A Pair of Games: 4 Players, 60 Points in LA!  (January 29th, 2022)

A Pair of Games: 4 Players, 60 Points in LA!

January 29th, 2022

I met up with Gazerbeam543, JW Darkhurst, and Xerecs at Gazerbeam’s house in Los Angeles!  We played a game utilizing the points in play endgame condition: whoever has the most points in play PLUS gold at the end of the game wins.  This includes forts, ships, crew, equipment, etc.  We also used round earth rules.

My fleet was based on a home island hoarder, a ship-stealer (partly because of the points in play house rule), and two gold runners.

Gazerbeam set sail with the French, led by Le Superbe with Lady Roimata on board.  The custom crew card is from some impressive photoshop and printing skills! (the crew underneath her not shown are also on the Superbe)

Xerecs was going multi-faction, with Intermediaro, a varied crew setup on the Grand Barnacle, the only Pirate submarine in the game, and the Devil Ray!  O_O

JW Darkhurst went Pirate pure and had the most ships of any fleet in play.

(In hindsight these pictures and therefore battle report will be rather first-person focused) I was very cautious in the beginning of the game not to lose my main assets too early. I wanted time to allow the Wicked Wench to make off with a big hoard, with the Philadelphia likely staying close to steal any ships that the WW could dismast.

HMS Hound built Ramsgate on an island in between the home islands of myself and Gazerbeam, potentially fueling yet further fighting between the two of us. The Philadelphia hid in fog while the Wicked Wench eyed JW’s Treasure.  I sort of agreed that JW Darkhurst could have that middle island’s gold if he didn’t attack me with the Treasure, but I haven’t been in the mood to play nice lately.  It is a game called Pirates after all!  XD  I blame it on excessive experience and boredom with straitlaced in-person gamesmanship.  XD (for better or worse…)

Icebergs were a threatening presence throughout, though worrying about them proved mostly unnecessary.

In the northeast, Intermediaro has used its one-of-a-kind ability to place treasure on the Coleoptera, who speeds home to give it to the Grand Barnacle.  However, the French seem to be on their way….

Le Superbe strikes, revealing canceller Lenoir to blast away at Intermediaro!  This could put a serious dent in Xerecs’ gold-gathering plans, as the squid scrambles for safety in a fog bank.

In the meantime, the Wicked Wench has grabbed all 4 coins from the middle island, though unfortunately she had to drop a crew in order to make the gold fit.  Once it did, Captain Jack Sparrow’s ability was triggered… giving her a move action!  O_O  That’s right, I was using the Rare version of Captain Jack Sparrow, not the Common one which is far more powerful.  Overall though I didn’t think through the setup perfectly, as I had to swap Hostile: England Hammersmith for a regular captain+helmsman combo, which forced a crew off to make things fit.  Perhaps I got a little too desperate to use CJS’ ability.

The Philadelphia has picked up the Wicked Wench’s captain:

Will round earth introduce new possibilities to this matchup?

At the top of the frame, Gazerbeam continues gathering gold as the Superbe continues sailing east. The Wicked Wench is nearly home with her loot.

JW Darkhurst had decided not to attack with the Treasure, leaving the Wicked Wench and Philadelphia to return home peacefully.

With Le Superbe looming north of them, JW’s fleet regroups as the square rigged ships sail home with gold aboard.

Gazerbeam’s small gold runners have unloaded gold to his home island.  My entire fleet is pointed towards his, with the Wicked Wench possibly looking to steal multiple coins and deposit them in Ramsgate if needed.  However, Xerecs’ Coleoptera submarine has whirled into the area, potentially complicating the situation….

The return of the Superbe to home waters deters any would-be home island hoarding, as the prospect of getting cancelled and blown to bits is too risky for me to make a strong move on Gazerbeam’s HI. During this round most of the ships happened to be very close to their respective home islands. Xerecs was able to add gold bonuses to the coin that the Coleoptera gave to the Grand Barnacle.

Le Superbe assaults Ramsgate!  Part of the reason I built the fort was to hopefully extend the game beyond its natural end point, as gold in forts is “available” per the endgame rules.  🙂  This may frustrate opponents but is the perfect storm for a fleet with home island raiding, as it keeps the game alive so late-game raids can potentially be carried out (not to mention having the fort as a potential dropoff spot for stolen loot as mentioned above). Ramsgate lost all but its extended range cannon in the attack!

