Strategic Elements of Pirates CSG

Strategic Elements of Pirates CSG

Welcome to a relatively deep dive on one of my favorite topics – the “strategic elements” of this game. I want this list to be as comprehensive as possible, so feel free to leave a comment at the bottom if you think I should include additional topics. Some of the ideas are more tactical than strategic, but I think they fit in the discussion as well. These are the kinds of things I love thinking about after playing the game more than 450 times over a 10+ year period.  A lot of it is theoretical, situational, irrelevant to casual players, and even gamey in a few cases.  Some of the topics I go “down the rabbit hole” on are more for a thought exercise than any likely practical use.

Would you be scared if you saw this fleet across from you? Based on the ships you see, what named crew would you expect to see revealed during play?

Before the Game
Fleet Construction: If possible, work out a build total with players in advance.  I’ve found that this helps me build more effective fleets than arriving at a venue and having to come up with things on the spot.  The Building a Fleet page has more information.

Questions to ask yourself when building a fleet: Who are you playing against? What are their habits, favorites, and collections like? (might help determine face down crew setups or likely play styles) Is there a ban list? Are there house rules? If so, what are they? (it is important to establish house rules in advance if possible) Will players gang up on you and try to take you out of the game if you use certain overpowered (OP) items? Has a “fleet tier” been established prior to playing? For example, is the game going to be of a casual nature, or more competitive?  In my experience, even in “casual” settings players tend to use pretty high-quality ships.

Look at the other fleets!  Something I forget to do in some casual games is get a good look at the opposition before going into the setup and gameplay.  It pays to know each special ability on each ship in play, which is always public information.  It also helps to know how many crew are on each ship, even if all of them are face down.  For example, if a ship has 5 cargo spaces but 6 crew aboard, there must be a crew that doesn’t take up cargo space (usually an oarsman) or/and a link.  If a player has their crew unpunched in a stack under a ship’s deckplate, ask them how many crew are aboard and what their nationalities are.  It’s understandable that people don’t want to punch out crew chips (especially named crew), but the normal rules of play dictate that there is no hiding the quantity of crew on each ship. This will be important later on when crew start getting revealed and you need to ascertain or assume what else the ship might be carrying.

Setup
I recommend checking out my Island Placement Strategic Meta post for thoughts on optimizing setups for competitive standard games.  However, terrain is an additional wild card.  If your fleet would be better served by terrain (fog banks for fog hoppers, whirlpools for extra actions, etc), are you able to argue for the inclusion of the type(s) you want?  Normally fleet building happens before setup, so an opponent may have looked at your fleet and want to deny you from using specific terrain.  Additionally, they might deduce your “terrain strategy” and try to place them far away from any potential home island you may end up at.  It gets a bit “gamey”, but your group may be quite casual about how terrain is placed and you might be able to successfully put extra of your favored type into the mix that ends up benefiting you more than the other players.

Although house rules often feature in the setup phase, it’s good to know the official Wizkids rules as well.  The last player chooses the location of the last island placed.  After terrain is placed, they then choose the location of the first player’s home island.  This makes it very easy for them to screw over the first player by intentionally placing the final island 6L away from the already-most-remote island and then pick that to be the first player’s home island.

If forts are integral to your strategy or play style, it could be a great idea to have each regular gold coin you contribute be valuable enough to build the most expensive fort you may use.  This way, if things go wrong and you only get a single coin home in the early going, you’ve maximized your chances of being able to build any of your forts with said coin. (this works better in non-standard treasure distributions)

Ship abilities must be public knowledge, but I prefer to keep my named crew and Unique Treasure cards hidden out of play.  Punching the chips and coins out before you arrive for a game is worth considering, although this level of paranoia is likely beyond the scope of most player experiences.

Knowledge is Power
It is very important to know how everything works with the rules (they’re also at the bottom of the homepage) and The Pirate Code to know the capabilities and limitations of the fleets and game pieces.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Too many times I’ve been playing against people who thought things worked a certain way and thought they were about to pull something off.  Turns out it’s illegal because it would be too unfair, and because it twists the original intent of the rules and abilities as written.  As official Rules Arbitrator Woelf has said in the past, (paraphrasing) if a combo/etc seems too good to be true, it’s probably not legal by the rules.  For newer players with little experience in how the Code usually elaborates on rules and abilities, it’s probably a good idea to read about abilities or game pieces you’re using (not all need a Code entry however) before trying things out in fleets.  Sometimes just reading the Code will give you gameplay or combo ideas.

As mentioned earlier, looking at your opponent’s fleets before the game starts can be instrumental to victory. Know what they have, what likely combos might be face down on crew, etc.  If they are using English or Pirate crew, the alternate flag artwork could give away crew from the PotC expansion.

If you have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the game pieces and their stats and abilities, it provides opportunities to “observe” some games from a different perspective.  It is then your choice if you wish to remind a player that their ship actually has an ability that could help them out.  Again, it gets “gamey” but this could also be used to hurt players that oppose you or are fighting you during a game (reminding a player attacking someone who is attacking you that the Cargo Killing ability works on every hit, for example), or avoided altogether as players forget that you have a ship with the home island raiding ability or that they forgot to give an action to one of their ships.  However, I usually prefer to “overinform”, mostly in the interests of helping other players become better or more knowledgeable.

Strategic Elements of Pirates CSG

What might an opponent do with this setup? What cargo might get transferred to a gunship?

This also goes for knowing how Unique Treasures work.  Strange things can happen during a game that catch you off guard.  For example, at one game I brought a small stack of 5-7 UT’s to a game and placed 4 or 5 in the treasure distribution in the interest of helping my fleet.  During the game a player had found a UT, didn’t know what it did, and asked me for the stack so they could look at the ability.  I was fine giving them the stack to look at.  However, it got me thinking – there are various databases out there (like the Master Spreadsheet) that contain all game piece information in an easily accessible medium. I could have told the player to just look the UT up.  By seeing my stack, they not only can learn what other UT’s I contributed, but they can make additional deductions.  If only one punched out UT in the stack has not been revealed (and is a UT loaded face up) and there is only one wild island with coins left on it, they can make a pretty good bet that the UT is on that island.  In addition, some of the UT’s in my stack were still on the card, which only further helps to narrow down what UT’s might be where.

As far as a “Unique Treasure Meta” goes, this could actually be taken WAY further.  I could have included a deke in my stack – if I included a copy of Pandora’s Box without the UT on it, maybe a player would get cold feet on further exploratory ventures – especially if they also saw an unpunched copy of Runes of Death in the stack!  Additionally, you could leave punched UT cards lying around during the game, perhaps prompting players to ask you if you included those UT’s in the mix.  At that point you could answer them truthfully, lie, or decline to say anything at all.  After all, the game is called “Pirates”.  🙂

Towing
I have probably won at least a few games based on towing alone.  Knowing all the intricacies and opportunities in the towing rules can be extremely beneficial, especially when valuable cargo is involved or you are close to your home island or a friendly fort.  Woelf’s useful Reference Diagrams mostly contain basics and are not needed by more experienced players.  However, as recently as perhaps 2018 or 2019 I learned something valuable from page 10. I was completely unaware of “Towing Option #1”. For example, you could get rammed by an enemy ship, derelict them on your next turn with a different ship, then start towing them immediately with the rammed ship!

Although the Pirate Code often restricts the crazy combos that players want to exploit, I think towing is one of the specific areas where the Code is surprisingly lenient.  I highly recommend reading the entry on towing at the top of page 10.  Always make sure to give a new capture an action as soon as possible.  For example, the turn after cancelling Oarsman to capture an enemy ship, it can row away on its own with said oarsman (often at S+S if a helmsman is still aboard).  This frees up the towing ship for additional duties.  As soon as a towing ship docks at your home island or a friendly fort, the towed ship docks immediately as a free action and can be given a repair action.  Quick repairing and optimizing crew setups on newly captured ships can be very helpful in the endgame phase (usually around the last ~1/3 of a game).

The Americans use chain towing to remove the wildly burning Paul Revere from a battlefield.

I drop tows and resume them all the time.  Towing is completely voluntary and the towing ship can thematically “cut the line” at any time.  Although towing multiple ships in a chain is not legal, a different take on “chain towing” is – towing a ship just to warp it to the stern of the towing ship, releasing it immediately, then towing it with another ship in your fleet in order to move the towed ship again.  If often requires more ships than most games can accommodate, but this tactic can be used to remove a valuable asset from potential disaster.

Very strange things are possible with towing. If you’re towing a 10 master, moving nearly 180 degrees in the opposite direction just a teeny bit will result in the entire bulk of the 10 master flipping around and potentially creating a large “block”. Such a maneuver could result in the 10 master then getting its canceller in range, blocking an enemy trade route for a turn (especially if it’s an Eternal 10 master your opponent doesn’t want to sink), or letting a friendly ship more easily reach the 10 master to exchange cargo.

Whenever you tow a ship and cannot place it directly behind the towing ship (normally because the flag gets in the way), just place it on the side of the towing ship’s stern that is least likely to face attack before your next turn starts.  This might help keep the towed vessel out of shooting or ramming range.  Also, keep in mind that the towing and towed ships can explore each other because they’re touching – this can be useful when the towed ship explores the towing ship to give the latter a valuable piece of cargo.

It’s also good to keep in mind which ships in your fleet should even be towing in the first place.  You might capture an enemy ship with a vessel that has S+S+S base move and no helmsman, but it’s probably far better to have a slower ship with a helmsman tow her home because she can tow at S+S (and S speed is atrociously slow for any ship to be moving).  Ships with extra action capabilities available may help you a lot if they can get a valuable derelict home at S+S+S+S per turn or faster.

Bluffing, Threats, and Deception
Some new players will be overly honest about the quality of the wild islands they explore.  Try not to make it obvious if you’ve found a good or bad wild island in terms of how much total gold is on it (all 1’s/etc).  On the other hand, you could gamify it and tell players that the values are bad in the interest of getting them to not attack you for your coins.  Of course, this could backfire if they think you’re lying.

It might be beneficial to keep a “poker face” whenever you explore wild islands or see face down cargo on enemy ships.  When it’s not your turn, it might be worth it to watch people’s reactions when they explore islands.

Bluffing and lying are two of the most fascinating gameplay aspects of Pirates that I have very little experience with and have not seen very often.  However, the potential ramifications are endless.  Nothing stops you from disclosing information (whether it’s true or not) about what you have in your fleet and the treasures you contributed.  In a 4 player game, you could theorize about what face down crew could be on an enemy gunship, perhaps spooking one or both of the other players into attacking them.

In addition, you can help other players you want to see do well (usually for your own benefit of course).  You can cater your advice to players trying to take down the early leader, or someone who has already attacked you.  You could even intentionally give bad advice to someone to derail their efforts, though I wouldn’t want to and in multiplayer games you’re likely to get busted by the other players.

You can also make threats. Claiming that you’ll attack a player on your next turn may affect what actions they take this turn.  This relates closely to bluffing.  Threatening to reveal a home island raiding crew (whether you have one or not) when paired with a feint towards their home island could result in a player moving multiple ships towards home, potentially opening up additional opportunities.

One thing I have done in the past is offer up ideas on additional options available to a player.  This can be with good intent to help them learn how the game works, or to mislead them.  For example, if you see a player considering 1 or 2 options available to an action a gunship is about to take, you might see a 3rd option that actually does make sense, but you expect to be slightly more beneficial for you in the long run than their other options.  Casually suggesting it might remind them that they could take that route.

Side conversations: Nothing forbids you from having private conversations with other players during the game.  You might see the perfect opportunity for an alliance, or want to share information about a crew or UT one of your ship carries.  The downside is that the other players might assume you are in cahoots.  At which point you can of course tell the truth of what was said, or lie.

Side note: Please don’t take this too far.  Certain elements of the game are meant to be public information at all times – you cannot hide ship abilities, the number or nationality of face down crew on your ships, or the presence of Unique Treasures that must be placed/loaded face up.  It may also be a good idea to consider the “temperament” of your playgroup – if you engage in too much deceit or “gamey” playing, people might quit or decide to play something else.

Exploring, Gold, and Unique Treasures
This section goes along with some of the others already discussed, but is vital to winning. Try to memorize all gold values you see throughout the game, especially those you cannot voluntarily look at again – coins left on wild islands you don’t have cargo space for, gold on enemy ships, etc.  You could even make some notes on your phone to keep track of what gold is where and how much value is left on the islands you’ve explored.  This leads to the chess match of competitive standard games – if you explore 2 of the 4 wild islands and only find 10 gold total, you know the other player is likely to find the other 20 and you’ve got some work to do to win.  Then you need to decide which avenue is most likely to result in you getting enough gold to win or tie – risking your ships to get to the other islands, dropping low value coins to make room for high value coins you haven’t loaded yet, trying to steal their gold whether it’s on their ships or their home island, capturing their Ransom crew, etc.

Knowing what gold was on all the islands you explored is good for later parts of the game.  If you know an opponent reached a wild island after you looted it and only got the last 2 coins, hopefully you remember that they’re both 1’s and can potentially be ignored in favor of protecting the 5 gold in your fort that might get attacked soon.

If you know how much total gold is in the treasure distribution, it’s useful to make calculations throughout the game.  From the gold you’ve seen, you can start to figure out what other islands have and what the other players likely have access to. For example, in a 3 player game with 80 total gold in play, your explored island (1 of 4 wild islands) contains 32 gold, a disproportionately high amount.  If you can get just a bit more from there on out, you might be able to play conservatively or in a defensive way.  In games where the total amount of gold in play is random, the “spying” abilities may become more useful.

Tactical Decisions
Order of Operations – What to do?
Sometimes the hardest decision made in a game is which crew to eliminate after you’ve lost a boarding party. You need to consider the survivability of the ship on your next turn, but also in the long term if you think you can escape in the short term.  This is where valuable crew might be better off thrown overboard.  A named captain might take the bullet in favor of a helmsman+oarsman combo because your dismasted hybrid needs the latter two in order to make it home with important gold next turn.

When you are working with the Canceller ability, what to cancel can also be a conundrum.  It often boils down to the lesser of two evils – cancel the opponent’s captain to avoid being dismasted, or cancel Blackbeard’s gold capture ability to avoid a boarding party where he steals said canceller?!  (which might be unloaded later for a game-winning payout!)

Cancelling logistics get far crazier when multiple ships are involved.  This is when the order in which an opponent moves their ships can matter a lot to you.  You may be facing two enemy ships in the vicinity of your canceller.  If their 3 master moves on you and you don’t cancel its captain because there’s a 5 master lurking nearby, you might take a surprising amount of damage only to realize you wasted an opportunity when they move their 5 master away to go do other things, when you thought it was going to attack you!

The order in which you give actions to each of your ships can matter immensely.  When your turn is approaching, try to figure out the optimal way in which your actions should be given.  The order will be inconsequential on many turns, but things get especially interesting with tight maneuvering, combat, docking, repairing, cargo transfers, towing, and whirlpools.

Positioning
When docking a derelict at an island after the towing ship docks, consider what your goals are for said derelict.  Can it repair immediately? Will it be capable of movement soon?  How much do you care that it remains in your possession?  Can you use it to block enemy movement or protect the towing ship from attack?  Make sure to dock the derelict in a position that will not block your own maneuvers.  If it’s a large ship that needs many turns of repairing, you might want to dock it at a “dormant” part of the island where it can sit for a while. On the other hand, you might want to dock a derelict ship optimal for gold running near a trade route so it can sail out for a coin in the endgame as soon as it has a mast up.

Here the Shui Xian is completely boxed in, and cannot shoot at the ships on the right docked at their home island. Click for the insane battle report.

There are situations where you might be able to block an enemy’s movements simply by docking derelicts at home, or redocking other ships.  I’ve found this to be especially prevalent when using the ship stealing ability, where you can warp a derelict home by exploring it (first seen on Commander Temple).

Positioning is also extremely important in general – for angling your move segments optimally for shooting, docking, blocking, towing, and more.

Premeasuring
This is when you measure L and S segments in advance of something happening, or simply to check lines of fire or see if a target is in range. When and when not to premeasure?  It is critical for determining who might get the first shot in a potential engagement. It is very helpful to determine where your ship will end a move action and what cannons might be in range of your target. This new information must then be weighed against the threat of counterattack, the possibility of a canceller being revealed, bad shooting luck, and more.  Premeasuring is usually worth it, but it could also tip off an opponent to something you’re planning.  If you premeasure an intimidating attack your opponent is not expecting, it might make them hostile or provoke them into trying to get the initiative.

Forts
Questions to ask: Should you build a fort in this situation? What are the advantages and disadvantages of building a fort or NOT building a fort?  Where should a fort be built?  Which location (of perhaps two being considered) is more likely to get attacked or not protect the gold or ships you need? What fort should be built? (often the Revolution forts are better than the Crimson Coast ones)

Gimmicks, the unexpected, and exotic game pieces
This might go beyond the scope of this post, but there are some exotic game pieces out there that players should be aware of.  Calypso allows for nearly infinite whirlpool creation and therefore opens up entirely new play strategies – whirlpool teleporting on a turn-by-turn basis, using gold runners without helmsmen because they will come out of the second whirlpool within L of a wild island, home island raiding chaos, making extra actions even more valuable, and on and on.  Sea dragons can essentially teleport at will, making them prime executors of Lord Mycron’s ability – with two actions they are guaranteed to get the first strike on any ship in play not docked at its home island.  Fog hoppers are a fun way to essentially weaponize terrain (which Calypso also does, just with whirlpools).  Ship stealers (like the Harbinger) are one way to get derelicts home in a flash – especially when combined with extra actions.  One thing to keep in mind when using that ability is the situation at your home island – whether or not it’s a good time to warp home, what the derelict ship will do upon docking, etc.

Getting into the competitive scene, the common version of Captain Jack Sparrow helped birth the Universal Pirate Shipping strategy, in which coins are magically flipped home and “plused” or “bonused” into near-instant victories against almost any opposing fleet you could come up with.  In general, a close eye should be kept on any game piece that allows for teleportation – of ships, crew, or gold.  Most of these unique game pieces (often “1 of 1”, meaning they are the only crew/ship of their faction or in the entire game with such abilities) are not found in casual games, but are good to be aware of due to their potential to upend strategies or in some cases even destabilize the playing field.

Predicting the Future
Try to play the game on your opponent’s turns as well – this is a great time to observe how the other people play, learn what crew or UT’s they might have in their fleet, keep tabs on conflicts that don’t involve you, and plan your next turn. Premeasuring, even if it’s not during your own turn, can help to predict if someone is about to attack or divert course.  You should be able to premeasure enemy movements and shots to see what kind of threat you’re facing in the near future.

However, I would caution against trying to plan things out too far in advance.  Gore Verbinski said about filming Pirates of the Caribbean: “Everything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  The same is very often true of playing Pirates CSG.  The best-laid plans often go awry.  The problem with predicting too many turns or actions in advance is that you cannot predict exactly what other players will do, unless they are silly (or complacent) enough to say so. I have had times during a game where I got excited about a potential future course of action that I saw during a game – an avenue towards victory had opened up!  Alas, I was not anticipating an opponent doing X maneuver with X ship to foil my plans. This is where a bit of experience in playing solo might come in handy – if you can put yourself in your opponent’s shoes throughout the game, you can get a better understanding of how they are likely to optimize their playing going forward.

Ending the Game
There are times when you know you’re winning, even if you don’t know the total value of gold in the treasure distribution.  At that point you may want to end the game as fast as possible. If your fleet has weakened or an enemy is in position to take the lead from you by raiding your home island or by some other means, there may be ways to end the game when you need to. Deliberately slamming your ship into an iceberg or running it over a reef might cause a dereliction that triggers an endgame condition.  If flat earth rules are being used, you might be able to sail your last ship over the edge of the map and out of play.  You might also be able to force an opponent’s hand by attacking them, which might result in a boarding party where you choose to eliminate an oarsman that was preventing your ship from being derelict.  I don’t enjoy when games end this way, but I haven’t seen it often at all either.

That wraps up the strategic elements of Pirates CSG!  Please leave a comment below if you think I missed anything, or if you want to further the discussion!  I LOVE talking about these deeper gameplay aspects and I want to hear and know more about them. Thanks for reading!

Darrin’s Gold Race vs. HMS Grand Temple 3.0 – January 3rd, 2015

Due to time constraints I am only planning on playing one game per matchup from here on out.

*If you haven’t looked at these fleets you really should! I’m not going to repost entire fleet descriptions in the report. It would also be nice if there were more comments and votes on the fleets.*

Darrin’s Gold Race 

The Jade Rebellion Sea Crane is a proxy for the Pirate one from OE, which has the same stats. The Rover is being used instead of Favor of the Gods.
Darrin's Gold Race fleet

HMS Grand Temple v 3.0 
HMS Grand Temple v 3.0

The islands were set up in a pyramid fashion to change things up. HMS Grand Temple v 3.0 (now referred to as GT3) rolled to go first, followed by the Gold Race fleet. Since the Gold Race fleet was entirely Pirate, the Headhunter’s world-hater was nullified. However, GT3 figured it wouldn’t matter with no opposing ship having more than 2 masts.

Turn 1:
The GT and Oxford couldn’t hit any of the Pirate ships docked at their home island.

The Gold Race fleet followed the 1st turn protocol laid out by darrin in his fleet description. However, I noticed a few issues. When trading away bad UT’s with Pedro Gilbert, the ship “must load the traded treasure“. However, with Jonah and so many crew/equipment on the ship, there’s no space with which to load it. Halfway through the first turn I decided that the Banshee’s Cry never started the game with English Letter of Marque aboard, which let the Cry trade later in the turn. For the first island she decided to keep Enemy of the State since the Cry didn’t plan on docking at her HI at any point in the game.

In addition, this fleet may be the most confusing fleet I’ve ever played. Evident by selvaxri’s comment above, Captain Jack Sparrow is probably the biggest conundrum in Pirates. (On another note, how does the crew/treasure swap work thematically?) I didn’t get it at first either and evidently I’m still having trouble with how powerful he is because in this game I made another mistake. Not only is the gold NOT loaded by the ship carrying CJS, the traded crew doesn’t go on the ship either, it just sits on the island in place of the coin. I thought there was an issue where since Jonah makes the oarsman take up space, there wouldn’t be any space with which to load the traded crew (which you would want to sac with Pedro anyway).

Lastly, Sunken Treasure probably shouldn’t be in the fleet because as darrin alluded to in his introduction to UPS v 2.0, CJS can’t trade away UT’s that are loaded face up.

On the first island that the BC explored, she found Enemy of the State, Sunken Treasure, and two 2’s (not enough to win). After trading a 2 home (which got +3’d by the Bonnie Liz), the BC sacced a crew to move to the next island to the north. Here she found Natives, which was traded away by Pedro for a 6 from another island. In addition to trading Natives away via Pedro, she traded a 4 home via CJS, giving the Pirates 12 gold at the end of the first turn.
Darrin's Gold Race vs. HMS Grand Temple 3.0 - January 3rd, 2015

Turn 2:
The Grand Temple sacced an oarsman but still couldn’t reach the Banshee’s Cry. The Oxford was partially blocked by the Pirates’ HI and sailed around it, sinking the Rover in the process.

The BC dumped her explorer and oarsman on the second island to make room for another explorer from home, which in hindsight was actually unnecessary because the crew isn’t actually loaded. She then traded a 2 home for a 17-0 victory!

Because of the cargo complications (which I’m still wrapping my head around, lol), I don’t know if I played Darrin’s Gold Race fleet 100% correctly. However, it still won by the end of the second turn without the Grand Temple firing a shot!

How much can you fit on a one masted sloop? Shocked
Darrin's Gold Race vs. HMS Grand Temple 3.0 - January 3rd, 2015

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates – January 1st, 2015

The next three game series would be between my Hai Peng Fort Frenzy fleet and a fleet that was created recently with some of my new ships. The first game was particularly long and exciting, even complex to a degree.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy

The Coeur du Lion is a proxy for the Lezard.
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy fleet

American Pirates

American Pirates fleet

Game 1:

Turn 1:
The American Pirates (abbreviated AP’s) went first, using Hidden Cove to catapult the Amity out to the middle island. She explored and found Barbary Banner.

This Hai Peng can move 4S and 4L total distance because of Mycron on the Patagonia. She couldn’t quite reach the furthest island, and since the Amity had already docked at the middle island, the Hai Peng was forced to sail to the northwestern island. However, she found Holy Water, Pirate Globe and two 2’s. This was a problem because all forts cost at least 3 gold and therefore the Hai Peng couldn’t build a fort on the first turn. The HP took one of the 2 coins and traded the other one home via CJS and the Lezard.

 

Turn 2:
The Bandido docked at the northeastern island, while the Roanoke was not yet in range of either the Hai Peng or the Banshee’s Cry. With a helmsman and Blackheart the Roanoke could move up to L+S+L+S, quite fast but technically only half the total speed of the Hai Peng.

The reveal of Pirate Globe on the first turn proved to be very beneficial to the Hai Peng fleet (Hai Peng Fort Frenzy or HPFF). The Globe revealed that on the western island where the Banshee’s Cry was about to dock, there was Maps of Alexandria, Jailhouse Dog and two 5’s. On the northeastern island where the Bandido had docked there was a 5 and three 2’s. Because the Bandido was about to take treasure from her island and that island was closer to the AP’s HI (plus the fact that it had more gold on it), the HP sailed off to the island where the Bandido was docked. With 8 total move segments she was able to get there easily and also position herself in a way that let her shoot at the Bandido while staying out of range of the Roanoke. One of her two shots hit to dismast the Bandido. She then sent the 5 home to build Paradis de la Mer on the island as the Banshee’s Cry docked at the western island.

(The gold is already on the AP’s HI because I forgot to take a picture at the end of the turn.)

