(or at least, most of it)
More damaged ships arrive in the southeast! Note that as the Pride returns, her crew and others bring news of the French “betrayal”, which of course was caused by the Pirates’ deal with the Cursed that began the end of the Pirate/French alliance. The news is not entirely surprising to the Pirates, but they are somewhat surprised by how quickly the Cursed betrayed their trust.
This dramatic shift in Pirate strategy has been brewing for a while now. It started with the First Battle of the American whirlpool, which the Pirates lost badly to the Americans. Then came the Second Battle of the American whirlpool, which has mostly concluded in another decisive loss. Finally, the deal with the devil backfired on the Pirates when the Cursed betrayed them a bit by telling the French about the deal. This led to the Pirate ships in northern Karkuda being decimated by nearby French gunships in yet another “whirlpool battle” they would have lost. All in all, three disastrous whirlpool “expeditions” if you will, each of them costly and bloody. With that, the Pirates have had it. They will no longer send attacking squadrons through whirlpools. They have pulled out most of their ships from the Sea of Karkuda, with the ones remaining stuck there due to being trapped or beyond help. This big shift in Pirate strategy and gameplay could have seismic effects for the duration of the game. The Americans bore the full brunt of Pirate aggression, but the English and now the French have felt quite wronged by Pirate activity as well. Captain Mission and his Pirate Admirals are sick of losing so many masts, ships, and lives to whirlpool shenanigans that never seem to have a big payoff. Therefore, they may begin favoring a complete isolationist policy. Let the other factions come to them. They will repair and rebuild, and hunker down for the long haul.
The above picture and this one were taken after temporarily removing the Tunnel from the ocean, to show it more clearly. This shot is looking at the ceiling of the Tunnel on the western side where the Pirates have begun primitive rock-blasting operations!
At the end of their turn, the Pirates spent 90 gold on 4 new gunships, including a few great ones: the Black Pearl, Diamond Strike, Ranger, and Splinter. At the upper left you can see the new Pirate strategy beginning to take effect, with many damaged ships coming home for repairs as fresh ones prepare to defend the whirlpools at all costs.
Another battle at Broken Horn Island continues! The Jikininki is dismasted, but the Jades lose the Glorious Treasure for good when she succumbs to her fires (courtesy of the Executioner, a fitting name for that Cursed gunship).
A small measure of Jade revenge! Many weeks after she was possessed by the Cursed and turned into an icewreck, the Clear Wind is finished after her iceberg was rammed by a Viking icebreaker! The Jades wanted to recapture the ship, but after seeing her demonic state for multiple battles now, they had to put an end to the weirdness. As the ice is broken, the Clear Wind sinks and many Jade Rebels have heavy hearts on this fine day. The Hrunting knocks a mast off the Sickle as the Grendel tows the Brandywine.
After the Pirates backed down from any alliance talk the Jades engaged in earlier, the Jades ignored and nearly forgot about them. However, the Cursed have worked their “magic” once more. With another large-scale JR-Cursed battle beginning, some talk between the sides could be expected. Sammy the Skull (aboard the Monkey’s Paw) has let some information spread throughout the Jade fleet. Most of it true believe it or not! XD
The Cursed have informed the Jades that the whirlpool was created only with Pirate help, which is true since Davy Jones copied Calypso. The Cursed have also told the Jades about how powerful the Pirates are (since they have the Eye), which is also (mostly) true. The Jades have become quite a powerhouse faction with their recent Corsair hires, and the Pirates have been crushed lately in their travels to the Sea of Karkuda. The Cursed did embellish how strong the Pirates currently are, and made sure to emphasize that if the Jades do not concentrate some firepower on the Pirates, the Pirates will be able to defeat a Jade Rebellion faction that will be weakened if they manage to defeat the Cursed in the long term.
The Cursed begin their turn with L-movers! Tsuro throws the Royal Louis against the shattered dock in the French Harbor, knocking another mast off the ship! The force of the movement shoves the slowly sinking dock against the Grand Vainqueur, but that ship escapes further damage.
Namazu’s wave attack was not originally in range of many JR ships, so the Serpent’s Fang got close to the serpent so it could move a bit southeast. Then, Davy Jones showed his power, using the copier ability to copy Capitaine Baudouin Deleflote, the French version of Lord Mycron who is sitting on L’Argus in the French Harbor! The Guichuan’s action was given to Namazu so the monster could essentially move and then shoot as if it had a captain. However, it was no ordinary shoot action, as you can see Namazu charging up for a massive tidal wave blast!!
I only took one mast off the icebreaker since she only suffered a glancing blow. However, the Jades lost 10 masts as a result of the attack, with the Brandywine nearly sunk as well. Clearly this ability is overpowered in campaign games like this one!! Adding insult to injury, Namazu only loses one segment per wave attack (unlike the Trident, which is based on how many ships are affected), so it’s even more cost-effective for the Cursed here with the ability that can be used multiple times (versus the Trident, which is removed from play after being used). As a result, I think I will house rule that wave attacks do “hit” damage rather than outright mast elimination, in which case a ship would only lose one full mast when affected (since it takes two hits to remove a mast). I may also let the Cursed roll when making a wave attack, and on a 5 or 6 (or just a 6 maybe) they get the full unedited effect like we see here. With two copiers and a reasonably healthy Namazu though, I think something needs to be done to avoid the Cursed turning a defeat into a victory with the help of just one ability that has become OP in a hurry here in CTO.
The Knight’s Errant (one of the worst ships in the game, but almost necessary here when you have borderline-unlimited points to spend) and Strix block the longships from advancing into Cursed trade routes, while the Cursed canoes will try to help out as well.
The northern Cursed wild island now produces lumber instead of textiles! In the far north, those sea monsters are submerged and in no danger from the Pirates or Jades. They will try to combat the Jades and stop their advance.
