Command the Oceans – Turns 61-63 (10/13/2017)

Finally everything came together for the first time in quite a while for a BIG day of play! Very Happy Not counting the Pirate turn played yesterday, I essentially played a whopping THREE turns even as the game size approaches 7,000 points!

With the Pirate turn of Turn 61 over, I started the day with the Jade Rebels. In a strange move that displayed a new strategy, the Jades sent the Grendel as “bait” in an attempt to get the Cursed to attack. The Grendel missed both her shots against the Juggernaut, the first ship in the Cursed squadron still pointed at the Tunnel. By the end of their turn, the Grendel was given an AA by Sigurd Andersen to return to the Jade defensive position.

Continuing the tiny-scale attack, the Wiglaf and Wodin team up to knock masts off the Spilled Salt, a ship that is damaged for I think the third time in this game. The Wodin captured the Cursed musketeer with a boarding party, but this was the extent of the Jade strike.

With a large war fleet ready to go, it’s a bit puzzling why the Jades didn’t launch a full attack. Quite frankly, they are scared. They are afraid that the Pirates and Cursed agreed to an alliance on the Pirate turn (which they didn’t, but merely struck a deal), and are wondering if a huge Pirate fleet will suddenly emerge from the foggy Tunnel….

Cashing in a whopping 81 spices for 405 gold, the Jades save most of it but launch the Hlidskjalf and Grand River, the latter of which is a custom Jade 6 master I created way back in late 2011. The GR will be proxied by the Grand Dynasty, which was sunk earlier in the game.

Grand River
Jade Rebellion, 16 points, 6 masts, 5 cargo, S+S speed, Guns: 3S,3S,3L,3L,3S,3S
Junk. This ship’s base move becomes S when she reaches her cargo limit.

After snagging the Brandywine in a brilliant fog raid against an isolated ship, the Sea Hag and Hangman’s Joke take their prize back to the safety of the fog:

Another fog attack! This time the Needle and Behemoth (who has been copying the fog hopper ability) use the Eye to catch the Sea Crane in between the Tunnel and the Jade HI! Behemoth pins the ship, which is likely doomed.

With a rare view looking out of the west, the Cursed strike back! The Jikininki and Fallen Angel are ineffective, but the Death’s Anchor and Executioner team up to doom the Wodin with fire!

However, the Cursed don’t take the bait! They are showing some great patience as of late and seem to be biding their time. However, they are certainly preparing for something….

After agreeing with the Pirates to not invade the Tunnel and the eastern half of Allost, the Cursed turn their ships around. Suddenly almost all Cursed gunships are heading west.

In the Caribbean, an appearance by the Dragon’s Breath has the English on edge and ready for anything. However, the Pirates assure the English they mean no harm unlike Blackbeard and Havana Black. The captain of the Dragon’s Breath says another ship will soon be arriving through the whirlpool, though not a Pirate one….

Cashing in 43 spices for 215 gold, the English launch 9 ships! Most of them are for a squadron that may do whirlpool expeditions. With a 10 turn truce with the Spanish secured, the English are hoping to expand into the other oceans they know about but haven’t been to. (outside of the Westminster who has been presumed lost at sea by the English command)

The first big English launch in quite some time! If not for the truce the Spanish would likely be in big trouble.

Speaking of the Spanish, here are 4 of their ships repairing along with most of their operations.

The French go about their business. With excess ships, the French can afford to have multiple squadrons for different purposes. Currently, the bulk of their battle fleet is stationed around The Flat.

The line of troop transports advances with the help of the lighthouse towards The Flat, which the French plan to turn into a stronghold.

As Pirate ships finally take textiles, the French have a massive concentration of firepower on all sides of the island:

The French arrive in the Caribbean for the first time!! Using directions from the DB’s crew, Guy LaPlante was able to find the Caribbean without having to roll for whirlpool location. Playing a hunch in addition to general orders from Lenoir, LaPlante is in the Caribbean not for the English but for the Spanish. Deleflote’s action allowed the Possession to move towards the Spanish fleet right after exiting the whirlpool, as LaPlante’s mission is one of some urgency.

