HMS Apollo – Another stellar English five master (Miniature Review)

Published to Miniature Trading on August 1st, 2012

Miniature Review: HMS Apollo – Another stellar English five master

HMS Apollo

HMS Apollo
Set: Rise of the Fiends
Collector’s Number: 002
Faction Affiliation: England
Rarity: R
Type: Ship
Point Value: 14
Number of Masts: 5
Cargo Space: 4
Base Move: S+S
Cannons: 2S-3L-3L-3L-2S
Ability: This ship gets +1 to her cannon rolls against Pirate ships.
Link: Thomas Gunn
Flavor text: HMS Apollo has been tasked with sorting the powerful from the weak on the high seas, while not divulging the Crown’s true strength.

General description:
HMS Apollo is a ship that seems to have alternate personalities. There are four different versions of this ship, ranging from the original from RV, this version that I’m reviewing, an LE version from the same set, and finally, a battle-hardened F&S version. This version has been used in one fleet (not designed to be a competitive fleet) and already has a Miniature Review. However, that user is no longer with the site, and I didn’t feel that the review did the Apollo justice. She is one of England’s finest five masters (which is saying a lot), and a great gunship. My favourite types of ships are the five masters, and the English are my favourite faction, so it was only a matter of time before I reviewed one of these great behemoths. I think that English five masters are the most effective gunships in the game, bar none. If you have a handful of points (less than 20 would work) to spend on a gunship, I recommend you look at England’s five masters. HMS Apollo is one of their best (so, as Lord Cutler Beckett would say, “Consider that into your calculations”).

HMS Apollo is a gunship. It’s that simple. Just in the five master department alone, the English have a much better option available for treasure running. HMS Apollo’s speed isn’t good enough, her guns are nice, and she has less cargo than she has masts. All of these factors combined give you an idea that she should definitely be used as a gunship. Even her flavour text alludes to this fact, not to mention her combative ability.

Strategies and game play: 
In a standard 40 point game, HMS Apollo will be your main gunship. You may be able to fit other support gunships into the build, especially if you don’t use much crew, but most of your other points will go to gold running.

She can be used to hunt down your opponent’s gunships and take them out, or she can escort your treasure runners to the wild islands and back.

The more crew you put on her, the more dependent your fleet will be on her performance, and the more dominant she will be in the game. This is simply a matter of preference.

Basically, you’re hoping (or not hoping, since they are probably the best in-game faction) that your opponent brings a Pirate fleet, or else that ability won’t come into play. Of all the specific faction-haters you could have, though, the Pirate-hater is arguably the best. The game is called Pirates, a good bunch of the players who play it love the pirates, and some Pirate fleets that aren’t put together that well can be competitive simply because of the lower costs that let them fit in a crazy amount of good stuff.

Combos with other miniatures: 
As a gunship, HMS Apollo will need the standard captain and helmsman. The move-and-shoot is necessary for any gunship, and S+S speed isn’t likely to be fast enough to catch enemy gunships or treasure runners. There are two crew that the English have that combine the two abilities into one. They should only be used if you are trying to maximize the amount of stuff on the Apollo; if you have room for a captain and a helmsman, use the two crew so that you don’t let two important abilities get taken out at once by a crew-killer (or a canceller). Also, HMS Apollo also has a link (although it doesn’t show it with her stats) to Thomas Gunn, which saves an additional cargo space. In this way, if you use Thomas Gunn, you will get two abilities that don’t take up a single cargo space! This will come in handy when you want to pack the Apollo with crew and equipment. The captain and helmsman abilities add 5 points, so this basic setup brings us to 19 points, less than half of the build total in a standard game.

World haters are my favourite crew in the game because I can’t seem to consistently roll anything better than a 3 during shoot actions. Nemesio Diaz is classic, but I think the MI version of Hermione Gold (or Admiral James Norrington if you have him instead) is my favourite crew in my collection. She combines the two most important abilities for gunships in the entire game into one crew. She is a great choice for HMS Apollo because HMS Apollo’s guns are just solid as-is; they need a bit of a boost to be really effective. Gold provides that boost, and with her aboard, HMS Apollo will be ready to set sail.

