Beginning of small cumulative game – December 26th, 2012

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.

Additional Comment:

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.

Additional Comment:

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.

Savage Shores anniversary game

Xerecs and I played a 60 point game on the VASSAL module to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Savage Shores, which was released on November 5th 2008.  Check out this post for a reflection on the set.  I do hope to do a proper text and picture battle report for this incredible game at some point, but I don’t have time yet.  Check out Savage Shores on eBay!

Savage Shores 10th anniversary game

Savage Shores 10th anniversary game

After all the craziness, Xerecs’ mixed fleet prevailed over my English by a score of 18-7.

Gimmicks Galore – Fleet Face-Off on September 1st, 2012

Originally Posted by Cadet-Captain Mike
Have you done any test battles to find a way to beat a swarm of tiny ships? I call that kind of fleet the Zergling Rush of Pirates, and I’d love to know how to win against it.

You mean a fleet like this Those fleets are a different animal from most everything else you see, but there are a few things that should work:

1. It’s a Promo from a rare set, but Odin’s Revenge would be devastating.

2. I dominated a swarm fleet with my HMS Grand Temple fleet. A swarm fleet with 10 ships, was blown out of the water (I could take out 3-4 ships per turn). Although, this was in a deathmatch, so the little ships were all bunched together like a mass of kindling for a fire!

3. Since you like the Americans the best, try using the original Constitution. The small ships wouldn’t be able to scratch her, and with a helmsman and some double action crew, she would be able to pick them off.

Originally Posted by Cadet-Captain Mike
Other things being equal, I’d put my own hopes on the crew-recycler fleet. The controller fleet is potent, but too dependent on dice luck; the HI raiders can’t do any better than any other faction (you can’t steal what hasn’t been brought home by somebody else); and sea monsters are effective only against un-Captained gold ships, in my experience.

As for this, here is what happened in the latest game between these ‘gimmick’ fleets.

The setup for the game was purposely more confined, and things got very crowded toward the end of the game.

The ‘mind control’ fleet had a rough time, losing the Aberdeen Baron to the Raninoidea after she went through a whirlpool. They also were unable to get the UT’s necessary to fuel their efforts.

The crew recyclers were unable to roll a single 6 with Captain Davy Jones, and their gunships had a rough go of it. The Asesino de la Nave missed two of three shots against La Vengeance (of the HI raiders), and then was taken out in the return fire. The Quigley and Villalobos were obliterated in one turn by the Raninoidea, and the Deliverance wasted time fighting a silly battle against the Divine Dragon (silly because neither ship could get their guns to work).

The sea monster fleet (and their Pirate treasure runners) had the best start, but things started to unravel when the HI raiders discovered the Lost UT and rolled a 6. All three sea monsters were ‘reefed’, and all three lost two segments. The Raninoidea was later eliminated by Le Bon Marin using the UT Cursed Conch to move her back onto the reef. The Doombox and a derelict had fog banks placed underneath them, essentially eliminating them from the game. Then the HI raiders came to town. In a sudden swarm, all four ships with the HI raiding ability (Poor Adams, L’Heros, Freedom, Belladonna) attacked the HI of the sea monster fleet. The Belladonna and Poor Adams got into a skirmish with the Raven and the Leviathan, while the Freedom was busy buying time for the other three. L’Heros made the only successful raid, but it was all they needed, because while all of this was going on, the French runners Coeur du Lion and La Dijon grabbed gold and quickly brought it back for a swift, stunning victory!

The final treasure count revealed 16 gold for the HI raiders, 9 for the crew recyclers (La Joya del Sol brought back a 4 and a 5), and 0 for both the sea monsters and the mind controllers. The sea monsters had theirs stolen, while the mind controllers needed very lucky, specific things to happen to win.

Another game was played, but two of the four players wanted to change their fleets. The crew recyclers swapped that fleet for an all-sub fleet, utilizing the Nautilus, Mobilis, Brave Selkirk, and USS Lamon. The sea monster fleet was swapped out for a fleet that would try to capture crew and turn them into gold, using crew like Bonny Peel and Barstow.

On the first action of the first turn, HMS Lady Provost (of the mind controllers) picked up a 5 and a 7 from the same island, which would be too much of a deficit for the others to overcome. The fleet had moderate success rolling for controlling effects, which helped out later in the game.

The all-sub fleet managed to run gold with the Brave Selkirk, whose Mercenary keyword was cancelled by the Mobilis. However, the subs were too slow to get into the real action that dominated the middle and end of this game.