It was now my turn to strike, with the Wicked Wench and HMS Hound taking out 3 masts on Le Superbe.  Whether due to home island placements or just coincidence, it seems that Gazerbeam and I are destined to be rivals lol.

As expected, JW Darkhurst plays it safe as more gold arrives at his home island.

At this point, Ramsgate was the only thing keeping the game alive.  The other players didn’t want to play it out to the end as per the official rules, so the game was called early with me retaining the fort’s gold. I kind of agreed to let the game end under protest as I figured I needed to keep the game alive longer so the Wicked Wench could have an opportunity to steal someone’s gold to give me the win.

Scores:

  1. JW Darkhurst: 96 total points+gold in play
  2. A7XfanBen: 92
  3. Gazerbeam543: 82
  4. Xerecs: 80

With that, JW Darkhurst has a win!  He collected the most gold and that was enough to pull out the win. It remains to be seen what would have happened if things had been played to full completion, as this becomes one of those “what if” or asterisk games.

 

Game 2: Co-op/Teams!

For the second game of the day, we did something we had been discussing via discord for a while: having two teams face off!  I had heard of the “co-op” idea various times in the past, but had never tried it before. With 4 players total, it was the perfect opportunity for a 2v2 game.

Each player would have their own independent 80 point fleet and associated home island. However, when an endgame condition was met, a combined gold score for each team of 2 players would be compared against each other (no points in play house rule for this game). Players could drop off gold at their teammates’ home islands and forts, but they could still be shot at while docked at a teammates’ home island.

We rolled dice to determine teams – I think it was based on matching d6 rolls. If you roll the same as someone else, you’re on a team with them.  Ironically, Gazerbeam and I ended up together against the brothers Xerecs and JW Darkhurst.

The fleets used were somewhat similar, but with some notable changes. I used the additional points to include a Deliverance setup, while Calypso laid face down on the Floating Stone to maximize my range and attack potential.

Gazerbeam included a Sac setup on the Virtuous Wind:

Xerecs swapped some crew on the Grand Barnacle, notably adding two tribal chieftains to his fleet (the other on HMS Antelope) for a whopping 10 native canoes!

One set of native canoes was proxied by turtle ships since we didn’t have enough.

JW Darkhurst swapped Pirates for a mostly Franco-Spanish fleet with a lot of cargo capacity:

The team dynamic was pretty incredible. I made sure to have a private conversation with Gazerbeam as play started to make sure we were on the same page. The amount of planning and variables can be rather immense, especially when trying to coordinate which ships are going to which islands, who to potentially attack, where to place Calypso’s whirlpools, etc. Crucially, Calypso missed her initial rolls even with help from LaFontaine, so my fleet kind of just flitted about on turn 1.  The exception was the Star of Siam, which I was using for the first time today after missing out on the Revolution Super Rares for many years.

Soon afterwards conflict has erupted! The Wicked Wench used a whirlpool from Calypso to blast two masts off the Santa Isabel of JW’s fleet, but the Deliverance couldn’t get an extra action coming out of a different whirlpool. She was trying to hit the native canoes, one of which has loaded gold via Intermediaro’s handy ability.

In the northeast, the English native canoes have unloaded some gold at Xerecs’ HI. At the lower right, the Virtuous Wind has round earthed to grab some gold.  Le Superbe has dismasted the Raven in the center.

It quickly became apparent to me that throwing the Wicked Wench into action was a bonehead move on my part, as L’Ange de la Mer moved in for a dismasting. However, my ally Gazerbeam had a solid turn; although the Superbe didn’t get Roimata’s SAT, she captured the Raven and the Intrepide built Paradis de la Mer. The Santa Isabel has unloaded a bunch of gold +2 at JW’s home island.

Missing her SAT roll once again, the Deliverance abandons her anti-canoe mission to focus on rescuing the Wicked Wench. Gazerbeam and Xerecs have respectively unloaded and loaded a hefty amount of treasure.

