One of the new ships introduced in Savage Shores is the Hoist. This ship has a large, articulated arm on the front that can grab cargo from islands and other ships. This raises some new tactical possibilities in the Pirates game, if you know how to use the new ships effectively.

The Hoist keyword states: “Hoist: A ship with this keyword has a movable “hoist” near her bow that allows her to load treasure from, and transfer it between, islands and friendly ships. If at the end of this ship’s move action, the hoist can touch a wild island you previously explored, she can immediately load treasure from it as a free action. Further, once per turn as a free action, this ship can explore any island, friendly ship, or derelict that she can touch with her hoist. When this ship is given an explore action, she can transfer cargo to and from any islands and friendly ships that her hoist can touch.

Ok, that’s a lot of description and it’s a bit confusing, so let’s break things down and see exactly what you can do with a Hoist ship.

First off, the Hoist ship gets a free Explore action once during it’s turn. This Explore action can be used on any ship, island or derelict that she can touch with the Hoist arm. You could use this free Explore action before the ship moves. If you had an Explorer crew on the ship, you could use the free Explore action to check out a close Wild Island, ship or derelict, and then move on to another Wild Island and Explore again (with the Explorer).

Second, when the ship is given an Explore action, including the free one mentioned above, the ship can transfer cargo to and from and islands and friendly ships that she can touch. Any cargo/treasure that gets transfered does end up on the Hoist ship for a moment, which means that any Unique Treasures will have to be resolved. Luckily, any Uts that are loaded face down are treated like cargo, and can be moved normally.

Finally, at the end of it’s turn, if the Hoist can touch any previously explored islands, it can load treasure as a free action. This means that the Hoist arm acts like part of the ship, but the ship does not actually need to dock at an explored Wild Island to load treasure.

There are just 3 Hoist ships in the new set: one American, on English and one Spanish. Hopefully, more Hoists will be in the Return to Savage Shores set that may or may not come out next year.

Frontier - American Hoist Ship

The American gets the best Hoist ship, in my opinion, in the Frontier. For just 17pts, you get a ship with both the Hoist and Secret Hold keyword (which prevents enemies taking treasure from the ship). The ship has 3 masts (plus the Hoist arm), a whopping 8 cargo spaces, and a base move of S+S. The downside is that the cannons are . But, really, this ship is never supposed to fight. It’s main duty is to get that sweet, sweet gold home…or to load it onto faster gold runners.

The Spanish get their own Hoist in the Buscador. It’s cheaper at just 14pts, but in my opinion inferior to the Frontier. This ship has 7 cargo spaces, which is a nice size, but it’s 3 cannons are , which are useless for anything except throwing Smokepots. The Buscadore has a base move of just L, which even with a Helmsman, is too slow for effective gold running. The ship’s speed is somewhat offset by it’s special ability. In addition to the Hoist keyword, the Buscadore has “If this ship is within S of an enemy ship when this ship is given a move action, she gets +S to her base move.” That could come in helpful, but I think that any situation where an enemy comes in close enough to trigger the ability, it’ll probably be an enemy warship on a mission to sink the Buscadore, and you will be unlikely to be able to use it.

Maui\'s Fishhook - English Hoist shipThe final Hoist is the Super Rare English ship Maui’s Fishhook. This ship is expensive at 20pts, but it does have both the Hoist and Secret Hold keywords. In addition, this ship has the ability “Once per turn as part of a move action, this ship can randomly take one treasure from any ship up to S away from her”, which could be nice in the right situation. The Maui’s Fishhook also is linked to Lady Kamaile, who allows crew of any nationality to use their abilities on the ship, and who can mark an island explored from S away. Both are nice abilities, and a good addition to this ship. But, the Maui’s Fishhook‘s downsides are it’s relatively small cargo hold of just 5, and it’s slow base speed of L. At least the ship has decent cannons with , but again, Hoist ships are not really meant to fight.

I was originally skeptical about the Hoist ships when I first heard about them. They sounded crazy and over the top, and not really in the “feel” of Pirates. But, after seeing the ships, and understanding the rules, I can see how they will be a welcome addition to any gold-running fleet that can afford their high cost. They will never be front-line fighters (although I’ve seen some interesting suggestions about putting a Marine on the end of a Hoist arm and shooting across/over another ship), but their built in Explore action will make them useful, if you understand their abilities.