Smallest Cumulative Game Ever
I decided to mix things up again. For the two weeks or so between Thanksgiving and about a week before Christmas, my traveling collection is extremely small. I brought along 4 ships from each of the Big 6 factions, for just 24 total ships. I’ll be around my entire collection very soon, so I wanted to do a unique game using just what I had on hand.
The game was a cumulative one, where gold is spent along the way to purchase new ships and crew. Since each faction was extremely limited in how much they could theoretically spend, the game would be the opposite of my epic huge games, which run until something goes wrong or I have to end it prematurely.
Each faction was given 15 points for a starting fleet. If a faction was eliminated from the game, any ships that they hadn’t already launched could then be launched by any faction. No ships could be launched after they were sunk.
Here are the starting fleets, in the order of gameplay:
Crusher + helmsman, oarsman
L’Auguste + helmsman
Yankee + helmsman, oarsman
El Corazon Dorado + a helmsman on the home island
Divine Wind + helmsman, oarsman, and one helmsman on the home island
The setup was very simple, but it worked well. Six home islands were arranged in a general hexagon, with one wild island in the middle. The wild island was the same island used as the lagoon island in Economy Edition. Once again it would be the center of attention. At the start of the game, there were 12 coins on the island, with half of them being UT’s. The treasure replenishment rule was that at the end of every player’s turn (not at the end of each round), the island would fill up to 4 coins if it had less than 4. These coins would not be Unique, so the only UT’s were the ones present at the start.
The island from Economy Edition is loaded with gold once again:
And they’re off!
The Pirates went first, and no ship had an explorer, so the Crusher was the first to explore the island. The UT’s were inserted randomly, which explains this crazy mix:
The most important one was Pandora’s Box – with 5 other fleets, things didn’t look good for the Pirates! The UT’s to the right of Pandora’s Box were the ones selected by the other fleets. Missionary took out the crew, while Maps of Hades and Albatross promised to plague the Pirates if they could even get out of this mess. Rum was worth 6 gold after Missionary took the crew off, but another fleet selected it in order to freeze the Crusher in place. Separate from Pandora’s Box was Enemy of the State, which could easily end the Pirates’ game as soon as it had started. Therefore, the Pirates picked Jailhouse Dog out of the Box and eliminated the negative UT. The Crusher was spared, but only just. To end the turn, a 3 was rolled for Lost, and the Pirates smartly put a fog bank under the Crusher to avoid having her attacked while her crew sobered up from the Rum. Two whirlpools were placed as well, to try and take advantage of Protection from Davy Jones. Another nice side effect for the Pirates was that since the crew were gone, the Crusher was able to take an extra coin, and she did very well.
One whirlpool near the wild island, another at the Pirates’ HI. Shades of Economy Edition? Calypso wasn’t in this game but… how ironic indeed.
The Abomination is the last ship to explore, as the others head back.
The Pirates then cheated (on accident), using the whirlpool to immediately dock at home and unload their considerable haul of gold. They built the Black Diamond and crewed her with a helmsman. As a result of their devious ways, the Pirates would have their next turn cancelled to even out their would-be moves.
The French were the second fleet to launch a ship, sailing out Le Republicain.
The Pirates pay for their mistake while the other fleets race back for more gold. Despite the shorter nature of this cumulative game, each fleet still didn’t want to make any enemies early while their fleet was still weak and small.
At this point, Maps of Hades forced the Cursed to give an action to the Crusher. However, the Cursed did exactly what the Pirates would have done anyway! The other fleets took this as a sign of a possible alliance between the two factions.
A handful of turns passed, consisting of peaceful gold running.
More purchases were made, with HMS Gallowglass, Lady Washington, and La Serpiente joining the game.
The middle island became even more crowded, and it was obvious that tension would increase at some point. The Cursed launched the Hellfire while the Pirates added the Pillage.
It came as no surprise when the Pirates instigated the first conflict! The Black Diamond rammed and boarded the Divine Wind, stealing all of her treasure!
Making the Cursed/Pirate alliance just about official, the Hellfire followed suit by aiming a fire shot at the Divine Wind with the only gun she had in range. Typical of the Cursed’s ineptitude, she rolled a 1 to eliminate Fire Shot and set herself alight!
The French launched the biggest of their four ships, the Tepant. Even more impressive, they crewed her with Gentil de la Barbinais, a captain, helmsman, and oarsman. The Tepant was the biggest threat on the sea, and her Eternal keyword made her a huge target to be captured, which is why the French made sure an oarsman was aboard.