In a devastating blow for me, the Wicked Wench is sunk by JW’s L’Ange. The Deliverance hits her 3 times for some measure of revenge, while the Superbe docks the captured Raven at Paradis, allowing the schooner to repair.

Elements of Xerecs’ fleet have appeared in the west:

As the available gold dwindles down, the Virtuous Wind and her home island raiding ability become a target.  Xerecs closes in, but help for Gazerbeam’s Virtuous Wind appears to be on the way in the form of the Deliverance.  The center of the map has become peaceful again.

The Virtuous Wind docks home gold, but the game is very much up in the air.  The existence of Paradis de la Mer means that the game should continue even if all other gold is unloaded to home islands.

At this point Calypso has created nearly a full ring of whirlpools around my home island, but as time goes on there are less and less good spots for other whirlpools within L of wild islands, simply because so many have already been placed.  In the northwest, conflict has inevitably broken out between the alliances, with both sides taking damage on various ships.  In the south (at right), JW’s fleet has established a fort as well.

At this point we had a discussion and came to a decision to reveal what gold we had to see how much more of the game was worth playing out.  It was extremely close and we needed to continue!

Gazerbeam and I were victorious in the battle of the northwest, with the Grand Barnacle sunk, Le Triton captured by the Deliverance, and Virtuous Wind still alive!  Xerecs’ fleet has been heavily mauled but his teammate and brother JW Darkhurst still has many healthy ships left.

However, things were getting a little late for me and once again the other players weren’t clamoring to continue the game despite fort gold being available. The game was called to an end, with the team of Gazerbeam/A7XfanBen prevailing over Xerecs/JW Darkhurst by a score of 42-41!!  O_O

What a game!  The team dynamic is certainly a wild game-changer and affects a huge amount of decisions you make as you play the game.  It’s extremely interesting to watch how players interact with each other and how many private/side conversations people have with their teammates. The extra co-op strategizing can delay the game a little bit but is fascinating to participate in. There are many new aspects of playing with a partner that I learned about that I’d never thought about before. Sometimes an ally will almost “spill the beans” whether by accident or innocently, which can affect how you communicate with the other players. Of course, bluffing and deception could also be present in the way teammates interact with the opposing team. There are also times when a teammate (like me lol) wants to have a strategic discussion that the other players can’t hear, but your temmate may think it’s unnecessary. Overall it was a really cool, fun and enlightening experience that I want to experiment with more in the future.  The additional dynamic of having family members be on a team together (or against each other) is neat because they know each other’s play styles so well, but are used to only competing against each other.

I had some of my worst-ever SAT/EA luck in this game, with the Deliverance only getting it maybe once or twice all game despite having reroll. It really made things awkward when my main ship couldn’t do much.  I felt like a bad teammate and Gazerbeam did most of the heavy lifting in terms of gold.  Given the shenanigans that happened and our inability to crush any native canoes early in the game I was almost shocked we came away with a victory, though of course it comes with an asterisk with two forts still in play at the end.  However, we likely would have held on for the win given our firepower advantage. (especially once our 5 masters were back to full strength and the VW could potentially raid one of the brothers’ HI’s to increase the differential)

I have to hand it to Xerecs lately as he’s been coming with very unique fleets and fun builds.  In the past I’ve seen him wield a lot of power-gamer type fleets, but this year I’ve been really happy to see some super cool combos and more unique ideas in his fleets!

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3 Comments

  1. Small correction, game one I didn’t have the Slipstream (I wish I did :D), I had the Devil Ray, I just forgot to bring the deckplate with me.

    The co-op game was real fun, especially when I pulled off the Native Canoe repairing and healed both the Barnacle and Intermediaro. I’d love to give co-op another go, either with 3 teams of 2, or 2 teams of 3. 0.0

    • Whoops! I fixed it; that’s what happens when I don’t write the battle report very soon after the game. Glad you mentioned the canoe repairing since I kind of forgot about that too. Certainly an awesome use of the unique ability!

      • I feel you, happens to me almost every year during the summer game. “What ship is that over there again? Looks like this one. Could also be this one.” Turns out to be neither of those ships. 😀

        It certainly is a unique ability, and one that could make Sea Monster fleets more “viable”, especially if more than one set of canoes are involved, English or otherwise.

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