First of 2014! English vs. French at 40 Points – January 2nd, 2014

First Game of 2014

I’ve made the fleets for the next series of games! As expected, the matchup will start out with the English facing the French. The English count HMS Algiers, HMS Lord Cauldwell, and the Patagonia as their only new additions, while the French have acquired Le Triton, La Baionnette, and the Belle Poule. The Algiers, Lord Cauldwell, Triton and Baionnette all have captains, with the Patagonia and Belle as the designated treasure runners (although the Triton and Baionnette have cargo space for gold if they want it).

The French started out the game on a gold run. They piled up 13 gold between the hulls of their three ships, and headed back with it. It’s important to note that the English (as player #2) strategically picked the middle island to be the French HI, in order to guarantee that they wouldn’t have to go far to corner the French.

The Triton, moving faster than any other ship in either fleet (S+L+S), was the first to dock at her HI, bringing home 6 gold. She shot at the nearby Lord Cauldwell as soon as she docked, but the Cauldwell’s ability (two hits from the same shoot action are required to eliminate one of this ship’s masts) overcame her firepower. Meanwhile, the Algiers went in the direction of the Belle Poule and the Baionnette. The Baionnette punished her by setting her on fire!

Off in the south by herself, the Patagonia slowly brought in 4 gold for the English (she would later bring home 2 more), while the battle up north continued to rage. The Algiers shot at, rammed, and boarded the Baionnette, but all to no avail. With the Baionnette busy and the Triton off to explore a new wild island, the Lord Cauldwell sunk the Belle Poule, giving 3 gold to each nation. Before the Baionnette could do any further damage to the Algiers, the Algiers used her S+S+S speed to catch up with the Triton (now docked at a wild island) and once again, shoot, ram, and board. However, this sequence was much more successful than the first, as the Triton lost two masts and her explorer! The Algiers would have taken one of the recently loaded treasures if not for her full cargo hold of crew.

On the next turn, the Baionnette responded by taking out the second and final mast of the Algiers, whose resilience would show through once again. The Algiers was essentially out of the game for good, but she managed to roll a 5 to put out her fire while simultaneously getting an extra action to move S+S towards home via her oarsman!

Now the battle was in the hands of the Triton, Baionnette, and HMS Lord Cauldwell. As she had two treasure coins aboard and only one mast remaining, the Triton was the main target of the English. The Lord Cauldwell hit once to dismast her but couldn’t sink the French schooner. The Baionnette now began towing the Triton, looking to bring her in to dock and win the game (the French had 10 gold on their HI with another 7 on the Triton). The Lord Cauldwell, already near the French HI, sailed in the way of the Baionnette, taking out one of her two masts. The Cauldwell may have been able to dismast the French ship if not for her ability that makes her masts immune to ramming. Here’s where the supremely effective ability of the Lord Cauldwell came into play: with just one mast left standing in the French fleet, they had no hope of taking out the Lord Cauldwell’s masts by shooting, making the Englishman basically immune to combat (plus the Baionnette didn’t want to ram the Cauldwell since she needed to get the Triton’s gold home). The Lord Cauldwell dismasted the Baionnette, letting the English tow the Triton and win the game 16-10!

[lord_denton points out mistake]

At this point I don’t know who would have won the game. I’m not going to count this as a victory for either side in terms of the series. I’m just glad it was a great game! First of 2014

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! My Best 40 Point Fleet

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy!

Originally published to Miniature Trading on October 26th, 2014

I’ve managed to acquire both the Hai Peng and Captain Jack Sparrow, and although I won’t be able to use them for a little while, I read up on them in anticipation of using them in games This fleet is designed to be used in a standard 2 player game featuring 6 islands, with 4 of them wild.  Edit: Check out how this fleet did in VASSAL Tournament #2!

This fleet was inspired by a combination of fleets, reviews, and comments that I’ve looked at recently. First off, darrin’s review of the Hai Peng introduced me to the concept of using her in conjunction with Captain Jack.