 

Turn 3:
The Amity docked home her 10 gold including the 5 from Barbary Banner, giving the AP’s a 10-2 gold advantage. Knowing that of the 11 gold that was on the northeastern island (with Paradis), only 7 could be transferred home (making the score 10-9 at a maximum), the Roanoke made the decision to keep sailing west towards the Banshee’s Cry.

The Hai Peng couldn’t quite make it to the western island where the Banshee’s Cry was docked, partly because she had docked on the other side of the island on the previous turn to shoot at the Bandido and avoid the Roanoke. As a result the HP couldn’t build a fort on this turn either, with three islands either emptied or having a fort on them already. The HP also realized that there wasn’t enough gold in Paradis de la Mer to win by simply transferring it home via CJS, not to mention that the oarsmen aboard the Lezard would run out anyway. Knowing that the HP would have a shot at the western island on the following turn, the Banshee’s Cry sailed away from the island because it would be easy for the Roanoke to sink her on the next turn and take the gold with Divers. The Banshee’s Cry and Hai Peng both made sure they were out of the Roanoke’s range.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 4:
The Bandido was scuttled since Paradis would have sunk her anyway, leaving the AP’s with the Roanoke and Amity. HPFF forgot about the explorer on the Roanoke, and the Roanoke used him to grab both 5’s from the western island, saccing one of her two oarsmen to make enough space. Jailhouse Dog was used to eliminate the Holy Water that the HP had loaded. This was a blow to HPFF because they had wanted to use Jailhouse Dog to eliminate Barbary Banner to deny the AP’s 5 extra gold. The Roanoke’s foremast cannon was just out of range of the Banshee’s Cry.

HPFF now realized that to win the game they would have to steal at least one of the 5’s on board the Roanoke. The Banshee’s Cry had nowhere to run and no islands to explore, so she rammed the Roanoke out of desperation, losing both rolls and one of her two oarsmen. The Hai Peng sailed back to Paradis and transferred home the original 5 used to build the fort by leaving two 2’s as the gold necessary to keep the fort in operation. The gold count was now 10-7 in favour of the AP’s.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 5:
The Roanoke sank the Banshee’s Cry, while the Amity wasn’t fast enough to ram the HP. The Hai Peng sent home 2 more gold from Paradis, leaving 4 gold permanently in the fort (10-9, AP’s winning).

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 6:
The Roanoke started to sail home. The Lezard, with no more oarsmen to transfer and no gold to unload at her HI, finally set sail. At this point the game was up to the HP and the Lezard (but realistically only the HP) to steal gold from the Roanoke and get away with it. The HP still had the 2 in her cargo hold from early in the game. This Hai Peng is so fast that she was able to go all the way home from Paradis and still sail back out again and catch the Roanoke.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 7:
The Roanoke moved twice by saccing her second oarsman. The HP dropped off her 2 coin at her HI, giving HPFF an 11-10 lead.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 8:
The Roanoke sacced her explorer to move twice once again, leaving her about a centimeter from her HI.

The moment was finally at hand! The Hai Peng was faced with her greatest challenge yet. With Mycron she was able to move and shoot twice before ramming the Roanoke. She missed both shots on the first action but hit both times on the second action, leaving the Roanoke with three masts. The Hai Peng rammed the Roanoke on the port side to avoid a potential ram by the Amity on the following turn. However, the ram roll failed, leaving the Hai Peng at a slight disadvantage going into the boarding action. With great drama the boarding action failed! Shocked The Hai Peng only lost an oarsman but in reality she had lost the game, as the Roanoke ended the game on the next turn by docking home her two 5’s to give the American Pirates a thrilling 20-11 victory!

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

This was one of the more interesting games of this winter so far. It was definitely one of the longest 40 point games I’ve ever played, with 9 total turns counting the Roanoke’s final turn. During the game I noticed some problems with my HPFF fleet. I’ll look to correct them as I go along.

Game 2:

HPFF rolled to go first, and the HI setup was reversed with the AP’s in the south and HPFF in the east. Instead of two oarsmen on the Banshee’s Cry one was swapped out for an explorer.

Turn 1:
The Hai Peng couldn’t reach the western island and so was forced to dock at the northwestern island, where she built the Devil’s Maw.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 2:
The Banshee’s Cry explored the middle wild island and found Jailhouse Dog, Barbary Banner, Maps of Alexandria, and a 2. She took the gold and the Hai Peng was able to see what treasures were on the remaining two islands. She sailed to the northeastern island and built Paradis de la Mer.

The Amity reached the western island and took the gold from it. In the first big move of the game, the Roanoke was Hidden Cove’d to the middle island. The AP’s had decided to use HC with the Roanoke rather than to run gold with it. This extra boost of movement got the Roanoke within saccing striking distance of the Hai Peng. Blackheart sacced an oarsman and the Roanoke sunk the Hai Peng while she was docked at Paradis!

Two turns in and the Hai Peng is gone.
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 3:
After a great start HPFF was now in big trouble. On the bright side, Mycron could now give the Patagonia’s action to the Banshee’s Cry, which let her return home at L+L+L+L speed from the middle island. In the meantime Paradis de la Mer exacted some revenge on the Roanoke by hitting twice with both of the cannons that were in range.

Since the Devil’s Maw was an easier target, the Roanoke turned west and sacced herself into range of the Pirate fort, hitting twice in five tries between two shoot actions. She could only get two of her three remaining guns in range for the first action. It was now up to the Roanoke to take out a fort since they held all the gold left in play that was needed for the AP’s to win.

Roanoke vs. fort

 

Turn 4:
The Banshee’s Cry zipped out to Paradis and grabbed the 5 coin, which was the last coin that could leave the fort since the two 2’s had to stay. This is actually one of the biggest weaknesses of the HPFF fleet because they can only get so much gold home from the forts they build. The Devil’s Maw took a mast off the Roanoke with her three remaining cannons to establish a slight numerical advantage.

The Amity returned home with 8 gold, making the score 8-7 in favour of the AP’s. The Roanoke sacced her explorer to shoot twice at the Devil’s Maw but only hit once in four tries.

 

Turn 5:
The Banshee’s Cry docked home the 5 from Paradis to take the lead 12-8. The Devil’s Maw connected for a hit on the Roanoke, leaving the flagship with just one mast.

On the AP’s turn the Roanoke sacced her valuable helmsman to shoot twice at the Devil’s Maw. The risk paid off as the Roanoke hit both times to make the fort abandoned and render it useless!

 

Turn 6:
This is when the game started getting down to the wire. With the Hai Peng long gone and the Roanoke with one mast standing, the lesser ships would finally decide the outcome of the game.

Since the Roanoke was still around the Devil’s Maw island that the Banshee’s Cry had to get to in order to load the winning gold, HPFF decided to use Mycron’s action for the Lezard, who had been sailing northwest ever since her partner in crime (the HP) had sunk. HPFF was worried about the speed (S+S+S) of the Bandido to ram the Banshee’s Cry out of commission. The Lezard was given an extra action which she used to ram the Bandido, needing just a 2 to hit. She rolled a 1, leaving the AP’s with 5 masts in the area and HPFF with 2.

With no crew left to sac and no helmsman, Blackheart fired the Roanoke’s last cannon at the Devil’s Maw, but it missed. The Bandido sailed around the Lezard and rammed her in return, but somehow the Bandido also rolled a 1.

 

Turn 7:
With the Roanoke now in ramming range, the Lezard now rammed her and succeeded in taking out her last mast. The Roanoke was now derelict. The Banshee’s Cry used Mycron to approach the crucial northwestern island, which was actually the first island to be explored in this game.

The Amity returned the favour by ramming the Lezard, leaving three ships (two derelict) all in contact with one another.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 8:
The Banshee’s Cry docked at the Devil’s Maw and loaded 4 gold, which would be enough to win the game for HPFF.

This was already a great, close, hard-fought game, but now it really started getting ridiculous. The Banshee’s Cry had measured multiple times and determined that there was nowhere at the northwestern island that she could dock without being in ramming range of the two Pirate ships. She docked on the far side of the island anyway.

The Bandido came around the north side of the island and rammed the Cry. Needing a 2 to dismast the Cry and probably win the game for the AP’s, the Bandido rolled another 1! The Amity sailed around the south side of the island, rammed the Banshee’s Cry and rolled a 1! O_O  The boarding rolls were ineffective and the Banshee’s Cry had inexplicably survived!

Is this die cursed?
red d6

The infamous and now apparently invincible Banshee’s Cry:
Banshee's Cry at fort

 

Turn 9:
The Banshee’s Cry was trapped between the Amity and the Bandido, and if you read my report from the game using El Garante a few weeks ago you’ll remember the moment where the huge ship was trapped on both sides by ships that had rammed her. I feel that it would be very unfair for a fleet to lose in such a way and therefore the “no ship may turn more than 90 degrees” house rule was temporarily broken to allow the Banshee’s Cry to move. She took off with the help of Mycron and there was no hope of the Amity or Bandido of catching her.

The Bandido used a shoot action to finally destroy the Devil’s Maw, and the Amity used her explorer to grab the 7 gold that was in the fort.

Turns 10 and 11:
The ships raced for home with their gold, but it was no contest. The Cry docked home 4 gold to give HPFF a 16-8 win!

This was one of the craziest games I’ve played so far this run and one of the better ones I’ve played overall. It was even longer than the last one between these fleets (11 turns and 9 for the first one). They seem to be unnaturally evenly matched, which makes for awesome gameplay. HPFF appears better on paper, but the advantage of having Hidden Cove is HUGE. This really evens out the fleets and even gives the American Pirates the upper hand in some ways.

It was good to see the smaller ships see action after the Roanoke and especially the Hai Peng were knocked out of the game. HPFF showed their mettle by winning the game even after their main ship was sunk on the second turn.

Despite the game’s length and overall excitement, I think I’ll always remember this game as the failed ramming game (or the ram game maybe?). I believe there were SIX ram attempts on ships with one mast, and only two of them succeeded! Mathematically you’d expect 5/6 to work. Perhaps shoot actions aren’t the only time where huge amounts of 1’s are rolled… XD

Game 3:

The third game featured the HPFF HI in the west and the AP HI on the northeast island. HPFF rolled to go first.

Turn 1:
The Hai Peng explored the middle island, finding Holy Water, Maps of Alexandria (thus turning over all the other treasure on the islands), a 5 and a 1. She sent the 5 home and kept the 1 and Holy Water. Then the HP went south and explored another island, sending another 5 gold home which came right back in the form of the Devil’s Maw.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 2:
The HP now went to the northwestern island and grabbed Jailhouse Dog in order to potentially cancel Barbary Banner, which was on the eastern island near the AP HI. The HP sent a 2 to the Lezard. The Banshee’s Cry loaded 4 gold from the Devil’s Maw. At the end of the turn Paradis de la Mer was built on the northwest island.

The Amity used Ghost Ship to sail through the northwest island and ram the docked Hai Peng. The ram and board were successful, leaving the HP with one mast and the Amity with 1 gold in her cargo hold. The Bandido docked at the eastern island. The Roanoke was Hidden Cove’d to the middle island from which she sacced an oarsman to sink the Banshee’s Cry to the south. Divers was flipped to give the AP’s all 4 gold on their HI. The Roanoke was 4 out of 5 on her shoot action, with her last two hits coming against the Devil’s Maw.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 3:
HPFF began the turn by opening fire with their two forts. This was probably the most triumphant game I’ve played with forts. The Devil’s Maw blasted the Roanoke 3/3 to leave her with two masts remaining. Then Paradis de la Mer let loose a flurry of shots on the Amity, shredding her to pieces and leaving her derelict! Once again the rage of the gunners on Paradis had gotten revenge on the AP’s for attacking the Hai Peng. When the smoke cleared from these battles the Hai Peng had already sailed away and was almost to the Bandido in the east.

The Bandido explored and took Barbary Banner and a 5 and a 2. The Roanoke retreated, with no interest in engaging the Devil’s Maw.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 4:
The Hai Peng dismasted the Bandido with her first action and captured her and explored the island with her second action. This left the Roanoke as the only AP ship left that could move.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 5:
The HP towed the Bandido back the way she had come to the northwest, desperate to stay out of the Roanoke’s range. The Roanoke sailed north, dismasting the Lezard, which had sailed out to capture the Amity.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 6:
The Lezard had plenty of oarsmen aboard (including her French one) and captured the Amity. HPFF had now captured two of the three AP ships and the Roanoke only had two masts standing. The Hai Peng sailed south with the Bandido in tow (still moving S+L+S+S+L+S because of the bonuses and Mycron), once again avoiding the Roanoke. The Roanoke turned south but was just out of range.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy vs. American Pirates - January 1st, 2015

 

Turn 7:

The Hai Peng docked, bringing in 14 gold between her and the Bandido. This gave Hai Peng Fort Frenzy a 16-4 victory and means that they win this series 2 games to 1!

This was an amazing series that was hotly contested. These fleets are very evenly matched, with both of the first two games taking a long time and going down to the wire. The third game finally featured a near-perfect game from HPFF, which shows how fast and powerful it can be. Hai Peng Fort Frenzy beats the American Pirates 2 games to 1.

UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners – December 28th, 2014

I’ve played another 3 game series, this time between a different version of UPS and the EA Gold Runners fleet. Again, if you haven’t checked out these fleets yet I suggest you do so. The links are below.

Silver Crane (UPS v. 4.0) 

Extra Action Gold Runners

UPS 4.0 Silver Crane fleet
The island setup was a little bit different after a comment by marhawkman on BoardGameGeek.

Game 1:
The Coral was Hidden Cove’d to an island but she only found one silver coin on the island. She traded it home for +4 to give UPS4 7 gold at the end of the first turn, but she wouldn’t be able to get the extra +1 from the silver explorer back home if she continued to use that first island. However, because of the Sea Crane’s +1 and Gallows’ +2 there would always be at least +3 to the coin no matter the color. The Coral could go to another island and look for silver coins there, but she decided to stay at the first island.

By the end of the second turn UPS 4 had 12 gold on their HI.
UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

On the third turn both of the EA rolls for the EA Runners fleet succeeded, with the Joya del Sol bringing home 7 gold. However, it was too little, too late as the Coral traded a 2 coin for the win after adding the +3 to make it 17-7 in favour of UPS4.

Game 2:
For the second game the HI’s were closer together towards the middle. UPS 4 went first and the Coral actually found the same treasure mix on her island as in the last game (one silver 3 and three gold 2’s).
UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

This second game was quick and predictable after the Coral found the exact same treasure mix (the treasure was mixed up, it was just a coincidence). There was a little excitement however, with the Algeciras taking out two masts on the Longshanks after she docked at the island. The Joya again made it home, making the final score 17-8 in favour of UPS 4.
UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

Game 3:
The third game saw the HI’s a medium distance apart. The Coral once again only found one silver coin, but this time it was a 1, with all three gold coins being 2’s. This meant that it would take four turns instead of three for UPS 4 to win the game since there were no 3’s on the island and therefore UPS 4 couldn’t bring in more than 5 gold in one turn.
UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

The Algeciras was approaching the Coral’s island, forcing the Coral to act and build Dead Man’s Point.
UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

The third turn of this game was the most exciting of the entire series. The Algeciras finally had a chance at the Coral, but only with a ram since the Coral can’t be shot at while docked. The Algeciras rammed but rolled a 1! She did manage to hit both times against the Longshanks, leaving the pirate ship with 1 mast. The Pirates retaliated on their turn by dismasting the Algeciras with both the Longshanks and Dead Man’s Point, but Captain Jack Hawkins died in the boarding action. At the end of turn 3 UPS 4 led 12-7. UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

The Star of Siam and Joya del Sol couldn’t get any gold home on the fourth turn, and the Coral traded another coin to a 17-7 victory!
UPS 4 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 28th, 2014

For this series UPS version 4.0 beat EA Gold Runners 3 games to 0. This UPS fleet is fun to play although I think my favourite of the three UPS fleets (now that I’ve played them all) is the second one with the extreme speed of having a sac crew on a ship as fast as the Hai Peng.

Last 2 Games of UPS 2 vs. EA Gold Runners – December 23rd, 2014

I’ve played the last 2 games of the series between UPS v. 2.0 and Extra Action Gold Runners.

Game 2:
The EA Runners fleet went first in both games. The Joya del Sol got the EA from Castro and was able to explore a nearby wild island, finding 6 gold and Turtles.

The Hai Peng was Hidden Cove’d to a wild island where she found Homing Beacon, Cross of Coronado, and Screu Engine along with just one 2-gold coin. After trading this to the Intrepide she sacced to the next island and found the 7, sending it home and using the +2’d first coin to build Paradis de la Mer (I feel like this fleet makes a verb out of everything). This left 9 total gold on UPS’s HI (7 + 2).
UPS 2 vs. EA Gold Runners Game 2

On the second turn the EA fleet failed to get any extra actions and was relegated to sailing to and from islands at S+S+S, quite slow in a game like this haha.

Since the Hai Peng knew there was no point in going back to the first island with only UT’s, she redocked twice at Paradis on the second turn, sending home 4 gold total. This was upped to 8 via Aristide and it gave the Pirates a 17-0 victory!
Last 2 Games of UPS 2 vs. EA Gold Runners - December 23rd, 2014
Last 2 Games of UPS 2 vs. EA Gold Runners - December 23rd, 2014

At the end of the first turn the Hai Peng had loaded Homing Beacon, which UPS considered using because the first island was mostly a dud and they couldn’t send coins home from it. The Hai Peng would load two coins from the second island (Paradis), teleport home via the Beacon, then sac an oarsman to catapult to a new island that the Star of Siam had just docked at but not explored. However, it was easier to just use Captain Jack Sparrow and send home two coins from Paradis, upon which Aristide doubled their values and gave UPS enough gold to win. Also, although it was a shutout for UPS, the EA fleet had 6 gold on the Joya and all 10 Turtles approaching their HI.

Game 3:
The Joya del Sol got an EA from Castro on the first turn and found 17 gold on one island! She found the 7 and 6 that her fleet had contributed as well as two 2’s.

The Hai Peng traded back 2 gold as normal, but due to the island setup she wasn’t able to reach a second island. Their HI was the middle island and the Joya’s island and the EA fleet’s HI were the only islands she could have gotten to.

The island setup proved irrelevant on the second turn when the Joya got another EA and docked home her 17 gold to win the game for the EA Runners!
Last 2 Games of UPS 2 vs. EA Gold Runners - December 23rd, 2014

This third game was the fastest of the three and proved that even UPS v. 2.0 can be beat by a ship using extra actions that happened to get very lucky with the gold. It also made me think of the “more than half the starting gold” rule for two player games, which really does make things a bit boring and predictable. These games are meant to use the official rules (which actually help these particular fleets, especially UPS), but it would be interesting to see what would happen if the treasure was more random and it was kept face down on home islands.

Conclusion: UPS v. 2.0 beats EA Gold Runners 2 games to 1. The third game was a bit of a fluke because the Joya found 17 gold on one island and the UPS HI was in a bad spot. I would say that this version of UPS is better than the original fleet because of Jimmy Legs. The Longshanks didn’t really do a lot anyway and this Hai Peng is so fast and active it’s kind of scary.

First Game of UPS 2 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners – December 22nd, 2014

UPS 2 vs. EA Gold Runners: Game 1

The next three game series will pit UPS v. 2.0 against the Extra Action Gold Runners fleet. I was only able to play the first game of the series just now. Again, if you haven’t checked out those fleets yet I suggest you do so. The links are below.

UPS v. 2.0

The Lache de Calvados is a proxy for the Intrepide and the Rover is being used instead of Favor of the Gods.
UPS 2 fleet

Extra Action Gold Runners

The Swift is a proxy for the Star of Siam.
Extra Action Gold Runners fleet
Turn 1:
UPS (v. 2.0) went first. The Hai Peng was Hidden Cove’d to the middle wild island and found Screu Engine which was left behind. A 2 coin was traded via CJS/Intrepide/Aristide (you know the deal by now) and the Pirates were in business with 4 gold. At the next island the Hai Peng found both Turtles and Homing Beacon, making the EA Runners fleet look bad by finding their UT’s before they even left home! Paradis de la Mer was built on this second island. The Rover sailed towards the middle island.

For the EA Runners fleet, all three (counting Vaccaro’s reroll) of the EA rolls failed and therefore the Star of Siam and Joya del Sol were unable to reach islands.
First Game of UPS 2 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 22nd, 2014
Turn 2:
Turn 2 was incredibly predictable. Thanks to darrin’s comprehensive fleet description I was able to follow his instructions to a tee:

darrin wrote:
Second Turn
1. Move the Hai Peng away and then re-dock at the same island with your first fort. Send another coin to L’Intrepide.
2. As a free action, swap Maurice Aristide back onto L’Intrepide and put another oarsman on Le Coeur de Lion.
3. Use an explore action to unload L’Intrepide’s coin for +2 gold.
4. Sacrifice an oarsman to Jimmy Legs, load the traded oarsman as a free action, and move back to the first island you explored. Send another coin to Le Coeur de Lion.
5. As a free action, move Maurice Aristide to Le Coeur de Lion.
6. Use an explore action to unload Le Coeur de Lion’s coin for +2 gold.
7. Build a second fort at the island where Hai Peng is docked.

Dead Man’s Point was built on the middle wild island.

The EA Runners were luckier than on their first turn with the Joya getting an extra action from Castro without having to reroll. The Joya explored the northeastern island and found 10 gold (the UT’s required the EA fleet to put a 7, a 6 and a 2 into the treasure mix), then turned around and made it halfway home.
First Game of UPS 2 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 22nd, 2014
Turn 3:
Because the gold in forts doesn’t technically count towards victory anymore the UPS fleet would have to make do. The Hai Peng traded another 2 (4 after Aristide) to her HI, leaving the Pirates with 12 gold total on their HI. The Hai Peng then went back to Paradis and loaded both 2’s for 4 gold total. At this point there were no more oarsmen left on the HI for which to trade to the Hai Peng. The Rover had meanwhile picked up a 2 from Dead Man’s Point and was sailing home with it.

For the EA fleet, all 3 rolls failed once again. The Joya del Sol docked home 10 gold to narrow the score to 12-10 in favor of UPS. In the meantime the Algeciras had approached the Rover and managed to get her 3L gun in range, but she missed (this was the only shot fired in the game).
First Game of UPS 2 vs. Extra Action Gold Runners - December 22nd, 2014
Turn 4:
The Hai Peng simply raced home and sacced Cotton (the helmsman) to make it the whole way. She unloaded her cargo of 4 gold to give UPS the 16-10 victory!

Observations: This UPS fleet is obscenely complicated and involved, not to mention FAST. I’d like to congratulate darrin for making such a well-thought-out fleet. It really is interesting to play. I had to look at the fleet description to know what I was supposed to do with all the crew and treasure transfers! What really struck me was how long the turn takes. With the Hai Peng doing so much and getting the two ships at the HI involved, the UPS turns took FAR longer than any normal turn for other fleets, including the EA fleet.

It’s funky to do so much with crew. I started to get confused as to how many crew and points I was supposed to fit on the Hai Peng and which oarsmen were supposed to be on the Intrepide vs. the Coeur. Then the crew ran out! Jimmy Legs and Aristide just make things even more interesting. The explorer is a good candidate to be sacced because after the first turn you really don’t need him since you’ve already explored the two islands you need to hit.

The next two games in this series will be played tomorrow (12/23).

Dead Man’s Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping – December 21st, 2014

Dead Man’s Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping

I’ve started to test out a multitude of fleets that I’ve wanted to play for a while now. First up: Universal Pirate Shipping (by darrin) vs. the Dead Man’s Chest UT Fleet (lordstu). (Note: if you aren’t familiar with these fleets it would be very helpful to read up on them, or else the battle report probably won’t make a lot of sense.)

Universal Pirate Shipping

The Lache de Calvados is proxying in for the Intrepide, while the Zephyr plays the Jolly Mon.
UPS 1 fleet

Dead Man’s Chest UT Fleet 
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet by lordstu
Because this was a more “serious” game (just as the others between such competitive fleets will be), the islands were placed at their usual distance of 3L apart rather than 2L or 1L. No terrain was used. Since Captain Jack Sparrow can’t trade away the UT’s in the original UPS fleet they weren’t used. In this way the fleet utilized 7 2’s and a 1 so they’d be able to build Paradis de la Mer on the first turn no matter what. The DMC (Dead Man’s Chest) fleet only used the actual UT Dead Man’s Chest since that was the entire object of the gimmick.

For the first game the UPS fleet rolled to go first. The Hai Peng immediately jumped to the first island in the middle and was able to build Paradis de la Mer with the Longshanks and Jolly Mon following.

The DMC fleet Hidden Cove’d the Banshee’s Cry to the northeastern island and she redocked in order to explore, improbably finding the Dead Man’s Chest! The nature of the game (with the original “more than half the starting gold” aka 16 gold) lent itself to a quick ending. The Cry essentially contained an instant win if the UPS fleet couldn’t hit her or eliminate some crew. However, this is where another event, Becalmed, came into play. It was placed midway between the Hai Peng and the Longshanks, partially freezing both ships and the Jolly Mon. I say partially because all three ships had oarsmen and were able to move a little bit on the following turn. They couldn’t move enough to be able to catch the speedy Cry, leaving her to race home and give the DMC fleet a quick victory! The Cry also had 2 gold on her from the island so the final score was:

DMC fleet: 18 gold
UPS fleet: 0 gold

Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
I was stunned that a fleet as slow and gimmicky as the DMC fleet could beat UPS so handily. However, Hidden Cove and Becalmed gave them a huge advantage, and the Cry was lucky to find the DMC UT at the first island she went to.

