Blackbeard. Mungo Herdman beards piracy
It is Howell Davis who kicks off the Golden Age of Piracy. We are in the late seventeenth century and we are in seas still marked by the struggles between the European states and their colonies, populated by hundreds of mavericks ready to get rich at any cost. Seas crossed by merchant ships loaded with spices, slaves and other amenities of the modern era. Davis, a Welsh pirate of great skill and charisma, finds himself with his crew of criminals off the coast of present-day Panama, looking for this kind of ships. After weeks of searching he decides to attack a freighter loaded with silver from Portobello and bound for Spain. The news is sufficiently destabilizing to activate the Spanish navy, which informed of the incident launches a warship into the sea, with the aim of shooting down the Rover, Davis' ship. Instead, it is the warship that is sunk. This drops a bounty on Davis' head that draws the attention of this game's great star, Mungo Herdman, on him.
Herdman, historically responsible for one of the largest piracy trials of the eighteenth century, is a King's Commissioner, a British bounty hunter. Finding himself in the parts of Portobello, he immediately sets out in search of Davis, finding him within a few weeks and engaging him in a chase in which the pirate finally wins; he hides right in Portobello, where he manages to lose his tracks while peddling the looted silver and exchanging previously captured hostages. Herdman does not give up and continues to search the adjacent sea area in search of the fugitives.
Meanwhile, piracy is also developing in Africa, on the Gold Coast, the sea area near today's Ghana. In these parts the governors of various colonies sympathize with the pirate cause. Charles Vane attacks a brigantine laden with gold on which he finds none other than the Governor of Cape Coast. Someone on board points out that the crew is tired after this long journey and this endless search for a ship to plunder, so much so that several crew members have contracted scurvy. Wouldn't it be necessary to sail to a port so that we can trade the loot and heal the crew?
|The future of piracy: India.
The answer comes in the form of a natural disaster: Port Royal, Jamaica's most important city at the time, collapses as a result of a devastating earthquake followed by a series of tsunamis. The city sinks, causing the death of over two thousand people; In the following weeks, endless epidemics spread, causing the deaths of thousands of other British citizens and slaves. The news of the loss of Port Royal, a very important place of trade, as well as the main English colony in Central America, has a series of chain repercussions which ultimately result in a total reorganization of world maritime traffic. In addition, war breaks out in Europe, which forces even the King's Commissioners like Mungo Herdman to return to their homeland to serve the crown. The Indian colonies suddenly become crucial places, yearned for by pirates because they are teeming with merchant ships and at the same time feared by them, as they are protected by warships and governors hostile to the cause of piracy. In the race for power in these places full of riches, the aforementioned governors do not fail to eliminate each other in order to have control over the greedy Bombay, Goa and Calcutta. Severndroog, a Dutch colony, is the only one that continues to have an indifferent governor, or perhaps one who is unconscious of maritime threats.
So no, there is no return to port. The scenario is clear: the future of piracy lies on the shores of India. Leaving aside the discontent of the crew and the scurvy it suffers from, Vane directs the figurehead of his ship towards the Cape of Good Hope and prepares to sail towards the waters of the Indian Ocean.
Bartholomew Roberts, known as "Black Bart", today remembered as one of the most fearsome pirates of the time, also starts his business. Roberts chooses to prey on the east coast of the English colonies in America. He actually finds a large number of merchant ships, albeit of very small importance. The traffic of valuable goods no longer passes there, after the fall of Port Royal. After replacing his crew, suffering from scurvy and annoying drunkenness, he then begins to think about moving himself to alternative shores.
|Charles Vane climbs up the Indian Ocean
with a scurvy-affected crew.
Months go by. Sea voyages are long and dangerous, as Vane learns to the detriment of him after passing the Cape of Good Hope and climbing up the East African coast. His crew is tired. The promise of great wealth once they arrive in India appears more and more a mirage in the mind of Captain Vane, who is one day caught and, by mutual agreement, thrown overboard to do the sharks a favor. The new captain of the Treasure, Vane's ship, is Stede Bonnet, a pirate with rather ungenerous statistics. Emerging among his companions as the best among equals, or perhaps as the most controllable of them, Bonnet is a captain who can boast only one thing: the confidence of a crew that, even if suffering from scurvy, is so happy to be rid of Vane to decide to follow him even towards the coasts of India, now risen to the promised land of the entire game. And indeed the Treasure manages to attack a Dutch ship near Severndroog. More self-confident, Bonnet enters the Dutch port, in order to heal the crew, begin negotiations and convert the loot into useful currency after exchanging hostages. The governor is not happy to have him there, but he expects to be able to acquire a Dutch letter of marque, the pass for a quiet retreat to private life.
