Legend of the Giant Turtle

A Game Played on May 11th, 2019

For centuries, myths were spread around the sea of a giant turtle in slumber deep below the ocean’s surface.  It was rumored that the turtle’s massive shell was made of pure gold.  Perhaps if a sailor was sneaky enough, he could manage to remove part of the shell and set himself up for life.

Last week a dubious publication revealed that someone claimed to have seen the turtle above water!  Almost immediately nearly every nation in the world scrambled to get a small fleet into the region.  If the rumors were true, this opportunity to gain wealth could be unrivaled in history.  Little did the factions know what truly awaited them….

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Admiral A7XfanBen is back!  I was able to play my first physical game of Pirates CSG since November 2018, and my first physical solo game since the ridiculous Command the Oceans ended in December 2017.  I got that “playing bug” and wanted to try something a bit different.  I’ve had some cardboard moldings like this for quite a while, with the intention of turning at least one into a giant turtle.

cardboard molding for turtle/fort

It would have been nice to give the legs/flippers a glossy teal-like color, with a gray for the shell.  However, I wanted the turtle to be more of a proper wild island, and a very lucrative one at that.  The turtle is so large and fertile that grass grows on all of its flippers!  And of course, this legendary turtle of old has a shell of PURE GOLD that is unmatched in world history!!  O_O  I spread out some glue and sprinkled on some grass powder, along with some big bushes for the eyes.  I finished it off with a thick layer of shiny metallic gold paint.  The shell would look a bit more realistic if it was more raised up/rounded, but I wanted to keep it pretty flat, mostly so coins can be easily placed and kept on its back.  Besides, it’s a giant gold turtle bigger than a 10 master, so realism was not the goal here!   😀

Giant Golden Turtle

I took 496 pictures for this game, which was certainly too many!  I think it’s good I didn’t include them all here, since there are a number of semi-duplicates, the same angle with the flash and without, etc.  I decided to vary the picture size for this report so the page might load faster and because some of the developments don’t necessarily deserve the full size picture.  The largest pictures can be made even bigger by opening them in a new tab and zooming in.

Here is the setup!  I used the “Caribbean” blue ocean fabric as I thought it suited the turtle theme the best.  I made sure to string together some terrain and include whirlpools for maximum traveling efficiency.

Legend of the Giant Turtle setup

 

 

House Rules:

-Round Earth – ships going over one side of the map appear on the exact opposite side.

-Shiny silver is worth 3 times its printed value

-Shiny gold is worth 2 times its printed value

-Giant Turtle acts as a wild island – more rules are below in the report

-Only singular islands can be chosen as home islands.  The 11 gold locations were as follows: 5 beach island, 3 beach island, giant turtle, 2 shipwrecks.

-No Events

 

The Fleets

This would be an 8 fleet, 60 point game.

Here are the factions!  This is the turn order; I got the fleets out in the reverse of this order (with the Pirates first).  Home islands were picked in reverse turn order, with the Pirates choosing first.

The Cursed

Skin Flayer + Captain Nemo, El Fantasma, helmsman, shipwright, oarsman

Sea Duck

Silver Coffin

Nightmare + helmsman

The final fleet made for the game.  This was simply an excuse to add a switchblade with Captain Nemo aboard.  Switchblades with any kind of capture crew almost always make games more fun, so I couldn’t resist.  The idea of course is that the Skin Flayer won’t really need Nemo’s captures (already have the essential crew aboard), so they can be sacced by Fantasma for chained extra actions. (sac a crew to get an extra action, which is then used to blade ram a ship and capture another crew for next turn’s sac)  The rest of the fleet was some gold running support, with the Sea Duck’s sniping ability pairing nicely with the Silver Coffin’s Extended Range.

Cursed fleet

 

Jade Rebellion – Clones of the South China Sea

(slightly modified)

I think this Grand Path setup is nastier than what the original fleet contains.  The GP would have SAT+reroll with essentially 1S cannons, along with a stinkpot specialist and oarsman for maximum crew support.  I have convinced myself that the Grand Wind is underrated, so I was looking forward to using her in a reasonably-sized game.

Jade Rebellion fleet

 

Barbary Corsairs – Clones of the Barbary Coast

(slightly modified)

No events allowed me to add a few extra crew, and this swarm of clones would be off to the gold races!

Barbary Corsair fleet

 

Americans – Shutting it Down with American Guns

A powerful American fleet with serious potential.  A great case could be made that the Kettering and Frontier should both be 20+ points, so combine that with 5 extra from Perry and this fleet packed serious punch.

American fleet

 

Spanish

Valeroso + Victor de Alva, Master Bianco, Contessa Anita Amore, helmsman

Intermediaro

San Francisco + captain, helmsman

Pescados de Plata + helmsman

Easily the oddest and possibly the weakest fleet, I decided to get a bit funky here.  The Valeroso is a very capable ship, and I wanted to emphasize her ability by putting S-Board on her.  Bianco comes aboard to make her a funky S-Boarding hybrid, with 3 open cargo spaces. Intermediaro is a one-of-a-kind creature with an ability that could be used to help any of the other 3 ships.  It was added partly for the possibility of using the ability to draw coins from the giant turtle. San Francisco is a great little hybrid and the Pescados would function as a gold runner.

Spanish fleet

 

French

Le Superbe + Amiral Stephan Dupuy, Duncan Rousseau, captain, helmsman, oarsman

Le Soleil Royal + Vicomte Jules de Cissey, captain, helmsman, firepot specialist

Le Triton + captain

Three of my favorite French ships.  All of them absolute classics; I think the Triton is one of the most underrated ships in the entire game.  The big gunships would be ready to wreak havoc; the Superbe specifically was equipped for absolute chaos with the combination of EA+reroll along with Parley to stay in fights longer than most other ships.  With all 3 ships having captains, the French would be ready for war.

French fleet

 

English

HMS Titan + Lord Thomas Gunn, helmsman, firepot specialist, oarsman

HMS Bolingbroke + captain, helmsman

HMS Adventure + helmsman

HMS Rye

Since it was my first physical game of a longer nature in quite some time, I wanted to include some classics and favorites.  HMS Titan remains one of England’s finest, and she alone can make the English competitive in this game. The Bolingbroke is a very capable gunship.  They were a little short on cargo, but HMS Adventure is a somewhat new addition to my collection that I wanted to use for the first time, while HMS Rye gave them a faster gold runner in addition to the valuable cancelling ability.

English fleet

 

Pirates

Zeus + Captain Blackheart, helmsman, explorer, oarsmen x5

Raven + Hammersmith, oarsman

Devil’s Pay + captain, oarsman

THE ZEUS IS LOOSE!!!!  This marks the first time I’ve used my physical copy of the Zeus in a game since acquiring the 10 master earlier this year.  I decided to go with the original (and cheaper) Blackheart for the Sac ability, with tons of oarsmen for “food”. The Raven is one of my original ships and an all-time favorite, with Hammersmith turning her into a fast hybrid.  The Devil’s Pay isn’t great, but this was the first fleet I decided upon for the game and thought it might be too good, so I didn’t want to fully optimize it since it wasn’t a hyper-competitive game. (though still competitive relative to lots of other games I’ve played).

Pirate fleet

Feel free to comment below your thoughts, and which fleet you thought would win/which fleet you were rooting for!

The Setup

Looking east:

Legend of the Giant Turtle

From above:

Legend of the Giant Turtle

Looking west:

 

Gold

-10 “regular” gold locations (8 beaches and 2 shipwrecks) with 5 coins apiece.  (50 coins)

-Giant Turtle has 30 coins on it, including one all-gold coin worth 20 gold. (most valuable coin in play)

-16 Unique Treasures spread out among the locations, with at least 4-5 on the turtle.  All the factions know that the UT’s are positive in nature.

-80 coins total

 

TONS of gold appears on the giant turtle!!

The turtle was placed in the middle of the map with not much around it for good reason….

 

The three beach island, from Ross in AZ.  Contact him if you’re interested in getting your own!

 

The Sultan shipwreck:

 

The Duke shipwreck returns as well!  It’s gotten a little dirty after seeing extensive use since it first appeared in 2015.

 

The 5 beach island, also made by Ross in AZ.

 

Ready to start!!

 

The Game

The Cursed get things started, with the dangerous Skin Flayer going to the south via round earth!

Cursed gold runners approach the wreck of the Sultan:

Knowing they need to get gold early with all the dangerous fleets floating around, the Jades use Zheng Li Kwan to sac an oarsman from the Grand Wind (GW).  This allows her to dock and explore a beach in the west.  The Grand Path (GP) ducks into a fog bank due to her proximity to HMS Titan.

Not a bad haul!  With all the crew on the GW, she can only load the best 2 coins.

The Corsairs immediately show that they have designs on the turtle!  Half of their fleet breaks for the sleepy creature.

The other BC ships head for the 3 beach island, with two of them ducking into a fog bank to avoid the Skin Flayer:

The Corsair fleet, gorgeous as always:

Corsair fleet

The Frontier’s hoist arm is perfect for avoiding the reef that ensnared the Duke!

