Nan o’ War CH17: …And Begin Knitting Coats

By Rutskarn
on Jul 12, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play

Gerrit Gerritszoon, as the pirate nicknamed Roche Braziliano was most likely known to his mother, has very long held a reputation as torturer and coward and indiscriminate murderer. A typical perspective on him can be found in this translation of the 1678 account History of the Buccaneers of America:

To the Spaniards he was always very barbarous and cruel, out of an inveterate hatred against that nation. Of these he commanded several to be roasted alive on wooden spits, for not showing him hog-yards where he might steal swine.

Stories of pirate atrocities are mostly unreliable. Governments and merchants had a vested interest in making brigands look like unhinged ogres; otherwise colonies might look a little too fondly on the gruff-but-sensitive bad boys hitting the town with loads of cheap cargo and disposable income. In reality, a sober reading of the records suggests very few people were actually deliberately harmed by pirates. Blackbeard probably never hurt anyone until his sloop’s last stand at Ocracoke.Another fun takeaway is that out of a crew of nineteen people, Blackbeard managed to put together a boarding party of TEN WHOLE MEN OH MY GOD THAT FUCKING TACTICAL GENIUS It’s like H.L. Mencken said: “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin buffaloing apathetic captains into surrendering insured cargoes.”

Except—unlike most sources from the early 18th century, the author of History of the Buccaneers wasn’t writing hit piece hot takes about a bunch of edgy anti-establishment hooligans. As witness to the privateer era of piracy, he was documenting the authorized agents of a legitimate authority. And oh, yeah—he actually was a buccaneer.He worked as a surgeon for them, anyway. So if his book says Roche Braziliano was an asshole, at the very least that’s authentic industry gossip.

My point is, I’m about to attack one of the only pirates in the Caribbean(!) who anyone reasonably claims was a tenth as bloodthirsty as I am. Also, his crew looks like this.

I’m gonna need a bigger boat. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get one. So let’s get this over with.

My heart has some strong words about how to conduct this battle. “Stick with grapeshot,” it mews. “You want that 4th Rate Frigate intact,” it presses. “Just think how many bombs you can fit in its cargo hold,” it wheedles. “Hey, what’s this thirty-two inch steel blade doing here?” it will ask, after his frigate breezes through my Inconvenience Salvo and deposits seventy percent of the West Country onto my deck.

No, on second thought, let’s just leave a horizontal plane of solid lead for him to run into. The longer effective range and increased rigging damage of my standard Wreck-It shot will help me stay out of range of his stupidly large boarding parties. Isn’t that right, stupidly large boarding party?

Honestly, I don’t know what went wrong, but a good captain knows when to categorically blame her crew.

I immediately fight my way through my own mob and to higher ground. As fast as my mouse button allows, I start lobbing party favors into his mosh pit. Soon his gangplank is carpeted in corpses, and my ambling company of sailors is riding the wave straight onto his decks. For a few incredulous seconds, I’ve got more men in play than he does.

Then his reinforcements arrive.

Six ships for him, five ships for me—I find myself spawned back aboard my Light Galleon. In the hurly-burly her crew’s already been reduced to less than a third of its full strength. Not the best time for the captain to drop by for a surprise inspection, in other words. Hopefully they can at least spare a deckhand to mop up the blood I’m losing.

At this point in the slugging, all the combatants are packed into about five percent of the map. My own crafts are interwoven so tight with his that you could ride a BMX across the entire engagement. The downside of this is, I’ve got to squeeze hard to keep his boarding parties off my boards. The upside is that I’ve got what you’d call a target-rich environment. I have six cannon batteries on this ship and I am firing out of all of them pretty much constantly, twitching left and right to nudge bogies into my sights. The upside’s downside is, he’s doing the same thing.

A wave of fire blasts through the flotilla, and suddenly the notifications block is swept with red text. The gist is that everyone on my payroll just got injured. But hey, his smallest and most hilarious ship is sinking. Now all he’s got left is his best ships and my best ship!

You know what? I’ve just decided I don’t want a 4th Rate Frigate. I want a pile of floating twigs the exact mass of a 4th Rate Frigate. I close the box around his flagship and start circlestrafe slugging every cannon on my ship directly into him, one battery after another. Just as he brings my old flagship in to give me a good boarding, the beautiful news emerges: the 4th Rate Frigate is sinking.

I’m now leading him in ships. How long for? Oh, about the next fifteen seconds.

I do what I can, but crows nests and muskets continue to be the degenerate antigran strategy of the 17th century. I can only polish off so many of them before the rest put me down. And then it’s on to backup flagship number two, and the final legs of this increasingly bloody smoky desperate scrum of a battle.

No more fucking around with cannons. His numerical superiority is too good to rely on my dogfighting skills. If I don’t win this with boarding, I’m not going to win it at all.

There’s only one silver lining: the effect splinters and shrapnel have on headcount. His boarding parties have shrunk from block cookout to backyard at three in the morning. With any luck…

Well, I guess that is “any” luck. Anyway, it’s enough to give me my numerical advantage back. And with a little more pushing, it’s enough to grant me the victory.

This, I reckon, is the turning point of my anti-pirate piracy campaign. This was just about the most imposing BotC force I’m likely to run into. Assuming my own strength only grows, I think I’ve found my bottomless trove of reputation and experience points. What do you say we put it to a final test?

