Davy Jones – Emperor of the Seven Seas (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on July 10th, 2016

Miniature Review: Davy Jones – Emperor of the Seven Seas

Davy Jones

Davy Jones
Set: Pirates at Ocean’s Edge
Collector’s Number: 016
Faction Affiliation: Cursed
Rarity: R
Type: Crew
Ability: Limit. Once per turn, roll a d6. On a 1–4, you may give this ship an extra action; on a 5, you may give any ship you control an extra action; on a 6, you may give an enemy ship an action.
Link: All Cursed Ships
Flavor text: As his power grows and his minions cause more destruction, Jones has begun his second wave of terror, one that will take his power beyond the edge of the oceans themselves—setting him up to rule the seas once and for all!

General description:
This is the first proper review of the legendary crew. I was surprised he hadn’t been reviewed, as he’s one of the most popular and powerful crew in the entire game, and even comes from the most common set, Ocean’s Edge. Davy Jones quickly became one of my favorite crew after acquiring him back in 2011. Since then he has participated in a huge number of my games, often playing a pivotal or decisive role.

Use him as he’s intended – to be one of the most powerful crew of all time! A true legend, Davy Jones is not to be trifled with. He will almost always be your Cursed admiral, leading your fleet from a ship that will likely be a Cursed flagship. Since he needs a ship that costs at least 12 points, he will almost certainly be used on a gunship. This guy is meant for destruction.

Strategies and game play: 
Strategically, Davy Jones is the ultimate crew in any game. He provides a guaranteed extra action every single turn, making him a huge threat. He will likely have a huge target on his back as soon as he’s revealed, but his ability should help him immensely. With his (presumably) monster gunship getting two actions most turns, he will be very difficult to take out.

One of the coolest things about Davy Jones is that 6 roll. It’s one of the absolute best ways to mess with your opponent and their strategies. My gimmicky Mind Controlfleet is just about my favorite fleet I’ve submitted, and Davy Jones is the centerpiece. Rolling a 5 can also be a huge game-changer, as it allows you to give ANY of your ships an extra action. This becomes more and more valuable as the game size increases, since you’ll have more options. I’d recommend using Davy Jones in games of any size, but especially in larger games where he can really shine.

Combos with other miniatures: 
The combos with Davy Jones are mainly limited by his point cost. Although he must serve on a ship that costs at least 12 points (and preferably at least 17 to allow for a captain and helmsman), this isn’t a huge problem for the Cursed since they have so many expensive ships.

Crew combos
DJ’s ship will be getting tons of extra actions (up to 83% of all turns!), so he’s best used in conjunction with other useful crew. Giving his ship a captain and helmsman not only makes that ship extremely powerful, but it also allows you to essentially use the captain and helmsman abilities twice per turn, theoretically doubling their value. Any other abilities that can be used more than once in a turn (such as White Crew or Switchblade) are immediately more viable since DJ gives them another chance to function and provide value.

-Basic setup: 17+ point ship w/ DJ, captain, helmsman. An 18 point ship is nice since you could add an oarsman for insurance since all three main crew are extremely important.

Since even the Cursed don’t have a ton of ships that cost more than 18 points, that basic setup is used quite often. The more elaborate combos are usually reserved for deathmatches or games with build totals of at least 80 points. Here are a few of the specific ones worth mentioning:

-The shipwright ability could be used twice in a row with DJ, allowing your flagship to repair twice in one turn. This could come in quite handy, but make sure the ship is out of danger before repairing unless your foe has one mast left or your ship is already derelict.

-If you have an L-mover in your fleet, DJ’s 5 can actually give them another chance to roll that potentially devastating 5 or 6. Especially in fleets based on controlling the enemy (such as Mind Control), it can be insurance for when Davy Jones doesn’t roll a 6 (which will be quite often of course).

-Both versions of Sammy the Skull are viable named captains with an extra ability. The latter version’s Fear could come in handy with reverse captain, while the DJC version could be used with switchblade combos as discussed below.

El Fantasma could be used with the Delusion (mentioned below) as a home island raider. He would likely be a surprise reveal in such an expensive setup.

-The SS version of Wraith is a fun crew that could give Davy Jones a vast arsenal of extra weapons if he gets lucky. I’d recommend using Wraith on a huge ship (preferably a 10 master) in a campaign game for maximum impact.

-As for Mercenary crew, Captain Nemo and Ibrahan Ozat (mentioned below) can make for some really interesting combos. Christian Fiore and Thane Hartless provide two abilities the Cursed don’t otherwise have on crew: canceller (with the exception of RtSS Papa Doc) and reroll. The reroll could be especially useful in huge games where you’re trying to maximize the amount of 5’s and 6’s rolled.

-Finally, Cavendish opens up a crazy amount of possibilities. There are numerous Delusion/Guichuan fleets on this site utilizing Cavendish (or Tabatha McWarren), and for brevity’s sake I won’t list any specific combos. These types of crew also exist in other factions, such as Crimson Angel and Brother Virgil. This could lead to extremely powerful combos aboard some of the non-Cursed 10 masters, as well as ships like HMS Dreadnought or even HMS Prince of Chichester with Robinson.

Crew combos I would NOT recommend: El Fantasma (DJ already gives EA’s), specialist crew (can only use their abilities once per turn, not once per ACTION), Merrow/Tidal Fiends (oarsmen do the same job for less cost).

Ship combos
One of my favorite and oft-used setups for Davy Jones is on the Divine Dragon. This classic ship from OE (the same set as DJ) is the only 6 masted junk the Cursed possess, and functions well as a flagship. Her guns leave something to be desired, but with Davy Jones aboard they’ll be shooting twice more often than not! With this setup, you must add Sir Edmund with a captain and helmsman in order to make it legal (this leaves the Divine Dragon with 16 points of crew after Edmund’s subtractions and his 2 point cost). With the general rarity of using these -1 crew, I believe this overall setup to be one of the most ideal in the game. The Divine Dragon is also a perfect flagship for Davy, boasting a whopping 6 masts and up to 6S overall speed. The combo comes to 35 total points, so it’s best to use it when the game size is larger than the standard 40 points.

The Executioner is another great spot to put Davy Jones. At 17 points, you won’t need Sir Edmund to make the generic combo work. The Executioner moves faster than the Divine Dragon and also has better guns with a captain aboard, so this setup is extremely lethal. I prefer the Divine Dragon between her durability and my affinity for 6 masted junks, but those who prefer speed will favor the Executioner. This setup is a bit more fragile, but hits extremely hard and fast when used properly.

The original Flying Dutchman works well at 17 points, enough for a captain and helmsman to come aboard. However, the Dutchman’s slow speed, overpriced Broadsides Attack (especially on a ship with all L-range guns!), and vulnerability of the crew make this a somewhat less attractive option. The Monkey’s Paw would also work well, trading firepower for speed.

The Cursed have two switchblades, the Skin Flayer and Sickle. Both are viable options with their high point costs, but the Skin Flayer is a far superior ship. As mentioned above, DJ’s 1-4/5 roll gives you the option to use very powerful abilities like Switchblade more than once in a turn. With up to L+S+L+S movement, the Skin Flayer could theoretically ram and board tons of ships in a single turn. When you combine that with eight 2S shots, an enemy squadron could be completely devastated. Unfortunately DJ is so expensive that you’ll only have 4 points left on either switchblade after adding the standard captain and helmsman, which would generally be filled by an oarsman and possibly another generic crew such as a shipwright.

Of course, the 10 masters. The Guichuan and Delusion are probably the best ships Davy Jones can serve on, between the protection they give him and the amount of combos available. Just looking at Cursed combos alone, there are numerous crew you could put on either 10 master to make them downright lethal. The SCS and DJC versions of Fantasma are viable, as are White Crew and Sammy the Skull. However, one of the most potent combos with the Delusion is my all-time favorite Delusion setup.
-Delusion + Davy Jones, Captain NemoIbrahan OzatChristian FioreSir Edmund captain, helmsman, shipwright
 This gives the Delusion a whopping 41 points of crew, which only fits because of DJ’s link and Edmund’s discount. Here you have a ship moving L+S+L+S each turn ripping off 20 shots and capturing as many crew as possible (up to 4-6 per turn I believe!). In addition, there’s a canceller and shipwright for insurance. 
Similar setups can be created with the Guichuan, and adding Cavendish to either ship can allow for extremely powerful and unique one-of-a-kind setups.

The Cursed have numerous other ships that cost at least 16 points (viable with the Sir Edmund combo), but most of them aren’t suitable for DJ because of fragility or lack of firepower. Of these lesser options the Specter might be the “best of the rest”, but far from ideal.

