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WizKids Pirates Scenario

“Morgan’s Gambit”

By William “WildWill” Noetling


The Golden Age of Piracy had its fair share of famous and infamous individuals, none more prominent than the privateer Henry Morgan, born 1635 in Wales.  Morgan spent almost his entire life on the sea, escaping slavery in Barbados, becoming one of the most famous privateers in the entire Spanish Main.  By 1666 he commanded his own ship, and by 1672 he was arrested and returned to England, where he stood trial for Piracy, and was rewarded with the lieutenant governorship of Jamaica.  Kind of an odd punishment, but he was intelligent enough to successfully prove that he had no knowledge of a treaty between England and Spain, whose colonies he’d been preying on for the previous six years. 

Many of Morgan’s exploits are stuff of legend.  Technically Morgan was never a Pirate, carrying several letters of marque from English governors, including one from his Uncle Edward, who happened to be the governor of Jamaica.  His first major campaign resulted in the capture of Puerto Principe in what is now Cuba.  Shortly thereafter he captured the strategically important city of Porto Bello, on the Panamanian shore.  In 1671 he sacked Panama overcoming a force that outnumbered his own by three-fold.  At one point he commanded a fleet of several ships and over 500 sailors.  Morgan’s unofficial title at the height of his career was “King of the Pirates”, and he commanded respect from the English, Spanish and other pirates during the golden age.

After the capture of Porto Bello Morgan amassed a large fleet of English, French and a single American vessel and sailed for Maracaibo, along the Venezuelan coast.  After a minor setback, in which Morgan’s flagship was accidentally destroyed by his own drunken sailors killing more than 300 of them, the Buccaneers were able to capture the fort at Maracaibo without firing a shot.  The Spanish defenders had forewarning of the impending invasion and left the fortress in an attempt to minimalize casualties.  Though they left several booby traps, Morgan and his men were able to occupy the fortress with no difficulties.  For three weeks Morgan’s pirates searched the nearby jungle for sign of the Spanish, and for booty, always coming back with a few prisoners and more than enough booty.  Morgan sailed on to Gibraltar where a similar situation was waiting for him, instead of fighting for their treasure; the Spanish were just hiding their gold and themselves.

Eventually Morgan discovered the whereabouts of the Spanish Treasure Barques, hidden away in a lake fed by an inland river.  About a hundred men in two small ships sailed up the river, while the remainder of the about 500 strong crew searched for the Governor of Maracaibo who was hidden away in a mountaintop retreat.  While the river force was successful in capturing the four treasure Barques, albeit mostly empty, and their escort ship, the infantry was rebuffed.  Through a series of negotiations, Morgan was able to leave Gibraltar and return to Maracaibo, carrying with him several hundred Spanish prisoners.  Upon their return, they discovered the town to be exactly as they had left it, except that shortly after, they were blockaded three very large Spanish Men of War, outnumbering Morgan’s guns by several fold. 

The Spanish Governor had sent for a fleet of ships from Spain, and while he was holding up in Gibraltar, they had arrived.  Morgan’s fleet, stuck in an inland lake in Maracaibo could not escape, outnumbered and outgunned, Morgan had to use his wits to survive. 

And survive he did.  One of his crew had a brilliant idea; they took one of their captured ships and gutted it, creating a “fire-ship” as a decoy.  They outfitted a second ship to be a decoy of the decoy.   The fire ship, covered in pitch, tar and other combustibles, and disguised as a fighting vessel was sent out on point, and managed to maneuver alongside the largest Spanish Man of War and exploded successfully, destroying both her and the main Spanish attacker.  The other two Spanish ships were soon out-maneuvered and captured.  Morgan had succeeded again, and in 1944 Seagram’s named a brand of rum after him.


This makes for a great Pirates scenario, doesn’t it? 


“Morgan’s Gambit”

Players: 2

# of islands: Irrelevant

Total Value of Gold: Irrelevant

Total Number of Gold: Irrelevant

Banned Unique Treasures: All except Explosives

Banned Events: All except Divers and Rafts

Point Totals: Special


Setup: The game surface can have islands and terrain, but seed no gold.  Exploring wild islands is forbidden.  Repairs are forbidden, and neither side needs a “home island.”  The Spanish fleet begins at one side of the table, and Morgan starts on the exact opposite.  The object is for Morgan’s fleet to reach the opposite side, and the Spanish need to stop him.


Player 1 - Admiral Morgan

  • 40 point fleet

  • No more than 5 ships in this fleet

  • One ship must be designated as the “fire-ship”, and can carry no crew.  This ship begins the game with the Unique Treasure “Explosives” (can be proxied) and cannot load or unload it.

  • One ship must be designated “prisoner/treasure ship”.  Place the full cargo load of treasure on this ship at start, minimum total of 25 gold coins (no maximum).

  • Ships/Crew can only come from any faction except Jade Rebels, Barbary Corsairs and Cursed.  Spanish ships can only be used for the fire-ship.  No more than one American vessel.  Crew can only use abilities on their own faction ships.

  • One crew must be designated “Admiral Morgan”


Player 2 – Spanish

  • All crew/ships must be Spanish

  • Point total no larger than 75 points.

  • No more than 3 ships in this fleet.

  • No zero/limit-ransom characters


Game Ending Conditions:

  1. Admiral Morgan wins if he is successfully able to maneuver his treasure ship AND at least one more ship off the opposite end of the game board.

  2. The Spanish win if they are successfully able to prevent Morgan’s ships from leaving the game board on their end, or if they are successful in sinking/capturing the treasure ship and eliminating “Admiral Morgan”. 

  3. The game ends in a draw if Morgan’s treasure ship is captured/sunk but the crew designated ‘Admiral Morgan” escapes the game board.

  4. Alternately a time limit of 30 minutes can be used, and if neither condition 1 or 2 are fulfilled, a draw is declared.



            Some of you know I’m taking a Pirates Narrative class at UCLA, and this scenario comes straight from one of my text books (Buccaneers of America by Alexander Exquemelin, a Dutch surgeon who actually sailed with Morgan.).  While reading this section, I felt this bit of history lent itself quite nicely to the Pirates game.  If you play it and have suggestions, please feel free to discuss it on the message boards.


And as always: Avast me hearties!



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