I love how the Tepant looks… but what’s that big ship lurking in the background?
El Argonauta! The 5 master was the biggest ship available in the game, but the Spanish couldn’t afford to put any crew on her at the time of her launching. Still, she was a huge presence that also added valuable cargo space to the Spanish fleet.
After a bunch of turns, many ships have made their entrance. Just for fun, I decided to do a point count or two during the game to get a feel for how big the game was. This picture shows the game at 196 total points.
The Hellfire headed home for repairs, but most of the ships were making full sail towards the center island!
War finally breaks out! The French attack their neighbors to the north, the Americans! The Tepant deals a blow to the Yankee:
The Yankee can’t get home to repair but she knows she’ll be sunk if she just grabs gold, so she continues the conflict by attacking the Auguste! The Lady Washington picks up gold, but things aren’t looking good for the Americans.
The English avoided an early elimination, but they and the Cursed are struggling in the gold game. The Black Diamond is back with her stolen loot, while the Crusher and Pillage are coming back with more.
With their considerable amounts of gold, the Pirates are the first to “complete the fleet” by calling upon Morgawr. The Black Diamond is dangerous with Captain Barbossa aboard.
The Auguste makes it out, but the Tepant continues to fire upon the Yankee, dismasting the schooner and leaving the Americans with just one ship.
The English are fully repaired, but with the hostile Cursed Pirate alliance on either side of their HI, they don’t have a reliable way to grab gold from the middle. The Tepant captures the Yankee and the French complete their fleet by adding L’Argus. The Americans launch the Horizon, but they only have enough points for a captain and not a helmsman.
The Hellfire managed to get her foremost cannon in range of the Divine Wind once again, but this time she hit. The English were stuck, with hostile ships blocking their route to the middle island. With the French/American conflict to the southeastern side of the island, the Pirates sailed their ships northwest to avoid it, further complicating matters for the English.
The Cursed launched the Jikininki, while the Americans headed north to avoid the French.
On the next turn, the Argonauta used her own haul of gold to get The Inquisitor, a captain, helmsman, and oarsman. This made her the greatest boarding threat in the game and almost as dangerous as the Tepant overall. There was enough gold to buy two additional captains, which the Corazon Dorado and Serpiente would pick up on their next trip back. In the meantime, the English beefed up their ships by adding a captain and firepot specialist to the Divine Wind and a captain and helmsman to the Gallowglass.
As the Yankee begins repairing at the French HI, note the imposing Cursed Pirate impromptu line of battle sailing south.
The weak American fleet is no match for the Argonauta! With a single Broadsides Attack the Spanish sink the Lady Washington.
At this point the fleets were reaching their relative maximum sizes, since each faction only had 4 ships to choose from. This ushered in rising tension, as the fleets didn’t have as much need to run gold. The arms race was just about over, but the war was just beginning!
The English decide to go round earth and attempt to dock at the wild island on the east side. The Cursed Pirates are plotting something, but what?
The Cursed and the Pirates were both very wary of the impressive French fleet, especially with the addition of the Yankee and a new captain on the Republicain. The Cursed Pirates knew they had enough power to stomp out the French, but they wanted the element of surprise. This was difficult, since the Hellfire and Jikininki had sailed directly south to join up with the Pirate fleet. The French sensed that they might head east, which was exactly what the Cursed Pirates were planning.
In an attempt to trick the other fleets into believing they weren’t allies, the Cursed and Pirates decided to fake that they were attacking each other. The Pirates told the Cursed to knock out a mast on the Black Diamond with the Hellfire. The Hellfire’s crew loaded the guns and ran them out, praying for a miss. However, the Cursed also realized that if they only took one shot at the Black Diamond (rather than all 4), the French would suspect that something was up. As a result, the Hellfire loosed a full broadside, toppling the mizzen and gaff masts of the Black Diamond!
The Pirates were confused and annoyed. This made them trust the Cursed less, even if the Cursed’s logic was correct. Either way, the Pirates began plotting among themselves. They asked themselves why they even needed the Cursed in the first place, especially since the Cursed were so close to the Pirate HI.
The Pirates have turned! Between the Cursed’s previous turn and the strength of their fleet, the Pirates decided to attack! The Black Diamond surged forward to dismast the Jikininki, while the Crusher and Pillage teamed up to take on the Hellfire. Any plans to attack the French together were long gone, and the Cursed Pirate alliance was no more.
