A Fitting Finale
I met up with Witch, Phillip and Chris at The Game Shelf in Kent WA for our final games of 2022! The first game would be the main one, with a build total of 100 points. We used these house rules and all game pieces can be found in the Master Spreadsheet. It would be the “Washington finale” for my friend Witch (for now), as he is moving to Portland Oregon in the new year.
I was hyped to use one of my “scariest” or most potent gimmick fleet ideas – one I developed from a fleet I used last December. The idea was to abuse not one, not two, but all THREE of the Mycron-type named crew, with the “American Mycron” crew of George Washington LeBeaux (GWL) from Return to Savage Shores (RtSS) with the three sea dragons that exist. It really is a perfect storm of “dragon slaughter” – three dragons, and three essential named crew to allow ALL of them to be given two actions every turn. O_O I knew the fleet wasn’t likely to be very effective at winning since I had 88 points invested in the grand combo, but I had been looking forward to trying it out for months.
Three Headed Dragon Fleet (100 point version) “Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon Fleet”
(55) Dragons: Angelica, Shal-Bala, Raptor Maw
(10) Patagonia + Robinson, Lord Mycron
(13) Le Coeur du Lion + Princess Arii Auraa, Capitaine Baudouin Deleflote, Didier Vidal (look for cancellers/etc.)
(12) Banshee’s Cry + Jonah, Anamaria, RtSS GWL
(10) Dragon + Lucky the Parrot, helmsman, explorer
UT’s: Missionary, Wolves, Curse of Davy Jones, Enemy of the State, Bloody Gold, Savage Natives, Scurvy, Monkey’s Paw
Normally I would use Annapolis with GWL for the final “home ship”, but I don’t have the Annapolis in my WA collection and BC would make for a better gold runner if I needed her to snag some. The two spyer crew were specifically included to look for cancellers, as cancellers can completely nullify dragons by cancelling the Sea Dragon keyword which prevents them from moving at all. Dragon is a nice gold runner that kept things very on-theme, but made for a few confusing moments during the game. The UT’s were all negative, as my main goal was dragon slaughter. It was my first time using both Bloody Gold and Savage Natives, the LE versions of the RotF UT’s Blood Money and Cursed Natives that have the negative abilities of the latter but without the faction biases (and therefore can hurt everyone). The scariest part about this fleet was that I could basically sic the dragons on a single target out of nowhere and there was very little they could do about it. In a full-scale assault, I could put 12 shots on a single target with guaranteed first-strike advantage. O_O Add in their abilities, and those shots might eliminate up to 4 cargo and 1 crew as well. I’ve also been rewatching The Hobbit movies lately, so it was even more thematic!
It also brought back fun memories from childhood. 😀 In reality, I knew the “dragon slaughter” theme was likely a double entendre, as there might be dragon slaughter at some point, but the dragons were also very likely to get slaughtered. This became even more evident after seeing the opposing fleets. XD They can be quite fragile and of course cannot repair.
The night before the game I thought of something new to me – leaving crew on the home island during the first round or until you need them to avoid spyers like Lucky the Parrot being able to see them (especially on opponent turns when you go last).
Witch went first with the Jade Rebellion (dice represent quantity of crew per ship):
Chris came with BOTH Savage Shores 10 masters:
Phillip came with an impressive Pirate fleet:
I was actually ecstatic to go last, as it meant I placed the final terrain and picked my home island (HI) first. I put a fog bank right next to the island I wanted, which the “home ships” would duck into early in the game to basically guarantee that I preserved my ability to give double actions to the dragons for as long as the dragons survived. My “Blue Eyes Ultimate Smaug” trio set up in intimidating fashion, but these 10 masters would be a LOT to handle.
I quickly got to work spying 2 crew on every player’s turn, revealing this on the Zeus: Captain Blackheart, OE Calico Cat, Tia Dalma, explorer, firepot specialist, helmsman, oarsman x2. Within the first few rounds I also spotted a captain on the DHII, explorer on Cassandra, and (for Chris’ fleet) MI Eileen Brigid O’Brien and shipwright on the Celtic Fury, and Lawrence, SS Shap’ng Tsai and explorer x2 on the Shui Xian. There were also two copies of Christian Fiore in play, on Witch’s Virtuous Wind and the Celtic Fury. Basically, four cancellers that could all individually freeze any of my dragons in place if they got too close. The spyers were really paying dividends, but they were revealing some nastiness the dragons might not be able to contend with.
At least they had a target in the first round! The Neptune’s Hoard was sailing separate from her Pirate counterparts, and therefore got a taste of the dragon slaughter – dismasted with all her crew killed!! O_O
However, the Dragon (ship) found Wolves on the island closest to my HI, meaning it would be quite difficult for me to get much gold at all. The Virtuous Wind only went 1/3 against the Celtic Fury in the southwest corner, and was followed by an unsuccessful attack by the Grand Mountain, whose captain was cancelled by Christian Fiore. The dragons fly back home to allow all three of my home ships to duck into the fog bank for protection. The Dragon is looking to capture the Neptune’s Hoard and give me another gold runner. The Noble Swan and Antelope have explored.
