English vs. French Americans
June 30th, 2022
I met up with Dan (Witch) and Kyle at Mox Boarding House Bellevue for a unique 2 vs. 1 game to celebrate the Fourth of July! (a handful of days early) I would field a 100 point English fleet, while Dan and Kyle would team up. Dan created a 50 point American fleet, while Kyle had 50 points for the French. They would share a home island, but take individual turns. Since each of the allied fleets had a Limit crew, I was allowed to use two Limit crew in my fleet. There was a brief ban list including events, Paradis de la Mer, Mycron/Deleflote, DJC Bonaparte, Blood Money and Natives.
The massive pieces of terrain are those I won in a recent eBay auction. They were a big hit and we look forward to using them again in the future. We used round earth rules with 5 coins on each of the 5 wild islands.
Here are most of the fleets in play order:
Kyle (50 point French)
Conquerant (house ruled to cost 17 points instead of 21!) + Lenoir (F&S version), Godiva, captain, helmsman
L’Auguste + Maurice Aristide
Le Pique + helmsman, explorer
Dan (50 point American)
Enterprise + Jonathan Haraden, Commander Albert Crenshaw, Commodore Matthew Perry, helmsman, oarsman
Providence + Dr. Clark Lewis, captain, helmsman, oarsman
Ben (100 point English)
HMS Phoenix + Admiral James Norrington, helmsman, stinkpot shot
HMS Serapis + Sir Christopher Myngs, CRGO (BC version), captain, helmsman, oarsman
HMS Hyena + 0LR+5 Bratley, captain, helmsman, oarsman, firepot specialist, fire shot
Cygnet + HGold, oarsman, French Letter of Marque
HMS Hound + helmsman, explorer, oarsman
Honu Iki + helmsman, explorer
Having finally just acquired HMS Phoenix after having her on my wants list for near a decade, I knew I wanted to make her the centerpiece of my fleet. That can be easier said than done with 100 points of English stuff available, so she would be the largest ship by theoretical “tonnage” and no 5 masters would be around to overshadow her. With Norrington she can hit at L+L range on rolls of 5-6. The Serapis was included for historical reasons, and the rest of the fleet didn’t include any Pokeships or catamarans like HMS Hermes because I wanted it to feel like a fleet from 1779. In general I wanted a somewhat unconventional fleet, though the gold runners aren’t much of a surprise for the English. The Hyena is one of my favorite ships but I think I’ve set her up exclusively as a hybrid in the past, hence going full gunship here instead. I figured there was a strong chance Kyle would bring Le Superbe after our last encounter given that he would have a French fleet – if that happened, the Cygnet’s defensive ability would prove a strong deterrent. The French Letter of Marque was a fun defensive overkill that made the Cygnet a dedicated French hunter… little did I know that the American half of my opposition would be the combat-heavy side.
I was very excited to use HMS Phoenix for the first time!
The allies would go first:
I went with the black GF9 tokens since I was the historical bad guy for today:
Here is the full setup, which shows how huge the terrain pieces are. I picked my home island first as I was going second, looking to use the Honu Iki to hit the island obstructed by reef north of me.
Dan brought up the good point that the huge fog bank could actually be used as a speed boost if you got the right exit location. It’s about 4S wide!
Beautiful and fresh out of the shipyard with newly minted cannons, could HMS Phoenix prove useful in her debut?
The Providence jumped out to the middle island and grabbed a couple coins. HMS Hound snagged the next two on my turn, but the Enterprise was lurking…. The Hound does have a nifty spying ability, so I was alerted to the presence of Haraden and Crenshaw early in the game.
The Phoenix was not given an action, preferring to stay safe at home given the striking range of the Enterprise and knowing she could still defend the Hound if needed with her sniping cannon range of L+L.
But it was the French who drew first blood! The Conquerant got an extra action (EA) and round earthed to the southeast, setting the Serapis alight!