Meanwhile Bartholomew Roberts, thanks to lucky winds, manages to reach the African coast, where he can't wait to breathe the guns and start a pirate activity worthy of the name. The sighting of a merchant ship seems to be a promising start, except that... Roberts' player decides to cast some black magic on himself: "Ah, I want to see if you can get me a King's Commissioner, now!", he exclaims, alluding to the very low notoriety of his own pirate and the actual statistical improbability that a Commissioner could appear in those waters. A wise, casual and absolutely not agreed use of the cards by the other players meant, however, that that merchant was really accompanied by a warship, captained by Robert Maynard, particularly skilled King's Commissioner, entered into real history as responsible for killing Blackbeard. Armed with a brand new schooner, the Fortune, Roberts decides to strike a fight with Maynard, confident that he is destined for victory. At the end of the swift confrontation that ensues, however, his corpse and his entire crew float like assholes off the coast of Cormantin.
|Roberts and Maynard defy themselves
off the Gold Coast.
In the height of irony, among other things, after Roberts' departure, merchant traffic timidly returns to sprouting along the North American coast. New pirates appear on this scene, such as George Lowther, who at the helm of an unhappy crew, also affected by an epidemic of scurvy, manages to capture a brig near Charleston, where he docks only to be unhappily killed by the his own first mate, John Rackham, probably following disputes concerning one of the women on board (Rackham is known to us because, among other things, two of the very few piratesses we have heard of, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, served under his command).
After a few months, the particularly exciting situation for Indian piracy turns dark. Pirates in the area have multiplied and now among the most active ones there is also the Frenchman Emmanuel Wynne, whose intense activity ends up attracting the attention of a King's Commissioner. Mungo Herdman then appears out of nowhere, evidently freed from his military commitments at home, and still hurt by the failures against Davis, who has since retired. With his fleet he sets out on a merciless hunt for all the pirates in the area, immediately finding Wynne, who is defeated in a skirmish on the open sea, arrested along with his surviving companions, and hanged. Among the pirates active in these areas is also Bonnet, who thinks he can get away with staying in Severndroog, in Dutch land. Except that the governor of Severndroog changes, and the one who takes his place, Herrick, is firmly against the cause of piracy, probably as a result of the intense criminal activity in those seas. Bonnet is therefore forced to flee first from the Dutch port, and then from Mungo Herdman, from whom he narrowly escapes with his slow brig, heading desperately to the Cape of Good Hope.
|India, the promised land. Thicc merchant ships
are defended by governors adverse to piracy.
If in India pirates flee from the King's Commissioners, in the Caribbean they do so from disease. Cartagena is in fact hit by a double of epidemics which kills thousands of civilians and confirms the lack of interest of the merchants for that cursed land. The few pirates active here leave the area, such as Edward England, who, having sold a hostage in Port o' Spain, makes his way to the Gold Coast in search of better waters. Though, he is hit by an incredible hurricane which, after hitting the North American coast, launches itself towards the Atlantic and smashes half of England's ship. Just to lay a tombstone on this region, a new governor is also elected in Cartagena, a certain Nicholson, who promises to fight piracy. But what piracy?
Because in fact trade - and therefore piracy - are also flourishing again on the American coast, but this is happening much further north. Due to a discreet numbers of local governors precociously rebellious against England, and therefore well disposed to deal with pirates, the young John Taylor begins to attack the merchant ships passing near Bath, and unexpectedly manages to find a Schooner full of slaves , led by an English nobleman. Incredulous, he sets out to look for a port on American soil in which to sell everything, including the nobleman. And he is not the only one to have a person of such rank locked in the hold: there is also Bonnet, who after about a year of navigation, thanks to very lucky winds, made all the way from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic just to make Herdman and the other bounty hunters lose their tracks. He, with a crew now on the verge of a second mutiny - the rebel Thomas Tew tried to take control of the ship, but was put to the sword - finally lands in New York, starting negotiations with Governor Richardson, decidedly friendlier than his Dutch counterpart in Severndroog; he sells him all the merchandise stolen from the Indies, cleans up his criminal record with a large check and enjoys a well-deserved retirement after a difficult life. He will be followed shortly after by Rackham. Taylor, hoping that his glory days are not over yet, takes to the sea, but will know no other golden moments for the rest of his career.
|Bonnet, Taylor and Rackham conclude
their activity along the north american coast.