For the second game the home islands were reversed. UPS went first again, with the Hai Peng springing out to build Paradis de la Mer on the middle island. UPS tried to position their ships farther apart than in the last game but Becalmed still managed to reach the Hai Peng and Longshanks.

The Banshee’s Cry didn’t find the DMC on the first island she went to. However, the abilities of the Morocco and Raven’s Neck revealed it to be on the southwestern island.
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
Because of Becalmed the UPS fleet couldn’t build another fort on the second turn, but the Hai Peng saw the Banshee’s Cry and decided to go after her because she’s so vulnerable.
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
The Hai Peng used her extreme speed to catch up to the Cry and knock down her lone mast. At this point the game was looking dismal for the DMC fleet, but the Cry had an oarsman which she used to crawl towards the island with the DMC on it.
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
Despite their slow speeds the Morocco and Raven’s Neck started to reach the action, turning two all-gold fleets into a couple of fighting fleets! The Morocco rammed the Hai Peng but it backfired when she lost the boarding action and therefore one of her six oarsmen.
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
On the next turn the Longshanks took out a mast and oarsman on the Raven’s Neck, but the Hai Peng really sealed the game for the UPS fleet. She blocked the Cry, explored the island, took the DMC and built Dead Man’s Point (via Sparrow/Aristide) all in one turn! Shocked
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
At this point the game was safely in the hands of the UPS fleet so the DMC fleet forfeited the game to save some time for one final game to decide the winner of the three game series.

The third and final game was the shortest of them all. The DMC fleet went first for the first time and was therefore able to use Becalmed to freeze the Hai Peng for the UPS’s first turn. The Cry was Hidden Cove’d to an island where she found the DMC. With a turn already lost it was too late for the UPS fleet. The Hai Peng almost managed to catch the Cry since she moves so fast, but she came up just short, allowing the Cry to dock the DMC home for another instant win!

The Cry brings home the DMC just in front of the UPS fleet (unintentionally in line of battle lol).
Dead Man's Chest UT fleet vs. Universal Pirate Shipping - December 21st, 2014
For this series the DMC fleet beat the UPS fleet two out of three times. This really surprised me, although the original UPS fleet probably isn’t the most effective one. I’ll be testing the others very soon. The two events really help out quite a lot, part of the reason I made that thread recently. I’ll likely use these fleets in some other games soon, especially once more of the 40 point fleets are out.

VASSAL Tournament #1

September 5th, 2016

VASSAL Tournament #1

Welcome to the first VASSAL tournament! Xerecs and I have agreed to play not one, but two tournaments on the VASSAL module! The purpose of the tournaments is to determine which fleet is the best of all-time!  😀

Tournament 1 (T1) acts as a play-in round. The top 4 fleets from T1 (not just the winner) will advance to Tournament 2 (T2). There will be 8 fleets participating in T1, while T2 will have a whopping 16 fleets! Each matchup consists of 2 fleets facing each other in 1v1 competition in a 3-game series. The fleet that wins the series advances to the next round. To save time, if a fleet wins the first 2 games of a series, the third game of the series will likely not be played. If you’d like to join the tournament, just let us know.

Fleet selection: In a spreadsheet, I have documented the records of various fleets I’ve played in the past. Based on these records, some fleets get a “bye” of sorts and are automatically placed in T2. The fleets for T1 were selected by myself and Xerecs. They are the fleets we considered the most competitive of the other fleets available, and/or they were fleets we really wanted to give a shot to, for a chance to enter the grand Tournament #2.

I’ve done this tournament idea in the past, but it’s time for competitive play to return! The previous tournament saw Norvegia victorious, but the fleet was then swept 3-0 by my HMS GT fleet immediately afterwards in exhibition play. Therefore, my original HMS GT fleet will head into T2 as a #1 seed. The rest of the seeding process will be based on records and possibly other criteria such as vote scores on MT or margins of victory in past games.

These games are being played under most of the “standard” game rules (8 coins per player worth 15 gold, 6 islands, etc). However, there will be a few house rules:
-Xerecs and I are changing the turn order after the first game of each series. The fleet that went second in the first game will go first in the second game. This is to ensure maximum fairness so one die roll doesn’t effectively decide a series. (though Game 3’s will still feature regular rolls)
-We will play until there is a clear winner. This will often be the “more than half the starting gold” rule, but there may be exceptions.

Here is the bracket for Tournament #1! I am playing as UPS 5, dakmor’s swarm fleet, EA Gold Runners, and American Pirates. Xerecs is playing as his own GT fleet, Volt’s VASSAL fleet challenge fleet, Barbary Untouchables 2, and the Dread Galley speed fleet. I placed my fleets in the bracket in no particular order. We then assigned numbers to the fleets, for example, UPS 5 got a 1 because it would be the first series of the first round. Xerecs then rolled dice to determine the matchups, and the bracket was set up! For future rounds, if one person controls both fleets, they pick which one they want for that round, and the other person gets the other fleet. The matchups certainly looked interesting on paper, with a giant matchup headlining the first series!

VASSAL Tournament #1

UPS v. 5.0: Zeus style

Xerecs’ HMS GT fleet

(It’s highly recommended that you check out the fleets beforehand to have context going into the games)

The first game was underway! I rolled to go first, and quickly sacced an oarsman to get the Zeus to a wild island. Trading away a bad UT, we immediately began to run into rules questions lol. This picture shows the Zeus at a second wild island; two coins have already been tossed home via Captain Jack Sparrow (CJS). The Longshanks had her crew eliminated by a missionary, but it prevented some natives from freezing the ship. So far, Xerecs’ bad UT’s were hurting him, and Don Pedro Gilbert’s treasure trading ability ensured the Zeus would be reasonably safe from harm at most islands.
VASSAL Tournament #1

The Longshanks and Zeus returned home with gold, while the Banshee’s Cry (BC) was dismasted by the Coeur du Lion. The Zeus was running out of oarsmen to sacrifice, but UPS 5 already had a major lead in the gold game.

The Grand Temple got an SAT from Myngs and blasted the Zeus! However, the Zeus and her crew were annoyed to find Natives on the island, trading it away for another coin. Eager for the game to end, it was time to fire. ZEUS SMAAAASH!! Saccing the explorer, the Zeus dismasted the GT! A few more shenanigans followed, but UPS 5 was the obvious victor. The final score of the first game of T1: 18-3.

The second game was about to begin!

In extremely similar fashion, the Zeus traded away Wolves to an island close to the Longshanks and BC! The second game was a near-repeat of the first.

The Grand Temple made a move for the Hag of Tortuga, and captured her! The Zeus emerged from a fog bank to simultaneously dock at her HI and shoot at the GT, hitting only 5/16 in a double action. This wasn’t all that surprising given her 3S cannons and my generally poor luck with shoot actions. The BC and Longshanks reached the far islands, while the GT had the mast she needed to get home.

This led to an interesting situation – the Zeus blockading the BC and LS in a fog bank, while the GT repaired. The Jolly Mon, with no Ransom crew around, sailed off in search of treasure. However, all she found was Natives, meaning that the gold on ships was essentially the only gold left in the game. Theoretically the Zeus could have explored the other island and traded away the Wolves for the Natives (making the gold accessible), but there was no reason for me to do that with a fully repaired HMS GT charging the Zeus while she sat immobile due to the Natives. In addition, I already had the gold advantage once again.

Thus we began playing cat and mouse. The LS was shadowed by the Zeus, while the Jolly Mon and Coeur came up to support the 10 master. I had realized something: since I wasn’t going to be trading away any more gold home for oarsmen on the Coeur, there was no reason not to send the Coeur out to meet the Zeus and just give her the oarsman manually. This would give the Zeus two oarsmen, which might allow her enough actions to catch all three enemy ships.

I quickly tired of the maneuvering, and decided to force the action. The Jolly Mon rammed the Longshanks, who stayed in place and fired. This allowed my plan to work, with the Zeus dismasting the Longshanks and stealing her coin (I wanted the extra gold before sinking the LS). The Coeur came alongside the Zeus and was ready to transfer the final oarsman.

The GT got an SAT and attacked the Zeus. Incredibly, she missed all 6 times!! This allowed the Zeus to sink her with a double shoot, also sinking the LS. The BC was all alone in the fog.

I managed to corner the BC near my home island. Docking the Zeus to deposit my last coin (stolen from the LS), I then shot at the BC and sank her! This ended the game, with UPS 5 winning 15-5! This was the fleet’s second win in as many games, winning the pair by a combined score of 33-8. UPS 5 advances to Round 2 and therefore also to a spot in Tournament #2!

The second series featured more awesome fleets:

dakmor’s swarm fleet

Vassal La dominación española

Once again I rolled to go first, and the swarm fleet was off!

The BC reached the northeastern island, and things got silly in a hurry. She found 3 3’s (the highest treasure value in the distribution for these two fleets) as well as the Turtles UT. Xerecs’ bad luck was apparently going to continue, as my fleets consistently found better UT’s and values.

The Santo Columba began blasting her way through the swarm, but it was already too late. To add insult to injury, the Intrepide had found 8 more gold on her island, while the Lezard and Mermaid found Skrew Engine and Runes of Speed on their island.

The UT’s were flipped and the BC also returned home, netting me 15 gold in one turn. 10 turtles weren’t far behind, and just to make things even more lopsided, my tiny ships rammed effectively, taking the Santo Columba down to 2 masts.

The Santo Columba eliminated a turtle, but then the Intrepide docked home and the game ended. The swarm fleet had won a massively lopsided game 23-5. They look to advance to T2 with another win, a game that will hopefully be played soon.

The bad luck experienced by Xerecs on this night was beyond comprehension. Luck wasn’t the only reason he lost all three games, but it was truly hard to believe, especially the GT going 0/6 and the completely perfect treasure distribution that the swarm fleet got lucky with.

After three games, here are the standings! For future reference, the top fleet will have the first score (ex: if volt’s fleet had just won the latest game 10-5, it would say 5-10 instead of 23-5.)

Which fleet will face the formidable UPS 5? And which fleets of the other 4 will advance? Stay tuned to find out!

September 6th, 2016

The tournament has continued!

Here’s the setup for the second game of the second matchup.

dakmor’s swarm fleet

Vassal La dominación española

Once again the swarm fleet found Turtles! This made the swarm even harder to deal with – in addition to 11 ships (Jolly Mon sitting at home), the Spanish had to deal with 10 turtles as well!

A pileup emerged in the center, with the swarmers putting their best gunships (Intrepide, Carrion Crow, Venture) alongside the Santo Columba.

The Santo Columba was victorious and eliminated almost the entire swarm fleet! At this point we simulated the rest of the game since the Spanish would keep the Jolly Mon afloat in order to get the remaining gold. The Spanish won the game 25-15!

That set the stage for the first game 3 of the tournament! The stakes were high, with the loser facing elimination.

The home islands happened to reverse from the previous game.

The Banshee’s Cry was sent west with the Mermaid to get gold from an island that I expected to be contested. The Intrepide, Pique, and Lezard all headed south. I put together the best battle squadron I could (Carrion Crow, Venture, Algeciras, Rover) and sailed them straight towards the Santo Columba. The Coeur and Raton would act as block ships or potential “tugboats”.

The BC and Mermaid loaded gold, but the Mermaid was sunk and the BC dismasted! (both by the Santo Columba) I decided to try and trap the SC and prevent her from towing the BC (who had 8 gold aboard), and proceeded to eliminate 3 of her 4 masts in a series of rams and shots. Countessa Amore was killed in a boarding attack, netting the swarmers 1 gold. In the east, the Pique headed home with gold while the Intrepide and Lezard lagged behind to protect the turtles. That’s right, for the third game in a row, the swarm fleet had found the Turtles UT! However, I had also stashed Grease Barrels away on the Intrepide, hoping to make her a surprise ramming threat if needed…

The Joya del Sol was busy filling her cargo hold, while the Algeciras sailed in and capture the BC. In a complex series of maneuvers I managed to extricate one of my derelicts out of the way so that another ship could tow the Santo Columba. I then utilized a small chain tow with the Intrepide to move the SC farther from the Algeciras. You can see how crowded the area was, and 10 turtles just to the east only made it busier.

The Algeciras attacked, but my prize was safe: the Santo Columba! Guess what saved her? The Grease Barrels! I flipped the UT aboard the Intrepide to allow her to dock home before the Algeciras potentially could have sunk the SC on the following turn. An SAT got the SC repairing quickly, and now the swarmers had access to the very weapon that caused their demise in the previous game, and the only huge threat between the two fleets combined.

Turtles began reaching safety, while the Algeciras re-towed the BC. The SC fully repaired, and the Intrepide set sail again.

I figured I could catch the Joya del Sol with the Santo Columba, but I forgot about the other UT’s: Skrew Engine and Runes of Speed. The Joya had both aboard, meaning she could move 12S in two turns to get home. The Algeciras swapped her captain (Luis Zuan) for a coin on the BC, hoping to salvage some value from the prize, knowing that she wouldn’t make it home at S speed while towing the BC. I moved to recapture the BC. At this point I had a very good idea of what Xerecs had on the Joya, since I had explored two islands and knew what values were present on the BC. It was possible that the score would end up 20-19!

Things went according to plan for a turn, surprisingly enough! I captured the BC, Xerecs got the Joya home, and the SC fought with the Algeciras.

The SC used S boarding to steal the coin from the Algeciras, but the Joya stole it back! The SC managed to retrieve it, and sped away from the scene. The BC was towed back while that was happening, and the game ended.

Dakmor’s swarm fleet wins 22-17 in a fantastic finale! They advance to Round 2, where they will face UPS 5!

The third matchup:

Barbary Untouchables V 2.0 (commanded by Xerecs)

Extra Action Gold Runners

We changed the setup once again but made sure to keep it fair and standard. Also: this game hasn’t concluded yet!

The Star of Siam got an extra action early, and I found turtles for the fourth game in a row. The Algeciras hid from the Nubian Prince, while the Joya and Tiger’s Eye headed east.

The Star of Siam ducked into a fog bank as well, knowing she could get home when receiving an extra action. The Tiger’s Eye turned south but the Joya got an EA to get there first and explore.

As I had planned, a lot of things started happening at once. The Star came out of the fog and docked home gold. The Algeciras emerged as well and scored a hit on the Nubian Prince, while the turtles and Joya del Sol raced home.

The Algeciras was quickly dismasted, while the Star of Siam tried to block the Nubian Prince from sailing over the turtles.

Just like the Star of Siam, the Joya hid in a fog bank until she could get home, this time with a UT. The Nubian Prince dismasted the Star, who fled into a fog bank. The Joya rammed the NP, taking out a second mast. The Tiger’s Eye had filled up with gold.

Who will win the first game of this series and take an advantage into the second game?

September 10th, 2016

The games have continued!

Barbary Untouchables V 2.0 (commanded by Xerecs)

Extra Action Gold Runners

The first game of the third series came to a quick end, with the EA gold runners fleet victorious 22-13!

The Corsairs went first to start the second game:

The Nubian Prince dismasted the Algeciras, but once again I had found turtles!

Then I tried to make it look like my ships were heading northeast to contest the Tiger’s Eye at a wild island. It worked, as the Nubian Prince turned northeast. The Joya then got an EA at the perfect time and slipped past the Prince. The Star of Siam sacrificed herself and partially blocked the Prince. The turtles continued to swim home.

The Nubian Prince missed the Joya del Sol with a chainshot, and the game was effectively over.

EA Gold Runners wins the game 24-13! They capture the series and move on to round 2, and by extension Tournament 2!

Now it was time for the final matchup of round 1:

The “Dread Galley” Speed Fleet (commanded by Xerecs)

American Pirates

The setup was changed a bit, and we were ready to play! Unfortunately this game wasn’t able to be played to completion, but we got off to an interesting start.

The Amity got gold home quickly with some help from Hidden Cove, while Captain Blackheart sacced some an oarsman to fire at the Algiers.

The Star of Siam lost a mast to a reef and another to the Bandido with a ram. The Roanoke proceeded to get another double action and sink both ships!

This game should conclude very soon, and Round 2 of Tournament 1 is approaching…

September 11th, 2016

Tournament 1 continues once more!

The Roanoke was unable to hit the Tiger’s Eye, giving the galley another chance to explore. Knowing the general gold situation, I had the Roanoke grab the final coin (at the island the Amity is docked at) rather than pursue the Eye.

The American Pirates prevailed 15-13!

The second game of the series began:

The Roanoke engages:

The galleys congregated in the south, and the Roanoke stalked them. The Amity and Bandido made short work of a wild island.

Things got interesting in a hurry. The Amity rammed a mast off the Tiger’s Eye and stole a coin, while the Roanoke went after the others, who were far from home. With a double action the Algiers was dismasted, but the Star of Siam escaped unscathed.

The Tiger’s Eye made a mistake trying to cross a Sargasso Sea, and became tangled. The Amity grabbed a coin, while the Star of Siam fled for home. Blackheart wanted more crew for his sacrifices, and sailed southwest to pick up the crew that the Dread Galleys had left off.

At this point the game began to tip in my favor. The Bandido rammed a mast off the Tiger’s Eye and robbed a treasure, while the Amity took a short detour and rammed the TE derelict. This left her stuck in the Sargasso with no easy way out. In the east, the Roanoke sank the Algiers and a bunch of coins!

In the end the American Pirates won 14-9! They advance to Round 2 of Tournament #1 and qualify for Tournament #2!

Round 2 of Tournament 1

With that, it was time for the second round, the semifinals!

UPS v. 5.0: Zeus style

dakmor’s swarm fleet (commanded by Xerecs)

It was truly an odd matchup – essentially one ship (the Zeus) versus 11 ships!

The Zeus set up Dead Man’s Point on an island, and sailed back home with the rest of the island’s gold. The Banshee’s Cry quickly unloaded an island by herself with the help of some UT’s. The main question was whether or not the Zeus could catch the enemy gold runners before they docked home some gold.

The swarm fleet killed the Hag of Tortuga in a boarding action for an extra gold, while the Zeus picked up the oarsmen that would normally be loaded onto the Coeur du Lion. Captain Jack was ready for battle!

There were 4 swarm ships with gold aboard, and the Zeus quickly dispatched two of them. The Intrepide was tougher to get to, with the Rover in the way.

The Zeus dismasted the Intrepide and Lezard! This left towing as the only option for the swarmers. Chain towing helped a bit, but in the end the Zeus was too fast (with double actions each turn due to saccing) and had too many cannons. Both ships were sunk, and UPS 5 won the game 10-7!

Here is the tournament bracket, completely updated through the end of Round 1! My fleets proved their worth, and now two of them must face each other in the second series of Round 2. In the meantime, the winner of the current matchup will soon be decided!

September 12th, 2016

UPS v. 5.0: Zeus style

dakmor’s swarm fleet (commanded by Xerecs)

Looking for a second sweep in as many rounds, UPS 5 started game 2 of the series in the northwest while the swarm fleet started in the east.

After returning 10 gold to her home island, the Zeus battled her way to another 5 gold. However, she couldn’t catch any of the swarming gold runners, and the game ended in a 15-15 tie!

The series went to a game 3, though the series was still 1-0 in favor of UPS 5. I made a mistake and put Xerecs and the swarm fleet near the middle of the sea. This would give them access to 3 of the 4 wild islands.

As the swarmers scattered, the Zeus scooped up all the oarsmen she could carry and headed towards the swarm fleet’s home island. I knew I’d have to move quickly to sink a bunch of gold before it got back.

Both Hags of Tortuga were killed to net us 1 gold apiece, while the Zeus sank the Intrepide and 3 coins!

The Zeus rammed the Pique and stole both of her coins, which was only possible after saccing some oarsmen to unintentionally free up cargo space! However, the Mermaid and Lezard still posed threats. The Coeur and Jolly Mon joined the Zeus, and it was once again time for the Zeus to take center stage.

Shots of little consequence were fired, as the Zeus maneuvered into position. The Mermaid would be able to dock, but could only carry a single coin.

This picture doesn’t do justice how close the end of the game was. The Algeciras blocked the Zeus, but I managed to go 2/4 and sink the ship with the Zeus’ first action! This proved decisive, as it allowed the Zeus to sail north and get some cannons in range of the Lezard. Guns boomed once more, and the Lezard sank quickly. The game was effectively over, with the Zeus returning home and the swarm fleet largely eliminated.

UPS 5 wins the third game 13-7! The fleet now advances to the finals of Tournament #1, and looks to secure a high seed in Tournament #2 as well as further increasing its winning streak. UPS 5 is now 4-0 through two series.

Dakmor’s swarm fleet put up a good fight, losing the series by a combined score of just 38-29 when the tie game is included. It will be interesting to see what the swarm fleet has in store for Tournament 2 as well as the 8 fleet multiplayer game. That’s right, there will be a multiplayer game after the conclusion of Tournament 1! All 8 fleets will be participating. It’s largely an experiment, but the stakes could not be higher for the fleets that were eliminated in Round 1 and therefore will not advance to Round 2. The fleet that wins the multiplayer game will automatically advance to Tournament 2! This is a form of second chance – if one of the “underdog” fleets (now that they’ve lost in Round 1) manages to pull off a win against all 7 other fleets, they get into T2 with the win! Of course, if one of the 4 fleets that has already advanced to T2 wins the 8 fleet game, it will have no effect on T2 (other than a possible seeding tiebreaker or something), but it will be interesting to see who wins regardless. My EA gold runners fleet is still under .500 at 8-9 overall, but perhaps their greatest claim to fame is that they won that massive 12 fleet game in January 2015 as the conclusion of that “era” of competitive play (my previous “era” would be when Norvegia won a tournament in 2013, and this new era is the current one and will be the most comprehensive). Winning a huge multiplayer game definitely gives a fleet some bragging rights. And yes, we are planning to do a 16 fleet game at the conclusion of T2 using every single fleet from that tournament. Of course, that’s a long way off right now…

And with that, the second semifinal matchup is next! As I was the victor in advancing both of the fleets, I get to pick which one I control for the series. I love both fleets, but I’ve chosen EA gold runners because it’s one of my oldest fleets, I still believe in it even though its record isn’t fantastic, and because I prefer not to use events (the American Pirates fleet has Hidden Cove). We may not be able to continue for a few days, but we’ll be back!  😀

September 16th, 2016

The second matchup of the semifinals!

Extra Action Gold Runners

American Pirates (commanded by Xerecs)

In the first game of the series, I got lucky and found most of the UT’s, including the turtles.

The Joya escaped to the southwestern island…

But was soon cornered by the Roanoke!

The AP’s managed to subdue the EA gold runners, but the gold was more important. I had found 11 gold, while 9 turtles reached safety. The final score was 20-19 in favor of the EA fleet!

The AP’s went first in the second game, and the home islands were close together.

The EA runners took care of the northern islands while the AP’s headed west. Xerecs had a new strategy, sending the Amity to the farther island after Hidden Coving her out. It was at the southwestern island that Xerecs finally found the Turtles UT!

I had a bunch of gold, but knew that I needed to eliminate some turtles or steal from the Amity to win. The Joya and Algeciras headed south to intercept the AP’s, while the Star of Siam headed west to pick up a 2.

Unsurprisingly the Roanoke was able to sac my fleet to pieces, and the AP’s won 20-18 in another extremely close game!

Game 3!

Xerecs found the turtles again, which meant I would be facing an uphill battle to win the game.

The Algeciras hit 2/2 to damage the Roanoke, while the Joya del Sol is heading west to pick up Skrew Engine. As in the last game, the Amity is sailing to the far island to get the best coins, leaving the Roanoke and Bandido to pick up the scraps.

The Amity picked up high value coins, and I sent the Joya in pursuit. However, the Roanoke had repaired with Trees at the northwestern island, and she gave chase. Realizing that I had a chance to eliminate some turtles (and knowing that they should be the priority since they would get home before the Amity), I suddenly sent all my ships towards the AP home island. The Joya got an extra action, while the damaged Algeciras and Star of Siam also sped north. (The Algeciras had rammed the Bandido derelict when the Roanoke repaired)

The Algeciras and Joya began eliminating turtles while also blocking the home island off from the remaining turtles. The SoS didn’t receive an extra action from Gallows, and the Roanoke and Amity were coming.

The Roanoke used a double action to sink the Algeciras and damage the Joya! Knowing how much gold I had and how many turtles had gotten home safely, I realized that I could win the game if I got the final 3 gold on the southwestern island. The Joya sailed at great speed for the island, while the Star of Siam would try to intercept the Amity.

In a surprise to me, the Amity rammed the Joya and took out a mast! With only one mast remaining the Joya reached the island and loaded the final two coins.

This is where it got ugly. The Amity caught the Joya and rammed her again. Rolling two consecutive 1’s, she didn’t eliminate the Joya’s final mast and the Joya managed to steal a coin! There was some confusion over how we played the boarding rules. From now on, as I usually play, the winner of the boarding party gets to choose whether they eliminate a crew or take a treasure. If they take a treasure, they can choose which coin they take (since it’s more realistic). If they eliminate a crew, the loser picks which crew is eliminated (since it’s more balanced). Under these rules, the EA gold runners fleet won the game 24-12. However, then we went back (by undoing everything) and played it again from the same boarding action. This time, the American Pirates won 20-16. As a result, we effectively called Game 3 a tie (!)… which meant that we now had to play a historic Game 4 to decide the winner of the series!

Unfortunately the fourth game was a complete blowout. Hidden Cove was used on the Roanoke, who sank the Joya and dismasted the Algeciras. I found the turtles, but it was already too late. The AP’s win 25-5 and advance to the final round!

Tournament 1, Final Round: UPS 5 vs. American Pirates

This will be played soon; Xerecs and I decided to swap fleets. I will control the AP fleet like I did in the first round and Xerecs will have his first opportunity to control UPS 5.

September 18th, 2016

The final round of Tournament 1!

