time to gain more glory.

Oh and Player vs. Player/NPC also includes Pirates…the Pirate Code is just another Pirates way of talking you out of taking your well deserved booty. You still get a glory point and rewards for killing them and you don’t even get a bounty so don’t forget to attack other Pirates.

6. Bounty Management

I recommend only angering 1-2 nations rather than them all so that you don’t find yourself sailing across the entire board to find a port you can land in. My personal preference is to pick on the Spanish. Spain controls the most ports. Since you always have the option when flipping a merchant counter to instead find a merchant of the same country then you can keep going to their cities and ensuring only one country is mad at you. Additionally, having Spain mad at you fits well with four of the best sea zones in the game for pirates. You can get the extra card in Havana, the extra 3 GP in San Juan, not face a skill check in Cartagena, and receive free repairs and cheap Special weapons in Old Providence.

If I need to get a second nation mad I typically choose France although I will anger the Dutch if I have to. France has the least appealing ports for a Pirate. I like to keep San Marteen open for the Gold Courier and I like to keep English open to upgrade in St John or get the free repairs and cheap special weapons in Old Providence
I’m sure you can see the benefit of managing your bounties rather than letting them manage you. Near the end of the game I throw this out the window and attack any NPC I can just to get the glory point, but I only do so after I’ve already stashed or dropped off any gold I needed to so that it no longer matters who I attack.

7. Summary
Being a good pirate is a lot more work than being a good Merchant. Hopefully, my guide was useful to those new to being a pirate and hopefully some other experienced pirates will share their own tips and tricks that I have not discovered myself. To summarize the lessons I hope to have imparted:

1. Only choose Pirate if you have a captain that can support the role…that means good Scouting and Seamanship.

2. Buy Special Weapons and use them liberally on Merchant Raids and during PvP as they will more than pay for themselves.

3. Use sea zones, particularly San Juan and Havana, to your advantage to get off to a fast start

4. Upgrade to a Frigate rather than a Galleon in most cases for more productive Merchant Raids

5. Use the threat of violence to slow your opponents.

6. Manage your bounties to allow you maximium flexibility in your plans.


Arrggghh! Good hunting to you.


Edit: Fixed Thomas Nelson's stats and fixed Christian's last name (I had put his pirate name down)


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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
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Pyuredeadbrilliant

Jim...... mb
Est. 1949

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Joe Rogers
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I am new to M&M and was thinking that merchants were easier to win by, and yet pirates seemed to be more fun to play... so thank you for the great hints!!!!
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Gustav Åkerfelt
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Thank you for this. You put into text a lot of things i have "Known" on some level but not really been aware that i knew. (If that makes sense.)

Time to get my copy out and give this another go.

arrrh To err is human, to Arr i Pirate. arrrh
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Jeff Kayati
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Simply brilliant.

I'll offer one piece of strategy I always use on my very first turn as a pirate. Unless the Ship Modification is an extra Cannon, buy all 3 Special Weapons as your first action.

Often my first turn will be a Port Action (buying Special Weapons only), a Move Action, and a Scout Action for a Merchant Raid.
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Henning Karlsson
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Great article. It's always nice to read how other people think about this sort of thing. I will point out that:

Yoren wrote:
Thomas Nelson (2/4/3/1) Not a great choice for Pirate as you must find your target in order to kill it. The high influence lends itself to focusing on rumors while trading.


I think you accidently the stats there.

Quote:
I like to play with the metagame a bit and do things like asking a player whose near me how much money they have or remarking that it appears they have a lot of money on board.


It's perfectly fine for players to hide their gold under their cargo cards.
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Anthony
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Cizak wrote:
Great article. It's always nice to read how other people think about this sort of thing. I will point out that:

Yoren wrote:
Thomas Nelson (2/4/3/1) Not a great choice for Pirate as you must find your target in order to kill it. The high influence lends itself to focusing on rumors while trading.


I think you accidently the stats there.

Quote:
I like to play with the metagame a bit and do things like asking a player whose near me how much money they have or remarking that it appears they have a lot of money on board.


It's perfectly fine for players to hide their gold under their cargo cards.


Thanks for the catch. His stats are 3/1/2/4. I've fixed it. While fixing it I also caught that I had listed the designer by his pirate name rather than his real name so fixed that too.

