Golden Cranes – Hoist Madness!
Originally published to Miniature Trading on March 14th, 2015
You may have seen my post about HI raiders. After playing around with the concept a bit, I have decided to create a fleet that hasn’t really been done before. If you’re already familiar with the game pieces, you may want to skip right to the Strategy section.
There are only four other fleets that have the Maui’s Fishhook in them, and none of them have her set up like I do here in this fleet. Lady Kamaile is a tough crew to use in general, but I think I have found a great spot for her. She is key because she links to the MF, unlike Brother Virgil. Kamaile lets Grim come on board, and he is the essential crew I really wanted to use in this fleet. The helmsman is necessary to boost the MF’s speed to an acceptable level. Also keep in mind that due to the nature of using HI raiders, I’ve included the 10 point Patagonia/Mycron combo for speed and flexibility. This gives the MF a potential speed of L+S+L+S when she needs it. The oarsman prevents the MF from becoming derelict, not allowing her to be captured, which is important for the second part of the strategy.
Since Kamaile links, the MF still has three cargo spaces left over once the crew come aboard. This is good since there are HI raiding abilities that let you take one or two treasures at a time, so naturally we want to maximize the utilization of Grim’s unique wording, as he is the only crew in the game with his ability. Lady Kamaile not only (essentially) doesn’t take up any valuable cargo space, she also provides the MF with another ability that will be VERY helpful for this fleet. With L+S+L+S speed during the first few turns, the MF will jump out in front of the rest of the fleet and mark as many islands as explored as possible. This makes exploring much easier for my other ships, including the American native canoes if the MF can reach their island fast enough.
The second ship is the Spanish hoist Buscador. With a helmsman she moves L+S. Master Bianco gives her and any other Spanish ships +1 cargo spaces and makes it impossible for opponent’s to take treasure from the Buscador. Fernando Sanchez isn’t Grim the Savage, but with the multi-segment move action provided by the helmsman, the Buscador can move away and redock to keep taking gold from an enemy home island. She has 6 cargo spaces available. Unfortunately the Buscador’s point limit is full and we can’t add an oarsman to prevent capture.
By now you may have guessed that the third ship is the American hoist – the Frontier. The Frontier is the fastest hoist and also has the biggest cargo hold. In this fleet she moves S+S+S with 6 cargo spaces available. Her large point cost and cargo hold make her a good spot for the Tribal Chieftain. As with the other two hoists, the Frontier has the Secret Hold keyword, which will be a good defence in such a high point and high risk strategy. The oarsman prevents capture, which is great for later in the game.
The American native canoes are another key element in this fleet. For just 10 points, 5 additional ships that move S+L come into play. They have the most cargo capacity of all the native canoes, and even have good guns and a nifty ability that should help this fleet out in numerous ways.
This fleet is a combination of the English, Spanish, and American factions, but with the Canoes and support ships I wanted to keep it to mostly an American/Spanish feel. The Peacock fits the bill quite well, with blazing speed and effective cannons to support the other ships. She is carrying a captain and smokepot shot. When possible, she will harass enemy treasure runners and block any big gunships from attacking the important hoists. However, she will try to stay out of trouble until the MF steals gold with Grim the Savage. At that point she becomes an important member of the team, as she will provide a layer of smoke that the other ships will possibly use to make their getaway. If they don’t need the smoke, the Peacock could even try “smoking out” one side of an enemy HI by putting a fog bank nearly touching the island, blocking the opposing fleet from getting to the other ships. She can also run a suicide mission to slow down ships giving chase.
The Sea Serpent is another support ship that will do the same things as the Peacock. However, she is even more useful as a getaway ship since the reverse captain ability allows her to duck into the fog with any other ships. She also has an extra cargo space if the hoists run out of helper ships to dump gold on.
I don’t like including La Monarca, but she is a nice choice of support ship in this fleet. With a helmsman and Master Bianco’s bonus, her cargo hold remains large at 4 available spaces. Between Lady Kamaile and the prevalence of the Hoist keyword throughout this fleet, the Monarca shouldn’t need an explorer. She will probably use her ability more than once throughout the game, especially later on when things get chaotic and hoists try to dump gold on her. In this case the Cargo Master is very useful because it allows the Monarca to potentially still have cargo spaces open even after exploring an island.