UPS 5 (commanded by Xerecs)

American Pirates

CJS aboard the Zeus made a mistake in putting the home island of the AP fleet right in the middle of the new setup. This would allow them to hit three of the four wild islands relatively easily.

I was able to make separate trips to the 3 islands while the Zeus returned home the other island for UPS 5.

After the Roanoke and Bandido got home, it was clear that the AP’s were victorious! Their 16-9 win meant that UPS 5 is no longer undefeated!

The second game featured different home islands:

The AP’s went with a different strategy, using Hidden Cove on the Amity, who then began sailing even further west. Once again I wanted to hit more than half the wild islands, sending the Roanoke to the middle and the Bandido west. The Roanoke managed a couple hits on the Zeus with a double action.

The Zeus is loose! The 10 master nearly dismasted the Roanoke while also sending home a coin via CJS.

The Roanoke repairs as the other ships bring in gold:

The Amity grabs the final coins from the southwestern island, while the Roanoke heads to grab the final coin in the far west. The Coeur, now empty, looks to get gold in the north. The Bandido is now an expendable block ship, but the Zeus turns south…

A few turns of mayhem! The Zeus managed to catch the Amity with some sac actions, taking off a mast. However, her other 2 guns in range missed, allowing the Amity to dock home valuable coins. Knowing the Zeus could probably blockade my home island effectively, and seeing the vulnerable Coeur more than a turn away from docking at her HI, I decided to change course and send the Roanoke northeast! She got there just in time, blocking the Coeur. Her guns missed the little ship, and the Zeus turned around.

Knowing a victory was within reach, I managed to play the end of the game quite effectively. The Roanoke sank the Coeur with gold aboard, then turned around to ram and board the Jolly Mon, eliminating the Hag of Tortuga for an additional 1 gold. These differentials would turn out to be important… I wasn’t worried about the 1 on the Roanoke at this point, having prioritized sinking the Coeur. The Bandido appeared just off the bow of the Zeus, hindering her movement. The Amity was sailing up as well, but the game was over. The AP fleet wins 16-13!

For various reasons, I wanted to play at least one more game despite the AP fleet winning two games in a row. We swapped fleets, and T1 continued.

This game featured an explosive start! The Roanoke used Hidden Cove to appear at the middle island right next to the Zeus! With a double action from Blackheart the Roanoke went 6/10 to damage the behemoth! However, with a double action of her own, the Zeus responded by dismasting the Roanoke! The Amity and Bandido had hardly begun sailing, and the flagships had already lost 11 masts between them!

The Roanoke tried to escape at 4S speed via a combination of helmsman, oarsman, and sac action, but it wasn’t quite enough – the Zeus sank her! This was a big deal, for it meant that the Zeus and her firepower was essentially unobstructed for the rest of the game. However, the fierce battle in the center had cost UPS 5 valuable time.

After a few more turns, things have become peaceful. The Zeus unloaded gold and picked up the remaining sacrificial oarsmen. The Amity and Bandido headed home with gold. I opted not to repair the Zeus because it would cost me too much time (even if I just repaired 1 or 2 masts), and with 4 3S cannons at the bow of the ship and no captains remaining in the enemy fleet (not to mention potential sac actions), the Zeus could dictate any battle she found herself in.

The Amity headed for the northeastern island, but the Zeus scared her off. The Zeus claimed the gold on that island, while the AP fleet finished off the rest of the gold. UPS 5 was victorious 19-12! (one extra gold from sinking Perry aboard the Roanoke)

After this third game, it was even less clear which fleet is superior. As a result, at least one more game will be played, hopefully in a matter of hours!

September 19th, 2016

The last day of play in Tournament #1!

UPS 5

American Pirates (commanded by Xerecs)

With the AP fleet up in the series 2-1 heading into Game 4, they had a chance to win glory as the winner of a competitive tournament!

Early in the game the Zeus managed to catch the Roanoke and take her down to one mast!

UPS 5 had the Coeur grab some coins, while the Zeus followed the Amity:

The Amity was sunk and UPS 5 remained in control of the game. They ended up winning 18-12 to even the series at 2 games apiece!

The setup for Game 5, with the HI’s close together:

This game was short and without combat. Faced with a choice between trying to catch one or both of the AP runners (Bandido and Amity) or simply emptying a second island, I made the wrong move. The northeastern island happened to have both of the 1’s in the treasure distribution, which meant it was too late to salvage the game. The AP’s won a close 16-14 victory!

With the American Pirates up in the series once more (3-2), we decided to swap fleets again: Xerecs took over for UPS 5 while I regained the AP fleet (just like the first 2 games of the series, which in hindsight is funny given the 2-3-2 nature of the series and the similarities to playoffs in the NBA and MLB heh).

Game 6!!

I used Hidden Cove to fling the Amity as far as possible, but it wasn’t enough. I expected Xerecs to turn the Zeus home to dock the gold, but instead he went after the Amity, sinking her easily. This destroyed my game, and it was a quick win for UPS 5 afterwards. The final score was essentially 12-0 (12-4 if counting the 4 gold on the Bandido).

Now the series was tied 3-3, which meant… you guessed it…

Game 7! The final series of the first tournament was coming to an epic conclusion!

Open fire! I knew I had to strike, but the Roanoke’s guns weren’t good enough. After Hidden Coving to the middle island, she went 4/10 in a double action.

After having some trouble maneuvering, the Zeus only managed two hits of her own! This gave the AP’s another chance, which was also squandered. The Roanoke went a whopping 0/6 with 3L cannons, and the game was effectively decided. The Zeus blasted the Roanoke to pieces, and the Amity and Bandido couldn’t get enough gold to make up the difference! Don Pedro Gilbert’s treasure swapping also helped the UPS fleet in this final game, but the Roanoke’s own abysmal shooting was the primary cause of the quick demise. UPS 5 wins Game 7 by a score of 17-14!

UPS v. 5.0: Zeus style has won VASSAL Tournament #1!

It was a fitting end, for the Universal Pirate Shipping strategy pioneered by darrin is simply one of the best (if not the best) ways to win this game. It was fitting on a personal level as well – one of my fleets won the tournament, but Xerecs controlled it for the final game (and 4 of the 7 games in the final series), so we’re both champions! 😀

The final bracket. For the gold scores, the first number is the gold total of the upper fleet.

Looking back on the first VASSAL tournament, it was a great experience. The first round saw 3 sweeps in 4 series, with all 3 of my fleets advancing. It wasn’t nearly so lopsided after that, with the final two series being especially interesting. EA Gold Runners is almost like the dark horse of the tournament, having barely missed a trip to the finals. The final round was a bit of a mess, but it turned into a rather epic 7-game series in which UPS 5 prevailed 4-3.

Here are the current records of the fleets involved in T1 after its conclusion:
UPS 5: 8-3
American Pirates: 8-7
EA Gold Runners: 9-11
Volt’s VASSAL FC fleet: 2-3
dakmor’s swarm fleet: 2-3
Xerecs’ GT fleet, Barbary Untouchables 2, Dread Galley speed fleet: 0-2

Of course, the last two rounds were mostly for bragging rights and seeding for VASSAL Tournament #2, which is the real deal – whichever fleet wins that tournament will hold the current status of the best fleet ever! The four fleets that advanced to Round 2 (UPS 5, dakmor’s swarm fleet, EA Gold Runners, and American Pirates) have advanced to Tournament #2, where they will compete against absolutely brutal fleets. Before T1 even started I picked 6 fleets to have a “bye” into T2, which includes 4 fleets based around the UPS strategy. The other two are my HMS Grand Temple fleet and the classic Norvegia fleet. It will be something to behold…

BUT! First we play the 8 fleet multiplayer game with all the fleets from T1! As I explained previously, if a fleet that didn’t advance to Round 2 of T1 wins the multiplayer game, they automatically advance to T2! The stakes could not be higher for the fleets that got swept in T1, as well as Volt’s FC fleet.

Coming soon: a picture of the setup for the multiplayer game, with all 16 islands and 8 fleets. We’ve also established the turn order, so we’re ready to begin, probably sometime next weekend. In the meantime, thanks for reading about Tournament 1, and as always, just hop on the module if you’d like to join us on VASSAL! (and let us know if you’d like to play fleets in Tournament 2!)

VASSAL Tournament #2

VASSAL Tournament #2

9/30/2016

Welcome to the second VASSAL tournament! The winner of the tournament will be declared the best fleet of all time!!

Just like Tournament #1, each matchup consists of 2 fleets facing each other in 1v1 competition in a 3-game series. The fleet that wins the series advances to the next round. To save time, if a fleet wins the first 2 games of a series, the third game of the series will likely not be played. If you’d like to join the tournament, just let us know.

These games are being played under most of the “standard” game rules (8 coins per player worth 15 gold, 6 islands, etc). However, there will be a few house rules:
-Xerecs and I are changing the turn order after the first game of each series. The fleet that went second in the first game will go first in the second game. This is to ensure maximum fairness so one die roll doesn’t effectively decide a series. (though Game 3’s will still feature regular rolls)
-We will play until there is a clear winner. This will often be the “more than half the starting gold” rule, but there may be exceptions.

The seeding is based primarily on each fleet’s winning percentage. Of the 16 fleets participating in T2, 6 were determined before T1 based on their past performance – these are the best of the best. Then, the top 4 fleets from T1 were added. Finally, over the past few days Xerecs and I have selected 3 fleets each for the final 6 fleets of the tournament. The seeding wasn’t strictly based on winning percentage – exceptions were made based on our judgement and who was going to play each fleet in the first round.

We based our bracket on this, with the exception that in each matchup, the higher seeded fleet is on top. The picture below shows the bracket, but to clarify, here are all of the matchups and fleets. This order simply goes down the left “division” or column, and then it goes down from the right. However, we may not play the games in this order. Also, some of these fleets may be edited slightly by the time we play them.

Round 1 matchups:

HMS GT (#1 seed)
vs.
Artillery Strike (#16 seed)

Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed)
vs.
USS Kettering – Deadly Weapon (#9 seed)

Norvegia (#4 seed)
vs.
Spanish Meta V2 (#13 seed)

UPS 2 (#5 seed)
vs.
Extra Action Gold Runners (#12 seed)

(right side of bracket)

UPS 5 (#2 seed)
vs.
RtSS English (#15 seed)

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed)
vs.
dakmor’s swarm fleet (#10 seed)

UPS 4 (#3 seed)
vs.
Quick wins the game (#14 seed)

American Pirates (#6 seed)
vs.
The Doldrums (#11 seed)

VASSAL Tournament #2

If I had to bet money on the winner of the tournament, I would pick UPS 2. Xerecs said he would pick either HMS GT or UPS 5. Our “sleeper” picks were generally the Doldrums and “Quick wins the game” fleets.

The first matchup was underway! HMS GT vs. Artillery Strike, in a series that would likely be played in a deathmatch style.

Basically, I forgot about Hidden Cove. The overpowered event allowed the Neptuno to strike first, where she scored a whopping 5/5 hits on the Grand Temple. The London was overmatched for the remainder of the battle, and Artillery Strike pulled off a major upset!

The second game underway:

After a somewhat lengthy maneuvering process the GT finally got in range of the Neptuno and sank her outright!

Diablo managed to go 4/4 against the GT, but the Spanish fleet was effectively doomed. HMS GT won the game to even the series 1-1!

For the final game, the home islands were close together. The Neptuno didn’t have a lot of room on her first turn, and luckily I got an SAT to dismast her. From there the game was predictable, with the English firepower too much to overcome.

HMS GT wins the series 2-1 and advances to the second round! This series was unique in that it was essentially a deathmatch, since neither fleet loaded any gold in any of the games. This would soon change however, as Xerecs and I got started on the next matchup. The first game is in progress!

10/16/2016

Two more series have been played! We decided to go in seed order – the second matchup would feature the #2 seed, and so on.

UPS 5 (#2 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
RtSS English (#15 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

This was my first time playing my RtSS fleet challenge entry, and my first time using the English native canoes. Of course, my fleet was in for a rude awakening, facing a UPS variant.

The canoes were designed to deny the Zeus from an island, but the Zeus sacced to explore first. The canoes scattered, while the Halcyon ducked into fog in anticipation of battle.

The Halcyon attacked but only scored one hit! This left the RtSS fleet in grave danger.

The Zeus sacs to sink the Halcyon! The Elthelfleda returns home with gold as canoes load gold.

The Elthelfleda gets home before the Zeus can strike, but things aren’t looking good for the English.

The Zeus then went after the canoes, eliminating one and being pestered by another. The Zeus had lost some masts when the Elthelfleda redocked at her home island, firing at the Zeus in the process.

The Zeus eliminated the gold-laden canoes but this left the Elthelfleda to sail east for more gold. The Zeus docked home, but was still a huge threat.

The Zeus sacced to cut off the Elthelfleda before she could return home!

The Elthelfleda was captured and UPS 5 won the game 11-8!

The second game featured different home islands. I made the mistake of putting the canoes near the Zeus again, but it didn’t seem to matter much.

Similar to the last game, but the Halcyon stays docked.

The Halcyon comes out and hits 2/3, trying to buy time for the gold runners.

The Zeus simply crushes the opposition. The Halcyon lies derelict while the Elthelfleda is close to being dismasted.

Now it was a chase for the canoes! I decided to spread them out, simply hoping that the Zeus would only be able to catch 2. The English were just trying to avoid being shut out at this point.

A canoe did manage to slip by, but UPS 5 still won the game easily, 9-2. UPS 5 advances to the second round!

The next matchup!

UPS 4 (#3 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
Quick wins the game (#14 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

It’s important to note that the “Quick” fleet had the Coeur swapped out for Hidden Cove. The Coeur’s explorer was moved to the Courageux, while Cissey was moved to the Vengeance.

The sea was set for Game 1!

It quickly (no pun intended heh) became apparent that this series would be considerably more interesting than the last two. The first was a mismatch with HMS GT emerging victorious, with the second matchup also ending in a predictable fashion. Here, both fleets possessed gold bonus abilities (3 for UPS 4, and 1 for Quick), and both fleets were generally focused on gold, though each also had a purpose-built gunship. Here, the French gold runners have abandoned their explorers in favor of more gold, while Captain Jack Sparrow (CJS) gets busy aboard the Coral up north.

I knew I needed to force the action with the Vengeance, or else the Pirates would get a huge lead with all of their gold bonuses. The Coral would be the primary target in all games of the series, and here the Vengeance dismasted her with a well-placed L-range shot! At the French home island, the Pique is about to be given an explore action to give her gold to the Courageux, who will redock to get Aristide’s bonus on both hauls.

Battle erupts in the northwest, where the Longshanks and Vengeance duel. The Vengeance has a durability and cancelling advantage, but her gunners seemed tired to start this tournament. The Sea Crane has no UPS strategy to work with, so she sails out to get gold on her own.

After missing another shot, the Vengeance abandons the LS to go after the Sea Crane, hoping to cripple the ship before she docks home gold. The Courageux and Pique continue to tag team, getting the gold bonus on a single coin.

The Sea Crane did manage to get home in time, but the Vengeance was in cancelling range! Lenoir cancelled Genny Gallows, denying the Pirates an additional 2 gold. Battle then continued, with the Vengeance eventually winning out with just one mast remaining. The gold was counted up, and the Quick fleet had won a 19-14 upset! It helped that they had found most of the silver coins coveted by the Pirates.

For the second game the HI’s would once again be at opposite ends of the playing area.

The Coral does her thing, and the Vengeance comes after her.

The Pirates can get gold extremely quickly, but the French have 6 coins on their runners. The Vengeance is not fast enough to catch the Coral…

Then things started getting interesting. The Pirates built Dead Man’s Point on the island, but the Vengeance rammed off the Coral’s single mast.

The fort took out a mast on the Vengeance and Barbinais along with it, but the Coral was dismasted after repairing.

The Coral sank, and the Vengeance and Longshanks went at it again!

The Vengeance couldn’t overcome the combined firepower of the fort and LS. The French cleaned out their two islands, but the Sea Crane established the Devil’s Maw on the center island. This effectively ended the game, and it was time to count!

The Pirates had won a 31-24 victory in one of the highest-scoring standard games you’ll ever see! 55 total gold was counted, meaning that 25 extra gold had been created with the gold bonuses! (almost another game’s worth of gold!)

A Game 3 finale was in order! The French got to go first, and I made sure that the Pirate HI was next to my own.

The French used Hidden Cove to spring the Vengeance to the center island. She then moved east, looking to attack the Coral once again.

Once again the Coral built Dead Man’s Point:

The Vengeance got lucky and hit 3/4 on the fort to severely limit its return firepower. The Coral was in major trouble, with the LS too far away to help.

Similar to the first game, the Coral ran for it and was dismasted by a long range shot! As you can see, both fleets have unloaded some gold and received some bonuses from it.

The LS went after the French gold runners for the first time, but the Courageux fought back instead of running! The Vengeance went after the Sea Crane, and it looked like the Quick fleet could pull off a major upset if they could just dismast the remaining Pirate ships.

The battle in the center rages, with the Pique getting in on the action:

The LS was sunk and the Vengeance dismasted the Sea Crane to end the game!

The French had 16 gold to the Pirates’ 9. Quick wins the game advances to the second round!

Here’s the updated bracket. After two predictable matchups, we have our first upset. (The X’s at the upper left mean that the fleet was eliminated without getting any gold, while the 0’s mean that that fleet won the game despite not getting any gold.)

10/16/2016

Norvegia (#4 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
Spanish Meta V2 (#13 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

The next matchup featured the classic Norvegia setup. We only had time for Game 1 so far.

The Neptune’s Hoard (NH) found Rum on the middle island, freezing the ship for a turn. In hindsight, I could have used the ship’s ability to trade away the UT, but in addition, Rum probably shouldn’t be in the fleet in the first place.

The San Cristobal (SC) caught the NH and blasted most of her masts off. Luckily for the Pirates, the final mast standing meant the NH could return home with a sac action. The Star of Siam docked home gold on the turn as well, giving Norvegia a bit of a windfall. The Banshee’s Cry (BC) is hiding from the SC while the Monarca runs gold.

At one point all the Pirate ships were docked at the home island, leading to the SC resorting to ramming.

The Monarca reached home with Buried Treasure (another UT I’m taking out of the Norvegia build for future games) and Spices, while the NH was able to damage the SC with a double action, including a ram of her own. The BC grabbed some coins but wasn’t able to get them back home.

In the end, Barbary Banner and the sheer volume of gold gave Norvegia the victory! The final score was 23-16. We look forward to Game 2!

10/19/2016

Norvegia (#4 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
Spanish Meta V2 (#13 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

The second game of the series was about to begin!

Total destruction! The San Cristobal gets an EA, which lets her dismast the NH and BC. The Star of Siam was in the fog, and came out to score a hit. However, the game was as good as over when the NH’s final mast fell.

The SC sinks the remainder of the fleet, and the Spanish Meta fleet wins Game 2 by a score of 1-0! (from eliminating the Hag of Tortuga aboard the BC when she sank)

For the third time in the first four matchups, we were going to a decisive Game 3!

The NH and Star of Siam reached islands on their first turn, and the BC headed to a third island. The Pirates wanted to split their fleet so the SC would have to chase down multiple targets.

Once again the SC got an EA, but she couldn’t reach the Neptune’s Hoard! The Star of Siam was sunk instead, allowing the NH to reach home with gold.

With the NH docked, the SC then went after the Banshee’s Cry. The BC was sunk, but this opened the door for the Pirates to strike. I nearly went for the northernmost wild island, but I then remembered that from past experience, sinking the only gold runner an opponent has gives you a very good shot at winning the game. The NH used a sac action to reach the Monarca and dismasted her!

The SC finally missed the EA roll (about time haha), and missed the NH with both shots. This allowed the NH another sac action, which was used to sink the Monarca and miraculously dismast the SC as well!

Norvegia won the game 8-1. Norvegia advances to the second round! This was a fun series, and the Spanish Meta fleet is definitely a tough customer. The biggest differences were the guaranteed sac actions of the Norvegia fleet against the EA roll for the SC, which sometimes doesn’t work, as well as having 3 gold runners compared to 1.

The next matchup!

UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
Extra Action Gold Runners (#12 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

I really love my EA gold runners fleet, but I love UPS 2 as well. Also, as I said previously, if I had to pick a fleet to win the tournament, it would be UPS 2, although it’s very close and there is very tough competition. I was disappointed to see that these fleets have already faced each other, with UPS 2 prevailing 2 games to 1, but that was bound to happen in this tournament anyway, and will likely happen again.

The EA fleet got off to a great start, with the Joya and Star of Siam (SoS) receiving EA’s on the first turn. The Joya grabbed gold from the center island, while the SoS headed west.

Then it was time for UPS 2. The strategy darrin outlined in his fleet was followed, and by the end of the turn UPS 2 had a bunch of gold sitting on their home island, two islands explored, Paradis de la Mer built on the island the SoS was sailing towards, and turtles swimming towards their home island.

The second turn saw the Joya dock home gold with the help of Skrew Engine, while the Hai Peng built another fort.

The SoS eliminated some turtles, while the Joya made for the northeastern island. The Hai Peng wasn’t quite fast enough to beat the Joya to the island from across the sea, so instead took a shot against the Algeciras (which missed) and then returned to Dead Man’s Point to transfer another coin home.

The Joya used Homing Beacon to get home extremely quickly, and with most of the gold unloaded and the rest in forts, the game was called. UPS 2 had won handily, 27-13. This was the first time using UPS 2 in a while, and it didn’t disappoint!

10/20/2016

UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
Extra Action Gold Runners (#12 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

UPS 2 went first in the second game of the series, building a fort on the second island but finding useless UT’s and low gold values.

The Joya got an EA and found turtles, and it was clear that this game would be tougher for UPS 2 to win.

Only then did UPS 2 play Hidden Cove, and CJS transported some coins home and Dead Man’s Point was erected on the island.

That caused the SoS to change course, while the Joya got another EA to dock home some gold. The turtles were on their way, and they had a short trip home.

Here I made a mistake, thinking the Hai Peng could dismast the Algeciras with a shoot and ram. Both shots missed, and the Hai Peng was pinned. After dumping some crew, the Intrepide sailed from home, as it was a bit of an emergency for the usually-calm UPS 2 fleet. The Intrepide was ready to sail to the Paradis fort if needed, taking the gold to the much safer location of the home island.

The Algeciras scored a hit on the pinned Hai Peng, but it was ignored with a Cross of Coronado. The SoS then missed twice in a row, and UPS 2 had another chance.

The Hai Peng finally managed to dismast the Algeciras and escape a bad situation, scooting off to the southwest island to trade home some coins. My thinking here was that, knowing the gold values on the wild island, I could create a bigger gold advantage by tossing them home than eliminating turtles. It’s not likely the Hai Peng could get all of the turtles, but each coin transferred via CJS would get +2’d by Maurice Aristide. In addition, eliminating the turtles could have meant facing more shots from the SoS.

UPS 2 was content to transfer home coins and get the bonus on each one, while the EA runners got busy attacking Dead Man’s Point. The fort took a hit from the SoS, while the Joya waited for an EA to get in range since she had no captain. The fort’s gunners didn’t expect any contest with UPS 2 going, and they were asleep at their posts and forgot to fire.

The Star of Siam’s guns woke them up, and they connected to dismast the SoS! This took Gallows out of the action, and the EA runners were essentially down to one ship. The turtles reached home safely after the Hai Peng eliminated one of them, while the Intrepide and Coeur sailed north now that the HP didn’t have any gold to transfer.

The battle at the fort intensified! The Joya eliminated its final cannon, but that happened as the entire UPS 2 fleet sailed up to the Joya. The Joya was rammed by the HP and Coeur, while the Intrepide loaded the final available coin from the fort.

The Joya steals the coin! The SoS heads for the center island, where the Trees UT is located.

The HP stole the coin back, and the Joya was sunk.

The SoS used Homing Beacon to return home and repair, while the Intrepide took the coin from the HP. Aristide worked his magic once more, and the game ended. Once the gold was counted, it was obvious that the gold in the forts would not have given the EA fleet the win if they had gotten it.

The final score was:
UPS 2: 37 gold
EA gold runners: 17 gold

UPS 2 advances to Round 2! This came as no surprise, especially given that UPS 2 had already won a series against the EA fleet. My EA gold runner fleet is now 9-13, but 4 of those losses have come against UPS 2, one of the best fleets of all time.

With that, we also have our first Round 2 matchup: Norvegia vs. UPS 2!

12/1/2016

Xerecs and I were able to continue the tournament! We played three games; the third one was possibly the longest (by number of turns) 40 point game I’ve been involved in. It was incredibly desperate and wacky – keep reading to see what happened!

American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by Xerecs)
vs.
The Doldrums (#11 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

Becalmed would soon prove to be a massive nuisance to the AP’s, giving the Doldrums fleet a head start. The Eagle waited for the Roanoke in the fog, while the Banshee’s Cry and Amity both docked at the same island. The Longshanks is already headed back with gold due to Hidden Cove.

The Eagle managed to dismast the Roanoke and come to the BC’s aid when the Amity rammed the BC! With their gunship out of action and no gold on their ships or home island, it would be a tough road back for the AP’s in this game.

The Eagle has sunk the Roanoke, while the Longshanks rams the Amity.

The Eagle finishes off the Amity while the Bloody Jewel returns home with gold. The LS rescues the BC. The AP’s manage some gold as the Bandido returns home, but it’s only to avoid a shutout at this point. The Doldrums win 20-4!

The AP’s went first in the second game, but the Doldrums still managed to hit the Roanoke and Amity with Becalmed on their first turn. The Eagle stayed home, anticipating the Roanoke returning to her HI, while the Doldrum gold runners were wary of the dangerous American 5 master.