As for giving other ships an extra action on DJ’s 5 roll: If a switchblade has a crew like White Crew aboard, an extra action could allow them to kill horrendous amounts of enemies in a short span of time. A sea monster could be given the extra action to shoot after moving, including a surprise swoop attack. If you’re using Return to Savage Shores (RtSS) proxies, imagine giving Namazu a second wave attack! That could absolutely devastating if used in a large game at the right moment. The RtSS version of Papa Doc (canceller and +1 to boarding rolls) is another great option, as he’s the only crew canceller the Cursed have. (As a side note, the Black Coral from RtSS actually pairs reasonably well with Jones. At 15 points you only have room for a captain, but at that point you’d have a decent hybrid with Eternal and Secret Hold (and 3 open cargo spaces), making it an ideal ship to steal from enemy runners.)

It’s worth noting that Chariot of the Gods could allow someone to put Jones on a sea monster, which could give the monster a rare opportunity to move and shoot in the same turn. As for other UT combos, Eye of Insanity and Runes of Thor both pair well with Jones.

Also, one of the Davy Jones’ best but little-known assets is his link to all Cursed ships, which means that some of these ships could pick up a few coins (or steal them) while sailing around at high speeds.

Ways to counteract it: 
The best ways to counteract Davy Jones are to avoid him, go after him directly with your own monster gunship, or cancel him. He’s such a powerful and devastating crew that there’s not much you can do against him. Duel is technically an option, but you’ll need an extremely expensive crew of your own. If you have a treasure running fleet, just run.  If you can take him on directly, do so to let the gold runners do their thing while DJ is distracted. As for taking him on directly, things like Exploding Shot or cargo wreckers could come in handy. Lastly, since crew like Blackbeard and Captain Nemo automatically go for the highest value crew on the opposing ship, they are great options for trying to nab DJ right from underneath your opponent’s strategy.

The Competition:
Davy Jones is such a unique crew that he doesn’t have much competition. However, a few games pieces stand out really well:

Davy Jones – The original DJC version of Jones is similarly unique and amazing, allowing you to copy virtually any ability in play. Although this ability is extremely powerful, especially when used on a 10 master to copy defensive or offensive abilities, you’ll often be copying abilities that cost much less than 11 points. If your opponent doesn’t bring a lot of fun or powerful abilities to the table, this Davy Jones won’t be as useful. I prefer the OE Davy Jones because extra actions cannot really be overrated, and because the OE Jones is even more flexible in my opinion. (DJC DJ is limited by the abilities available to him, but OE DJ can gives EA’s to different ships every turn of the game.)

Emperor Blackheart – the Pirate version of Davy Jones. There’s not much to say here, other than that the Pirates are a much better faction than the Cursed. It just depends on which faction you’re playing and to a lesser degree whether you’re using the Zeus for Blackheart’s link or not. The Cursed even the odds slightly with the Eye of Insanity, which is often used to copy Davy Jones’ All-Powerful ability, potentially giving a player access to two ships with the ability. 

Behemoth – Another Cursed game piece with the Limit keyword, forcing you to choose between him and Davy Jones. Jones is generally a better choice, but Behemoth is one of the best sea monsters in the game.

-Extremely powerful ability
-Guaranteed extra action every single turn
-Can give an EA to one of your ships
-Can give an opponent’s ship an action (!)

-Giant, record-high point cost (severely limiting ship and crew combos)
-Limit keyword
-Cursed faction is lacking

Artwork and aesthetics: 
I absolutely love the artwork. When I first got Davy Jones I was extremely excited. Seeing the artwork, reading the ability and flavor text, I was simply ecstatic. Wizkids truly hit a home run with this crew. His anger, the way the picture looks, the way he fits into the OE set, everything is perfect. I give the artwork a 10/10.

Overall rating: 
Davy Jones gets a 9/10 from me. He loses a point for being so expensive, and therefore having trouble not only with crew and ship combos, but also with fitting into point limits (30-50 point games) that are extremely common. However, he’s a true legend of the high seas, one of the most unique and powerful crew ever created, and in my opinion one of the most “perfect” crew in the game.

Get him here!

Cazador del Pirata – An underrated hybrid (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on June 30th, 2016

Miniature Review: Cazador del Pirata – An underrated hybrid

Cazador del Pirata

Cazador del Pirata
Set: Pirates of the Spanish Main
Collector’s Number: 076
Faction Affiliation: Spain
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 11
Number of Masts: 3
Cargo Space: 6
Base Move: L
Cannons: 3L-3L-3L
Ability: This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against Pirate ships.
Flavor text: The crew of the “Pirate Hunter” was literally whipped into shape by the obsessive Almirante Devante del Nero. He ensured that the only thing they hated more than him was pirates.

General description:
The Cazador del Pirata is one of my all-time favorite ships. Another fantastic ship from the first set, the Cazador (as I’ll refer to her) is simply one of the best overall hybrid ships in the game. She is very capable at fighting and gold running, or doing both at the same time. She was reviewed by vladsimpaler, and although he covered most of the basics, I felt this ship deserves more attention. As with most of my other reviews, I’m examining a ship that has been extremely underrated and almost forgotten about. She’s been used in just 2 fleets, and unsurprisingly one of them is mine (and the other one is a joke, so I’m essentially the only one who has submitted a fleet with this fine ship).

Why is the Cazador del Pirata so great? Well, she’s good at everything. She has enough firepower to be a support gunship. She has enough cargo to be a good gold runner. In addition, that cargo and her point cost allow her to play various other roles, such as home island raider, treasure stealer, or even “medical barge”.

My suggestion would simply be to use her as you see fit, as she can fit into just about any role. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest using her as your primary gunship, but in a 40 point game with a gold-runner-heavy fleet she wouldn’t be the worst option. Also, she’s too slow to tow either of the two flotillas Spain has.

Strategies and game play: 
By using this ship as a gunship, you can hit ships from long range and distract enemy gunships from your gold runners. Using her as a hybrid opens up a lot of possibilities, which include confusing your opponent as to the ship’s role in your fleet. Also, if your opponent uses the Pirates a lot, she can be one of the better options to bring to the game.

Combos with other miniatures: 
The simplest combo is to simply add a captain, helmsman, and explorer. For 17 points, you’ll have a hybrid moving L+S with room for 3 coins. This is actually one of the best combos for the Cazador, and provides great bang for your buck. This setup would still leave 23 points left for other ships and crew!

There are tons of great Spanish named crew, and some of them warrant serious consideration. SAT or EA crew can easily fit aboard the Cazador, but after you add a captain and helmsman, you start to approach the 11 point limit of the ship. To maximize this ship’s hybrid potential, try Victor de AlvaDuque Marcus Vaccaro, and a helmsman and oarsman. This runs you 22 points for a ship moving L+S+L+S quite often with 6 shots available and 4 cargo spaces still empty!

This ship could become a great treasure harasser using the SM version of Castro along with Castro’s Loyalists. With a captain and helmsman it would run you 21 points, but the link provides an extra cargo space, leaving the ship with 3 still available for gold. Against smaller treasure runners the Cazador can dismast them with the first shoot and ram, and then board them twice with a second move action.

To raid enemy home islands, try using Fernando Sanchez in conjunction with Bianco’s Haulers and a helmsman. The Cazador can steal up to 3 coins, and won’t be able to be shot at while docked. Keep in mind she can still be boarded, so prepare to sail out if danger appears.

If you want to go more of a true gunship route, consider adding a musketeer or Almirante Devente Del Nero. The musketeer can prevent the Cazador from being completely at the mercy of ships like the Jarvis, while del Nero would give the Cazador 2L cannons (and 1L vs. Pirates!). (or use Luis Zuan to save a cargo space) In addition, her huge cargo hold means that she can have a plethora of cheap options aboard. Load her up with a cannoneer, firepot specialist, or any number of dangerous equipment, and watch her blast other ships to pieces!

In huge campaign games, a “medical barge” will sometimes make its way towards the outskirts of a battle. This would entail loading up the Cazador with a helmsman, oarsman, and up to 4 shipwrights, which can be passed to ships in need of repairs without sailing too far from the battle.

It’s worth noting that adding an oarsman to most of these setups could also be a great option. Just to be complete, also remember that Luis Zuan is the only 2 point captain in the game, and that navigators could help the Cazador’s relatively slow speed while silver explorers could help her gold efforts.

Padre Francisco is an option because of the ship’s dual nature – use him to pull in Zuan, an explorer, or whatever else you might need depending on the circumstances. With such a fluid role that the Cazador can play, the recruiter could actually be useful.

I generally wouldn’t recommend using this ship with S-boarding, as that’s an ability best suited to large ships (especially 5 masters) that move quickly. Also, 6 cargo on a ship with just 3 masts mean that you probably won’t need Dominic Freda or Master Bianco, although with so much potential cargo to protect his later incarnation is an option.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Ships with immunity to L range cannons (like the Jarvis)
-Cancel the ship’s most important crew
-Sink or dismast the ship (or better yet, capture her because she could be a valuable member of your fleet!)