We left Edward England in the middle of the Atlantic on a boat half destroyed by a hurricane. Well, he arrives in the Gold Coast, where he finds another pirate, Francis Spriggs, who has been chasing local merchant ships since the beginning of the game, obtaining little success. The activities of Spriggs have since long ago put on alert the local navy which, after having ordered Robert Maynard to return on land, has put a warship into sea in order to capture him. This warship has been sailing on sight for a while without finding any trace of pirates. But suddenly England shows up. It then proceeds to engage him. Unable to escape due to the terrible state of his ship, England opts to fight, incredibly managing to sink the enemy warship, whose survivors escape with a lifeboat and immediately spread incredible news about the pirate, his half-destroyed ship and its ferocity. A ship larger than the first one is therefore put into the sea with the aim of chasing him, except that this time it is Spriggs to meet and face it. At this point, the combined notoriety of the two pirates - which, it should be noted, are not allies - again attracts the attention of bounty hunters to the Gold Coast. Mungo Herdman is still busy in India, so an even stronger Commissioner, Chaloner Ogle, a British naval officer and politician, appears in his place. Ogle soon finds England trying to sneak off to the Dutch port of Cormantin after looting a freighter. The pirate, unable to escape again, chooses to face him. The resulting battle manages to consign England to history: armed exclusively with a semi-destroyed schooner, leading a crew reduced to the limit by the very hard crossing of the Atlantic and the previous fight against the warship, he manages to get the better of Ogle , considered one of the greatest captains of the time. Upon his arrival in Cormantin, his notoriety is already such as to have made him a living legend. Sold to the local administration - also very open to dealing with pirates - the Spanish and English assets collected respectively in the Caribbean and in the Gold Coast, he buys impunity for himself and his crew, retiring to private life in the Dutch domains. In the game's terms, England's enormous fame and his considerable loot allow his player, Orla, to move from the bottom of the ranking to the first position, with a dizzying advantage too.
|Herdman hunts Bellamy. Avery escaped.
Quelch and de Lusan wonder about what to do.
The fortunate activity of England and Spriggs, as well as the presence of governors well disposed towards piracy, make the Gold Coast a very interesting destination for pirates, who therefore move in this direction. In India they think they are calm and therefore recall Mungo Herdman. Shortly after his return, however, the merchant traffic starts again there and now new pirates come back, even more organized than before: Henry Avery, whom history today remembers as "the King of the Pirates", and Samuel Bellamy, known instead as "the Prince of the Pirates". The two attack the brigantines active in these waters, finding them overflowing with spices and managing to accumulate goods of incalculable value. Our Mungo Herdman, evidently still stationed around these ares, is back to take action for the third time. Avery is pleased with his loot and then heads for the Cape of Good Hope, hoping to find fair winds as it happened to Bonnet years before. Bellamy instead escapes to Kilwa, a Portuguese station in East Africa, and is able to avoid capture by Herdman only due to the speed of his sloop. Herdman, at this point, places himself in the African seas, with the intention of not letting anyone pass and to attack the pirates who fled to the Arabian coasts, including characters like Ravanau de Lusan, John Quelch, and Edward Teach (third-rate pirates, at least in this game of ours). Just to clarify the concept, Mungo finds and attacks the pirate base of the island of St. Marie, Madagascar, destroying it easily before making the pirates lose his tracks.
|The pirate base in Madagascar has been
destroyed. Oblivious to this Bellamy and Quelch
drunk themselved in the port of Kilwa.
Unfortunately for them, neither Bellamy nor Avery will be able to enjoy their loot, for similar reasons. In fact, Bellamy's pirates get drunk like bastards as soon as they enter the port, BEFORE having exchanged the confiscated goods. The aforementioned John Quelch, active around there, finds out and rushes to Kilwa with the aim of stealing Bellamy's loot. Evidently he does not inform his crew of what the plan is, because as soon as they arrive at the port his sailors also join the debauchery and revelry, thus making themselves unable to rob their colleagues. At the end of the loot we don't hear about it anymore: clearly every pirate, after the hangover, went in "every man for himself" mode and ran away with his part of goods.
As for Avery, even his arrival at the English port of Cape Coast, resulting in a general hangover of the crew, does not go unnoticed. The eternal runner up, Francis Spriggs, is tired of chasing slave ships and wants to retire to private life like England. On learning of the babylon into which Cape Coast has transformed, he, unlike Quelch, informs the crew of his intent to clean his backside with the code of ethics of piracy, then docks at the English port and burglars his rival, succeeding in a majestic robbery, making him the owner of more than half of Avery's spice loot. Immediately he trades these goods, rushes to the local governor (a certain Beesten) and bribes him, acquiring impunity for himself and his entire crew. After the party is over, Avery is left with only a fraction of the spice he had. He only has time to acquire an english letter of marque, with which he plans to retire, but as soon as it learns about this the crew begins to celebrate again.
This time as well, him and the remains of his treasure will never be heard of again.
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|The placement at the end of the game.
A: Alex Isabelle; B: Laura Beltrami; C: Luca Orlandini, D: Andrea Benassi. Notice that the real fight
was for second place; the first is beyond any reasonable ambition.
|Avery, drunk with his crew, unable to retreat.
|The dead captains.
|The pile of retired or dead pirates at the end of the game.
The last one of the list is the vile Spriggs, retired
after his robbery of Avery.
|Unhappy Avery, with several notoriety points and 3000 dobloons
he won't be able to spend as he would have liked to.