Frontier hoist

A nice haul, and one that the Frontier’s huge hold can easily accommodate.

The Kettering and Hudson quickly sail over to surround their valuable investment, daring anyone to come close.

To my surprise, the Spanish are able to use Intermediaro on their first turn, the ability providing the Valeroso with a coin!  (a shiny silver 1 worth 3 gold)

 

The Spanish 2 masters head for the north side of the 5 beach island:

The Superbe docks at the 3 beach island with the Soleil Royal and Triton close behind.

It seems that the French are always gorgeous.  One of the best sights on the sea:

The English venture out, heading north just like the Jade Rebels:

The Titan and Adventure join the Grand Path in the fog, with the Rye a bit more confident than most due to her cancelling ability (and the GP only has S-range guns).

The Pirates split up, with the Raven heading towards the turtle, the Devil’s Pay heading towards the Sultan shipwreck, and the Zeus heading north along the eastern edge of the map.  The Pirates already had a plan they decided upon as soon as they chose their home island (HI): the Zeus would round earth to the northwest and dominate the waters around the 5 beach island.  She would try to keep that gold locked up until she sacced enough crew to load some of it, or one of the other Pirate ships got over there to explore.

ocean setup

The Cursed runners arrive at the shipwreck, both avoiding reef damage:

The Skin Flayer heads west, definitely wanting to avoid the massive firepower of the French fleet. (up to 18 shots in a turn between the 3 captained ships and the Superbe’s EA)

The Grand Wind sacs another oarsman and is already home with gold!  The Jade Rebellion takes a very early lead on Turn 2!  They partly did this to avoid having HMS Titan go ballistic coming out of the fog and wrecking their gold game.  Saccing early meant getting some guaranteed gold, and also freed up cargo space on the GW for future treasure runs.

The Grand Path comes flying out of the fog bank with Tsai’s SAT, covering a large distance quickly!

She connects with a hit on the Pescados de Plata, and the fighting has begun!

The Morocco is the first ship to dock at the giant turtle!  She has an explorer and they clamber upon the mythical creature for a look at what the golden shell contains!!

O_O  Holy hell!!  In addition to the 20 gold coin (painted gold in the middle), the giant turtle does not disappoint the centuries-old rumors.  The Morocco’s crew is delighted to find tons of extremely valuable gold and silver, not to mention a bunch of great UT’s.

Suddenly the Morocco is filthy rich!  It turns out Calico Cat (Pirate SAT crew) was the Castaway, so maybe she was hiding out on the turtle as one of her nine lives!!  XD   The coin worth 20 gold combines with a shiny silver 6 to represent a whopping 38 gold on the Morocco alone!  O_O

The Corsairs get greedy, with the Queen of Sheba and Agha’s Whip also docking at the turtle.  They abandon their explorers to maximize the loot loaded!

The Dervish rolls an unlucky 1 to exit the fog bank right onto a reef, but rows over it undamaged.  The Griffin docks at the 3 beach island, with the Gallows protecting her from the Raven zooming around to the north.

The Corsairs are loaded, with 4 ships carrying gold already.  The Griffin finds Metal Hull with her explorer.

The Americans return home, with the Frontier turning a quick profit by draining the Duke shipwreck.  The Kettering is already eyeing the Corsairs with suspicion, given their turtle antics and obvious greed.

The Pescados docks at the 5 beach island…

With the San Francisco trying to shield her from the massive Grand Path, going 1 for 2 to knock off a mast.

Intermediaro (submerged) transfers another coin from the turtle to the Valeroso.  This is a solid strategy for the Spanish, but per the creature’s ability, the coin has to be random, limiting their potential profit.

Hearing the guns booming to the west, the Valeroso docks home her 2 coins as Victor de Alva looks to even the fight against the Jade Rebellion.

Since the ability is a free action, Intermediaro was then able to move southeast towards the Pirates:

Le Superbe explores to find some coins and TURTLES!!  XD

The Triton docks as well, as the French grab all the coins from the beach.  You can see that my “turtle UT collection” is 30% complete.  🙂

The Soleil Royal stands guard against a possible attack by the Skin Flayer, who already feels like one of the biggest “free agent”/wild card type ships in the game.

Suddenly 3 of the 4 English ships are docked, though none of them have explorers.

With some custom islands/terrain and a blue ocean, you can really make this game look even more beautiful than it normally is.  I listened to some music while playing the game, including various epic mixes and some Alestorm later on.  Feel free to tune in while you take in the game and all the pictures.

The Pirates get in action!  Most figured the scary Zeus would be the one to open their realm of combat, but the Devil’s Pay snuck up on the Cursed from the other side of the Sultan shipwreck!  This wreck is too low to block lines of fire, so the Devil’s Pay shot away both masts on the Sea Duck!

The Raven flies in at S+S+S+S speed to attack the Morocco!  However, she fails miserably, missing with both cannons and losing her oarsman in the boarding party.  The ram was successful, but Hammersmith really wanted to dismast the ship.

An ominous sight: the Zeus has round earthed to the west!

However, with 3 factions exploring 3 of the 5 beaches at the island, and the Grand Path and Titan (both with extra actions) in the area, it may be difficult for Captain Blackheart to use his ship of doom to control the whole area.

But still, it’s the ZEUS!  😀

 

Suddenly, the ships around the Giant Turtle heard a deep rumbling.  The turtle opened its eyes!!  THE TURTLE IS AWAKE!!  Noticing some of its golden shell stolen, the turtle gets angry and rams two of the Corsair ships at once, knocking a mast off each one!!

turtle awakens

The turtle is angry!

Giant Turtle Rules

-Acts as NPC island that can move S in any direction it wants at the end of each round of turns, measured from the head. (one ship must dock at it to wake it up)  

-Ships can dock at grassy areas on turtle and build forts on it.

-Turtle can only “fight” by ramming, can ram multiple opponents at a time and every turtle ram always eliminates a mast.  

-Turtle has Hoard ability and can board opponents that have gold after ramming them (base roll of 4). If turtle loses boarding party, winning ship can take 1 extra coin from island if they have room.

 

The turtle is alive and well!!  In an event the Corsairs did not predict the turtle has awakened to take back its valuable gold.  It rolls a 4 while boarding the Morocco to take back all of her gold and UT’s!!  (Calico “Castaway” Cat remained since she is a crew now)

The Agha’s Whip is boarded as well, and loses all her gold back to the turtle!

Suddenly the Corsairs aren’t so rich anymore, with the Queen of Sheba lucky to get out alive. (so far at least)

The Corsairs docking at the turtle woke it up, which led to this chaotic finish to the end of Turn 2.

This giant turtle won’t be giving up its riches that easily:

 

I figured that instead of just having the turtle be a simple wild island, that it could move and defend itself.  That way the island is still a priority due to the immense riches on it, but the turtle can be a living game piece that makes it harder for factions to win by simply “robbing” the turtle’s huge golden shell.

What was looking like an easy path to victory now looks like an intimidating behemoth that factions may want to stay away from:

It’s worth noting that since the turtle can move at the end of each round, an explorer is almost required to get gold from it, at least until that faction has marked the island as explored.  Any ship docked at the turtle can expect it to attack them, which will undock the ship and require docking again to have a chance at the gold.

Now you can see why I wanted to leave the middle area pretty wide-open.  I wanted to give the turtle plenty of space to maneuver without crashing into obstacles and getting stuck.

The Silver Coffin is able to barely shoot between the fog bank and Sea Duck for an extended range shot, along with another shot between the Sea Duck and Nightmare.  One hit drops the Devil’s Pay to 1 mast.

The Nightmare explores the Sultan to find some interesting UT’s, but not a large amount of gold:

She loads the Necklace and a 3, hoping to use the Explosives later on.  (face up coins since it was a solo game so I don’t have to try and remember which coins are what)

So far the northeast is a battle of the small ships and long guns over a shipwreck:

It was time for the Skin Flayer to get in action!!  Captain Nemo and El Fantasma were waiting for the opportune moment to strike, and a weak and scattered Corsair fleet was the perfect target!!  The switchblade slices through the stern gallery of the Dervish:

Skin Flayer switchblade

With a successful shoot and board via the blades, the Dervish loses both masts!

Showing the effective and sadistic nature of this strategy, Fantasma immediately sacrifices a Cursed oarsman for an extra action.  The Skin Flayer moves on to savage more Corsair targets, ramming the Griffin with her bow and the Gallows with her port side blade!!

With death in her wake, the Skin Flayer shows the power of switchblades: a double action triple ramming frenzy attack!!

The Griffin avoids damage, but the Gallows loses both masts:

BOTH boarding attempts were successful, with Captain Nemo essentially capturing 2 crew from 2 different ships at once!  The Griffin’s oarsman and Gallows’ captain become part of Fantasma’s evil army.

The Cursed have launched a devastating attack on the Corsairs, with the sun shining on the Skin Flayer’s blades:

This is a switchblade lover’s dream: two actions, two crew captured, three ships rammed – and all of them by a different “source”. (both blades and the ship’s bow all hit a target!)  They might be funky and a dumb idea, but this is why switchblades are often my favorite type of “Pokeship” – they’re fun and wild!