The Roanoke instead headed west, prompting the Eagle to sail out. Suddenly 4 ships were near the center island! The Bloody Jewel unloads gold, while the Amity grabs some for the AP’s.

Shots fired! The Eagle wasn’t able to hit anything with her first action, but by saccing she got lucky and took out 3 masts on the Roanoke! The Longshanks rammed the Bandido derelict, and combat was in full swing.

Of course, in a game this small, it didn’t last long. The Eagle used another double action to dismast the Roanoke, while the LS towed the Bandido.

This led to a strange situation where the Eagle purposely didn’t shoot at the Amity, since dismasting her would end the game. The Doldrums weren’t 100% sure they had more gold than the AP’s, so the Eagle sailed by while the Amity took some ineffective shots at the captured Roanoke. The BC engaged the Amity but failed her ram and was then dismasted.

The game ended when the Eagle docked home the Roanoke; the gold and captured Commodore Perry gave the Doldrums a 21-8 victory! The Doldrums advances to Round 2! Becalmed was certainly a factor in the two games, but good dice luck and appropriate maneuvering by the Eagle also won the day. (The Eagle would have to receive the MVS “Most Valuable Ship” award for this series)

The next matchup:
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
dakmor’s swarm fleet (#10 seed) (commanded by Xerecs)

(This was the crazy one!)

The home islands were relatively close together. I was very excited to return to my HPFF fleet, which is a variant on the UPS strategy. Of the 16 ships the two fleets had on the ocean, none had more than 2 masts. Throw in only a single captain ability (Captain Jack Sparrow), and it looked like the series wouldn’t feature much combat. What looked like it could be a quick game turned into a long affair….

This is the situation before the swarm fleet even took a turn. The Hai Peng has followed the HPFF strategy, building Paradis de la Mer on the center wild island. The UT Maps of Alexandria was found, giving both fleets the location of each UT and standard coin. The HP (Hai Peng) loaded the traded oarsman and a coin, while the Banshee’s Cry headed for the southwestern island. Finally the swarm fleet could take its turn!

Here, the swarm fleet has set out, but the Hai Peng is at it again. The Devil’s Maw was built on the westernmost island, and the HP loaded another coin and the Holy Water UT.

The HP then headed south to build Dead Man’s Point, the third fort on four wild islands! Soon afterward, things started to “devolve into chaos”, as I like to say. A few swarm ships got too close to Paradis de la Mer, who shot a couple masts off. The Banshee’s Cry went there to grab any extra coins not used for the fort’s construction. The swarm fleet mostly divided itself in two: a contingent of ships headed west to attack the Devil’s Maw, while another group headed south towards the HPFF home island. There, the Hai Peng had just docked home the coins she had picked up on her journey to most of the wild islands. However, she was soon under attack! The swarm fleet can utilize rams quite effectively, and this strategy began to pay off as the HP lost a mast. CJS was surprised to be in so much trouble at his own HI! It’s worth noting that the northern wild island was effectively irrelevant at this point, having been emptied by the swarm fleet.

The swarm fleet took their turn, and the momentum began to shift! The sheer number of swarmers overwhelmed the Hai Peng and dismasted her via ramming! Then, in an expert display of seamanship, Xerecs used the swarm fleet to capture and chain-tow the Hai Peng away from the HPFF home island and out of harm’s way!!!! Shocked Chain-towing in a regular game, using about 6 total ships! (I sort of introduced chain-towing as a tactic back in my first 500 point game; it’s normally only viable in very large games so to see it here was epic.) At this point I commented that I was willing to lose despite my love for the HPFF fleet, simply because of Xerecs’ fantastic move and the honorable way of losing such a unique game. However, it was becoming evident that there was a lot of game left to play! The swarmers took up position in the far west against the Devil’s Maw, and began their bombardment! This was another unique feature of this game – a prolonged assault against a fort by multiple ships, something you’d be more likely to see in real life than in a game of Pirates.

With the Hai Peng captured, Lord Mycron aboard the Patagonia can now give the extra action to the Banshee’s Cry. The BC zips home with an extra coin from Paradis, giving the HPFF fleet 11 gold on their home island. The Lezard sails out, the HPFF fleet desperate now that the HP is gone. The Devil’s Maw puts up a good fight against the uncaptained swarmers, dismasting two ships even as three more prepare to fire.

The two battles continue to rage. The swarmers now concentrate some ships against the remaining HPFF ships. The Lezard and Patagonia are both dismasted by rams! The Devil’s Maw has knocked the western swarm squadron down to 2 masts, meaning that the fort has won the battle! Another rarity, as forts are often destroyed before they can even fire a shot when a fast gunship sails in and mauls them immediately. Between the lack of captains in the swarm fleet and the small size of the ships, the fort was in a uniquely good position. The Banshee’s Cry tries to get gold, while the Hai Peng is towed home by the swarmers. At this point, the only way for the swarm fleet to win is to get some of the gold from the forts. However, they will be hard-pressed to destroy all 3 with their lack of firepower.

Both fleets continue to have some successes: the Devil’s Maw finishes off the swarmers in the west, and the BC uses Skrew Engine to duck into a fog bank with a coin. However, the swarm fleet sinks the Lezard and captures the Patagonia! This gives the swarmers access to Lord Mycron.

Some turns later, and the Hai Peng has been repaired! She sets out for the swarm fleet, and is by far their best hope for them to destroy the forts, between her speed and CJS’s captain ability. Her first shots miss the Devil’s Maw, but Mycron can give the ship another action. At this point the Pirate fort is down to 3 cannons and faces a more powerful squadron in this second battle, with more swarm ships arriving soon. A ship stands guard at the HPFF HI, where the BC needs a 2 or 3 coming out of the fog to dock home her coin.

With 4 ships the swarm fleet manages to destroy the Devil’s Maw in the second assault! The Hai Peng is given the Patagonia’s action to load the 5 coin, which is extremely important. With two forts left, the swarmers will need some luck if they want to destroy both, especially against Paradis’ overpowered ability. The Banshee’s Cry has docked home a 3 for HPFF, and since she’s the only ship remaining in the fleet, she has become essentially invincible! If the swarm fleet dismasts the BC, the game immediately ends and the remaining gold in the two forts counts for the HPFF fleet, which would give them the win. Knowing this, the BC immediately rams the nearest swarm ship in the hopes of capturing and repairing it, but the hapless Venture sinks instantly!

The Banshee’s Cry manages to capture El Raton and even the Patagonia! However, the Patagonia is quickly sunk after being recaptured, giving the swarm fleet an extra 1 gold from Bratley’s Ransom ability, which could certainly matter in this hotly contested game. In the south, Dead Man’s Point has already fallen! Some of the fort’s gunners fell asleep at their posts after the battle of the Devil’s Maw took so long, and the fort is quickly defeated. The Hai Peng tries to load the gold used to build the fort… and we suddenly realize that I had accidentally cheated! The BC’s entire trip to Dead Man’s Point earlier in the game was all for nought: I thought there were two 3’s in the fort, but in reality the 3 used to build the fort was the only standard coin on the island. Thus the coin couldn’t be removed from the fort, and we corrected the mistake by transferring the coin from my HI to the Hai Peng. I knew something was amiss when I counted 38 total gold in play (30 + 5 from Barbary Banner, + a mysterious 3 that I mistook for an extra coin when it wasn’t).

Something else happened in this segment of turns that completely turned the game on its head. When the BC went to Dead Man’s Point to grab the “extra” 3 coin, she did pick up the Jailhouse Dog UT (so I guess the trip wasn’t completely worthless!). I completely forgot about the UT until one of the swarm ships won a boarding party against the BC. Having to look at the BC’s deckplate for the first time in a while, I suddenly saw the UT! I then consulted the Pirate Code and found this:

The Pirate Code wrote:
Jailhouse Dog
-This ability may be used at any time during the game.

 

Ecstatic, I then happened to (luckily!) read further:

The Pirate Code wrote:
-This ability may be used to remove a unique treasure that is worth gold after it has been unloaded to a home island, provided that unloading that treasure did not trigger an endgame condition. If any endgame condition has been reached, Jailhouse Dog can no longer be used.

 

Shocked

I used Jailhouse Dog to eliminate the Barbary Banner sitting on the swarm HI and cost them 5 gold!

The BC lost one of her two oarsmen instead of having the UT stolen, and now it was once again a regular 30-gold game instead of the one-time “38”! At this point I knew exactly what I had to do: with 11 gold on my HI, just hold Paradis (with a 5 coin inside) and I would win the game. Jailhouse Dog meant the swarm fleet would have to get the gold from Paradis after all, rather than just the Devil’s Maw and Dead Man’s Point. Despite being on the winning side of the UT in this game, Jailhouse Dog is still one of my least favorite UT’s because it can be OP and game-breaking. It’s one of the ultimate “party poopers” of Pirates CSG.

With 2 of the 3 forts destroyed, it looked like the game would finally end soon. There was a brief scuffle near Paradis, which resulted in two derelict swarm ships. The Hai Peng hurried home with the gold from Dead Man’s Point (the real 3 that the BC never should have loaded heh), while the gunners at Paradis prepared for a final clash.

The BC captured the Intrepide and towed her to Paradis to repair, while the fort sank the other swarm ship. The Hai Peng sailed out, knowing that only one of the two HPFF ships (now including the Intrepide) could be dismasted (unless docked at the fort and therefore able to repair).

In between the above picture and this one, the Hai Peng rammed the Banshee’s Cry at such an angle that the guns of Paradis couldn’t hit the HP. However, the Intrepide rammed the HP and forced her to retreat. The HP went home to repair one final time! At this point I had been playing the game and typing in the chat with one hand for a while due to eating. This led to many bizarre and amusing things in the VASSAL chat, and further contributed to this long and wacky game.

The Hai Peng sailed out and dismasted the Intrepide, leaving the BC as the only HPFF ship once again. The Hai Peng tried to attack Paradis, but once the first die was rolled for Paradis’ effect, it was obvious that it was impossible for the HP to get enough hits. The fort’s guns boomed once more, and the Hai Peng was derelict! This seemed to end the game, but the swarm fleet still had the Jolly Mon at their home island! The Jolly Mon vs. Paradis de la Mer matchup didn’t happen for obvious reasons: the Jolly Mon would need an absolutely unprecedented string of luck to win, and even then a single successful ram from the BC would end the game as well.

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy wins the game 16-15!! 11 gold was on their HI, with 5 in the intact fort. The swarm fleet had 14 gold and 1 extra from sinking Bratley. How fitting that one of the longest and most desperate 40 point games ever ends with a 1-gold margin of victory! This is a game we’ll remember for a long time, and continues the trend of the HPFF fleet having very long and interesting games: its first series (against the AP fleet ironically) was also quite memorable. After all that, we still have at least one more game left to play in the series!

12/10/2016

2 more games!

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
dakmor’s swarm fleet (#10 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

The second game of the series got started, with the swarm fleet going first. For the second game in a row the Hai Peng built Paradis de la Mer on the center island.

The HP was headed to the southeast (building Dead Man’s Point), where she found the Maps of Alexandria. By that point she had also loaded Holy Water and Jailhouse Dog. Paradis dismasted the swarm’s Banshee’s Cry, while the HPFF BC docked in the northeast.

The BC used Skrew Engine to dock home a few coins, including the Barbary Banner. This time HPFF had found both the dog and the banner, giving them a decided advantage. It was already likely that HPFF would win, but they also had luck on their side. Xerecs’ cannons were ineffective, and DMP crushed all comers in the southeast.

Here, the swarm fleet has some gold home, but they’re running out of ships. At this point the swarm fleet had to do the near-impossible: steal the Jailhouse Dog from the HP, use it to eliminate Barbary Banner, and then somehow destroy Paradis de la Mer to get the fort’s 5 coin. HPFF had 16 gold when counting Paradis’ gold but not counting the banner or the 3 in Dead Man’s Point. The Banshee’s Cry and Lezard were dismasted via rams but quickly repaired.

The Hai Peng got involved in the skirmish at the HPFF home island, where she was actually dismasted by rams and forced to hand over the Jailhouse Dog! Xerecs immediately played it to eliminate the Barbary Banner, but after the BC and Lezard got revenge by dismasting two swarm ships, the swarm fleet almost certainly wouldn’t be able to destroy Paradis. Realizing that the Hai Peng could move S+L+S when derelict (oarsman + both bonuses intact from having a captain and helmsman aboard), I decided to take off, knowing I could repair at either fort but knowing that the HP would be captured if she stayed at home.

An overly lengthy endgame process saw the Algeciras capture the Patagonia, so Mycron gave the swarm’s Coeur some extra actions. The Carrion Crow took the BC and Lezard out, leaving HPFF with just the HP. That would prove to be enough however, as the HP repaired at DMP, then dismasted the Carrion Crow. With only 2 masts left in the swarm fleet, we decided to call the game. HPFF had a 14-8 advantage even without the forts, which made the final score 22-8. Hai Peng Fort Frenzy advances to Round 2!

The final matchup of the first round!
Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
USS Kettering – Deadly Weapon (#9 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

This was a bit of an odd matchup – a UPS variant against a fleet designed for deathmatch play. The Kettering fleet used the same nasty UT’s as the HMS Grand Temple fleet to maximize the competitive nature of the tournament.

Darrin’s fleet rolled to go first, and I followed his strategy to a T. The fleet had 12 gold on its HI by the end of the first turn.

CJS traded another coin home on the next turn, which was the final coin on the center island (Missionary was traded away on the first turn and the BC loaded a Monkey’s Paw). This gave the gold race fleet 17 gold, technically enough to win. However, knowing that the BC had only traded away 8 total gold, there was 22 more gold out on the islands. To be fair we kept playing in the off chance that the Kettering fleet could come back, since the gold race fleet didn’t have a true majority of all the gold now in play (9 extra on their HI from the bonuses).

The Rover turned around and rammed the Kettering! However, no damage was done. Then, in a bizarre twist, the Rover won the boarding party 7-6! A 2 point ship had just won a boarding party against one of the most feared ships in the game, and there was nothing the canceller ability could do about it! To continue the oddities, the Kettering then missed 4 shots in a row (partly due to Brent Rice having been eliminated in the boarding) before the Minuteman finally put an end to the mighty Rover. That whole sequence guaranteed the Banshee’s Cry another explore action at a different island, and it was over. CJS traded home a 7, which became a whopping 10 after the gold bonuses. Darrin’s gold race wins the first game of the series 27-0, the greatest margin of victory so far in the tournament and a higher margin of victory than any game from Tournament #1.

12/28/2016

Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
USS Kettering – Deadly Weapon (#9 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

Game 2 (Darrin’s fleet won the first game)

This time the Kettering fleet went first, and the BC was unlucky enough to find 2 negative UT’s at the center island, loading Maps of Hades.

The Rover was dismasted, and it was clear that the BC would have to do some sailing (rather than just “Hidden Cove’ing” to the island and redocking) in order to win the game. The BC needed more regular coins at the center island rather than UT’s. Negative UT’s may be the most reliable way to slow down these UPS fleets, since treasure traders like Gilbert can only toss away one at a time. Even then, there’s a chance you’ll get another bad one in the exchange!

The Maps of Hades allowed the Kettering to easily sink the BC, while the Sea Crane and Bonnie Liz sailed out to look for gold instead. The strategy of the gold race fleet was massively compromised, and the serious firepower advantage of the Kettering fleet looked like a tough obstacle to overcome.

Here the Sea Crane is being towed by the Kettering for her gold and gold bonus ability. The Bonnie Liz has gotten the Rover back in action, and they look to ram and steal before it’s too late.

The Bonnie Liz actually managed to steal a 7 from the Sea Crane, but it was promptly retaken by the Algeciras, who gave it to the Sea Crane to get the +1 bonus. The Rover was smashed again, while the Bonnie Liz tried to commit suicide on a reef in order to force the game’s end, simply hoping for enough gold to win. However, it would have been too late anyway, for the Kettering fleet won the game 22-9!

We have begun the third and final game of this series, and hope to complete it in the near future. After that, the competition heats up in Round 2!

1/20/2017

Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
USS Kettering – Deadly Weapon (#9 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

The final game of the series was underway!

The Banshee’s Cry had to make a run for a second island, while the Rover tried to hold off the Kettering and the Sea Crane left her HI.

Disaster for the gold race fleet: the BC is sunk, the Sea Crane captured, and the Rover dismasted. The Bonnie Liz is their only hope now.

The Kettering encountered a Missionary, but managed to get some gold home, leaving the Minuteman flotilla near the middle of the map. The Bonnie Liz was off to the southwestern island, where she found Wolves.

With Wolves making some of the gold unavailable, the game was soon decided. Darrin’s gold race had won a close 21-16 victory and advances to the second round of the tournament!

After the entire first round, here is the updated bracket. As before, the first number in each pair of scores belongs to the upper fleet, whether they won the game or not. Many fleets were quite impressive, winning both games of their series, while others prevailed against tough competition. The biggest upset was Quick wins the game (#14 seed) beating UPS 4, the #3 seed. After exactly 20 games in Round 1, there are 8 fleets remaining!

The first matchup of Round 2!

HMS GT (#1 seed) (commanded by Xerecs)
vs.
Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

The home islands were the same as they were for the third game of the previous matchup, and with HMS GT following a similar style as the USS Kettering fleet, it would prove to be a similar game.

Once again, the Rover is dismasted as the BC runs off to a second island.

I didn’t take many pictures, but the Bonnie Liz ended up as the last ship in the gold race fleet once again. This time, the Bonnie Liz managed to do a suicide run onto a reef to force the game’s end, knowing that her fleet likely had more gold than the HMS GT fleet. This was correct, as darrin’s fleet won 15-6.

There are no pictures from the second game of the matchup, because there doesn’t need to be. The gold race fleet rolled to go first (after going second in the first game), and the Banshee’s Cry managed to find only standard coins on the island she was Hidden Cove’d to! This meant she could simply trade 4 coins home in 2 turns and get the +3 bonuses on all of them. There was no need to scramble and no need for a second island. With 13 regular gold on the HI, there was only 17 gold available for the GT fleet. However, with 12 gold in bonuses in addition to the 13 standard, there was absolutely no way for the GT fleet to win.

Darrin’s gold race wins 25-0 and advances to Round 3, the semifinals! The #1 seed is out of the tournament in an upset! It wasn’t hugely surprising, since the gold race fleet is a UPS variant and the HMS GT fleet is built for combat. The perfect scenario combined with going first let the gold race fleet attain an easy second victory.

2/3/2017

Xerecs and I have played a whopping 5 games in VASSAL Tournament #2! (and nearly finished a 6th)

UPS 5 (#2 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

Both fleets quickly got to work, with HPFF building Paradis de la Mer in the center and the Devil’s Maw in the north, and UPS 5 building their Devil’s Maw in the west. UPS 5 found better coin values.

Here, HPFF has gone to the southeastern island, but the Zeus has destroyed their Devil’s Maw!

With the remaining gold contained within the two forts, there wasn’t much HPFF could do with their lack of firepower. The Lezard blocked the Zeus temporarily while the Hai Peng sped off in an attempt to destroy the Devil’s Maw to get at the gold inside. The Banshee’s Cry looked to take out the Hag of Tortuga.

The BC succeeded, but was dismasted for the effort. The 1 extra gold would not be enough to make the difference for HPFF, whose Hai Peng managed some damage against the Devil’s Maw before being destroyed. UPS 5 had won the first game of the series 17-12!

One turn into Game 2. HPFF’s home island is in the southeast, with UPS 5 in the west. The HP made it to the northern island, finding Pirate Globe, Jailhouse Dog, and two of the three 5 coins. Indeed, the luck had reversed from the previous game in terms of gold. To make things even better for HPFF, the Barbary Banner was revealed to be in the east, where the BC was headed.

A few turns later and HPFF is able to get what they need home. The HP avoided building Paradis on the northern island because it would put the valuable gold back in play, where the Zeus could potentially get it. After a loss in the first game, a change in strategy was just what the HPFF fleet needed, and here it panned out nicely (normally it’s better to just build the forts, but with a Zeus moving L+S+L+S the gold is not safe for long at all heh). UPS 5 almost managed a late-game salvage operation: I had kept the Jailhouse Dog aboard the Hai Peng in case it was needed, but suddenly it became a huge liability since the Zeus could steal it and use it to eliminate the Barbary Banner, which would cost HPFF the game! Thinking quickly I did something unorthodox and eliminated one of my own positive UT’s, Holy Water. This was simply to eliminate the dog from play to deny UPS 5 from using it. Indeed, the game turned out closer than I expected, but HPFF won 18-17 to even the series at a game apiece.

Game 3!

The Hai Peng sprinted to the northern island, once again finding the Pirate Globe, and this time the Barbary Banner as well. The Zeus went to the center island before turning to the northeastern island, where the Jailhouse Dog was. I then had to think about the best course of action for my fleet – I originally was going to run home with the Barbary Banner and the other coin the HP was carrying. However, seeing that the Zeus would soon come into possession of the Jailhouse Dog, and knowing that the UT could eliminate the Banner even after I docked at my HI, I decided to do something more risky but also more wise. The Hai Peng took off for the same northeastern island the Zeus was headed to, which could have been a suicide move. The HP docked on the side opposite the Zeus to maximize how far the junk would have to travel to get in range, and picked up the Jailhouse Dog, immediately playing it to eliminate the now-useless Maps of Alexandria UT on the western island. The Hai Peng picked up the Banner, and traded a 5 from the island for an oarsman on the Banshee’s Cry. The BC, originally headed for the western island, now turned around and docked home the new 5 coin, giving HPFF two of the three 5’s. To finish the turn, one of the 5’s was transferred back to the northeast to build Paradis de la Mer, both in an attempt to deter the Zeus from attacking the Hai Peng/Barbary Banner, and to protect the final coin on the island. Not trying to brag but it was one of my best turns of the tournament and a fine example of how strategic this “beer and pretzels” game can be, and why it’s always best to think things through. In the end I had essentially swapped 5’s while protecting my end of the gold in play, since it was likely the Banner would be sunk or stolen, but that the 5 would remain in play for at least some time inside Paradis. Had I ran home, I would have lost the Banner immediately and not gotten the 5 in the northeast.

The Zeus decided against attacking Paradis and a double-action Hai Peng, turning to the western island instead. The HP used an action to trade home the 2 from the northeastern island, then used her second action to move towards home, careful to stay out of the Zeus’ range.

The Coeur came out to meet the Hai Peng, but was unsuccessful with a ram and board. The HP sought shelter within a fog bank, while the Zeus unloaded her gold and combined it with the gold on the western island inside the Devil’s Maw fort. Seeing the endgame conflict materialize, the Banshee’s Cry headed to Paradis.

And there you have it – HPFF isn’t willing (or capable, likely) to go after the Devil’s Maw (and has no reason to), so the Zeus heads east to destroy Paradis. The 5 coin inside will determine the winner of the game – HPFF was up 21-14 at this point in gold, which could be determined by the revealed gold and the lack of extra gold in play outside of the Barbary Banner. It looked like the Coeur was sailing out to join the Zeus, but the HP sank her quickly. HPFF’s strategy was to stop the Zeus from destroying Paradis and loading the 5 coin in a single turn. As long as that didn’t happen, the HP could scoot to the island after Paradis fell, and then simply trade the 5 home (the Lezard still had 2 oarsmen aboard) for the instant win. The advantage laid with HPFF, but the situation was tense and competitive.

The BC maneuvered to block the Zeus at her bow, which in hindsight was a mistake because the Zeus could stay in place and shoot at the BC without coming into the range of the fort’s guns. The Zeus did just that, but managed to go an abysmal 0 for 4! This gave the BC another chance, which she used to dock at the island on the side where Paradis was closest to the water (with her stern sticking out as far as possible). This new blocking method was designed to force the Zeus to go to the far side of the island and shoot at Paradis from longer range, reducing the number of effective guns. The Hai Peng observed everything, ready to pounce on the Zeus with a double action (4 shots) or grab the 5 if the Zeus got lucky against the fort.

Incredibly, Xerecs rolled a 6 for Paradis’ ability, meaning the Zeus had to hit the fort 6 times that turn just to damage the fort at all! After this was not accomplished, Paradis knocked down 3 masts on the junk. The Banshee’s Cry has departed the island, hoping to get revenge when the Zeus becomes weaker.

After another exchange of cannon fire, the Zeus is left with just 4 masts while Paradis still has 4 cannons. The BC saw her opportunity for a miraculous ram and board, but both failed!

The OP ability of Paradis was too much for the (similarly OP) Zeus to overcome, with the Hai Peng fittingly dealing the final damage to the 10 master. After a great game and hard-fought victory (final score 21-14), Hai Peng Fort Frenzy had knocked off the #2 seed to advance to Round 3, the semifinals!

This was a really memorable series, and showcased how HPFF is one of the best fleets out there. The fleet also seems to be involved in a LOT of very long games, from its first (and also extremely memorable) series against the American Pirate fleet, to that crazy game against the swarm fleet, and now to this hotly contested series against the fleet that won T1. Wacky enough, when considering the total gold scores from each of the three games, HPFF beat UPS 5 by a score of just 51-48!

Fittingly enough, as great as that series turned out, the next series was a complete dud! lol.

Quick wins the game (#14 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
The Doldrums (#11 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

As the winner of the Round 1 series involving these fleets, I picked which one I controlled. Between my general disliking of events and my very positive experience using the Quick fleet to knock out UPS 4 in Round 1, I went with Quick wins the game despite its lower seed.

Game 1 setup: Quick in the north, Doldrums in the south.

