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Subject: Meike Beerens - Exploiting the Chaos in the Colonies rss

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Paul Hackman
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Note: this game was played solo. I went through the entire event deck, playing two cards at a time and tried to see how many points I could score in the 16 rounds. For NPC AI during combat I used these rules.

The notorious Meike Beerens left the port of St. Maarten in her sloop and attacked the first merchant she saw. High on the thrill of plunder she returned to St. Maarten to sell her ill-gotten gains and immediately picked up an extra cannon and a Purser who saw a bright future in the young captain. With the imperial Navies mostly patrolling the western end of the Caribbean, Beerens attacked merchants in San Juan and Basse-Terre as well, selling any stolen goods and adding a bigger cargo hold and some new rigging as well. By now a few Naval frigates looked to invade Beerens’ territory and clean up the pirate activity, but Beerens had an ace up her sleeve – a pardon she had acquired in the process of attacking a particularly valuable merchant.

Forging several pardons, Beerens suddenly transformed from a bloodthirsty pirate to a successful merchant. Though her sloop was quick and powerful, the extra cargo space meant she could haul quite a bit of goods for trading, and thus began a period of fortunate windfalls as the goods she had acquired from her last merchant attack happened to be just what was wanted in Tortuga. When she heard that the imperial powers were declaring a window of clemency to all pirates in the hopes of encouraging more merchants she did the only logical thing – she attacked the nearest merchant ship, stole all their goods, and then immediately repented her error in judgment and sold the three barrels of rum for a tidy profit, with her Purser only adding to her revenue.

A brief period of honest seamanship took over Beerens’ life as the trading in the French colonies was more profitable than pirating and several Naval frigates were patrolling the nearby seas. When word arrived that the French Navy would soon post a ship outside Tortuga, Beerens thought nothing of it as she was currently an honest merchant until it was also revealed that the Dutch and French had just declared war on one another! Beerens considered making a run for it and hoping the French wouldn’t come after her, but instead stumbled on a better plan – attack a nearby merchant vessel, recommit to the pirate code, and use the network of pirate contacts around Tortuga to “disappear.”

The French frigate arrived outside Tortuga but knew nothing about the pirate Beerens and eventually moved on, allowing Beerens to head south and make a run back to her home port. One final merchant attack and then home she told the crew. This time Beerens’ sloop, now with a reinforced hull, captured a merchant transporting luxurious cloth to South America. More glory for Beerens and three loads of expensive cloth! With her Purser she could easily sell that cloth for a nice profit at any port on her way home, but Curacao was so close and she knew delivering this cloth and overcharging the colonists there would make her even more famous. When she heard that a Dutch girl had been kidnapped by Indians in Curacao and a reward was being offered, her decision was made. Yes, there was a Spanish frigate in Cartagena, but she would be in and out of Curacao so fast it surely wouldn’t find her.

Just outside Curacao the Spanish frigate was spotted charging straight for her! Finally, it looked as though the slippery Beerens would have to prove her seamanship in a fight. But the gods of the sea continued to smile upon her as another general clemency was announced just as the Spanish guns were aimed her way. For a mere 5 gold she was once again an honest member of society. The small expenditure was then immediately made up as she sold her cloth in Curacao and found the missing Dutch girl. In fact, she had so much gold she realized she had more than she could hope to bank in St. Maarten and since Curacao was selling Frigates at a discount, Beerens finally decided to retire her reliable Sloop. She left St. Maarten a poor pirate in a small boat and would return covered in glory in a mighty ship!

Through her sources, Beerens heard that the French in Basse-Terre were offering a Letter of Marque to any pirate. The opportunity to get rewarded and officially sanctioned as a pirate was just too perfect for Beerens and she made it her final stop on the way home. First, though, she had to actually reestablish her name as a pirate. The problem was that a French frigate had parked outside Basse-Terre. It wouldn’t bother her if she was a merchant, but then she couldn’t claim the Letter of Marque. If she turned pirate first, however, it would attack her before she could reach port and declare her intention of turning privateer.

She figured out a clever plan – she would attack a Merchant outside Trinidad. Her pirate credibility would be affirmed, but the French frigate would not dare to pursue her into the dangerous waters. She could wait for it to move out of Basse-Terre, and it did, heading north to St. Maarten. No matter to Beerens as she would be an honorary French citizen when she sailed to St. Maarten and the Navy would wish her well as she returned home to retire on her massive gains.

And then the gods of the sea decided to punish Beerens for playing so loose with the name of pirate. As she sailed toward Basse-Terre to pick up her Letter of Marque a hurricane arose and caused her to waste too much time fighting through it. She now had a difficult choice to make. She could port at Basse-Terre to wait out the hurricane, but then she wouldn’t have time to make it home to St. Maarten. Or, she could be battered by the hurricane as she sailed on to St. Maarten and then hope that the French would simply not see her battered ship since she wouldn’t have her Letter of Marque.

There was simply too much glory at stake. She absorbed a great deal of damage from the hurricane and then tried to sneak past the French frigate. This time she was caught and with no pardons to get her off the hook. The Spanish bounty she had taken on to impress the French and earn their Letter of Marque was now the very pretext they would use to blast her out of the water. She considered fleeing, but she still had two cannons on board so she stayed and fought. The battle lasted several volleys and Beerens needed only one more hit to the French masts to turn the tide in her favor, but, alas, it was not meant to be. The French blasted a final hole through her hull and Meike Beerens, pirate turned merchant turned pirate turned merchant turned pirate turned merchant turned pirate, took her last breath clutching the heavy chest of gold she had acquired as she sank to her death within eyeshot of where it all began.
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Paul Hackman
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In case it wasn't clear from the description at the end, my downfall was largely of my own making. I got so caught up in my character as someone who switches back and forth between pirate and merchant that I didn't realize that even without a hurricane I wouldn't have enough actions to both grab the Letter of Marque and stash my gold in St. Maarten.

I did have a "Naval Action" card so if the hurricane hadn't occurred I could have played that to move the French away and at least get my extra 4 points for stashing the 40 gold I had on board, but since that costs an action the hurricane made that impossible. Of course since I play every event card I should have known the hurricane was coming anyway.

I guess the ultimate compliment to the game was that I got so invested in the theme that I forgot to play the mechanics, which is the opposite of how I approach most solo experiences.
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