The 2011 cumulative game – Pirates CSG Battle Report

Originally posted to Pojo and Miniature Trading on November 10th, 2014.

I haven’t played a game yet, but I wanted to document an old game to the best of my ability. Plus, I don’t want this thread to get locked up. ūüėÄ

I started the Pojo version of the Battle Reports thread on July 24th, 2011, about a month after I joined MT and Pojo. I was getting back into the game for the first time in multiple years, and started playing again.

I don’t know exactly how many games I played between mid-June of 2011 and July 24th, but I don’t think it was very many. There were three reasons:
1. I was spending a bunch of time on MT and Pojo getting to know the sites.
2. I believe I did a Historical Fantasy Scenario (HFS), which is basically using the ships to wage huge naval wars without using the actual rules of the game.
3. I played a MASSIVE game that was never fully written about.

#3 has always been a very interesting topic when I occasionally think about it, which isn’t very often. Since I started the Battle Reports thread on Pojo after the game ended, a lot of the finer details have been forgotten. However, here I will write what I remember. This particular game holds a special place in my personal Pirates CSG “lore” if you will – all of my older games are documented, so I can go back and remember what happened. This one is a murky subject that is a legendary game in my book, sort of akin to the SiaB discussions and old eBay posts, among other famous posts here at MT. I have found some limited documentation of the game in the first thread I ever started at Pojo.

Back in those days, when I did HFS’s, I used an entire room of floor space, although the particular room isn’t huge, and of course has many things on the floor to inhibit space (but also provide natural obstructions¬† ūüôā ). Because of the huge sea, ships took longer to reach their destinations.

Each faction had a harbour. The English were in the far east, the Spanish in the south, the Pirates in the north, the French in the northwest, and an alliance of the Americans, Cursed, Barbary Corsairs, and Mercenaries in the southwest. The harbours were made out of dozens of duplicate ship deckplates, with “unlaunched” ships sitting on the deckplates waiting to be bought, whereas launched ships would dock in different places in the harbour. I used to punch out all of my duplicates because I used them for HFS’s and because I hadn’t started trading here yet.

Edit (7/22/2015): I’ve made a harbour example.¬†Here’s what a typical harbour would look like:
2011 cumulative game

The game was a cumulative one, where points are spent as the game goes along to build up your fleet. However, there was a distinguishing factor that set this game apart from all others that I’ve played: the treasure distribution.

Normally for a cumulative game, each island starts out with maybe 3 or 4 treasure coins each, and treasure magically replenishes itself at the end of each turn until the original max is reached. However, when I did HFS’s, I would simply stack as much treasure on the islands as possible. When I say stack, I mean STACK. Each stack of coins would be at least 10 coins high (usually more I think), and there would be a minimum of (probably) around 6 or more stacks per island. This was the case for EVERY island, not just some “Paradise Island” in the middle. (You can see where this is going¬† O_O)

Since I was so used to placing treasure like this, I did the same for the cumulative game. I can’t remember if I ever had the treasure replenish itself as well, but either way there was basically so much gold on every island that you could barely see the island itself, not to mention that the stacks were taller than some of the ships.¬†XD

Edit (11/27/2015):¬†Here’s an example of what an average wild island would look like for this game:
2011 cumulative game

Also, I used custom rules with the introduction of infantry and artillery units from RISK, but they didn’t play a big factor in the game.

EDIT: I wrote all of this before I found the old thread on Pojo, which I’ll quote from occasionally to supplement the report I wrote today.

06-20-2011

a7xfanben wrote:
I am starting a long game where each player starts with 20 points for ships/crew. I placed 20 islands in my room, 14 of them mysterious. I placed all of my unique treasure, and I am going to experiment using the infantry and artillery units from Risk (I don’t have any forts, sadly). Here are my rules for them (still in the early stages):

Infantrymen units (cost two points): They can be stationed at home harbour (or home island, I use harbours so I can fit all the ships) or on island. A player with an infantry or artillery unit on an island is occupying the island. The infantrymen are eligible for invasions/shoot actions. Invasions: An invasion counts as a general action. Therefore, a ship cannot dock at an island and invade that same turn unless her ability lets her dock and explore in the same move action.

The infantry units act as returning fire, not as an actual cannon. When an enemy ship fires on them, and misses twice in a row, one mast from the enemy ship is eliminated. Boarding parties: When an enemy attempts to invade, they roll on a boarding party as normal. For the designated infantry unit, roll a d6 and add one. If the ship has the higher result, the infantry unit is eliminated and the controller of the ship is allowed to place one of their own infantry units from that ship on the island. Each infantry unit represents one short-range three-rank cannon, for land combat (these cannons can only shoot at other infantry/artillery units). An infantry unit is not allowed a land shoot action the turn it is landed successfully. Infantry units take up one cargo space.

