Today is the 10th anniversary of Ocean’s Edge! Due to lack of interest and some annoying no-shows, there weren’t any VASSAL games played for this anniversary after all, so I had to play by myself. However, ironically enough the game turned out extremely well, despite using some of the most maligned ships ever!
Using only game pieces from OE, there were 4 fleets participating at a 50 point build total. After some die rolls, the order of play was Cursed, Spanish, Americans, Pirates. Each faction brought at least one sea creature; the Pirates brought two. To further emphasize the Ocean’s Edge/At World’s End aspect, flat earth rules were used, though they didn’t come into play (though if round earth rules were used perhaps the game would have been slightly different).
Here is the setup, with 5 coins on each of the 5 wild islands. 5 whirlpools were also present.
The Americans had two S speed ships and their sea serpent Champ.
The Spanish had some nice diversity – a crab to cause terror, a slow but capacious gold runner, and a small but similarly capacious home island raider.
The Pirates were simply out for blood. They had only two open cargo spaces, but they were on the powerful Jape. Angelica and Teach were ready to eat plenty of man flesh with their sharp teeth!
The Cursed looked similar to the Americans, with two ships and a sea serpent. The Nosso Lar and Nightmare aren’t two of their better ships, while Maxehebel isn’t one of their best sea creatures. However, the Cursed sized up their arguably pathetic competition and knew they had a fighting chance.
After a turn, it looks like the Spanish and Cursed may clash over the northern island. The Americans stick together, while the Pirates do the opposite: they’ve decided to split their “fleet” into three, sending the Jape after the Americans, Angelica after the Cursed, and Teach after the Spanish.
The Mezquita was the first ship to explore, and found the first UT, which sent her through a whirlpool and out another one. The Santa Lucia turned east towards the same island to avoid the Cursed, but a submerged shark appeared off her larboard bow!
The Mezquita lost a mast, but was actually closer to her home island than if she hadn’t found the UT. El Toro has decided to not engage the Cursed, instead guarding the Spanish HI to make sure the Mezquita gets home in case of a sneak attack by the Jape.
With a swoop attack Angelica savagely rips apart the Nosso Lar! In a rare opportunity to sail the ocean, the poor little Cursed ship barely gets a chance to prove her worth!
The next turn started with the Nightmare finding Lost and Homing Beacon on the northern island! 4 reefs showed up underneath a whopping 5 different ships! Angelica flew away from harm, but the Jape, Mezquita, and Aaron Burr all lost a mast each, with the Oregon losing two. Suddenly the Americans weren’t looking good at all, especially with the Jape hot on their tail.
Both American ships were almost to the island before running into the sudden reef!
After coming through a whirlpool, Teach popped up and tried to bite off one of El Toro’s arms!!
The attack failed and El Toro viciously ripped the shark to shreds with its huge claws!! It was a rare sea monster-only battle, with El Toro easily winning.
More combat! Chaos erupts in the southeast, as Champ can’t quite block the Jape from hitting one of the two American ships. Sadly USS Aaron Burr will have to sail another time, as the Jape sunk her with one shoot action.
Angelica uses flamethrower! It’s super effective against the Nosso Lar! A nice UT (Protection from Davy Jones) and a 7 sink to the locker.
Champ emerges to go 2/4 against the Jape, but the Jape escapes becoming a shipwreck to sail across the reef, ram the Oregon, and steal a 4 coin! The Americans can’t catch a break, and the Cursed and Pirates have really messed with their game.
With one victim already sent to the depths, Angelica flies to an area where she’s in range of the Mezquita and Nightmare, sizing up her prey. El Toro makes sure the Santa Lucia gets home safely while keeping an eye on the newly repaired Mezquita.
Champ rams off the Jape’s last mast, but the Jape can still row at S+S with the stolen coin while her captain dies. The Oregon gets home, ensuring the Americans won’t get shut out.
In a bold but disastrous move, Angelica swoops on El Toro, coming up short! The Pirates have fallen apart, though the Jape survives another hazardous trip across the reef while trying to row away from the Americans.