Shui Xian comes through the whirlpool and dismasts the Dragon! Captain Nemo captures the ship’s helmsman!
More dragon slaughter as Angelica gets a move+shoot double action to sink the Tiger’s Breath! I had used spyers to see her carrying a 7 and 4, which was likely to get “plussed” to a total of 17 gold with the Pirate Sea Crane at Witch’s HI (who I had also spied, finding Genny Gallows aboard). The TB was one of the most isolated targets this round, and I just couldn’t let her get home with all that. Shal-Bala and Raptor Maw teamed up to sink the Noble Swan, eliminating even more gold from the game!
Gold runners are having a horrific time so far today!
The “actual” dragon slaughter begins – Grand Mountain gets an EA from Count Gustov to take three segments off Angelica!
The dragons regrouped in the southeast, near a wild island my Banshee’s Cry might try to grab gold from (especially now that Angelica was so weak that it might not need as much support from GWL/etc). Shui Xian captured the Dragon and towed her to Mercenary home waters in the northwest. I was reluctant to pursue them because Celtic Fury was very nearby due to round earth, but even more because I didn’t want to expend the dragons in a futile attack on a 10 master. At this point I had 9 “cannons” left between the three dragons, which is obviously less than a healthy 10 master, and my historically poor shooting luck made me want to conserve assets. I also have found it disheartening to lose combat assets early in a large multiplayer game, as opposed to keeping them safe long-term and being able to exert more influence over the endgame. There were also some rumors of an anti-dragon collaboration, and I wanted to get some gold if at all possible. So, the dragons could just guard the SE island until the BC could arrive. Celtic Fury has explored the SW island, allowing the Grand Mountain to regroup with the VW and repair with a shipwright.
The Banshee’s Cry dumps Anamaria and GWL on my HI as Raptor Maw escorts her to the southeast via round earth. Phillip has begun repairing the Neptune’s Hoard at his HI, but Cassandra finds a second copy of the Wolves UT in the north.
This was not a fight I liked my chances in….
I decided to chance it with Banshee’s Cry, knowing she wouldn’t make it. I was very curious about the coins on the island. My negative UT’s struck again, as Bloody Gold prevented the ship from loading either coin worth value. Zeus dismasted her afterwards.
With a swoop and a slam, the partially repaired Neptune’s Hoard is sunk by Shal-Bala and Angelica! More dragon slaughter! The endgame was near, and it was time to go all out.
However, before Phillip can get any revenge, Chris and Witch appear on the scene! The Celtic Fury carries Yeshaji Angria, and looks to raid Phillip’s HI! The Shui Xian sails over round earth to make a threatening display! The Grand Mountain and VW appear in the SE corner, making a massive climax likely inevitable!! O_O There’s something that can overshadow a three headed dragon triple threat – three cancelling 10 masters!
DHII shot 1/4 against the dragons, with the Zeus sinking the Antelope and crippling the Celtic Fury!
Shal-Bala and Angelica are given actions to swoop attack the DHII and then fly back to my HI. The DHII got swooped! Another Pirate ship dismasted.
The captured Dragon then rammed the Zeus and blew her up with the Explosives UT!! O_O
Angria had designs on Pirate gold, but they are dashed as the dragons rush to the scene! The CF is dismasted as the dragon slaughter continues!
The Jades capture my Banshee’s Cry, but Bloody Gold demands a hefty sacrifice to give up either of the island’s coins. A combination of cannon fire, dragon fire, and explosive fire has brought total wreckage to Pirate home waters.
Rather than risking a dicey trip home with gold unlikely to win the game, Witch goes the bloodthirsty route and slams the Shui Xian, taking her down to 3 masts standing after Lawrence and the VW’s Fiore cancel each other out. The carnage continues to mount!
The dragons continue swooping, this time dismasting the Cassandra and eliminating Phillip from active contention. Angelica sinks the Celtic Fury and the Mercenary HI raider threat of Yeshaji Angria. Shui Xian docks at the SE island.
Grand Mountain attacks the dragons, killing Shal-Bala and injuring Raptor Maw:
Shui Xian sacrificed Captain Nemo and Lawrence at the Bloody Gold island to load both of its coins (5 and 4), then took the whirlpool back home to the northwest. However, the dragons coveted the gold with a deep sickness, and couldn’t let it fall into human hands. Angelica and Raptor Maw used the last of their strength to fly over and dismast the ship with another swoop+fire attack! Dragon slaughter yet again!
With both Phillip and Chris out of the game, the “half or more” endgame condition was triggered!