The Competition:
This is undoubtedly the reason the Cazador del Pirata has been underrated for so long. Her sister ship from the very same set, Asesino de la Nave, carries one of the most potent offensive payloads in the game – 2S guns and a devastating ability. The Asesino may be slightly better overall, but is not nearly as flexible as the Cazador. In addition to her guns being shorter range, the Asesino will have lots of trouble against ships like Le Bonaparte. However, the Asesino was one of my first 4 ships, and I like both ships quite a lot. Which one you use depends entirely on your preferences and how the rest of your fleet looks. Over the past few years I’ve really enjoyed ships with large cargo holds and L range guns. As a result, the Cazador is almost a perfect ship.

However, she’s not quite perfect. L speed is rather slow. The Colector del Dia has S+S speed, and a slightly better ability to boot. However, she’s a physically nonexistent ship from the least-known set, so the Cazador del Pirata can rest assured for now.

Spain’s excellent selection of 3 masted ships gives an idea of how strong they are as a faction. El Alquimista is better at running gold, El Monte Cristo is better at fighting, and the Virtuous Wind is better at stealing. However, the fantastic Buscador is the only other Spanish 3 master with more than 5 cargo spaces, so the Cazador del Pirata remains one of Spain’s finest hybrids to this day.

-Very high versatility
-Value for points
-L range cannons
-Cannon bonus against the Pirates, the best and most numerous faction
-Very good selection of Spanish named crew to choose from
-Tons of cargo

-Low point cost limits how many crew you can fit into that huge cargo hold
-L range cannons cannot hit ships with L-immunity
-Outclassed by her best competition

Artwork and aesthetics: 
The Cazador has very normal Spanish artwork that was especially prevalent in the first 3-5 sets. Nothing exciting, but you’ll never mistake her for a ship of a different nationality.

Overall rating: 
I rate the Cazador del Pirata a 9/10. She loses a point for having L speed, and because her guns and ability aren’t quite optimal. However, she’s very close to a 9.5. I highly recommend her, especially if you like hybrids like me!


Buy the ship here!

La Saragoza – An underrated barge (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on July 10th, 2014

Miniature Review: La Saragoza – An underrated barge

La Saragoza

La Saragoza
Set: Pirates of the Mysterious Islands
Collector’s Number: 066
Faction Affiliation: Spain
Rarity: C
Type: Ship
Point Value: 8
Number of Masts: 2
Cargo Space: 5
Base Move: S
Cannons: 4L-4L
Ability: One of this ship’s treasures is worth +1 gold when she docks at your home island.
Flavor text: Sailors aboard La Saragoza take inspiration from the once-besieged city for which the ship is named. In three decades on the sea, the ship has never been captured.

First Miniature Review in a while; hope I’m not too rusty!

General description:
When I googled La Saragoza I didn’t find much in terms of an actual translation, other than “saragasso” (Sargasso Sea?) and “the Edmonton”  . However, Zaragoza is a city in Spain, and at first Google automatically corrected the spelling to zaragoza. The city is indeed the one described in the flavour text for the ship: First Siege of ZaragozaSecond Siege of Zaragoza. Now, on to the ship!

La Saragoza is a rather overlooked two masted Spaniard from Mysterious Islands. She doesn’t have another Miniature Review, and she’s been used in just one fleet. Although she won’t be the shiniest ship in your fleet, this is a better ship than most people give her credit for.

(As a side note, this Review was originally intended to be a rant against the ten masters. A while back I used all three of the ten masters I own in a game and they all did horrendously. I was very upset and wondered why everyone overrated them so much. I came up with a joke that I’d rather have five empty Saragozas (for 40 points) than a fully crewed ten master for 40 points. The review of the Saragoza was going to explain why she’s better than any ten master, and why the ten masters are vastly overrated. However, since this incident took place a while ago, I’ve decided to write a more normal review.)

The Saragoza is best used as a treasure ship. Notice I didn’t say treasure runner, because she won’t be going very fast with her base move of S. With a helmsman, she can move S+S and still have four spaces available for gold, not bad for 10 points. With her valuable ability, however, she can also be used as a barge near your home island (described in the next section).

Strategies and game play: 
Since the Saragoza costs 8 points, she won’t eat up your build total too much, especially since you probably won’t be loading her with crew. Due to her slow speed, she probably won’t affect game play too much, unless she can put her ability to good use. The Spanish received a bunch of ships and crew that give them +1 and +2 gold bonuses, a valuable way to change the amount of gold there is in the game. Gold wins games, so any extra gold will be much appreciated. In this way, the Saragoza could be very important if she lumbers home with coins towards the end of the game and breaks a tie (or creates a tie) with her ability.

One strategy is to use her as a gold barge that sits near your HI. The rest of your fleet sails out and collects gold, and then they transfer their coins as slowly as possible (one by one if you have the time) to the Saragoza, who then docks at your HI to get the +1 gold bonus on as many coins as possible. This is very time-consuming, but potentially well worth it if you can pull it off (credit goes to Cadet-Captain Mike as he is where I first heard this strategy).

There aren’t a lot of other strategies to use this ship for; her cannons aren’t very useful, and she’s too small and slow to be a part of anything exciting.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Generic Crew:
As described, a simple helmsman will double her speed and let her take four treasures from an island. To expedite the process, you can add an explorer, leaving three empty cargo spots and bringing the total point cost to 11. Since the Saragoza won’t be serving as a gunship, you can forget all the combative crew that would make her slightly more intimidating (not that she was in the first place  ).

Silver explorers are a decent option as they further enhance the concept of a fleet that centers around gold bonuses.

Navigators are a nice option to boost the Saragoza’s speed. Since the Saragoza is so slow you could also put the navigator aboard so she won’t slow down your more important ships.

As for other generic crew, you can fit plenty of oarsmen on this thing, if you wanted to have a place for extra ones.  If you looked at volt’s fleet from the link above, you’ll see his “Oarsmen Inflation” gimmick, but of course that requires many other game pieces to be effective.

Gold barge strategy:
If you’re using her as a barge (as described in the strategies section), she could go without any crew, although you’ll probably still want a helmsman. Master Bianco can give the Saragoza an extra treasure space, and his haulers let you unload treasure within S of your HI. I had to consult the Code to make sure, but you can’t use the Haulers to automatically dump gold on your HI in the gold barge strategy.

quote from The Pirate Code:
-This ability lifts the requirement that a ship must physically dock with its home island, but it does not allow the ship to unload spontaneously (such as if treasure was transferred to this ship while within S of its home island.)

I know that this strategy sounds good in theory, but I remember from my games a while back that it didn’t do very well in an actual game. It’s best suited for higher point games (much like other fun combos) when you can have a lot of treasure runners and multiple barges.

Other named crew:
The Saragoza can be an ideal place to dump crew such as Roberto Santana and Contessa Anita Amore that you don’t want on your other ships.

The SS versions of Master Bianco and Bianco’s Haulers are intriguing as well. Bianco is a crew that fits the role of the ones in the preceding paragraph, especially if you have anything valuable to stash in the Saragoza’s hold. If you’re using her as a treasure runner, this version of the haulers will make her slow speed less of a drawback since you can’t be shot at while you’re grabbing gold from an island.

Dominic Freda combines Master Bianco’s ability with the explorer ability, so with a helmsman you could still have five spaces available for gold.

If you really wanted to go crazy with the gold bonuses, the LE version of Freda gives a +2 that will stack onto the ship ability, giving you +3. If you can manage to work out how to bring home lots of gold with this guy (whether through the barge strategy or adding a helmsman and using help from a navigator), it could tip the balance of the game in your favour!

If you really wanted to showcase this ship, you could use extra action or SAT crew to make her faster. However, it’s probably not worth the effort, not to mention that these crew would quickly fill up her 8 point limit.

Other than that, most of the Spanish named crew are meant for combat and other roles that the Saragoza would struggle in.

Ways to counteract it: 
Since the Saragoza only has two masts, she’s not very difficult to dismast and/or sink. Since she’s so slow, however, you may want to leave her alone when facing a fleet with the Saragoza because she probably won’t be able to do too much. That said, watch out for that ability. Make sure that she doesn’t bring home too much gold (especially multiple trips) and try to cancel the ability if the game is close.

The Competition:
I’m not going to go over every other two masted Spanish ship to prove that they have better ones – this one alone tells you that they have better options.

Instead, let’s take a look at other ships with the gold bonus ability, which Spain specializes in. Unfortunately for the Saragoza, they’re actually some of the best ships the Spanish have:

– The Santa IsabelAlquimista, and San Pedro are some of the best treasure runners in the game regardless of the fact that they’re Spanish, and they are also candidates to be hybrid gunships to boot.

– Both the Concepcion and Isabela have more masts, more firepower, and also add 2 to a gold coin rather than 1.

– The Cordoba isn’t really cut out to be a treasure runner (she’d function decently as a gunship), but she’s still a better ship overall than the Saragoza.

As a side note, the San Theodora is a very similar ship that comes right after the Saragoza in the MI set. However, I would say that in this case the Saragoza wins, because she costs a point less and has an ability that’s not as risky.

