Nan o’ War CH15: Free Shipping

By Rutskarn Posted Wednesday Jun 28, 2017

Filed under: Lets Play 21 comments

One of B&G: Caribbean!‘s most transparent influences is Captain Blood, a character made famous by an Errol Flynn film that still sets the standard for half-assed Irish accents. Captain Blood is the classic tale of a doctor branded traitor by a kangaroo court and dispatched to Port Royal as slave and political prisoner. Before long he and some former revolutionaries escape in a boat, steal a ship from the conveniently attacking Spaniards, and are so successful in carrying out acts of noble piracy across the New World that the now-famous Blood is pardoned by the English usurper, William of Orange, and appointed the new governor of Port Royal. And under his righteous administration, no-one was ever unjustly enslaved in Jamaica again, probably.

It’s a classic movie, and when they get around to re-making it I’ll probably go re-see it. But you know what I’d rather watch? The movie where a grandma is indentured for forty seconds, falls in with a bad crowd, breaks some kneecaps, scores some headshots, wins a horse racing championship with a pocketful of hand grenades, and then parlays a literally undefeated career of gambling into an entire island’s worth of thriving rum distilleries and miscellaneous business enterprises.

And if that’s too much trouble, I’ll settle for thirty seconds of Diana Rigg wearing this costume.

It turns out that when you climb the tax brackets in this game, you unlock a higher “merchant reputation” or something. When the morning after my big win rolled over, said reputation instantly skipped like four levels. When the next morning rolled over, it skipped like four more. I think I literally advanced too much for the game to process at once. I’m currently a “Chairman.” Of what, and by whose leave, remains unclear. All I know is that I definitely deserve to be in charge of whatever it is I’m now in charge of.

Which would at least include my new flotilla of ships snapped up cash-on-the-barrel at ports around Hispaniola—and you better believe every deck of them has been decked out. This whole game I’ve been pressing my nose up against the greyed-out “buy upgrades” button in the shipyard menu, hoping against hope that someday I’ll unlock the ability to pay craftsmen for services. Well, “that day” happened after all. Every single upgrade tier just popped literally overnight. It’s Christmas(!) in the Caribbean(!).

So I took all my newest purchases to the shop and blew their slots on the likeliest looking improvements. With their iron scantings and fat culverins and reinforced timbers and silken lines, my ships represent the absolute best fully-upgraded vessels a merchant ranking can buy in this videogame. Without exception, each and every one of them fucking sucks.

See, there’s just one problem. This game has two different reputation systems, merchant and military. A high merchant rep only allows you to buy innocuous things, like powder magazines and cannonball heating furnaces and foreign mercenaries. To buy something as dangerous as a medium-sized ship, you first need to prove yourself in battle against…whomever, I guess?

“Hey, can I order a frigate?”

“Sir, do you really think I’m going to sell a dangerous warship to a stranger?”

“Would it help if I’ve sacked San Juan for no reason?”

“You know, I thought your horde looked familiar! I’ll draft the paperwork.”

At least, that’s my best guess of how it works. It’s not like this game’s documented. Assuming I’m right, I’m left with two related problems to solve: I need a better ship, and I need to raise my military reputation. The solution to both seems pretty straightforward: like you’re actually supposed to do in these games, I’m going to join a faction, follow orders, grind through about a million sensible battles, and carefully build my reputation and standing through service of the good and virtuous King Diez.

You’ve heard of him, haven’t you? King Diez of House NUTS?

Seriously, I’m just gonna find pirates with awesome ships and pick really stupid fights with them. And what have we here?

“Sixth-rate frigate” sounds like a good starting point over the first-rate waste of money I’m currently bobbing around in. Let’s get into it.

As I’m growing more literate in this game, it’s getting to the point where I can actually read a lot of strategic information from screens like this. Take the line that says “There is a light breeze blowing from the north.” From this data, I can tell you with absolute certainty that I’m going to start off engaging them from the south.

I’m also getting the hang of naval combat. Note the little icon by the minimap in the top right. You can click and unclick that option to switch what kind of ammo you fire; when it’s glowing, like it is right now, your ships will fire grapeshot that damages crew more than it harms the hull. This is ideal for when you want to capture a ship, not sink it like my flotilla is about to fucking do anyway OH WHOOPS


Well, there goes the whole point of this engagement. Might as well wring the maximum XP out of it and board the next ship. At least this time, the boarding parties are hilariously uneven in my favor.

The fight consists of me swinging over to the other ship and clicking my mouse exactly twice. As mortal combat goes, it’s pretty serene. From an actuarial standpoint the battle is less hazardous to my crew than about thirty seconds of breathing air in the tropics.

Right up until the resolution screen, apparently. That’s when my crew decides to LARP the last scene of Hamlet.

Sometimes this game makes me feel like I’m in one of those really bitter D&D campaigns. A DM sets a gratingly tedious obstacle. A player starts basically cheating, which is hilarious. Then the DM starts basically cheating back, and it’s the worst thing ever.