To combine the extra speed of a helmsman with the +1 to gun rolls, use one of the best crew in the entire game, the LE version of Griffin. You’ll just need a captain for his ability to come into play. Add a helmsman, and you can be moving S+S+S+S! That would come to 12 points, so you could still add an oarsman to act as a meat shield, or maybe a firepot specialist to increase the devastation wrought by this magnificent ship.

With four cargo spaces available (and usually a bunch of crew to help protect each other), HMS Apollo might be a good place to put Administrator Scott Bratley. He gives you a valuable 5 additional points. It’s like getting the captain and helmsman combo discussed above for free!

In relation to that, crew that otherwise wouldn’t have a ship to reside on might find a home on the Apollo. Especially if the rest of your fleet is treasure runners, those crew that take up space should be put on a ship that can afford the extra luggage.

If you have a few extra points to spend (and especially if it’s a bigger game with multiple gunships), the F&S version of Thomas Gunn can be a lifesaver. He combines the captain and fleet world-hater abilities into one crew. He’s expensive, but probably worth it. Boosting the guns of one or more of your ships throughout the game could be the difference between a win and a loss.

Cancellers might be the most powerful crew in the entire game (along with the All-Powerfuls), and England has two, the Promo version of Bratley and Lawrence. They can be lifesavers, whether they are cancelling the opponents’ captains or getting past the best true gunship in the game.

I don’t think paying 7 points for a Marine is really worth it, but if you use Marines often I would suggest a cheaper one.

There are plenty of double action crew available for the English. Basic extra action and SAT crew work just fine, but relying on that doesn’t work often enough (1/3 of the time) to be reliable. That’s why you bring free rerollers to assist with that die roll. The only problem with them (other than the Ransom) is that you can’t have them and Bratley (or any other 0LR +5 crew) in the same fleet, since they both have the Limit keyword. To save space (but not points), you can combine the reroll with the captain ability by employing Lord Thomas Gunn or The Gentlemen.

With all these crew aboard, you’ll want to protect them. Meat shields like oarsmen or maybe an explorer work fine, but consider adding Commander Spencer Portlandto protect them from extra powerful ships. He also gives you the SAT, so you can combine him with the rerollers mentioned in the above paragraph.

Another crew that combines the SAT with a different ability, William Dampier opens up the ship he’s on to the vast world of pirate crew. This is more for the pro-Pirate players, as it doesn’t make much sense to have Pirate crew on a ship that hates them!

Yet another version of Thomas Gunn, the SM version gives you two great abilities: captain and crew-killing. He would link to the Apollo, so you’d still have 9 points left to fill 4 cargo spaces. If you have the points, you could add Ken Wang Cho and Chang Pao to up the ante to one cargo per hit, rather than one crew per turn.

An expensive and risky option that could pay off huge dividends, Commander Temple is a crew that some people swear by, and others write off as not being worth it. As it happens, I am somewhere in between, but I would say that a smaller, faster ship (or the Europa specifically) would be better suited to utilizing him. He can win the game for you, but he can lose it for you if your best gunship is transported out of the action back to your home island at the wrong time.

If you’re short on helmsman or prefer Navigators, you can use one of them to get an extra burst of speed once in a while.

If things get crowded and the 14 point limit is exceeded, Countess Diana Doone can remedy things and make the setup legal.

Your basic generic crew and equipment will work nicely on the Apollo, and with 14 points and 4 cargo spaces, you can fit quite a few on board. Let’s say for example that you have the ROTF Thomas Gunn (captain and helmsman), for five points and no cargo spaces (since he links to the Apollo). You still have 9 points left and all four cargo spaces! You can go crazy and add any combination of firepot specialistsstinkpot specialistssmokepot specialists, cannoneers, musketeers, shipwrights, oarsmen, fire shotstinkpot shotgrape shotchain shotdouble shot, and exploding shot (keep in mind that it costs 3 points, not 1). Whatever floats your boat can make this ship very powerful, especially when you combine the specialists or equipment with a world-hater. My personal favourites would be the fire and stink stuff, along with grape shot. Killing or cancelling crew can put an enemy gunship out of action in a hurry. Stinkpot shot and grape shot only cost a point each, and this is a great way (along with adding an oarsman as a meat shield) to fill out the points for a fleet while adding a serious firepower boost.