-Very useful ability that can win the game
-Large cargo hold (5)
-Opponents probably won’t target such an underdog
-Spanish crew can beef her up considerably

-Slowest base move in the game
-Small and therefore easy to eliminate
-Subpar guns

Artwork and aesthetics: 
There are a lot of things I like about the Saragoza, but the artwork is not one of them. The ship is distinctively ugly, with a colour on the hull and sails resembling either a swamp, sewage, or both. There are a lot of square-rigged two masters out there, and this one doesn’t look very appealing.

Overall rating: 
I’ve always liked the Saragoza, despite her many drawbacks. That being said, ships should be rated on their effectiveness in games. Although the speed and size of the Saragoza limits her potential, her big cargo hold and gold bonus ability make her reasonably valuable to the point where she’s not completely useless. I give the Saragoza a 5 out of 10.

Find La Saragoza on eBay.

Christian Fiore – Canceller for hire (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on August 8th, 2012

Miniature Review: Christian Fiore – Canceller for hire

Christian Fiore

Christian Fiore
Set: Pirates of the Mysterious Islands
Collector’s Number: 025
Faction Affiliation: Mercenary
Rarity: C
Type: Crew
Ability: Ex-patriot. Once per turn, one crew or ship within S of this ship cannot use its ability that turn.
Link: Forward
Flavor text: Fiore had a knack for getting people to tell him their secrets, for creating kings. Eventually the objects of his manipulations began to bore him, and hearing of Gustov’s plan, he took his talents to the sea to help create a new world order.

General description:
Christian Fiore might be the the crew with the widest range in the entire game. By that, I mean that he is versatile and that he opens up broad possibilities for every fleet you can think up. There are two reasons for this:
1. He has the Ex-patriot keyword, so he can serve on almost any ship in the entire game.
2. The cancel ability is an extremely broad ability; it can be used almost anywhere and at almost anytime in the entire game. It is not limited to shoot actions, specific factions, treasure running, etc. It does not depend on a die roll or any other prerequisites for usage, other than having to be within S range.

This is part of what makes Fiore so exciting; if he can be on almost any ship and his ability is so all-encompassing, he should see a ton of use. This is indeed the case. Although he has not been reviewed yet, he has been used in 25 fleets.

Fiore is best used on a gunship for two reasons. The more important reason is that he makes his ship Mercenary, so that she can’t dock at her home island. This is extremely counter-intuitive for treasure running, because then you’d have to have another canceller cancelling Fiore! Also, he takes up a cargo space, something that most treasure runners need to max out. A few ships could afford to have him, a helmsman, and an explorer, but not many. If you’re determined to use a canceller on a treasure runner, use a regular canceller that doesn’t have the Ex-patriot keyword. Cancellers can be useful on treasure runners in cancelling enemy shoot actions (so you can survive to get the gold home), but Fiore would be more of liability than an asset on a treasure runner.

Strategies and game play: 
If you use him right, Fiore should have a large impact on game play. The cancel ability is essential in cancelling the opponent’s best crew, and many times ruining their strategy. For example, simply cancelling an opposing captain once during the game can tilt the game substantially in your favour. In a 40 point game, let’s suppose each fleet has one powerful gunship. Your opponent moves in for the kill with a fast gunship, and just when all appears lost, you reveal Fiore and cancel their captain. Now your ship is safe, and the enemy ship is a sitting duck for your return fire, which should severely damage or sink the enemy gunship. Then you can move on to taking out enemy treasure runners, and go on to win the game.

One of the best uses of cancellers involves cancelling those powerful abilities (especially the defensive ones) that would otherwise win the game for your opponent. Ships like Le Bonaparte and El Acorazado are the most powerful ships in the game (especially the Acorazado). To be completely honest, you either have to have a massive advantage in firepower (I’m talking at least twice as many guns) or at least one (and preferably two on two different ships) canceller to deal with these beasts. With a canceller, you can strip down their defences and send them to the bottom as if they were normal ships.

Cancelling keywords can make for some strange situations. You can bring a submerged sea monster or submarine to the surface. You can strand a Titan on an island.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Assuming that Fiore is on a gunship, you’ll also want to have a captain and a helmsman on board, and this would bring the point cost to 11, so you’ll want a ship with at least three cargo that costs at least 11 points.

He is linked to the Forward, which is a pretty cool ship. She has solid stats, and gets +1 to her cannon rolls against any ship. Not the best gunship, but not bad.

Since he can serve on pretty much any gunship, the combos are endless. I was originally going to go into specific combos, but realized it would be pointless. Of course, he is more valuable to the factions without crew cancellers (Jade Rebellion, the Cursed, Barbary Corsairs, Vikings), although there are ways (such as this) to get other cancellers besides Fiore on board.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Cancel him.
-Don’t use a strategy that relies on crew/ship abilities.
-Take him out with a crew or cargo killer.
-Use L-range guns so the ability doesn’t come into play. This can be a bit tricky with the maneuvering, but sometimes it is necessary.
-Certain UT’s make you immune to his ability.

The Competition:
Fiore is the most expensive canceller in the game, and therefore you’d be better off with these options if you’re playing that specific faction:
The original

The rare English one

The Promo English one

The first French one

The second French one

The Pirate one

The American one

There are ships that have the cancel ability built-in, but they are a totally different topic.

-Ability is one of the best (and arguably the best) in the entire game.
-Ex-patriot keyword lets him serve on any ship that costs at least 6 points that can carry crew.
-Cancel negative abilities (like Mercenary) to make your fleet better. Ironically, he makes his ship Mercenary, but his ability can cancel the Mercenary keyword of the Mercenary ships, allowing them to dock at their home island, and thus run treasure (although he can’t cancel his own Ex-patriot keyword).
-Stop an opponent’s shoot action.
-Ruins strategies that are based on crew.
-Ex-patriot (and therefore, Mercenary) keyword makes you start S away from your home island, which can be very beneficial in getting to the action more quickly. Almost like a one-time helmsman, this can make paying the extra point worth it.
-He gives you the +1 to die rolls when docking at mysterious islands, which can come in handy, especially if you are cheap and try to intentionally dock at islands like this one.

-Costs more points than other cancellers (because of Ex-patriot keyword).
-S range requires you to get quite close to the enemy.
-He cannot cancel equipment, events, forts, or actions.

Artwork and aesthetics: 
He looks like a pretty unhappy dude that wants to go to bed.

Overall rating: 
I give Christian Fiore a 9 out of 10. He isn’t perfect because he is the most expensive canceller, and because he essentially can’t serve on treasure runners. He is a great crew to have, especially for beginners that haven’t acquired some of the other cancellers.

Add him to your collection today!

Windjammer – Not built to carry treasure (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on August 6th, 2012

Miniature Review: Windjammer – Not built to carry treasure


Set: Pirates of the Spanish Main
Collector’s Number: 014
Faction Affiliation: Pirate
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 9
Number of Masts: 3
Cargo Space: 3
Base Move: S+L
Cannons: 3S-2L-3S
Ability: Forts cannot shoot at this ship.
Flavor text: The Windjammer’s nimble nature makes her a tough target, but at the cost of reduced firepower.

General description:
The Windjammer is a solid Pirate three master from the original set, Pirates of the Spanish Main. She has not been used in a fleet, and she doesn’t have any other Miniature Reviews written about her. The Windjammer is a good ship that doesn’t need a lot of crew to be effective. For 9 points, you get a quick midsize gunship capable of surprising your opponent and helping out your fleet. I like the Windjammer because she is cheap, doesn’t need a helmsman, and has a cool ability. One of the reasons that I’m reviewing this ship before other ships I plan on reviewing is because the Windjammer doesn’t need a helmsman, whereas the other ships I’ve reviewed and the ships I’m planning on reviewing need one to be effective.

Contrary to her name, I would use the Windjammer as a gunship. Although she is fast, she doesn’t have above-average cargo, with the same number of cargo spaces as masts. In the combos section I will describe how to use her as a sort of hybrid, but a gunship will definitely be her main function in a fleet.

Strategies and game play: 
At 9 points, the Windjammer won’t take up a huge portion of your build total. Her effect on game play may not be immense, but she is a nice support ship that can do different things. She can assist your main gunship, escort your treasure runners, take out enemy forts, or run a treasure coin while shooting at enemy treasure runners.

With three masts, I wouldn’t suggest trying to use any kind of boarding strategy with this ship.

One obvious strategy that comes to mind, based on her ability, is a fort-wrecker. She is completely immune to them, so unless that ability is cancelled, she can get nice and cozy next to your opponents’ favourite fort and blast away until there’s nothing left. Forts can seem powerful, which results in players abandoning them and sending their ships off to fight and collect gold. This is the perfect moment for this ship to strike. She approaches when there are no other ships around, and takes out the fort (while not taking any damage herself) before your opponent can respond. Then she slips away, looking for more forts to destroy . This ship is a particularly good choice to use if your opponent uses this annoying fort.