I first read darrin’s review and got excited about the possibilities that this combo opened up. I would highly recommend reading the review as it’s very insightful and well-explained. Only recently did I see that he already had made a fleet that is somewhat similar to this one. Perhaps all of the cool combos for this game HAVE already been thought of, but we’ll see. 

I think that the Universal Pirate Shipping fleet (along with the second version) is probably more practical and effective than this particular fleet, but I was relieved to see that his idea wasn’t exactly the same as my own.

In creating this fleet, I was also influenced by a recent fleet that discussed using forts to block enemy movement. Lastly, this old review shed further light on Captain Jack.

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So what do we have here? The strategy is quite simple: build a fort on all four wild islands. From there, the Hai Peng can transfer treasure back home, dropping off oarsmen when her cargo gets too low. Since Captain Jack links to all Pirate ships, the Hai Peng has two spaces available for gold.

Mycron sacrifices the Patagonia each turn so that the Hai Peng can move S+L+S+L+S+L+S+L.

The Lezard holds the oarsmen: the Pirate ones fill up her cargo space, but the French one doesn’t take up space. She can “explore” or move away and re-dock at your HI every turn, bringing in a coin from the Hai Peng.

The Banshee’s Cry is there to help the Hai Peng ferry gold home once the forts are set up. She also has oarsmen in case the Hai Peng needs more once the others are distributed around the islands. (This could lead to a funny sight – the Hai Peng running around incredibly fast with forts of one fleet occupying every single wild island, with a lonesome unsuspecting oarsman in each fort!)

The Banshee’s Cry can be swapped out for Becalmed, which would help you get the jump on your opponent. You can effectively freeze most or all of their ships right from the start, which should prevent the Hai Peng from getting hit by an enemy gunship when she is in the enemy’s part of the sea. You’d also have an extra point, which you could use on an extra oarsman to sit on your HI (that the Lezard would load) or the Jolly Mon.

The Patagonia brings two more potential forts into play. Ramsgate is especially fun with that L+L cannon, which will let you interfere with shipping routes and shoot at ships who are shooting at your other forts at a neighbouring island.

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Turn 1:
1. Use Mycron to move the Hai Peng S+L+S+L+S+L+S+L to the island closest to your opponent’s HI.
2. Explore, using Captain Jack to trade the treasure for an oarsman from the Lezard.
3. Unload the coin on the Lezard at your HI.
4. Send the Banshee’s Cry out towards the nearest wild islands.
5. Build a fort using the traded treasure (Dead Man’s Point with a 3 or Paradis de la Mer with a 4).

Turn 2:
1. Use Mycron to move the Hai Peng twice. You should be able to explore two islands, dropping off unneeded oarsmen as you go along.
2. Trade and unload the treasure from the islands using the Lezard.
3. At this point the Banshee’s Cry should be able to either reach the second-closest island to your own HI, which has already been explored by the Hai Peng. At the very least she can hit the island closest to your HI, docking at it.
4. Build two forts (The Devil’s Maw and Ramsgate should be priorities, but whatever you have gold for is fine).

Turn 3:
1. Use Mycron to move the Hai Peng twice, building a fort on the last island and beginning the process of bringing gold home, whether you want to trade it or sail it.
2. Use the Banshee’s Cry to ferry gold home.

Once you have 16 gold you win. Your opponent’s treasure runners will be completely useless until their gunship(s) destroy at least one fort, which could take a while if they pick on Paradis de la Mer. Either way “your gold” is protected for at least a turn each, if not much longer. The extreme speed of both the Hai Peng and Banshee’s Cry lets you ferry gold home in a hurry. Also keep in mind that the Hai Peng should have 2 open spaces once you dump any extra oarsmen (she can keep one), and the Banshee’s Cry will have all 4 open if you dump her second oarsman. The Cry should concentrate on the closer islands while the Hai Peng sails for the more distant ones, potentially even the furthest one. Since you’ll have explored all the islands and the gold is already in your forts, you’ll know exactly where to go with your ships. The Hai Peng can zip in and out of any island in one turn: she can dock at an island S+L+S+L away, load 2 coins, and then sail S+L+S+L away from harm. If she needs it at any point, Mycron can give the Cry an extra action.