Historical Blackbeard wasn’t active until the early 18th century, so this is inaccurate. Let’s hope they nail the part where he doesn’t hurt anyone and then gets his whole crew killed.

NEXT WEEK: CARIBBULLY

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Another fun takeaway is that out of a crew of nineteen people, Blackbeard managed to put together a boarding party of TEN WHOLE MEN OH MY GOD THAT FUCKING TACTICAL GENIUS

[2] He worked as a surgeon for them, anyway.


1313 comments. That's a baker's dozen.

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Historical Blackbeard wasn’t active until the early 18th century, so this is inaccurate. Let’s hope they nail the part where he doesn’t hurt anyone and then gets his whole crew killed.

    And the part where his beard is orange and short.

  2. Zaxares says:

    It’s hard to know whom to believe when it comes to historical accounts sometimes. On the one hand, as you rightly pointed out, certain figures likely had their reasons for painting the reputation of others (whether individuals, people or cultures) as being far more cruel and villainous than they really were. On the other hand, as our own experiences have shown, the whitewashing of history is a very real problem. To this day we have people who deny that events like the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanjing, or the Armenian Genocide happened. Clearly, mankind does have it within itself to perpetuate hideous atrocities. So, sometimes, without clear documentive proof or trusted eyewitness accounts, it’s hard to know who’s telling the truth about what really happened.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      …and even with trusted eyewitnesses, someone who doesn’t like their version can always claim they’re not actually trusted. … and of course we do know that no person observing anything can be quite objective and will always mix some amount of interpretation into the story.
      So really you need photos and videos, and stuff.

      …so really what you actually actually need is societies who honestly want to get to the truth, convenient or not, even if it means facing the fact that their own country/family/firends/allies/favourite pop star did commit a thing or five you wouldn’t be proud of. So pretty much the same attitude that admirable persons have who see criticism not as an attack to be countered with blanket denial but as something to be examined and, if found of substance, to be used for self-improvement.

      Those people are rare. Really rare. I bet there weren’t to many of those in the Carribean(!) during pirate-time, and they’d be even harder to identify these days.

  3. Philadelphus says:

    Next week: the fight of the century! Blackbeard vs. Lackbeard! Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, and kindly refrain from abusing any exploits related to getting your money back if you lose.

  4. Aevylmar says:

    Just to provide this with its proper soundtrack… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7lIROBDfQE

    (Seriously, I’m excited for this next one. Thanks for the good work, Rutskarn, and keep it up!)

  5. Jarenth says:

    Must be tough as a pirate when your name is ‘Gerrit, son of Gerrit’. No wonder he felt like overcompensating.

  6. Andy says:

    Note: HMS Newcastle is about the only class of vessel that would count as a “fourth-rate frigate.” Earlier fourth-rate ships were considered ships-of-the-line, not frigates. Note the plethora of guns and 42-lb carronades. This is an absurdly OP ship for any historical pirate to be paddling around in. It’s about 7x the size (by displacement) as Blackbeard’s historical flagship.

    Consider also that the classic “seventy-four” ship-of-the-line that made up the bulk of the national battlefleets at such colossal shindigs as Trafalgar, is a third-rate ship.

    BUT, the game also allows you to gain posession of a first-rate ship. This is like pirates owning a Nimitz-class carrier, in terms of the expense, logistics, and national pride involved. So we know the designers opted for game over history :)

    • Grudgeal says:

      To be fair, they’re hardly the first pirate game to let you do this. Sid Meier’s Pirates let you run around capturing 48-gun Ships of the Line (which would be a Great Ship or a Fourth Rate, depending on the time period you play in) or Spanish War Galleons, and Blackbeard and Henry Morgan both have frigates (Fifth Rates). They must know some fabulous used ship salesmen.

  7. MichaelGC says:

    I wonder what happened in the very brief interim between everyone losing 12 morale and everyone gaining 2. Did they all neck a tot of fireball grog?

    PS “Gerrit Gerritszoon” sounds like the end of a town-crier’s teaser-trailer.

  8. Dungeonhamster says:

    Blackbeard’s legend is, well, legendary, sure. And later accounts of all kinds of battles frequently exaggerate kill counts, sometimes by orders of magnitude, and will juice up the gore to make it more exciting. Plus tales grow in the telling, especially the tales of soldiers, sailors, and fishermen.

    But the linked article doesn’t say he “probably never hurt anyone.” It says “there are no verified accounts of him actually killing anyone,” and somehow I doubt that many pirates kept a crack team of combat accountants on hand to track that stuff.

    • Rutskarn says:

      That source isn’t great, but I wanted to link something. I’m actually basing that claim on the account of Thatch’s career from “The Republic of Pirates” by Colin Woodward, one of the latter-century attempts to revise unexamined and fallacious early documents.

      Blackbeard may not have kept records on everyone they killed, but the people he robbed certainly would have noted fatalities. Ships kept detailed logs, and if someone’s murdered by a pirate, that’s the sort of thing you need to write down.

      This, combined with his reluctance to harm people even when he’d promised to (as in the medicine siege) suggest he got by on intimidation alone.

  9. Andy says:

    Also, everything I learned about pirate history I learned from Assassins’ Creed IV.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>