In another brutal attack, El Toro rips Angelica’s head off!! (I got a little carried away and now I could use a new Angelica… however, the tape job I did after the game worked remarkably well for now, so I don’t have a headless dragon.)
Maxehebel had tried to block the Mezquita, but the Spaniards aboard decided to duck into a whirlpool rather than face the beast, taking a slight shortcut in the meantime at the cost of another lost mizzenmast.
The Santa Lucia and Nightmare are already engaged in a chess match of sorts, with the Santa Lucia’s HI raiding ability containing huge potential for the Spanish. Champ finally eliminates the Jape’s oarsman, officially eliminating the Pirates from the game!
Will El Toro, now feeding on the dead carcass of Angelica, be distracted long enough to give the Cursed an opening in the south?
The Mezquita is cornered…
Maxehebel is successful, but the Nightmare utterly fails! The Mezquita has a whopping 13 gold aboard, and the Spanish already have 4 gold at their HI. The Cursed are in the lead with 5, while the Americans also have 4. The Pirates are already out of it, but they caused some sufficient chaos before exiting.
El Toro’s answer is a clear no! Urged onward by Victor de Alva, the giant crab continues its reign of terror, this time grabbing Maxehebel by the tail and yanking it off! The Mezquita escapes, but the CHAMP is here! lol
The Santa Lucia has robbed the Cursed home island! The Oregon heads northeast to capture the Jape and her stolen loot, while at the bottom of the picture you can just see the tail of Maxehebel still in El Toro’s grasp.
In a brilliant maneuver, the Cursed use Maxehebel’s reverse captain ability to dismast the Mezquita and then move out of the Nightmare’s way, as the Nightmare promptly boarded the Spaniard and robbed her of 10 gold! This left 11 total gold on the Nightmare and 3 on the Mezquita. However, El Toro approached from behind once again, taking a chunk out of Maxehebel and a mast off the Nightmare. Then Victor de Alva overplayed his hand in a typically melodramatic manner! Swinging on a rope from Toro’s biggest claw, he led an S-boarding party with his entire crew! But the evil Wraith was waiting for him aboard the Nightmare, and the Cursed brutally cut down every last Spaniard, leaving the Toro with no human support! (In hindsight, this could be argued to be a Spanish mistake, but they had a boarding advantage and Wraith could have still been face down if it wasn’t solitaire, so it wasn’t a total bonehead move. It’s also a good example of how overpriced, ineffective, and overrated the “+1 to boarding rolls” ability is, for the Spanish essentially had this advantage but lost the boarding attempt 8-5.)
Here, the Nightmare tries to escape even after losing her second mast. Maxehebel and Champ both ram El Toro, and the crab is down to two claws. More importantly, it can’t quickly pursue the Nightmare and use its claws at the same time.
The crew of the Santa Lucia suddenly realized they had room for more Cursed loot, and went back to rob their HI again! At the far right, the Oregon has taken the Jape under tow.
This was when the game started to get even more complicated. The Nightmare lost Wraith to a whirlpool (she couldn’t afford to lose her final mast or helmsman), while the Santa Lucia loaded up the final Cursed coin from their HI, giving her 5 gold on two coins aboard. The SL still had a cargo space open, and the Nightmare was about to deposit valuable gold. The Spanish knew she had at least a 6 and a 4 aboard, since it was stolen from the Mezquita. This could potentially lead to a standoff, with the Santa Lucia waiting for the Nightmare to unload the gold, but the Nightmare unwilling to since the SL would just steal it and likely get away with her faster speed. With just his head above water, Maxehebel abandoned the fight against El Toro and swam towards a whirlpool to assist the Nightmare and/or try to cut off the Santa Lucia before she could get home. Champ and El Toro were left staring at each other with the derelict but valuable Mezquita nearby.