Quick went first, with the Courageux being Hidden Cove’d to the center island to explore. The Pique headed east, while the Vengeance prepared to protect either gold runner while also trying to make sure that no two ships would be in range of Becalmed at the same time. Alas, it didn’t work, with the Pique and Vengeance getting hit with the event. I had forgotten that the Doldrums fleet also had Hidden Cove, and suddenly the Eagle was at the center island and attacking my fleet! The Courageux and Vengeance lost a mast apiece, but Becalmed was an even bigger problem. The Vengeance connected on my turn, but was unable to move and get canceller Lenoir in range, while the Courageux’s ram and board failed miserably.

The Eagle takes over, blasting the Quick fleet to smithereens! Suddenly the Pique was the only ship they could move (Vengeance sunk and Courageux derelict), and the game was effectively over.

The Eagle sank the Courageux with 6 gold aboard, but the Pique escaped into a fog bank, later grabbing gold from the western island. During all of the combat shenanigans the Pirate gold runners were busy establishing an advantage, and the French were out of the running. The Longshanks intercepted the Pique on her trip home and rammed her derelict to end the game. The Doldrums had won 13-0!

The second game went similarly great for the Doldrums, and similarly horrible for Quick. The Vengeance stayed in port, so the Eagle couldn’t shoot at her if the same Hidden Cove strategy was used. However, this allowed Becalmed to hit two ships on the first turn once again, and it looked like the Vengeance should have moved northwest. This time the Pique was Hidden Cove’d to the center island, the French changing their strategies after the embarrassing loss in Game 1.

Becalmed was played to hit the Vengeance and Courageux. Hidden Cove was then played to put the Eagle at the center island once again, where she wreaked havoc. The Pique was sunk, while the Courageux was dismasted soon afterwards. This left the French to seek Vengeance (ha ha… or not). The Vengeance got caught up in a skirmish with the Longshanks, which further proved how much momentum the Doldrums fleet had, for Xerecs even rolled much better at the guns during the engagement. The battle was ended by the Eagle, with the French eliminated for the second game in a row!

The Doldrums won 7-0 in dominating fashion, and are a force to be reckoned with as they move on to the semifinals to face HPFF!

Only one more series in Round 2, after which there are only 3 matchups before we crown the best fleet of all time!

2/5/2017

The final matchup of Round 2!

Norvegia (#4 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

UPS 2 got busy with a couple forts, while Norvegia went to the northern and southeastern islands.

Eventually the only gold left was in the two forts, which would determine the winner of the game. The Neptune’s Hoard attacked Dead Man’s Point, knocking out three cannons before she was dismasted and captured by the fort and the Hai Peng. (we counted our gold early to determine if it was close enough to keep playing for the fort gold, and indeed it was, with Norvegia up 21-18 with 9 gold in the forts)

The Star of Siam and Banshee’s Cry didn’t have enough firepower to destroy Dead Man’s Point, and both ships were dismasted to end the game! UPS 2 won the game 27-21.

Norvegia went first in the second game, using sac actions to reach two wild islands. The Hai Peng settled for the northwestern island, finding good gold values there (4,3,2,2). UPS 2 didn’t build a fort, planning to send home the islands’ final two coins on the following turn.

After much excellent treasure running by both fleets, it looked like it was going to be a close finish. Norvegia found all of their UT’s (Spices, Barbary Banner, and Buried Treasure), while the Hai Peng was busy trading home coins from the northeastern and center islands. The last coin on the NE island was a 1, and CJS knew there was no point in getting that coin when he could try for a potentially better (and definitely not worse) coin with the final treasure of the center island. (UPS 2 had to pick one coin and not the other because the HP’s helmsman had been sacced recently so the HP could explore the NE island right after docking, and because the Neptune’s Hoard could catch the HP with her speed on Norvegia’s turn.) The decision paid off when the coin was a 2, which CJS traded home.

The Hai Peng was dismasted by the Neptune’s Hoard, while the Banshee’s Cry docked home the final 1 coin for Norvegia.

In the end, UPS 2 had won a very close 27-25 victory! This reveals how important it was that the HP switched islands at the end, for if CJS had traded home the 1, the game would likely have ended tied at 26! For me it was one of the best treasure running games I’ve ever seen, with a whopping 22 extra gold in play by the end of it (12 from Maurice Aristide’s +2 bonuses, and more from the UT’s). Another weird stat is that Norvegia totaled 46 gold between the two games and still lost both! It seems that UPS 2 is always involved in very high-scoring affairs; they just happen to score more than their opponents.

UPS 2 advances to the semifinals!

Here is the updated bracket, with just 3 matchups left! At this point, we may play more than 2 or 3 games per series, if there’s any doubt about which fleet is superior, similar to what we did in the last few series of T1.

Round 2 saw some VERY interesting series, with both the #1 and #2 seeds being knocked out. I’m not overly surprised at the left side of the bracket, as I had UPS 2 as the potential winner before the tournament started, and the gold race fleet not far behind. However, the right side of the bracket is a little more surprising, with HPFF knocking off UPS 5 in a close series. The Doldrums fleet has been the most dominant of the tournament, outscoring its opponents 61-12 (!), going 4-0, and often finishing games rather quickly. I hope Becalmed doesn’t effectively ruin the tournament… either way, these semifinal matchups look very competitive and intriguing. It’s also worth noting that the Doldrums fleet is the only fleet remaining that has a functional gunship… not overly surprising, but in the past I’ve seen different HMS GT fleets absolutely steamroll great gold fleets (which just speaks to how amazing Darrin’s gold race fleet really is).

Stay tuned to find out which fleet becomes the greatest ever!

2/10/2017

A grand mistake has been made… an embarrassing error that threatens the integrity of the tournament….

EVENTGATE.

The first of two semifinal matchups began, with Hai Peng Fort Frenzy (HPFF) facing the Doldrums fleet. As usual, the Doldrums fleet was cruising along, indeed on their path to an easy 17-2 victory for a nearly unprecedented 5-0 record. Early in the game the Hai Peng returned home to avoid being hit by Becalmed and then the Eagle, who would be Hidden Cove’d to the center island and then given a sac action to move and shoot twice. The Banshee’s Cry then moved into a fog bank, which prompted Xerecs to wonder if the fog would make the BC immune to Becalmed. I figured as much since I thought that lines of sight/ability/etc were blocked by fog. The game continued, and here you can see the Eagle in the southwest after sinking the HP, essentially ending the game in favor of the Doldrums.

To confirm my thoughts about Becalmed I went to the Pirate Code, and funny enough I went to the section on Becalmed instead of the section on fog banks (where the answer to the question actually is). It was then and there that I saw it:

-Only one “beginning of turn” event token may be revealed during your turn.

O_O

Neither of us knew about this ruling, and it changed EVERYTHING. I immediately looked back at the battle reports concerning the Doldrums fleet, and sure enough, the fleet had used both Becalmed and Hidden Cove on their first turn in possibly every game.

Suddenly the Doldrums’ 5-0 record was in doubt. Not only that, but their position in the tournament. One more win would put them into the final round, where a series victory would give them the title of “best fleet of all time”. It became very apparent that controversy and scandal would win the night, but with T2 being a somewhat serious affair (we have to get it right), we were determined to fix what we could.

I have decided not to go back and edit any previous reports, since it could be confusing and disrupts the story of the tournament. A new picture of the updated bracket follows at the end of this report.

After a discussion, Xerecs and I narrowly decided to replay both series that the Doldrums fleet was involved in. This would be the most fair, and the Doldrums fleet would need to prove itself using the better rules. After all, it felt like Becalmed had gotten them to the semifinals almost by itself, and it was the only fleet in the tournament using the event. (the latter of which was very lucky – since no other fleet in the tournament uses both Becalmed and Hidden Cove, there wouldn’t be any other matchups to replay)

With that, we were suddenly back in Round 1!

American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
The Doldrums (#11 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

We used the same home islands as in Game 1 of the original series. The Amity used Hidden Cove to load up from the center island.

The Doldrums used their own Hidden Cove to dismast the Amity with the Eagle and take two masts off the Roanoke.

However, on the next turn the Roanoke sank the Eagle! It became clear that playing Becalmed and Hidden Cove on the first turn hadbeen giving the Doldrums fleet quite an unfair advantage.

The Roanoke sank the Bloody Jewel, while the Amity and Bandido eventually returned with gold for the AP’s.

The Roanoke was then set upon by the Longshanks (LS) and BC of the Doldrums fleet, until she was dismasted and captured! The Amity repaired two of her three masts before setting out for the final coin on the southwestern island. The Bandido followed her into a fog bank, while the remaining Doldrums fleet looked to intercept. The BC was rammed out of the game, while the Roanoke repaired. Eventually the Bandido rammed the final mast off the LS and captured her, towing the ship to block the Roanoke from attacking the Amity. The Amity returned the coin home and the American Pirates had dealt the Doldrums fleet their first loss! The final score was 17-15 after finding out that Raft had no effect on the Hag of Tortuga; she became 1 gold for the AP’s when the Eagle sank.

The setup for Game 2:

This time the “Hidden Cove chess game” resulted in the Roanoke besting the Eagle once again.

Now the Roanoke can effectively terrorize the Doldrums gold runners, while the Amity and Bandido both dock in the west.

The BC was dismasted and captured, while the Amity and Bandido returned home with gold.

The Bloody Jewel ducked into fog with gold aboard, while the LS was targeted by the Roanoke. The AP fleet has formed a temporary chain of ships to block the Bloody Jewel if she comes out of the fog.

Some late-game antics made the game closer than it looks. (capturing the BC was a mistake) However, in the end the AP fleet won 9-8!

The American Pirates move on to Round 2! The Doldrums fleet has been retroactively eliminated! In stunning fashion, the Doldrums fleet falls as far as you could possibly imagine, from 5-0 and one win away from the finals to 0-2 and out of the tournament. 0_0

Now we had a brand-new Round 2 matchup, and HPFF would have to wait to see who their new opponent in the semifinals would be.

Quick wins the game (#14 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

Quick rolled to go first, and both fleets used Hidden Cove on their first turns, with the Roanoke dismasting but unable to sink the Courageux.

The Roanoke captured the Courageux, which later turned out to be a mistake.

The Amity and Bandido hide in the fog, while the Vengeance blockades the AP home island. The Roanoke uses the opportunity to drop the Courageux and sink the Pique.

Here I made another mistake (one of many this session) and pulled the gold runners out of the fog too early. The Vengeance turned around and dismasted both of them in one action! Now the AP’s would have to win with just the Roanoke.

The Vengeance sank the Amity and Bandido, eliminating 11 gold from the game. This left 19 in play, of which the Roanoke deposited 4 from the center island soon afterwards. She then headed northwest for 4 more, while the Vengeance recaptured the Courageux. In a nice move the Vengeance towed the Courageux to dock her at the center island, loading up gold.

With no helmsman, the Vengeance could only tow the Courageux at S speed, allowing the Roanoke to get in range of the Courageux while being out of Lenoir’s cancelling range. The Courageux was sunk, and the Roanoke won a brief battle of the gunships to end the game. The AP’s win 8-4!

Here is the updated bracket, with Eventgate over. The AP’s went from being eliminated to being one win away from a trip to the semifinals (if they get there, they would face HPFF, which would be an extremely highly anticipated rematch for the ages). At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Doldrums fleet proved to be a lot of hype for nothing. This also gives the Quick fleet new life, though now they have to win 2 in a row to advance.

2/12/2017

Quick wins the game (#14 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

After losing the first game of the series, Quick went first once again.

The AP’s were very aggressive with Hidden Cove, using it to catapult the Roanoke towards the French gold runners.

This turned out to be a mistake, for the Courageux was never in range, and the Vengeance arrived to cancel Captain Blackheart and eventually sink the Roanoke.

The Vengeance headed south to cut off the Bandido and Amity on their second gold run. Seeing no chance of getting the gold home, the Pirates turned to attack! An impressive ram and board from the Amity (two 6’s in a row) hurt the Vengeance a little, but things were still looking dire for the AP’s.

After the Bandido was sunk, the Amity put up a rather miraculous fight against the Vengeance, though it was more due to the Amity carrying the final AP mast (Quick needed to make sure they had more gold before triggering an endgame condition) than the excellent exploits of the Amity and her crew. The AP’s built a Devil’s Maw in the west after capturing the Vengeance and her two coins from the same island. However, the Courageux was going to the northern island once more, and gold bonuses were already stacking up on the Quick HI.

The Vengeance brought home de Cissey for a ransom payment, and the Courageux avoided the Amity to dock home the final coin. Due to the gold bonuses from Maurice Aristide, the Quick fleet had won a nice 24-20 victory!

It was one of the better games of the tournament thus far, and sets up a Game 3 showdown to see who moves on to the semifinals to face Hai Peng Fort Frenzy!

5/26/2017

With xerecs not responding to my emails and showing zero interest in T2, and myself eager to resume/finish the tournament, I have decided to forge onward by myself. (If anyone else would like to join, just let me know, keeping in mind that the games are competitive and mistakes pretty much have to be replayed to have optimal results)

The tournament left off in the middle of the final game of the second round! The rubber game (#3) between these two great fleets:
Quick wins the game (#14 seed)
vs.
American Pirates (#6 seed)

These were the home islands, from play back in February:

The fleets made mirrored movements to the north, with neither playing their Hidden Coves.

The northern islands were explored:

This is where the game left off. After my question was answered by Woelf in the Rules thread, it was clear how to continue the game.

As expected, the AP’s used Hidden Cove to get the Roanoke out of Lenoir’s cancelling range. With careful maneuvering and a sac action, the Roanoke was able to knock down the Vengeance’s final two masts and capture her!

The Courageux explores the Pique for her 1 coin, eager to unload it to get Aristide’s +2 bonus. They plan to do the same at the northeastern island, which would give them 20 gold total (which they are aware of because they’ve explored two islands and found both 1’s, and know the treasure distribution based on the previous games). However, the AP’s would have 21 if they unload all of their gold (16 between the Amity and Bandido) as well as Cissey, who would provide 5 via the Ransom keyword. Thus, the French must make some kind of daring attempt to limit how much the AP’s bring back.

The Pique was going to capture or sink the Amity, but Captain Blackheart on the Roanoke had other plans. At this point I forgot about the “new” oarsman keyword ruling, where you can’t tow a ship if it has an oarsman. The Amity was towed a little bit by the Roanoke, but she could have just hidden in a fog bank or made it on her own anyway. The Roanoke could have dismasted the Pique instead of the Courageux to avoid forcing the end of the game and the treasure count, at which point a similar situation would have unfolded at the end of the game. In addition, the Roanoke would then have time to load the Amity’s oarsman for sacrificial purposes and also to tow the Amity. Here are the pictures from the rest of the game, which the AP’s won 21-17. It’s extremely likely they would have won anyway, but I’m playing another game for maximum fairness.




In the other game, the same home islands were picked with Quick going first. The Roanoke used Hidden Cove to go to the center island and attack the Vengeance, hitting 2/3 times. The Vengeance fought back and cancelled Blackheart, but eventually lost the fight. The Amity beat the Pique to the northern island and the AP’s won in a shutout.

With that, the American Pirates move on to Round 3 of the tournament, the semifinals! There they will face Hai Peng Fort Frenzy, in an epic rematch! But first, the other matchup will be played: Darrin’s Gold Race fleet vs. UPS 2!

5/27/2017

Xerecs has rejoined the tournament and Round 3 (the semifinals) has begun! From here on out, a fleet will need at least two more victories than its opponent in order to advance. We will play as many games as necessary to determine which fleet is better in each matchup.

Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by Xerecs)
vs.
UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

This matchup pitted two fleets that use Captain Jack Sparrow against each other. Each has Hidden Cove and CJS on a very fast flagship (Banshee’s Cry and Hai Peng). The games didn’t disappoint! Xerecs also got a crash course on the gold race fleet, which I consider to be the most confusing fleet ever made.

The first game was marred by a UT problem. The gold race fleet has Periscope listed (Sunken Treasure was already taken out based on past problems with including it), but the Hai Peng (HP) found it. The Hai Peng used a double action (saccing with Jimmy Legs) to activate the UT and cancel Jonah aboard the Banshee’s Cry (BC), shutting down the crew and therefore forcing the removal of both Captain Jack Sparrow and Don Pedro Gilbert, two extremely essential crew for the gold race fleet! They were tossed overboard, and meanwhile the Hai Peng’s CJS was busy ordering the gunners to open fire, leaving the BC derelict.

From here it looked like UPS 2 would have an easy ride to victory. The HP teleported two coins home from the northern island, getting bonuses on both. The gold race fleet was forced to sail out their remaining ships, with the Banshee’s Cry useless and later scuttled.

The HP gets gold from the center island, while the gold race fleet salvages what they can.

After clearing out the western island, the HP headed east to intercept the final coins sailing home in the opposing fleet. However, she lost a skirmish and was captured! Here the Bonnie Liz transfers individual coins to the Sea Crane, who redocks to get a +3 bonus on each coin. This was the gold race’s best chance at victory, and it could work as long as the rest of UPS 2 (Intrepide and Coeur du Lion) couldn’t interfere.

The final coins were unloaded, and UPS 2 had won a 35-26 victory! This broke the previous tournament record (for T1 and T2) of total gold collected in a single game, at 61 gold! (previous high was 55)

The second game started, with the gold race HI in the southeast and the UPS 2 HI in the northeast. The BC has built Dead Man’s Point in the center, dumping her French Letter of Marque equipment to make room for more sacrifices.

The fleets accumulate more and more gold via the UPS strategy.

Things started to get interesting. UPS 2 ran out of sac crew for the Hai Peng, who shadowed the BC and managed to dismast her (sending that CJS to the northern wild island via Jonah). The Intrepide and Coeur are sailing to the northern wild island.

The HP tries to steal the BC’s coin, but manages to lose the boarding party! The Sea Crane stays docked to protect her valuable gold bonus crew. This makes Genny Gallows (aboard the Sea Crane) a “stay-at-home mom”. (I wonder what Sean thinks of that? Wink) The Bonnie Liz sails to the fort and grabs the gold there. The Rover stalks the Intrepide and Coeur up north.

The Hai Peng sets up a sort of blockade of the gold race HI, leading the Bonnie Liz to seek shelter in the fog and wait for a good die roll to come out. The Sea Crane waits for her. Captain Jack, even the opportunist, seizes the chance to grab Powder Pete (traded earlier in the game via the other CJS to the southwestern island), in order to sac him. The Rover rams the Coeur derelict to get at the Intrepide.

The Intrepide has a mast rammed off by the Rover, before returning the favor to end the threat. In the southeast, further disaster for the Hai Peng! She went after the Bonnie Liz, who came out of the fog eager to hand off coins to the Sea Crane. With a handful of terrible die rolls (typical for me of course), the HP is eventually captured as you can see in the next photo…

… as all three 2 masters race to stop the Intrepide from accumulating more coins and bonuses. I finally managed to calculate that grabbing the final coin from the northern island and towing the Coeur home (she also had a coin aboard) would take 7 turns, compared to 8 turns if the Intrepide explored the Coeur, took that coin home, and then went back out for the other one. Exploring the Coeur and then going to the island (or vice versa) and taking them both home at once wasn’t a good option, since I had also calculated/estimated that I needed the +2 gold bonus from Aristide on both coins (which was proven correct in the final gold totals). Hopefully this gives some insight into how competitive these tournaments have been – not so much between myself and Xerecs, but more between the fleets themselves. There’s been plenty of math and deductions going on, with estimates and projections changing every turn based on the changing conditions of the game. The level of play is extremely high, evidenced by the very very high, very very close scores. Normally I wouldn’t do so much before one action, but this turn got a little extreme and I really wanted to know what was truly optimal. Of course, I didn’t factor in the other variable – the gold race fleet was already on its way, which meant the Intrepide had to get ANY coin home as fast as possible, with no time to get both. (pretty much guaranteed to lose both if that was pursued)

In the ensuing skirmish (not quite “chaos” between a few small ships heh), the Coeur was sunk and the Rover recaptured. The Intrepide got a coin home but it probably wouldn’t be enough. The gold race fleet was in full control, but didn’t want to end the game since they could still get the final coin on the northern island and +3 bonus it. (4 gold vs 1 from Cissey’s elimination; capturing Cissey would end the game with no chance to unload him) The Intrepide initially tried to suicide on a reef, but then began fighting Dead Man’s Point.

In a brilliant move, Xerecs used the captured Hai Peng to load up an oarsman and the CJS that was originally on the BC (so the HP had two Jack Sparrow’s on her during the same game – Multiple Jacks like in At World’s End!!). Then he used Jimmy Legs to sac the oarsman and redock, NOW using CJS’s ability to flip the coin to the Sea Crane way in the south, who unloaded it for 4 gold total. To end the play, the gold race fleet was now free to end the game, and that they did, with the fort blasting the Intrepide apart and getting 1 gold from Cissey’s elimination.

The final score was 34-28 in favor of the gold race fleet! The series was tied 1-1. This also rebroke the record set earlier in the day of most total gold in a standard game, with 62.

For the third game of the series, the gold race fleet rolled to go first, just as in the first game (and they went first in the second game too since they lost the first game). The home island locations happened to reverse, and we set sail!

Once again the BC built Dead Man’s Point on the center island, which forced the Hai Peng to go around the perimeter. The HP was Hidden Cove’d (copyright lordstu) to the southwestern island but skipped it entirely, sailing north to the western island.

The HP and BC got busy trading, with the HP continuing to circle the center island by moving to the northern island, much to Xerecs’ dismay. Paradis was built on that island, and the BC turned away.

The sickening speed of the Hai Peng was soon on full display. She sent another coin home before saccing to dismast the Rover, and then moved on to the southwestern island (finally returning to it) on the next turn. Honestly, sometimes there’s just not much you can do against a ship like the Hai Peng with the right crew setup.

Another example: the Hai Peng is running out of crew to sac, but catches the Sea Crane right before she gets home and dismasts her. This is when it was time to get wild, with strategies going out the window and the desperate endgame situations kicking in.

Here is when it happened. The Banshee’s Cry scored a hit. With CJS aboard and desperate times calling for desperate measures, the BC somehow dismasted the HP with a shot and ram! Importantly, the BC stole back the coin the HP had stolen from the Sea Crane. The Bonnie Liz came out to help the Sea Crane, while the Intrepide and Coeur looked on from afar in confusion and disbelief.

Then, another bizarre thing happened. While attacking the Coeur, the Banshee’s Cry couldn’t shoot due to carrying treasure, the same treasure that she stole partly as a result of her earlier hit.

The Coeur eventually sank, and the Intrepide once again tried to fight a fort. This time, she would survive at least in the interim, since the gold race fleet was trying to get the 4 gold from Paradis rather than settling for the 1 from eliminating Cissey.

The battles at the forts continued after a brief break, caused by yours truly messing up and pasting the entire eBay spreadsheet into the chat box lol, causing my VASSAL window to freeze and crash. (this can happen even if you don’t submit the message, so beware)

Paradis is massively overpowered and unsurprisingly put up a great fight against the gold race coalition of 4 ships, besting all 3 comers! To complicate matters further for the gold racers, the Intrepide had just finished taking out the guns of Dead Man’s Point, so it would only be a matter of time before she loaded the fort’s former gold and sailed it home for a reversal of fortune and momentum. The Bonnie Liz put a stop to all that by ramming the Intrepide to end the game!

As you can see from the gold, it was a very high-scoring game! UPS 2 wins 37-31! This game set yet another record (rebroken for the 3rd time in 3 games, all in one day) for the most total gold unloaded or scored in a standard (40 point) game, with 68! This means we had well over twice as much gold than when the game started!

Between that (averaging gold scores in the 30’s, like what??) and the overall effectiveness of the strategy, these are absolutely two of the best fleets of all time. It’s interesting that UPS 2 holds a 2-1 advantage despite the gold race fleet going first in all 3 games, but that was partly due to the Periscope situation in Game 1. The future holds more excitement, for at least one more game will be played between these two fleets. The winner of the series advances to the finals!

6/14/2017

Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by Xerecs)
vs.
UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

Game 4

My horrendous dice luck continued at a near-unprecedented rate, starting with losing the roll to go first. The gold race fleet uses Hidden Cove to send the Banshee’s Cry to the center island.

The Hai Peng was Cove’d to the western island, and she continued south from there, exploring two islands in the same turn.

UPS 2 built Paradis de la Mer, and the gold race fleet responded by building Dead Man’s Point in the northeast.

This is where things started to get interesting – with a scarcity of crew to trade with Captain Jack Sparrow, both fleets would need to scramble to secure victory. The Hai Peng lurks in wait for the Banshee’s Cry and/or Rover, who could be coming home with gold soon.

After a change of plans, the HP instead attacks the Sea Crane, nearly losing the battle due to my bad rolls in the process. The ship is captured, and the Intrepide comes out to tow her home. The Coeur grabs an oarsman in the northwest, while the gold race fleet gets bonuses the hard way with the Bonnie Liz.

Suddenly all ships of UPS 2 are headed home, as I realized the HP could simply tow the Sea Crane back at S+L+S speed. In addition, the 5-gold payout from the Hag’s Ransom keyword was greater than the potential 3 the HP could get at the southwestern island. Finally, it allowed the Intrepide to go back home and not risk being vulnerable to the gold race fleet while towing at S speed.

The HP repairs and speeds out to the southwest, where she trades home the final coin that she had found earlier. Then UPS 2 appears to sail straight for Dead Man’s Point.

Battle for the fort! My die rolls continue to defy belief, and Dead Man’s Point and the gold race fleet quickly gain the upper hand. Before the Rover was dismasted by a shot from the HP, a ram roll failed with a 1. You really can’t make this stuff up.

Eventually 3 of the fort’s 4 guns were silenced, but not before the HP was captured and most of UPS 2 dismasted. Xerecs didn’t have amazing die rolls this game, but naturally the Banshee’s Cry hit once again with a 6 to dismast the HP. (An outsider wouldn’t be crazy to think that the module is biased against me.) A final shot rang out, and the game was over!

