I have finally gotten out the fleets once again! I have acquired a solid bunch of very good ships and crew since I last played, and you will see mention of them soon. The first game that is being played is a cumulative one, where gold is spent for more ships and crew as you go along. Four players, 20 islands. 16 of them are wild, and of those 16, 10 are mysterious. Each island starts with four gold coins, and at the end of each turn (after all four players have taken their turns), any island with less than four coins on it will have one coin placed on it to replenish it. There are terrain pieces mixed in as well to hopefully add some flavour. Each fleet was given 20 points to start off, and the players are as follows: English/Barbary Corsairs, French/Americans, Spanish/Jade Rebellion, and Pirates/Cursed. The Mercenaries are a wild card (as they should be), although the English sort of have 'first dibs' on the Shui Xian, if they choose to use her. Just like in the Risk game, forts will function as bases ([I]almost[/I] like a second HI), where a player can use the gold accumulated in a fort to buy new stuff for their fleet.
Each fleet started out with two ships, and the English and French got off to the fastest start. The English have five ships through the first handful of turns, and they just bought the Aberdeen Baron, one of England's finest ships.
The French have used their new Favori to purchase La Dijon, and with the gold brought back by Le Bon Marin, they built Paradis de la Mer on an island near their home island.
The Spanish are off to a sluggish start, with the Magdalena being slowed by an MI (mysterious island) effect, and the Pirates using the "use an opposing ship using this ship's base move" effect. However, the Santa Isabel brought back enough gold to buy El Alquimista, so now they have two ships getting the +2 bonus.
The Pirates have been slowed by the Lost UT, which trapped the Raven in a Sargasso Sea for a few turns. Now they're up to four ships, and eagerly anticipating more.
After a few more turns, the game is progressing quickly. The Aberdeen Baron went through a whirlpool to explore a far-off island, and the English built Ramsgate on an island near their HI. The French built their second of two forts, St. Pierre, on an island south of their HI. The Spaniards built two more +2 gold ships, the San Pedro and the Concepcion. They will probably be looking to build El Puerto Blanco soon. The Pirates have built the Longshanks, and the terrain from the Lost UT has been removed, allowing the Raven to move again. No shots have been fired so far.
After another handful of turns, all 7 forts are up! The Spanish built El Puerto Blanco near their HI, while the Pirates built the Devil's Maw north of their HI. The English are the only fleet to build a fort a good distance away from their HI. They built Fort Brompton far to the west, while their HI (and Ramsgate, their other fort) is almost on the eastern edge of the sea.
The English/Barbary Corsairs (English Corsairs?) have expanded quite quickly, and they are up to 13 ships. Recent additions to their fleet include the Meshud, Tiger's Eye, Algiers, Griffin, Queen of Sheba, HMS Victor, HMS London, HMS Grand Temple, and the Gibraltar flotilla. Their fleet is essentially in two halves, with both squadrons bringing in a steady stream of gold.
The French/Americans look to be putting together a magnificent battle fleet. The first fleet to purchase a gunship of any kind, they have now built Le Superbe, La Ville de Paris, Le Soleil Royal, and Le Gaule, all powerful 5 masters. They look to be in prime position to make the first strike of the game. The Boston (with Eternal Ralph David on board) and La Vengeance are running around as well, in addition to the fleet of treasure runners they have.
The Spanish/Jade Rebels are off to a truly horrific start. They picked a HI in the northeast corner of the sea, which is looking like a bad idea. Of the three wild islands in their immediate vicinity, one is consistently explored by the English, one is a tricky MI, but they have managed to build El Puerto Blanco on the third. They keep rolling 1's and 2's at the MI, whose effect is this: "This ship can't explore this island. She must leave and dock again to try." To further compound their struggles, the Pirates used the event False Treasure (acquired via a lucky MI roll) to eliminate all of the treasure on board La Concepcion. As it stands now, they only have five ships, with no true gunships, no captains, and only one reliable source of gold.