To nobody’s surprise, the Grand Path easily blows the San Francisco out of the water for the first sinking of the game!

The Corsairs take their turn, trying to process the devastation.  In a turn they went from having 6 healthy ships, 4 of them with a lot of gold between them.  Now 3 of them are dismasted, with only 2 carrying gold.  Most of their ships flee to the safety of the fog and home (Dervish docked), but the Morocco can’t make it despite her helmsman and oars.  With Metal Hull preventing fast movement but making her a tough opponent, the Griffin actually decides to stand and fight the Skin Flayer, going 1 for 2 to knock out a mast.

Making things even worse for the Corsairs, French and American gunships are lurking to either side of their home island, only a few actions away from being able to do serious damage to an already weakened fleet.

Speaking of which, it was now the American turn!  The Kettering was eager for some action, trying to prevent the Morocco from getting home next turn with her S+S rowing capability.  However, her stinkpot shot backfired, eliminating it from the game!

And just like that, it looks like the Americans are the next faction to have plans for the turtle!  Their entire fleet heads northeast, with the Frontier having two decided advantages over the great beast:

-Her Hoist ability can use the crane arm to take gold directly from the shell, avoiding the dock+explore mechanic and likely limiting potential damage from a turtle counterattack if she can get the right angle of approach

-Secret Hold will protect the gold from the turtle’s wrath and Hoarding Gold ability!

Could the Frontier make off with a massive store of shiny loot?

Or will the giant turtle prove too much for the legendary gold runner?  Stay tuned to find out!

With no proper escape route from the Grand Path, the Pescados decides to just continue on and explore anyway.  She finds some solid coins.

But now the Pescados is not alone!  The Valeroso arrives, with Victor de Alva leading an S-Boarding party on the Grand Path!  However, the Spanish utterly fail, missing all 3 shots and losing the boarding party. (her ability prevented the loss of any crew)

Intermediaro surfaces for the first time and crashes HARD into the Devil’s Pay!!

A crowded area just got more crowded with the addition of a giant squid:

The French have a sneaky quick gold run going on, with the Superbe docking home a few coins and the Triton and turtles not far behind:

The Soleil Royal simultaneously docks at the southern beach of the 3 beach island and takes advantage of the Skin Flayer’s extended blades to take a couple shots….

But misses!

Although the French fleet is built for combat, all three ships have at least one cargo space open.  They have a nice little secluded corner in the southeast that they will try to milk as much as possible. (gotta love how Ross’ waterfalls pretty much match the water color)

All FOUR English ships load treasure on the same turn!

The Rye gets two 7’s, but leaves the real goodies to the more durable HMS Titan – a shiny silver 5 worth 15 gold could be doubled by Spices for a whopping 30 gold in one load!  The other two ships get the leftovers that the Grand Wind didn’t take.

The Kettering stands ready to cancel one of the Morocco’s moving abilities to try and prevent her from getting home.  This would be important on the Pirate turn in a moment.  This is also where the game’s strategy and “endless options” started to get more complicated, as I wanted and expected. (complex Pirates games are usually more fun for me)

The Pirates decided to change their plans.  With the Grand Path, Titan, Bolingbroke, and Rye still around the 5 beach island, Blackheart started looking for an easier target.  Those English ships alone could potentially ruin the Zeus, especially with the Titan’s EA combined with the Rye’s cancelling.

THE ZEUS IS LOOSE!!!  BLACKHEART GOES AFTER THE FRONTIER!

Blackheart sacced an oarsman to get an extra action coming out of the whirlpool, and the 1 roll on the whirlpool (my house rule) meant she lost a second one as well.  Blackheart didn’t want to sacrifice any firepower by losing a mast – with my atrocious history rolling for 3S cannons, the Zeus would need all the firepower she could muster against even a 3 masted ship.

Zeus vs. Frontier!

The Zeus made sure to ram the Frontier as well.  Instead of just sinking the hoist, they want her.  The Pirates were trying to capture the Frontier and use her in their own fleet.  With both a helmsman and oarsman aboard, the latter of which prevents dereliction and therefore capture, this would be a tough task.

With typically bad luck on those silly 3S cannons (which are like my Achilles’ Heel of this game), the Zeus shoots a rather poor 3/9, just barely enough to dismast the ship.

The Zeus won the boarding party of course, but Blackheart had semi-forgotten that he wouldn’t be able to choose which crew got eliminated.  The Americans tossed the helmsman overboard, while the Pirates were kinda hoping the oarsman would die…

… because the Raven came flying across the front of the giant turtle to ram and board the Frontier!  If the oarsman was gone, this would have been enough to capture the Frontier, but the best-laid plans in Pirates often don’t work out at all.  (not that this was the best plan ever, but Blackheart was getting kinda bored on the Zeus lol)

The Raven successfully boards the Frontier, taking out her oarsman and leaving her ripe for capture!  Unfortunately for them, the Devil’s Pay (their only other ship) was derelict by the Sultan shipwreck way in the northeast.

The turtle moves again!  This time its slow movement of S was not enough to ram anything, but it did compromise the space between the various ships in the south.  Now you can see why the Kettering cancelling the Morocco’s ability mattered – the Pirates had to make sure the Raven could get past the Kettering without having Hammersmith’s helmsman ability cancelled before even launching the attack on the Frontier with the Zeus.  Lots of logistics and planning were starting to come into play!

The end of Turn 3 shows a very active southern area:

Some other angles on the game:

Indeed, most of the action is in the south, with a little in the northwest and northeast:

An overhead shot shows that perhaps the French and English have a clear path to lots of easy gold?

The Nightmare takes the Sea Duck under tow, allowing Silver Coffin to shoot off Intermediaro’s head.

An area filled with debris accumulates more:

Leaving the metal-hulled and annoying Griffin alone this turn, the Skin Flayer captures the Morocco:

The Cursed immediately give her a move action, which she uses to duck into a fog bank so the Griffin can’t sink her.

Claiming her second captained Spanish victim, the Grand Path’s massive crew complement calmly unleash a huge broadside that sinks the Valeroso!  This nets them 1 gold for eliminating Contessa Anita Amore.

The Grand Wind rolled a 6 out of the fog and sacced her final oarsman (already!) to dock at an unexplored western part of the 5 beach island.

She finds an interesting mix, with Poseidon’s Breath perfect for a 6 master. (move your base move as many times as you have masts)

She uses the Ammunition to get exploding shot for defense (not bad with a 4L cannon with reroll) and loads the other coins.

So far the Jades have fought the Spanish, but not the English despite their home island proximity.  Of course, the GP has been busy, sinking both of the only 2 ships to sink so far.

The Corsairs take their turn, with not much of note happening.  The Kettering and Hudson have effectively blocked off the fog bank, not allowing the Queen of Sheba and Agha’s Whip to return home.  They roll for exit location but then duck back into the fog.  The Griffin starts her slow trip home (S speed due to Metal Hull), while the Dervish repairs.  In what would become almost a “meme of the game”, the Gallows docks at the far side of a giant turtle flipper and loads a coin.

Lots of gold still available, and the Gallows was trying to sneak off with some:

The Americans are pissed!  USS Hudson swoops in and tows the Frontier, preventing the Pirates from capturing her later in the round.  She misses 2 shots against the Zeus but hits both times against the Raven, dismasting the ship and killing Hammersmith!  (essentially a death blow to the Raven, who is now dead in the water after having 4S speed and Captain)

Worrying more about the Frontier’s survival than the elusive Corsairs hiding in the fog, the Kettering sails over as well, ready to cancel an ability on the Zeus in case the Pirates try to sink the Frontier.

Continuing the theme of damaged gold runners on the run, the Pescados flees into a fog bank to escape the “Wrath of the Path”.

Taking damage from the Silver Coffin and unable to do much against the Cursed on the other side of the fog/reef barrier, Intermediaro suddenly reverses direction and goes after the Gallows, who has loaded the 20 gold coin from the turtle.

Speaking of turtles, the French ones are nearly home:

I don’t think this game gets prettier than the French on a picturesque ocean!

Finally the English and Jade Rebels have begun to clash!  Or not.  The Grand Wind tosses Relics to the Bolingbroke, preventing any damage.

The other 3 English ships have a lot of gold between them and scurry home as fast as they can:

Oh god… will it be fast enough?  It’s the Pirate turn!  Blackheart is angry after his plan to capture the Frontier failed miserably – with no Raven to help out and the Kettering ready to cancel or broadside any further attempts, Blackheart accepts failure and turns to a new opportunity.  This was a big decision in the game, where I carefully measured if the Zeus could strike the English or not.  With L+S speed and another sac action, the Zeus might barely make it over to the English ships about to dock at their home island next turn.  The Rye had the cancelling ability as well, but looked to possibly be just out of potential range….

SHE DOES IT!!  THE ZEUS ZOOMS OVER AND SMASHES HMS TITAN HEAD ON!!!!