Oh, yeah, forgot to mention—I picked up some named crewmates earlier. I have a Dutchman named Vanhouten, a Frenchman named Frogling, and an Englishman named Baron Blighty Fishandchips of Arse-on-Buttock.* What they lack in compelling characterizations, they make up in warm, warm bodies for my waterborne murder mills. They level up pretty much all the time, and every so often I remember to pop over to their character page and cash in like eight unspent attribute and skill points at a time. Someday I’ll really get my act together and look at their inventory screens. This is unfortunately how I play all Mount and Blade games.

*I think I’m making this one up, but I’m not going to bother wading through my party screen to check.

This next ship also has, like, two guys. Both are hiding in the crow’s nest. There is literally nobody on deck. We could just start sailing away and see how long it takes for things to get awkward.

Two of my guys manage to die in the amount of time it takes for me to climb the ratlines and skewer this dumbass. Meanwhile, as my own “sharpshooters” fill the air with gunsmoke and embarrassment, his one remaining guy remains conspicuously alive.

I am a reasonable captain. I’m gonna give my man over there like five more seconds before I throw this.

Five seconds later, I’ve won! And I gained some





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21 thoughts on “Nan o’ War CH15: Free Shipping

  1. Droid says:

    Your relationship with Droid has improved from 99 to 100.

  2. Grudgeal says:

    As an Englishman, I’m sure pretty much all of our nobles are arse-on-buttocks, so the house name checks out.

    Not so sure about Fishandchips though. It might be some kind of local variant of ‘Francis’…

  3. KarmaTheAlligator says:

    So, do you think the devs actually took into consideration that players can (and will) cheat when gambling and that why you can’t cheese the game completely? Or just a happy coincidence?

    1. Ilseroth says:

      Personally I’d like to believe that they knew perfectly well that when given a system that let’s you just save/load whenever that people are going to exploit the hell out of it and just said, all right, it’s a single player game, that won’t affect anyone else playing it anyways.

  4. Genericide says:

    So many questions. Why does the game arbitrarily murder some of the crew? Why does the game tell you at the start of battle that the ships you selected to battle joined the battle? Why are there two messages saying you’ve won the battle on the same screen? Why do the messages overflow to a menu screen? Why is all this information given to you in pop-up text that it looks like you can’t manually scroll back? Why do kids love the great taste of Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Why is the game still telling you at the END of the battle that the ships you selected to battle joined the battle?

    And of course: Why is your writing so delightful?

  5. Flux Casey says:

    The Black Purl.

    Most of the time Rutskarn’s puns are painful. But sometimes. Sometimes they’re works of art.

    1. Neil D says:

      My God, that’s fantastic. Thanks for drawing attention to it.

      1. eaglewingz says:

        Ship’s name? The only characteristic that matters.

        1. Leipävelho says:

          Said the captain of Grandkid IV.

    2. Galad says:

      I don’t get it?

      1. Rutskarn says:

        The Black Pearl is the magical ship piloted by Captain Jack Sparrow in the PotC franchise. A “purl” is a kind of stitch employed by knitters. Grandmothers are known for knitting.

        Therefore, “The Black Purl” is a humorous spin on a famous pirate ship modified to reflect its grandmatronly captain.

        1. Sartharina says:

          That probably helps explain the reason she has such a loyal crew – “Sure, she may be old, stubborn, and gets some of us killed. But at least we die in well-maintained clothes”

          1. I like to think she runs a stitch and bitch (a bunch of knitters and hookers get together and hang while knitting or crocheting) with lots of rum and her sailors have the best socks in the Carribean!

            Sailors actually used to be known for knitting as well as whittling, back in the days when there weren’t knitting machines (and knitting wasn’t women’s work). It was a) something to do on long watches that was small and portable and b) cheaper than paying someone else to knit your socks and hats and sweaters and gloves and whatever.

  6. Ninety-Three says:

    Back when you asked if we’d prefer a narrative Let’s Play or a… this, I was firmly in favour of narrative, saying there was no way you could find something even a tenth as good as Battlespire.

    I was wrong, this series has been fantastic. You don’t get enough praise Rutskarn, so I just wanted to tell you you’re doing a great job.

    God this game is a mess.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      You are right; he does not. In minimally partial atonement, I’d say he’s my favourite living author, with such wit, humour, craft, empathy, wisdom and range that if he wishes to continue on as he has been and I live long enough I hope and fully expect to see him one day bust a move past Dostoevsky, Pratchett, M. Banks & Borges in my personal little literary pantheon.

      And if he doesn’t wish it that’s cool too, of course. 😎

  7. Mistwraithe says:

    I must add to the applause. This series has been an amazing read, particularly this and the previous update. Well done Rutskarn, I like Shammus’s writing a lot but I’m enjoying your work here even more right now…

  8. Somniorum says:

    … okay, seriously, where did the thousand grandkids suddenly come from?

    1. Viktor says:

      Grandkids I – V are 5 of the ships in her fleet, with Lackbeard’s flagship being “The Black Purl”.

  9. Nimrandir says:

    Glad to hear that Vanhouten is following through on his oath at the gambling table.

  10. Sartharina says:

    I would totally love to see a standalone Pirates of the Caribbean movie based at least losely on this. It’s about time Betty White got an action role in a movie.

    1. Oooh, can we get Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith in there? I can totally see Mirren as Lackbeard’s former mistress/rival and Smith as her sidekick.

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