I have finally gotten out the fleets once again! I have acquired a solid bunch of very good ships and crew since I last played, and you will see mention of them soon. The first game that is being played is a cumulative one, where gold is spent for more ships and crew as you go along. Four players, 20 islands. 16 of them are wild, and of those 16, 10 are mysterious. Each island starts with four gold coins, and at the end of each turn (after all four players have taken their turns), any island with less than four coins on it will have one coin placed on it to replenish it. There are terrain pieces mixed in as well to hopefully add some flavour. Each fleet was given 20 points to start off, and the players are as follows: English/Barbary Corsairs, French/Americans, Spanish/Jade Rebellion, and Pirates/Cursed. The Mercenaries are a wild card (as they should be), although the English sort of have ‘first dibs’ on the Shui Xian, if they choose to use her. Just like in the Risk game, forts will function as bases (almost like a second HI), where a player can use the gold accumulated in a fort to buy new stuff for their fleet.
Each fleet started out with two ships, and the English and French got off to the fastest start. The English have five ships through the first handful of turns, and they just bought the Aberdeen Baron, one of England’s finest ships.
The French have used their new Favori to purchase La Dijon, and with the gold brought back by Le Bon Marin, they built Paradis de la Mer on an island near their home island.
The Spanish are off to a sluggish start, with the Magdalena being slowed by an MI (mysterious island) effect, and the Pirates using the “use an opposing ship using this ship’s base move” effect. However, the Santa Isabel brought back enough gold to buy El Alquimista, so now they have two ships getting the +2 bonus.
The Pirates have been slowed by the Lost UT, which trapped the Raven in a Sargasso Sea for a few turns. Now they’re up to four ships, and eagerly anticipating more.
After a few more turns, the game is progressing quickly. The Aberdeen Baron went through a whirlpool to explore a far-off island, and the English built Ramsgate on an island near their HI. The French built their second of two forts, St. Pierre, on an island south of their HI. The Spaniards built two more +2 gold ships, the San Pedro and the Concepcion. They will probably be looking to build El Puerto Blanco soon. The Pirates have built the Longshanks, and the terrain from the Lost UT has been removed, allowing the Raven to move again. No shots have been fired so far.
After another handful of turns, all 7 forts are up! The Spanish built El Puerto Blanco near their HI, while the Pirates built the Devil’s Maw north of their HI. The English are the only fleet to build a fort a good distance away from their HI. They built Fort Brompton far to the west, while their HI (and Ramsgate, their other fort) is almost on the eastern edge of the sea.
The English/Barbary Corsairs (English Corsairs?) have expanded quite quickly, and they are up to 13 ships. Recent additions to their fleet include the Meshud, Tiger’s Eye, Algiers, Griffin, Queen of Sheba, HMS Victor, HMS London, HMS Grand Temple, and the Gibraltar flotilla. Their fleet is essentially in two halves, with both squadrons bringing in a steady stream of gold.
The French/Americans look to be putting together a magnificent battle fleet. The first fleet to purchase a gunship of any kind, they have now built Le Superbe, La Ville de Paris, Le Soleil Royal, and Le Gaule, all powerful 5 masters. They look to be in prime position to make the first strike of the game. The Boston (with Eternal Ralph David on board) and La Vengeance are running around as well, in addition to the fleet of treasure runners they have.
The Spanish/Jade Rebels are off to a truly horrific start. They picked a HI in the northeast corner of the sea, which is looking like a bad idea. Of the three wild islands in their immediate vicinity, one is consistently explored by the English, one is a tricky MI, but they have managed to build El Puerto Blanco on the third. They keep rolling 1’s and 2’s at the MI, whose effect is this: “This ship can’t explore this island. She must leave and dock again to try.” To further compound their struggles, the Pirates used the event False Treasure (acquired via a lucky MI roll) to eliminate all of the treasure on board La Concepcion. As it stands now, they only have five ships, with no true gunships, no captains, and only one reliable source of gold.
The Cursed Pirates are faring much better. They seemed reluctant to buy anything but small, fast, treasure runners, but circumstances have forced that they do otherwise. When the French gold runner L’Amazone approached one of their wild islands, they built Dead Man’s Point to deter her. Since then, they’ve built the Nightmare and Windjammer (two cheap support gunships), launched the Doombox and Death’s Anchor (flotillas), and built their second of two forts, the Devi’s Maw. The Bonnie Liz, towing the Doombox, is in the process of intimidating the French ship La Dijon into not exploring the island she has been going to all game. The Pirates look almost as good as the English and the French do, but the English are shrinking the possible boundaries of their territory with their ever-expanding western squadron.
At this point, there still hasn’t been a single shot fired. It looks like this will change quickly, however, as the boundaries of each fleet’s territories overlap. The situation resembles a ticking time bomb, with the potential for chaos arising in more and more places.