The final scores:
1. Darrin’s gold race: 38 gold
2. UPS 2: 31 gold

With that, two more records are set! 38 gold is the new high score of any fleet in a single game, beating the 37 that UPS 2 collected in the previous game of this series. The 69 total gold breaks the previous record of 68, also set in the previous game.

The series is now technically tied at 2-2, but it’s more like 2-1 in favor of the gold race because of the Periscope dilemma that ruined the first game. However, UPS 2 still hasn’t gone first in any of the games. Between these factors and the close scores, it’s incredibly unclear which fleet is superior. Stay tuned for more!

7/28/2017

Darrin’s Gold Race fleet (#8 seed) (commanded by Xerecs)
vs.
UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

Game 5

Xerecs and I were recording our Skype discussion for a video of the game.

With the series tied at 2 games apiece, we decided to let UPS 2 go first because the gold race fleet had gone first in all 4 previous games in the series. This led to the Hai Peng quickly establishing forts at the center and northern wild islands.

Turns and turns of furious treasure-trading and gold bonus applications went by. There wasn’t much the gold race fleet could do about the UPS 2 forts, and the game was truly a gold race. In the end, UPS 2 won the game with an insane score of 44-21! This is a new single-fleet high for gold in a standard game that we have played, breaking the previous record of 38 set by the gold race fleet in Game 4 of the series.

Game 6

Due to eating and an imminent time crunch, we didn’t do Skype or a video for the second game of the session. Since the gold race fleet had gone first in more games (3 to 1 even if you don’t count the first game which was marred by the Periscope incident), UPS 2 went first once again.

The home islands were swapped, with UPS 2 in the southeast and the gold race fleet in the west. Both fleets built Dead Man’s Point in the north!

Knowing I had to get moving in order to prevent the Rover from getting gold in the southwest, the Hai Peng used one turn to build Paradis de la Mer on the center island, and the next turn to build the Devil’s Maw on the southwestern island right before the Rover would have been able to explore. This meant that all wild islands had a fort on them!

The Dead Man’s Point is the easiest target for the gold race fleet, who must destroy at least one fort and get its gold to have a chance. The Intrepide sails out to meet the HP and get a double bonus from Spices after a treasure swap. I dismasted the Rover with the intention of capturing her, thinking she might be useful down the line if the game came down to a battle to the death at a fort.

DMP (the UPS 2 version heh) puts up a good resistance, blasting masts off all 3 remaining gold race ships. The Intrepide makes another trade, this time with the captured and repaired Rover. The Coeur is ready to assist the fort up north, while the Hai Peng finally repairs (she was hit by the Rover after I missed her 4 times in a row) and gets ready for maximum speed once more (she was only doing stuff at one action per turn for 2 or 3 turns in a row, which is nearly unheard of in this fleet).

The Intrepide got yet another bonus via Aristide, and the Coeur rammed the Bonnie Liz unsuccessfully. The firepower in the northwest eventually subdued the BL and Sea Crane, while the Hai Peng chased down the Banshee’s Cry and dismasted her to end the game!

In a second consecutive blowout, UPS 2 wins 40-20!

After a brief discussion, Xerecs and I decided that UPS 2 advances to the Finals of VASSAL Tournament #2!!

Our reasoning was that UPS 2 had a 4-2 lead in the series, though it was more like 3-2 because of the weird Game 1. However, UPS 2 won a game (out of three) despite going second. In the only games where UPS 2 went first, the gold race fleet lost both by a wide margin. As a result, it seems that the gold race fleet cannot beat UPS 2 when going second, while UPS 2 can beat the gold race fleet when going second. With that, we have a finalist. At the start of the tournament, I predicted that UPS 2 would win if I had to put money on just one fleet. Now they are in the finals, and have a serious shot at winning the title of the best fleet of all time.

The other semifinal matchup is next! Hai Peng Fort Frenzy versus the American Pirates! Get hyped! XD

8/4/2017

In one of the most highly anticipated series of all time, an epic rematch is taking place!! I knew this was a possibility from how the bracket was structured, but I can hardly believe it’s actually happening. Similar to darrin’s fleets facing off in the other semifinal matchup, my best two fleets I’ve submitted go head-to-head with huge stakes!

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

HPFF rolled to go first, and was placed at the center island.

The Hai Peng has explored the two western islands, building Paradis de la Mer on the southwestern one. She unloads Barbary Banner at home, while the Roanoke sinks the Banshee’s Cry.

The Amity explored the northeastern island and flipped Jailhouse Dog to eliminate the Barbary Banner. Knowing I’d need more gold, the HP scurried past the Roanoke to explore the northern island. However, the Roanoke’s boarding party kills Lord Mycron, which puts a severe dent in the HPFF game plan.

The Roanoke sped north to dismast the HP, who took off into the safety of a fog bank. The Patagonia and Lezard sailed out, now unable to serve the HP.

The Lezard was sunk, but the HP managed to get a lucky roll out of the fog bank and speedily row home to unload her coins from the northern island!

With a considerable ship and mast advantage, the AP’s capture the Patagonia, hoping to unload Bratley for the 5 gold Ransom payout. However, the Hai Peng is too fast for that! Although she missed when redocking at her home island, the HP managed to try again on her next turn. The second shot connected, sinking the Patagonia and denying the AP’s the ransom.

At this point, only the 5 coin in Paradis remained. The AP’s would give it up if they sunk the HP, and therefore the HP became essentially invincible for the endgame. The Roanoke and Amity headed over to the fort, but the Roanoke rolled a 5 for the ability and thus was only able to eliminate one cannon even after saccing for a double shoot.

Paradis was simply too much for the AP’s to overcome, and the game ended after the Roanoke was sunk and the Amity was dismasted. That gold in the fort was the difference, as HPFF won a 18-13 victory in the first game of this highly anticipated rematch!

It was a great game, with more to come soon. In fact, we’ve already started the second game, which you can see part of if you check out the video on my channel.

8/13/2017

In one of the most highly anticipated series of all time, an epic rematch is taking place!! I knew this was a possibility from how the bracket was structured, but I can hardly believe it’s actually happening. Similar to darrin’s fleets facing off in the other semifinal matchup, my best two fleets I’ve submitted go head-to-head with huge stakes!

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

For the second game of the series, the AP’s went first and HPFF’s HI was moved to the northwest.

The HP builds Paradis in the north, while Maps of Alexandria reveals the southwestern island to have both the Barbary Banner and the Jailhouse Dog, two important UT’s in this series that often cancel each other out. Knowing the Bandido would likely ram the Banshee’s Cry to dismast her, I had to try to explore the island anyway.

The HP was dismasted by the Roanoke, but since she can move S+L+S with a captain/helmsman/oarsman setup, she was able to return home some gold and repair there. The BC is indeed dismasted by a Bandido ram, but HPFF gets another fort built. The Roanoke has begun a fight with Paradis, but the OP fort shreds the gunship without taking any damage!

Both flagships repair (the Roanoke at a new fort built by the AP’s in the northeast), and both Pirate 1 masters are sunk in the south. The Amity and Lezard are unable to do their usual tasks (respectively to gather gold and flip oarsmen for coins), and so they prepare for the inevitability of war.

The AP’s destroyed Dead Man’s Point in the southwest, but immediately afterwards the Hai Peng showed her worth using her uber-fast speed and great crew complement to get both gold coins from the fort back home to safety. This led to an inevitable and lengthy conclusion, with the AP’s assaulting Paradis to no avail. However, in this picture you can see not only the mess, but also how close the AP’s got to destroying the fort. Paradis is down to one cannon, while the Lezard and HP only have one mast standing between them.

In the end, HPFF won its second game in a row, this one by a score of 19-11! With that, HPFF seems like the better fleet, but at least one more game will be played in the series. We’ll swap the Bandido out for the Banshee’s Cry with a helmsman and explorer, and possibly switch controllers at some point. Either way, the Finals of T2 are not far away!

9/2/2017

In one of the most highly anticipated series of all time, an epic rematch is taking place!! I knew this was a possibility from how the bracket was structured, but I can hardly believe it’s actually happening. Similar to darrin’s fleets facing off in the other semifinal matchup, my best two fleets I’ve submitted go head-to-head with huge stakes!

Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)
vs.
American Pirates (#6 seed) (commanded by xerecs)

Here is a recording of the night’s action, which happened directly after the start of CG3! The Bandido was swapped out for the Banshee’s Cry with a helmsman and explorer. I didn’t really want to do that, but I wanted to see if the AP’s could pull out a win with a more optimized setup.

Here is the only picture from Game 3 of this series, showing how the Amity Hidden Cove’d to the center island and the Hai Peng used Mycron to reach the west. The Pirate Globe and Maps of Alexandria revealed the treasure distribution, with HPFF getting the better of it. They grabbed the 5 coins they needed to win (two 5’s and three 2’s), with the final score being 16-14.

With that, HPFF had a commanding (and indeed, decisive in normal circumstances) lead in the series, but I wanted to experiment. We switched fleets with myself in control of the AP’s and Xerecs getting HPFF. Once again the AP’s went first since they were behind in the series. The Roanoke was Coved out to the center island, where for the second game in a row, Pirate Globe and Maps of Alexandria were revealed at the same time! With two 5’s on the southeastern island, the AP’s got a better treasure distribution.

The Hai Peng couldn’t reach a far island on her first turn, and so settled for the northern one. The Roanoke blasted her with a double action but couldn’t sink her, which let her get away to the east. However, she was slowed, and by this point the Amity, BC, and Roanoke carried enough gold to win the game for the AP’s. In a rarity, HPFF got both the Dog and the Banner, raising their potential score. However, I knew how much gold was on the Roanoke, and the calculations for this series were far easier than in the other semifinal series (which had a TON of gold bonus variables). The partially repaired HP nearly managed a miracle against the Roanoke, hitting 3/4 and getting her ram roll, but lost the boarding party. The Roanoke docked home her 6 gold, giving the AP’s their first victory of the series by a narrow 18-17 margin!

Those two games were quick, but the third and final one of the night was FAR longer. It was one of the most desperate and drawn-out games I’ve ever been involved in.

Once again the Roanoke finds the revealing UT’s on the middle island after Coving. On HPFF’s first turn they get the Dog to knock out the Banner.

The HP has built Paradis in the southwest, while the Amity and BC clean up the center and northern islands for the AP’s. The Roanoke reaches the HP with a double action but only hits once in three tries!

The HP goes all the way around the map (but still very quickly of course) to reach home without being intercepted by any AP ships. She docks home her gold, which leaves only a couple coins left in play. Between the 30 gold in play and the UT’s that reveal everything, I knew how much gold was on my HI and how much was left. I came to the unfortunate realization that I (as the AP’s now) would be playing for a tie in an attempt to continue the series with a rematch. That is, until xerecs made the good point that if I could eliminate Bratley on the Patagonia, the Ransom payout could potentially give the AP’s a 16-15 win. However, that trade route (not road haha!) was fraught with waterfalls (instead of pitfalls), since a ton of things had to break right for that conclusion to even be plausible.

With the game in her hands (or so we thought…), the Roanoke begins bombarding Paradis with a 2 in her hold and a 5 in Paradis. I had 8 gold at this point, so I needed both coins to tie. I was afraid that HPFF would simply trigger the Ransom keyword of Perry, making it even more of an uphill (stormy?) battle. I did have absolutely incredible good luck in this game, which is somewhat rare for me (although it’s mostly just shoot actions that give me problems). The roll for Paradis was a 1, which let the Roanoke hit 4/5 to take the fort down to just one cannon. In this picture, the HP has arrived to damage the Roanoke, with the fort contributing as well. The Amity and Lezard flock to the scene, while the AP’s BC rams the Patagonia, killing Mycron.

A fair bit of wackiness later, and the Roanoke is derelict and the fort is abandoned. The HP, Patagonia, HPFF BC, and Lezard are all dismasted. This was where things really degenerated into madness, but unbeknownst to us, it was just beginning….

So much happened in the “endgame” (I call it that since we were fighting over the last few coins left, but it took longer than the other parts of the game) that I cannot remember all of it. HPFF managed to capture the Roanoke and began repairing her at the fort, but the Amity put a stop to that and eventually the Roanoke sank. The Amity became a major factor in the game, providing All-Star service to the AP’s. However, the pesky rams from the HP and Lezard took her down to 1 mast. In the southeast, the “Battle of the Banshees” took place, with the HPFF Banshee’s Cry eventually prevailing, but not before the AP BC successfully boarded the Patagonia again to eliminate Bratley and give the AP’s 1 extra gold! However, now that the AP’s were down to just one ship, the Amity, they couldn’t afford to lose her. With HPFF having a gold advantage, the Amity needed to keep her final mast standing at all costs. As a result, although her priority was to get the 5 coin from Paradis (abandoned but still standing), she was forced to ram and dismast any potential threats in the area. This included the Lezard and Hai Peng, both of which had oarsmen before the Amity eventually eliminated them to render them harmless. Whew! This is just about as desperate as this game gets!

But of course! More ramming and boarding! LOL. The Amity needed to take care of the dual BC threat (both healthy and in the HPFF fleet) before moving back to the fort (I believe she had missed a handful of times with her remaining 5S gun in the attempt to destroy it). Both BC’s were dismasted, but another shenanigan was continued from earlier, though I haven’t mentioned it yet: the Roanoke’s old 2 coin was making its rounds through both fleets, and it was probably on at least 4 of the ships by the time the game ended. The Amity was trying to protect the 2 coin and recover it and re-recover it so that HPFF couldn’t get it home somehow. This all in addition to the whole purpose of getting the 5 from Paradis!

With the BC’s still in play (at least one of them rowing around), the Amity returned to the fort but I believe she missed again. She then dealt with one of the BC’s and towed her to retrieve the coin and end the threat. However, by this point the most unlikely of ships had entered the fray: HMS Patagonia! With Mycron and Bratley killed in combat, only Robinson remained to crew the ship all the way to the southwest at S speed. With the Amity busy ending threats to stay in the game, the Patagonia managed to get in range. Her 2L cannon boomed for the first time in ages, and the Amity’s last mast fell overboard! Finally there was a victor! The final score was 20-9 in favor of HPFF, since the AP’s got Bratley but HPFF retained the fort gold. (and the 2 was still afloat on the Amity when the game ended)

With that, an incredible game ends the series. By the end of the game, only the Patagonia had a mast standing, with 3 derelicts and one abandoned fort among the living. 3 ships were sunk, and most of the crew were gone. In fact, we probably came close to setting a record for most crew eliminated in a standard game.

With that, Hai Peng Fort Frenzy wins the series 4-1! Hai Peng Fort Frenzy advances to the Finals of VASSAL Tournament #2!

Here is the updated bracket. Only 2 fleets remain!! Which will claim the title of The Best Fleet of All Time?

12/29/2017

The Finals

After a long hiatus since early September, T2 has been revived for its grand finale! The Final Round has begun!

UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

There are videos of Game 1, in addition to Games 2 and 3.

UPS 2 rolled to go first in Game 1, establishing a gold lead and finding the Maps of Alexandria to reveal all treasures on all islands.

After much trading of gold and crew, and the building of a fort, my calculations revealed that I could not win with HPFF in this game. This was due to how early everything was flipped due to Maps of Alexandria – even with gold bonuses piling up for UPS 2, I was able to figure out the situation in terms of gold scores, both real and potential. The best I could hope for was to lose 22-21, since UPS 2 had the Barbary Banner and Jailhouse Dog (which had been played to deny my Hai Peng from getting Holy Water), in addition to a trio of +2 bonuses. The semi-worst case scenario in a long endgame would see HPFF lose 23-20 instead. Therefore, we called it, with UPS 2 technically winning the first game 22-5.

HPFF automatically went first in Game 2, trading home the Banner and building Paradis de la Mer on the lucrative northern island.

My Hai Peng went all the way to the southwestern island to trade home another coin…

… but was eventually sunk by the UPS 2 Hai Peng. XD

With only Paradis’ 5 left in play, we counted gold to see if it was relevant. With UPS 2 winning 14-11 NOT counting the fort’s gold, it was clear we had to play the endgame out. Things quickly devolved into a ramming fest, with the Banshee’s Cry playing the role of hero. She was able to sail out, ram off a mast from a UPS 2 ship, get rammed in return, row home at S+S with the help of Mycron, and then repair and sail out to ram again on the next turn (with the help of Mycron).

UPS 2 needed to destroy the fort to eliminate or claim the gold there, but they couldn’t get there. The ramming and boarding antics favored HPFF, who got consistently better rolls. The Coeur was captured and the HP dismasted, at which point we called it. HPFF wins the second game 16-14.

With the series tied at one apiece, we had to play at least 2 more games. The home islands changed again, with UPS 2 rolling to go first as in Game 1.

However, Game 3 was the most lopsided of the series so far. UPS 2 went first and got all the good coins, with HPFF having to settle for a bad haul up north. This forced me to fight early, which ended as poorly as one would expect. In one of the most lopsided games of the entire tournament, UPS 2 won 34-6!

With that, UPS 2 has a 2-1 lead over HPFF! At least one more game will be played, and we’d like to see UPS 2 win while going second to have a more decisive and conclusive result. Either way, the greatest fleet ever will be crowned very soon!

12/30/2017

The Finals

With UPS 2 up in the series 2-1, the Finals of Tournament #2 have concluded!

UPS 2 (#5 seed) (commanded by xerecs)
vs.
Hai Peng Fort Frenzy! (#7 seed) (commanded by a7xfanben)

There are videos of Games 4-6, in addition to Games 7-8.

HPFF went first with its back against the wall. The HP reached the center and northern islands on the first turn, with one of the UT’s revealing where everything was.

I don’t have more pictures from this game, since it ended in a tie! 19-19 was the final score, which meant we had to play on.

The home islands were essentially rotated anticlockwise for the second game, with HPFF going first again and hitting two islands.

Both fleets used their Hai Pengs to build Paradis de la Mer, showing how similar and evenly matched these two are:

The UPS 2 Hai Peng was sunk, and with the support ships unable to blast Paradis, the game was over! HPFF won this game 21-11, evening the series at 2.

The HI’s were reversed for the start of Game 6:

UPS 2 rolled to go first and got busy exploring and trading. Honestly this final round was a bit of a blur, and both fleets are complex, confusing, extremely similar, and entirely based on maximizing profit. As a result, there’s not a ton to report on. XD

UPS 2 went to the center island for more gold bonus trading opportunities, while HPFF built a fort on the northern island:

With the fort’s gold becoming irrelevant, UPS 2 had a 19-9 victory!

With HPFF down in the series 3-2, they went first once again.

I made a mistake by not trying to build a fort on the western island. This resulted in a throwaway win for UPS 2 (final score 29-18 ), but due to the unknown, we played another game to see if UPS 2 could conclusively win even while going second without mistakes made by either commander.

Game 8!

We kept the same home islands as last time, and ironically the treasure distribution also turned out very similar, with HPFF getting solid values along with the Banner, Jailhouse Dog, and Holy Water. (Jailhouse Dog was played to eliminate the Holy Water to prevent UPS 2 from stealing the Dog to eliminate the Banner)

This time HPFF did build a fort on the western island, with Dead Man’s Point providing a second fort.

Both Hai Pengs were busy trading gold home, but the advantage of UPS 2 lies in its gold bonuses….

The UPS 2 HP was dismasted by DMP, after which we counted gold to see if the forts were worth fighting over. They were not!

With a dramatically close finish, UPS 2 defeats HPFF 22-21 and wins the series 5-2!!!!

UPS 2 IS OFFICIALLY THE BEST FLEET OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s finally over! After starting this tournament in October 2016, it fittingly ends right as 2017 ends as well. The tournament featured 16 different fleets, and it took 53 total games to have a decisive winner.

Congratulations to darrin for making such a brilliant fleet. 3 of the 4 semifinal fleets used the Hai Peng/Captain Jack Sparrow strategy, but UPS 2 emerged victorious in large part due to saccing efficiency and gold bonus galore. It truly is an incredible fleet, and is now the fleet to beat in competitive play.

Congratulations to myself and Xerecs too, for playing such incredible tournaments out (T1 included). They have been quite fun, with a ton of games being very close or quite exciting. We’ve learned a lot about playing standard games optimally, and could certainly be considered experts in regards to the UPS strategy and competitive play in general. However, things got a little bogged down over the course of SO many standard 40 point games, and we’re ready to take a break from the endless “Hidden Cove’ing/saccing/treasure trading with CJS/extra action to HP”/etc etc. XD Also, congratulations to a7xfanben for correctly guessing the winner of the tournament right from the start! O_O

a7xfanben wrote:
If I had to bet money on the winner of the tournament, I would pick UPS 2.

This was partly because of my prior experience with UPS 2 in a small number of physical games, in which it dominated to the extent that it was my winner pick (though I had a feeling the Gold Race fleet or UPS 4 would give it a serious run for its money (literally), and the Gold Race fleet did not disappoint in this tournament). It feels good to have a good handle on the various fleets, and it’s too bad that nobody bet against me. XD 

From here we do have one final thing left to do with this game file: the 16 fleet game to conclude the festivities. O_O This will be played soon, after which we turn our attention to other projects of a larger nature. Until then, thanks for reading these reports, and look out for that wacky 16 fleet game sometime soon.

Here is the final, completed bracket!

1/1/2018

The first Piratical activity of 2018!

The 16 fleet game has begun! As far as I know, this sets a new record for total fleets used in a single game!

If you watch the video you’ll get the gist of it, but here’s how we started things.

Xerecs rolled higher than me to go first in the player turn order. From there, we decided to do a draft in reverse turn order! This meant that I had the first pick in the draft, followed by Xerecs for a fleet, and so on until all the fleets were picked. This was a fun way of doing it rather than haggling over which fleets we each controlled. We ended up with mostly the fleets we wanted to play, which is great. I had some conflicts of interest and decided to choose fleets that were NOT my own, passing over HPFF to select UPS 2 (a fleet I like about as much as HPFF though) and taking the swarm fleet instead of RtSS English since I’ve barely controlled the swarm fleet at all since T1 began. However, I did go with classic favorites American Pirates and HMS GT, while Xerecs went with some of the more combat-heavy options, locking up both Spanish 5 masters along with the Doldrums and Kettering.

Then, for fleet turn order, we simply went in reverse draft order. (might be getting confusing XD) That meant the last fleet picked would go first in the game, so RtSS English (controlled by Xerecs) would go first, followed by the swarm fleet (controlled by me). In this way you can see the order here: (go side to side before up and down; this is the reverse draft order with the AP’s and then Norvegia going in the second round of the draft)

Since this game is purely for fun and the tournament is over, it would not nearly be worth the considerable time involved to recreate all 16 fleets in a bigger ocean to have a “standard” setup with 2 wild islands per fleet. Also, less wild islands and less distance between islands can often make for a more fun, fast-paced, and combative game. We were barely able to fit 32 total islands in, with 16 home and 16 wild. This meant there would be 8 coins per island, double the normal amount. The home islands were chosen in draft order/reverse turn order, with UPS 2 picking their HI first.

It is important to note we would use round earth rules, just as in the big T1 game. To not ruin the fun of having all the coins revealed early, a custom ruling for Maps of Alexandria and Pirate Globe is being used: when those are found, the fleet can choose to look (privately) at all the coins on ONE other island, instead of revealing every coin in play to all the fleets.

Reminiscent of my 12 fleet game and the 8 fleet game to conclude T1, here is the grand setup with all the fleets ready to set sail!

Entering play, my American Pirates fleet had not only the most pressure on them in a way (having an incredible pedigree in these giant multiplayer games, coming in 2nd in the 12 fleet game and winning the 8 fleet game), but also a good home island location despite choosing third. Most fleets tried to stay away from the Zeus and Grand Temple during HI selection, but in general these things turn into a crapshoot due to how many fleets pick after you (or before, as picking last has narrow options) and due to the randomness of the treasure distribution.

We were off! The first turn saw a lot of developments, with 16 fleets trying to maximize their potential to win the same game. It truly is incredible, with most of the best (submitted) fleets ever matching up against each other in a big game like this. Whoever wins will certainly have bragging rights forever, but could an underdog pull away with an upset due to the sheer amount of luck and chaos involved?

UPS 4 ran into some trouble early when the Kettering and Minuteman flotilla round earthed to sink the Longshanks. A bunch of Hidden Coves were played, with ships trying to get gold as fast as possible.