The Patagonia/Mycron combo is popular for a reason: it works. Unfortunately, with the dangers and risks of home island raiding, the MF really won’t get by moving just L+S. When that speed is doubled, however, Grim could be flipped at the perfect moment and the MF could pull off a successful raid. The probability of this fleet working the way it’s supposed to dramatically increase with Mycron in the fleet. Also, since it’s over 100 points, the 10 point combo doesn’t take up a huge percentage of the build total. Lastly, since there are plenty of ships to choose from, Mycron’s flexibility is much higher than in a smaller game. He will mainly focus on the MF, but any other ships (even a canoe!) that need him could get major help from time to time. Your opponent won’t know what ships they should chase because they won’t know which one will have it’s speed doubled on the next turn!
There are two strategies that this fleet employs: the first is getting a ton of gold extremely quickly, and the second involves raiding enemy home islands. “Islands” because this fleet would probably be better and more interesting in a multiplayer game, especially with whirlpools and lots of wild islands.
On the first turn, Mycron sacs the Patagonia to move the MF L+S+L+S, which should be enough to reach the nearby island where the native canoes are docked. Using the hoist keyword (or Lady Kamaile I suppose) will allow the canoes to move away and redock, emptying the island.
The rest of the ships sail out, with the Monarca looking to dock on the second turn at an island the Kamaile has marked as explored. Mycron will have to use his best judgment to determine which ship should get an extra action.
The canoes return home, likely giving this fleet an early gold advantage. With this gold the fleet can build at least one fort. Keeping the second part of the strategy in mind, build the fort on an island that is in line with an opponent HI. Ramsgate would work nicely, as the 2L gun could help keep opponent’s at bay and hit them before they can get to the fort. Other forts could be built to confuse the enemy as to where you will deposit your gold after you raid their HI (remember that gold in forts counts towards victory at the end).
Because of Grim and Fernando Sanchez, this fleet isn’t designed to get treasure that isn’t on “their” nearby islands (let your opponent run gold without interference). The canoes, Monarca, Buscador and Frontier work together to get as much gold home as possible from the islands neighboring their HI. I think this would be rather magnificent to see, due to the sheer amount of abilities in play at once. Due to her doubled speed, the MF would have explored most or all of the nearby islands with Kamaile. The Buscador and Frontier could easily “hoist” the treasure to the nearby Monarca and canoes, who would then speed home (which is right close by). The canoes’ ability could interact to form a chain (like volt’s Chain of Fools fleet that won the Gimmick Challenge) reaching out from the home island. The Monarca’s ability would boost her overall speed even higher (already at S+S+S+S), especially if she was given treasure by a hoist or the canoes. If there were any good unique treasures that would be useful to the hoists (or the Peacock/Sea Serpent) later in the game, they could easily be transferred using the hoist keyword and/or passing them along the formations of native canoes. Basically, between the fast base moves, huge cargo holds, numerous ships, and transfer combos available between the canoes and hoists, there would be a lot of treasure accumulating on the home island in a hurry!
Once the nearby gold has been unloaded at home, this fleet gets serious about it’s core mission: steal enemy gold and don’t let them take it back.
Grim is the biggest key. Since he can take as much gold as the MF can hold, the MF can move L+S+L+S and take up to 3 treasure coins from an enemy home island. This is where the hoist keyword comes in. Unfortunately, since stealing from an enemy HI isn’t considered an explore action, the hoist keyword can only transfer gold to one ship, rather than any friendly ships that the hoist can reach. However, the combo still works quite well, especially when the other parts are involved.
The native canoes would do well to follow the MF and use their ability to take gold from her. From there, they can transport the gold down the line as long as they can form. High-value coins would go the farthest, although if there weren’t many canoes present, the MF’s Secret Hold would do a good job protecting the precious gold for the immediate future.
The Buscador has Fernando Sanchez to help out Grim. The Buscador moves the same speed as MF, but the speed isn’t likely to be doubled since the MF is more important to this fleet. This makes the Buscador the most expendable hoist since the Frontier is faster and holds the chieftain. The Buscador could even be a decoy, raiding the HI on one side before the MF swoops in on the other side, distracting the enemy. The Buscador could also protect the MF from approaching gunships with her length, docking right next to the MF and sharing in the pillaging. Her ability fits this strategy PERFECTLY since the Buscador will likely be a target (especially if she’s protecting the MF), allowing her an extra S boost to jump out of harm’s way and get the gold on the run.
The Monarca wouldn’t want to miss out, as her fast speed (the fastest ship in the fleet) makes her ideal for making a getaway with stolen loot. If the hoists give it to her, she’ll even get the +S bonus, making it very difficult for your opponent to catch your ships as they run off with the gold!
