Great competitive game with Xerecs . Really love this game. Funny enough, in this modern age of playing, using no house rules and just duking it out is super underrated in my opinion. All game pieces used found in the Master Spreadsheet.
Tag Archives: Competitive Play
Game Modes for playing Pirates CSG
Game Modes for playing Pirates CSG
Important to note: None of this is official.
Through the years many complaints have been lodged by the Pirates CSG community regarding game pieces that are “too good”, “unfair”, “fun killers”, and the like. A problem seen in various other collectible games, it’s no surprise that Pirates has its fair share of broken or overpowered game pieces. One of the biggest issues I see in regards to playing the game is when players do not approach fleet building with similar mindsets. If no discussion occurs prior to the game on the relative strengths of each fleet or general player intentions, you may end up with a highly competitive fleet wiping the map of a gimmick fleet. The result can be less fun had on both sides. In addition, some game pieces have even been deemed “unsportsmanlike” despite no official ban list from Wizkids, their usage often resulting in angry or butthurt players who feel they need similarly nasty things to even compete to a reasonable level of play. Much more could be said about all of it, but I’ll skip straight to what I think are some “game modes” or formats that I hope players can use to avoid feeling disgruntled. If players agree to a game mode before building fleets, hopefully all parties involved will enjoy the game even more than they usually do. 😀 I have included Return to Savage Shores (designed but not released) for the sake of completeness. For reference, all game pieces can be found in the Master Spreadsheet.
Ban List: None.
Rule Changes: None.
Description: Pirates CSG as we all know it – standard, normal, no holds barred, the “proper” game mode for competitive playing, and how Wizkids intended the game to be played.
Ships: Banshee’s Cry, Le Bonaparte (DJC), HMS Grand Temple, Zeus, San Cristobal (004 version), Sirène
Crew: Captain Jack Sparrow (058 version), Lord Mycron, Capitaine Baudouin Deleflote, George Washington LeBeaux (RtSS)
Forts: Paradis de la Mer
UT’s: Blood Money, Cursed Natives, Altar of the Loa
Events: Mermaids, Hidden Cove, Becalmed
Islands: Mysterious Island #1, #4,#5, #6, #11, #12, #14, Savage Shores islands 103, 105, 108
-Treasure is not revealed when unloaded to a home island.
-The “more than half of the game’s starting gold value” endgame condition is not used.
Description: This mode is designed to eliminate the most powerful or broken game pieces in existence. It would likely make the UPS (Universal Pirate Shipping) strategy much less effective by banning CJS and Hidden Cove. Some of the biggest fun ruiners in the game are also listed – mermaids, Bonaparte, and Altar of the Loa. The islands are largely those that bring game pieces in from outside the game or can decide a game on a single d6 roll. The rule change is to prevent gold bonus abilities from triggering the more than half gold rule (as they add gold to the original 30) – although the gold bonus abilities are extremely good, there are bigger fish to fry at this level of OP/broken.
Ban List: Same as Semi-Limited, plus:
Ships: Darkhawk II, HMS Titan, Bloody Jewel, La Santa Isabel, Enterprise, Nubian Prince, Tiger’s Eye, Virtuous Wind (both versions), Santa Ana (SCS), Behemoth, Slipstream, USS Kettering, Le Coeur du Lion, HMS Endeavour, Hai Peng, Kray-kin, The Kraken, San Cristobal (both versions), Rising Sun, Sol, Morning Star (205 version), USS Morning Star, Frontier, American and Spanish Native Canoes, Libellule, Baochuan+Admiral Zheng He, Guichuan+The Headhunter, Celtic Fury, Shui Xian, Fortaleza, Zhànfu, Fetu, Orphan.
Crew: All 0LR +5 point crew, all crew with the Sac ability (eliminate a crew for an extra action), all crew with +2 gold bonus ability, Davy Jones (both versions), Grim the Savage (FN), Calico Cat (OE), Crimson Angel (OE), Emperor Blackheart, Calypso, Cursed Captain Jack, Griffin (207 version), Master Bianco (SS), Bianco’s Haulers (SS), Captain Charles Richard, Cargo Master (both versions)
Forts: Fortaleza Dorada
UT’s: Natives, Wolves, Pandora’s Box, Nemo’s Plans, Runes of Magic, Runes of Odin, Lost, Dead Man’s Chest (PotC), Kraken Gong, Voodoo Doll, French Royal Decree, English Royal Decree
Islands: All mysterious islands
Rule Changes: Same as Semi-Limited, plus:
-The Captain keyword is built-in to the Sea Monster keyword.
-Shipwrights do not take up cargo space.
Description: By far the mode with the most comprehensive changes, Limited is designed to cover most bases in regards to what players see as overpowered. The rest of the ships with the “UPS ability” are here, along with many of the game’s best overall pieces. Some inclusions (such as the Runes) are designed to limit the “swinginess” of a game, lessening the direct impact a single game piece or combo can have on the outcome. The omission of cancellers is largely because they are one of the only defenses against submarines becoming nearly invincible. Whereas Semi-Limited only aims to tamp down on overpowered or broken game pieces, Limited has an additional goal of making the game more fun/fair as well as balanced for a casual audience.
Please let me know what you think of these game modes for Pirates CSG in the comments below. I would especially consider editing the Limited format, with feedback from the player base.
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.
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.
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)
0 coins are a good option when you have gold bonuses. At that point, your opponent hopefully can’t benefit from the coins, but you can happily pick them up. On the same subject, low values are better to use with gold bonuses because the bonuses will generate a higher differential for your fleet compared to what your opponent is bringing in (ex: the gold bonuses end up being a higher percentage of the total gold at the end if there are lower values overall).
If I’m running a mostly gold fleet, I often consider maxing out values. In multiplayer games I prefer to have each player contribute an equal number of coins of any value or type, so this can result in something like 4 positive UT’s and 4 7’s.
Using the 8/15 rules makes for some interesting restrictions and possibilities. If going the all-gunship route to try and blast the opponent before they can get a single coin home, 5 negative UT’s and the 7-7-1 distribution is a good default since you don’t really care what they load, you just want to slow them down as much as possible with Missionary, Wolves, Natives, etc.
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.
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”. 🙂
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).
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 legal – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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? If you have options for different coin values used in building the fort (ex: one 4 vs. four 1’s), which values should be used? (might depend on available cargo in your nearby ships, and if you think you can get a single coin home quickly vs. preferring to have multiple coins scatter in different directions if the island is explored after the fort potentially gets destroyed) 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.*
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The Coeur du Lion is a proxy for the Lezard.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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! 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
The infamous and now apparently invincible Banshee’s Cry:
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
The third game featured the HPFF HI in the west and the AP HI on the northeast island. HPFF rolled to go first.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The island setup was a little bit different after a comment by marhawkman on BoardGameGeek.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The Algeciras was approaching the Coral’s island, forcing the Coral to act and build Dead Man’s Point.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
The Lache de Calvados is a proxy for the Intrepide and the Rover is being used instead of Favor of the Gods.
The Swift is a proxy for the Star of Siam.
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.
Turn 2 was incredibly predictable. Thanks to darrin’s comprehensive fleet description I was able to follow his instructions to a tee:
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.
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).
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.)
The Lache de Calvados is proxying in for the Intrepide, while the Zephyr plays the Jolly Mon.
Dead Man’s Chest UT Fleet
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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!
(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.
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:
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.
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)
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)
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)
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 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!
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
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!
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!
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)
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!
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).
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!)