Circle of Blood
Circle of Blood! This scenario from Riz is one I’ve played a few times before, and this time it would be in Las Vegas against my friend Captain Randy. We also used these house rules, and all game pieces can be found in the Master Spreadsheet. Randy rolled to go first with his Pirate fleet led by the Zeus.
I went with an evil themed fleet full of chaos:
Divine Dragon + OE Davy Jones, captain, helmsman, Sir Edmund, oarsman
Cassandra + RotF Crimson Angel, Grim the Savage, helmsman
Locker + tribal chieftain, helmsman
Cursed native canoes
Banshee’s Cry + Jonah, Calypso, explorer
Coeur du Lion + Desailly, Auraa
The mega iceberg was a gift from Captain Redgoat while I was in Portland. The sea monsters were picked at random out of Randy’s tray with our eyes closed, while the forts were neutral with 8 3L cannons each. With a whopping 60 coins in play, it promised to be a doozy!
There is also some raw video footage of the game! (it does contain some spoilers for later in the report)
A dramatic first turn! Randy settles a great turtle as his home island, with his other ships docking elsewhere. I redock the 3 canoes remaining from the Zeus assault, flinging coins towards the Divine Dragon, who uses her second action to explore the island and claim the gold as mine! I somehow roll a 6 with the Lost UT, yanking in a bunch of terrain to blanket the map with trade currents and strategically placed fog banks to help me get away with home island raids. Which was the next step! The Cassandra started the game right next to what would become Randy’s HI, flipping Grim the Savage on the first turn to home island hoard immediately!! O_O My early game luck was so dominant that it looked like it should be an easy win for me. However, we were in for quite a long game….
Although my Banshee’s Cry and Calypso were eliminated by Gog-Clocthoth due to the Bad Maps UT, I put the Coeur (with L-mover Desailly on board) into a fog bank so she was safe from the Zeus. Then I used the great turtles as a suction/vacuum effect, saccing move actions from the submerged Locker and fogged out canoe to suck both a wild island and Randy’s home island toward my own home island!! This would make home island raids in the future even easier, with the goal of having the Cassandra able to raid Randy’s HI for 3 coins and then deposit them on the next turn. For now the Cassandra hid in fog on her route to my HI, which was quite effective since she could stay safe while at sea in between robberies.
Both flagships had All-Powerful, which would prove to be quite the matchup throughout the night (and early morning…). Emperor Blackheart on the Zeus vs. Davy Jones on the Divine Dragon. Randy’s fort-immune Windjammer plinks away at an English NPC fort in the northeast quadrant, while the DD round earths to blast masts off the Akua Lapu. The Cassandra docks home a bunch of Randy’s initial gold from his HI, and Randy’s HI is looking dangerously close to my own.
At the top right, Emperor Blackheart thinking about round earthing the Zeus back to Randy’s HI:
The creatures moved around haphazardly throughout, but other than Gog-Clocthoth sinking the Banshee’s Cry, none of them really affected the game much.
In a shock to me, the Zeus leaves herself somewhat open to attack, with Davy Jones taking advantage in a hit-and-run where the Divine Dragon shoots 3/4 before using the extra action to return home. I could have gone for the dismasting but I don’t trust my cannon luck, which would have had to be above average to win an all-out slugfest. At the top of the picture, the submerged Locker rams a mast off the Akua Lapu, leaving her with just one remaining.
A few big plays were made before showing this next picture! Randy sacrificed a move action to move his home island within docking range of the Coral, who unloaded gold in preparation for his next play. Randy built The Devil’s Maw at the island the Akua Lapu was docked at, mostly to siphon gold off his home island knowing it would be safer in the fort from Grim the Savage. However, I had a play of my own to make, using a 6 from Davy Jones to reef the Zeus!!! This left her mastless, but Randy was able to row her home. Knowing she would be repairing two masts per turn and that I would inevitably get pinned if I rammed her at all afterwards, the Divine Dragon took the opportunity to strike. With no masts on the Zeus, the DD had a boarding guarantee (my lowest roll being 7 against Randy’s highest of 6) and no way to get pinned even after Randy started repairing on his turn. So the DD used her two actions to ram and board twice, eliminating the Zeus’ explorer and oarsman and leaving her with just Emperor Blackheart and F&S Hammersmith (for captain+helmsman). Capturing the Zeus was definitely a goal of mine, especially seeing her so vulnerable. By this point in the game Randy had found a second Eye of Insanity UT (the first was eliminated super early by the Pirata Codex), which allowed a crew on his Neptune’s Hoard to copy any Cursed crew in play, which inevitably became Davy Jones and All-Powerful every turn. So in essence, I was now at an “All-Powerful deficit” at a 1-2 ratio. However, if I could capture the Emperor, I would be up 2-1 in the arms race. XD
The Locker turns her attention to the Windjammer. The flagship junks have a boarding duel with pirate casualties.
