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The Rules: Sailing and Naval Combat

The Rules: Sailing and Naval Combat



These are simple yet entertaining rules for Lego pirate naval combat. They can be used to fight single ship skirmishes or large fleet actions easily. Once you have mastered the mechanics you can move on to a campaign using the campaign rules. Movement rates are determined by the number of crew manning the sails and shooting is determined with the Mark I Pirate Lego Cannon so no tables or dice are required!



Each player needs at least one pirate ship with captain and crew.



Each ship must carry:

1 pirate captain at the wheel


Each ship may carry up to:

1 additional pirate crewman at the wheel

1 pirate crewman per sail

1 pirate crewman per cannon

4 pirate crewmen as additional boarding party


The position the crew occupy on the ship is important as it represents their role. The topmen manning sails must be placed on the mast or rigging, the gunners manning cannon must be placed next to the cannon they intend to fire and the Captain and his additional crewman must be placed at the wheel. The boarding party must be separated from the gunners, usually by placing them on the bows.



Players take turns and each turn consists of Movement, Attack and Reorganisation phases which are described below.



The speed of a ship is determined by the number of crew manning the sails.


Each ship has a movement value of 8 inches. This is modified as follows:

+ 1 inch for every manned sail.

- 2 inches for every unmanned sail.

No sail can be manned by more than one crewman.


The number of turns it may make is determined by the number of crew at the wheel:


If the wheel is manned by the captain alone, it may turn up to 45 degrees at the beginning or end of its move.If the wheel is manned by the captain and 1 crew, the ship can turn up to 45 degrees at the beginning and up to 45 degrees at the end of its move.



Each ship may choose one of three attack options:


Fire: Each ship may fire each manned cannon once.


Board: If a ship is in contact with an enemy ship at the end of its movement phase and the crew outnumber the enemy crew by 2:1, the enemy ship is captured. The attacking captain has three options. He may:

 - Move his entire crew and treasure to the new ship and scuttle his old one.

 - Scuttle the defeated ship (after taking any remaining crew and treasure items for himself)

 - Promote one of his crew to 'Captain' (give him a hat with a feather in it) and redistribute the crew and treasure items between the two ships. The defeated captain must walk the plank.


Transfer: If the ship does not fire at or board another ship, crew and treasure may be transferred between other friendly ships or islands they are in contact with.



During this phase, crew may be redistributed between the wheel, cannon sails and boarding party, cannon may be shifted from one side of a ship to the other and treasure can be thrown overboard (so it can't be captured).


Combat Damage


If a shot hits a sail, mast or rigging, a crewman from the sails is removed.

If a shot hits the hull, a crewman from the guns or wheel is removed (chosen by the player who was hit).

'Critical Hit' Rule - If a shot lands inside the ship and does not bounce out, 2 crew are removed (chosen by the firing player).

Shots must hit on the full.

If all crewmen have been removed except the Captain, one more hit to any part of the ship will sink it.


Ships and Boats


A ship is defined as a larger model that has sails and a wheel. Gun boats and boats have no wheel however they may turn in any direction. Gun boats and boats must have a crew of one Captain.

Gun boats can not carry additional pirates but can move 8 inches or fire their cannon.

Boats may carry either 1 gold chest or up to 4 additional crewmen.



And that is all there is to it. No dice required. Once you have blasted away for a while and sunk a few ships, please have a crack at the Campaign rules below...



Broadside Campaign Rules



 The campaign rules make for a game that can last a couple of hours and provide the opportunity for Captains to garrison islands, build up fleets and gain notoriety. The goal of the campaign is for Captains to collect gemstones, which are shiny and equate to notoriety (what all good pirates seek). Once a Captain has a gemstone he keeps it even if his ship is sunk or he is forced to walk the plank. The length of the game is determined by deciding at the start how many Captains possessing a gemstone the winning player needs to collect. Two is a good start and five will take all day to achieve.


The campaign works best with around ten islands and ten ships, but still works well with fewer than this.



Line up all the ships you have in order from smallest to largest. Players start with one of the smallest ships each, with one Captain and fully manned sails, guns and wheel (no boarding party).


One player is responsible for laying out all of the islands on the floor. The players then take turns (second player going first) choosing treasure items at each island. There can only be one of each island except for Gold Islands. These are listed below along with a description of what can be done at each island. It is usual to place treasure items other than gold at the biggest islands with the most fortifications.


Treasure Items


Ship - 1 gold chest may be traded for the next available ship along the line.

Rum - 1 gold chest may be traded for 1 barrel of rum.