As chaos erupts in the southwest, the English turn around after seeing the French and Spanish dominating the eastern side of the island. They’re hoping the Pirate/Cursed conflict will open up the western side. The Cursed gold runner Abomination is caught in a difficult situation, unable to help out in the southern battle but also needing to supply the Cursed with more gold.
The Yankee is fully repaired at last. At the lower right, the Horizon has round earthed to the southeast to get revenge on the French. She’s so white she looks like a ghost ship!
The Crusher lost a mast to the Hellfire, but the Pirates easily won the battle and began cleaning up the area. Capturing the two Cursed ships gave them 6 total, one more than the 5 ships in the French fleet.
Another point count revealed that there was 280 total points in play, which was probably about the game’s maximum size.
In a surprise move, the Tepant used this opportunity to hurt the Pirates a bit, dismasting the Pillage. The French knew the Pirates wanted them out, but the French also had to deal with the remnants of the American fleet. The Horizon was quickly rammed by the Yankee, a captured American ship.
These latest conflicts were part of a larger event: the game was exploding! The Spanish realized they were the most dangerous fleet in the north, and saw vulnerable ships sailing alone. The Corazon Dorado sailed south to dismast the Auguste! Then the Serpiente and Argonauta teamed up to knock out two masts on the Abomination. In the southeast, the Horizon was putting up the final American resistance, shooting a mast off the Republicain.
The Spanish finally utilize their full firepower!
And just like that, the Americans were the first fleet eliminated! The Yankee captured the Horizon, and the French jumped at the opportunity to launch the final American ship, the Niagara. This meant that the French fleet owned 3 of the 4 American ships! (the Lady Washington was sunk earlier) The French couldn’t buy American crew for the Niagara, but they did load her up with Fire Shot.
Up north, the Spanish dealt with counterattacks. The Tepant blasted three of the Corazon’s masts away, but the Abomination couldn’t dent the Argonauta or her crew. The fleets didn’t know it at the time, but they would be living through the chaos until the game’s end.
And the chaos was just beginning! The Pirates would take a long while to regroup, but the English looked to capitalize by going to the middle island. The Cursed were soon the second fleet out of the game when the Spanish dismasted the Abomination.
In a daring move, the French sailed the Tepant even farther north to sink the Corazon Dorado right in the Inquisitor’s face! The Argonauta had lost two masts to the Abomination, but the Spanish vowed extreme retaliation. Miraculously for the French, it appeared as if the Auguste could make it home on oar power, since the Pirates were still regrouping and repairing.
Looking from east to west this time:
The Serpiente captures the Abomination, but the real highlight of the turn saw the Argonauta take on the Tepant! Long time allies met in rivalry as the Spanish faced the French. The Argonauta loosed a Broadsides Attack, but it missed. The ram roll also failed, but the Argonauta won the boarding party to eliminate all of the Tepant’s crew with the Inquisitor! This severely restricted the Tepant’s effectiveness, and her lack of an oarsman also meant that she could be easily captured.
Battle of the behemoths; flagships of France and Spain meet on the high seas!
Elated to finally be back at the golden island, the English team up to sink the Abomination and deny the Spanish from using her! The Gallowglass shot first and missed, but that allowed the Divine Wind to use her ability and sink the ugly 4 master.
The Tepant fired to take the Argonauta down to 2 masts, at which point the Spanish called it quits for fear of elimination. They turned the Serpiente and Argonauta around to repair. This left the door wide open for the English, who quickly dismasted the Tepant and planned to take her!
The Niagara blocks Morgawr from sinking the Auguste, who is rowing home with a few coins aboard. The Pirates are nearing the end of the recovery process. The whirlpools they created with Lost way back at the beginning aren’t helping.
Suddenly the south is heating up again! The Pirates have finally gotten around to attacking the French after their Cursed alliance detour stopped them for a handful of turns. In a strange coincidence, almost every remaining ship in the French fleet is coming or going from their HI, and the repaired Pirates approach from the west for a crowded area. The Yankee is towing the Niagara, who was dismasted by Morgawr. The Horizon and Republicain are ready to provide whatever help they can, while the Argus and Auguste are almost back with gold.
While the action shifts to the south, two developments unfold up north: the Spanish launch La Hada and crew her with a captain and helmsman, while the English have captured the Tepant!
All of the action lies in the northern and southern parts of the center:
Morgawr and the Black Diamond hit the Yankee hard: (the Yankee isn’t having a good day!)
