I was able to play 3 turns today, mostly since the first 2 were some of the easiest and fastest since the game reached 2,000 total points.
Preble’s Americans continue to send gunships through their whirlpool in an attempt to roll a 4 and emerge from the northern one, but the Bonhomme Richard rolls a 1 to emerge where the Paladin saw the Pirates! Here Brent Rice gets his own view of the piratical activities:
The Minuteman comes back to Karkuda, after a brief and mistaken excursion to the Sea of Allost. She loses a mast on the return trip and therefore is not quite fit for battle, not that the Americans really have a chance at this point anyway.
The Eagle docks at Dead Man’s Point, and the Pirates have the first fort upgrade of the game in place! Now they can launch things from the fort, which is a BIG deal and should greatly help with the troublesome logistics of their kingdom. I am still hoping 250 gold was enough of a drawback….
A broad overhead shot of almost the entire Pirate operation. Two more 4 masters were launched today: you can see the Black Heart at the upper left and the Dragon’s Breath nestled in the kingdom. The BH carries Captain Elizabeth Swann, their second AA crew after Laffite. The Dragon’s Breath is an expansion of their whirlpool squadron but may be too late to join them for their second adventure.
With the flotillas towed by cargo ships back near the Spanish HI, and the newly launched Santa Ana not quite there yet, the English nearly open their attack on Fortaleza Dorada and Paradise Island! However, at the last moment they decide to add some crew to the Durham (who only has a captain and oarsman) and Victor (only a captain since she lost her helmsman in battle earlier) to optimize them and attempt to avoid losing more great gunships to fire. The new arrivals Royal and Ark Royal take their place, while the Lord Algernon herself is in the area along with the repaired Serapis. The English still plan to strike soon. In the meantime, the cannon on the summit of Diamond Rock shot at the Anunciada, but missed twice in two turns.
The French achieve total victory at the First Battle of The Flat! The Felicite has taken up towing duties of the Concord, while the Gaule captures the Congress! Also, the Bon Marin is chain towed by the Dauphin Royal and Soleil Royal to get her out of harm’s way. The French system is still in full swing despite their surprise at the betrayal/sneak attack, with the St. Michel and Triton loading textiles while also looking for enemy ships to intercept. The Possession has already proved herself as a great gunship, as she was more accurate than the Dauphin Royal in the battle. Gaston (aboard the Soleil) has decided that it’s time he gets a new ship and/or gets a proper captain aboard. Duncan Rousseau’s reroll has been ineffective of late to boost his AA chances, and with both aboard the ship runs out of point space quickly. (11/13 points taken up by non-captain and non-helmsman abilities)
The Americans try AGAIN to roll at least one 4 to get access to the northern Karkuda whirlpool, but all 3 ships emerge or stay in the Caribbean! The new captain of HMS Apollo is confused and sails in the opposite direction. XD Whirlpool travel is getting to a frustrating point, but I think it works well thematically and gives faction an interesting hurdle to overcome when traveling between oceans, which is a pretty big deal.
Annoyed and unsatisfied, Preble hears of the recent whirlpool failures and decides to brave them himself! He plans to use the President to find the elusive northern whirlpool from the southwestern one, possibly using the ship’s reroll to aid him instead of using it on his own AA ability as he normally does.
The Americans are saving up the 4 resources that have the 4 lowest values, while cashing in the lumber and textiles that have recently been found just beyond the reefs. They have certainly gotten good and diverse resource rolls in this game, similar to my EE game in 2015. The Yankee has loaded two exploding shots aboard… probably to destroy more reefs! The current bottleneck has become a hindrance, and even one more reef out of the way would make a big difference.
A great shot of Mission’s Pirate Kingdom! Here you can see that it IS truly a “kingdom”: nearly 600 points’ worth of piratical activity sails the waves. Three islands produce three different types of resources, two of which have been very valuable for every resource change thus far. A fourth island has produced plenty of gold. The only attacks the Pirates have suffered has been at the hands of small American squadrons led by Ralph David, which were quickly dispatched. The kingdom is in full swing! Notice a new 4 masted schooner at the northern entrance: the Bloody Spear has been tasked with simple island defense. Also check out the Royal Rover nearing the ledge, as a little swap will soon take place.
ATTACK! Eager to get the first strike in their next conflict with the Cursed, the Jade Rebellion opens up the THIRD battle of their war! The Dragon’s Talon goes outside of S range of the Fallen Angel and connects, allowing the Glorious Treasure to finish off the mast with her ability.
Another battle erupts! From left to right: the Sea Phoenix deals damage to the Death’s Anchor flotilla, the Hrunting nearly dismasts the Lilu, and the Silver Coffin, Madness, and Jikininki all take minor damage. The Jades are trying to focus their efforts to the west this time to cut off Cursed access to the “luxurious” Broken Horn Island.