Crew - 1 gold chest may be traded for up to five crew, or

         - 1 barrel of rum may be traded for up to 10 crew.

Map - Only 1 map may be taken by each Captain.

Parrot - Only 1 parrot can be taken by each Captain.

Monkey - Only 1 monkey can be taken by each Captain.

Gemstone - The Captain must trade 1 Monkey, 1 parrot, 1 gold chest and 1 barrel of rum to be worthy

                  of a gemstone to indicate his notoriety.

Gold - Take to as many gold chests as can fit in the spare cargo capacity of the ship.


Description of Islands


Identify Ship Island by placing the next spare ship in the line touching it. When this ship is bought for one gold chest, it is replaced be the next largest ship in the line. The ship can also be sunk by a cannon shot before it is bought, in which case it is replaced by the next ship in the line at the end the player turn in which it was sunk. A Captain and crew may all move into the new ship with any treasure they have, or the Captain may promote a crewman to Captain for the new (or old) ship and split the crew between them. 


Identify Rum Island with a stack of rum barrels. 1 rum barrel can be bought for 1 gold chest. The amount of rum that can be bought is limited only by the spare cargo capacity of the ship.


Identify Crew Island with a mob of pirate crew. Up to 5 crew can be bought for 1 gold chest and up to 10 crew can be bought for 1 rum barrel. The number of crew that can be bought is limited by the maximum spare crew positions on the ship.


Identify Map Island with a pile of maps. Only one map may be taken by each Captain. A map may be used when the ship carrying it is in contact with an island. The treasure items on that island may be swapped with any other island. This is a very useful thing to do and is known as redrawing the map. Once this has been done, the map is returned to Map Island (or the new Map Island if the maps have been moved).


Identify Parrot Island with a group of parrots. Only one parrot may be taken by each Captain. Owning a parrot is essential before gaining notoriety.


 Identify Monkey Island with a group of Monkeys. Only one monkey may be taken by each Captain. Owning a monkey is essential before gaining notoriety .


Identify Gemstone Island with a pile of gemstones. Only one gemstone may be held by a Captain as there is nothing better than notoriety. A gemstone can be bought with 1 Monkey, 1 parrot, 1 gold chest and 1 barrel of rum. One of each of these items must be collected prior to moving to Gemstone Island.



Identify Gold Islands with a pile of gold chests. The amount of gold that can be picked up is limited only by the spare cargo capacity of the ship. Gold Islands are all of the remaining islands once all the other treasure items have been allocated.


Cargo Capacity


Ships have the following cargo capacities defined by the number of hull centre sections (the flat hull sections between the bows and the stern sections) they have:

0 or 1 hull centre section = 4 cargo spaces

2 hull centre sections = 6 cargo spaces

3 hull centre sections = 8 cargo spaces

4 hull centre sections = 12 cargo spaces


Gold chests, rum barrels, parrots and monkeys all take up one cargo capacity space each.



Whenever an island is garrisoned or an additional ship is taken, a crewman must be promoted to Captain to lead it. Captains are legendary characters who can never actually die at sea (see below). Captains who are made to walk the plank or go down with their ship reappear in the next available ship in the line, with fully crewed sails, guns and wheel (no boarding party) at a location chosen by the player who beat them. When this happens they lose all their treasure items that they have not thrown overboard to the boarding Captain. If the boarding Captain already has an item he can not have more than one of, or does not have the spare cargo capacity the item is lost. Defeated Captains always retain their gemstone. You may take his ship but you can't take his fame. The only exception to this is a Captain on a garrisoned island. These can be removed due to cannon fire or boarding and are lost to history (and the player's score) forever. As such, it is not recommended to garrison an island with a Captain who has earned his gemstone.


Garrisoning Islands


Only Gold Islands may be garrisoned and when this occurs they cease to be Gold Islands until the garrison leaves or is destroyed. This is indicated by removing the pile of gold chests. No more gold chests may be taken from the island and it can not be swapped with another island by a Captain redrawing the map. Gold Islands may be garrisoned in two ways when a ship comes into contact with them. Some of the crew may be used for the garrison, in which case, one will be promoted to Captain. Alternatively, the Captain and all his crew may leave their ship and garrison the island.


A garrisoned island is treated in the same way as a ship with the exception that it has no helm or sails but has an unlimited capacity for cargo and can hold an unlimited number of additional boarders. The Captain of the island must be the last casualty removed when the island is fired on and can fire one of the island's cannon if there are no other crewmen. Islands can receive critical hits just like a ship; however the Captain must still be taken as the last casualty.




A player wins when they have under their command the predetermined number of notorious Captains holding gemstones.