The Spanish thought about what the Americans would likely do on their turn. El Toro was already touching an island and could explore it and load the last two coins, which the Spanish knew they were only worth 2 gold total. They also knew the Americans didn’t know this, and thought they could deke the Americans into keeping El Toro alive for longer, since they would have to bring the Oregon or Jape over to win the gold in a boarding party since Champ didn’t have any cargo space. The Spanish realized this could keep the dangerous El Toro alive even longer, and the giant crab had already claimed the lives of both Pirate sea creatures and numerous masts and segments from other ships. The Spanish also saw no downside to this, since the Toro was unlikely to win the battle against Champ, being down 4-2 in firepower with equal “cannon” ranks. There was also no way the Toro could tow the Mezquita home without one or both of them being sunk by Champ. El Toro decided to load the gold. The Americans thought the situation through as well, and decided to kill El Toro because it was such a chore to retrieve the gold (with a regular boarding party from the Oregon, mostly likely), and because keeping El Toro alive could hurt Champ and the Oregon. Finally, the Americans also reasoned that the Oregon could likely tow the Mezquita home for her remaining coin, similar to what they did with the Jape (since the ocean was less crowded and the Cursed and Spanish were already in a tense standoff up north with only a few masts standing for either side). Champ finished off the crab, and El Toro was no more! The Americans breathed a sigh of relief when it looked like the coins involved wouldn’t have won or lost them the game, though it was looking tight enough to possibly be the case at this point in the game. (the Spanish loaded the 0 to make it look like the Toro had more gold to deceive the Americans)
The situation up north has been forced by the Nightmare, who broke off the stalemate with the Santa Lucia by sailing southwest towards the one island that still had coins on it. The Spanish, now with just the Santa Lucia remaining in their fleet, decided to save their stolen loot and sailed the SL home (knowing they could turn her around if the Nightmare also turned around). In a surprise twist, Maxehebel has gone through a whirlpool in the east, in the hopes of ramming the Jape to eliminate her 4 coin! However, with just one segment left, he couldn’t emerge from the whirlpool within range of the Oregon’s guns, leaving him in a bad spot. The Oregon eliminated the chance of any shenanigans by moving straight towards her HI, and the Jape looked to be safe for the moment. However, it was a dual plan by the Cursed, as Maxehebel could now potentially block the Santa Lucia from docking at her HI or simply shadow the sloop and try to prevent further HI raids.
The Nightmare moves within S+S (one move action) range of her HI, ready to dock on her next turn if the SL moves further away, or turn towards the western island if the SL comes back. The newly free Champ nearly throws a wrench into that plan, moving through the whirlpool and hungrily eyeing the Nightmare’s helmsman. Maxehebel moves towards the SL, who has no choice but to save her 5 gold and moves towards home (or face being surrounded by the Nightmare and Maxehebel caught in between the HI’s). The Oregon docks home with the Jape, who unloads her 4 gold and immediately starts repairing. This puts the Americans in the lead with 8 gold; the Spanish with 4 and the Cursed actually with 0.
The Nightmare finally docks home her gold, with most of it stolen from the Mezquita! This gives the Cursed a brief lead with 11 gold, and the Americans are quickly in last after the Santa Lucia bumps the Spanish total to 9 gold (11-9-8 ). The SL scoots past Maxehebel, careful to stay out of ramming or shooting distance. The Spanish know they can’t save the Mezquita against the now-mighty Americans, but they can hope to get some of their stolen gold back from the Cursed. Indeed, in this picture the Americans have 3 relatively healthy ships for 10 total masts against 4 masts remaining in the other two fleets combined. In the west, Champ has taken up station to guard that final wild island, while the Oregon hurries to capture the Mezquita.
At this point, the Cursed have 11 gold but know the Americans and Spanish might have more (especially the Spanish since they had 6 total coins against 3 for the Cursed). The Nightmare must risk another gold run to guarantee victory, and might be able to evade Champ at the western island. The Cursed have some problems in their plan, with Maxehebel too slow and weakened to provide adequate HI defense against the raiding Santa Lucia. However, the Nightmare can’t hang around until Maxehebel returns, since the Jape is fully repaired and sailing to a whirlpool to get the gold on the western island. Therefore, there is no time to waste and the Nightmare sails again! Sure enough, the SL saw a chance to raid and comes through the northwestern whirlpool to attempt it. The Oregon has begun towing the Mezquita, and the Americans now have 4 ships in their fleet, more than they started with! The Jape lost her crew to Champ, but is still a formidable ship at this stage of the game and the Nightmare would very much like to avoid confronting her in the west.