Artillery units (six points): Can be used in invasions, and can be stationed on island or at harbour. On land, they are a long-range two-rank cannon and require two hits from the same infantry shoot action to be eliminated. They can shoot at enemy ships as a regular shoot action, and are mobile (you can position them at any place on the island for optimum range), but cannot be given any extra actions. Artillery units take up two cargo spaces.

 

This game was bizarre in many ways: unspeakable amounts of gold, huge distances between harbours that hindered battling, and weird rulings that came up as part of my house-rulings and somewhat limited collection.

06-21-2011

a7xfanben wrote:
I am making progress on my big game today. The French and alliance of American/Mercenary/Cursed/Corsair have had terrible luck with island placement and mysterious islands. The Spanish were the first to purchase infantry and artillery units for the defense of their harbour. It has been all gold collecting so far, but now the Pirates are gunning to take down what looks to be the fastest-starting faction, the Spanish (mainly because of the Joya del Sol with a helmsman). The Pirates are sending the Revenant and some supporting ships (Muerta de la Corona for +1 to cannon rolls against Spanish ships, and Freedom for gold stealing) to wreak havoc. I am playing as the English, and my harbour is somewhat isolated, at one end of the room, but I have been able to buy some good ships for this gold-running start (HMS Hyena is 9 pts. for S+S and five cargo spaces, HMS King Edward has six cargo spaces).

 

The Pirates began a small fight against the Spanish in the middle of the ocean between their two harbours, but the first action didn’t last long at all. However, it made the Pirates hate the Spanish, which would become more important later on.

I remember the English having to travel the furthest distance to get to their wild island(s), and so they wanted to expand to some more. The Spanish were the closest harbour, and so the English picked on them. (the Pirates were to the north, but their harbour lay around the corner of a cape, so they were harder to get to.) Some English ships including HMS Leicester began attacking the Spanish, inflicting heavy losses on both sides. The attack was eventually repulsed because it was so close to the Spanish harbour, so the Spanish had a much easier time getting reinforcements to the front lines.

Probably the most memorable part of this game was the system of chain exploring set up by the Spanish. The following is a quote from the Rules Thread.

 

a7xfanben wrote:
Warning: This is extremely specific and impractical. It only would only be feasible in huge games, and games where the islands have more treasure on them than normal (a non-standard game with stacks of treasure on islands, or treasure that replenishes each turn). Line up a bunch of empty ships touching at the bow and stern, with the lead ship in the line docked at a wild island. The final ship is docked at your home island. Ideally the island is as close to home as possible. Also, it would help if all of the ships had the same cargo hold. The lead ship explores the island, and each ship on down the line explores the ship in front of her, taking the treasure all the way to the last ship, where it is automatically unloaded.

This is too wacky to even try in 99.9% of games, but in this way you could have a supply line of ships that automatically transports treasure from an island to your home island.

 

Due to the fact that cumulative games don’t have a point limit, this particular game lent itself well to exploiting this idea. The Spanish had a perfect storm going: there were huge stacks of treasure on the wild islands, one of these islands was close to their harbour, and they had bought a lot of ships (the only ones I know for sure were two copies of the¬†Cazador del Pirata) with around 3 masts and at least 3 cargo hold.

With the nearby island to the north of their harbour, the Spanish set up the system. One ship docked at the island, and then another ship lashed herself to the stern of the first ship, with the last ship being docked at the Spanish harbour. The line was at least 5 ships long, maybe 7 or 8. There may have actually been TWO lines, but I don’t know for sure. In addition, they still had a handful of ships sailing to and from the island as normal and bringing back gold. I would estimate that the whole operation consisted of at least 20 ships, all at this one island. (I think they almost were able to set up a second line of ships to another island, but they got attacked before it could be completed.)

Naturally the Spanish were getting rich very fast, milking one island for probably an average of at least 5 coins per turn overall. They launched more ships, both goldships and gunships, making their fleet even more impressive. This is not to say that all of the other factions struggled, for they were generally successful in running gold in a normal fashion. The Spanish were the only ones to set up the chain-exploring system, which hasn’t been seen since.

The other extremely memorable part of this game concerned a single game piece. It wasn’t a ship or even a named crew, but a UT:¬†the Cursed Conch. The Cursed Conch lets you sacrifice one of your ships to move an opponent’s sea monster. However, my collection at the time didn’t contain a single sea monster, and so I house-ruled the ability to say “ship” in place of sea monster. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but soon it became apparent just how dangerous this UT had become.

Which faction discovered the once-legendary Cursed Conch? Naturally, the Spanish.   :/    XD

I’m not sure whether it was discovered on the island they had built a chain to, but it was discovered¬†relatively¬†early on in the game, and therefore had a huge impact.