The HI raiders came into the game as victors of both of the previous two, so there was an understandable amount of bias in the actions of the others. After having all of their gold stolen in the previous game, the crew capturers (previously the sea monsters) tried their best not to hold a grudge against the raiders. However, after discovering the UT’s Monkey’s Paw and Maps of Hades, they flew into a rage, vowing to do everything possible to make the raiders lose. The only time they strayed from this promise proved to be the climax of the game.

The raiders’ HI was close to the HI of the mind controllers. After seeing the Provost load up (although they didn’t know what she had), they decided to go after them. However, LeBeaux was able to throw the Freedom onto a reef, and the Divine Dragon was able to protect the Provost so she could return home safely. On the next turn, the angry crew capturers arrived, and the Lady’s Scorn immediately sent L’Heros to the bottom. After the Belladonna and Poor Adams were both dismasted, the crew capturers used Barstow (onboard the Xiamen’s Claws) to capture OE Davy Jones, and later, the captain aboard the Dragon, which would have netted them 15 gold. However, this made the Claws a huge target for the rest of the game, and ships flocked to her to try to capture/sink her. This is where the mind control fleet shined. After the Claws lost all of her masts in a gauntlet of hostile ships, LeBeaux moved her off of a reef and away from the Raven, who was towing her. The Claws was then moved S+S (her base move) further away via a mysterious island roll by the Provost, moving her into a fog bank. Since derelicts in fog banks are lost forever, this ended the threat of the crew capturers having more gold than the mind controllers. The Raven then brought home the last gold coin, transferred from the derelict Longshanks, ending the game.

The treasure was counted, and the mind controllers won despite the capturing of their best crew (Davy Jones) and the sinking of their flagship (the Divine Dragon). They finished with 17 gold, the HI raiders with 12, the all-sub fleet with 9, and the crew capturers with 3.

Additional Comment:

Another game has been played, with the mind controllers winning once again. The game didn’t have any true excitement, but at least the gimmicks were used, and the final treasure count close. The mind controllers finished with 13 gold, the HI raiders with 11, and the crew capturers and subs with 5 each.

Tomorrow, the last game with these fleets will be played, and to elongate the game, there will be double as much treasure on each island (6 instead of 3).

Additional Comment:

The final game between the gimmick fleets was played today. The mind controllers won again, due to their HI being a good distance away from the other three fleets. They had good treasure running, solid luck with UT’s, and they made two brilliant moves to ensure their victory. The Divine Dragon was sent through a whirlpool, and sunk the Lightning and Longshanks, two treasure runners in the crew capturer fleet, right before they could return home with 6 coins of gold.

When the HI raiders L’Heros and the Belladonna approached the HI of the mind controllers, the mind controllers acted quickly and divided their gold up by building two forts, so the raiders only had access to two coins.

The final gold count saw the mind controllers finish with 31 gold (remember there was twice as much treasure, 6 coins per island), both the HI raiders and the subs with 14, and the crew capturers with 5 (they weren’t able to capture any crew).

The mind controllers have cemented themselves as the best of the gimmick fleets, with victories in four of the five games (although one was a tie).

Gimmick fleets – 4 fleets, 100 points on August 29th, 2012

Today I played a four player, 100 point game. The idea was that each player brought their favourite ‘gimmick’ fleet, or a fleet that tried to win using an unorthodox strategy. Every player was trying to win, but the fleets were created more for fun than for competition. Each player was allowed to use 70 points for the gimmick fleet, and 30 for treasure runners.

A short description of the four fleets, in the order of gameplay:

1. A fleet based on controlling the opponent. This fleet used crew like Davy Jones and George Washington LeBeaux, as well as UT’s and mysterious islands, to control the enemy ships and mess up opposing strategies.

2. A fleet based on home island raiders. Of the four ships in the fleet with the HI raider ability, all of them had solid firepower, and two had captains, so the fleet looked formidable.

3. A fleet based on recycling crew. The main game pieces in this fleet were Captain Davy Jones (POTC) and Captain Blackheart. The Deliverance, with these two crew onboard (along with Lady Baptiste to reroll Jones’ ability), was supported by ships that are effective crew killers, such as the Asesino de la Nave, the USS Quigley, and El Villalobos. The eliminated crew are supposed to then be recycled by Jones, and then sacced by Blackheart for extra actions that would let the Deliverance dominate the battle.

4. A fleet based on using three sea monsters. The Raninoidea was equipped with OE Calico Cat and OE Griffin, and she was towing the Pirate flotilla Doombox. Also in the build were the Seleucis, who would use her unique ability to essentially give the Leviathan the move-and-shoot.