Why the Lezard and therefore the French forts? Simple. Paradis de la Mer is the most durable fort by far. Set it up on the furthest wild island, the one closest to your opponent’s HI. Therefore it will be a pest to them for a while, and they may not be able to destroy it. They will have to sail to further islands to destroy the other forts in order to get treasure, in which case the Hai Peng and Banshee’s Cry will have enough time to ferry/trade gold home. L’Intrepide and Le Pique were considered because of their extra speed and large-enough cargo holds, but the Lezard saves a point, which is essential for a fleet like this.

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Obviously this fleet is extremely fragile and entirely dependent on the island setup and the Hai Peng. You’ll only have 3 masts out there at any given point during the game, none of which possess good cannon ranks. If an enemy gunship gets to the Hai Peng, you’ll probably lose. The Banshee’s Cry is relatively expendable, but still important for getting gold to your HI.

When you place the islands, keep in mind that you’ll want to have the home islands as far apart as possible. Hopefully your opponent won’t see your fleet, and the home islands will be as far apart as possible. If they are close together, you may have to build a fort on a near island and on a far one, depending on the setup and who goes first.

Treasure may be the biggest issue. I didn’t have points for a combo like the one in the Universal Pirate Shipping fleet, where a +1/+2 crew is used to increase the value of the gold. The Lezard doesn’t have room for this (hello, L’Intrepide), but in a higher point game this would be great to have. If the furthest island only has 1’s and 2’s, you’ll either have to re-explore the next turn or go to the next island. This is where Becalmed would be useful, buying you an extra turn. When selecting treasure coins, you could gamble and put some 3’s and 4’s into the mix.

Unique treasures like Missionary and Wolves will cripple this fleet in a hurry. This is why I’ve included the UT’s. They’ll let you see danger in advance and/or eliminate treasures you don’t like.

This fleet is basically a gimmick fleet – build four forts on all four wild islands on the first 2 or 3 turns. All gimmicky fleets have serious flaws, and the nature of the gimmick makes this fleet quite risky. However, I love gimmick fleets and this combo sounds too fun not to try out!

Edit (1/1/2015): This fleet was involved in a series!

I’d like to make some edits to this fleet based on the games it was in, to make it better.

Thanks for reading; comment and vote!

Section: Ship #1 (4 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Captain Jack Sparrow DPotC 058 Crew C
1 x Explorer PofSMU 116 Crew C
1 x Hai Peng DPotC 013 Ship R
1 x Helmsman PofSMU 108 Crew U
Section: Ship #2 (5 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Lezard F&S 208 Ship LE
3 x Oarsman PofSMU 112 Crew C
1 x Oarsman PofCC 121 Crew C
Section: Ship #3 (4 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Administrator Scott Bratley PofCC 046B Crew C
1 x HMS Patagonia PofSCS 207 Ship PR
1 x Lord Mycron F&S 027 Crew R
1 x Robinson PofR 037A Crew C
Section: Ship #4 (3 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Banshee’s Cry PofR 013 Ship R
2 x Oarsman PofSMU 112 Crew C
Section: Unique Treasures (5 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Barbary Banner PofBC 107 Unique Treasure R
1 x Holy Water PofDJC 104 Unique Treasure R
1 x Jailhouse Dog DPotC 082B Unique Treasure C
1 x Maps of Alexandria PofBC 101 Unique Treasure R
1 x Pirate Globe DPotC 070B Unique Treasure R
Section: Forts (6 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Dead Man’s Point PofCC 031 Fort C
1 x Fort Brompton PofCC 047 Fort C
1 x Paradis de la Mer PofR 065 Fort C
1 x Ramsgate PofR 038 Fort C
1 x St. Pierre PofCC 091 Fort C
1 x The Devil’s Maw PofR 022 Fort C
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy!

