The Demon King – Custom crew review for MRC7: Story Time Part 2

Published to Miniature Trading on July 20th, 2018

Miniature Review: The Demon King – Custom crew review for MRC7: Story Time Part 2 (set: Pirates of the Epic Seas)

Demon King

After revealing a big character of my custom fantasy set on the podcast and the forum, it is time to fully flesh out his story as part of my “grand plan” with the epicness of the Epic Seas set. Xerecs’ MRC#7—Story time part 2 is the perfect opportunity for this.

First, the custom game piece in question:

Demon King
Set: Pirates of the Epic Seas
Faction Affiliation: The Cursed
Type: Crew
Rarity: Rare
10 points
Ability: Captain. Eternal. World Hater. [This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against any non-Cursed ship.]
Link: All Cursed ships

Flavor: Half demon and half man, the Demon King is a surprisingly happy creature. He is the right-hand “man” of Xenthalos himself as his main lieutenant. His booming laugh can be heard on surrounding ships, but he is only happy because of his immense success so far in his genocidal endeavors.

This is similar to what I imagine the Demon King to look like. I actually envisaged him more with bluish flames, and with a flaming hand or something.

*Note: All of my custom game pieces referenced can be found on the 4th sheet here.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the Beginning, there were gods. By the End, there will be only One. Xenthalos. When Xenthalos came to recruit the Demon King, the latter was only a lowly captain of a small Cursed vessel. After the Lord of the Apocalypse gave him long life, the Demon King rose in the Cursed ranks to become one of the most feared entities in the world.

Being the main lieutenant of the mighty Xenthalos, the Demon King has been tasked with improving various ships in the Cursed fleet. He is an expert at fitting in with existing crews and not infringing upon a captain’s authority, yet he manages to leave one ship and go to the next after making stark improvements to performance.

Being a Captain in his own right, the Demon King has joined the crews of many vessels during his tenure as a general of Xenthalos. So far, he has claimed home to the Grand Apocalypse, Great Apostasy, and the Feast of Vultures. He has noticed that larger ships with higher capacities for evil and terror are best suited for his high skill set.

Ships that may need his help in the future include the Executioner Flying Dutchman Hades’ Realm Loki’s Revenge Monkey’s Paw Sea Hag Sickle Specter , and possibly even the gigantic Guichuan and Delusion .

The Demon King is always a fan of more speed so he can crush his enemies before they even know of his presence. Helmsmen are always a great thing for Cursed ships to have, while Oarsmen have taken bullets and cannonballs many times before that would have seriously incapacitated the Demon King (his mortality is unknown). However, in most cases his powers have sufficed enough to where his ship doesn’t need additional high-ranking Cursed figures aboard to function optimally.

In his travels and campaigns, the Demon King has met many of the Cursed. He has noticed that he doesn’t get along particularly well with El Fantasma, whose capabilities occasionally rival his own. However, he looks forward to finding Davy Jones , for that is whom Xenthalos seeks out….

Though relatively new to the Cursed as a whole, the Demon King has caught wind of serious foes through other Cursed captains. In particular, a potential alliance between French and Spanish kings has even the Archdiocese of the Apocalypse worried. However, his biggest threat may simply be superior firepower.

Though the Demon King currently ranks as Xenthalos’ second in command, there are various demons, fiends, and even humans vying for the Lord’s attention. These include the Fiendslave, Archangel Fiend, and a certain Mauled Slave…. However, a partnership with the powerful Ring Besis could allow for a dynamic duo to cement their place in the annals of the undead.

With incredible capabilities, the Demon King stands out as one of the finest Cursed admirals. His ability to pilot a ship to victory, bring her back from the dead, and inspire her cannoneers to unmatched feats of firepower have brought humanity low to a point of utter despair.