Zeus rams HMS Titan

ZEUS SMASH!!!!

ZEUS SMASH!!

The massive English warship heels over to starboard from the HUGE impact:

An engagement for the ages:

The Zeus wins the boarding party and Hoards all the gold on the Titan!  Which is basically worth 30 gold!!! (I think the Rye must have been in cancelling range to cancel Blackheart’s Captain ability, which is why she didn’t shoot.  I forgot to remove Hammersmith from the Raven until later in the game)

The giant turtle moving marks the end of an active and exciting round of turns!  The turtle turns toward the Gallows, which is now the only ship in sight that has some of the turtle’s gold.  It’s a little funky trying to turn at just S speed with something so large, but I made it work.

A messy scene as the game continues to get more chaotic!

El Fantasma sacrifices a captured Corsair crew to capture an oarsman from the Gallows via Captain Nemo!  The Cursed are after that 20 gold coin on the Gallows, which could really help a fleet win the game.

But don’t forget about the turtle lurking nearby:

The Grand Wind explores a new beach on the 5 beach island, but it’s a total dud for her!  Only 6 gold total, and the Trees UT is useless to a healthy ship.  One of the few crappy gold locations in this game.

The Jades finally meet back up again, though not on purpose.  The Grand Path has the option of docking quickly to take advantage of the Trees, but after a consultation between Tsai, Chang Pao and Ms. Cheng, they decide they might want to return later if they or the GW are missing more masts. (only 1 mast out on the GP)

Defiant of the Cursed and the giant turtle as ever, the Gallows redocks to take Neptune’s Figurehead and another coin!

With a pair of good fog rolls, the Queen of Sheba and Agha’s Whip are both able to dock at the Barbary Corsair home island!  The QoS unloads her very valuable three coins taken from the giant turtle.  Now that the Americans are distracted by the Zeus, the Corsairs have a chance to get back in the game.  The Dervish repairs her second mast and the Griffin is coming home with a few coins.

The Americans swap ships, with the Hudson capturing the Raven and the Kettering taking up towing duties of the Frontier.  The Americans have suffered a setback with the Zeus Smash event, but with few enemies, they should have time to get repairs done and possibly even come back stronger.

Oh boy, the game gets weirder!  Intermediaro rams the Gallows and wins the boarding party to steal the 20 gold coin, the most valuable in the game!  Since the turtle hates anyone that steals gold from its shell, could this lead to a bizarre showdown of giant turtle island vs. (headless) giant squid?!?  XD

The wee turtles are saved!  At least, the 3 “normal” ones.  The others are face down 1 coins and will be arriving in the next turn or two.

Hopefully one of the only gaffes I made during the game… the Soleil Royal forgot to stay at the beach and explore after docking and shooting at the Skin Flayer a few turns ago!   Amiral Dupuy reprimands the Royal’s captain, and both ships dock at the southern beach.

Although her gold was already stolen by the Zeus, the Titan docks home anyway to prevent getting shot at by the Zeus.  HMS Titan opens fire, hitting three times and setting the 10 master ablaze!

Battle of Legends

Arguably the matchup everyone wanted to see!  Two powerful classics of the game going head-to-head.  HMS Titan vs. the Zeus!

Of course, the Titan had help, with the entire English fleet all in the same area.  HMS Bolingbroke took advantage of a rare opportunity to use her “shoot through ships” ability, getting all three cannons in range!

The Bolingbroke connects twice, bringing the Zeus down to 5 masts.

Some serious firepower in this picture:

Fittingly enough the Pirates were next.  Blackheart considered a LOT of options.  In the end, the Zeus continued her attack in a different fashion, ramming the Rye!  The ramming and boarding were successful, leaving the Rye with no masts and no coins!  With the Hoarding Gold ability, the Zeus has stolen a whopping 44 gold from the English in just two turns!!!  O_O  (30 from the Titan between the shiny silver 5+Spices, and both 7’s from the Rye)

Making matters even worse for the English, the Zeus sacced an oarsman, rolled to eliminate her fire mast, and ducked into a fog bank!  This was a grand heist, a level of success only dreampt of!  It’s also a rather rare instance of one of my 10 masters doing extremely well in a physical game.  The English have been embarrassed and robbed right in front of their own home island.

The round of turns ends with the giant turtle ramming the Gallows to take back the coins, but cannot ram Intermediaro.

But the Skin Flayer can!!  The switchblade hooks an arm into one of Intermediaro’s tentacles!

The Skin Flayer purposely leaves the squid with a segment left so the Cursed can board the creature!  A successful boarding party leaves the 20 gold coin in the hands of Nemo and El Fantasma!!

It’s worth noting that this was a tough decision for Fantasma.  The Skin Flayer began the turn without any cargo spaces open, so they had to sacrifice the shipwright in order to make room for the coin.  However, since Nemo has Ex-Patriot which gives the ship the Mercenary keyword, this meant that repairing the Skin Flayer later in the game would be difficult or impossible.  It was a risk the Cursed were willing to take for the gold, especially since they actually began this turn by repairing with the shipwright (to repair the one mast that was out on the SF) right before sacrificing him to move and shoot (and slash) on Intermediaro.

Combine that with a few other developments, and you could say that the Cursed are rising!  Although Calico Cat has not been very successful with her SAT ability, the captured Morocco is making her way to the Cursed HI at S+S speed to repair.  Speaking of which, the Nightmare has brought home the Sea Duck, who starts repairing and eventually looks to tow the Silver Coffin again.  Lately it’s been all-Skin Flayer, but the Cursed are getting a real fleet together, which could make a difference in the gold race in the second half of the game.

Jade Rebellion time!  Tsai gets his SAT without needing reroll and he’s ready to rumble!!

In a surprise attack through the whirlpool, the Grand Path uses her second action to maul the French!  It was becoming evident that the French had an easy route to a lot of gold without any interference thus far, so it was felt that somebody needed to intervene.  The Grand Path continues to make her mark as an absolute killer beast in this game, dismasting the Triton and running over a poor sea turtle to kill it!

Will this finally spark the French 5 masters into action?

The Grand Wind returns to home waters via the same whirlpool the GP took on her way out.  The GW comes home to a changed seascape, with the Americans regrouping, the turtle facing a different direction, and the huge Zeus hiding from the English in the fog.

This game continues to not disappoint!  The Corsairs sail out before the Agha’s Whip finishes repairing, eager for a quick strike on the turtle while it’s back is turned!  The Queen of Sheba loads coins as the Agha’s Whip tries to shield her from the potential wrath of the Americans, who are still annoyed with the Corsairs.  The Dervish doesn’t know quite where she’s going yet.

You can see the QoS loaded the Neptune’s Figurehead, recently stolen back from the Gallows by the turtle (who also stole it from the Morocco upon waking up).  Even more important was the Wine, which was the only ability in play that allowed home island raiding.

As she is now doing every turn, the Gallows rows back to the turtle and loads up a few coins.  However, this has actually been a legitimate strategy by the Corsairs all along.  With the Gallows constantly distracting the turtle, she can keep the turtle’s attention more to the northeast, allowing the main Corsair ships in the south to dock at the back of the turtle.  This prevents the turtle from stealing gold as soon as it’s taken, since the turtle’s S movement must be measured from the head – it can’t turn around and ram a ship that has docked at its hind flippers.

And here come the Americans!!  The Kettering and Hudson both drop their tows to double back and blast the Corsairs!  The Agha’s Whip is sunk and the Queen of Sheba dismasted (Americans really want her gold and UT’s).  The Hudson rolled a 6 with her stinkpot shot to disable the Sheba’s crew, which would be important for limiting her movement and escape options next turn.  This was quickly becoming one of the game’s central themes – back and forth, with very little sustained momentum for any faction.  As soon as a faction took one step forward, another fleet was there to bring them back, sometimes severely.  I found it fun and rather dramatic – keep the twists coming!  😀

Crushed by the Skin Flayer and clinging to life, Intermediaro packs up its bags and heads home.  XD  The squid submerges and heads straight for the Spanish home island, where the Pescados has finally returned and repaired.

Loch Ness Monster anyone?  lol.

Loch Ness Monster Pirates CSG

The Jades have angered the French!  Dupuy gets his EA roll, which means the Grand Path is pretty much a goner.

Open fire!!

SUNK!

The French got the rest of their turtles home (9/10 total), and now look to empty the 3 beach island to increase their gold score.

With no EA roll and no way to get revenge on Blackheart’s Zeus, Lord Thomas Gunn somewhat randomly takes out his frustration on the Grand Wind.  The Titan shoots well, setting the GW on fire.

Although it’s a sad scene for the English here in the west, they didn’t have a horrible turn.  The Bolingbroke and Adventure docked home their 3 total coins.  The Bolingbroke has the useful Relics snatched from the Grand Wind.  The Rye is rowing home and once repaired, the English will be back at full strength.  They are desperate to get back the gold the Zeus stole, for they theorize that it could win the game for them.