The crew aboard the York have their worst fears confirmed: the Brandywine has disappeared! Between the gunshots and the Sea Hag giving them the slip, the Americans assume the ship was captured and taken by the Cursed.

Beyond the Brandywine’s masts, you can see a cracked wall of the Castle.

The American venture further east into the Castle area, impressed by its size and height. The crew of the Saratoga moor their ship inside, but will find repairs impossible until more assistance and supplies arrives.

Looking from directly above the west wall of the Castle, American operations on Turn 61. The Louisiana and James Madison are carrying exploding shot into position for attempts at clearing reefs. The American assembly line of ships continues to round the reefs and fog to the north, with the troop transports slowly approaching the Castle.

Cashing in some spices and adding it to their reserves of gold, the Americans spend a whopping 291 gold! However, 250 of it is spent on the third fort upgrade purchased in this game! You can see it on a new American capital ship, the Enterprise! The Enterprise was my second 5 master EVER and is such a veteran of HFS battles and various games that her masts are somewhat loose simply from being taken out and repaired dozens of times.

You’ll also notice the new infantry troops aboard the Nene-nui and Colonial Trader, in addition to even more infantry on the home island.

With Turn 61 in the books, Turn 62 saw a return to the resource value roll of 2, meaning spices would be back down to 4 with lumber king once again.

After speaking with O’Brien, the crew of the Feathered Hat take a little time to explore their surroundings, finding the Castle! However, having only seen the north face of it, the Pirates aren’t fully aware of the Castle’s size or potential.

With a VERY successful trip, some of the Pirate whirlpool squadron returns home! Havana Black is disappointed he missed out but is excited to learn about the developments. The captain of the Dragon’s Breath informs him of the new alliance with the French, in addition to LaPlante’s recent excursion to the Caribbean, where the English look ready for a potential Pirate attack. The Madagascar and Otter will eventually unload their small quantities of textiles at the kingdom, which will be the first time the Pirates have that resource since the DMP island stopped producing it.

With a great view from above, here is the Pirate Kingdom!

The western half of Allost is much more tense, but neither side engages. Hearing shots beyond the fog, the Grand Temple and a Viking 1 master enter the fog west of the Tunnel. The Wiglaf flees from the Cursed, but the Wodin burns to the waterline and is eliminated from the game.

The Cursed continue to move west:

The new English squadron sets sail! In addition, the Ark Royal has been repaired and crewed with a captain, helmsman, and oarsman once more.

Even as one of the smaller fleets in the game, the English are still capable of a “forest of masts” if the picture is taken at the right angle:

Sighting the French tricolor speeding towards them from the Possession’s mainmast, the Santo Columba surges forward to greet the new faction! (new to the Spanish, that is) LaPlante is able to row over in a boat and immediately engages in conversation with the SC’s captain. By the time he climbs back into the boat, the Spanish are furious.

With a line of signals exchanged, Marcus Vaccaro (the current Spanish admiral) becomes knowledgeable of the development. He sails over and hails Admiral Thomas Gunn aboard HMS Lord Algernon. In a surprisingly cordial meeting of the flagships, a deal is struck – the Spanish and English have PEACE! O_O

Clearly something has changed Spanish minds, and the Spanish have lost interest with the War on England. The truce has been abandoned for a full, indefinite period of peace between the two factions. A milestone in the Caribbean for sure!

The Mercenaries take their turn, and Eileen Brigid O’Brien pilots the Celtic Fury towards the whirlpool! She then takes the 10 master through it!! O_O THIS WAS NOT THE PLAN!!

Following instructions laid out by the captain of the Feathered Hat, O’Brien brings her huge ship to the Sea of Allost! Suddenly the Celtic Fury is in Pirate waters! What could this mean??