Unfortunately, being a high-ranking member of Xenthalos’ legions means the Demon King is “too good” (or too proud) to serve on “lesser” Cursed vessels. There’s also the possibility that, if he is indeed mortal, sudden death could ruin his ship’s morale and spell doom for the Cursed in battle. However, 9 out of 10 times, the Demon King has achieved victory!

~~~~~

You can find my custom sets here:
Pirates of the Age of Sail
and Pirates of the Epic Seas

Serpent’s Fang – First Video Review! (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on June 3rd, 2018

Miniature Review: Serpent’s Fang – First Video Review!

Serpent's Fang

Serpent’s Fang
Set: Pirates of the Frozen North
Collector’s Number: 301
Faction Affiliation: Cursed
Rarity: PR
Type: Ship
Point Value: 13
Number of Masts: 2
Cargo Space: 4
Base Move: L
Cannons: 3L-3L
Ability: Longship. If a sea monster begins its move within L of this ship, it gets +L to its base move.
Flavor: Stories abound that Jormungandr, the World Serpent, spit out the Serpent’s Fang, fully intact with crew. Her singular purpose is to slaughter Vikings and leave the dead to fill the belly of her monstrous parent.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dN0EydA0c4[/embedyt]

QOTD: What do you think of the Serpent’s Fang?

I should have mentioned – good luck finding her though! She’s part of the very rare Nordic Raiders pack, which has gone for as much as $57 on eBay! (averages around $35.83 though) I was extremely fortunate to receive a Nordic Raiders pack as a gift from Miniature Trading user Trox due to my battle report quantity and quality.
http://m.miniaturetrading.com/user/trox

My fleets using her – comment and vote on them!
http://m.miniaturetrading.com/im/showDeck/deck_id/665465/grouping/0/extended_format/true

http://m.miniaturetrading.com/im/showDeck/deck_id/745160/grouping/0/extended_format/true

Ship page at MT: http://m.miniaturetrading.com/im/selectCard/card_id/111590

Xerecs’ review of the Dark Pact: http://m.miniaturetrading.com/im/showCardReview/review_id/7825

Mysterious Island #2 (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on November 26th, 2017

Miniature Review: Mysterious Island #2 – Live off the land, and drive your opponents away from it!

Mysterious Island #2

Mysterious Island #2
Collector’s Number: I02
Rarity: C
Type: Island
Miniature text:
1-2: Roll 3d6. For every 4-6 result, eliminate one of this ship’s masts.
3-4: No effect.
5-6: Move an opposing ship using this ship’s base move.

General description:
After just two previous reviews of specific islands, I figured I would review my all-time favorite MI (Mysterious Island). It’s one that has been a cornerstone of my favorite gimmick strategy: Mind Control. It’s quite risky but can be incredibly fun and rewarding to use. By its nature as a mysterious island, it’s available to all players to use, so the “OP” talk is minimized. Mysterious islands were generally not a great addition to the game, but I think this one is more good than bad.

Uses: 
-Control your enemies and throw their ships away from you and into terrain
-Help out an ally in a multiplayer game

Time to bring up the Code! 

quote from The Pirate Code:
Abilities That Move Ships (“This ship may move X” or “Move a ship X”)
-If an ability refers to an outside force moving or pushing the ship, such as “move an enemy ship L”, it is not treated like a movement segment; the ship’s heading does not change, but it can be used if the ship is pinned or entangled.
-Unless a movement ability specifically states that it is a move action (or “move as a free action”), other abilities and effects (shooting with a Captain, ramming, etc.) that refer to move actions cannot be used.
-Docking only requires contact between a ship’s bow and an island, so it may occur any time a ship moves or is moved.

So we cannot use it with a captain for “friendly fire” like we can with All-Powerful. However, you can purposely use the effect to help out an ally by docking one of their ships home to repair or unload gold.

Strategies and game play: 
Alright. Let’s get to it. This thing has the potential to affect gameplay rather dramatically if used to its fullest effect. From my Mind Control fleet, we can see that it is rather evil. To “farm” a mysterious island, you dock at it multiple times to get the positive effect many times over. This is often done with rerollers or linked Ex-Patriot crew, which I’ll talk about more in the combos section. By farming the island, you can move other ships more than once, including on the same turn! You can quickly see the possibilities racking up. With two S+S+S ships of your own docking at the island, you could move an enemy ship 6S in a single turn! This can delay their advance for 2+ turns, or send them flying into a reef that wasn’t even proximal to the ship.

This island could truly affect gameplay. The MI’s are placed face down when put in the play area, so your opponent may not be aware of the effect until the game is underway. Once revealed, your opponent may freak out a bit when you control their ships. It’s not the smartest thing to do with a hotheaded enemy, as getting your ships yanked around is sure to cause some animosity. Once the effect is “live” and known to all players, it could become a hotspot. Multiple players might flock to the island in order to farm it, throwing ships all over the board. Also, a player may try to get revenge on another by moving a ship after one of theirs has been moved. Messing with other players will probably cause chaos, and it might even spill over into a heated argument at the gaming area! XD

You could also bargain with another player: threaten to move one of their ships, and coerce them into helping you. If not, chuck their ship onto a reef.

In a multiplayer game, you could also help out an ally. Unless you’re playing as the same fleet, an “opposing ship” to you could be any of the other players. This could save one of their ships from a deadly chase, or allow them to reach a fog bank or whirlpool at the perfect moment.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Of course, there is a rather severe negative effect. Any ship with 3 masts or less stands a reasonable chance of being completely dismasted. However, there are various ways to increase your odds.

One basic way is with Nemo’s Charts , which takes away the negative ability entirely since your worst roll is boosted to 3. It will turn 3’s into 5’s, which means you’ll get the positive effect 2/3 of the time!

The standard reroll ability is a great way to farm MI’s more effectively. One of the least-known parts of any keyword shows up at the end of Ex-Patriot: “If this crew is assigned to its linked ship, add 1 to the result when the ship rolls for effect at a Mysterious Island.” Of the EP crew that link, there are a few that would work especially well with mysterious islands. Count Gustov can give the Terror multiple actions so the ship can dock twice, but even a few bad rolls could really limit the submarine’s potential for the rest of the game, especially since you’d need a shipwright or fort to repair potential damage due to the MI. You can use the SS version of Eileen Brigid O’Brien on the Mobilis to do the same thing, but that sub is better used as a defensive underwater canceller. However, there is one truly exceptional link you can use.Thane Hartless provides the reroll ability as well as MI +1’s for the Slipstream , which even has the amazing ability to bring in crew from other nationalities. Using the reroll for someone like Sir Christopher Myngs and possibly in conjunction with Bianco’s Haulers , a somewhat complex Slipstream setup is probably the best way in the game to farm MI’s. There is still a big risk involved, so a shipwright or helmsman/oarsman combo may be needed to guarantee some success.

However, we must pay close attention to the MI’s final text: “using this ship’s base move.” As a result, none of the above combos are going to do a lot in terms of throwing enemies great distances, since the best Merc linked ships have slow base moves. You cannot add on any movement bonuses from the docking ship either, so you’ll probably want something faster.

This is where it gets CHEESY.  

Since the negative effect only refers to mast elimination and not crew elimination or sinking, there is nothing to stop a mastless ship from redocking at the island via a helmsman and oarsman (or a keyword such as Galley/Turtle Ship/Longship/Turbine). Since the negative effect is rather brutal and will likely dismast most “farmers” in short order, why not just plan for the worst? Rather than bemoaning the dismasting of your Terror or other 3+ masted ship, you can just use a tiny ship with a helmsman and oarsman! XD

Using the Banshee’s Cry with a helmsman and oarsman for just 6 total points, you can have an effective MI farmer. Losing the ship’s only mast is pretty much inevitable with the odds, but the crew allow the ship to move S away from the island and S back to redock even after the ship is dismasted. From there, you are immune to the negative effect.  Unfortunately, you cannot move the ship’s printed base move even when dismasted, so small ships would only be able to move enemy ships S once the masts are gone from the negative effect.

Continuing the theme of tiny ships that cost at least 3 points to accommodate the helmsman/oarsman complement, consider La Fureur . Going slightly more expensive but slightly more effective, faster ships like the Carrion Crow and Lezard could do pretty well with their decent speed. There are other good options, including theZephyr and Pique.

There are a few other UT’s that can help optimize the farming process. Notably, combining Runes of Thor with Nemo’s Plans  This allows you to roll a 6 every time a ship docks at the island, so with a swarm fleet you could be immune to damage and move your opponents ships off of and back onto reefs! Or, with “At World’s End”/Ocean’s Edge style flat earth rules, move their ships off the map to eliminate them from play!

A particularly brutal combo would be to move an enemy ship so that it docks at the very island covered in this review, and then reveal Runes of Loki , forcing them to get the negative effect! Even more sinister, combine those Runes with Nemo’s Plans, and force them to automatically lose three masts!!  

From my Mind Control fleet, there are other things you can do to maximize this island’s effectiveness: Combine it with other things that move enemy ships, such as abilities and a very similar mysterious island.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Build a fort on it (“Mysterious Island abilities (including Great Turtles) are ignored if a fort is present on the island.” – The Pirate Code)
-Use your own Runes of Loki to deny an opponent their opportunity to become a rural farmer. 
-Flip Potions and Brews to turn an enemy 5-6 into a 1-2.
-Put Bad Maps in the treasure distribution and let an opponent find it, so you can both move it farther from their fleet and closer to yours at the same time!
 Natives could severely delay farming efforts; Plague would knock out the helmsman/oarsman crew on farmer ships, at which point the negative effect would become more relevant.
-Choose it as your own home island
-Don’t put it into the island pool when setting up the ocean, or refuse to play with mysterious islands in general (not a bad idea, since many of them are OP and can tilt a game more than they should)
-If your opponent is basing their strategy around this type of island, get there first and move their ships away so they cannot build a farm on the island. XD

The Competition:
So. As nasty as this island is, there are OTHER mysterious islands that make this one look like a frightened little animal!!  That’s right, many of the MI’s can be quite OP, especially with the right farming setup.

Mysterious Island #1 Mysterious Island #5 , and Mysterious Island #11 are possibly the biggest offenders to in-game balance, as they usually become extreme hotspots of activity after just one or two 6’s are rolled. The gold simply flocks there very soon after the MI is explored, and if that MI is close to a player’s HI, it could be game over.
Mysterious Island #4 and Mysterious Island #12 are quite amazing, as it allows you to farm for powerful things like Neptune’s Trident Poseidon’s Breath , or evenPlague for a suicide mission.
Mysterious Island #6 and Mysterious Island #14 are just silly; events were the worst addition to the entire game in the first place, and this allows you to bring them in for free, an infinite number of times. 
Mysterious Island #10 isn’t as bad as the above, but lets you potentially turn a 0 into a 7, dramatically changing the total amount of gold available in a standard game.
Mysterious Island #15 gives you a pseudo-CJS-style teleportation, and could be used at the opportune moment  to flip home a 7 to avoid it getting intercepted on the return trip.

As you can see, more than half of the MI’s from the set are more OP than this one. Throw in things like Ancient Altar Island Paradise , and Verdant Isle , and it’s clear that using this is not as bad as using some of the other crazy ones.

Mysterious Island #13 is both the biggest “competition” for this island, and the biggest partner. They are great when used together, since you can decide which island to dock at when moving a specific enemy ship. Keep in mind this one has a slightly worse negative effect, as you can lose up to 4 masts at once. I decided to review this one instead mostly because I like how it gives a greater degree of control over how far you move the opposing ship. For example, say you have an enemy ship picked out that you want or need to move. With this island, you can dock your fastest ship at it and give that move to the enemy ship. With #13, you can only move the ship as far as its own base move, which could be slower or just less predictable if you’re choosing from multiple options. Therefore, this island also gives you a slightly easier decision making process. However, you can really take advantage of #13 if you have a slow ship like Paradox (almost useless at this island) and you’re trying to move a fast ship in the enemy fleet such as throwing the Hai Peng onto a sargasso sea.

Strengths/Pros: 
-Fun cool effect that adds diversity and excitement to the game
-In play for all players, so not OP like some crew and ships that are part of a fleet build
-Powerful effect that can change a game without ruining it

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-Very nasty and debilitating negative effect
-It’s a Mysterious Island with a powerful positive effect, so naturally it’s prone to farming
-Opponents may not want to play with it/fellow Pirates may hate you for using it

Artwork and aesthetics: 
I’ve always liked the way MI’s looked, both front and back. When face down, they have a nice palm tree indicating their status as mysterious, and the text on the back doesn’t detract much from the islands overall. Getting really specific, I’ve always thought of the “dual” islands as naturally wild, with the larger rounder ones (like #4) being better as home islands since they look big enough for a town and more docking areas. Therefore, this particular shape of island is perfect for a wild island, and therefore to remain mysterious.  (leave a comment if you understand the callback)