You are correct that they can hide the gold and typically they never answer my questions, but I always ask things like that or even othr comments like "so its looks like you just bought 3 of a kind" (since they paid 3) strictly to ensure they worry about me attacking. Its a very satisfying moment when someone you never intend to attack passes on an action because they don't want to come out of port with you near.
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Duke Drizzt
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Good stuff, Yoren. I always play pirate (even when I have a crappy captain cuz i like the challenge) and cannot stress enough the importance of taking the frigate over a galleon because of the speed. I always make sure to find rigs and sails first if i can and then transfer that over. Every single game that galleon/frigate question still comes up and they all just look at the cannons it seems. If I have a high seamanship of 3 or in the best case scenario 4 I will always take the frigate so i can get that extra dice(assuming of course I have the rigs and sails). I like to play the odds and with that much more chance of winning the odds are that I'm going to win more often than not which also means preventing the other player from boarding should they choose. And that means they keep taking damage while giving none in return.
I would also say the 4 most important ship mods(and since there are only 2 this can be tricky) to get as a pirate are:
Rigs and Sails (these to me are a must just cuz I like usually having an extra dice. This is a personal fave)
Cannon port (for the obvious, extra cannon)
Long guns (as a pirate that plans on attacking alot it's nice to be able to inflict damage before the combat gets going)
Reinforced Hull (again, as much as it's great to inflict damage being able to cancel one incoming hit can be the difference between sailing away and sinking)

Also(and this isn't strategy or nothing) we all know missions are another way to get gp but they never seemed to get played. We think 2 isn't enough so depending on what we want as a group(and how many of us there are) we either have 3 or 4 in play at a time.
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Jacon SonOfRengar
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I was wondering how Pirate play worked. Thanks Yoren!
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Christian Marcussen
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Amazing Anthony. Everyone should read this. Not just for the strategy tips, but also to see how a perfect strategy guide is done. This sets the bar. Great work.

And keep having fun
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Duke Drizzt
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joshsmith80 wrote:
Tasty review my arrrh brother,

I would also add that it may sound risky but if you can commandeer a NPC frigate then you save yourself 3o odd big ones and get to keep your upgrades!


A couple things about that is u don't get the easy gp for buying a frigate/galleon plus u don't get to transfer your mods so yer not playing that right if u have been doing that. U can only transfer mods in St. Johns for 1 gold each. U can only transfer gold, cargo, special weap. and your cards.
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Anthony
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I would certainly play anyway your group finds more enjoyable since your playing for fun. But strictly thematically I don't think thematically Pirates would move ship mods from a ship to another as things like extra cargo areas, extra crew areas, reinforced hulls are all things that would take being at port and doing a serious construction job. Special Weapons o the other hand are comparitively light and could be easily moved between ships
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Duke Drizzt
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joshsmith80 wrote:

I hear your point on cargo (a pirate doesn't worry about this much in the end game anyway) and maybe the hull but you already have the extra crew with you!


I 2nd Yoren's point on playing the way u guys want, hell, we don't use stashed gold for GP and play with the cutthroat and bribe variants. But, I'm confused by your statement about having the extra crew. What do u mean? Are u playing that commandeering a vessel with more crew on board u get the extra crew right away?
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Duke Drizzt
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Actually very few to be honest. We just believe that it's very easy to get GP as a merchant with goods and that 50(5GP) stashed was way too much. Then we changed it to 30(3GP) stashed and still didn't like that so we did away with it. Stashing gold still has it's uses in case u die. It's possible to get another GP right off the bat if you're savvy enough. Plus, we're tweaking the bribe variant to incorporate paying off another person to attack someone else where both get the GP instead of just the one accepting the "mission" so to speak but we still need to playtest it for balances purposes.
 
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Adam Burger
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DukeDrizzt wrote:
Actually very few to be honest. We just believe that it's very easy to get GP as a merchant with goods and that 50(5GP) stashed was way too much. Then we changed it to 30(3GP) stashed and still didn't like that so we did away with it. Stashing gold still has it's uses in case u die. It's possible to get another GP right off the bat if you're savvy enough. Plus, we're tweaking the bribe variant to incorporate paying off another person to attack someone else where both get the GP instead of just the one accepting the "mission" so to speak but we still need to playtest it for balances purposes.


How about increasing the stash amount to 15 or 20 for a GP?

Adam
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Duke Drizzt
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That's funny cuz we never really thought of that. I guess my gaming group just doesn't like the idea of stashed gold for GP. But increasing the amount towards a GP def is better IMO.
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Darth Mallen
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This is one of the best M&M posts I have read--great for the 'this game is imbalanced towards merchants' crowd/1st time players. I wish I had more thumbs--thank you!
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Jay Kiley
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Well done, indeed!! It was a pleasure to read. We need more guides just like this one. This reminds me of a video game guide, which I always enjoy reading and gets me excited to play the game.