Then, in a brilliant move, the Huginn is awarded Sigurd Andersen’s AA to capture the Pestilence and simultaneously shoot at the Sickle and Banshee’s Wail! However, the scuttle attempt on the Pestilence was unsuccessful. This was a rare example of a faction nearly eliminating an opposing gunship from the game with the efforts of one ship on a single turn. (which is difficult to pull off here due to the house rules around mast elimination and sinking)
The Cursed strike back!! Ready for anything, the Cursed weren’t really surprised by the Jade attack (though they assumed they would wait for more ships to finish repairing first), and sent their new sea monster squadron into action. Two serpents and a shark pin the Muninn and eliminate her helmsman. Tsuro stays behind to use its ability, which drags the Grand Path into range of the Nightmare! However, in a somewhat minor disaster for the Cursed, the Nightmare hits just 1/5 (5th shot provided by a musketeer) and watches her fire shot backfire to set herself aflame! The Abomination, Serpent’s Fang, and Hellfire are on the way but unable to get in range yet.
Viewed from the mainmasts of the Grand Wind, the icewrecks emerge from the fog and are ready to resume hunting Jade Rebels! The Cursed are happy that both icebreakers are repairing, and see it as a good opportunity to terrorize with ice again.
Swift and predictable revenge: the Sickle, Banshee’s Wail, and Needle (!) team up to take the Huginn down to 2 masts. The fog hopping squadron is generally in reserve, but with most JR ships either out west or repairing, the Cursed saw it as an opportune time to take advantage of a few extra shots from the Needle.
Flotilla power! The Death’s Anchor hits 3/4 to nearly dismast the Sea Phoenix, but a much more impressive display is shown to the right of them. The Silver Coffin rotated to shoot 4 shots at the Hrunting, and 3 of them were 6’s! Then, with 5 hits already scored on her (only one hit needed to dismast), the Lilu shot a firepot with her remaining 4S cannon and also got a 6!! Combined the duo got four 6’s in five shots, with the Hrunting possibly doomed for good due to the flames. At the upper right, the Madness and Jikininki are ineffective against the Sea Lion and Hrothgar.
Back in the Caribbean, the English have completed their fortification of Diamond Rock!! After loading one of the artillery pieces from the bottom, the Malton took it out to sea and then hoisted it up to the summit with a big cable!
Here is something new that I haven’t mentioned yet: a faction can exchange a captured ship and its associated crew for an equal total point value if the captured ship is fully repaired, but they must spend those points immediately. (they can’t be saved as gold) The captured ship is removed from play but can be hired by the original faction since it was never sunk.
In this way the English rid themselves of the San Estaban in exchange for HMS Wycliffe with a captain, helmsman, and firepot specialist. (in this case the point costs of the ships and the crew complement happen to be exactly the same, but that isn’t required)
English domination of Diamond Rock! As part of my personal goal for the game (not necessarily for the English to do it, but any faction), they now have a historically accurate defense of the rock, which I love. Two 24 pounders at the bottom, one in a cave halfway up, and two 18 pounders at the top!
The Spanish take their turn, with the Santa Ana getting an EA for the first time to reach Fortaleza Dorada, where she will repair briefly. By necessity, the Spanish are in defensive survival mode. However, resources will change again soon, and hopefully metals will skyrocket in value to make them more competitive. (I did the rolls at the beginning of the turns today for the rules I laid out at the beginning of the last report, but didn’t roll any 1’s.)
French dominance of The Flat! Paradis de la Mer is built on it, although with a new ability: “This fort ignores the first hit it takes each turn when it has all of its flags.” The Triton will tow the captured Congress home, allowing the Gaule to join the Dauphin Royal on serious patrol duty with numerous (and dangerous) Americans lurking to the north.
The Felicite speeds home with the Concord in tow due to the lighthouse’s bonus. The upper right also has some developments. France has a new gunship, Le Bonaparte (OE version). The Coeur du Lion has repaired and is already headed back to The Flat. The Dijon has a new helmsman and has loaded some army units.
The whirlpool failures are forcing the Paladin and eventually Bonhomme Richard to go home for repairs. At this point the Concord and Congress are far past saving, but Preble still wants to find the route from whirlpool #5 (at the lower left) and whirlpool #4 (near The Flat). As said above, he will do it himself if necessary. From the approaching cargo ships you can tell the Americans will have some stuff coming in next turn, while at the upper right, the Franklin and Peacock have joined the other 3 American gunships near The Flat to form a solid 5 ship squadron.
One turn remains until the next resource change. With today’s launches, the game has officially exceeded 3,000 total points in size. This makes it the only recorded physical game to officially reach that level! O_O