Overall rating: 
I’ll give this one a 7.5/10. Rating a specific mysterious island feels a little strange, but it’s fun to review things other than ships and crew once in a while. This MI is certainly prone to farming, but the nasty side effect of “living off the land” (lol) will make you pause before pursuing its full potential. I have a bit of bias since I have used the “Mind Control” strategy very successfully in the past and quite enjoy it. It’s also not as OP as many other MI’s, which would otherwise decrease the rating. As a result, it’s generally my favorite MI and one you should try out sometime! Thanks for reading! Comment and vote if you’d like.

Want this island?  Check out this great deal on Mysterious Islands packs, or a more general search.

Jade – Green > Gold (sometimes) (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on August 30th, 2017

Miniature Review: Jade

Green > Gold (sometimes)

Jade

Jade
Set: South China Seas
Collector’s Number: 101
Faction Affiliation: Treasure
Rarity: R
Type: Unique Treasure
Ability: Jade takes up one cargo space, and you may choose not to unload it. Whenever this ship docks at your home island, double the gold value of the treasure with the lowest gold value on this ship.

General description:
As of this writing (7/31/2017), I recently got Jade in a trade, and finally read it properly for the first time. I had always thought it was just a clone of Spices and Smuggled Goods, and therefore not very unique (puns incoming). However, since you can keep it aboard your ship(s), Jade becomes far more interesting and powerful.

For reference, here is the Pirate Code entry for it:

quote from The Pirate Code:
Jade
-This ability may be reused, if it is not unloaded.
-If this unique treasure is unloaded to your home island, it cannot be reloaded by any means.
-This ability is applied before any modifiers that add to the gold value of a treasure.

Uses: 
This UT is best used in fleets that plan on getting gold. Deathmatch fleets and fleets with mostly gunships should stick to no UT’s or negative ones. In addition, since Jade can double the value of the lowest coin on the ship, it’s worth noting that a 7 can still be low if that’s the only value the ship has. (more on that soon)

Strategies and game play: 
The strategies with Jade aren’t particularly numerous, but it’s an overlooked UT that deserves more attention, just like the other things I’ve reviewed.

– Ships with large cargo holds won’t be able to take full advantage of Jade without leaving coins behind. This is because they will likely have a full haul of coins (such as 5,2,1,1, etc) and can only double the value of the lowest coin. Instead, try using a gold runner with 2 or 3 cargo spaces open (possibly after adding some crew). Since Jade takes up a space, this will leave the ship with 1 or 2 spots for regular treasure. Now you’re not worried about having to double the 1 when you have a 5 on board. Simply take the best one or two treasures from an island or a friendly ship, and maximize how much gold you can get with Jade! This is especially powerful with 7’s, as you can load up a single 7 coin and unload it for 14 gold!

– If your opponent has almost no cargo spaces open, or they’re using a combat-heavy fleet, Jade can double as a sabotage play. If you find it, you’ll be ready to use it. If they find it, it could take up the last spot of cargo on a ship since it’s loaded face up and they have to take it if possible. This will deny it’s usage for standard treasure with nothing else to unload, and might even further wreck strategies if they’re using things like Captain Jack Sparrow or cargo masters.

– You may need to transfer Jade to a ship that can maximize its power, such as a fast gold runner with a relatively small cargo hold. Once Jade is aboard your ideal ship, you can sail that ship near your home island, and essentially replicate the “gold factory” strategy with the UT instead. This means you’ll be transferring one or two coins at a time to the Jade ship, which then unloads them (but not Jade!) for as much benefit as possible.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Before going into the ship and crew combos that could be used with Jade, you might want to make sure you acquire it in the first place:
– Mysterious Islands like this can yank it into the game automatically.
– You could choose it as your selection after finding Pandora’s Box, although there will often be much better options.
– There are various things you can do to maximize your chances of finding it early in the game.

There are plenty of great gold runners to use this UT with. As stated above, having only 2 or 3 cargo spaces open can be fine with Jade, since you really want to get the bonus on as many high value coins as possible. Some cheap ships you could turn a quick profit with include the Sea TigerWhisper, and Fancy.

One particularly nasty combo would be to use the amazing American Native Canoes. Load them up with 1 coin apiece, and give Jade to one of them as well. When it comes time to dock, you can dock home the canoe with Jade first. Then, use the free transfer to move Jade to the next ship in line. That ship docks and gets her (only) coin doubled, and the process continues until all 5 (or 10, or 15, …) have unloaded their coin along with essentially a second coin worth the same value. This is probably one of the most profitable combos you could use with Jade, and really shows the power of the American canoes. It also shows how great Jade can be, as not unloading it gives you the opportunity to use it many times throughout the game. Just remember that you have to redock or explore in order to unload the second coin, since the potential transfer at home doesn’t lead to automatically unloading. Of course, it would be better to receive the UT before docking anyway, so it’s a situation that could easily be avoided.

If you’re trying to trade Jade around to a bunch of different ships offloading gold in a short period of time, a hoist will do the job effectively.

You could keep Jade on a ship at home that is receiving gold via the UPS strategy.

Instead of making it an alternate gold factory strategy, you could simply combine it for maximum profit. Leave a ship with Ralph David near your home island, and give it Jade as well. Ships coming back home can transfer each coin to the ship individually, who redocks to double its value and add +2!

Ways to counteract it: 
The easiest way to knock Jade out is simply to include Kharmic Idol or Pirata Codex in the treasure distribution. The green dragon also happens to be weak to puppiesfor some reason.

Other than that, stop your opponent’s gold game with superior gunnery. Jade IS generic cargo, so things like this can eliminate it. You could also try to board and take the UT so you can use it yourself.

The Competition:
Various other UT’s can create wealth. However, the aforementioned Spices and Smuggled Goods can only be used once. Things like Rum have a costly drawback, while ones like Sunken Treasure are tricky to use. Other than a few specific UT’s like Turtles and Dead Man’s Chest, Jade is tough to match for total potential gold output among UT’s.

Strengths/Pros: 
-Doesn’t cost points
-Double a gold value = win (gold wins the game!)
-Can be extremely valuable (use it multiples times/with high value coins)
-Looks cool/thematic (perfect for the set)

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-Must find it before opponent!
-Takes up a cargo space unlike most other face up UT’s

Artwork and aesthetics: 
It seems to be a Chinese dragon made out of jade, which looks quite cool. The UT is perfect for the set, as it fits the Jade Rebellion and South China Seas theme.

Overall rating: 
I give Jade a 9/10. It’s a very unique treasure that can be used over and over for a huge gold and green profit.  No UT is quite perfect since they are randomly placed, and this one takes up a cargo space, but Jade is tough to resist!

Find Jade on eBay or RainTyger!

Potions and Brews – Game-changing in the right situation (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on June 12th, 2017

Miniature Review: Potions and Brews – Game-changing in the right situation

Potions and Brews

Potions and Brews
Set: Pirates of the Caribbean
Collector’s Number: 080b
Faction Affiliation: Treasure
Rarity: C
Type: Unique Treasure
Ability: You can load this treasure face down. You can reveal it to force an opponent to reroll a die or dice roll. Then remove Potions and Brews from the game.

General description:
Potions and Brews is a Unique Treasure that can be incredibly frustrating for your opponent. Just when they think they’ve hit with a cannon, or gotten a critical extra action roll to work out, you flip this thing over, and make them reroll their die! As is typical for me, I am partly reviewing this game piece because it’s not very popular, with no other reviews and having been used in two fleets.

Uses: 
Use it as a surprise defensive maneuver – right when your opponent gets a good die roll against you, use Potions and Brews to force a reroll where a worse result is quite possible.

Here is the full Pirate Code entry on it:

quote from The Pirate Code:
Potions & Brews
-This ability may be used to force an opponent to re-roll any die roll made during the game regardless of why it was rolled, including terrain and Mysterious Island rolls. The only exception is a shoot action using the Broadsides Attack keyword, which prevents all other abilities from applying to the action.
-This ability can force the re-roll of multiple dice only if all of those dice are rolled at the same time.
–Cannons are rolled individually during a shoot action, so this ability can force the re-roll of only one.
–If multiple dice were rolled, you may choose to require all dice or only specific die or dice to be re-rolled.

Strategies and game play: 

Since it’s a one-time usage and you have to find it on a wild island first, there’s not much strategy to base around it. However, there are certain things you can do to improve your chances of finding it and using it effectively, as detailed in the next section. It’s not likely to affect gameplay very often, but when played at the right moment (and assuming the second die roll is unsuccessful) it can be a game changer!

Combos with other miniatures: 

What to counter:
Fleet Admirals
Opponent rerollers
Jam a bombardier cannon!
EA (extra action)
SAT (same action twice)
They finally got a 6 but not anymore!
Rolls during shoot actions
Ramming rolls
Boarding rolls
Marine shots
Fog bank rolls
Mysterious Island effects
Catamaran ability

How to really mess things up:
Davy Jones 6 roll
Cursed Captain Jack
Paradis de la Mer
Kraken Gong
Lost
Play it right after an opponent uses Runes of Thor

Nemo’s Plans: With this thing aboard, you can use Potions and Brews indefinitely!

Ways to counteract it: 
-Use less abilities that are dependent on die rolls
-Find the UT first
-Take it out with Jailhouse Dog, possibly after finding it with something like La Iberia
-Steal it from an enemy ship
-Sink the ship carrying it before it can hurt you

Strengths/Pros: 
-Can be very powerful in the right situation
-Die rolls are everywhere in this game, so it’s very versatile
-Sneaky/under-the-radar nature

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-Takes up a cargo space when hidden
-Could be hard to find in a game
-Tough to know exactly when to use it (at the “opportune moment”)

Artwork and aesthetics: 
Simple and effective like most of the PotC pictures. Definitely a unique set since they were able to use actual characters and props instead of illustrations.

Overall rating: 
7/10. Potions and Brews is a nice UT, but takes up potentially valuable cargo space until it’s revealed. It also loses a point or two since it can be tough to use perfectly, and may not impact the game much at all, especially if your opponent’s second die roll is the same (or better) than their first.

Get this UT with Norrington for just $.30 at RainTyger!!  Or if they run out, try eBay.

Fire Shot – A potent offensive weapon for a dirt cheap cost (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on June 11th, 2017

Miniature Review: Fire Shot – A potent offensive weapon for a dirt cheap cost

Fire ShotFire Mast Rules

Fire Shot
Set: Fire and Steel
Collector’s Number: 057
Faction Affiliation: Neutral
Rarity: U
Type: Equipment
Point Value: 1
Ability: Once per turn when this ship is given a shoot action, one of her cannons can shoot a fire shot. Declare which cannon will shoot the fire shot before rolling a d6. If it hits, the target’s controller replaces one of her masts with a fire mast. If the cannon roll is a 1, eliminate Fire Shot from the game and replace one of this ship’s masts with a fire mast.

General description:
Fire Shot actually doesn’t have a review yet, although this review of the Firepot Specialist does cover some points. However, it’s the equipment I’ve found most common in packs, and is perhaps the most popular equipment piece in the game based on usage.

Uses: 
Fire shot is a cheap offensive weapon that can enhance any gunship. Use it to take down larger enemy ships, force them to be scuttled, and to spread fear throughout your opponent’s ranks!

Strategies and game play: 
Fire shot affects gameplay as one of the cheapest ways to beef up a ship’s (literal) firepower. Firepot Specialists cost one point more and are limited to S range, but they still changed the game. Imagine what the cheaper and more versatile fire shot could do! Fire is one of the more effective ways to take down ships, since it can ruin a ship without you needing to hit more than once. Strategically, it’s also a fear factor. If an opponent knows or even thinks you have fire shot aboard one of your ships, they have to be careful not to let their ships get hit with it.

Combos with other miniatures: 
One of the biggest strengths of this equipment is that it can fire at any range. Therefore, unlike firepot specialists, it’s great on ships that have L range cannons rather than ships that only have S range cannons. Since it’s an offensive weapon, you’ll want accurate cannons as well. When you combine these factors, here are a few ships that stand out, though there are MANY others that would work great with fire shot.

HMS Gallows: With effectively 1L cannons, this ship can deal out a ton of damage very quickly. Any of the cannons could hit with fire shot at 83% hit rate, though if you miss it will be a 1, causing the equipment to backfire.
Selkie: Perfect for equipment in general, the Selkie carries a nice long-range armament that allows her to hit accurately at L-range or sometimes even at L+L range.
El Neptuno/USS Atlanta: With all L-range cannons and the sniping ability, these ships are perfect for setting enemies alight from extreme range.