Knowing the western island has just 6 total gold on it (3,2,1 for the coins from when the Nosso Lar explored early in the game), the Nightmare pursues the SL after she re-steals the 6 from the Cursed HI. Unfortunately Maxehebel is likely a non-factor at this point, but he’s had a good game. In a break for the Cursed, the Santa Lucia rolled badly while whirlpooling, and was forced to lose her helmsman! (rather than the coin or her lone mast, her oarsman having died earlier in the game) Champ is still guarding the western island, and is rewarded when the Jape appears through a whirlpool. The Oregon docks home the Mezquita for her 3 coin, and the Americans lead once more (11-9-5, 5 gold for the Cursed currently).
The Spanish had to hope for a miracle, but they didn’t get it. The Nightmare would have to roll a 1 on the ram and lose the boarding party for the SL to dock home her 6 successfully. The Spanish were officially out of the game! In a bizarre turn of events, the Americans have gone from having almost no ships (when the Aaron Burr and Oregon were damaged by reefs and nearly both sunk by the Jape) to having an empire of sorts, with ships to throw at every opportunity they see! The Oregon goes out for yet another mission, this time her first designated combat mission.
The Jape is about to explore the western island, while Champ looks to kill Maxehebel for fun, or block the Cursed HI if the Nightmare somehow escapes the Oregon. The barely-seaworthy Mezquita sails with one mast, looking to join the fray somehow! At this point, the Americans could say they were “playing with house money” in Pirates form… the endgame was extremely tactical and strategic, but the Americans just so happened to dominate the final few turns of the final phase of this game.
Maxehebel was eliminated, leaving the Nightmare desperate for some kind of miraculous boarding party and escape route. She nearly succeeded despite the Mezquita blocking her and the Oregon sailing off with the 6 coin that originally belonged to the Mezquita when she was in Spanish possession. Champ arrives on the scene for support, while the Jape arrives via whirlpool as well, with 6 gold aboard. After most of the game was played over many different areas, it fittingly came down to just a small area with all 5 remaining ships in one spot.
The USS Oregon, of all ships, is the MVS (Most Valuable Ship) of the OE 10th anniversary game! She survived a reef placed by Lost, an attack by the Jape, and an attack by the Nightmare. She captured two ships and essentially brought back 17 gold! The Jape also docked before Champ finished off the Nightmare, giving the Americans 23 total gold. The Spanish were second with 9, the Cursed third with 5. The Pirates of course had 0.
This was an amazing game and a fantastic celebration of the Ocean’s Edge set for the 10th anniversary of its release! Despite the many lackluster ships used, it turned out to be one of the best games in recent memory and a cool example of parity within a set, using a handful of relatively equal game pieces instead of the typical OP ones (Zeus, HMS GT, Pirate named crew, etc). I was glad that Lost didn’t completely wreck the game, since the faction most hurt by it went on to win. Indeed, the Americans had a cool underdog story in this game. The Spanish and Pirates were almost like the antagonists for me, with the Pirates simply menacing everybody and the Spanish dominating the early game with healthy ships and the huge presence of El Toro. The Cursed actually felt like the good guys, losing a ship early, somehow taking gold from the Spanish and getting into the lead, but only to be stretched thin later on before falling to repeated HI raids and the emergence of American firepower. Champ somehow didn’t lose a segment all game long, while the other 4 sea creatures were eliminated. The Nosso Lar and Aaron Burr didn’t get a chance to prove themselves, but it’s safe to say that the Oregon, Nightmare, Santa Lucia, and Toro all outperformed what players might normally expect from them. I loved how much of an effect the whirlpools had on the game, but I was a little disappointed to see Protection from Davy Jones sunk so early on. There were definitely a few game-changing moments, such as the failed swoop attack on the Toro and the Toro’s failed S-board against the Nightmare and Wraith (among others). Of course, neither of these involved the winning fleet, so it was a very even game that seemed like a very fair outcome for all sides. Hooray for Ocean’s Edge!