FOUR site changes and a SHOCKING Card of the Day!

What have I done with the site since the last blog post?

Changed footer (now has image)

-Makes the site nicer to look at, and puts less emphasis on the text down there.

Changed blog pages to max of 10 posts/page (should make loading them faster in future)

-Now that I’m at over 2 weeks of daily blogging (this is Blog #16), I’ve noticed that the category page for Daily Blog was loading slower.  Especially with youtube videos and pictures embedded, I think 10 should be the max.  I don’t like having to click to different pages for stuff like this, but it might be necessary for load times.  Let me know if the site ever loads too slowly for you.

Added Recent Posts section to homepage

-What I want on the homepage is a line or something, and then the full text of the most recent post from the Daily Blog.  So far I’ve only figured out how to add the recent posts widget that links out to the 5 most recent posts, but it’s a start.  If I can’t figure out the former, the current scheme seems fine.

Unfroze the menu!

-This is the big one I’ve been talking about, and yesterday I finally figured it out!  Now when you scroll on pages, the top menu shouldn’t come with you.  XD  Makes the pages easier to read, and you can take in more of the page you’re looking at without having 15-30% of it taken up by the main menu.  I can also change it back if I make radical changes to the menu style and format, but if anything the menu will only get bigger as I add more pages, so it seems best when fixed at the top.

I’ve also got a new youtube video!  This is another suggestion from the youtube comments.  I should be able to video/audio blog more next week, so I’m looking forward to that.  It’s faster, and possibly provides more reach through sharing.  My first video blog already has about 30 views and 5 likes (more likes than I usually get XD), so thank you all for watching that.


I also like the idea of an “Ask A7XfanBen Show”, which Xerecs has already shown interest in.



**Disclaimer: I will be using affiliate links with things like this, so if someone buys from it, I could make a few cents.  XD


Pirates CSG Card of the Day

Set number: 14 – Return to Savage Shores

Collector’s Number: 051 – Zhanfu + Huang Bai


Points: 25
Masts: 10 (Junk)
Cargo: 6
Move: S+S
Cannons: 4L-3L-3S-3S-2S-2S-3S-3S-3L-4L
Link: Huang Bai

Ability: Junk. Mercenary. Dories. American crew can use their abilities on this ship.

Huang Bai

Points: 5
Link: Zhànfǔ

Ability: Ex-Patriot. Hostile: Spain. Once per turn, you can eliminate one of this ship’s crew to give her an extra action. After looking at treasure on a wild island, you can trade any one treasure from that island for a random treasure on any other wild island. This ship must load the traded treasure.

Flavor: Unwilling to cede the end of the Jade Empire, Huang Bai nonetheless realizes the need to pause and rebuild—as a mercenary. His first customer, America, is eager to pit him and “Golden Axe” against the expanding Spanish empire.


O_O  Oh wow!!  First time getting RtSS, the only unreleased set, and what do you know, a 10 master appears!!!!  XD  O_O

Well then.  This will have to be a longer entry than usual, though I’ll avoid doing a full Miniature Review.  XD  If you’re largely new to the game or any of these keywords, you may want the Master Keyword List for this.

The Zhanfu is elite in being the only 10 master that has a base move faster than L.  This makes her stand out immediately, because with a helmsman and extra actions she can FLY at S+S+S+S+S+S (6S!), which is crazy for a ship this large (and quite unrealistic haha).  The Dories keyword allows her to actually get gold for the Mercenaries, though after a captain and helmsman come aboard, she’ll only have 4 spaces left.  Still a decent strategy if you want to use her in small games with gold, but her real strength lies in her ability and super-gunship nature in huge games.

Huang Bai is actually a very good crew.  Sac is perfect for a 10 master, since it can make the Zhanfu deadlier than ever, while his other ability is good for hybrid use.  Though, paying 5 points in general for an Ex-Patriot Sac crew is a solid deal either way.  He could lose the island treasure trading ability and still see lots of usage.  Ex-Patriot is important here because it gives him the opportunity to serve any faction, including ones like the Corsairs and Vikings who never got a single source of the sac ability.  In that regard he’s almost as useful as the incredible Shap’ng Tsai, who essentially gave all factions a sac captain.

*Being a Mercenary ship that can’t dock, a shipwright is a good option for any of the following setups if you can fit one in.