~~~~~

Due to the horrible thought of rolling a 1 and setting your ship alight and losing fire shot, rerollers of various types can dramatically improve your odds of success. One of these is highly recommended, especially if you’re like me and roll lots of 1’s during shoot actions. However, the chance of the fire shot backfiring on you is just about 17%, so it’s a solid gamble to take, especially for the dirt cheap cost.

If you’re facing a ship like the Constitution or La Corse, fire is a great thing to have since it ignores those abilities and goes right through them! (based on mast replacement as opposed to elimination; a wording technicality)

In addition, fire shot goes right through the defensive abilities of catamarans (though they can still roll to ignore the hit) and turtle ships! Even submarines aren’t safe, as they can’t extinguish the flames just by submerging!

Offensive abilities that improve a ship’s cannon ranks (such as a world hater) can help the chances of hitting.

Ammunition: The shot equipment you choose really depends on the situation, but this is a great way to get a free fire shot! (often better than choosing the 3 point exploding shot, since the equipment does count towards the ship’s point limit)

Another random thought is to use a cargo master or some other crew to put fire shot on a flotilla. Depending on the cannon ranges, you could have a really nasty combo that allows you to start fires at L+L range without needing to roll a 6 from the sniping ability!

~~~~~

Ships to NOT put fire shot on:
HMS Endeavour: the abilities function separately, so you can’t deal a double fire mast with a hit. Better to just do the regular double damage, especially since you’re paying so much for the ability.

-Ships with all S range cannons: These ships aren’t taking full advantage of the equipment’s potential range, and are often better off with the firepot specialist. Still an option though, especially if you only have 1 point to spend.

-Ships with rank-4 or worse cannons: Since this is a powerful offensive weapon, you really want it to hit and not waste your fire shot. Also, since it can only be used once per turn, it’s best to use it on the ship’s best cannon.

~~~~~

Unfortunately, since fire shot can only be used once per turn, it’s not one of the best choices for ships that have the potential for double actions. It’d be nice to shoot a fire shot twice with two move-and-shoots, but you’re better off just shooting normally. This isn’t to say you should never use fire shot on a gunship with double actions, but more to remember that the number of fire masts you can place per turn is limited to one per fire shot. If you wanted to cause extreme fire damage, you could add exploding shot and a firepot specialist to the same ship, at which point you could start up to 3 fires!

Also, keep in mind that equipment cannot be eliminated when traveling through whirlpools. This is generally a negative of fire shot, since it can’t be sacrificed to protect more important things like the ship’s helmsman or her final mast.

Ways to counteract it: 

-Stay out of range and run away
-Get the first shot against the ship with fire shot and eliminate all of her masts or sink her
-Cancel the enemy ship’s captain
L-range cannons can’t hit this ship.
Cargo wreckers
Runes of Loki
Potions and Brews
Cursed Captain Jack

The Competition:

Firepot Specialists are a great way to add fire potential to a ship without the drawback of losing the game piece on a bad die roll. These are better if you can afford the extra point and don’t need or want the extra range that fire shot can provide, or if you’re simply risk-averse.

Exploding Shot is more expensive but comes with a better drawback and eliminates a crew on a successful hit. Once again, if you have the points to spend, this is probably better than fire shot, but oftentimes build totals fill up quickly and you’re better off getting a captain, helmsman, or tiny ship instead of this equipment. (not to mention 3 fire shots on 3 different ships!) If you have the LE version of exploding shot, it can be added if you need a quick boost to firepower.

The other equipment is more situational than fire shot, but can be better depending on the game circumstances and your play style/preferences.

There are only a few bombardiers in the game, and they are all quite expensive for what you get. Fire shot is also far more flexible, though if you use it on a bombardier you can really make the game hot!

Strengths/Pros: 
-Very cheap; the cheapest way to add fire to your fleet
-Effective offensive weapon
-Fire can be a big fear factor for opponents
-Can shoot at any range unlike specialists
-One of the best counters to ships with different defensive abilities
-Cannot be cancelled directly
-Can be assigned to sea creatures

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-Huge negative effect if you roll a 1: major backfire!
-Can only be used once per turn, so not as effective with ships that have double action abilities

Artwork and aesthetics: 
The artwork is great: very explosive and fiery!

Overall rating: 
I give Fire Shot an 8/10. It’s an insanely effective offensive weapon that costs just 1 point, but the huge drawback must be accounted for when considering its use. (I think I’d give firepot specialists and exploding shot a 8 and 7.5 respectively)

As of this posting, RainTyger has Fire Shot for just $.50!  If they run out, you can probably find it on eBay.

Le Renard qui Vole – Simple speedy subhunter (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on June 5th, 2017

Miniature Review: Le Renard qui Vole – Simple speedy subhunter

Le Renard qui Vole

Le Renard qui Vole
Set: Pirates of the Mysterious Islands
Collector’s Number: 206
Faction Affiliation: France
Rarity: PR
Type: Ship
Point Value: 7
Number of Masts: 1
Cargo Space: 2
Base Move: S+S+S
Cannons: 2S
Ability: This ship can shoot at submerged ships within S of her.
Flavor: Shipwrecked in Manila the French crew of the “Flying Fox” spent two years building the ship and named her for the enormous bats in the area.

General description:
Here I will review a ship that I don’t own. Actually, many people don’t own the Renard qui Vole. In fact, the database says that not a single member here at Miniature Trading has one up for trade, while 16 members want one. The Renard (as I will refer to her) is one of the very rare Mysterious Islands PR/LE box topper tournament ships, and is one of many small LE ships that are hard to find (similar to the DJC LE’s).

She hasn’t been reviewed yet, and has been used in only one fleet. As the title suggests, she has a few distinct strengths that make her stand out, but other than that, the Renard is a fragile and not overly useful one master.

Uses: 
The Renard qui Vole is best used as a support gunship. Due to her small cargo hold, she isn’t a great gold runner. For 1 point less you can have Le Bon Marin, not to mention all the other great little gold runners the French have. Her ability, speed, and cannon makes her ideal to be used as a submarine counter.