Fleet page at Miniature Trading

Sealing the Deal – Sealed Pack Fleet Challenge

Sealing the Deal

Originally published to Miniature Trading on July 19th, 2014

This is my fleet for the Sealed Pack Fleet Challenge. A big thanks to lord_denton for all the time and effort he put in to run this great challenge!

I was quite satisfied with my packs as I got a few generic crew, some good ships to work with, and multiple options for named crew from the same factions as some of the ships. The only issue I saw was how to fit more than two ships into the 40 point total. Although I had to leave out some things I wanted to include, I think that this is the best fleet that I could put together.

USS Overton is my flagship and the primary gunship of the fleet. With a captain and helmsman, she becomes a dangerous foe, and even more so with her guns enhanced to 2L, 1L, and 2L against non-Americans. Plus, Wayne Nolan gives her a second die roll for whatever she needs it for, making it quite possible that she’ll hit all three times during a shoot action.

The Belle Etoile was one of the original ships in my collection, but unfortunately she was one of three ships to be lost and/or destroyed back in the day. Since then I’ve acquired a new one and now she’s been selected to serve in this fleet. Due to only having one captain (on the Overton) she only is equipped with a helmsman, but perhaps that is all for the better, because she will function as a kind of hybrid ship. Between her speed (enhanced to S+L+S), average cannons, and very valuable cargo-wrecking ability, she is ready for combat, and that might be her main occupation, depending on what the enemy fleet looks like. However, with that speed and 4 cargo spaces available, she can also run gold rather effectively. Everything will depend on what the enemy is doing, what the gold situation looks like, and whether or not the Overton or the Martillo de Dios are in trouble and need assistance.

The Martillo de Dios functions as the designated treasure runner. Although she’s not carrying crew and only has two masts, the Martillo makes up for this with her speed (S+L) and relatively low point cost (. With three spaces available for gold, she’ll grab the best coins from an island and race home.

Although it’s one of my least favourite UT’s to encounter, I threw in Natives because it’s quite likely that my opponents will have treasure runners with crew on them, while the Martillo doesn’t have any. The Belle has her helmsman, but she’d only have to wait one turn.

As I see it, the biggest weaknesses of this fleet lie in its speed (all ships but one move at S+L) and gold-gathering ability. The Martillo doesn’t have an explorer (I didn’t pull any from my packs, plus the point limit is already full), and the Belle Etoile will be pressed to run double-duty throughout the game.

The strength of this fleet is its numbers (three ships that all have at least 2 masts) and firepower. The Overton’s guns are very accurate and the Belle’s guns are extremely destructive.

Why I didn’t use the other stuff I got in my packs:

RV:
012 Coral
134 Cannoneer (American)

The Coral was going to be in the fleet for a long time. She was originally going to be the main treasure runner instead of the Martillo de Dios. For some reason I thought I had two captains when in fact I only had one. In this way, I swapped out the imaginary captain that I wanted on the Belle Etoile and replaced him with the Cursed helmsman from my DJC pack. This lowered the point total to 39, letting me swap in the Martillo for the Coral.

Let me explain my reasoning behind this: I know that the Coral is a bit flashier than the Martillo, since she’s a pirate ship and she has the ability that doesn’t let her be shot at while docked. However, I see the Martillo as the better ship, and the better fit for this fleet. Although the Coral can’t be shot at while docked, she can be rammed. When an enemy ship rams a one master, the one master almost always loses her mast (unless the roll is a 1). This takes the one master out of the game, she can be easily sunk soon thereafter, and the enemy is not pinned. All from one move action from any enemy ship. With two masts, you still have a chance once one of them is gone (not to mention that now the enemy needs to roll a 3 on the ram). Also, for this fleet, if I had went with the Coral, I’d still have an extra point left. As you’ll see from the following game pieces I left out, there were a few things I could have done with it, but nothing as significant as upgrading my main treasure runner.

I didn’t have room to fit a cannoneer into the 40 point limit.