The game got underway, and the Raninoidea and Seleucis were quickly killed, leaving the (mostly) Pirate sea monster fleet in bad shape.

The HI raiders didn’t actually get to raid any home islands, as they were preoccupied fighting Raninoidea, and then repairing from that fight. Also, the Doombox was left behind close to the fleet’s island, so the flotilla kept harassing the HI raiders as their runners brought home a good amount of gold.

The crew-recycling fleet struggled mightily to get into action, as there was an obstacle course of terrain around their HI (two of them created by the UT Lost). When they finally started shooting (desperately trying to feed their big gunship), they killed some crew, but weren’t able to get the 6’s required to link them to Davy Jones. Their strategy failed miserably, but they were able to keep themselves out of last place with their treasure runners, the Alquimista and Joya del Sol.

The ‘mind control’ fleet had solid luck with the dice, and they were able to create chaos around the sea with LeBeaux, good MI rolls that were aided by Nemo’s Charts, and essentially two of OE Davy Jones. The first one was the real one onboard the Divine Dragon, and the second (temporary) one came from the Eye of Insanity UT, which lets the owner of the ship it is on choose any Cursed crew in play and substitute their ability in for a crew aboard the ship that the Eye is on. In this way, this fleet had four abilities that let them control their opponents, which would prove to be somewhat valuable.

In the end, one ship proved her worth: HMS Lady Provost. She made a daring raid on the HI of the crew-killer fleet, taking a 7 and a 2 on consecutive turns. She was not actually part of the HI raiding fleet, but a regular treasure runner in the ‘mind control’ fleet. In the end, that fleet tied with the HI raider fleet for first with 15 gold each. Coming in third was the crew-killer fleet, with 5 gold (therefore, they still would not have won if the Provost didn’t take their gold; in that case, the HI raiders would have had sole possession of first place). Bringing up the rear was the sea monster fleet, with 0 gold. They will have another chance tomorrow, however, as I am going to play at least one more game with these fleets.

Sink the Battleship – Smaller games on July 25th, 2012

More small games have been played, with the Pirates and Spanish duking it out yesterday. The Asesino de la Nave proved devastating.

After that, I wanted to give some of the lesser factions (at least in terms of my collection) a chance to win, and the Cursed faced the Americans. The fleets were a bit odd, with the Titan Brachyura towing the flotilla Death’s Anchor while the Sea Rat (a two-masted junk) ran treasure. The Americans, with the Mohican and Louisiana, won two out of three.

Next came a larger game built around El Acorazado. The name of the game is ‘Sink the Battleship’. The attackers have to sink El Acorazado before she docks at the attackers’ home island, about 6L or so away. Two 120 point deathmatch fleets were constructed, and the Acorazado was decked out with her usual complement, while surrounding herself with more defences with the remaining points: an escort of smaller ships that either have cancellers built-in (Guinee and Mobilis) or have cancellers on board (Lache de Calvados, Black Arrow, and Bosun’s Bane, with Lenoir, Tia Dalma, and Christian Fiore). These ships also had the ‘this ship cannot be shot at by ships within S of her’ ability, making them even harder to hit. Since the odds were heavily stacked against whatever fleet attacked this fleet, I let the attackers see all of the ships and crew of the enemy beforehand. They went with powerful ships with plenty of long-range firepower: HMS Grand Temple, HMS Victoria, HMS Bretwalda (with Broadsides Attack to try to cut through the Acorazado’s defences), the Blackwatch, and El Monte Cristo.

The defending ‘Battleship’ fleet tried to do some fancy maneuvering in the first game, but El Acorazado was sunk by the long-range guns. Although all of the defenders except for the tiny Bosun’s Bane moved at S+S, El Acorazado broke from the formation with the help of Capitan Alarico Castro’s SAT with reroll from Duque Marcus Vaccaro. They learned from their mistakes, however, and won both of the next two games by heading straight for the attackers’ HI. While the smaller ships cancelled abilities aboard the three big five masters, HMS Bretwalda tried to get in a Broadsides Attack, but she was repeatedly foiled by the Spanish canceller Nemesio Diaz. If this was to be played again the islands should probably be placed a greater distance apart.