The French took their turn, and managed to go 4/4 between the Yankee and Republicain to dismast the Black Diamond!
An overhead shot, showing the debris strewn everywhere.
The English use some strange chain-towing tactics to maneuver the Tepant out of La Hada’s range.
At the top and bottom, the Spanish and Pirates repair.
Morgawr sinks the Yankee, but the French get their gold home.
Total devastation. At the left, La Hada has engaged the Gallowglass. The Jikininki has failed to eliminate all four of the Divine Wind’s crew. La Serpiente approaches from the northeast, looking to join the fray. The Horizon has begun towing the Black Diamond, meaning the Pirates have lost their flagship. The French are in a state of disarray themselves, with the Republicain looking to repair while the Auguste actually repairs. The Argus rescues the Niagara, knowing she can’t be attacked if Morgawr is close by.
The Divine Wind and Gallowglass team up to dismast the Hada and set her alight! La Hada had a very short life in this game. At this point, no one seems to care about the gold in the middle – everyone is in survival mode.
The Pillage and Hellfire are finally ready to sail, but the Argonauta is still repairing.
The Crusher attacks, using the Scorpion blade to dismast the Republicain just before she can dock to repair.
La Serpiente takes La Hada’s place, leaving one mast on the Divine Wind. The Jikininki misses the boarding party again.
The English continue to best the Spanish in combat, but they know they’re not a match for the Argonauta.
As the carnage mounts, the endgame approaches.
The Argonauta is finally repaired, but the Divine Wind has already fallen to the Jikininki. The Gallowglass knows there’s no hope and sails for home. Throughout all of the chaos both English ships lost all 6 of their combined crew. The Tepant and Hada also suffered heavy casualties, though the Tepant’s came at the hands of the Inquisitor. To the southeast, the Crusher is the Pirates’ best hope, but she’s fighting the Horizon and Auguste at the same time. Reinforcements are arriving, but it may be too late to save the Black Diamond.
In an attempt to recapture the Black Diamond, the Pirates go after the ship towing her, L’Argus. Morgawr rams the sloop derelict, allowing the Pillage to capture her. Crusher has gotten the better of the Horizon, and looks to tow the Black Diamond. The Hellfire lost her helmsman in the Pirates/Cursed engagement, so she’s slow in this battle.
Jikininki rams the Gallowglass, officially taking the English out of the game! The Argonauta approaches the scene of the battle, though by this point it’s a debris field of corpses, masts, and shattered, derelict hulks.
The south is more lively, but that battle is winding down as well. The French are desperate. The Niagara wants to tow the Black Diamond home, but can’t without getting blasted in the meantime. Instead she starts a fire on the Pillage. The French try to surprise the Pirates by sending the Auguste west for a raid on the Pirates’ HI, where she hits the Hellfire on the way by.
The Pirates regroup, but inexplicably leave the burning Pillage to recapture the Black Diamond herself. She does, but the Niagara is still firing at her. The Hellfire turned around and dismasted the Auguste but couldn’t sink her. The Auguste rowed into the fog bank. The Pirates would like to use Jikininki to kill the Argonauta’s crew, so they don’t want her going in alone.
Here’s the debris and wreckage from a more horizontal angle:
The Argonauta tows the Serpiente first, and then captures the Tepant. The Niagara has won her battle against the Pillage, setting her completely ablaze. Morgawr hunts down the Auguste.
Morgawr sinks the Auguste, and Jikininki dismasts the Niagara, knocking the French out of the game! Now there are two: Pirates vs. Spanish. The Argonauta tows the Tepant through the wreckage, knowing she’ll need help if she wants to stand a chance in this final battle. The Crusher and Hellfire are fully repaired, and they set a northeasterly course.
The battle begins! The Argonauta hits Morgawr, but the Tepant is still repairing and has no crew.
The Argonauta is pinned by both Morgawr and the Crusher, and though the initial Pirate attacks fail in general, they will win easily.
At long last, the Pirates have won this tiny cumulative game!
This was a unique experience. There’s been at least one other cumulative game (I believe two) from back in 2011/2012 that didn’t see a ton of points, but I’m pretty sure this is the smallest cumulative game I’ve played. Despite it’s short nature, I would recommend giving something like this a try. Especially if you’ve never played a cumulative game before, this would be a good way to get started.
I must admit that I was disappointed not to use three of the 24 ships available: HMS Malton, HMS Ark Royal, and the Banshee’s Wail. However, perhaps I’ll find a way to fit them in even when I’m around my entire collection again.