The next turn was well played on both sides. The flames on the Serapis spread rapidly to engulf her final mast, but a heroic effort by some motivated oarsmen just barely got her home to safety! The Britons on the home island swiftly put the fires out, saving the Serapis from a quick demise. Hermione Gold saw her chance to engage the French with the Cygnet, but Lenoir cancelled her captain ability! This left HMS Phoenix as the only other ship I could get in range of the Conquerant. Redocking to position three of her cannons within sniping range of the French bombardier, I revealed Admiral James Norrington and stinkpot shot! The cannons proved more than capable, as I rolled a 5, 5, and 6 to hit all three times! O_O The first shot landed was the stinkpot, meaning the Conquerant would not have any of her crew abilities available on Kyle’s turn. With one mast left standing the Conquerant was crippled, as HMS Phoenix saved the day. I finished my turn by returning the Hound and Honu Iki to the home island, netting me 4 coins.
The Providence and Pique return home with gold, with the French setting up a gold factory system using Maurice Aristide on L’Auguste. At the top right HMS Trepassey has round earthed to the northernmost island. This was part of my plan to hit 3 of the 5 wild islands early in the game.
On the following turn I then built Ramsgate on the island the Trepassey explored, much to Dan’s displeasure. The Providence was heading there but I liked the gold I saw…
… diverting most of my resources there to make sure I locked up that island. The Hound would carry the most valuable treasures away from the fort and back to my home island, while the Hyena and Cygnet would defend the fort and deter the Providence. HMS Phoenix stayed at home to make sure the Enterprise didn’t try to make a move to slam the Honu Iki, who is out for another gold run.
Lots of round earth considerations for this game, as the Enterprise is actually pretty close the the Serapis here. We agreed on a house rule that there could be no shooting over round earth lines – ships would have to cross over physically to shoot at a ship normally, partly due to the extreme inconvenience of trying to measure cannon ranges from separate edges of the playing area. I was already thinking about how to use this house rule to my advantage – if you lined up a bunch of ships on the edge of the map, you could get them close to something on the other side without any of them getting shot at.
The Conquerant has made it home for repairs, with some significant deterrence assistance from Lenoir and the Enterprise keeping the Cygnet and Phoenix at bay. The Providence has headed back southwest. My deterrence strategy at Ramsgate seems to have succeeded, and I think both sides are rather satisfied with how things are going at this point. The Cygnet has returned home; once the Serapis is fully repaired the English will have a solid battle squadron to employ. I did make a few mistakes here; the Trepassey should have loaded 3 coins instead of 2 which would allow me to keep the Hound’s explorer aboard, and in hindsight the Hyena’s plan going forward was kind of dubious.
The Enterprise explores the southwest island and finds Volcano! It takes out a coin and mast, but the Americans build Thompson’s Island. (proxied, not another English fort haha)
At this point I liked my gold position but figured I would lose if the gold factory continued unabated until the end of play. Therefore my goal was to take out either the Pique, Maurice Aristide, or both. This would disrupt the continual +2 gold that often adds up to victory in the long run. Once the Serapis was fully repaired she immediately got an SAT from Myngs to dart southeast at L+S+L+S, with the Cygnet and Phoenix coming along for the brazen adventure. Besides, the 3 wild islands I had explored had no more gold to take off them, so there was less need for escorts going forward. However, with the Providence back at home and the Conquerant nearing full strength, it looked like a potential suicide mission. The Hyena has sailed west to potentially support the other 3 gunships via round earth, but it was looking more and more like she was going to be bait for the Enterprise. A backup plan formed in my mind where the Hyena would bait the Enterprise into coming east, then my other gunships would round earth to the southwest (rather than northwest) to assault Thompson’s Island to try and get more gold. In which case the current maneuver looked like a feint towards the French American home island.