The Cursed Pirates are faring much better. They seemed reluctant to buy anything but small, fast, treasure runners, but circumstances have forced that they do otherwise. When the French gold runner L'Amazone approached one of their wild islands, they built Dead Man's Point to deter her. Since then, they've built the Nightmare and Windjammer (two cheap support gunships), launched the Doombox and Death's Anchor (flotillas), and built their second of two forts, the Devi's Maw. The Bonnie Liz, towing the Doombox, is in the process of intimidating the French ship La Dijon into not exploring the island she has been going to all game. The Pirates look almost as good as the English and the French do, but the English are shrinking the possible boundaries of their territory with their ever-expanding western squadron.
At this point, there still hasn't been a single shot fired. It looks like this will change quickly, however, as the boundaries of each fleet's territories overlap. The situation resembles a ticking time bomb, with the potential for chaos arising in more and more places.
Shots have been fired at last! Most of the action has been focused on two forts, and there was a total of four skirmishes which may develop into larger actions in the near future.
The English Corsairs continued their flawless treasure running, bringing back gold with the same group of ships turn after turn. With the gold, they have bought HMS Titan, HMS Gallows, HMS Apollo (ROTF version), HMS Victoria, HMS Leicester, and the Tower flotilla.
Their western squadron decided to take advantage of the lack of Cursed Pirates protecting the Devil's Maw fort. With HMS Grand Temple in the lead, the English swept in with great force, sinking the Guinee and severely damaging the fort in one turn with just two ships. The Grand Temple destroyed the Guinee with her long-range guns (since the Guinee would have cancelled the Temple's captain, Lord Thomas Gunn), and HMS Titan hit four times out of five to leave the Devil's Maw with just one cannon remaining. The Pirates used it to take out the spanker of the Titan, but the fort will probably fall next turn.
In the east, the S+S range of the Tower's guns sunk the French treasure runner Le Bon Marin. However, the French had other things to worry about.
After buying the USS Quigley, USS Constitution (OE version), and Enterprise (the latter two powerful 5 masters), the French Americans decided to finally use some of their firepower. The Cursed Pirates had towed both the Doombox and the Death's Anchor into positions that limited the potential movements of the French fleet (essentially invading their sea-space (?) on the northwest boundary). The Nightmare (DJC version) and El Tejon got a bit too close for comfort, and the French Americans had had enough. La Ville de Paris promptly sunk the Tejon, while Le Superbe sacced an oarsman via Capitaine Arazure to sink the Nightmare.
Meanwhile, the Boston fired on the unprotected Spanish fort El Puerto Blanco, since the Boston can't be hit by forts. This was the first shoot action of the game. It took a few turns, but the fort has been abandoned and one more hit will destroy it.
Also, the Enterprise is sailing to the French fort St. Pierre to pick up some American crew.
A hairy situation was avoided by L'Amazone when she sprinted home with treasure before the Pirate ship Sea Nymph could catch her.
The Spanish Rebels appear to have given up hope of actually winning the game. They have had one of the worst starts to a game I have ever seen, and the speed at which the English and French were (and still are) expanding crushed their morale. They have let El Puerto Blanco fall while saving up gold on their HI. With this pile of gold, they purchased the Baochuan and a full complement of crew for her, totaling 53 points. It remains to be seen what they will do next. They have just enough power to potentially shift the outcome of the game if they choose to do so.
The Cursed Pirates look like the third-best fleet of the four, with treasure coins only sporadically providing the means necessary to make big purchases. Part of their problem lies with the fact that the wild islands they've been going to are a bit further away from their HI than those of the other fleets. Also, they haven't been able to take advantage of the Devil's Maw fort, used only as an outpost so far.
However, they've made solid use of their other fort, Dead Man's Point, from which the Sea Nymph and Windjammer have been launched, as well as a bunch of their crew. They recently built the Harbinger, their most powerful ship to date. She is equipped with Captain Barbossa (captain + world-hater) and Calico Cat (SAT). However, the recent skirmishes with the English and French has left them looking less than intimidating.