The Pirates were next, and Blackheart decided to see what his ship could do!  Once more I premeasured an entire double move action to see if it was in the cards…

They’ve done it!!  Blackheart sacs yet another oarsman to move L+S+L+S, round earthing all the way back to the Pirate home island!!  All of the stolen loot is unloaded!

At this point I must admit I made an “accounting error”, thinking that the Spices still applied to the shiny silver 5 worth 15 gold (therefore doubling it to 30).  Since the Spices were unloaded from the same ship with the 7’s from the Rye aboard, the total would decrease from 44 (which is what the English would have gotten from the Titan and Rye since the Titan had only the Spices and essentially 15 coin) to 36, still a huge haul of course.  However, there was a LOT of game left, so I’m happy to say in hindsight that this error was not relevant….

The round ended with the meme of the giant turtle ramming the Gallows to take back her coins.  The Gallows could win a boarding party against the turtle if the turtle rolled a 1 and the Gallows rolled a 6, but that never happened.

With the English vs. Pirates and Jades vs. French storylines seemingly resolved, what could happen next?  So, so much more….

The Skin Flayer takes a minor shortcut through a whirlpool, eager to get the 20 gold coin home.  However, due to Captain Nemo, some transferring of cargo will be necessary.  The Sea Duck is now fully repaired and up to the task.

Once again the Corsairs prove elusive.  The Queen of Sheba couldn’t use her helmsman to row at S+S, but S was enough to escape into the safety of a fog bank.  The Dervish decided to as well, while the Griffin finally docked home some gold.

Using its ability while submerged, Intermediaro transfers a coin from the turtle to the Pescados de Plata, who only has one open cargo space due to her helmsman and the Potions and Brews UT.  You can see that the Gallows has once again taken coins from the turtle, always doing her part to help her Corsair allies and turning the turtle even farther north.

The Corsairs have essentially fallen to the Americans twice, but then frustrated them both times afterwards.  That southern fog bank is proving to be a great Corsair ally!  The American gunships begin towing their derelicts once more.

Not satisfied with sinking the Grand Path, Dupuy hears of the Skin Flayer’s gold exploit and rolls for an extra action to start yet another whirlpool raid attack!  Perhaps he learned from Tsai’s Grand Path maneuver.  Either way, Nemo and Fantasma are suddenly in huge trouble.  Yet another twist!  (this is part of why I love whirlpools and round earth so much – I highly recommend trying both if you haven’t already)

However, the Superbe cannot land a 4th hit on the Skin Flayer going 3/5 to cripple the ship but let her live!

Back home in French waters, a calm scene shows the Soleil Royal approaching the Triton to tow her home.  After the turtle swarm came through and the Superbe and Grand Path fought, it is weirdly quiet….

BUT NOT FOR LONG!!!!!

The English are here!!  In another example of using an extra action to move through a whirlpool and come out shooting, HMS Titan uses her EA to blast 4 masts off the Soleil Royal in a devastating blow!

Lord Thomas Gunn saw his moment to strike the French, with the Superbe off fighting the Cursed in the north.  Similar to the Grand Path going after the French due to their impressive home island pile of gold, the English had gunships to spare (since the Zeus is now docked at her home island, which is who the English really want to go after) and simply picked out the French as a good target.  The Soleil Royal does have a coin on board, along with Ransom crew Jules de Cissey.  The Bolingbroke comes through as well (partly in case the Superbe comes back next turn), but loses a mast from the whirlpool travel.  In fact, the Titan rolled poorly on the whirlpool as well, choosing to lose her firepot specialist instead of rerolling it.  Gunn wanted to do as much damage to the Royal as possible, but ended up hitting 4/4 anyway and not needing the reroll.

The Zeus repairs as the afternoon sun casts a glare off the golden turtle:

The turtle rams the Gallows again and the round is over!  The Corsairs have somehow escaped disaster after another American attack, while the French and English both whirlpool attacked, respectively leaving the Skin Flayer and Soleil Royal with 1 mast standing.  Left of the turtle you can see that the Grand Wind has docked home a few more coins for the Jades, which also extinguished her fire mast.

A new round of turns!

The Skin Flayer pulls it off!  She moved to touch the Sea Duck, sacced a crew to get an extra action, and explored the Sea Duck.  The Sea Duck then redocked, putting the 20 gold coin on the Cursed home island!  The Morocco docks as well, finally at her new home island after being captured by the Cursed many turns ago.

The 1 in the water is Duncan Rousseau’s Parley ability being used to prevent the Nightmare and Silver Coffin from damaging the Superbe – the Cursed were hoping to pummel the Frenchman with 6 shots.

parley

Now for a bit of diplomacy, or “faction interaction” if you will.  The Jade Rebels started their conflict with the French, but they still hate the French now that the Grand Path was sunk by the Superbe.  The French just attacked the Cursed, knocking the Skin Flayer down to 1 mast.  The Jades also know where Trees are.  The Grand Wind is already docked at her home island and doesn’t want to go back to the Trees beach, especially since there’s not much valuable gold there (Zheng Li Kwan of the GW now has designs on the turtle, but I’ll get to that eventually lol).  The Jades figure they can help the Cursed beat the French by telling them where the Trees are at, since they know that Fantasma killed off the Cursed shipwright, which is the main way the Skin Flayer can repair (she could also transfer Nemo to the Sea Duck to dock at home, but that would take longer and might be risky in the short term with the Superbe around).  So the Jades inform the Cursed of where the Trees UT is – on the northwestern beach of the 5 beach island.

With no target to shoot at, the Nightmare moves over to the Skin Flayer to give her the Necklace of the Sky UT, which you might be realizing can be used next turn to teleport the Skin Flayer straight to “Trees beach” for a quick repair!

Once AGAIN the Queen of Sheba is able to get a favorable fog roll right after the Americans gave up on the annoying Corsair situation and left the lane wide open.  With her helmsman working again the QoS is able to row home at S+S, docking home 3 coins worth a whopping 35 gold!!

The Dervish decides against a turtle raid and takes 2 coins leftover from the Griffin’s haul earlier in the game.

The Gallows is slowly bringing the turtle north towards the Spanish home island, while the Griffin prepares to do a swap with the Queen of Sheba.

Utterly sick of the Corsair shenanigans and momentum shifts, the Americans capture the Queen of Sheba right from the Corsair home island!  (her oarsman from the fleet picture was moved way earlier in the game to the Griffin I believe since it would make 7 points of crew on a 6 point ship)  However, it wasn’t just a frustration move.  The Queen of Sheba already unloaded her valuable coins, but not her valuable UT’s – Wine (potential source of gold), Neptune’s Figurehead, and Power Cannons.  The Americans were hoping to use Wine to get revenge on the Pirates.  The Hudson snatched her up, while the Kettering docked home the Frontier, who began repairing in earnest.

The American fleet expands to 5 ships!  (those American crew are eliminated; I often put eliminated crew face down off the deckplate)

The Spanish have a decent system going – Intermediaro can use its ability while submerged, which avoids the turtle’s wrath.  The Pescados can move S after unloading treasure, which helps her get from the home island back to the turtle quickly.  If the Gallows keeps moving the turtle northwards, the Spanish will have more coins than they can even transfer effectively right on their beach!  It’s a somewhat inspiring turn for a fleet that had its main two ships (Valeroso and San Francisco, both with hybrid setups) sunk by the Grand Path in what feels like a week ago.

The French fight back as well as they can!  The Soleil Royal tows the Triton so she can’t be captured by the Bolingbroke quite yet, and also rolls a 6 with her firepot specialist to set the Titan aflame, also eliminating the English oarsman per the Royal’s ability!  Although the situation is desperate for the French, they were able to optimize fully with what they had.

But that’s not all they’ve got!!

Le Superbe is here!!  Rolling a 5 for Dupuy’s EA, the Superbe comes flying out of the whirlpool the English came from.  With the 20 gold coin safely on the Cursed home island, the Superbe didn’t have much business in the north anymore.  Dupuy figured he should try to maximize French gold reserves, rather than keep trying to deny the Cursed.  Given the emergency back home, it became a no-brainer.

The Superbe splits the gap, protecting the Soleil Royal while shooting two masts off the Titan! (only 2/5)

A classic scene from the Age of Sail: English vs. French capital ships in a close-quarters engagement with guns blazing!

Although the Superbe was not super effective, the Titan is in pretty bad shape:

I like how factions fighting each other often had turns right after one another in this game.  Here the English fight back, with Lord Thomas Gunn determined to take the Titan down in a blaze of glory.  She will certainly go down in a blaze at least, as the fire spread to another mast when she began moving.  The Titan shot the final mast off the Soleil Royal and killed the Triton’s captain in a boarding party, providing another moment where a ship’s last moments can induce desperation-fueled success.

As I always like to say: THE CARNAGE CONTINUES TO MOUNT!