Now, for a word about the harbour system: the harbours function much differently than home islands. They serve the same purpose, but each harbour was much bigger (probably about 2 feet wide by 2 feet long), with docks coming out from the wall of the room. Each harbour had designated places where ships were launched (on the outside where they could immediately start sailing), and ships were repaired (inside the harbour). The large number of docks and passages lent well to “hiding” ships if a faction wanted to do so.

After the Spanish discovered the Cursed Conch, I think they put it on a 4 master, and began “saccing” her each turn to cause havoc and chaos in other fleets. The Conch was later transferred to either a 1 or 2 master, because the Spanish wanted to use the bigger ship since it was more valuable.

Since the Pirates were the closest harbour (to the north), they were messed with the most. This further angered the Pirates, who had already lost a short skirmish against the Spanish earlier in the game. The Americans were also a target of the Conch, and they were the first to attempt to retaliate.

After the Conch was transferred to one of the smallest Spanish ships, the Spanish docked her deep within the bowels of their harbour, so she could “hide” and be “safe” from enemies looking to sink her or steal the Conch. However, the Spanish harbour was consisted mostly of docks facing due north, and they didn’t have a place to hide their ship in the recessed southeast corner of their harbour. Therefore they docked her almost all the way to the back against the wall in one of the inner docks on the west side. This became important later on.

Edit (7/22/2015):¬†Here’s another mockup picture showing a harbour example with the Honu Iki at the top of the picture approximately how far back the Spanish sloop was:
2011 cumulative game

Again, pretend it’s a Spanish ship, but this is basically what the Pirates and the Cursed Blade were after:
2011 cumulative game

The Americans quickly grew weary of their ships being moved about by the Spanish, and sent some ships (the¬†Enterprise¬†was one of them) east to attack. Their goal was to sink or steal the Conch, but their efforts were too scattered. The Spanish either held on to it or stole it back, and the losses the Americans suffered as a result of these disorganized attacks dealt them losses that were hard to overcome. Additionally, I didn’t have as many good gold ships for the Americans, Cursed, and Barbary Corsairs as I do today, so the Americans weren’t likely to win the game anyway.

06-23-2011

a7xfanben wrote:
In my game today, the Revenant was quickly repelled from her attack on the Spanish harbour when two of her masts were knocked out from the harbour’s artillery batteries.

The infantry haven’t played a role yet, but then again there have not been any real battles (the Revenant action was the first and it was brief-she didn’t have enough backup). The Spanish have had luck with the mysterious islands-the one closest to them lets you take two treasure from every other wild island in the game and put it on this one before you explore, if you roll a five or six.

On the other hand, the French have had their Petit Dauphin sunk, Danae dismasted, and Courageaux damaged at a single island (Roll 5d6. For every 4-6 result, eliminate one of this ship’s masts). The Spanish are calmly and steadily accumulating more gold, while the nearby pirates are scrambling to put a good fleet together to wipe them out (or die trying).

I am using all of my unique treasure, including the Cursed Conch, but I don’t have any sea monsters (normally it lets you give a sea monster an action instead of the ships it is on), so I changed the ability to let the controller move any ship in play. This has had an undesirably overpowered effect. The Cursed Blade has been thwarted from stealing it by being sent back to where she came from, and the Enterprise was moved onto a reef, losing two masts.

Tomorrow the Pirates will attack and we will see which fleet is stronger. As the English, I sent a squadron to steal unique treasure from the other factions, the French and American/Mercenary. Then I finally bought the Leicester for 18 and decked her out with Admiral Morgan (5-6:extra action), Ducie Chads (5-6 same action twice, +1 against Pirates) and the Gentleman (captain ability and die re-roll for the above effects).

 

With one attack repulsed (pun intended; I think I actually used¬†La Repulsa¬†in this game), the Spanish went about their business of chain-exploring. However, they realized what a threat the Conch was to other factions’ security, and so transferred it to a smaller ship that they hid in the back of their harbour. It wasn’t long before it was the center of attention once again.

With the Americans weakened and the French and English having slow gold fleets, the Pirates had in the meantime built a fleet that was surpassed in size only by the Spanish. As a result, the Spanish began using the Conch exclusively against the Pirates, which led them to the conclusion that they must attack the Spanish or face elimination. A battle fleet was gradually launched and assembled, and they began clustering in the ocean to an area to the northwest of the Spanish harbour, but still out of striking distance.

More than anything, the Pirates wanted the Conch. They wanted to steal it and use it against the Spanish. For this they launched the¬†Cursed Blade, one of my favourite ships and the perfect ship for the job. They also considered the¬†Raven¬†because of her speed, but they didn’t want to risk losing a boarding party. With the strategy they were planning, they would have just one shot at the Conch.

