Published to Miniature Trading on July 10th, 2014
Miniature Review: La Saragoza – An underrated barge
Set: Pirates of the Mysterious Islands
Collector’s Number: 066
Faction Affiliation: Spain
Point Value: 8
Number of Masts: 2
Cargo Space: 5
Base Move: S
Ability: One of this ship’s treasures is worth +1 gold when she docks at your home island.
Flavor text: Sailors aboard La Saragoza take inspiration from the once-besieged city for which the ship is named. In three decades on the sea, the ship has never been captured.
First Miniature Review in a while; hope I’m not too rusty!
When I googled La Saragoza I didn’t find much in terms of an actual translation, other than “saragasso” (Sargasso Sea?) and “the Edmonton”. However, Zaragoza is a city in Spain, and at first Google automatically corrected the spelling to zaragoza. The city is indeed the one described in the flavour text for the ship: First Siege of Zaragoza, Second Siege of Zaragoza. Now, on to the ship!
La Saragoza is a rather overlooked two masted Spaniard from Mysterious Islands. She doesn’t have another Miniature Review, and she’s been used in just one fleet. Although she won’t be the shiniest ship in your fleet, this is a better ship than most people give her credit for.
(As a side note, this Review was originally intended to be a rant against the ten masters. A while back I used all three of the ten masters I own in a game and they all did horrendously. I was very upset and wondered why everyone overrated them so much. I came up with a joke that I’d rather have five empty Saragozas (for 40 points) than a fully crewed ten master for 40 points. The review of the Saragoza was going to explain why she’s better than any ten master, and why the ten masters are vastly overrated. However, since this incident took place a while ago, I’ve decided to write a more normal review.)
The Saragoza is best used as a treasure ship. Notice I didn’t say treasure runner, because she won’t be going very fast with her base move of S. With a helmsman, she can move S+S and still have four spaces available for gold, not bad for 10 points. With her valuable ability, however, she can also be used as a barge near your home island (described in the next section).
Strategies and game play:
Since the Saragoza costs 8 points, she won’t eat up your build total too much, especially since you probably won’t be loading her with crew. Due to her slow speed, she probably won’t affect game play too much, unless she can put her ability to good use. The Spanish received a bunch of ships and crew that give them +1 and +2 gold bonuses, a valuable way to change the amount of gold there is in the game. Gold wins games, so any extra gold will be much appreciated. In this way, the Saragoza could be very important if she lumbers home with coins towards the end of the game and breaks a tie (or creates a tie) with her ability.
One strategy is to use her as a gold barge that sits near your HI. The rest of your fleet sails out and collects gold, and then they transfer their coins as slowly as possible (one by one if you have the time) to the Saragoza, who then docks at your HI to get the +1 gold bonus on as many coins as possible. This is very time-consuming, but potentially well worth it if you can pull it off (credit goes to Cadet-Captain Mike as he is where I first heard this strategy).
There aren’t a lot of other strategies to use this ship for; her cannons aren’t very useful, and she’s too small and slow to be a part of anything exciting.
Combos with other miniatures:
As described, a simple helmsman will double her speed and let her take four treasures from an island. To expedite the process, you can add an explorer, leaving three empty cargo spots and bringing the total point cost to 11. Since the Saragoza won’t be serving as a gunship, you can forget all the combative crew that would make her slightly more intimidating (not that she was in the first place ).
Silver explorers are a decent option as they further enhance the concept of a fleet that centers around gold bonuses.
Navigators are a nice option to boost the Saragoza’s speed. Since the Saragoza is so slow you could also put the navigator aboard so she won’t slow down your more important ships.
As for other generic crew, you can fit plenty of oarsmen on this thing, if you wanted to have a place for extra ones. If you looked at volt’s fleet from the link above, you’ll see his “Oarsmen Inflation” gimmick, but of course that requires many other game pieces to be effective.
Gold barge strategy:
If you’re using her as a barge (as described in the strategies section), she could go without any crew, although you’ll probably still want a helmsman. Master Bianco can give the Saragoza an extra treasure space, and his haulers let you unload treasure within S of your HI. I had to consult the Code to make sure, but you can’t use the Haulers to automatically dump gold on your HI in the gold barge strategy.
|quote from The Pirate Code:|
|-This ability lifts the requirement that a ship must physically dock with its home island, but it does not allow the ship to unload spontaneously (such as if treasure was transferred to this ship while within S of its home island.)|
I know that this strategy sounds good in theory, but I remember from my games a while back that it didn’t do very well in an actual game. It’s best suited for higher point games (much like other fun combos) when you can have a lot of treasure runners and multiple barges.
The SS versions of Master Bianco and Bianco’s Haulers are intriguing as well. Bianco is a crew that fits the role of the ones in the preceding paragraph, especially if you have anything valuable to stash in the Saragoza’s hold. If you’re using her as a treasure runner, this version of the haulers will make her slow speed less of a drawback since you can’t be shot at while you’re grabbing gold from an island.
Dominic Freda combines Master Bianco’s ability with the explorer ability, so with a helmsman you could still have five spaces available for gold.
If you really wanted to go crazy with the gold bonuses, the LE version of Freda gives a +2 that will stack onto the ship ability, giving you +3. If you can manage to work out how to bring home lots of gold with this guy (whether through the barge strategy or adding a helmsman and using help from a navigator), it could tip the balance of the game in your favour!
If you really wanted to showcase this ship, you could use extra action or SAT crew to make her faster. However, it’s probably not worth the effort, not to mention that these crew would quickly fill up her 8 point limit.
Other than that, most of the Spanish named crew are meant for combat and other roles that the Saragoza would struggle in.
Ways to counteract it:
Since the Saragoza only has two masts, she’s not very difficult to dismast and/or sink. Since she’s so slow, however, you may want to leave her alone when facing a fleet with the Saragoza because she probably won’t be able to do too much. That said, watch out for that ability. Make sure that she doesn’t bring home too much gold (especially multiple trips) and try to cancel the ability if the game is close.
I’m not going to go over every other two masted Spanish ship to prove that they have better ones – this one alone tells you that they have better options.
Instead, let’s take a look at other ships with the gold bonus ability, which Spain specializes in. Unfortunately for the Saragoza, they’re actually some of the best ships the Spanish have:
– The Santa Isabel, Alquimista, and San Pedro are some of the best treasure runners in the game regardless of the fact that they’re Spanish, and they are also candidates to be hybrid gunships to boot.
– The Cordoba isn’t really cut out to be a treasure runner (she’d function decently as a gunship), but she’s still a better ship overall than the Saragoza.
As a side note, the San Theodora is a very similar ship that comes right after the Saragoza in the MI set. However, I would say that in this case the Saragoza wins, because she costs a point less and has an ability that’s not as risky.
-Very useful ability that can win the game
-Large cargo hold (5)
-Opponents probably won’t target such an underdog
-Spanish crew can beef her up considerably
-Slowest base move in the game
-Small and therefore easy to eliminate
Artwork and aesthetics:
There are a lot of things I like about the Saragoza, but the artwork is not one of them. The ship is distinctively ugly, with a colour on the hull and sails resembling either a swamp, sewage, or both. There are a lot of square-rigged two masters out there, and this one doesn’t look very appealing.
I’ve always liked La Saragoza, despite her many drawbacks. That being said, ships should be rated on their effectiveness in games. Although the speed and size of the Saragoza limits her potential, her big cargo hold and gold bonus ability make her reasonably valuable to the point where she’s not completely useless. I give the Saragoza a 5 out of 10.