The French go immediately after the Mercs in the turn order, and L’Heros meets with the Sunrise Fire. The crews exchange many words, with the captain of the Sunrise Fire somewhat puzzled but mostly playing dumb, knowing the sly nature of the Feathered Hat’s captain….

The plan was for the Celtic Fury to reinforce the French squadron at The Flat, making that area by far the most stable in the entire game with nearly a dozen French 5 masters and now a 10 master right around the island. However, the CF has disappeared from Karkuda entirely. Now, we know that the Mercenaries are playing on their own and have duped the French. However, it’s unclear if Nemo ordered O’Brien to do this or something else entirely. Perplexed but calm, the French use their southern squadron of 6 gunships to approach the submerged Mercenaries running resources to their sub hideout. Also, it’s worth noting that although they heard gunshots beyond the north wall of the Castle, the French don’t know about the Cursed.

At The Flat, L’Afrique drops off 4 infantry units. The Geographe approaches with more as the Felicite speeds off on her own business as a fast support gunship that has been given autonomy by Lenoir. At this point, due to the considerable distances involved, Lenoir is acting commander of the French battle fleet, while Gaston oversees operations closer to home. Gaston is still the main French admiral, but Lenoir is currently in command of far more firepower.

Again similar to that old game I played, I can’t get enough of this massive display of firepower the French have. Between the beauty of their ships, my love of 5 masters, and how similar their 5 masters are for gameplay, it’s just a perfect fleet!

Gaston himself turns around to sail towards the sub hideout, having got wind of the recent development. Since you see what the faction sees, check out what is visible to the Bourbon and Ange – shipwrecks in the distance!

Not wanting to believe the French, the captain of the Santo Columba calls Guy LaPlante (Diplomat of France! lol) over for an extended visit. The more the Spanish hear, the more they believe. The Spanish are outraged.

The York and Gold Eagle meet up and word is passed on about the Brandywine’s likely fate. The Americans have a bit of a morale loss, as the Brandywine had been an accurate vessel during the battle against the Pirates, setting at least one Pirate ship aflame while taking no damage. She was also one of the first ships to explore the Castle and the only ship to scout the eastern side until now. At the bottom, the Speedy Return loses a mast to the reef barrier, which the Americans are getting more confident with.

The Americans are in operating mode. With both wars somewhat on hold, the Americans are devoting major efforts to the Castle. The Louisiana was successful at blowing up a reef! This will help clear the way for American ships to access the eastern 2/3 of Karkuda more easily. In addition, note the impressive spending headed towards the Castle, with a fort upgrade, army units, and various ships sailing there.

With a view of the American HI from the west this time, many of the captured Pirate ships are finishing repairs. However, the Americans plan to trade them all in at once for a big influx of points to spend that turn. The Americans also rearrange their army units and resources to point their cannons and muskets more to the east.

This gives a small idea of the scope of this huge game. American logistics are slowly being optimized, but more reefs will need to be cleared before Preble is satisfied. The American-French truce is becoming a little more tense, as both sides have lines of battle set up within shooting distance of each other. The French line guards The Flat while the American line guards troop transports and fragile ships heading south towards the Castle. It remains to be seen what interest the French have in the Castle, if any.

Turn 63!

Mission uses his own EA to sail over and greet O’Brien! Eileen is extremely impressed with the Pirate operation and has agreed to join the Pirates!! It started with Nemo giving her some autonomy over how to handle certain situations, but it was mostly the Feathered Hat’s captain that persuaded O’Brien to take the CF into Pirate waters to at least check out their activities. O’Brien chose the Pirates after being disappointed by how tiny the Mercenary fleet is and seeing how controlling the French could be. With the Pirates she hopes to find her own way and not answer to the whims of Nemo or Gaston. In addition, the Pirates have offered higher pay than Nemo did. XD However, Mission already has a mission (lol) for the Celtic Fury….