In the end, the latter did end up happening. The Enterprise got an EA and promptly sank the Hyena, netting the allies 1 gold via Bratley. I decided the fort was a juicier target than the Pique or Aristide, partly since going up against an opponent right at their home island is a steep uphill battle. I knew I would probably need all six of my remaining ships to get any amount of gold from Thompson’s Island, so I set them all up in a formation that made it very difficult for the Conquerant to shoot at them due to the round earth shooting rule.
With no home island raiders in play I had less to lose, and I wasn’t in the mood for a long maneuvering dance – the climax was upon us!
On the next turn Myngs got the SAT I wanted for the Serapis. The moment to strike was now. The goal was just to get at least one coin from Thompson’s Island back to my home island, regardless of the losses I would take along the way. The Serapis continued my shockingly good luck at the guns today, going a whopping 6 for 6 to destroy the fort as the first ship on the scene!! O_O This meant the gold could be removed quickly and efficiently, with the Honu Iki taking the best two coins and the Cygnet the last one. The Cygnet dumped the still-facedown French Letter of Marque equipment on the island to make room for the coin; this was partly a deke to see if the French Americans would eagerly pick it up and want to use it, possibly thinking it was exploding shot or something XD (whereas the FLoM would be completely useless to them lol). The Hound touched her bow to the stern of the Honu Iki, knowing the Honu Iki would explore the Hound next turn (if possible) and then the Hound would turn and run home at S+L+S. The remaining ships just set up as blockers to try and protect the coins as much as possible. HMS Phoenix was just in range to take a stinkpot potshot against the Enterprise, but it missed.
Gold wins the game, so I made my move. Now time to get wrecked! XD
The Conquerant got her EA, sailed around the reef, and started the battle! She ran into her old foe HMS Serapis and knocked a mast off, but failed to set her on fire this time. The Trepassey was dismasted.
The carnage continues! The Enterprise got an EA as well, sinking HMS Phoenix and taking a mast off the Cygnet! The Providence got two cannons in range of the Hound but only hit once, leaving her with a mast. I was ecstatic HMS Hound survived the onslaught with a mast standing, but knew that getting home could still be difficult.
The Hound received the Honu Iki’s two coins and sped for home via round earth. The Cygnet and Serapis team up to dismast the Enterprise!
Finally the Conquerant is able to vanquish her foe HMS Serapis, who ironically never returned fire against the Frenchman.
HMS Hound makes it home with both coins! The Cygnet tries to return home on oar power, but she would be sunk soon afterwards by the Conquerant.
The Providence dismasts the Honu Iki, leaving the damaged Hound as my last ship remaining. Seeing that there are a few coins left in play NOT on home islands (one on the Enterprise, one on the Providence, one or two the Pique hasn’t gotten to yet) that I am very unlikely to get back to my home island successfully, ending the game as soon as possible is my best option. The Hound purposely ran over a reef on her way to ram the Enterprise, suffering no damage. She lost the boarding party, eliminating the Hound’s final crew. The Conquerant sailed over and shot off her last mast, ending the game!
The final scores:
- English: 44 gold
- French Americans: 28 gold
The non-fort coins that the French Americans could have gotten if they managed to keep the Hound alive were low value; I think we calculated that I would have won 44-40 even if the French Americans had gotten all of them AND gotten Aristide’s +2 on all of them (which would take a while). In that case, the allies would have needed Ramsgate’s 4 gold to win 44-40, which seems unlikely since HMS Hound would have ample chances to roll a 1 on the nearby reef to end the game. Say what you will about the endgame rules encouraging the elimination of your own fleet in certain circumstances, but here it proved beneficial. Even the entire anti-fort mission that saw the destruction of the English fleet essentially helped me win, as it led to a 5-gold swap once the Hound got home and drastically hastened the end of play which helped prevent more gold factory bonuses from piling up. Overall it was a very fun game and well played on both sides! After an English loss in last year’s Fourth of July game, perhaps fitting that they win this time, partly due to my abnormally good luck with the guns.
Have you played a game on July 4th? This year is your chance to play a Revolutionary War themed game!