The Windjammer will not be the main focus of your strategy or fleet, but is a good addition to any Pirate fleet looking to add a solid mid-range gunship.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Before I go into the crew combos, here’s a quick 40 point fleet just to give you an idea of what the Pirates can fit into their build:
Darkhawk II w/ helmsman and explorer (13)
-Windjammer w/ captain, The Hag of Tortuga, and Tia Dalma (17)
Raven w/ explorer (11)
Banshee’s Cry w/ explorer (4)
Here we have a nice fast fleet with 12 spaces available for treasure, plus a good gunship equipped with a canceller. They don’t have captains, but the firepower of the Darkhawk and Raven is a nice complement to their excellent cargo.

First off, your basic captain will be required to make this ship the gunship that she is supposed to be. This is a simple setup that brings the total point cost to 12 for a simple gunship. Not bad at all. There may be better options, but this setup may actually be the one that optimizes the performance of the Windjammer. Adding other crew/equipment is fine, but spending a lot of points on a support ship is not a good idea. Naturally, I will still describe other setups to be complete .

For 14 points, you can make her a bit faster with a helmsman. Moving at S+L+S, she should be able to catch most if not all of the enemy ships she targets. At S+L base move, however, this is not necessary.

I think one of the best crew options for this ship is to give her a sac captain. Both Captain Blackheart and Havana Black would work. Obviously you’ll have to have some crew to sac. I would recommend at least two one point crew (oarsmen and/or explorers) in order to get your points’ worth. You can fit up to three oarsmen on because the first one won’t take up any space. In a 40 point game, three extra actions throughout the game would come in quite handy. Up to 6 shots per turn would turn this midsize ship into a formidable foe. Three oarsmen would bring the total point cost to 17.

A sac captain is also how I would suggest running treasure with this ship, if you do. You could use either two explorers, an oarsman and an explorer, or two oarsmen and one explorer. Sac the oarsman to get to the island quickly, and then use the explorer to grab the best gold coin from the island. Then sac the explorer to get home quickly.

If you’d rather roll for extra actions, consider combining Calico Cat with Lady Baptiste. With the captain, this setup maxes out both the points (9) and cargo capacity (3) of the Windjammer. The Promo version of Baptiste combines the captain and reroll abilities into one crew. If you prefer extra actions to the SAT, use this guy.

Another way to maximize the 9 point limit is to use the OE version of the Cat. She gives you world-hater and extra action for just 6 points, when those abilities normally cost 4 and 5 points, respectively. Add a captain and you have a pretty powerful ship for 18 points.

Crimson Angel is another discount crew who gives you SAT + world-hater for just 5 points, when they should cost 7 when together. With the captain this brings us to 8 points of crew, just enough to add an oarsman to sac if any crew-killers are encountered.

To juice up the Windjammer’s slightly above-average guns, add Bruce Grey. This crew can be combined with a simple captain, or you can also add a helmsman to max out the point and cargo limits. Captain Barbossa (or Isandro Ramirez) also gives you the captain + world-hater combo, but there’s really no point in combining two crew in one (and therefore being vulnerable to crew-killers) unless you are going to add other crew or equipment.

For a variation on the captain ability, you can try Captain Jack Hawkins. For just one extra point, he makes the Windjammer more dangerous in that you can take out enemy crew.

The CC version of Jack Hawkins can provide extra protection against crew killers, and he also provides the SAT ability.

If you use the Reverse Captain ability often and are willing to pay for it, the Pirates have many options: DJC Jack HawkinsBenito de Soto, and Blackheart.

Even if you don’t need a helmsman, a Navigator can be a nice option to have, especially if your other ships are a bit slow.

canceller is useful in any game of Pirates. For the Windjammer, cancelling an enemy captain when the ship moves into range can win the battle for you. Also, if an opponent has a canceller, they will cancel each other out, so the previous situation won’t happen to you.

Any combination of firepot specialistsstinkpot specialistssmokepot specialists, cannoneers, musketeers, shipwrights, oarsmen, fire shotstinkpot shotgrape shotchain shotdouble shot, and exploding shot (keep in mind that it costs 3 points, not 1) can be an effective way to augment the firepower of the Windjammer. Consider using Hammersmith in order to gain the captain and helmsman abilities while taking up just one cargo space. In this way, you’ll still have two cargo spaces and four points left to fill in with any combination of the above options. Perhaps a Firepot Specialist, Stinkpot Shot, and an oarsman, or maybe a cannoneer and a shipwright; it’s up to you.

Unique Treasures:
If you find the treasures and have the time to transport them to the Windjammer, AmmunitionDeck CannonDry PowderFireworks, and Power Cannons can give her a boost in firepower.

If you have an explorer and want to find the highest value coin, discovering Marksman’s Map would be beneficial.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Shoot at her with a bigger or better gunship or gang up on her with multiple gunships.
-Cancel her captain and/or ability.
-Capture her and use her against your opponents’ forts (this would be particularly annoying to the enemy).

The Competition:
The Pirates have the most ships in the game, so it is safe to say that the Windjammer faces plenty of competition, especially from her own set. There is a plethora of good Pirate three masters, some of them better than the Windjammer.

First, Pirate three masters that move S+L:
-The Longshanks is a very cheap ship that can run three gold coins with an explorer for just 7 points. Also, she has more masts than the average treasure runner (arguably, anyway), and her guns are better than most of your staple treasure runners.

-Also from SM, the Muerta de la Corona is a solid gunship option that also costs 9 points. However, her guns are slightly worse than those of the Windjammer, and her ability is even more specific.

-The Duke is a powerful ship with a nice ability, but she is extremely expensive for a three master, and her guns are only average.

-The Pride is a schooner very similar to the Windjammer, with almost the same guns and the same amount of cargo spaces. However, she pales in comparison to the Windjammer because her point cost is inflated by an ability that only works 50% of the time (and the other 50% of the time, your ship is as good as sunk), and her all-L guns are vulnerable to something like the Duke.

Other three masters that don’t move S+L (keeping the focus on gunships):
-The Recreant is good support gunship that costs the same 9 points as the Windjammer. She combines a great ability with great guns, one of the few cheap options for crew-killing.

-Yet another good Pirate three master from SM, the Ladron is the same ship as the Recreant other than her ability.

-With nice guns and a fair point cost, the Accused is a good gunship with a fantastic ability .

-If they weren’t so slow, either version of the Empress would eclipse the Windjammer. Their good guns and abilities somewhat make up for it, but I would say the Windjammer is better.

La Morte de Yarborough combines a powerful ability with solid guns.

-Her guns aren’t as good as the Recreant, but the Minerva has a better base move.

-The sniping Selkie is another 9 point gunship that would be a viable option even without that ability.

Ships that have the same ability as the Windjammer:
-The American ship Boston costs one more point for the Schooner keyword, and is otherwise quite similar to the Windjammer.

El San Salvador only has two masts, but her guns are quite good.

HMS Greyhound is fast and accurate, but one cannon isn’t really enough to do much, even if you won’t be shot at in return. Plus, she’s only 2 points cheaper than the Windjammer, who can both take more damage and dole out more damage.

L’Orient is a boring ship with no real redeeming qualities (they should’ve made her bigger and more historical).

-Pirate, so many crew and ship combos.
-Cheap, and easy to fit into a build.
-Ability that can nullify something like this.
-Solid guns
-Fast base move (S+L)

-Average in a bunch of categories, and the victim of competition that results from the Pirates having so many good ships.
-Easy to take out with three masts.
-Ability only comes into play if your opponent uses a fort (and not all players even use forts, let alone in every game).
-Low point cost limits crew options.

Artwork and aesthetics: 
The artwork is about average for a Pirate ship from one of the earlier sets. She has greyish sails that have seen their fair share of punishment, and her decks and hull are a dark brown/black colour. Not a bad-looking ship, but nothing spectacular.

Overall rating: 
I would give the Windjammer an 8 out of 10. She loses points for having guns that aren’t wholly suited to the task of destroying enemy ships and forts. However, she is a nice, cheap option to rely on if you’re in need of a fast support gunship that is deadly against forts.

If you want the Windjammer after seeing how good she is, you should be able to find her on eBay.

HMS Apollo – Another stellar English five master (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on August 1st, 2012

Miniature Review: HMS Apollo – Another stellar English five master

HMS Apollo

HMS Apollo
Set: Rise of the Fiends
Collector’s Number: 002
Faction Affiliation: England
Rarity: R
Type: Ship
Point Value: 14
Number of Masts: 5
Cargo Space: 4
Base Move: S+S
Cannons: 2S-3L-3L-3L-2S
Ability: This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against Pirate ships.
Link: Thomas Gunn
Flavor text: HMS Apollo has been tasked with sorting the powerful from the weak on the high seas, while not divulging the Crown’s true strength.

General description:
HMS Apollo is a ship that seems to have alternate personalities. There are four different versions of this ship, ranging from the original from RV, this version that I’m reviewing, an LE version from the same set, and finally, a battle-hardened F&S version. This version has been used in one fleet (not designed to be a competitive fleet) and already has a Miniature Review. However, that user is no longer with the site, and I didn’t feel that the review did the Apollo justice. She is one of England’s finest five masters (which is saying a lot), and a great gunship. My favourite types of ships are the five masters, and the English are my favourite faction, so it was only a matter of time before I reviewed one of these great behemoths. I think that English five masters are the most effective gunships in the game, bar none. If you have a handful of points (less than 20 would work) to spend on a gunship, I recommend you look at England’s five masters. HMS Apollo is one of their best (so, as Lord Cutler Beckett would say, “Consider that into your calculations”).