And now, for the possible beginnings of an English coup.  HMS Bolingbroke was the forgotten ship in all this.  She is finally given an action, and shines brightly.  She captures the Soleil Royal, potentially netting the English a grand prize if she can be towed home intact.  She goes to shoot at the Superbe, but Duncan Rousseau parleys, giving the English a 3 coin.  This is fine with the English, as they need to make up ground in the gold race, having lost most of their coinage to the Zeus.  To top it all off, the Bolingbroke still has Relics, which will make it a lot tougher for the French to recapture the Soleil Royal.  I think the Bolingbroke is an underrated ship and one of my favorite English vessels, so it was nice to see her do well in this game!

(Side note: the English considered throwing the Soleil Royal through the whirlpool immediately without towing her through, which is legal.  They decided against it because it is a very hard thing to recapture a ship once it’s already being towed, and the Relics would make it even tougher on the Superbe to break the tow by sinking or capturing the Bolingbroke first.  If the English had thrown the Royal through the whirlpool and into English waters, it’s likely the Superbe could have gone after her and recaptured her easily, especially since I remember checking to see if the Rye was in range to start a new tow over in the west, and she wasn’t.)

 

As the sun begins to set on this round of turns, the far west is desolate, a bizarre scene after all the events so far.  The Rye repairs as the Adventure sails out for more gold.

The Zeus repaired a mast and the turtle probably rammed the Gallows again.  XD

Back to the Cursed!  The Nightmare explores to give the Skin Flayer the Necklace of the Sky!  Nemo and Fantasma command attention as always, and activate the UT immediately!

Sure enough, the Skin Flayer shows up at the beach where the Jade Rebels told them Trees was at.

The Griffin was somewhat heartbroken, unable to do anything about the Queen of Sheba’s capture.  There was no point in shooting the vessel to the bottom either, since the Corsairs unloaded the Sheba’s gold and Neptune’s Figurehead would kick in and help the Americans.  From this point onward, the Corsairs had a bit of a glum outlook on the game.

Of course, their loss was the Americans’ benefit.  The Kettering took up towing the Raven again, with the Hudson transporting the QoS home.  The Frontier (and Grand Wind….) are almost fully repaired.

Death of a Titan

Le Superbe sinks HMS Titan.  The ship served the English decently well in this game, but met a fiery doom after being robbed by pirates and set aflame by Frenchmen.  The Superbe used an EA to tow the Triton and reverse direction towards home, directly a few shots at the Bolingbroke in order to get the Relics UT from her.

A sad scene for an English fan like me:

However, the loss of the Titan was not in vain!  Lord Thomas Gunn’s last command to the Bolingbroke’s captain was to save the Soleil Royal and let her be the “new” titan of the English fleet.  The Bolingbroke used the whirlpool to warp home, with both ships getting good whirlpool rolls.  HMS Rye moves into the whirlpool but doesn’t use it – she’s setting up a cancelling screen to prevent any antics by the Superbe in case the French decide to show up. (so the Rye can at least cancel the Superbe’s captain even if she comes through with an EA from Dupuy)

The Skin Flayer explores, dumping the Necklace of the Sky on the beach and using Trees to repair all three of her fallen masts!

Although the Griffin couldn’t swap the QoS, the Dervish docked home a couple coins and did a transfer.  With oars touching, the Griffin explored to give the Dervish Metal Hull and taking her helmsman in exchange for the Griffin’s now former explorer.  This was to optimize the Griffin’s speed for – you guessed it – another turtle raid!

Americans in business: Frontier is fully repaired, QoS will be next turn, and the Raven will make a nice addition to their fleet once she is finally healthy as well.  After a long period of dealing with Corsair crap and some Pirate junk (literally), the Americans are hoping to finally increase their gold score.  They still only have the 5 coins the Frontier grabbed from the Duke shipwreck.  With the Frontier healthy, the Corsairs may not be the only faction with imminent plans for the giant turtle….

(also note the Grand Wind fully repaired in the background….)

Dupuy fails to get an EA despite Duncan’s reroll, so the French simply dock to get the Triton sailing again.  No chance of getting the Soleil Royal back, at least not yet.

The English are getting rich again!  The Bolingbroke triumphantly returns the grand prize: not only does the Soleil Royal represent a chance to get another 5 masted gunship in the English fleet, she actually had a shiny silver 4 (worth 12 gold) aboard!  Not to mention the Knights of Malta Banner, worth 1 gold after the Royal damaged the Titan.  Those coins were from the southern part of the 3 beach island, explored a while back.  Combine that with de Cissey’s 5 gold Ransom payout, and the English turn a nice profit of 18 gold on the capture in addition to getting the beautiful ship!  😀  They have lost the Titan and their leader, but the English see light on a dark day.

Check out the lower right: the Zeus continues to repair, while the Sea Duck returns to towing the Silver Coffin and exploring the Sultan shipwreck.  The Morocco is fully repaired, meaning the Cursed are at full strength!  (or more due to the addition of the Morocco)

No more hints on this development!  The Grand Wind is fully repaired and finally ready to use a UT you may have forgotten about: Poseidon’s Breath!!  The GW can move her base move as many times as she has masts, which means 6S speed!

A Grand Wind indeed!!  (what a fitting UT for this ship to use!)  Zheng Li Kwan goes after the giant turtle!  This really puts the scale of the creature into perspective.

After a long period of just chasing the Gallows aimlessly, action around the giant turtle may finally heat up again!  Feel free to let me know if you like the turtle shell better with or without the camera flash. (forgot to eliminate a mast per the UT effect)

Here we go!  A big run on the turtle is underway as the Griffin zooms out at S+L+S speed to get in on the action!  (after she moved just S for many turns due to Metal Hull)  The Gallows has done her strange job well, and the Corsairs look to capitalize and reap the rewards!

But of course, the Americans are coming!!  The Frontier is now moving S+S+S again after receiving the Hudson’s helmsman, and the Corsairs may have to deal with the Americans yet again!  Not to mention – this is the Frontier’s second chance at the turtle, after her first attempt was quickly ambushed by the Zeus.

The opposite angle looking at the southeast corner.  The Dervish is wary of the Superbe to the east, and the Americans’ Wine UT to the west.  She can only move S and simply redocks, hoping to hold down their home island at least.  The Triton is busy repairing, while Dupuy’s rage propels the Superbe 6S in the general direction of the Corsairs.

The English are free to get some lower value leftover coins from the northwest as the gunships repair:

A sight no sailor wants to see: the Zeus is fully repaired!

In literally a dramatic turn, the giant turtle angrily turns towards the Grand Wind, who holds the most gold from the turtle as of now but is out of ramming range.  This moves the Gallows and Intermediaro a bit.

With the giant turtle shell’s store of gold slowly dwindling, who will profit most in the endgame?

Now approaching the turtle from behind, the Nightmare docks at the same part where the Grand Wind docked.  However, she has no explorer and the Morocco can’t get there.  At the upper right, the Sea Duck docks home coins from the Sultan shipwreck.  The Skin Flayer makes contact with her once more to transfer a coin – though this time worth much less than 20 gold.  Every bit could help, so Fantasma grabbed something small from the Trees beach.  It’s not worth noting, but the Devil’s Pay is still in the Pirate fleet despite being derelict next to the Sultan wreck for many turns now.  Blackheart is still hoping to rescue her if he gets a dull moment, which is unlikely given the high stakes of the upcoming endgame period.

The Grand Wind docks home the 3 coins from the giant turtle, dramatically increasing the Jades’ gold score!

(^angry seething turtle in the background XD)

The Griffin zips home and unloads 3 coins of her own!  Now that the turtle wasn’t facing her “attackers” when they docked, some turtle raids are succeeding easily.

The Kettering receives the Neptune’s Figurehead and Power Cannons UT’s from the Queen of Sheba.  If that doesn’t wow you, consider the power available: the Kettering has cancelling, Crew Protect (Montana Mays), and the Neptune’s Figurehead (dock fully repaired at home when sunk, like a one-time super Eternal) for defense.  She can move up to S+L+S+L (Mays SAT) with up to 12 shots at rank-3 and L+L range (Longship + Captain + Power Cannons).  (12 x 3L+L!)  Definitely one of the scariest setups I’ve seen in a game, especially for a 3 master.

Finally, the Frontier gets her moment to shine again!  The Hoist uses her crane arm to explore the giant turtle!

Frontier US hoist

The Frontier loads almost all of the remaining coins from the turtle, leaving only the Fireworks UT!  Love how this picture shows the shadows as the sun begins to set on the game.

In short order the turtle has gone from being the premier gold location to being almost empty!

This would turn out to be a minor mistake, but Intermediaro uses its ability to give Fireworks to the Pescados:

Dupuy got an extra action and the Superbe round earths into a whirlpool!

The Superbe went into the northern whirlpool and exited from the one at the lower left, near the turtle:

The French are on the attack!  Le Superbe opens fire on the Frontier!

The French want to capture the ship with all her gold, so the Superbe shoots away all her masts, leaving her derelict again!

A familiar scene: both times the Frontier has attempted to get gold from the turtle, she has been dismasted by a gunship via a whirlpool attack.