Strategies and game play: 
If your opponent uses submarines a lot, this is a decent ship to bring to the table. Since most submarines aren’t particularly fast, the Renard will likely be able to catch them and get the first shot. However, since her armament is limited and that same submarine could ram the Renard’s only mast off, it’s wise to be cautious when hunting subs with this ship. Other strategies include using the ship as a generic support gunship, or as a scout ship that can grab a couple coins when bored or defend a particular area you control.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Due to the Renard’s speed and the general lacking of speed on submarines, the Renard doesn’t usually need a helmsman to reach full effectiveness. For a gunship, this is great and saves the Renard 2 points on her total point cost. (though, if needed, a captain and helmsman fit aboard at 12 points to give her S+S+S+S speed!)

However, you’ll definitely want a captain to make sure you can move and shoot. This brings the Renard’s total cost to 10 points, which is a lot for a single masted support gunship, but at least one that is very quick and has an accurate cannon.

A musketeer is actually a good option for the Renard, because it nearly doubles the ship’s total firepower and allows you to take on larger submarines. A cannoneer is a bit less effective in this case because you already have a 66% chance of hitting with the main gun, so it’s better to add an extra cannon than reroll a shot that could easily hit. You could get a free reroll for either cannon with Godiva or LaFontaine, though that’s a very risky bet to put a Ransom crew on a 1 masted ship.

Where this ship becomes fun is with the various specialist crew. I’d highly recommend a Firepot Specialist for the Renard, as it can cut through the defenses of the Nautilus and set subs aflame when they’re still underwater! Next up, the Stinkpot Specialist allows for crew cancelling, which is a very important tactic in battles. The Renard’s speed can allow her to race ahead of a bigger gunship, blast the crew of the sub with stinkpots, and allow for the larger gunship to follow up soon afterwards. This could slow the sub down if she has a helmsman, and also prevent disaster from encountering crew like Captain Nemo. The chainshot and smokepot specialists aren’t as highly recommended, but could help in specific situations. (especially if the sub is fast and you need to slow it down until further help arrives)

For named crew, the options are severely limited by the Renard’s point cost and cargo capacity. However, there is one that is absolutely perfect for the Renard. Henri Diop. This guy is one of the least useful French crew in existence, yet here you can finally have a great reason to use him. Most of the game’s submarines are of the Mercenary faction, so the Renard will be able to use Diop’s ability when hunting most subs. In addition, Diop links to all French ships, which allows you to still put another crew (for 2 points or less) on the Renard! This gives you a 1S specialist shot firing at a submerged ship; if you hit with a firepot, you could potentially end a huge threat with one shot!

Possibly the most dangerous combo is to add Capitaine Arathiel and two oarsmen. This would allow for maximum sub hunting capability, and gives the Renard enough speed to catch almost any ship.

Funny enough, Claude Perier is a decent option if you’re unsure of which specialist to use.

There are a few other fringe cases where you might put a named crew aboard the Renard for various objectives, such as Nicholas-Thomas Baudin or Lenoir. Also, if you know that an enemy submarine has a canceller on board, this Lenoir will allow you to still take your important shot(s).

Ways to counteract it: 
-Cancellers
-Using USS Mercury; the ability will negate the only chance the Renard has of hitting (watch out for a musketeer though, which could hit and allow for the regular 2S gun to connect normally)
-Ram it out of commission (possibly from underwater for maximum revenge/irony)
-Avoid using submarines – the Renard is a ship with a very specific use, and outside of her ability she’s not going to have a big effect on the game

The Competition:
The biggest competition for the Renard comes from Pierre Aronnax. Being a crew that can serve aboard any of France’s best gunships, Aronnax is far more flexible than the Renard. If you know you’ll be facing submarines (or see them on the ocean and can hire him with Vicomte Jules de Cissey), Aronnax is your man. He would be fantastic on many French ships, especially some of the better 5 masters that have L range guns (watch out for Christian Fiore). In addition, he links to all French ships and is a common, literally the complete opposite of the Renard’s extreme rarity. To be honest, Aronnax is a far better option. However, if you’re lacking points with which to hire a large subhunter and put Aronnax aboard, the Renard is a great option to fall back on.

The Renard doesn’t face much other competition, but it’s worth noting that there are some better options at the 7 point level for French gunships. The Le Coeur de Lionis probably the best of the bunch and happens to be one of the most fun and underrated ships in the game, mostly due to her namesake. However, the other optionsare pretty good too, so the Renard is mostly relegated to strictly sub hunting.

Strengths/Pros: 
-Fast
-Accurate cannon
-Enough cargo and point space to complement her ability with the right crew setup
-Relatively cheap – Aronnax gives the ability alone for only 2 points less

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-Extremely fragile
-Only fills a specific role
-Outclassed by a much better and more common option with the same ability within the same faction

Artwork and aesthetics: 
Unfortunately we don’t yet have a picture of the constructed ship, but based on the card picture she’s not exceptionally pretty like a lot of French ships. There’s some evidence of bat-like artwork that connects to the flavor text, but overall she looks pretty drab.

Overall rating: 
The Renard is not one of the best ships in the game, and she never will be. However, she fills a very niche role in a very effective way, and when combined with specialist crew she can do her job to perfection. I give the Renard qui Vole a 5/10. (8.5/10 strictly within the realm of sub hunting)

 

You’re not likely to find her on eBay, but go ahead and take a peek if you want.

USS Albany – Big bad capital ship (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on June 4th, 2017

Miniature Review: USS Albany – Big bad capital ship

USS Albany

USS Albany
Set: Pirates of the Frozen North
Collector’s Number: 077
Faction Affiliation: America
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 15
Number of Masts: 4
Cargo Space: 5
Base Move: L
Cannons: 2S-2S-2S-2S
Ability: If this ship wins a boarding party, she may take as much treasure from the other ship as she can carry.
Flavor text: The crew of USS Albany is composed of former prisoners of war who are focused only on extracting gold from their prey.

General description:
USS Albany is a very good ship from the Frozen North set. The relative rarity and quality of that set, in addition to the plethora of American gunships, likely contributes to her being underrated, underused, and not as well known as she should be. This is her first Miniature Review, and she has been used in just two fleets. However, she is one of my favorite American ships, and I’ll certainly tell you why. I’ve wanted to review this ship for a while now, and here I intend to do her justice with a great review.

Uses: 
The Albany is a very interesting ship, the type of ship that I love. Her point cost almost necessitates usage as some kind of gunship, and her powerful short range armament calls for bloodshed. However, her large cargo hold and very good (but situational) ability make you think twice about using her solely as a gunship. This is the kind of ship that functions best as one of two things:
1. A primary gunship loaded up well to take advantage of the high ceiling set by the point cost and 5 cargo spaces.
2. One of the more powerful hybrids in the game.

Strategies and game play: 
Based on the two main uses for the Albany, she will likely be serving as a combat force or a hybrid that fights often but takes advantage of golden situations (pun? intended either way heh). Send her after your opponent’s main gunship, and a clash of titans will occur. Send her after your opponent’s gold runners (with the right crew setup), and they will quake in fear and be splintered from bow to stern. This is a badass ship, so use her as such!

Combos with other miniatures: 
Before I get into the more complex combos, let’s not forget that it’s perfectly reasonable to sail the Albany out of port with nothing more than a captain and helmsman. This would give her the essential abilities for any hybrid or gunship, and leave 3 spaces open for gold. Adding an explorer would only cost a point more, make going to wild islands more appealing, and protect the other two crew. Especially on a budget, these options are great. However, I like to complicate things and make crew combos more interesting, so let’s not stop there! 

I find hybrids a bit more interesting and flexible than more simple gunships, and I know a lot of people look at a ship’s ability as a main driver of its uses, so I will look at hybrid combos first.

Hybrid combos

Here is my favorite, which I used in my Gold-stealing fleet and was the inspiration for starting the Best crew arrangements threadCommodore Stern is a perfect match for the Albany, and here’s why:

To use the Albany’s ability, you’ll want as many cargo spaces free as possible. Stern combines three abilities into one crew, and all three are extremely relevant to what the Albany will be doing. The captain ability can help soften up or dismast enemy treasure runners before the Albany easily wins the boarding party. The +1 to boarding rolls means the Albany will almost always win against most gold runners. Lastly, the extra action capabilities will allow the Albany to catch enemy treasure runners, which might not be possible even with the mandatory helmsman. Nolan makes the setup even more ideal, linking to Stern and providing a free reroll for either the extra action or the boarding attempt. In conclusion, the Albany is set up quite well to do anything. Even if she doesn’t get the chance to raid any gold runners, she’s a formidable gunship in her own right, with so many abilities at her disposal in addition to her powerful guns.