As far as combat goes, the Artillery Strike fleet made the biggest first impact. The Neptuno Coved out to the island where the English canoes were docked, and used extra range and cannon bonuses to hit 3/4 and dismast the Kettering! The Diablo flotilla shot 1/2 to eliminate one of those English canoes. The AP’s were one of the last fleets to go, and after much pondering, I had the Roanoke cove out near the Neptuno, capturing the Kettering instead of exploring and/or trying to hit the Neptuno (keep in mind with all these nasty fleets, UT’s like Missionary are out there). With a good home island location, the Amity and Bandido were able to take coins from the same island this turn, with the Amity discovering Holy Water. (this is in the deep south to the left)

Some other happenings around the map: at the lower right, the Zeus traded home a 5 to build Paradis, making that corner of the board a certified UPS 5 stronghold, with the most OP 10 master and the most OP fort in the same area. To the right of the Zeus, the Gold Race fleet didn’t have many options for Hidden Cove, having to choose between the Zeus and the San Cristobal (round earth at top center). The BC docked at the eastern edge of the SE island, but the Elthelfleda is approaching via round earth. However, the Gold Race quickly showed why it’s the 3rd or 4th best fleet of all time (would be interesting to match it up against the AP’s, though I think the Gold Race would win), saccing to trade home two coins which both got +3 bonuses. O_O

EA Gold Runners does not have a favorable HI position, but the Joya got an EA to reach and explore a wild island, grabbing a bunch of coins along with some Spices. At the upper right, the Doldrums coved the Bloody Jewel to deny that wild island from HPFF, whose Hai Peng has gone to the west via round earth. In the upper right quadrant you can also see the Neptune’s Hoard hit the Pique, but only with the help of the Monkey’s Paw UT. The Quick wins the game fleet did not have a good first turn, with a tough HI position and the Pique likely doomed after finding a bad island and the Norvegia cheese attack. XD (they partly picked that HI since Lenoir’s cancelling can help them deal with the nearby Zeus)

The Swarm fleet is heading towards at least 3 wild islands, and may somehow be the first to explore 2 of them. However, they have been denied of that island in the center/northwest by a wacky first turn from UPS 2, the last fleet to go each round and the winners of the actual tournament. UPS 2 continues to dominate headlines, winning the tournament in grand fashion, getting picked first (albeit predictably) in the draft, and now finishing the first round of turns with a BANG. The HP was coved out to that island where you see a bunch of Pirate crew chips. The HP redocked to explore but also shoot at the nearby HMS London of the HMS GT fleet, incredibly shooting 2/2 to take the London down to 2 masts! I was originally going to trade home the best coin and then drop some crew to sac and get home with more (so the London couldn’t return fire next turn), but one of my least favorite UT’s in the game ruined all that: Natives. Ironically one of the UT’s placed by the HMS GT fleet, this freezes the Hai Peng for FIVE turns, since that’s how many crew were on the ship when the island was explored. O_O In all likelihood this could doom UPS 2’s chances of winning, but they could at least finish the explore action even if they couldn’t sac afterwards. The island was good otherwise, with CJS trading home a 7. Paradis was built! This may keep the London at bay while simultaneously keeping the swarm fleet from taking any of the island’s remaining gold. The Hai Peng was simply emptied out, since the crew and gold will be safer inside the fort. Also, I didn’t want crew on the HP since if she is somehow still alive after 5 turns of sitting there, she could redock and take the remaining gold without triggering the Natives again. I wanted to send the Coeur out to the island, but figured she’d be safer at home with the London still lurking. Overall a wild turn for UPS 2, from the brink of glory (flipping a 7, building Paradis, and saccing to get most of the island’s gold back home) to disaster (Natives keeping the rest of the gold there and likely dooming the Hai Peng for the rest of the game).

Whew! What a first turn! The sheer amount of fleets and things to do each turn mean this game will take quite a while to complete over the course of several VASSAL sessions. We hope to continue the video footage, and we’re looking forward to what will likely become one of the best games we’ve ever been involved in!!

1/12/2018

The 16 fleet game has continued with a partial turn.

After finding Natives, the swarm fleet loaded the remaining gold from this wild island onto 3 different ships. However, the Algeciras and Armada teamed up to sink their escort, the Carrion Crow. At the left, the Lezard has rammed a mast off the Hai Peng of UPS 2.

In the deep south, the Minuteman flotilla missed all of her shots on the Roanoke and Neptuno. The Artillery Strike fleet did not reengage with the American Pirates or RtSS English, instead opting to regroup in preparation for a potential round-earth assault from the HMS Grand Temple. However, after considering all the options (with an EA available from Calico Cat), the GT decided to stay close to home and go after the lucrative island where UPS 2 was stuck at (HP sitting around for 5 turns due to the Natives there). HMS London got things started, dismasting the HP and Lezard while staying out of range of Paradis. However, after the GT used a whirlpool and extra action to get in range of the fort, the roll came up a 6! One miss meant that the mighty GT couldn’t even damage the fort, and that’s exactly what happened. It may look silly now, but this was the best route Lord Thomas Gunn saw after considering the various options. Attacking the canoes and Artillery Strike in the deep south may not have led to any gold, and it’s quite possible that the cannons of that Spanish fleet would cripple the GT next turn. Whirlpooling to the center would mean the GT would be stuck in a crossfire between Armada and the San Cristobal, with towing home multiple swarm ships for gold not a likely possibility. With the Joya del Sol in a fog bank, there were almost no gold targets within reach of the GT from that whirlpool at the center right. In the southeast, attacking UPS 5 likely would have been a disaster (Zeus + Paradis at the same island O_O). Overall the HMS GT fleet made the choice they saw as the most profitable in the long term, as they will still try to win the game despite being more of a 1v1 deathmatch fleet. If they can indeed destroy Paradis and UPS 2 in the process, that wild island has at least a 7 along with all the gold the HP has seen but not loaded.

In the north, the San Cristobal has sunk the Banshee’s Cry of Norvegia and dismasted the Pique of the swarm fleet. In the far east, the Quick fleet finds more misfortune. They found TWO packs of Wolves on that island, and although some Turtles would have aided them since they aren’t loaded onto the ship, the swarm fleet played Jailhouse Dog immediately to knock out the turtles. So, we have the dog from PotC eating a bunch of turtles while a ton of wolves look on. O_O Quite the spectacle. XD

All that, and there are still 6 fleets left to go in Turn 2!

1/26/2018

The 16 fleet game has continued!

About a full round was played, with various activities happening around the sea.

With only some of these fleets taking turns during this live session, here’s the busy situation around the swarm HI. Paradis has shot two masts off HMS Grand Temple, while the swarm fleet gets gold home from the south but struggles against Spaniards in the north.

In the south, the AP’s got some gold home to build Thompson’s Island, with the Roanoke damaging the Minuteman flotilla (of the Kettering fleet) and Neptuno. The captured Kettering was docked at the northern end of the island when the Roanoke docked in an effort to protect the Bandido, who was also coming home like the Amity.

Alas, it was of no use, as the Artillery Strike fleet has a fantastic turn! The Roanoke was sunk by the power of both flotillas and the Neptuno, with the Diablo going 4/4. The Neptuno then turned her cannons to the other ships in the AP fleet, sinking the Kettering and dismasting the Bandido! Once looking strong to finish high in the standings in yet another big multiplayer game, the AP’s are now teetering on the edge of disaster. At the left, the Artillery Strike fleet accomplishes a rarity, with 2 gold both from eliminating Ransom crew in the same game (in this case two versions of Commodore Matthew Perry from the Roanoke and Kettering).

1/30/2018

We played a session last night. This and other reports are naturally a bit biased towards the fleets I control, even more so for this game due to how many things are happening each turn and how many things are forgotten about.

With some ships sunk or out of action and many fleets just getting home some gold, we finished the rest of Turn 3 and all of Turn 4.

I’ll go west to east to make things easier to look at. HPFF has built Paradis de la Mer in the far west, just to the left of where HMS GT has taken out all flags on the Paradis of UPS 2. With the London capturing the Hai Peng of UPS 2, the remaining ships in that fleet have fled north in search of alternate treasure options. In the upper center, about half of the swarm fleet has gotten into a crossfire mess between part of the Kettering fleet and the San Cristobal of the Spanish Meta fleet. 4 ships are derelict, but the swarm fleet still has 5 ships with masts up. EA gold runners is having a fantastic time of it, with the Joya consistently getting her EA’s most turns. She has dropped off a full spicy load at the HI, and has sailed back out to nab some gold from under the Coral of UPS 4 in the south. The Rover of the Gold Race fleet has dismasted the Star of Siam, but the SoS is limping home on oar power with a coin left. Speaking of the Gold Race, their Banshee’s Cry was sunk by the Elthelfleda of RtSS English, who you can see at the lower right in the vicinity of the Zeus. In the northeast, the Neptune’s Hoard ran into a cancelling problem, but was lucky to lose only two masts to the Vengeance of the Quick fleet. The Vengeance will try to tow the Pique home while the Courageux looks for gold in the west after round earthing (probably). The Doldrums fleet has amassed quite a stash, and I think they still have Becalmed left to use.

Later in the action, with a few more developments. In the far northwest, the Algeciras of EA gold runners looks to intercept the English canoes. In the far southwest, her fleetmate the Joya del Sol looks to grab gold from the island the canoes loaded up at! The swarm Algeciras has joined the fight against the Armada flotilla terrorizing the middle northern part of the map, but the San Cristobal has left that same area to round earth to the south and dismast both ships remaining in the UPS 4 fleet. UPS 4 had a great start and have enough gold on their HI to maintain a respectable finish in the standings, but as of now it looks like they might be the first fleet eliminated. Speaking of riches, the swarm fleet is piling up some gold. They only gained control of 1 of the 3 wild islands they were targeting from the start of the game, but they have made a good profit nonetheless, wiping the island clean with 3 different ships. The American Pirates managed to get the Bandido home, but Artillery Strike still lurks in the deep southwest where their fort is located. The bonus ships of the Gold Race fleet (Sea Crane and Bonnie Liz) have begun heading north, fearing the San Cristobal’s arrival in the south.

The faster pace of play has been nice as we approach one month since we started this game. With so many fleets, there is a massive, unprecedented level of uncertainty. It’s not QUITE anyone’s game, but at least half a dozen fleets are easily in the running for the win and possibly 10 or more still have a shot. O_O It’s a fun free-for-all that will likely see extremely close gold scores similar to the 8 fleet game, and we are looking forward to the eventual conclusion!

2/2/2018

Last night we played all of Turn 5 and part of Turn 6!

Most fleets have quick turns at this stage of the game, so we were able to cycle through a lot of minor developments. At the far left, the Halcyon and Elthelfleda of RtSS English are heading home, while the Courageux of the Quick fleet has round earthed in search of treasure, which has so far eluded Maurice Aristide. One of the more exciting developments of the night was when the Hai Peng of HPFF rolled a 6 to activate Maps of Hades , which not only denied that fleet from using Mycron on the HP, but also the player “to their right” would be the American Pirates!! This was an ultimate irony, as HPFF and American Pirates have one of the longest fleet-to-fleet rivalries of all time, first matching up in a classic 3-game series back in January 2015 before having an epic rematch in the semifinals of T2. It’s safe to say that the AP’s hate HPFF, and the Hai Peng in general by extension. In a “double whammy” move, they sent the HP south to shoot at the Hai Peng of UPS 2, which has been captured by the HMS GT fleet! Both shots missed, but the HP of HPFF got stuck in the sargasso sea! Speaking of the GT fleet, they have destroyed Paradis on that wild island, which is now “open for business” again. XD However everyone now knows of the Natives there that doomed the UPS 2 fleet, which basically requires the GT fleet to drop off crew (for the London at least) in order to explore the island and take coins. With most other wild islands wiped clean, that island and other fort islands (such as the Paradis of HPFF just to the west) may become hotspots of activity with most of the gold concentrated there. To the right, the swarm fleet has had at least two ships sunk and one dismasted by the Armada flotilla, which is the only functioning game piece left in the Kettering fleet. Further to the right we have some brutal gunship vs. gold runner engagements. The Zeus hit 2/6 to damage the Joya del Sol after whirling to that region with Grease Barrels, while the San Cristobal continued her reign of terror in the south, dismasting both 2 masters of the Gold Race fleet.

A short bit later and HMS GT has sunk the HP of HPFF (!), along with the Algeciras of the EA Gold Runners (the latter of which took out an English canoe earlier in the night). The AP’s are back in business to some extent, with the Bandido repaired and most of the big threats of the area (Kettering, Neptuno, etc) finally gone. South of the GT, the swarm Intrepide and Quick Courageux are looking for gold, but most of it is defended by gunships or forts. In the northwest, UPS 2 had a hope at that previously unexplored wild island, but the Neptuno may put an end to their dream of a comeback. In the center, the Joya and others have been frozen by Becalmed, which was finally played by the Doldrums fleet! The Zeus predictably won a firefight against the Joya, which is now derelict. However, the Star of Siam used an EA to row home with a coin. The EA runners have had incredible luck this game, but now they have no masts standing. The San Cristobal has left the south a desolate wasteland, with 4 derelicts trying to scuttle themselves (UPS 4 and Gold Race essentially out of it). The Norvegians and Spanish Meta are still doing well health-wise, but the Doldrums fleet is really piling up the gold.

2/5/2018

sixth session has been played.

The Monarca of the Spanish Meta fleet was dismasted but then rescued by the San Cristobal, who put an end to the Norvegia fleet, making them the first fleet technically eliminated. UPS 4 quickly followed them with scuttles, and by the end of the night UPS 2 was also out of it! Of the 13 fleets remaining, a handful have quite a bit of gold. In the center, the Joya del Sol was sunk but her crew escaped with gold via a Raft to the wild island the swarm fleet was smashed at. However, it wasn’t all bad for the swarm fleet, for they had a Pique Miracle! (patent pending XD) The Pique still had her helmsman and oarsman, and finally started rowing after the effect of the Natives wore off and I remembered the generic crew aboard. After this picture she got home with 6 additional gold for the already-wealthy swarm fleet, with 4 coming from Buried Treasure.

After a bizarre situation where they had 4 ships and no gold (strange since they started with 2 ships and most fleets have gold but less ships than they started with XD), the HMS GT fleet is rising up! The repaired Lezard is loading gold from the wild island where UPS 2’s Paradis fort was destroyed, with the London and Hai Peng (captured from UPS 2) possibly looking to join her. However, HMS Grand Temple has been quite busy, destroying not one Paradis de la Mer, but TWO in a single game! After towing home the HP and repairing, she got an EA to finish off the Paradis southwest of their HI. Of course, she got solid help from the London and enemy Halcyon (basically another London haha) along with a lucky 1 roll on the second Paradis’ fort ability (though she rolled a 6 on her first attempt at the UPS 2 Paradis). However, with the arrival of the mighty Zeus from UPS 5, things may quickly unravel for the HMS GT fleet. That’s right, it’s a showdown between the Zeus and the Grand Temple! However, the Zeus sacced out of the whirlpool to hit an impressive 5/7, likely dooming the GT in the near future. That said, with both of those Paradis’ gone almost at the same time, it opens up a bunch of newly available gold in the northwest, which is why I zoomed in here to see all the action. In the far north, the swarm fleet’s Intrepide is trying to take gold from the island where the remaining two UPS 2 ships have been dismasted by the Neptuno of Artillery Strike. At the bottom right, the Pique Miracle is complete as the ship docks home and then repairs. However, trouble for the swarm fleet is brewing. The Coeur has loaded the coins from the Joya’s Raft adventure, but the Star of Siam (the Joya’s fleetmate in EA Gold Runners) has whirled to the area in an attempt to steal it back! Complicating matters is the Bandido of the American Pirate fleet, which is doing alright but won’t get enough gold to win. There was a mistake where the Neptuno had a false reroll, which may have messed up some of the stuff earlier in the game. However, the fleets affected (Artillery Strike, AP’s, USS Kettering, and now UPS 2) were not really in the running anyway so it is not likely to affect the top standings results at all (hopefully; maybe someday I’ll go back and look at the videos to find out haha).

At the far right, it’s another Pique Miracle!! (TM) After being dismasted early in the game by Norvegia, the Pique of the Quick fleet sat at a wild island for a while (somehow not being sunk or captured by Norvegia, Spanish Meta, Doldrums, or anyone else) until the Vengeance finally showed up to tow her home. The return trip was uninterrupted, and another Pique has somehow made it home with gold! Speaking of the Quick fleet, their Courageux had a mast rammed off by the Intrepide of the swarm fleet and can be seen lurking in the far west after retreating into and back out of the fog. In the south, the Diablo flotilla has destroyed Thompson’s Island, but the Amity will just get the gold home for the AP’s anyway. The Bandido ended up ramming the Jolly Mon of the swarm fleet, netting the AP’s an extra gold from the Ransom keyword.

With three fleets (Norvegia, UPS 4, and UPS 2) out of the active running and with much of the ocean deserted, the game is winding down. There is still considerable treasure to be hauled home, but it requires extreme bravery due to the forts protecting it and the various monster gunships (Zeus, San Cristobal, and until this turn the Grand Temple) still sailing around. We should be able to finish the game with another session or two, and then we’ll have an epic coin count to determine the winner and finale of this T2 story!

2/10/2018

Another session was played. The entire game is just desperate and kind of wacky at this point, so it’s tough to remember all of the insignificant details. In the far west, the Zeus has shown up to crash the HMS GT fleet party. The wounded GT and HP have tried to block her, allowing the London and captured Lezard to get coins from the island where UPS 2 essentially met their doom in two ways (Natives plus Paradis destruction by the GT). In the center, the swarm denies the Star of Siam and is about to capture the Bandido. The Doldrums continues to rack up the gold, while the Quick fleet tries to round earth to the far west.

With very few coins readily available on islands, the northwest becomes a hotspot of activity. The Pique and Courageux are quickly (pun intended) trying to go back to the east with 3 coins between them. In the far west the Vengeance is dueling the Longshanks of the Doldrums fleet to protect the gold runners. In the northwest both islands have been mostly wiped clean, with the Zeus dismasting the HP and the London having dropped off her captain and helmsman to load 3 coins. The Neptuno dismasted the swarm Intrepide, who wants to be rescued by one of their sloops. However, the Star of Siam has appeared through the whirlpool, annoyed at having lost the boarding party to the Coeur recently. In the far southeast, the San Cristobal rolled poorly for Paradis (a 5 roll), but hit a whopping 9 for 9 in a double action to make the fort go from healthy to abandoned!!

In the NW, the London got home by whirling a slight bit to the far north so the Zeus wouldn’t be able to get her. She brought home some nice gold for HMS GT, who has risen to late-game prominence a bit after a somewhat slow start. The SoS has stolen the Intrepide’s final coin, but the Lezard has rammed a mast off. The Pique captured the GT. In the SW, the Amity used Skrew Engine to ram the final mast off the Neptuno, getting ready to capture the ship for some revenge at the Artillery Strike fleet being very detrimental to the AP’s early in the game. In the SE the San Cristobal and Monarca have loaded up a lot of coins from the spoils of UPS 5’s Paradis fort, now destroyed by the Spanish Meta fleet. The Quick fleet had a good turn, with the Courageux capturing the Longshanks and the Pique darting into the fog to protect her gold.

But the Quick fleet couldn’t sustain their brief success. Although the Pique got a lucky fog roll to dock home her coin safely, the Rover (the final ship remaining from the Gold Race fleet) rammed the final mast off the Courageux, the ship with two coins aboard. The Vengeance captured the Patagonia for Mycron’s ability but is nearly dismasted with the powerful Eagle nearby. In the SE, revenge for UPS 5! The Zeus flies through the whirlpool and knocks down 4 of Cristobal’s 5 masts. She boards the Monarca and hoards all the gold! The NW becomes a desperate ramming and boarding situation, with the SoS somehow holding onto her coin (vaguely similar to a situation in the NW in the 8 fleet game at the end of T1 I believe). The swarm fleet was going to become a juggernaut with the repaired HMS GT, but the Pique lost her mast on the whirlpool trip and they’re stuck! XD

The London picks up her captain and helmsman, sailing out to wreak havoc. The English are tired of running gold! The London goes 3/3 against various canoes as the Star of Siam improbably escapes home via the whirlpool with her coin. The Bandido and Jolly Mon of the swarm fleet (Bandido captured) face off against the Lezard of HMS GT (captured from the swarm fleet!) for the final coin of the western Natives island. So many ships have swapped sides in this game that is has gotten rather confusing. Another example of that is in the northeast, where the AP’s try to make things interesting. The Amity would take a while to drag the captured Neptuno back home and repair her, so the AP’s are giving the Neptuno to Spanish Meta (ironically an all-Spanish fleet) in the hopes of creating a short-term alliance to help bring down the Doldrums, who I suspect have the most gold. The Doldrums fleet even has a shot at the Courageux, who has both coins still aboard and is likely the largest amount of gold left in play that is realistically available (Zeus with 7 masts left is just about unbeatable at this point haha). Speaking of the Courageux, she has been captured by the Rover of the Gold Race fleet!

In a reversal from the previous handful of turns, the west empties out as eyes turn towards the Doldrums vs. Quick showdown of sorts in the far east. Neither of those fleets may win the fight however, as the Eagle sinks the Vengeance and the Rover takes the captured Courageux into the fog. Various single ships are on their way to the area, including the Amity, Coeur (of the swarm fleet), and Elthelfleda. The AP’s plan backfired, as the Spanish Meta fleet rammed the Amity. The Zeus got her gold home and the London looks to explore to take the last coin from the former UPS 5 island.

Fleets that have been eliminated or essentially eliminated now include UPS 4, Artillery Strike, USS Kettering, Norvegia, HPFF, and UPS 2.

The game is obviously winding down and we will hopefully finish it in the eighth and final session!

2/11/2018

The eighth and final session of this game has been played!  😀

The two coins on Le Courageux became some of the final in play. Various ships are here fighting over them, with Le Pique of the Quick fleet briefly recapturing the ship that was originally theirs (after the Rover was dismasted.

At the upper left, the Lezard (now of HMS GT) whirlpools to the northwest to avoid the Jolly Mon of the swarm fleet. HMS London of the same fleet has one of the other final coins, so the Monarca and Star of Siam have entered the area, anticipating the return of the London through a whirlpool. In the far east, the Eagle has gotten one of the Courageux’s coins and ducks into a fog bank near her HI for safety.

Yet AGAIN there is chaos in the far northwest! The London returns, but is ambushed by one of her own former allies in a way! The Zeus of UPS 5 loaded aboard the HMS GT’s Calico Cat, and her extra action allowed the Zeus to go through the whirlpool to steal the London’s coin! However, it made the Zeus a magnet for fire, and being pinned to the London meant it would be difficult for the Zeus to get the coin home, even with 7 (at the time of the ram) masts remaining. The Neptuno, London, and Star of Siam all pounded away at the 10 master, with the Jolly Mon and Lezard anxiously waiting to ram and try to steal the coin.

The Lezard of HMS GT DID steal the coin away from the Zeus, but the Zeus sank the London to unpin herself shortly afterwards. Then she smashed the Lezard and took the coin back, sinking the Jolly Mon and eliminating the swarm fleet in the process. XD The San Cristobal won the final battle in the far east, taking the Courageux’s other coin all the way home (the Eagle of the Doldrums fleet did unload the other one). With that there was only one coin left!! The San Cristobal got an extra action to go through the SE whirlpool and dismast the Zeus, stealing the coin!! The Zeus would indeed NOT get the coin home, as it instead went to the Spanish Meta fleet, who had an incredible and dominant endgame.

In an epic COIN COUNT, Dakmor’s Swarm Fleet has WON the 16 fleet game!!!!!!!

Here are the final gold scores after a VERY long game (23 turns, but over a dozen hours).

The final standings for this epic game:

1. dakmor’s Swarm fleet: 34 gold
2. The Doldrums: 33 gold
3. Darrin’s Gold Race: 29 gold
4. EA Gold Runners: 26 gold
5. Spanish Meta Fleet V2: 24 gold
6. HMS Grand Temple: 22 gold
7. American Pirates: 16 gold
8. UPS 4: 16 gold (AP’s had a ship active at the end)
9. UPS 5: 13 gold
10. RtSS English: 12 gold
11. Quick wins the game: 9 gold
12. Norvegia: 6 gold
13. Artillery Strike: 4 gold
14. (tie) UPS 2 and Hai Peng Fort Frenzy: 2 gold
16. USS Kettering: 0 gold

Truly incredible with a 1-gold margin of victory for the swarm fleet! For the past few sessions I suspected that the Doldrums fleet had the most gold, but the swarm did very well. They had the Barbary Banner, which I think was included in a “motherlode” of about 14 gold brought home by the Intrepide. The swarm fleet ekes out a win, proving that it’s a great fleet to use in multiplayer games (which was already established from games I played a WHILE ago, but still, winning a 16 fleet game is a big deal after all! XD).

Finishing on the “podium” was Darrin’s Gold Race fleet, which placed the highest of the “super fleets” from the actual tournament. That fleet further proves itself, especially when you consider that they were down to just the Rover for the entire endgame. (so they got that 29 gold very early and quickly in the game)

The EA Gold Runners fleet did admirably, coming in 4th after winning the 12 fleet game I played awhile back. The AP’s (winner of the 8 fleet game and 2nd place in the 12 fleet game) didn’t do as well as I had hoped (I wanted them to win among my fleets), but still had a respectable finish in the top half of fleets.

The Spanish Meta had an amazing endgame, becoming a juggernaut as less and less ships were sailing around. The San Cristobal came to dominate, with the Monarca as her sidekick. Eventually they even took control of the Neptuno of the Artillery Strike fleet, giving them a perfect all-Spanish addition to an already great Spanish fleet. It was a bit too late to win the game but a very strong showing from them.

Speaking of good endgames, HMS GT came out of nowhere to finish 6th! After struggling against the Paradis built by UPS 2, they finally got some gold home (London had 3 coins worth about 13 in one load I think) and even managed to double their fleet size to 4 ships with the HP and Lezard.

From there it was mostly disappointments, but only so many fleets can do extremely well with so many participants. The Zeus of UPS 5 had a powerful endgame but they finished with just 13 gold. Fleets like Norvegia, UPS 2 and HPFF underperformed, but that was partly due to going late in the turn order. In fact, the top two fleets of this game were in the first 3 fleets to go in the turn order. In that case the AP’s and Gold Race fleets outperformed their starting positions a bit, but so much happened on the early turns that getting behind meant doom.

As far as player stats go, I got 60 more gold with my fleets than Xerecs did with his (154-94), along with one of my fleets actually winning the game, but he had many more ships active at the end of the game, including a nearly healthy Spanish Meta fleet and a Zeus that wrecked my hopes of HMS GT upsetting more fleets in the standings.

Overall it was a very fun game! This officially concludes the Tournament #2 festivities for good, and likely it says goodbye to “official” tournament play for a long time, at least between Xerecs and I. We hope you enjoyed the journey, which started in fall 2016. O_O From here we plan other adventures, including a grand one that will hopefully start sometime this year… plans to be revealed at a later date….