HMS Apollo is a gunship. It’s that simple. Just in the five master department alone, the English have a much better option available for treasure running. HMS Apollo’s speed isn’t good enough, her guns are nice, and she has less cargo than she has masts. All of these factors combined give you an idea that she should definitely be used as a gunship. Even her flavour text alludes to this fact, not to mention her combative ability.

Strategies and game play: 
In a standard 40 point game, HMS Apollo will be your main gunship. You may be able to fit other support gunships into the build, especially if you don’t use much crew, but most of your other points will go to gold running.

She can be used to hunt down your opponent’s gunships and take them out, or she can escort your treasure runners to the wild islands and back.

The more crew you put on her, the more dependent your fleet will be on her performance, and the more dominant she will be in the game. This is simply a matter of preference.

Basically, you’re hoping (or not hoping, since they are probably the best in-game faction) that your opponent brings a Pirate fleet, or else that ability won’t come into play. Of all the specific faction-haters you could have, though, the Pirate-hater is arguably the best. The game is called Pirates, a good bunch of the players who play it love the pirates, and some Pirate fleets that aren’t put together that well can be competitive simply because of the lower costs that let them fit in a crazy amount of good stuff.

Combos with other miniatures: 
As a gunship, HMS Apollo will need the standard captain and helmsman. The move-and-shoot is necessary for any gunship, and S+S speed isn’t likely to be fast enough to catch enemy gunships or treasure runners. There are two crew that the English have that combine the two abilities into one. They should only be used if you are trying to maximize the amount of stuff on the Apollo; if you have room for a captain and a helmsman, use the two crew so that you don’t let two important abilities get taken out at once by a crew-killer (or a canceller). Also, HMS Apollo also has a link (although it doesn’t show it with her stats) to Thomas Gunn, which saves an additional cargo space. In this way, if you use Thomas Gunn, you will get two abilities that don’t take up a single cargo space! This will come in handy when you want to pack the Apollo with crew and equipment. The captain and helmsman abilities add 5 points, so this basic setup brings us to 19 points, less than half of the build total in a standard game.

World haters are my favourite crew in the game because I can’t seem to consistently roll anything better than a 3 during shoot actions. Nemesio Diaz is classic, but I think the MI version of Hermione Gold (or Admiral James Norrington if you have him instead) is my favourite crew in my collection. She combines the two most important abilities for gunships in the entire game into one crew. She is a great choice for HMS Apollo because HMS Apollo’s guns are just solid as-is; they need a bit of a boost to be really effective. Gold provides that boost, and with her aboard, HMS Apollo will be ready to set sail.

To combine the extra speed of a helmsman with the +1 to gun rolls, use one of the best crew in the entire game, the LE version of Griffin. You’ll just need a captain for his ability to come into play. Add a helmsman, and you can be moving S+S+S+S! That would come to 12 points, so you could still add an oarsman to act as a meat shield, or maybe a firepot specialist to increase the devastation wrought by this magnificent ship.

With four cargo spaces available (and usually a bunch of crew to help protect each other), HMS Apollo might be a good place to put Administrator Scott Bratley. He gives you a valuable 5 additional points. It’s like getting the captain and helmsman combo discussed above for free!

In relation to that, crew that otherwise wouldn’t have a ship to reside on might find a home on the Apollo. Especially if the rest of your fleet is treasure runners, those crew that take up space should be put on a ship that can afford the extra luggage.

If you have a few extra points to spend (and especially if it’s a bigger game with multiple gunships), the F&S version of Thomas Gunn can be a lifesaver. He combines the captain and fleet world-hater abilities into one crew. He’s expensive, but probably worth it. Boosting the guns of one or more of your ships throughout the game could be the difference between a win and a loss.

Cancellers might be the most powerful crew in the entire game (along with the All-Powerfuls), and England has two, the Promo version of Bratley and Lawrence. They can be lifesavers, whether they are cancelling the opponents’ captains or getting past the best true gunship in the game.

I don’t think paying 7 points for a Marine is really worth it, but if you use Marines often I would suggest a cheaper one.

There are plenty of double action crew available for the English. Basic extra action and SAT crew work just fine, but relying on that doesn’t work often enough (1/3 of the time) to be reliable. That’s why you bring free rerollers to assist with that die roll. The only problem with them (other than the Ransom) is that you can’t have them and Bratley (or any other 0LR +5 crew) in the same fleet, since they both have the Limit keyword. To save space (but not points), you can combine the reroll with the captain ability by employing Lord Thomas Gunn or The Gentlemen.

With all these crew aboard, you’ll want to protect them. Meat shields like oarsmen or maybe an explorer work fine, but consider adding Commander Spencer Portlandto protect them from extra powerful ships. He also gives you the SAT, so you can combine him with the rerollers mentioned in the above paragraph.

Another crew that combines the SAT with a different ability, William Dampier opens up the ship he’s on to the vast world of pirate crew. This is more for the pro-Pirate players, as it doesn’t make much sense to have Pirate crew on a ship that hates them!

Yet another version of Thomas Gunn, the SM version gives you two great abilities: captain and crew-killing. He would link to the Apollo, so you’d still have 9 points left to fill 4 cargo spaces. If you have the points, you could add Ken Wang Cho and Chang Pao to up the ante to one cargo per hit, rather than one crew per turn.

An expensive and risky option that could pay off huge dividends, Commander Temple is a crew that some people swear by, and others write off as not being worth it. As it happens, I am somewhere in between, but I would say that a smaller, faster ship (or the Europa specifically) would be better suited to utilizing him. He can win the game for you, but he can lose it for you if your best gunship is transported out of the action back to your home island at the wrong time.

If you’re short on helmsman or prefer Navigators, you can use one of them to get an extra burst of speed once in a while.

If things get crowded and the 14 point limit is exceeded, Countess Diana Doone can remedy things and make the setup legal.

Your basic generic crew and equipment will work nicely on the Apollo, and with 14 points and 4 cargo spaces, you can fit quite a few on board. Let’s say for example that you have the ROTF Thomas Gunn (captain and helmsman), for five points and no cargo spaces (since he links to the Apollo). You still have 9 points left and all four cargo spaces! You can go crazy and add any combination of firepot specialistsstinkpot specialistssmokepot specialists, cannoneers, musketeers, shipwrights, oarsmen, fire shotstinkpot shotgrape shotchain shotdouble shot, and exploding shot (keep in mind that it costs 3 points, not 1). Whatever floats your boat can make this ship very powerful, especially when you combine the specialists or equipment with a world-hater. My personal favourites would be the fire and stink stuff, along with grape shot. Killing or cancelling crew can put an enemy gunship out of action in a hurry. Stinkpot shot and grape shot only cost a point each, and this is a great way (along with adding an oarsman as a meat shield) to fill out the points for a fleet while adding a serious firepower boost.

If you aren’t sure what cheap generic crew to use, adding Cameron the Cabin Boy will give you flexibility during the game. I haven’t used him yet, but I have heard that the versatility he provides can save your ship. For example, bringing along a cannoneer and not a shipwright when your ship gets into trouble. Reveal Cameron, and now you’ll have a shipwright whenever you need him.

Instead of a generic musketeer, you can go cheaper with the 2-point Trevor van Tyne to save points.

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

-If you can’t catch the faster treasure runners, use Becalmed to catch up to them and sink or capture them.

-If Mermaids show up, use Favor of the Gods to restore order and decency in an otherwise unfair situation.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Getting the first strike with a similar/more powerful gunship.
-Running away at speeds greater than S+S+S.
-Bring multiple gunships and bring her down.
-Use El Acorazado (or maybe La Corse).

The Competition:
HMS Apollo is a recent addition to the prestigious long line of English five masters. Her competitors are numerous, well-known, and extremely powerful.

-The original super-gunship, HMS Titan is still one of the best (if not the best) gunships in the entire game. She combines a built-in extra action with guns that are just about the best you can have (all rank-2’s with mix of S and L).

-My favourite ship, HMS Lord Algernon, is a great rock with excellent guns, albeit also with slow speed and below-average cargo. A similar and more recent ship is HMS Dauntless.

HMS Pacificum has the same speed and cargo as the Apollo, but she lacks in firepower while costing an extra point.

HMS Swallow has the advantage of being the fastest English five master, but she lacks in firepower, and she costs too much.

HMS Victoria costs the same amount of points and has the same ability, so she is very similar to the Apollo. However, she is slower and has all L-range guns (therefore weak against ships like these).

HMS Gargantuan has the same base speed, but lacks in every other category.