There you have it; one of my favorite crew setups of all time. As I said, even if you can’t use her as a hybrid due to a lack of ships to steal from, she can move up to L+S+L+S with eight 2S shots, which is primary gunship material. In hindsight, adding an oarsman would be a good idea since he won’t take up space and helps to protect the crew, all of which are very valuable in that combo. With an oarsman, the setup totals 25 points, which leaves you with 15 or 20 points left over in a standard 40 point game.

That setup is so ideal that other hybrid setups for the Albany pale in comparison. If you were on a tighter budget, you could add Master CPO Charles Richard and a helmsman, but you’ll likely need some kind of speed boost to catch enemy gold runners. If you wanted speed but couldn’t afford a captain, Captain Montana Mays with a helmsman could work.

Gunship combos

There are so many great crew combos for the Albany to utilize. The Americans may not have any cheap options for double actions, but they can certainly combo well with intimidating setups.

Bread and butter gunship setup (30 points)
Jonathan HaradenCommander Steven Decatur, helmsman
Here the Albany gets the standard captain/helmsman in addition to EA (extra action)/reroll. This is actually somewhat similar to the best hybrid setup, but more offensively minded. Decatur protects the important crew from elimination, while two cargo spaces are left over if an opportunity for a treasure raid presents itself. Unfortunately the point total quickly maximizes the ship’s point space, so there’s no room for an oarsman. Though, if you used Nolan instead of Haraden and went with a regular captain, you would have 3 points left for two cargo spaces. You could add a firepot specialist and an oarsman in that case, or leave the setup at 27 points. Haraden is just a cool character and bringing Nolan’s Ransom keyword into that much combat can be risky in a tight gold race.

Defensive setup (30/33 points)
Montana MaysDiamond Nelson TurnerRalph DavidWayne Nolan, helmsman (+ optional Ruth Lee/Pierce Hollow and oarsman to prevent capture and dereliction)
The numerous options the Americans have for Eternal and crew protecting make this combo a nice option. This version of Mays is used to make sure the ship has the captain ability, but no double actions are available. The Albany’s point space quickly fills up, but the ship has many great abilities available. Mays also protects the essential crew, all of which play important roles. DNT is the only American canceller crew, and serves as the best defense the Albany can have. Cancellers almost cannot be overvalued. Next is Ralph David, who makes the ship Eternal (Gus, who is listed below, is too expensive to not need a point reducer in addition to him). The helmsman is necessary as usual, to give the ship a fighting chance of getting the first shot and catching enemies. The optional point reducer/oarsman is for the players who want to optimize this setup, despite essentially paying 3 points for an oarsman and risking people getting thrown overboard if the ship is hit with stinky stuff. However, it gets the ship as close as one can get to the Eternal “god ship” setup, as the oarsman prevents capture and dereliction. Since the oarsman can’t be eliminated due to Mays, the ship must be sunk, but she has Eternal due to Ralph David. This combo is not for the faint of heart, but makes the Albany as durable and indestructible as possible. (more recommended for large/long games than competitive games where speed is always the most important thing)

Those are the best overall setups I can come up with, but here are a bunch of other fun options:

Equipment attacker (30 points)
Jonathan HaradenCommander Albert Crenshaw, helmsman, your choice of two 1 point shot equipment
Crenshaw is a unique crew who is rarely worth the points, but since the Albany’s guns are accurate to begin with and all have S range, he’s a reasonable option for her. One of my favorite things about equipment is that they can be fired at any range, unlike the specialists that are reduced to S range. The cargo hold quickly fills up, but leaves room for a couple pieces of shot equipment. I’d probably go with fire shot and stinkpot shot, but it really depends on your preferences and strategies. Haraden combines two abilities into one cargo space, the latter of which (reroll) can help to avoid a backfiring equipment malfunction. As you can see by now, the helmsman is just mandatory to make the ship effective.

Specialist Striker (26 points)
-Captain, helmsman, firepot specialist, chainshot specialist, stinkpot specialist (American crew)
This is a bit silly, but you can use the Albany’s cargo hold to bring aboard various specialist crew. Though Crenshaw allows the Albany to take full advantage of his ability, her natural 2S guns are perfect for specialist crew, since you don’t have to shorten the range of any L range cannons to use them. You could really throw a ship for a loop here if you hit with all 3, which would immobilize them, set them alight, and freeze their crew for a turn, allowing you to clean up with another gunship or follow with another volley from the Albany on the next turn. This combo could work well in challenging more dangerous foes, such as 5, 6, and 10 masters. The extra weaponry could help even the playing field and allow the Albany to pull off an upset.

Fire bomber (29 points)
Jonathan Haraden, helmsman, Firepot SpecialistExploding ShotFire Shot
This is a fun combo that allows you to blaze your opponent’s ship with up to 3 fire masts at once! Haraden’s reroll is highly recommended to prevent dangerous malfunctions of the equipment.

Brutal effectiveness (26 points)
Brent Rice/Chief PO Charles Richard, captain, helmsman, firepot specialist
This gives the Albany 1S cannons and a very high chance of setting enemy ships on fire. This illustrates the lack of cheap American double actions, but serves you well based on firepower alone. If you really wanted one of the 7 point crew, you could ditch the specialist for them and a point reducer.

Going for broke (25 points)
Commodore David Porter, helmsman, oarsman
I wouldn’t really recommend this, but if you like using Broadsides Attack and have good luck with it, the Albany is one of the best American ships for Porter to serve on. Her 2S cannons have the rank and range you want for a BA blast, and makes the ship comparable to HMS Bretwalda.

Maximum gunnery (30 points)
William Eaton, captain, helmsman, musketeer
As the name suggests, this produces a lot of firepower. The Albany would have 6 total cannons in this setup, with five at 2S and one at 3S. You could try this if you’re going up against a 6 or 10 masted ship or a problem like Paradis de la Mer.

I think that’s enough primary gunship setups, but here are some other crew that could do well on the Albany:
Gus Schultz: if you’re using the Pirates and can’t take advantage of Ralph David’s cheap cost, the Americans have a second Eternal crew, one of only 3 in the game.
RV “Diamond” Nelson Turner is far less effective than his canceller version, but could really mess with an opponent if used at the right moment (use with a hybrid setup)
F&S Diamond Nelson Turner: not the most effective use of 8 points, but if your luck on shoot actions is as bad as mine, the insurance could really come in handy. With a captain and helmsman you’d still have room for some shot equipment, which would doubly benefit from the ability.
John Paul Jones and Captain Montana Mays are excellent options in general, it’s just that Decatur gives the EA ability (more flexible than SAT) for the same total point cost. The setups would work just as well if you don’t have Decatur, with the possible exception of needing to explore wild islands and/or enemy ships.
Shinji Smith makes the ship comparable to USS Eagan but simply costs more to execute a similar strategy. (similar to the specialists, the 2S guns are ideal for Shinji’s ability though)
-The American Cargo Master is a unique crew that combos well with American fleets, since they aren’t exceptionally strong in the gold running department. I didn’t include him above, since a lot of the setups fill up the Albany’s point cost and therefore you would need a point reducer to take full advantage of the extra stuff. It’s easy enough to figure out: with a cargo master on another ship, take any of the above combos that are less than 30 points and add anything that further complements the abilities of that particular setup.
-In Return to Savage Shores, the Americans received a new version of George Washington LeBeaux, who gives the same ability as the infamous Lord Mycron. This could allow the Albany virtually guaranteed double actions from a ship like the Annapolis docked at home. Similarly, Commodore Edward Preble is a great crew for larger games (80+ points), though the Albany might often be too crowded for him to come aboard. Ships like the USS Kentucky with a built-in reroll are a perfect spot for him to give the Albany AA’s (admiral actions) from afar.
-Don’t slouch on the original Ralph David; with a hybrid setup you could offload coins to a ship with RD aboard, who then unloads them one at a time for maximum bonuses.
Commodore Matthew Perry can single-handedly give the Albany the necessary captain and helmsman abilities. He also would feel reasonably comfortable aboard the Albany with one of the crew protectors around.
Navigators could help let the Albany catch enemy ships.
Captain Charles Richard isn’t recommended, but for fun you could go overboard and add Stern, canceller DNT, Nolan, Gus Schultz, and an SAT/crew protector for maximum craziness. (just remember that abilities don’t stack and you can only give a ship two non-free actions per turn)
-The Letter of Marque equipment is good if you know which faction(s) you’ll be facing.

Your basic generic crew options (musketeer, cannoneer, shipwright, etc) also work well on the Albany since she can easily fit them aboard with her big cargo hold. They’re not often the best value you can get for your points, but for a beginner or someone with a limited collection they’re good options to beef up the Albany beyond the simple captain+helmsman setup.

If you find the treasures and have the time to transport them to the Albany, AmmunitionDeck CannonDry Powder, and Power Cannons can give her a boost in firepower. Also, you may find the Albany a good place to put those unwanted face down UT’s that would only take up important space on your treasure runners.