The captured Soleil Royal repairs at the English home island:

You can see that the Bolingbroke has come through the same whirlpool in an attempt to engage the Superbe.  At this point the Americans and English had made a deal – if the English helped the Americans get the Frontier’s gold home, the Americans would help the English in robbing the hated Pirates with the Wine UT.  Since the Zeus was the first ship to dismast the Frontier, the Americans didn’t need much convincing.  As the final part of the game went on, I started to realize that the deal favored the Americans more (there was no promise to let the English actually use the Wine, since it was on the now-American Queen of Sheba).  It was mostly a temporary alliance against a common enemy – Blackheart and the Zeus.

Speaking of which, the Zeus is loose!  Fully repaired, she is once again ready to wreak havoc on the seas.

A glimpse at the whirlpool locations and you can see Blackheart’s potential route….

The turtle is angry!  Being robbed of its last coins by the Frontier, the turtle rams the hoist with intensity!  However, her masts are already in the water and the turtle is unable to take any gold!

The Frontier has Secret Hold!  This makes the Frontier truly the perfect ship to raid the turtle with – her hoist arm prevents her from even having to dock (can rob the shell directly), while Secret Hold prevents the turtle from taking all the gold back with Hoard!

Cursed gold runners warp to the northwest to grab some leftover coins from the 5 beach island:

Uh oh!  Montana Mays gets a rare SAT roll to work, and the Kettering is ready for action!

I got really hyped for the Kettering to absolutely destroy the Superbe, but Relics prevented it!  However, this left the French warship open to attack from the Hudson, who went 3 for 3 to take out 2 masts, kill the French oarsman, and land a stinkpot shot that disabled the remaining 4 crew on the Superbe for the next French turn! (knocking out EA/reroll/Parley/captain/helmsman!)

Making the situation more interesting, the captured American Raven is fully repaired and looks to help out her new fleetmates in getting the Frontier home.  The Queen of Sheba has entered a fog bank, mostly to hide from the Zeus in case she flies through a whirlpool and Blackheart tries to steal the Wine for his own use.  (a decent amount of factors played into each move action on some of these somewhat complex turns)  Almost bored by now, Zheng Li Kwan pilots the Grand Wind towards the action as well.  (the Superbe wasn’t randomly given a stinkpot shot, I placed it there to remind myself that her crew were cancelled)

The Spanish had gotten themselves into a little pickle, with their only remaining gold ship full of non-shiny objects.

Trying to get some additional gold from anywhere, the Pescados de Plata captures the Gallows now that the turtle faces south again.  They have managed to gradually increase their gold stores with Intermediaro’s transfer ability, but it was pretty obvious that it wouldn’t be enough to win the game.

Knowing they likely won’t survive the coming onslaught of firepower, the French decide to capture the Frontier anyway.  With the stinky cancellation effects limiting Dupuy’s options, basic desperation meant that they would simply go down trying.

The Adventure docks home a little gold, the Soleil Royal nears full strength, and the Rye stands guard in the whirlpool, ready to cancel the captain of any ship that might come through. (namely the Zeus)

With the Relics now on the Kettering, the Bolingbroke is free to attack!  She hits all 3 times as classic English gunnery crushes the Superbe!  At this moment the Anglo-American alliance was bearing fruit.

BUT YOU CAN TRUST BLACKHEART TO RUIN THEIR DAY!!!

Sacrificing one of his last expendable crew, Blackheart takes the Zeus through a whirlpool and uses an extra action to insert himself into the fight!  The massive 10 master blows the Bolingbroke out of the water!

The big  dominoes continue to fall as the carnage mounts!  First the Frontier, then the Superbe, now the Bolingbroke!

In one blow, the Zeus has changed the seascape of the battle for the Frontier in the center.  The turtle is beginning to lose hope, but moves towards the Frontier anyway, compressing and moving some of the debris from the battle.

The turtle’s movement would not be irrelevant, as it could impede American efforts to recapture the Frontier or get at the Zeus.

As the typical desperation of the endgame sets in, the middle area is once more the center of attention:

Stacked as ever:

Cursed runners return home via whirlpool as the Sea Duck takes the same one to head out, intent on doing something she wanted to do for a while….

The Skin Flayer appears in the south, looking to hunt down the Triton.  This was a combination of wanting revenge on the French and trying to make sure they ended up with less gold than the Cursed.  The Triton is loading gold from that southern beach, so the SF will try to cut her off before she can reach her HI.

With great anticipation, the Americans begin an important turn.  Pretty sure Mays got his SAT.  The Americans sank the Superbe (!) and took the Zeus down to 1 mast!  The Kettering began towing the Frontier to recapture her, while the Raven rams a mast off the metal-hulled Dervish (UT only applies to hits, not rams).  Between the combination of an angry turtle, the Zeus, and supreme American firepower, Zheng Li Kwan has turn the Grand Wind away from the chaos.

With the Zeus nearly out of the game, the English decide to attempt a few quick gold runs with the Adventure and Rye.

The Griffin round earthed to the north in an attempt to recapture the Gallows from the Spanish.  However, Intermediaro surfaced to ram and pin the galley!

Not wanting to wait, the Americans send the Queen of Sheba through a whirlpool to raid the Pirates’ HI with Wine!  This was a huge part of the endgame and would dominate events going forward.  Wine lets you pick which treasure is exchanged, so the QoS would be loading the shiny silver 5 worth 15 gold, severely lowering the Pirates’ gold score while potentially stealing a win for the Americans!  There were also some faction dynamics at play, namely the English wanting some of their old stolen loot for themselves.  The Jades also made a sort of deal with the Americans to not interfere in the center, with Zheng Li Kwan hoping to get in Mays’ good graces….

But the game is called Pirates!!  Not nice puppies!  XD  The English and Jades wait near the whirlpool they expect the Sheba to emerge from, both ready to betray the Americans and steal the gold.  Originally the English were going to send an escort or two to ensure the QoS got the coin, but with the Zeus nearly out of it and the English greedy to get their old gold back, no such help would come in the east for the QoS.

Captain Blackheart has run out of crew to sac!  At this point, all 7 Pirate oarsmen that started the game were dead.  (5 on Zeus + 1 on each of their other ships)

No such problem for El Fantasma!  He sacs a crew to cut off the Triton, swinging his ship’s “skin flayers” and taking a 7 coin!

The Cursed have slowly and sneakily accumulated a decent amount of gold:

It happens!  The Queen of Sheba docks at the Pirate HI and exchanges Wine for the 15! (which is what I’ll call it from now on)

The English arrive!!  They are ready to betray the Americans.  They decided to get the jump on the Sheba rather than waiting for her closer to home, since that would mean a more imminent struggle against the Grand Wind and eventually the rest of the American fleet.  Check out how I strategically placed the ships coming out of the whirlpool – the Rye gets within cancelling range to limit the Sheba’s speed to S+S next turn by cancelling her helmsman, while the Soleil Royal is trying to block off the whirlpool as much as possible. (funny enough the whirlpool rules don’t specify how and where ships have to touch the whirlpool they emerge from)

Towards the end of the game I forgot to take a few pictures, so some things might be out of order or get a little less detailed.

With Blackheart cancelled by the Kettering, the Zeus shoots a mast off the Hudson as the Kettering then tows the Frontier away.  The Sea Duck approaches the Zeus from behind, while in the background you can see the Raven capturing the Dervish, bringing the American fleet to 6 ships.  The Zeus has 1 mast standing as indicated by the die….

The Sea Duck reveals her objective… and uses Explosives to blow up the Zeus!!!!

Now you see why I didn’t take the masts out on the Zeus – the Americans or Cursed were about to finish her off anyway, so I didn’t want to take out and replace almost all of her masts, especially since she’s still new (this being her first game).  A massive object has been removed from the still-busy center area:

The Skin Flayer returns home where the Morocco prepares to take her 7 so Nemo can stay on the switchblade.  The Devil’s Pay is afloat, but the Pirates have been officially eliminated from the game.

It took a lot of extra time and hardship, but the Americans have experienced massive success!!  The Frontier has been retaken and her turtle gold unloaded!  The Americans have faced some serious setbacks today, but their rise undoubtedly makes them the premier faction of the endgame.

Mays takes advantage of his SAT to move towards a whirlpool, while the Hudson leaves the battle area.

After killing Intermediaro, the Griffin makes a break for the 5 beach island.  Although nearly their whole fleet has been captured or sunk, the Barbary Corsairs can try to get a few last bits of gold.  The Pescados and captured Gallows set off in hot pursuit.

Here we go!  The Rye and Soleil Royal team up to dismast the Queen of Sheba and rob her of the 15 coin!

This is where things got weird with round earth.  The Kettering managed to get in range, but from the other side of the map!  This is one of the main flaws of round earth – in somewhat rare circumstances, you can have ships engage in various aspects of combat while on opposite sides of the world!   XD  At first I had the Kettering in the east, but realized it would be easier to have everything in the west, since that’s where the treasure was headed as long as the English carried it.

Finally shooting well, the Kettering goes 5 for 6 to dismast the Soleil Royal!  The QoS rows to try and block the English from their HI.