Standard 40 point games:  Captain, helmsman, oarsman/explorer.  This gives the Zhanfu a chance to be a hybrid in a smaller game, with 3 or 4 spaces open for gold and the minor crew to protect the two vital crew.  If you went this route, I’d recommend filling the rest of the build total with at least one gold ship.  If you happen to use the Zhanfu in a 40 point deathmatch, it would probably be better to use some variation of the setups below.  (31 total points)  

Medium size games (50-100 points):  Huang Bai, captain, helmsman, explorer, 2-3 oarsmen.  With 3 oarsmen aboard, you’d only have one cargo space open to start the game.  (since Bai links and the first oarsman doesn’t take up space)  However, your cargo would increase as you began saccing crew, up to a max of 3 if you kept the explorer (who you could also sac of course).  I think this is a potentially underrated 10 master hybrid setup for mid-size games.  The Zhanfu would be flying all over the map causing chaos, yet still able to pull in some profit along the way.  (38/39 total points)

Large games (over 100 points): Huang Bai, Captain Nemo, Ibrahan Ozat, captain, helmsman, oarsman or explorer.  This is the exact setup I used in VASSAL Campaign Game 3.  This maxes out the Zhanfu’s point cap space, with a whopping 25 points of crew aboard.  (spoilers ahead)  This particular setup was devastatingly effective in CG3 , as the Zhanfu spearheaded the eliminations of the French, Spanish, and English.  O_O  Granted, she didn’t face much combat competition in that game, but it still goes to show how effective she can be with the proper crew at her helm/disposal (disposal due to Huang Bai “disposing” of crew with his sac ability).  I also used the Zhanfu in VASSAL Campaign Game 2, where she proved her worth.  I proxied the Shui Xian for the Zhanfu in Economy Edition.  You can tell I like to use 10 masters in campaign games.  XD  Lately on VASSAL, I’ve had a penchant for it.

Shockingly enough, these great crew setups don’t even utilize the Zhanfu’s primary unique ability at all!  There are tons of great American crew that would be a great fit for this behemoth.  Of them, Brent RiceCanceller DNT, and any of the extra action/SAT (same action twice) crew would be the best.  Crenshaw would be a surprisingly good choice as well, since he’d boost the ranges on 6 of the most accurate cannons aboard.  America does lay claim to two cheap Eternal crew, but the Mercenary keyword will prevent it from working, so save it for your Constitution, Enterprise, etc.

Game Piece Rating: 9/10.  How can this ship get much less?  Sure she’s obscenely expensive, but she should be.  Her cost is just low enough to allow usage in reasonably competitive 40 point games, making her a powerhouse at pretty much any build total.  In large games of 100+ points and campaign games, she clearly shines.  Her cargo and cannons may not be the best among her 10 master peers, but speed wins games and is the most important attribute in the game.  S+S speed on a 10 master is nearly criminal, but unfortunately the Zhanfu didn’t quite get away with it since she was never produced.

Huang Bai: 8.5/10.  Sure he has Ex-Patriot along with a somewhat unfitting treasure ability, but giving Sac at 5 points to all the factions is a boon for competitive play.  Bai may not see usage like fellow 10 master commander Tsai (comment below if you get the reference), but he’s underrated simply due to being from Return to Savage Shores.  If he had been a crew from Mysterious Islands or Savage Shores, he’d be much more well-known and respected. (and feared, I might add)

Should I rate them as a combo?  XD  Probably not since Bai is not required (unlike The Headhunter on the Guichuan for example), but they’d still get at least a 9/10 from me when paired.  A really great combo that fans of 10 masters, campaign games, the Americans, and the Mercenaries should try out.


Since the Zhanfu doesn’t exist in physical form, the best way to use her is a proxy 10 master or on the VASSAL module.  Here she is in VASSAL Campaign Game 3, where I used her effectively.  (spoilers ahead) In this picture she is about to eliminate the final Spanish presence in the game, and later she would play the main role in knocking the English out of the game (their home island shown at the left).

The Zhanfu acting as a 1-ship elimination strike force.
















Picture of the Day

No game today, but I’ve actually played Pirates both of the past 2 years on this exact date.  Here’s the 10th anniversary of Davy Jones’ Curse game between myself and Xerecs.  (the 10th anniversary was on 5/31/2016)

2 years ago today on VASSAL vs. Xerecs

This picture is from last year, when Xerecs and I finished a game during VASSAL Tournament #2.

During VASSAL Tournament #2 last year!

It’s a Pirates’ Life for Me.


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