In a large game or campaign game, the Albany’s durability, cargo hold, and ability would make it reasonable for usage as a gold runner. In that capacity, you couldn’t go wrong with a helmsman and explorer; after dropping the explorer and with a potential cargo master in play, the Albany could bring back 5 coins per trip at L+S speed, which is pretty good for the Americans. Certainly a fringe use, but for hardcore players of large games who might have a battle fleet of American 5 masters already in play, it’s not a bad way to go. The guns and ability will certainly ensure the island the Albany goes to is free of enemy gold runners!

Ways to counteract it: 
The Albany is a powerful and intimidating ship, so your best bet is to knock it out of the game with a more powerful warship, cancel its captain ability when it comes within range (watch out for Crenshaw though), or use this nonsense. Gold runners can run away if they’re faster than L+S (though they might need double actions if the Albany has some). Other than that, you could try to capture the ship since she’d make a fine addition to any fleet.

The Competition:
The Americans have plenty of 15 point ships.

-The Bonhomme Richard is a classic historical favorite that beats the Albany at being a pure gunship, with better speed and slightly more powerful/flexible firepower. If not for the Albany’s ability she’d be a better ship regardless, but the BR could be a good hybrid.
-The Ghost Walker is fantastic, but can’t do quite as much damage as the Albany and doesn’t function as well in the hybrid role.
-The Intrepid, similar to the BR, beats the Albany in the gunship role, with better speed and really good guns.
-The Jarvis is a very good ship with a nice ability, but falls just short of the Albany overall.
Paul Revere is one of my favorite ships and combines great speed with a solid complement of guns and abilities.
-The USS Constitution is a quintessential gunship choice and better at that role than the Albany.

However, the Albany is better than the other ships on that list (linked above), so she’s about in the middle of the pack. She also compares pretty well to most American 4 masters, though ships like the Franklin, Providence, and Hudson are pretty much undeniably better.

If we look at game pieces with the same ability, we see that the Albany is FAR superior than most, with only the Zeus (ugh lol) and Descharges giving her serious competition.

In short, the Albany compares favorably to ships of her size in her own faction, but faces stiffer competition from American ships that share her point cost. She’s also one of the best ships in the game with the Hoarding Gold ability.

Strengths/Pros: 
-Size/durability
-Great cannons
-Big cargo hold
-Point cost that allows effective and fun named crew combos to take advantage of her ability and cannons
-Ability that actually suits her stats (lots of cargo)
-Hybrid potential

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-A bit slow
-Lack of defined role (would likely be used more with a more offensive ability)
-Vulnerable to cancellers and “can’t hit within S” ships
-Not a weakness in my opinion, but a con that the Americans don’t have great options for named crew like the Big 4 have

Artwork and aesthetics: 
The artwork is rather typical of FN, with a dark hull but light colored sails. The chains on her sails look a bit odd but make the ship stand out, along with connecting to the flavor text.

Overall rating: 
I give the Albany a 7.5/10. She’s one of the most underrated hybrids in the game and functions quite well as a primary gunship, but her speed and extensive competition hold her back from getting an 8. A cool ship that is fun to sail around in!

Get the Albany on eBay!

Xi’an – Not the Shui, but Shee Ahn! (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on March 22nd, 2017

Miniature Review: Xi’an – Not the Shui, but Shee Ahn!

Xi'an

Xi’an
Set: Savage Shores
Collector’s Number: 023
Faction Affiliation: Pirate
Rarity: C
Type: Ship
Point Value: 8
Number of Masts: 2
Cargo Space: 2
Base Move: L+S
Cannons: 2S-3L
Ability: Junk.
Flavor text: The Xi’an and her crew are nearly all that remain of the once powerful Jade Empire.

This is the Xi’an’s first appearance in the fleets or Miniature Review sections! 

General description:
Here’s a little-known ship from Savage Shores that is overlooked for different reasons. The Xi’an has only her ship type keyword, with no other abilities. Her cargo space is mostly average, though her speed is good. Throw in her status as a common and a Pirate ship, and it’s easy to overlook her.

I looked up the pronunciation of the ship’s name and it sounds like “shee ahn” or “shee an”. The first part of Shui Xian might be either “schway” or “shoo-ee”.

Uses: 
I would recommend using the Xi’an as a gunship. Her cargo hold is a bit small for a gold role, though sending her out empty could work to get a couple coins due to her fast base move. In addition, her guns are good enough to dismast or damage most small gold runners.

Strategies and game play: 
The Xi’an should normally be used as a support gunship. Her size and point cost are small enough to include another gunship in your standard 40 point fleet, if desired. The Xi’an can be used as an escort ship for your treasure runners, and/or as a harassing ship to attack enemy gold runners. Another ship could be used to mop up the remains of the Xi’an’s attack, whether that means towing an enemy gold runner or boarding her to load gold.

Combos with other miniatures: 
The most obvious combo is to put a simple captain aboard. I would highly recommend this, as the Xi’an’s fragility makes it clear that you may not want to spend many points on her. Adding a helmsman would give the ship L+S+S speed, fast enough to catch most enemy gold runners. This would total 13 points. (If you want to combine those abilities into one cargo space and add one of the below combos for 3 or less points, Hammersmith would be perfect.)

A few other generic crew are solid options if you have more points to spend. An oarsman could protect any two crew you use, though it’s less important with a small ship. A firepot specialist could work really well, using that 2S foremast cannon to set enemies aflame. A musketeer could increase the ship’s damage potential by 50%.

The options for named crew are numerous, despite the Xi’an’s small point cost. This is due to the immense numbers of fantastic crew the Pirate faction has.

Crimson Angel is the most offensive route you can take with the Xi’an. Effectively cheating the point costs of her abilities, for 16 points (with a captain) you could have up to 4 shots at 1S and 2L ranks. If you wanted the potential SAT for less points, the Pirates have numerous cheap options for that.

Since the Xi’an only has 2 cannons, she can’t afford to miss often. Calico Cat provides some insurance while comboing excellently with a firepot specialist or equipment.

I wouldn’t really recommend it, but if you really need guaranteed extra actions, Captain Blackheart or Havana Black could be paired with an explorer and oarsman.

Captain Jack Hawkins would work well with a helmsman in a suicide mission: L+S+S up to an enemy gunship, two shots, a ram, and then a boarding party and pinned effect.

Other fun ideas:
Especially in larger games, you could even leave the Xi’an parked at your home island with Calypso and a navigator. Leave Capitaine Chevalle face down until the right moment to surprise an opponent. Similarly, Tia Dalma fits perfectly with a captain for 16 total points. Captain Jack Sparrow is actually a solid option, as he gives the captain ability in addition to his other (OP) ability, in which the treasure is never loaded onto his ship in the first place. Geoffery Flores would work similar to a musketeer, but you need a 4 or higher to hit. If you did use Hammersmith, you’d have space for Amos to bring in a crew, giving you more flexibility.

In addition, the Xi’an could use any of the various equipment.

Obviously the crew options are still limited, and those are the ones that make more sense than some of the more gimmicky ones or the ones that are much better suited to larger ships.

Ways to counteract it: 
Sink it! The Xi’an isn’t a huge threat, and her masts could fall quickly. A canceller might come in handy assuming your opponent has a captain aboard, especially if that lets you avoid getting hit with fire.

The Competition:
There are plenty of 8 point Pirate ships, and some of them far outclass the Xi’an. The Royal JamesCutlass, and Freedom’s Hand are the most direct competitors, and all 3 are clearly superior to the Xi’an. The Executioner is also a better ship most of the time. The Star of Siam and Bonnie Liz are two of the best gold runners in the game.

Even among the 5 other 2 masted Pirate junks, the Xi’an has stiff competition. The Hai Peng is the fastest ship in existence, as well as one of the most effective. The Sea Crane is able to play a hybrid role and has a great ability.

Strengths/Pros: 
-Great speed
-Good cannons
-Pirate faction
-Low cost

Weaknesses/Cons: 
-Junk keyword doesn’t help the ship
-Small cargo hold limits ship to a gunship role
-Overpriced compared to competition

Artwork and aesthetics: 
I like the artwork – the fancy patterns on the deck and sails are reminiscent of some French ships, while the hull details fit the Savage Shores theme well. The flavor text is also rather interesting.

Overall rating: 
6/10. The Xi’an is a nice support gunship option, but is completely obliterated by her competition.

Want the Xi’an? Buy the ship here.

La Luna Creciente (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on November 25th, 2017

This is a Miniature Review for one of the game pieces in Xerecs’ second custom set, Fiends of the Blood Islands. (found here)

Miniature Review: La Luna Creciente

Faction Affiliation: Spain
Point Cost: 14
Masts: 4
Guns: 4L, 4S, 4S, 4L
Cargo: 5
Base Move: L+S
Ability: Galley. When this ship reaches its cargo limit, its base move becomes L, and can’t be increased.
Flavor text: Found partially wrecked along the Barbary coast, the Spanish salvaged and retrofitted her to make her better than she was before.