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Brent Wilson
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Nice work on the guide.

One correction:


Half of the raid/cargo cards are escapes. I didn't look at the distribution of various values, but assuming you're correct that the average value of a hit is 3, than your average starting value of a raid is only 4.5 -- even more reason to have high seamanship and stock up on special weapons.
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Kyle
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We must move forward, not backward, upward, not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!
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Speedyox wrote:
Nice work on the guide.

One correction:

Quote:
Special Weapons
It is possible to have a successful merchant raid right off the bat, but as the average value of each card and the majority value present in the cargo deck are both 3 you will mostly likely average a value of 9 on the inital flop. This means to get the glory point you are going to need at least one skull so that you can get a 4th card (Alternatively you can make use of Havana or San Juan sea zone rules to get an edge).


Half of the raid/cargo cards are escapes. I didn't look at the distribution of various values, but assuming you're correct that the average value of a hit is 3, than your average starting value of a raid is only 4.5 -- even more reason to have high seamanship and stock up on special weapons.


The escape icons don't mean that those individual cards get away, they just represent an attempt by the merchant to flee (similar to how the hit icons represent the merchant fighting back). The only way they reduce the value of the raid is if enough of those escape attempts pile up that they meet/exceed your ship's maneuverability, but when that happens the entire raid fails and you lose all of it.

The expected average value for the initial draw is 9 regardless of which icons appear on the cards. The distribution of those icons just means that you have roughly the same chance of taking a random hit as you do of seeing an escape icon.
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Brent Wilson
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Woelf wrote:
Speedyox wrote:
Nice work on the guide.

One correction:

Quote:
Special Weapons
It is possible to have a successful merchant raid right off the bat, but as the average value of each card and the majority value present in the cargo deck are both 3 you will mostly likely average a value of 9 on the inital flop. This means to get the glory point you are going to need at least one skull so that you can get a 4th card (Alternatively you can make use of Havana or San Juan sea zone rules to get an edge).


Half of the raid/cargo cards are escapes. I didn't look at the distribution of various values, but assuming you're correct that the average value of a hit is 3, than your average starting value of a raid is only 4.5 -- even more reason to have high seamanship and stock up on special weapons.


The escape icons don't mean that those individual cards get away, they just represent an attempt by the merchant to flee (similar to how the hit icons represent the merchant fighting back). The only way they reduce the value of the raid is if enough of those escape attempts pile up that they meet/exceed your ship's maneuverability, but when that happens the entire raid fails and you lose all of it.

The expected average value for the initial draw is 9 regardless of which icons appear on the cards. The distribution of those icons just means that you have roughly the same chance of taking a random hit as you do of seeing an escape icon.

You're right. For some reason, I incorrectly remembered the escape cards having no value. On closer inspection (I had to download the rules since I couldn't find a single image of the front side of cargo cards.), the escape cards do, in fact, have values just like the hit cards. My mistake.
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Blorb Plorbst
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Great set of strategies.

I've come to the conclusion that Pirates are actually quite superior to Merchants and more fun to play as well.

When we first played, we saw Merchants win all the time but I made it a mission to get a Pirate win. My first attempts failed but I learned from my failures and now I win almost all the time (the last time we played, the other players conceded the game when I hit 5 VP and the next highest player had 2).

Other players have tried the pirate route (or starting off merchant and then switching to pirate) but they fail - mostly because of poor Captain selection.

Secondly, because they underestimate the value of special weapons.

Always always always fill your ship with special weapons.

Some points where we may differ:

I stick with a sloop at least until I've stashed 50 Gold and often longer because of their better maneuverability. Your point about Frigates being able to take more hits is apt though - they will let you stay at sea longer. I may try a faster upgrade next time.

I prefer to take bounties from all nations except the Spanish for the reason that there are more Spanish ports on the board. This can back fire if my nation goes to war with Spain though. So I might try your approach next time.
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Oz Iazdi
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I love to play as a pirate. I think this is a good strategy. Thanks for sharing it!
 
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george atkins

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I just got the game and this is a very nicely-done piece of work. Thanks. However, note that the proper pirate expression is "ARRRH!" (or "ARR!") not ARRRGH!, which is really an exclamation of rage or despair. A pirate might yell "ARRGH!" to see a merchant ship slipping away from his carefully-laid trap. Of course, "ARRGH!" has seeped into many "pirate vocabularies", so it's probably pretty hopeless to get rid of it at this point. ARRGH!
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