I've been a fan of Pirates since I was a small child - in fact when I was eight we did a project in class about what our "Top Three" jobs would be when we were all grown up. Whereas a lot of Boys my Age were putting Footballer and Solder, my number one Job was Pirate.
I've got quite a few Pirate and Privateer Miniatures, some of the very Old Pre-Slotta Citadel remain my favourites - as do the Warmachine Privateers. But recently I've been looking at the options for a "Skirmishy" Pirate game with a Fantasy slant.
"Ron and Bones" is a Board Game effectively - much like "OKKO", and although I have Ron & Bones - I wanted to focus more on Skirmish Wargame Rules - so that left Black Scorpion Miniatures "Cutlass" and Freebooter Miniatures "Freebooter's Fate".
CUTLASS - by Black Scorpion Miniatures
The Cultlass rulebook follows the modern standard for these things and is in full colour, running at just over 120 pages long. Written by Gav Thorpe (and yes it DOES include fairly bad prose before you ask) and Adam Clarke.
Black Scorpion "blurb" states that it is "Superbly Designed" and although it does have all the rules and templates for your games and campaigns - I personally it a little "busy" in look, and hard to find what you need quickly. The rules themselves though straighforward are nothing new really and come over A LOT like Necromunda/Mordheim - and it has a VERY Games Workshopy feel to it.
All the Scenarios/Encounters seem to land based - I found that a little perturbing for a pirate skirmish game personally.
Players start with a "gang" of between 5 and 8 models - a good solid number for a skirmish game. Therein lies the problem for me, as if its like Necromunda/Mordheim - whilst I like those games, it could also mean constant buying/painting/converting of more new models. Whilst thats GREAT for Black Scorpion, as it means the game itself generates sales by people just playing it, its not so good for gamers like me with limited time and resources.
This combined with my slowness of painting and building/converting meant the game is going to be very hard for me to keep up with, although I like a Campaign system - constant adding/changing of models is difficult for me to time manage if I were to end up playing a game a lot.
Presentation & Quality - 7/10. It's a nice looking book, however - mine hasn't had that much use and pages are dropping out already.
Value for Money - 7/10. It's very pretty and glossy, and there is quite a lot to it - Rules for Crews and Races, Equipment & Skills, and the Campaign System. However, they waste 10 Pages on Pictures of Miniatures - and whilst pretty, I would personally rather have a slightly cheaper product (or indeed a stronger one) or had more rules or fiction.
Freebooters Fate - by Freebooter Miniatures
The Mercenaries are not a Crew in their own right - their limitations are specific to each Mercenary - some can be hired by most Crews, but others will not work for the Goblin Pirates or the Imperial Armada for example.
Presentation & Quality - 9/10. The book is remarkably sturdy (my copy has been read through A LOT - and despite that, its merely a little dog-eared at the corners), and despite a glaring error (there are no Doubloon costs for the miniatures, but there is a downloadable PDF list on the official forum) - the book is perfect, stunning in fact.
Value for Money - 8/10. It's not the thickest book in the world at 116 pages, but rather than seemingly useless gallery pages - the painted miniature pictures are dispersed throughout as action/diorama pictures. I marked it down slightly because of the error over the Doubloon costs, as to some people this is very frustrating. My only other issue is the lack of a Campaign system, but it's not beyond the pale to work out your own and have at it!