General description:
One of the newer customs out there, “The Crescent Moon” is what you may be thinking: the original Crescent Moon from Barbary Coast that has now been captured by the Spanish.

Uses:
With a very good base move, good cargo, and inaccurate cannons, this ship will likely serve you best as a gold runner or cargo ship. However, numerous options exist to make her a fun hybrid!

Strategies and game play:
Strategically, this ship will likely strike your opponent as a subpar ship. She’s not a big threat to their ships, her cost is somewhat high for a ship with a negative ability, and Spain has FAR better options in the cargo hauling department. However, the Luna Creciente could function as an under-the-radar ship that has some potential. She will likely not be as big a target as other famous 4 masters, which can allow for some devious face down crew. However, don’t expect TOO much from her during the game, since she’s more of a support vessel than a “star”. Smile

Combos with other miniatures:

Basic gold running option: With a helmsman (16 total points) or explorer (15), and possibly an oarsman to protect the crew and to delay potential capture. One of the most important things to note is the ship’s main ability, which is negative in nature. In a way, it makes the ship’s cargo essentially 4. I say that because unlike the Darkhawk II and other versions of that original ability, this ship’s speed cannot be increased once it bottoms out at L once the cargo hold is full. This really puts a damper on the ship’s potential, since with the normal ability she could run out at L+S+S with a helmsman, grab 4 coins, and return at a solid L+S. However, since the speed cannot be increased above L (via trade currents, anything), you really don’t want to fill the cargo hold. L speed on its own just doesn’t cut it in this game, as it’s too slow to do much of anything effectively. Keep this in mind for the rest of the review, as it’s quite an important problem to face when using the ship. (which I still like if you’re wondering Smile)

A more advanced option: Since the Creciente’s biggest problem is her relationship of point cost to effective cargo (14/4, not a great ratio for a gold runner), perhaps we can increase it somehow? It will make the ship even more expensive, but Spain has the perfect crew for the job: Dominic Freda . Freda gives the ship 6 cargo spaces (effectively 5 from a competitive standpoint), along with the explorer ability! This opens up some nice possibilities: get a big load of five coins and travel L+S all the time, or maybe take the helmsman as well for some extra speed. Keep in mind that “this crew takes up no cargo space” is considered an ability, and does not stack. Therefore, if Freda is joined by an oarsman, you’re losing a space after all. (18-20 points total)

The Most Advanced: Master Bianco Bianco’s Haulers (either version)
Coming in at a whopping 24 points minimum (26 with a helmsman), this is the ultimate cargo-saving adventure. XD Between the +1 and the link, the Luna would essentially have 5 spaces available for gold, in addition to some nice extra treasure-based abilities depending on which version of the Haulers you prefer. The SM version of Bianco also gives +1 to cargo spaces, but unlike Freda, he doesn’t have another nice ability built-in to save additional cargo. Also, Xerecs has a custom crew named Angelica Bianco that gives the Cargo Master keyword by itself.

Scouting: In a big game, the Luna could bring aboard Alejandro Malaspina and a helmsman, allowing the ship to move L+S+S and explore islands farther from home for cargo ships sailing along later. The Luna is certainly a ship fit for the job: not only could she still load a couple high-value coins or UT’s from those islands, but she also has the durability to take a few hits and keep sailing quickly, which could be useful when S-exploring in enemy territory.

Gunship options

With rank-4 cannons and La Resolucion a comparable option at the price, I wouldn’t recommend using this ship as a gunship. However, the plethora of great Spanish named crew make it at least a possibility, if not a somewhat impractical one.

You’ll pretty much need Almirante Devente Del Nero or Luis Zuan to make your opponents respect your firepower. After that, there are plenty of great Spanish named crew that give good combat abilities, such as Duque Alfonzo de Castilla Admiral Alarico Castro , and Nemesio Diaz . There are others as well, but with so many other Spanish options doing a better job at pure fighting, I feel like it’s futile to list them all.

If you really want to make her a true guns/gold hybrid… try Victor de Alva with Dominic Freda and possibly Vaccaro.

Boarding Bonanza

Combining the Galley’s stern turn with the inability to become pinned, the Luna can be a boarding attacker. For maximum damage and death, consider Luis Zuan, Capitan Alarico Castro ,Castro’s Loyalists Duque Marcus Vaccaro , and a helmsman. This will give you SAT with reroll, all rank-3 cannons, and boarding left and right like a 5 master with L+S+S speed. I told you this ship could be a surprising beast! XD Of course, for 28 points you could get a somewhat loaded San Cristobal , but it’s fun to think about.

There are a few fun flavor options too – with the original forgotten version of Freda, you could make the ship faster and loose her on her former masters! Or, let Tariq the Black bring aboard some of her original crew, giving the Spanish the Admiral’s Action ability! (though they also received the ability on one of Xerecs’ custom crew, Commandante Sebastian Salazar) Neither option is particularly practical in most games however.

Ways to counteract it:
Sink it or ignore it. It’s not a ship that will dominate the game, so it’s not usually something you’ll have a lot of trouble dealing with. One specific way to frustrate your enemy is with Rotting Hull – if the Luna is near capacity, this UT will trigger the automatic and devastating speed loss, after which you could nab her gold or avoid her quite easily.

The Competition:
This is a big section, because I think it has to be for this ship. Let’s start with the ship’s namesake, the original Crescent Moon . I think it’s an underrated Corsair ship, who doesn’t lack for looks in the least. She’s my favorite spot for the aforementioned Kheir-ed-din, and combines the versatile reroll ability with the largest cargo hold of any Corsair 4 master.

Next, we have to talk about the only Wizkids-produced 4 masted Spanish galley, La Espada de Dios . Non-Corsair 4 masted galleys have always been a favorite of mine, and the Espada is no slouch. She has the same base speed and cargo of the Luna, but it’s not decreased when the ship is at capacity. With a slightly better armament (averaging out to three rank-4 cannons and one rank-3, but with the better guns at the bow which is important due to weird galley firing arcs) and obviously a FAR superior ability, I would gladly pay the extra point to get the Espada.

I think the Luna is interesting because it really points out how badly Wizkids messed up with some of the negative abilities. If this ugly “max cargo” ability had been priced correctly from the beginning, a ship like the Luna would perhaps be more playable. However, looking at the Darkhawk II , we cannot help but be amazed. The Darkhawk II must have costed 16-20 points with no ability, with the negative wiping out a huge percentage of the ship’s (assumed) original cost. However, that is not the case with the Luna, which is fine from a balance perspective since the DHII is OP. If the Luna was released in the SM days, we might be looking at a 7 point 4 master. Shocked

Just to show the plethora of Spanish options near this point cost:
-The Buscador is (usually) slower, but combines a massive cargo hold with the incredible Hoist keyword
 El Príncipe de Asturias is a better hybrid option than the Luna
-Not to mention the fantastic Virtuous Wind 
-The Santo Columba , Resolucion (either version really), and others like La Tartessos are simply better ships.

Strengths/Pros:
-Fast, especially for a large ship
-Decent cargo (sort of)
-Durability helps with multiple tasks like scouting and boarding with the Galley keyword
-Just enough stats in all categories to be a surprise hybrid (especially with Spanish named crew)

Weaknesses/Cons:
-Negative ability (which doesn’t seem to have affected the cost very much)
-Inaccurate cannons
-Pricey for what you get/completely outclassed by the competition

Artwork and aesthetics:
Xerecs has done an impressively thorough job making all of his RoDJ customs come to life, so if he somehow manages the same for FoBI, I’ll update this section!

Overall rating:
I give La Luna Creciente a 6/10. She’s certainly not a terrible ship, and can provide solid value when crewed well. However, her ability and point cost hold her back rather severely in Spain, so she’s not an option that many players would prefer.

Suggestions:
Hmmm. At a basic level, the cost could come down a little. I originally thought 12 would be the minimum, but perhaps even lower could make the ship more playable. Although the ship would be fine to use as-is (and overpriced is better than underpriced haha), her point cost could use an adjustment. The flavor text notes the ship is “better than she was before”, but this is certainly open to debate. Perhaps some kind of explanation could also be provided by the creator. Since the ship was wrecked and salvaged, the Spanish didn’t have to pay for its construction. I think a bargain-basement price could result, though perhaps the cannons could get even worse after decaying. Maybe keep everything else as-is, but make the ship 10 points with cannons 4L-4S-5S-5L. Also, changing the ability to the original (still able to receive bonuses with a full hold) would help a bit, and I could see that change happening even with a 1 or 2 point reduction in cost as well. Either way, I like the ship, but most will shy away from actually using it based on the alternatives, which are not only objectively superior, but also (especially with the Santo Columba, Virtuous Wind, Buscador, etc) vastly more popular due to their status as official game pieces.

Overall Score: 5
Xerecs: 5