-A true terror of the seas, the sight of HMS Endeavour strikes fear into the hearts of all captains. She is very expensive, but has an extremely powerful offensive ability with the best guns money can buy. However, she is slower than HMS Apollo, and for the same 21 points the Apollo can be equipped with MI Hermione Gold to provide the captain and world-hater abilities.

-Perhaps her best competition comes from her sister ships (or, really the same thing). The later version of HMS Apollo has similar stats, but costs one less point. She has a funky ability that I don’t have much experience with. Both ships are good choices. Essentially the same ship, the LE version simply has a better ability that comes into play much more often. This makes her a better ship, since all of their other stats are the same, but she is harder to acquire, being an LE. I would probably be reviewing her instead, but I only have the rare version, which is more accessible.

-Five masts
-Nice point cost that lets you fit crew while not putting all your points into one ship.
-Solid base speed that is good for a gunship, and also faster than some of her most powerful peers.
-Solid guns that improve with her ability (with a mix of S and L).
-Enough cargo (and more than the other version) to fit crew onto.

-Ability is very specific (and therefore, useless a good percentage of the time).
-You could argue that she’s too slow for some of her potential competition, but that’s just nitpicking.

Artwork and aesthetics: 
I love the look of HMS Apollo. She has a nice blue-green paint job, and she looks very stately and clean. The guns on her decks and the overall appearance of being a five master completes the gunship aesthetics.

Overall rating: 
Both HMS Apollo and HMS Victoria have been the recent stars of my English fleets. HMS Apollo has proved her worth as one of the best English five masters, which says quite a lot, indeed. Her combination of nice guns, good speed, relatively low point cost, and solid ability make her one of my favourite ships. I would give her a 9 out of 10. The only things that hold her back from receiving a perfect rating are her ability (too specific) and her guns, which don’t quite measure up to her best competition and need a world-hater boost to really shine. HMS Apollo is yet another great English five master that will continue to help England rule the seas of Pirates CSG for years to come!

Find her on eBay!

Cygnet – England’s most unique ship? (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on July 24th, 2012

Miniature Review: Cygnet – England’s most unique ship?


Set: Fire and Steel
Collector’s Number: 035
Faction Affiliation: England
Rarity: U
Type: Ship
Point Value: 12
Number of Masts: 4
Cargo Space: 2
Base Move: S+S
Cannons: 2S-3S-3S-3S
Ability: Schooner. L-range cannons can’t hit this ship.
Flavor text: The captain of the Cygnet typically keeps his ship close in around and among islands, the better to shock the French ships he hunts by sneaking his pure-white vessel up behind them in the black of night.

General description:
The Cygnet is a four-masted English schooner from Fire and Steel. She does not have any other Miniature Reviews and she has not been used in a fleet (Other than this thing, anyway). However, she is yet another solid gunship for the powerful English. She is the only English ship that can be made into a useful gunship that has the “L range cannons can’t hit this ship” ability, making her quite unique indeed. Also, she is one of the only English ships to not have the “HMS” in her name. Although the English have many other options to fill the gunship role, the Cygnet’s high value (good ‘bang for your buck’) seems to have been overlooked. Of course, she is very new, coming from one of the latest sets, a set that many players may not be fond of due to Wizkids’ handling of the game.

The Cygnet is built to be a gunship. With just two cargo spaces available, running treasure with her wouldn’t be wise. Her other stats and abilities don’t scream gunship, but spending 12 points on S+S movement and two cargo spaces to run treasure would be ridiculous. Just use her as a gunship.

Strategies and game play: 
By using the Cygnet as a gunship, she can disrupt enemy shipping while taking out escorts with her defensive ability. Just let her get up close and personal with an enemy gunship that has mostly or all L-range guns. Since most forts have mostly L-range guns, she can take most of them out by herself without even being shot at! Also, those pesky ships that snipe from very long ranges will not be able to ply their craft against this young gun.

I would suggest using her as a gunship that takes out enemy gunships (and/or forts) that utilize long-range guns. This is the best way to use her, and it can be very frustrating to an opponent.

Combos with other miniatures: 
With just two cargo spaces available for crew, your options will be severely limited. She essentially requires a captain and a helmsman, since the move-and-shoot is necessary for a gunship and S+S speed won’t catch many enemy ships. This simple setup brings you to 17 points for a solid, fast gunship. However, England has many good fighting crew that give you two abilities at once, or provide more powerful options.

My personal favourite and one of the most effective crew is Hermione Gold from MI (or Admiral James Norrington). Both of these crew give you the required captain ability while boosting the Cygnet’s guns from average (and unreliable) to adequate. Add a helmsman and you have a nice gunship for 21 points, just more than half your build total (or less if you’re using a +5 OLR).

Simple extra action and SAT crew with no other benefits should be used only if you have a different Hermione Gold on board (you can also use Thomas Gunn from the same set). Along with a captain, the ship would ideally be moving S+S+S+S, but not often enough. The helmsman is essentially necessary. This ROTF version of Hermione Gold lets you combine the two abilities of captain and helmsman into one, leaving one cargo space for crew worth 7 points. You could add Commander Spencer Portland for the SAT while also protecting your valuable crew. This ability could come in especially handy on this ship, since with just two cargo spaces, it’s unlikely that you’ll have many crew (such as an oarsman) to sacrifice in place of the named crew. Since he’s free and links to add +1 to the ship’s cargo hold (essentially taking up no space), Commodore Rhys Gryffyn Owen could be added to any EA or SAT setup for a nice reroll (Countess Diana Doone from BC works too, she is just harder to acquire).

Combining two abilities in one, Thomas Gunn the Younger gives you captain and crew-killing, two of the best abilities in the game, for just 5 points.

First Mate Ismail is a somewhat expensive way to get around the cargo limitations. If you really want to stack up on crew, for example, you could have him, ROTF Hermione Gold, and any combination of two generic two point crew. Maybe a cannoneer and a firepot specialist, for example. Firepot Specialists work a bit better on a ship like the Cygnet since you don’t have to compromise the range of her guns (since they’re all S-range) to use the firepots. You can fit an oarsman into any setup that has 11 points of crew or less to fit extra crew on to protect the more important crew.

A unique crew like Griffin works well on this ship, since you only need a generic captain to set those other abilities up, with the necessary +S and the (arguably) necessary +1 to cannon rolls. An oarsman would be a very good idea in this setup, because you really can’t afford to lose any crew.

If you love cancellers, you can put Lawrence on the Cygnet with ROTF Hermione Gold.

Edit: After el_cazador’s post, this canceller combo becomes even more interesting. With the Cygnet’s immunity to L-range guns, opposing ships will usually have to come within S of the ship to shoot at it. However, when they come within S, their captain is cancelled and they’re at the mercy of your guns! The best way to counter this would be an enemy canceller or a flotilla.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Obviously the good ol’ cancellers can do the job, whether they are cancelling the Cygnet’s captain or her ability.
Gunships that utilize S-range guns can take her out with sheer firepower.
-With only S-range guns, the Cygnet is vulnerable to ships with the “This ship cannot be shot at by ships within S of her” ability.
-There are crew that turn short range guns into long range guns, getting around the ability because they are still considered short range guns.

The Competition:
The English have plenty of great options for 4 masted schooners:
HMS Durham is one of the best hybrid ships the English have, with no need for a helmsman, solid guns, and a big cargo hold.
HMS Oxford is one of the better gunships in the game. Good guns and good movement with enough cargo for a bunch of crew. She also costs 12 points, but gives you better firepower.
Both of these ships are probably better than the Cygnet. However, the unique ability of the Cygnet could tilt the argument in her favour. There are other English four masted schooners, notably the cheap Caledonia and rerolling Caradoc, but these aren’t England’s best options.

Other four masted options:
HMS Orkney, another 12 point four master with two cargo, has a different defensive ability and better guns, but slower movement.
-With more cargo and more diversified guns, HMS Dover gives you a cheaper ship that can do multiple things.
HMS Gallows is a beast with huge firepower. She’s slower and more costly, but she has the best guns money can buy.
-At the same speed but with more cargo space and cheaper cost, HMS London gives you one of the better gunships in the game.

-English! (sorry, just personal bias) Therefore a wide variety of useful crew to choose from.
-Nice (relatively cheap) point cost.
-Schooner keyword that lets her get closer to an enemy (and use her other ability).
-Great, useful defensive ability.
-Her one rank-2 gun is positioned at the bow, which would usually be the first gun to shoot and possibly the only one in range.

-Only two cargo spaces-limited crew options + no treasure running.
-Average speed (S+S) that is eclipsed by many other good gunships.
-Average guns that need improvement to become effective.

Artwork and aesthetics: 
The Cygnet has a very clean, white appearance. The flavour text references this, and she looks quite cool. That picture doesn’t do her justice.

Overall rating: 
I would like to give the Cygnet an 8, but with so many better options available to fill the gunship role in the English fleet, I think a 7 is about right. I didn’t even go into the five masters, and yet it is obvious that the Cygnet doesn’t quite measure up to the best English gunships. However, the ability and her stats make her a nice option.

