Monday, September 15, 2014

Looking for Booty on Pirate Island

Once again, I have offered "Simulation Games" as a 'minimester,' a zero-credit course for students who want to pursue a semi-academic interest. So, the kids don't get credit, I don't get paid, but we have a great time. The students have fun, and I daresay they learn a lot.

While I usually set up games on the table in my sunny and spacious classroom, there is so much traffic through my room this year that I thought it prudent to set up the first game in the Archives, a space I curate.  Once we moved a stack of unloved trophies out of the way, we had plenty of room for a fairly large Pirate Island setup.

I gave the students a list of periods in which they could game. Because a few of them had experienced my Pirate Extravaganza last winter, pirates were at the top of the list once again.  I wrote up a set of simple rules (see the end of the article for a one-page summary).  Each player received their own ten man pirate crew. Their goal was to plunder the buildings and sacred sites of Pirate Island, and to kidnap the Governor and the Governor's daughter.  Each time they plundered, they got to draw a treasure card, which would produce a find worth a certain amount of dubloons (or it could be a hazard, like the box of angry scorpions).  Players could plunder from each other, but early in the game, there was a good chance that they might end up with a bomb that was held in their opponent's treasure pile.  I programmed many locations with hazards.  Not surprisingly, the Royal Marines would fire on any pirates they saw, but pirates who came too close to the brothel or the grog shop might get lured inside for a few turns.  Looting the church would rouse an angry mob, and coming too close to the cute piglet would unleash an angry boar. 

An overview of Pirate Island

The Fort. Any player who captured the fort would win the service of Captain Jack Starling.

The Zombie Maroons.  The large wooden heads are actually Yoruba Twin figurines from the Archives collection.

A squad of Marines await the pirates in the courtyard of the Governor's Mansion.  My players tended to send their pirates off on solo missions. While six marines did not represent an overpowering force, a volley from them proved lethal to any pirate caught on their own.

One of the pirate crews aboard the Gato Gordo.

Two more crews, one based aboard the Alice and the other on a pair of small craft.

Town square and the front of the Governor's Mansion.

Four students signed up for my class and were able to fit it into their schedule.  Sadly, one had to drop as he switched his English class. Another was absent on our inaugural day.  Captain CJ is on the left and Captain Emily is on the right.

The House of Ill Repute casts its spell on one of CJ's pirates.

One of the treasures Emily drew early in the game was "The Big F'ing Cannon."  Sadly, because she dispersed her crew, getting enough pirates to the gun to man it proved challenging.

Emily was, however, able to kidnap the governor's daughter, who looks appalled at the her quarters on the Alice.

CJ captured the governor, who is trying to put a brave face in front of the pirate captain.

Emily tried to sneak around the landward side of the fort, where the cannon could not bear, but the marines provided a wall of musketry to protect themselves. Once again, the players failed to amass the numbers they needed to face a major challenge like this. 

One of CJ's pirates killed the angry boar.  It was a lot tougher than it looks. Bacon's on the menu tonight, boys!

One of CJ's pirates tried to loot the church.  Sadly this triggered an angry mob, who surrounded the church and trapped his two pirates inside.

Looks like was have another session to go before the game is resolved.  Tune in next time!

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