If you aren’t sure what cheap generic crew to use, adding Cameron the Cabin Boy will give you flexibility during the game. I haven’t used him yet, but I have heard that the versatility he provides can save your ship. For example, bringing along a cannoneer and not a shipwright when your ship gets into trouble. Reveal Cameron, and now you’ll have a shipwright whenever you need him.

Instead of a generic musketeer, you can go cheaper with the 2-point Trevor van Tyne to save points.

Unique Treasures:
If you find the treasures and have the time to transport them to the Apollo, AmmunitionDeck CannonDry PowderFireworks, and Power Cannons can give her a boost in firepower. Also, you may find the Apollo a good place to put those unwanted face down UT’s that would only take up important space on your treasure runners.

-If you can’t catch the faster treasure runners, use Becalmed to catch up to them and sink or capture them.

-If Mermaids show up, use Favor of the Gods to restore order and decency in an otherwise unfair situation.

Ways to counteract it: 
-Getting the first strike with a similar/more powerful gunship.
-Running away at speeds greater than S+S+S.
-Bring multiple gunships and bring her down.
-Use El Acorazado (or maybe La Corse).

The Competition:
HMS Apollo is a recent addition to the prestigious long line of English five masters. Her competitors are numerous, well-known, and extremely powerful.

-The original super-gunship, HMS Titan is still one of the best (if not the best) gunships in the entire game. She combines a built-in extra action with guns that are just about the best you can have (all rank-2’s with mix of S and L).

-My favourite ship, HMS Lord Algernon, is a great rock with excellent guns, albeit also with slow speed and below-average cargo. A similar and more recent ship is HMS Dauntless.

HMS Pacificum has the same speed and cargo as the Apollo, but she lacks in firepower while costing an extra point.

HMS Swallow has the advantage of being the fastest English five master, but she lacks in firepower, and she costs too much.

HMS Victoria costs the same amount of points and has the same ability, so she is very similar to the Apollo. However, she is slower and has all L-range guns (therefore weak against ships like these).

HMS Gargantuan has the same base speed, but lacks in every other category.

-A true terror of the seas, the sight of HMS Endeavour strikes fear into the hearts of all captains. She is very expensive, but has an extremely powerful offensive ability with the best guns money can buy. However, she is slower than HMS Apollo, and for the same 21 points the Apollo can be equipped with MI Hermione Gold to provide the captain and world-hater abilities.

-Perhaps her best competition comes from her sister ships (or, really the same thing). The later version of HMS Apollo has similar stats, but costs one less point. She has a funky ability that I don’t have much experience with. Both ships are good choices. Essentially the same ship, the LE version simply has a better ability that comes into play much more often. This makes her a better ship, since all of their other stats are the same, but she is harder to acquire, being an LE. I would probably be reviewing her instead, but I only have the rare version, which is more accessible.

-Five masts
-Nice point cost that lets you fit crew while not putting all your points into one ship.
-Solid base speed that is good for a gunship, and also faster than some of her most powerful peers.
-Solid guns that improve with her ability (with a mix of S and L).
-Enough cargo (and more than the other version) to fit crew onto.

-Ability is very specific (and therefore, useless a good percentage of the time).
-You could argue that she’s too slow for some of her potential competition, but that’s just nitpicking.

Artwork and aesthetics: 
I love the look of HMS Apollo. She has a nice blue-green paint job, and she looks very stately and clean. The guns on her decks and the overall appearance of being a five master completes the gunship aesthetics.

Overall rating: 
Both HMS Apollo and HMS Victoria have been the recent stars of my English fleets. HMS Apollo has proved her worth as one of the best English five masters, which says quite a lot, indeed. Her combination of nice guns, good speed, relatively low point cost, and solid ability make her one of my favourite ships. I would give her a 9 out of 10. The only things that hold her back from receiving a perfect rating are her ability (too specific) and her guns, which don’t quite measure up to her best competition and need a world-hater boost to really shine. HMS Apollo is yet another great English five master that will continue to help England rule the seas of Pirates CSG for years to come!

Find her on eBay!

Posted in Miniature Reviews.

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