The Peacock can slow down enemy ships and/or provide fog cover for her allies. Any of the ships involved in the raid(s) can easily duck into a fog bank, then scatter on the next turn since they would probably roll differently. The Sea Serpent will do the same thing as the Peacock, but since she has the reverse captain ability, she can duck into the fog to protect herself. Doing it again on the next turn, your raiders could be just about invulnerable for as long as you want them to be. The captain gives the Serpent some nice flexibility too, as she can either move and shoot or shoot and move. The Peacock and Sea Serpent are great support ships in this fleet, able to create smoke cover for the raiders and simultaneously slow down the opponents giving chase. They are quick and small, so they shouldn’t get in the way of the more important ships, not to mention that the Peacock can’t be pinned and can rotate on her stern.
The whole idea is to create as much confusion as possible. That’s why it’s so key that both of the HI raiders are crew rather than obvious ship abilities. They will remain hidden until the last moment, and then strike with great speed and agility. Up to four treasures can be taken per turn, and if the canoes and Frontier can take the gold off the raiders (a great aspect of this fleet), they could go back for more on the next turn.
All the while ships are taking and receiving (via the canoes/hoists/explore actions) gold as your opponent angrily turns his ships around. This is where you can have a little fun. Once you’ve emptied their HI or taken as much gold as you wanted, anything is possible. Your ships could scatter in opposite directions, with multiple hoists, canoes, and the Monarca sailing in different directions, making your opponent choose which ships to chase. Hoists could trade treasure back and forth each turn, cycling the gold through the fleet and making it difficult to know where the gold will be next. Mycron will double the speed of one of your ships per turn, adding even more randomness into the equation. Ships will be ducking into smokebanks and hopefully fog banks, not to mention whirlpools as well. Hoists have nothing to fear because of their Secret Holds and oarsmen who prevent capture. If your opponent can only sink you to get their treasure back, you stand to gain more than them because at least some of your ships will slip through to freedom. It’s all about getting in and out as fast as possible, creating chaos and confusion as ships scatter, shoot, duck into fog, and run for their lives!
Once you get into your territory, the forts will be waiting to receive the gold. If you can make it back to your own HI, all the better. Since ships will probably be right behind you, it would be amusing to deposit the gold in a fort (especially Ramsgate) and then turn around and fight as they are pummeled by the fort’s guns. Either way, between all the transfers going back and forth, the protection of the fort (both of the gold and from the fort’s guns), and the Secret Holds, a lot of your gold should make it back safely into your treasure chests.
I didn’t want to use events but they’re mostly just to fill out the points. Rolling Fog is seldom used but could help this fleet escape if placed on a fog bank near your opponent’s home island. That’s another little strategy play – if you use terrain try to put some fog around your opponent’s home island, without it seeming too purposeful. Becalmed would be a perfect event for the beginning of the inevitable chase. Freeze at least one of their ships for an entire turn and it’s more likely that you’ll succeed in the robbery.
I included a few UT’s to help this fleet out a little bit. This fleet probably won’t be sinking any ships, so Neptune’s Figurehead should only benefit me (though not necessarily in a multiplayer game). Poseidon’s Breath could help ships escape the chase – especially the hoists since they have so much cargo. Protection from Davy Jones is fun one that could let ships remain unharmed while escaping via whirlpools. It would be even more fun if someone brought Calypso to the action. Relics is another stalling tactic, with a similar effect to Becalmed during a chase. I wanted to include Wine, but since it doesn’t stay face down I didn’t want it to give away the strategy before Grim and Fernando are revealed. I included Witch’s Brew just for fun, in case the support ships aren’t around later in the game. Sunken Treasure was included because I figured that either this fleet would find it and bring it back very early on, or I could steal the gold it produces later in the game!
There were other game pieces considered. I wanted to use the American Cargo Master to give the Peacock and Sea Serpent more cargo space to have gold, but the Frontier would be at 18 points of crew and those ships are the offensive ships in the first place. Other options were considered as well (nothing major), but this is how the fleet looks right now. I may change it at some point but I really like it.
So there you have it! I know that 150 point fleets could have anything in them, and this fleet is still mostly a gimmick fleet focused on combining hoists with HI raiders. However, I think this fleet could do very well. Gold is the key to winning games, and this fleet has the speed and cargo capacity to get a TON of treasure. Even without raiding any enemies, this fleet has the potential to win just based on it’s gold running capacity alone. When combined with the two support smokeships, the numerous ability combinations, and the relative durability of the hoists, the fleet looks pretty solid as a whole.
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