The Pirates knew that the small Spanish ship had the Conch and no other treasures. The Cursed Blade didn’t need to win a boarding party to steal the Conch, but only to make contact with the Spanish ship. The Blade was crewed with a helmsman to boost her speed to S+S+S, and¬†Calico Cat¬†to give her an extra action to move twice for a total of 6S. She probably had other crew aboard such as a captain and/or oarsman, but I don’t remember if I had a Pirate reroller back then.

The Cursed Blade positioned herself at the southeast edge of the cluster of Pirate ships accumulating in anticipation of the upcoming battle. The Blade would go in first in an attempt to take the Conch. She had to wait a few turns for the SAT from Calico Cat, turns that were spent in anxious anticipation. There was also a lot of time spent measuring distances and ranges, for the Pirates knew they had one shot at it. They would end their move deep in the Spanish harbour with ships sailing to block the entrance off before she could escape.

The Cursed Blade finally got the SAT, and she zoomed in 6S straight into the Spanish harbour, crashing into the small Spanish ship. I believe the ram took out a mast, and it may have been a 1 master, which would mean she was totally dismasted. Either way, the Blade was successful in grabbing the Conch. The problem was, she couldn’t use it or transfer it to safety until she made it out of the harbour. I don’t think she did.

This is where my memory fails me. All I remember is that all hell broke loose. The Spanish panicked, the chain broke, and the Pirates attacked! I can honestly say that the Cursed Blade’s action that turn altered the game forever, in a single, solitary moment of brilliance that caused a chain reaction that would be felt for the rest of the game.

I want to say that neither the Cursed Blade nor her crew got out of the harbour alive. If they made it out, I think they were sunk soon thereafter. The entire cluster of Pirate ships (probably 2/3 of their overall fleet) sailed down upon the Spanish, and the battle was on! Due to the Spanish being backed up against their own harbour, the battle was extremely close-fought, and I remember a lot of ramming and boarding. The chain broke because the Spanish wanted more of their numbers in the main battle area, which quickly spread a little bit towards the east, where the chain was originally docked. The battle was very chaotic, because the Pirates were in a manic rage to kill as many Spaniards as possible, and the Spanish didn’t expect such a large battle.

The other factions took notice of this epic clash between the two largest navies. The English joined the main battle, but they did so from the east, near where the chain had been. This meant that the Spanish were fighting two foes at once, since most of the Pirate ships were more to the west and south. In the end, the Spanish were generally eliminated through all the carnage, and the Pirates eventually retreated back to their harbour to repair their considerable losses. However, the English had arrived late to the battle, and still had fresh ships sailing up as the battle was ending. Therefore, they kept on sailing west through the area where the battle had been.

In the meantime, the Americans somehow managed to get the Cursed Conch during all of the chaos:

06-25-2011

a7xfanben wrote:
The Pirates are almost finished wiping out the Spanish, and the English eventually got involved also. The Americans/Mercenaries managed to get the Cursed Conch with the Santa Molina (with help from the Enterprise), but now they are under attack from the French.

Many ships were sunk today (the highlights being the Leicester, Revenant, Harbinger, and Acorazado), and now the fleets are trying to salvage what they can after the long melee and distribute shipwrights (because their home harbours are too far away, and they don’t have treasure to repair, I usually require a ship to pay two treasure points to repair at her home island if she doesn’t have a shipwright there, this is what I have done for years with my fantasy scenarios).

The French were exposed to the battle the least and have the most fresh ships. I am looking forward to the final conclusion of what looks like a week-long game, which will probably happen near the American/Mercenary harbour (where they headed after they got the conch).

 

The French (with their harbour based in the northwest) had started to sail southeast towards the main battle as well, but they didn’t get there in time. However, they arrived in the middle of the ocean just as the English were sailing west, and another battle became imminent!

The English and French didn’t have fleets nearly as large as the Pirates and Spanish, so the battle was shorter and less grand overall. I’m not sure who won, but both fleets were battered and weak by the end of it.

At this point, the Pirates had done a bunch of repairs and were ready to have another battle. They weren’t at the full strength they had been at before the Spanish battle, but they were plenty large enough to defeat any of the remaining fleets. They spotted the winner of the English/French battle and promptly sailed southwest to clean up the scraps. It was relatively easy for them to win, and for reasons I don’t remember the Americans had been eliminated as well (possibly as part of the English/French battle). The Pirates were the last fleet sailing, and therefore were the winners of this long cumulative game!¬† ūüėÄ

That’s the best I can remember. It was one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played, and now that I’m done writing this it’s much longer than I expected it to be.

06-26-2011, 06-27-2011

a7xfanben wrote:
I am finishing up an unlimited point game where the fleets accumulate ships/crew as you go along, and it has taken about a week. At one point I had well over 100 ships in play at once…

The Pirates ended up winning, as the English and the French got tied up in a decent fleet action, which allowed the Pirates plenty of time to repair, regroup, and bring back some of their sunken ships.

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