Cheerleaders Aren’t Useless
But only in the most niche of circumstances
“Friendly ships within S of this ship get +1 to their cannon rolls.”
Ah, the “cheerleading” ability. Sometimes the bane of a player’s existence – as soon as you see this ability, you know the ship is almost definitely downright unusable. I mean, Le Solitaire is probably the worst ship in the entire game. 17 points for a 1 master moving L with a 5L cannon! C’mon!! XD
However, cheerleaders aren’t useless… at least, not quite always.
Cheerleaders have a very niche use in massive games. They can be worth it believe it or not. They are best as behind-the-lines cheerleading ships that try to absolutely MAX OUT how many cannon bonuses they can give out in a single turn. It comes down to ship movement logistics, which are key in a campaign game, especially during large battles. The order in which you give gunships and support ships actions becomes very tactical, in order to sink or tow enemies at the right time, or to make room for a new gunship/etc.
With cheerleaders, most of them are small and can hide behind the big gunships on the front lines. Before giving the cheerleader’s move action for the turn, shoot with the ships within range of the ability to get the bonus. Include more ships by moving captained ships within range of the ability to max out the “first round”. This can easily be 3-4+ ships in a serious battle that get the +1 to cannons bonus, which stacks with World Hater (“This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against non-faction ships”) and potentially other cannon bonuses available. With most gunships at 3+ cannons overall, this could easily result in 10+ cannons getting boosted, which is no small thing if you can get it on multiple turns in said battle.
Then you try to get it again with a whole new “batch” of ships. You still get to move the cheerleader. It’s best to have a helmsman, and sometimes there’s a slight chance of it getting an AA (Admiral’s Action – “Once at the beginning of each of your turns, roll a d6. On a result of 6, any ship in your fleet can be given two actions that turn.”) just because of how many cannons it might be able to improve. Move the cheerleader down the battle line. New gunships within range are now boosted as well and you can move even more gunships within range to max out bonuses. In a big battle it’s quite possible to give 6+ ships cannon bonuses in a single turn, which is like having an extra World Hater ability on all those ships for that turn (WH normally 4 points so ~24 point “value” for example), but still stacks with WH and other bonuses.
It also gets crazier because with two cheerleaders in one area, you might even be able to double up because the ability is not getting stacked on ships in range of more than one cheerleader (ability is on different ships). The Pirates, French and Americans each have multiple cheerleader ships to pull this off with. You can easily find them by searching for the ability text from the top of the post in the consolidated Master Spreadsheet.
They are terrible in 40 point games, and need a build total of 100+ (preferably 150+) to really even consider using them.
The Pirates have launched multiple cheerleaders in CG4 (being played with @Xerecs and PirateAJ14) including the Fantasia and Scepter. (read from the beginning if you don’t want to get spoiled; then you can continue with the CG4 tag)
So here I am in 2020 after all these years defending one of the worst ship categories in the game. XD Only after over 400 games of experience and hundreds or thousands of hours playing massive campaign games.
TL;DR – Cheerleaders aren’t useless and can be extremely effective in large battles.
Question of the Day: Have you used the cheerleader ability in a game before?