Got the gang over for gaming yesterday. Had five people total, and ended up playing Blackbeard.

Had the usual painful beginning as setup is fiddly, and there’s lots of different things to do, all of which work a bit differently. But things sped up by lunch, and we finished off the long version by about 4.

I went with a start I considered a bit risky. I only put out one pirate to begin with, and him in India. India has the richest cargoes, but there’s only so many ports there. If no merchant ships showed up there or in East Africa (not nearly as valuable), I’d be stuck a long way away from anything to loot.

As it was, I got lucky and two merchantmen showed up off of India to start. Patch had placed a pirate off of East Africa, and he moved in to get one of them, but I still got the other. I got a rich haul, ransomed a passenger, and then set out for East Africa.

One thing that happened in there set a trend for the rest of the game. We had been neglecting die re-rolls through Cunning, because we’d forget about it. When my initial spot attempt on a merchant failed, I re-rolled it since I figured even blowing it on that was better than not remembering it at all. That kept it in everyone’s mind, and a fair number of re-rolls were done through the day. That particular attempt did nothing for me, but I used up the pirate’s other three cunning points, and they all turned low rolls into high or max rolls.

Jason got off to a good start, and was the first to start really maneuvering to retire a pirate. I tried stop it with a Piratical Ambition card, allowing me to try and take over the ship (and kill his pirate) by winning a duel between him and the second (unused) pirate I had been dealt. The odds were against me, 4d6 to 3d6, but I managed a tie (which continued the duel for a second try) before failing. Having him in reserve because I was concentrating on one pirate was a nice side-benefit of my strategy.

I was the third one to retire a pirate, and I think it’s the first time I’ve done it ‘early’ (getting more common all around as we get used to the pace of the game). I had taken one prize, looted one port, my speed rating was down to zero, and my combat rating had taken a couple hits. But I got in to port before I could be stopped, and that one cargo hold was worth a lot; combined with Notoriety, I shot into the lead.

As usual, the end of the game seemed to come very suddenly, I had not done much with the new pirate I drew. But it had been enough. For the first time, I won, with a total of 99 VPs. Patch came in second with 79, Jason third with 63, Dave fourth with 57, and Mark came in last with 49. We’ve been spreading the wealth around: Patch one our first two games (one session), Dave the next one, Zjonni (who couldn’t make it today) the last one, and this was my first win, leaving only Mark and Jason without wins.

During lunch, talk turned to Onward Christian Soldiers and a desire to do the First Crusade with more than four players (handles up to seven), so we may be starting a game of that next month.