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
 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
 He worked as a surgeon for them, anyway.
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