The two factions who haven’t really won any games by themselves faced off in a series of 100 point games. The Cursed faced the Mercenaries, with the Cursed winning two out of three. However, the Mercenaries had only one treasure runner, the Shui Xian, and four ships overall, since their captains cost so much. I have to use Luc Savard (6 points) for captains since I don’t own any generic Mercenary captains. The Cursed used two large gunships, the Divine Dragon and Executioner, with the Death’s Anchor in tow. They used the Sea Rat and Fallen Angel as their treasure runners, while using the Clear Wind as a backup gunship. In both of the first two games, the Cursed sunk the Shui Xian (essentially ending the game) before she could return with any treasure. In the third game, the Mercenaries got the first shot, and went straight for the kill. The Clear Wind and Executioner were quickly dismasted, and the Mercenaries finally won! 

Defence of St. Helen’s Scenario – June 22nd, 2012

Context from the previous battle report:

I also set up for the Defence of St. Helen’s scenario. I used the dimensions given (the table in the link is too small for what they have listed, probably because they don’t play huge games ), and tried to set up the islands and icebergs the same way.

There will be five fleets, five 500 point deathmatch fleets (so a total of over 2500 points in play, just like the regular 500 point games). The fleets of the Spanish and the French-Americans are the defenders, and have worked out a sort of strategy before the game’s start. Their biggest and best ships are concentrated in the rear, while they send their other ships out first to annoy the attackers while the forts do some damage. Since I only have one Spanish fort (El Puerto Blanco) and two French forts (St. Pierre and Paradis de la Mer), and four are required for the game, I have let the defenders use the Pirate fort Dead Man’s Point. The English, Pirates, and MercCursedRebels (I may refer to them as the MCRs, not to be confused with My Chemical Romance) are the attackers, and have similarly positioned their uncrewed/weaker ships at the front of their formation (one of those awesome sights, a ‘forest of masts’). The ratio is 3:2 in favour of the attackers, with 1500 points and 1000 points. The attackers command 81 ships, and the defenders, 56, for a total of 137 (not quite 200 , but I am using crew).

Defence of St. Helens Scenario

Original as seen on Deviantart

The game has started, with the first three turns down. Five defender ships have been sunk, and Dead Man’s Point has been destroyed. The defenders are harassing the attackers with some of their smaller ships, and have formed a defensive line blocking the southern path from the edge of the game area to the islands protruding from the centre. I would play more today, but the ten masters have ruined my gaming experience for the day . I would rather not go on a long rant, but if they keep disappointing me I think I will flip out. Basically, they all stink. The Baochuan went 7 for 20 in her double shoot action today thanks to a rare 6 from Zheng He. She has 7 rank-3 guns, and they were essentially rank-2’s thanks to world-hater Chang Pao. Whatever. In a rage, I ignored the ‘can’t shoot at ships in your own fleet’ rule and sunk all three of them easily. HMS Leicester sunk the Baochuan without any help, and she didn’t even have Hermione Gold (MI version) on board. I think I will redo the turn and place them back where they were, and give them a final chance. I know they aren’t designed for just combat, but the fact that they are this bad is just plain embarrassing. Hopefully they will prove me wrong when I resume play again tomorrow.

I have finished this game, and the attackers won on turn 14, one turn before the time limit. The ten masters did reasonably well, so they are safe for now. The attackers basically just flooded the top, middle, and bottom of the game area with tons of ships, and the defenders were overwhelmed. The last defending ship afloat was El Acorazado, but her defences were bypassed by a Broadsides Attack from HMS Bretwalda. A good scenario, although a chunk of attacking ships didn’t get to see action.

Today I played a three game set of deathmatches between two 300 point fleets. The idea was to have a small group of true super-gunships against a much larger group of good, cheap, smaller gunships. The only restrictions were the 300 point limit, but I also only let the small ship fleet have ships that cost less than 10 points, and have 3 masts or less. The big ship fleet contained just 6 ships for all 300 points, with the Baochuan, Delusion, Shui Xian, El Acorazado, HMS Dreadnought, and Le Bonaparte (DJC version). The small ship fleet contained 25 ships, with most of them either Pirate or Spanish, although there were also ships from England, France, America, and the Cursed. The big ship fleet won 2 of the 3 games. They lost the third game only because the small ship fleet had incredible luck with the dice. The ten masters were respectable in these games, although at one point the Shui Xian (with world-hater MI Hermione Gold on board) missed five times in a row, and Le Bonaparte rolled four one’s in a row . If not for this aberration, the big ship fleet would have won all three times. Their biggest advantage was that they had a sac captain, three cancelers, and two SAT crew.

My next few games will be much smaller, as I intend to test out this fleet:…ed_format/true, and possibly some others.

The above fleet went 1-2 against a Pirate fleet.