BC:
049 HMS Durham
066 El Toro
070 Don Rafael Y de Teresa

Some of these were considered for quite a while. As the English are my favourite faction to play, when I first got my packs I figured I’d get the Durham in there somehow. However, as I explained above, I wanted the Martillo de Dios rather than the Coral as my treasure runner. I could have used the Durham instead of the Overton, and then switched the Coral (or HMS Discovery, which I’ll discuss later) in for the Martillo. This issue with the Durham got more complicated when I realized I had made the mistake of thinking I had two captains when I only had one. The original setup wouldn’t work, because the Durham with a captain (18 points) and the Belle Etoile with a captain (16 points) comes to 34 points, not enough (6) to add a treasure runner (minimum 7 points). However, when I realized that the Belle would only have a helmsman aboard, then I also realized that I could use the Durham instead of the Overton and swap the Coral in for the Martillo. This decision might decide how successful my fleet is in the tournament.

I decided to go with the Overton. First off, Wayne Nolan is the only named crew I used in the fleet. With all of the named crew that I pulled, it seems like I should use at least one of them! Plus, his reroll ability is very valuable not only for gun rolls, but also potential ramming and boarding attempts. The Durham’s ability gives her +1 to her boarding rolls, but that really doesn’t add much at all. I kind of feel like it should have been a +2 from the beginning. A reroll of a boarding attempt can change everything (not to mention that in this case it doesn’t cost anything). As for the guns, the Overton effectively has two 2L’s and one 1L. This is about as good as guns get, and she has the reroll up to once per shoot action. The Durham has all short range guns, two 2’s and two 3’s. Overall, a pretty similar armament. However, I’d rather have the longer ranges and the rank-1 gun than the two 3S’s. In my experience, 3S guns aren’t worth much of anything, but that’s coming from someone with a history of bad dice luck. On the other hand, a 1L cannon is the best gun money can buy in this game. Lastly, I’ve played the English a lot, and I actually have the Durham in my collection. I’ve never been a big player of the Americans, and I don’t own the Overton. I felt like changing things up a bit.

The Toro is a solid two masted gunship, but she is too slow and expensive for what I wanted to do. With the Overton I get an extra cannon (a 1L cannon at that!) and more durability. One of the big reasons that I wanted to use the Toro was because of my plethora of Spanish named crew, none of which would have served me well by crewing the Martillo de Dios.

I’ve never really used doctor crew and I don’t find them to be worth 5 points, so Teresa was the one easy “no” from this pack.

SCS:
054 HMS Discovery
069 Almirante Carlos Pavon y Miranda
071 Padre Francisco/Rolling Fog

I used the Overton and the American helmsman from this pack, and the rest of the pack was decent as well. The Discovery was considered next to the Coral as to my main treasure runner. All three (including the Martillo de Dios) are close in quality, but I think I would put the Discovery at the bottom. The Discovery would add a little bit of speed while losing a cargo space. In the end, I would go with the Coral in order to haul more gold because she would be my only true treasure runner, and because of her defensive ability.

Miranda was the toughest crew to not include. He’s a captain/reroll crew for 6 points. In order to use him, I would have to use the Toro, as the Martillo de Dios is more of a treasure runner. However, in this way, the Toro would end up costing me 20 points, since the Toro needs a helmsman just to move L+S (12 for the Toro, 6 for Miranda, and 2 for the helmsman).

I didn’t think of using Francisco since I already couldn’t afford to include him, let alone using an extra point since he costs three. However, I see how valuable he could be in a challenge like this, since if you didn’t get a helmsman, you could use him to get one from outside of the game. Similarly, I couldn’t spare a point to include Rolling Fog, which would have just been a random addition anyway.

DJC:
092 Dark Fox
124 Cannoneer (English)
074 Jacques, Duc de Valois / Don Osvaldo Guillen

The Dark Fox isn’t a particularly good ship, and using a quarter of my build total on a fragile ship with one cargo didn’t make any sense.

As with my other cannoneer, I couldn’t really fit him anywhere.