- Phillip: 23 gold
- Chris: 14
- Ben: 0 (4 units in play)
- Witch: 0 (2 units in play)
Wow! An interesting game with an unsurprising ending, as Phillip had snagged the Spices UT and some other treasures early in the game. Despite being a target of the dragons throughout, he managed to pull off a victory. Chris had a very intimidating fleet and was in the running the whole time, but dragon slaughter proved to be too much as they dismasted the CF before she could HI raid, and sank the SX before she could return gold home. If the “bloody 9” had gotten home, I think Chris would win a 23-23 tie based on units in play.
Although I wanted to get some gold, my own negative UT’s (Wolves and Bloody Gold) fittingly spoiled that goal. However, I was extremely happy with how I was able to utilize the dragons, crushing various gold runners and sinking some ships. I was very happy with how long they all lasted too, with all three influencing the endgame and finishing the game with two (barely) alive. Someday I might try a 150+ point fleet that can more competitively utilize this gimmick idea!
We had time for a second game at 40 points. I didn’t have a second fleet ready, but it was easy to scale down to one multi-action dragon with similar gold runners. Phillip went first with the Zeus the cheapest Pirate ships in the game (BC, Rover, Mermaid, Jolly Mon), while I went second with this:
Patagonia + Robinson, Lord Mycron
Dragon + helmsman, explorer
Banshee’s Cry + explorer, oarsman
Witch went third with HMS Granville, HMS Hyena, and the Mermaid. Chris went last with the Speedy Return and American native canoes. The setup was tighter overall, with heavy terrain clustered around the middle archipelago of close islands.
Phillip was sick of dragons and rammed the Patagonia with the Zeus, winning the boarding party to kill Lord Mycron! Raptor Maw swoops to eliminate two masts while the Dragon shoots off a third. Patagonia and Banshee’s Cry flee into the fog bank.
What a scene!
The Mermaid found Wolves near the middle as fleets scattered for treasure:
Zeus scares off the Raptor Maw who flies to the south by my gold runners. The canoes load up, finding 9 gold via Sunken Treasure.
The Zeus whirls into the south and sacs, but only goes 2/7 against Raptor Maw! My forces flee to avoid the hulking behemoth, living to fight another day. Chris gets some gold home and becomes the early favorite to win.
Zeus sacs again to chase down the Speedy Return, who engages to no avail, missing all shots!
The Dragon returns home 11 gold for me as the Patagonia captures the Jolly Mon after the latter rammed her mast off. At the left, Witch has eliminated the Wolves via Trevor van Tyne (“TvTyne” as I like to call him), allowing the Hyena to load the island’s gold. Blackheart tries to blast the Speedy Return, but is cancelled by DNT.
Speedy Return dismasts Witch’s Mermaid, my Banshee’s Cry loads the Mines UT, and in some bizarre setback of horrific luck, Zeus finds the Ghostly Encounter UT and Phillip rolls four 1’s in six rolls to eliminate nearly all of the ship’s crew!! O_O (including Captain Blackheart and the helmsman, completely crippling the ship)
The Speedy Return went after my Banshee’s Cry and did dismast her, but at the cost of her 3S cannon when the Mines exploded (it’s a trap!). My Banshee’s Cry still had her oarsman, but could not reach the safety of the huge fog bank and settled for the whirlpool instead, which unfortunately killed the oarsman and left her derelict in the northeast. Dragon speeds east with the help of SM Calico Cat, who the Dragon found (via the Castaway UT) earlier in the game. Raptor Maw guards her the best it can. In the northwest, Zeus has loaded gold but is harassed by the American canoes on her long journey home. Granville and Speedy Return engage each other in a lengthy fight, but neither is very successful between inept gunners and the Speedy Return’s defenses. (Speedy Return was a powerhouse in this game, with an impressive setup of DNT, OE Montana Mays for SAT+Crew Protect, Wayne Nolan for Reroll, plus Captain Charles Richard, helmsman and chieftain.)
My ships (including the captured Jolly Mon) scrounge around for gold scraps as the action continues in the west, with both Speedy Return and Granville taking some damage.
With an SAT from Mays, the Speedy Return zoomed over to take a mast off the Dragon and got within S of Raptor Maw to cancel the Sea Dragon keyword, effectively dooming the beast. The crippled Zeus arrives in home waters via the whirlpool.
Sea dragons and cancellers don’t mix!
With the help of Calico Cat, I believe I was able to board the Zeus 3 times in the last 2 rounds to try and steal her treasure, but couldn’t win any of them, allowing the Zeus to dock home her gold (including Ghostly Encounter, which was only worth 2 gold after it took a huge toll on Phillip’s flagship).
- Witch: 30 gold
- Chris: 29
- Phillip: 19
- Ben: 15
It was a fitting end for Witch in likely his last Washington game while living here, pulling off another super tight multiplayer win. He did get extremely good coins, but Powder Pete also made a difference aboard HMS Hyena, showing once again that gold bonus abilities are incredibly good.
With that we bid him farewell for now and look back on a great year of playing the game against a multitude of amazing opponents. 2022 had by far my most plays since 2017 – thank you to all who indulged in this great game with me this year! With that I turn my attention to other projects and ambitions, but I will be back on the seas playing again at some point….