The Pescados robs the Griffin, with the Gallows trying to block the latter’s escape:

The Skin Flayer only ever had cargo for 1 coin, so the Triton is free to dock home a little bit more gold for the French.  (SF rolled poorly and didn’t come close to dismasting the ship, else the Cursed would have captured her)

Awkward round earth maneuvers, and the Cursed are here!  The Rye began towing the Soleil Royal, so the English still had a chance at getting the 15 to their HI.  However, the Rye had met her match – the Kettering’s identical cancelling ability nullified that advantage.  The Cursed decided to show up because, hey, why not?  XD  It was getting into the very late stages of the game where factions had not much better to do than throw all their ships at the highest value coin left in play.  The Grand Wind slowly lumbers towards the growing scene as well.

The Kettering sinks the Rye and the Sheba tows the Soleil Royal, leaving the 15 back in American possession!

A desperate free-for-all was emerging by the English HI, with the English themselves mostly out it. (Adventure coming home with some small coins, just hoping to get them home knowing she can’t win the upcoming clash XD)  The Cursed had the Skin Flayer, but Mays had reinforcements sailing in – the Raven, Frontier, Hudson AND Dervish are all on their way!

The Cursed strike!  The Skin Flayer steals the 15 from the Royal, while the other 2 ships try to block potential attackers. (neither could block the Kettering)

The Pescados takes off with the 1, while the Gallows and Griffin engage in a sort of civil war style duel.  This picture sums up the Spanish game – with their best 2 ships sunk early in the game, they’ve been scrounging for scraps for what feels like ages, just trying to do whatever they can for 1 more gold while the remaining powerhouses fight over the mega-valuable 15 coin. XD

Chaos at the English home island!  The Kettering shoots poorly to only take 2 masts off the Skin Flayer, with the Raven ramming the captured Morocco and the Sheba towing the Royal.

Desperate for a miracle, Fantasma sacs the Cursed helmsman and takes off with the coin!  HMS Adventure hides in the fog, hoping for a break in the action to dock home a little loot.

The Triton arrives on the scene for the festivities, but the Grand Wind puts a quick end to any hopes the French have, knocking them out of the game. (the GW was mostly a non-factor towards the end of the game due to her slow speed and Zheng Li Kwan having run out of sac options early in the game)

Mays’ reinforcements gradually arrive as the Morocco is dismasted by the Raven (capture vs. capture):

Mays gets his SAT to dismast and capture the Skin Flayer!!  The SF is immediately give an explore action to transfer the American captain for the 15 coin, so the Kettering can keep it safe and dock it home.

Victory for the Americans!  But will it be enough?

With the giant turtle drained and most of the gold unloaded, it was about time to call the game.  It was getting very late at this point and after a long day of pirating it was quite fair to simply “simulate” the last few turns, especially given the American dominance.

Whew!  What a game!

Legend of the Giant Turtle

But who will win?

Legend of the Giant Turtle

Gold Scores

In turn order, here are how the factions fared!  Some of the scores may seem off because the pictures don’t always show which coins are shiny gold and shiny silver, but I got them right.

Cursed: 48 gold

The Cursed played a solid game, using the Skin Flayer and her exciting crew effectively from the beginning to the end.  Their gold runners did as well as could be expected, and they even manged to score the 20 gold coin, the most valuable in play.

Jade Rebellion: 35 gold

The Jades did well, but peaked early.  The Grand Path was a ship killer, sinking numerous opponents before being sunk herself by the Superbe.  The Grand Wind got a bunch of gold early, with Zheng Li Kwan doing well to sac crew and lock up some gold early before things got crazy.  The Poseidon’s Breath turtle raid was perfectly executed, but not quite enough.

Barbary Corsairs: 87 gold

Holy crap!  The Corsairs finish with a massive total, mostly due to some extremely high-value coins brought home from the giant turtle.  Those top 2 rows are worth 50 alone, with the shiny silver 6 being 18 and shiny silver 4 being 12.  The Corsairs were richly rewarded for going after the turtle early and often, with the Queen of Sheba being their MVP after slipping past the Americans.

Americans: 52 gold

The Americans did as well as they could, raking in a ton of coin despite their main gold runner being completely dismasted twice!  The Kettering never lost a mast and was simply unstoppable in the endgame period, especially given her ability spread and UT stack.  The Hudson and various captured ships provided great support, and the Americans cannot be too disappointed.

Spanish: 25 gold

The Spanish were crippled by the Grand Path early, losing the San Francisco and Valeroso.  They managed to stay in the game and collect some gold afterwards with the Intermediaro-Pescados combo, which had some nice synergy between Intermediaro staying submerged to avoid the turtle and the Pescados’ ability helping her get back out after depositing a coin.

French: 25 gold

The French looked like a favorite until perhaps halfway through the game.  They got some turtles and very calm beaches right near their secluded home island.  Factions kind of assumed they might be a leader in the gold race, which led to whirlpool raids by the Grand Path and English warships.  Duncan Rousseau’s Parley helped to keep the exciting and brutal Le Superbe in the game, but decreased their count slightly as well.  In the end they gradually lost all three of their ships, though not without causing a ton of chaos and damage in the meantime.

English: 31 gold

The English had it made until the Zeus showed up, with essentially 44 gold between the Titan and Rye along with about 7 between the Adventure and Bolingbroke.  Blackheart wrecked their game, forcing them to temporarily settle for an American ally and settle for less in the end.  Their conflict with the French was quite memorable in various ways (historic faction rivalry, Titan sinking, Soleil Royal captured and then used effectively after), and ended up netting them 18 gold, more than half of their final total.  If not for the Zeus’ blitz, the English could have finished higher up in the standings.

Pirates: 21 gold

Bringing up the rear are the Pirates!  With the Devil’s Pay (dismasted by Cursed + Intermediaro) and Raven (captured by Americans in first Frontier battle) out of action relatively early, Blackheart had to rely on the Zeus and his immense army of sacrificial lambs to make it through the game.  The Pirates did well for a while, at one point having 36 gold on their HI after a brilliant and successful raid on the English.  (also a rare example of a successful “pivot”, when the Zeus was able to get gold from the English after failing to capture the Frontier moments earlier)  After the Wine was exchanged, they lost 15 gold and ended with the lowest total.

The Final Standings

  1. Barbary Corsairs: 87 gold
  2. Americans: 52
  3. Cursed: 48
  4. Jade Rebellion: 35
  5. English: 31
  6. Spanish: 25
  7. French: 25
  8. Pirates: 21

(Spanish ahead of French since they had movable game pieces/active points in play at the end, but the French played a better game)

What a crazy experience!  This was a LONG return to playing a physical game of Pirates.  The Corsairs are victorious!

It’s interesting that the Big 4 factions finished lowest in the standings, probably at least in part due to their going last in the turn order.  The giant turtle proved to be a big draw, with the Corsairs taking advantage to rake in tons of gold.  I like how topsy-turvy the game was, with tons of twists and turns.  The Corsairs had all sorts of setbacks (American attacks, most of their fleet ruined, the dramatic and unexpected double ram+Hoard turtle attack, etc), but still managed to come out on top.

It was really neat to see my American fleet do well, not to mention the Skin Flayer.  I highly recommend using switchblades in games of 60+ points, as they can be really fun.  On that note, the Frontier is amazing.  Not just as a gold runner, but as an overall play piece.  It feels like she enhances whatever game she takes part in.  She’s often the center of attention, so although her somewhat OP nature makes her an American favorite, it also places a huge target on her.  I may not be a big fan of some of the weird ship type mechanics, but switchblades and hoists can really make games more fun.

As expected, the Zeus had a wild, crazy, and active debut.  The Pirates came up short in the end, but she may be seen again before the end of the summer….

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed the Legend of the Giant Turtle game!  Feel free to comment below your thoughts on the game!  (turtle, action, gameplay, fleets, strategy, pictures, etc – a lot to take in!)

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4 Comments

  1. This was awesome! The giant moving turtle, the successful aid by the Zeus, as well as the final gold counts. I thought the Corsairs might get second or third after the turtle attacked them and all that, but I was happily wrong!
    Agreed, the Frontier is amazing, she alone at that cost makes the Americans a relevant and competitive threat.
    A little fun ow you’re playing your fist physical game in a while, when I’m making the preparations for my Summer game. 😀

    • @Xerecs: Thanks!! I was hoping the gold scores would be even closer, but after the top spot it was still somewhat close in a few groups. In the future I might tone down the super-valuable gold so one or two loads doesn’t unbalance the final scores.

      Glad to hear you’ll be playing again this summer. CoEC I assume?

      Have fun,
      Ben

  2. I intend to do CoEC. However, summer jobs for me and one of my bothers, plus summer school for the other may slow down or hamper our efforts.
    Before that though I need to evaluate the rules and whatnot, since we all remember them, but some details are fuzzy and inconsistent with what we do. I think you mentioned this last year about a discrepancy between what happened and what my linked rules said.

    • @Xerecs: Sounds good, looking forward to the battle reports eventually. I hope to play at least 1-2 more games this spring/summer, but not completely sure yet.

      Ben

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