Calico Cat takes the Revenant near the kingdom for the first time, while the Pirates now have quite the force near their southern whirlpool. The Deliverance and Fool’s Hope may join up with the Pirate whirlpool squadron. At the right, Calypso is in play aboard the Stoneheart, a ship the Pirates will want to keep safe.

Using a ladder she later takes aboard, the Ranger loads infantry units. A ship launched solely for ferrying random cargo (shipwrights, army units, ladders, etc), this is her first mission of the sort after sailing around aimlessly after being launched. In the background are some colorful sails, namely the Bloody Jewel and Rum Runner.

The Pirates still have good support around the eastern end of the Tunnel. The various 2 masted gunships have been patrolling for many turns now. On the contrary, recent launches sail south on a mission. Bonny Peel aboard the Akua Lapu and Will Turner aboard the Fleur de la Mort hope to capture enemy crew and turn them into gold! The question remains: which faction might they go after? The Jades and Cursed aren’t far away, but both have massed fleets full of warships. The whirlpool opens up any of the other factions as potential prey, and of course the Pirates could always split up as well. You can also just see the outline of the Royal Rover not even halfway in the Tunnel.

The most recently launched Pirate squadron meets with even more gunships at the northern whirlpool!

I count 22 ships ready to sail through the whirlpool on the next turn or two, and I believe all but the Thrud have captains and helmsmen.

Not satisfied with their infantry numbers, the Pirates cash in lumber from the Hades’ Flame to launch the Panama Sun with a helmsman and three infantry units aboard. You can also see the gold waterfall, the Pandora, and the Darkhawk II. The Pirates continue to source metals from Pistol Island, which may result in another big windfall eventually.

The Sea Crane predictably loses her fight against Behemoth and the Needle!

The Behemoth prepares to hop home while the Needle takes the Jade ship under tow just like the Hangman’s Joke did with the Brandywine.

Speaking of the Brandywine, the Cursed got her home quickly with another fog hop to the Roost!

Halls of Valhalla? Cursed sea monsters head west along with the regular gunships.

The Cursed are sailing towards the edge of the ocean, while 4 cargo ships dock at Broken Horn Island to load valuable lumber.

The English take in 9 spices while their new gunships head west:

The Santo Columba speeds southeast towards the English and the only Caribbean whirlpool.

Puzzled by the Aube, Voleur, and Bourbon trying to get his attention, Nemo actually surfaces the Nautilus! However, he keeps up the lie that the Mercs are actually helping the French and still under their command. Part of the reason he came to the surface is that he himself doesn’t understand why O’Brien took off, and he’s truthful about that to the French. The French are being fooled by Nemo, but both factions are left in the dust by Ms. O’Brien.

The French discover Fish Island but the Mobilis and Devil Ray refuse to surface.

At the eastern food island, the crew of La Dijon finds that metals have replaced food as the island’s resource! French cargo ships are always coming and going, but the Harbor is more deserted than it’s been in a while.

The Geographe drops off army units, and the French continue to fortify The Flat. At the left, you can see the French line of battle, full of capital ships. There are eight 5 masters in the staggered line with two more and the Hercule up north. At the right, another 10 gunships are sailing slowly along the west wall of the Harbor.

The French-American situation in Karkuda. The Americans have a very impressive line of their own, which now stretches just about the entire distance from the south to north. The Georgetown is at the southern edge of the ocean near the Castle, with the Paul Revere and Yankee the northernmost ships above the lumber island. At the bottom right, the Vermont and Speedy Return could discover Nemo’s Submarine Hideout and the French on the next turn. You can also see the Carolina ducking under a Castle arch.

Part of the reason I was able to play nearly 3 full turns was due to the lack of combat, which will likely change soon. Throw in less time overall to play, and things will slow back down again in terms of how many turns can be played in the short term. However, the game is getting more exciting and it’s basically a convoluted mess at this point between all the possibilities, alliances, and lies going around! Stay tuned!

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