Randy was using the Neptune’s Hoard to ferry a ton of gold into The Devil’s Maw fort, as I had cleaned out his HI and made it nearly pointless to bring gold back to it. The great turtle I had moved towards my HI earlier in the game was moved by Randy towards his fort. The Zeus was repairing quickly, but her absence from combat allowed the Divine Dragon to easily capture the Windjammer (only after the Windjammer had blasted the final flag off the English NPC fort, and therefore a blow to Randy’s morale as it seemed like the long attack on the fort was all for naught). I was seeing my path to victory: if I could just destroy The Devil’s Maw right before eliminating Randy from play, I would win easily. Knowing this (and being really tired lol), there was no point in going for the rest of the gold on wild islands or attacking the NPC forts needed to get it. All I cared about was wiping the fort off the map and then triggering an endgame condition immediately afterwards, even if it meant suiciding my own ships which would be incredibly easy between all the hazards in play (iceberg, reefs, forts and monsters that automatically shoot at targets in range).
However, destroying the fort wouldn’t be so easy! Randy dealt a huge delay to that goal of mine when he got a 6 with All-Powerful, reefing the Divine Dragon! With the worst possible roll of 1 she lost 5 of her 6 masts! Like the Zeus she returned home to repair, and I was careful to dock at a location where one S+S+S move action would not be in range of any reefs.
Randy’s mid-game success continues, with another All-Powerful 6 used to reef the Cassandra where she lost all but 1 mast!! O_O She was then captured by the Zeus! The Akua Lapu hits the abandoned fort one final time, destroying it and opening its gold up for exploration and claiming. Randy seemed intent on putting as much gold in The Devil’s Maw as possible, which slightly amused me since I didn’t think it would help him much (in hindsight it makes sense though to make sure there was more in the fort than on my HI).
Losing the Cassandra was a big blow to my morale (if Randy could repair her and use her against me to raid my HI, I might lose big in a huge blowout), but I recovered quickly with a clutch turn. A lucky 5 from Davy Jones was intriguing at first, and turned into one of the biggest rolls of the game. I surfaced the Locker, ramming twice to dismast the Zeus! With no oarsman left she was finally ripe for capture!! The Divine Dragon swooped in and snagged her, netting me a second source of All-Powerful and making it extremely difficult for Randy to win any future battles on the sea.
The Locker dived below and rammed the Cassandra derelict, as I wanted to recapture her. I rolled a 6 with All-Powerful, and got overzealous. I didn’t realize how quickly Randy could end the game by suiciding, and forced the Neptune’s Hoard towards an NPC fort with the intent of weakening the ship. It did take 3 masts off (would have been 4 without the Cross of Coronado triggering), but I quickly realized I had been too hasty, since Randy clearly had more gold in his fort than I had on my HI. He had no incentive to continue the game and would be able to suicide before I could destroy The Devil’s Maw. This made my capture of the Zeus feel slightly in vain since I probably wouldn’t even have time to repair her.
Captain Randy’s gold mountain:
Suddenly Randy only has 2 masts standing, with self-sabotage options aplenty and every reason to do so.
Now it was a race against time. What would happen first – Randy ending the game by eliminating his own fleet from being able to get future move actions, or me securing a gold advantage by destroying The Devil’s Maw and making all of its gold not count for anyone?
The Divine Dragon dropped her towline on the Zeus, sprinting south to round earth for a fort assault. The Locker headed there as well for any firepower support she could provide. Randy crashed the Neptune’s Hoard into the megaberg, but Desailly L-moved her away from it (which in hindsight didn’t help much). I believe a 6 from All-Powerful let me move the Akua Lapu into the fog bank west of the fort, making it harder for the AL to drive onto the reef on the east side of the fort.
Randy reefed the Akua Lapu but rolled too high! The DD swooped in and started blasting the fort, with the Locker surfacing to assist.
But in the end the Pirates hadn’t taken everything into their calculations. Although Randy was able to successfully turn the Akua Lapu into a shipwreck on his next turn, he still had an oarsman left in play on the Neptune’s Hoard, who was fully capable of rowing at S+S with future move actions. Randy contended that using the Eye of Insanity with the NH’s oarsman to copy Davy Jones’ All-Powerful meant that the Oarsman ability was not technically present on the NH. In a huge rules question that would basically determine the game’s outcome, Woelf said that the Eye of Insanity cannot trigger the “no future move actions” endgame rule. With that drama hanging in the balance (I was convinced I was right, and insisted the game wasn’t over), I took my next turn, destroyed the fort and sank the Neptune’s Hoard to end the game at last!!
- Ben: 29 gold
- Randy: 0
What a finish! This certainly felt like the closest finish of any of the 7 games I played with Captain Randy on my Vegas trip, and easily could have gone a lot worse for me. If Randy had been able to wreck both of his ships before the fort was destroyed, he would have won 62-29! (as there was 62 gold in The Devil’s Maw)
This game was characterized by HUGE momentum swings. I looked unstoppable after the first round or two, with Randy in complete despair as a long week of pirating came to a crushing head. However, my mid-game was an absolute disaster, as Randy accumulated a ton of gold, worked around his horrific HI situation (I basically stole his HI), nearly wrecked the Divine Dragon and captured the Cassandra. In the end though, my penchant of often having a strong endgame won me the day. We both had a lot of lows in this game, with a few massive highs as well. We were tired and the game probably ended around 1:30am on Tuesday morning, with me having to get up at 5am for a flight that same day. I think fatigue led to the gaffes on both sides. However, even if it was a really brutal game to play, it’s always much more satisfying to play it out and have a memorable outcome.
With that, I ended my 2022 Las Vegas trip with a 5-2 record, far better than I could have expected going into it (including a trio of 3 player games). Here’s to hopefully next year!!