In a time of reasonable emergency, even the fog hoppers will come out to help! The Cursed value their fog hoppers VERY highly as a specialized teleportation sneak attack force, but here some of them pop out near Broken Horn Island to surprise the Jades from behind. None of the three ships got good fog exit location rolls, so the Wiglaf suffers light damage as the Hangman’s Joke simply ducks back into the fog.
Here you can see the Jades coming as close as they ever have to interrupting Cursed trade. The Fallen Angel and Whydah block the Hrothgar and Grand River, but if this thin line of Cursed defense falls, the Cursed could really be in trouble. However, up north the Nightmare is nearly back with the first haul of food, while the Divine Dragon tows the Bloody Blade.
The Grand River is pulverized by the Whydah and Executioner, suffering many hits and being set aflame! The Hades’ Realm just barely misses out on dooming the annoying Proud Tortoise (immune to L-range guns) with a firepot of her own.
Another unique view, showing the Jade advance crashing into Cursed resistance. Although the actual cannon fire is only intense in the far west right now, the battle now stretches all the way across the JR-Cursed border from Broken Horn Island to the northern Cursed wild island.
The Geographe is doomed, but Terrox’s personal victory is a hollow one for the Cursed, who had hoped to do far more damage to the French and their Harbor. As noted in the previous report, reinforcements would have come if the Jades hadn’t attacked.
Continuing the theme of exiting Karkuda, the Cursed have some ships return to friendlier waters. The Banshee’s Wail and Demon Gate need extensive repairs, while Leviathan was not in range of many targets this turn and could probably be better used against the Jades, who are a far more immediate threat to the Cursed.
Eight English gunships are now near the Pirate Kingdom, in an area where the Pirates have not yet been threatened!! O_O Weirdly enough, it comes at a time when the Pirates are having lots of ships come home from the war effort against the Americans. That timing could prove convenient since they should now have more firepower with which to defend their territory against the English.
To be completely honest, the English have been getting slightly bored with how things have turned out. Their old rival, the Spanish, have a fervent desire to retake the Castle, leaving the English without much of a combative enemy in the Caribbean. They have declared war on the Pirates, and will pursue that for now.
The Spanish pull off what you could call a “miracle turn”! The Corazon Dorado put out her fire, got her SAT and hit a shot before ducking into a fog bank. The Santa Ana did the same with her EA ability and hit a shot as well. The Spanish rolled around five 5’s or 6’s in a row! The Santo Columba didn’t do quite as well, but managed to set the United States on fire.
The Cursed named crew Wraith has been possessing crew with his ability for a while now. His latest includes the firepot specialist from the Kentucky, and lately he’s been very successful rolling 6’s. Here you can see the stack of possessed crew, who now number around a dozen I believe. For the next point count I plan to count how many crew there are and include the costs in the Cursed fleet point total. Soul Crusher indeed!
The Karkuda factions!
However, the French start their turn by attacking! Finally able to shoot at one of the subs, the French try to exact payback for Nemo’s deception earlier in the game. Incredibly, the Bourbon and Voleur team up to hit 5/6! This takes out part of the sub’s hull:
Courtesy of the Felicite, the Nightmare loses her final mast to fire! A rarity in Pirates CSG, where a large ship is completely aflame. There have probably been others in my games since then, but the only other one I distinctly remember is the Paul Revere from Economy Edition.
Having crushed the Pirates and forced them to go back home, the French now have a bunch of gunships to reinforce their positions with. As if they needed them! XD 4 are headed west towards the northern part of the American battle, while 6 more head south.
Even more interesting: French gunships head for the Castle battle! Now that the Cursed and Pirates have largely been taken care of (both “false emergencies” to some degree, though the effects of the Cursed attack will be felt for many more turns), the French can afford to throw gunships at various tasks they had previously been putting off. This includes the Spanish fight against the Americans. With the French already engaged in another bloody battle against the Americans north of the Castle, it’s only natural that they would also send some of their surplus gunships to help out their Spanish allies on the eastern side. The Montreal, Dame Riante and Marie Antoinette look to be the first French ships on the scene, with the larger La Gaule and Delacroix lurking as well.
At the end of their turn the French spent all of their 176 gold! This netted them 9 additional gunships, with Pierre Aronnax stationed at the Harbor for now. He will await pickup by a large gunship if the Mercenary threat increases. The Rocher Noir also has the sub-hunting ability, so the French are not holding back when it comes to containing the threat posed by Nemo and his goons.
As usual the ships are equipped with generally optimal crew complements, with the cargo holds almost always maxed out. With crazy amounts of points to spend, it’s nice to actually have a lot of high-powered support gunships instead of the usual 5 mast budget warship (and often nothing else) used in a standard game. These ships are ready for war!
All of the ships were launched at The Flat, with 6 at the southern end and the three 3 masters at the northern end. The American faction is usually the faction where I provide the most in-depth strategy analysis and vision, but I’d like to do that with more factions if I have time during the writing of these reports. Here the French are launching at The Flat because the Harbor is still very crowded and does not need more ships. They also launched at The Flat due to the Castle being a current hotspot of activity. The gunships launched at the southern end of The Flat should inject immediate life into the fight against America. The Spanish are overjoyed to have such a powerful ally, though they hope the French will come through on their current promise to help out at the Battle for the Castle, which by now is definitely an appropriate term!
I have some (mostly) great news! There is about a 99% chance that the game will be played after the Thanksgiving weekend concludes, allowing me to play into December and likely conclude the game a week or less before Christmas. I say mostly because I didn’t expect or want this game to take so long, but obviously it has ballooned to an unmanageable size and taken on a life of its own. However, at this point it is my greatest creation in the world of Pirates CSG, and certainly needs a proper ending.