Jacques would have been a decent addition to the Belle, especially if I had put one of the cannoneers on her to make her a true gunship. As mentioned, the points weren’t there for such a luxury.

Guillen was the second-best Spanish crew I got after Miranda. He’s a 7 point captain + S-boarder. The Toro would have been his ship, but the Toro probably wouldn’t have won too many boarding parties with two masts. In the end, the Toro wasn’t used anyway.

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Here’s my strategy for the game between myself and Woelf.

First off, the Martillo de Dios will head to either Dog or Monkey Island, whichever one is closer, based on which home island I end up with. She’ll simply take the best gold and head right back home. After that, she’ll most likely go back out to the next-nearest wild island that still has gold on it. She will try to avoid contact with the enemy fleet, with the exception of ramming the Carthage if possible (more on that soon!).

The Overton is my designated gunship, and she wants to take out woelf’s runners, the San Jose and the Carthage. The Belle Etoile is also going to start the game in a combat role, unless for some reason none of woelf’s ships go to Cutlass Cove, in which case the Belle will grab 4 coins from there and bring them home. Both the Overton and the Belle are faster than the scary Santo Columba, unless woelf pulls a fast one and grabs a helmsman instead of Luis Zuan, in which case hopefully I’d get the first shot since then he wouldn’t have a captain. However, since both of my ships are faster than the Columba, they will try to avoid her early on in the game, instead targeting the two smaller ships.

The Belle especially should be able to evade the Columba. The Belle’s first mission of the game is to sink the Carthage without being hit in return. With her speed and size she should be able to ram off the one mast of the Carthage. From there the Carthage can still row at S speed, so the Belle will have to shoot to finish her off. After that, the Belle will either run gold and/or assist the Overton, whichever is more convenient and makes more sense.

The Overton is going to have to make a choice of whether to hit the San Jose or the Columba. With L+S and a captain, she can easily take down the San Jose if the Columba isn’t close by. However, if the Overton has an opportunity to get the first shot on the Columba, TAKE IT! With the accurate guns and Nolan’s reroll, there’s a good chance the Columba will lose at least two masts. From there the Overton would finish her off. If the Overton can’t get the first shot on the Columba she can hit the San Jose first. If the Overton dismasts or sinks the San Jose before the Columba is even in action, the Overton can then either assist the Belle if she’s having trouble, or try to maneuver and get the first shot on the Columba.

In the case that things go wrong and the Overton is sunk, the Belle should try to get as much gold home as possible rather than trying to engage the Columba.

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My final pulls:
Pirates of the Revolution Pack
053 La Belle Etoile
012 Coral
134 Cannoneer (American)
115 Captain (French)
106 Natives

Pirates of the Barbary Coast Pack
049 HMS Durham
066 El Toro
070 Don Rafael Y de Teresa
096 Wayne Nolan

Pirates of the South China Seas Pack
092 USS Overton
054 HMS Discovery
069 Almirante Carlos Pavon y Miranda
120 Helmsman (American)
071 Padre Francisco/Rolling Fog

Pirates of Davy Jones’ Curse Pack
092 Dark Fox
070 El Martillo de Dios
124 Cannoneer (English)
074 Jacques, Duc de Valois / Don Osvaldo Guillen
121 Helmsman (Cursed)

Thanks for looking, commenting and voting!

Section: Ship #1 (4 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Captain PofR 115 Crew C
1 x Helmsman PofSCS 120 Crew C
1 x USS Overton PofSCS 092 Ship C
1 x Wayne Nolan PofBC 096 Crew C
Section: Ship #2 (2 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Helmsman PofDJC 121 Crew C
1 x La Belle Etoile PofR 053 Ship C
Section: Ship #3 (1 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x El Martillo de Dios PofDJC 070 Ship C
Section: Unique Treasures (1 miniatures)
Miniature Set Number Type Rarity
1 x Natives PofR 106 Unique Treasure R
Sealing the Deal

Fleet page at Miniature Trading