Want the Cygnet? See if she’s on eBay!

Cursed Blade – A versatile knife (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on July 11th, 2012

Miniature Review: Cursed Blade – A versatile knife

Cursed Blade

Cursed Blade
Set: Pirates of the Revolution
Collector’s Number: 005
Faction Affiliation: Pirate
Rarity: C
Type: Ship
Point Value: 11
Number of Masts: 3
Cargo Space: 5
Base Move: S+S
Cannons: 3S-3S-3S
Ability: Schooner. Once per turn, this ship may randomly take one treasure from any ship she touches.
Flavor text: Greed motivates El Gato, captain of the Cursed Blade. His crew have mastered many inventive tactics in order to steal an opponents’ treasure, rather than fight.

General description:
I was quite surprised to see that the Cursed Blade not only didn’t have a Miniature Review written about her, she hasn’t been used in single fleet! (Edit: now she’s been in 2 fleets) The Cursed Blade was one of my first ships, and she has remained a staple in many of my Pirate fleets.

Along with the Raven she is the one ship that I find almost irresistible when making a Pirate fleet. Apparently forgotten about and one of the games most underrated pieces, she is yet another good ship from Pirates of the Revolution. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that this ship has been forgotten about-with so many great pieces from that set, it was easy to overlook some of the less flashy ones.

For an affordable point cost (11), you get a loaded ship that screams to be used. Almost nothing about the ship is above average, but the overall package is inspiring. Her large cargo hold lets you load up on crew, run treasure, or both. Her solid (if unspectacular, especially for something from such a powerful set) base move of S+S is right in the middle, a good speed for a ship that can (and probably should) see multiple uses. That extra maneuverability is only helped by the Schooner keyword, and it also complements her ability. Her average guns (and the fact that there are only three of them) won’t raise any eyebrows, but I believe this ship is about looking at the whole package, and using her in any and every way you see fit. And what a package it is!

Uses, strategies and game play: 
With such a large number of things to look at, perhaps the reason she has been essentially ignored all this time is the fact that players may not know exactly what to do with her. However, her versatility is what can make her special, and I will describe many different uses for this neglected ship. She can see good use as:
1. A pure treasure runner,
2. A treasure-raider that messes with the enemies’ gold ships,
3. A combination of the first two-a ship that creates havoc everywhere she goes,
4. An armed treasure runner that doesn’t need an escort because she is her own escort,
5. A support gold-runner that escorts your primary treasure runner(s) to islands while seizing any opportunity to make use of her ability.

The Cursed Blade can be used in all sorts of different strategies, and she fits well into most setups. The strategies each player might use with her depends on what you crew her with. You can run gold, and/or steal it from the enemy. This ship should not be your primary gunship, but in a 40 point fleet designed to grab gold, she could be. That said, she is there more to harass and confound the enemy than to actually blow them out of the water.

Combos with other miniatures: 
Here I will describe the uses while noting the combos that work well with each.
1. The first setup, as a pure treasure runner, is simple. You can crew the Blade with a helmsman and an explorer, and for 14 points you get a ship moving S+S+S that has room for three treasures. Not bad, but the problem is, the Pirates have better, more efficient, and more affordable options in the gold-running department.

2. Another way to use the Blade is as a simple treasure-raider. Give her a helmsman, and maybe Genny’s Red Rampage, and steal as much gold as possible. This is where her other ability, the schooner keyword, comes into play. Especially if facing a larger ship where a ram and board is not likely to work, you can use the ‘stern turn’ to make contact with the other ship, and thus trigger the Blade’s ability. The problem with this is that the enemy may be able to fire a good broadside before you can get away with the gold.

3. This third use of the Cursed Blade also makes use of her ability. It is a nice, cheap ability to have, and there are ways of maximizing its potential and adding to it. One crew that takes the random part out of the ability, is Lucky the Parrot. For just one point, you can look at the enemies’ treasures. You can use the ability once or twice to get a glimpse of what treasure you want to take from a particular enemy gold ship, or use it multiple times to obtain an overall picture of what treasures the opponent has, and then act accordingly to steal the highest-value coins. It is up to the player to decide what ship to put the Parrot on. You may be wasting valuable cargo space by putting it on the Blade herself, so I would recommend that the Parrot join the crew of a larger gunship.

To gamble to try to see even more treasures, throw Shipping Charts into the treasure mix.

One thing you can do to maximize the Cursed Blade’s ability involves the use of ramming and boarding. If you are going after treasure runners, it is likely that they won’t be large ships, which helps the Blade since she only has three masts. This boarding strategy can work extremely well due to the order of events. With a captain, the Blade can move (ramming the other ship), and then immediately shoot. Then you can roll for the ram, which will be easier now that the enemy is missing at least one mast (hopefully). Finally, you can roll on the boarding party, which should be able to succeed against all but the biggest treasure runners, especially if you have Jack Hawkins on board. He gives you the (recommended) captain ability, as well as +1 to boarding rolls. He is a near-perfect crew for this ship, as it would be ideal for the Blade to have as much cargo space left over while still employing crew that help her in her role. With a helmsman, she will be moving S+S+S with great treasure-stealing potential, for a total of 19 points (20 if you use the Parrot in your fleet), less than half your build total.

You could also go with Griffin to have the captain ability, but have the reroll for the boarding action instead of the +1.

Either way, she can then be paired with a powerful gunship (a simple Revenant setup with captain and helmsman, perhaps), or a treasure runner (maybe the Raven) and a smaller gunship (such as the Royal James). The Pirates have a multitude of cheap options that let them run gold, steal it, and shoot all in a standard 40 point game.

4. The Blade can be a treasure runner that doesn’t need an escorting gunship. With three masts (more than a lot of the best treasure runners), she is already durable compared to some of her competition. Crew her with Hammersmith and an explorer. Hammersmith saves space, combining the two most essential generic crew into one. Even with the explorer, she still has three cargo spaces left for gold, enough to empty an island in a multiplayer game.

Enemy treasure runners either without an escort or without a lot of masts will be in for a surprise when the Blade fights hard (with her guns and maybe her ability) for the gold. Depending on the situation, the Blade can adapt to existing conditions with this particular setup and be used in any of the other four roles I have described.

5. The last role is that of an armed escort, where the Blade carries a captain and a helmsman (or perhaps Hammersmith) while accompanying a gold ship. If the gold ship moved faster than her and was dismasted, sunk, or captured, the Blade could help recover some of the lost gold by sending it to the bottom or stealing it back.

Alternatively, if the Blade got to the island before your treasure runner (as in the case of a slower ship such as the Darkhawk II), she could try and sink or disable any enemy runners looking to grab the same gold.

Ways to counteract it: 
I would suggest disabling this ship early on so that she can’t steal gold and take out your treasure runners. Once she loses just one or two masts, her boarding and shooting effectiveness goes way down. Just go after her with a good gunship and take her out before she can ruin your gold strategy.

Asesino de la Nave can be a good ship to take her out with. This ship has good guns and an ability that can easily and quickly cripple any of the above setups. To maximize the amount of treasure you can steal/run, you need as much cargo as possible, and therefore you need to minimize the number of crew, by using crew who combine two abilities into one. The problem with this is that if you get hit with a crew (or cargo) killer, multiple abilities are taken out very quickly.

You can cancel her ship ability or her crew abilities to make her harmless, and Stinkpot Shot can work well with good guns if you can’t afford a canceller.

ship with Secret Hold renders most Cursed Blade strategies useless.

She is relatively weak (average number of masts + average guns) when compared to anything resembling a true gunship, and I believe that simply shooting at her is the most effective way to deal with this pest.

-Opponents will underestimate her because she is not well-known.
-Nice point cost that lets you fit crew on, and lets you fit in other good ships for support.
-Two abilities, both of which can be used to great effect.
-Lots of cargo space that fits well with her speed and ability. All that space lets you have some good crew while still having enough space left to run/steal gold.
-Solid base speed that makes her maneuverable.
-Average guns that are usable and fit well with her uses, since you shouldn’t be taking on the opponents’ best gunships with her.
-Pirate, so many crew combos that stretch across many different sets.

-Comes from (probably) the most powerful set, so her competition is notable and almost unfair.
-Speed (S+S) is a bit lacking.
-With three masts, the Blade can be blown out of the water by larger gunships.
-With so many different plausible uses, her owners may feel that she is a conundrum, with no specific use that fits her perfectly, making it harder to execute a strategy.

Artwork and aesthetics: 
I certainly like the artwork for this ship. She has a very spooky Pirate look to her, with a dark overall design that features a skull and crossbones on her mainsail. Her sails are kind of a strange maroon-ish colour, and she has a cool green tint on her hull.

Overall rating: 
This is a tough ship to rate, because the rating given would depend on her use. Overall, I would give her a solid 7, because although she is underrated, she is too lacking to be a truly great ship. In addition, she faces great competition not only from her own set, but the same type of ship (3 masted schooner).

Get the Cursed Blade on eBay!