Tomorrow will see plenty of fighting, and a front-runner may emerge from the chaos.
Only one turn was played today, with the Devil's Maw and El Puerto Blanco both being destroyed.
After another turn, the English lost both HMS Nautilus and HMS Bolingbroke, but managed to damage the Constitution in the process. They then crewed HMS Swallow with the Gentleman, Sir Christopher Myngs, and Commander Temple, while rebuilding the Tower flotilla.
The Spanish headed west with their entire fleet of five ships, and the Baochuan sunk the French 4 master La Vengeance. They are annoyed that the French destroyed their only fort.
The Cursed Pirates are regrouping and have built the Revenant, who is crewed to the max with Calico Cat (OE), Griffin (OE), a helmsman and an oarsman.
During the last few turns, the English showed off their considerable power, first crushing the Pirate fort, Dead Man's Point, with the "can't be hit by L-range guns" Cygnet. Then HMS Titan sailed into the fray against the Pirates and sunk two of their best (and most vital) treasure runners, the Bonnie Liz and the Shamrock. This puts a serious dent in the Pirates' hopes of winning the game. Although the Titan was sunk by the Pirates in the next turn, HMS Grand Temple and her flotilla Gibraltar sunk the Revenant and dismasted the Cursed Blade.
To top it all off, their treasure runners from the western squadron all got back to Fort Brompton (their base in the west) at nearly the same time, giving them a huge windfall of 59 gold in the span of just 2 turns. Having built most of the best gunships England has to offer, they spent almost all of the gold on the Mercenary 10 master Shui Xian, who they maxed out in terms of cargo hold and points. Along with sac-captain Tsai and canceller Christian Fiore, they got Brother Virgil to allow Master Gunner Rogelio Vazquez to use his ability, which makes all of the Shui Xian's guns L-range (normally only 3 are L-range).
The French Americans had to put forth a large group effort in order to sink the Baochuan. The Baochuan dismasted the 5 master Le Superbe. It took 7 shoot actions to take the Baochuan out, with plenty of cannonade being supplied by Le Soleil Royal and La Ville de Paris. They are still taking in a solid amount of gold, having recently launched Le Bonaparte and La Corse, powerful 4 masters from DJC.
The Spanish Rebels are officially out of the game. After the Baochuan sunk, the Spanish went on a suicide run into the gauntlet of French gunships, without captains! Needless to say, it didn't work very well. After taking out two masts (via ramming), all remaining Spanish ships have been sunk or dismasted. A bad HI selection combined with atrocious luck doomed them from the beginning.
The Cursed Pirates have not fared well of late, and they are fading fast. With both of their forts either destroyed or abandoned, and their best remaining gunship (Revenant) and treasure runner (Bonnie Liz) recently sunk, they appear to be the next fleet eliminated. After realizing this, they seem to have given up hope, and are trying to maximize the carnage and chaos they can cause. The Death's Anchor took a mast off of HMS Gallows, and the Sea Nymph went east to fight Le Gaule. Also, they still have the Harbinger, Windjammer, and the Doombox, so they still have some fight left in them.
The game will be finished tomorrow, with either the English Corsairs or the French Americans emerging triumphantly from the smoke of battle.
The game was finished today (1/1/13), with a flurry of turns deciding the victor.
The English dominated the ocean, sinking everything in sight! The Cygnet destroyed the French fort St. Pierre, while HMS London destroyed Paradis de la Mer. The English trade machine was working fluidly to keep the fleet at full strength. When gunships (HMS Grand Temple, HMS Titan, HMS Gallows, HMS Nautilus, and the Gibraltar flotilla) sunk, they would simply be rebuilt by all of the gold the English were raking in.
The Shui Xian sacced an explorer to sink both Le Soleil Royal and La Ville de Paris in one turn, with help from Thomas Gunn (F&S version) giving +1 to her gun rolls from the Cygnet.
HMS Apollo sunk the Doombox and the Death's Anchor flotillas, and the English used an MI effect to move the Harbinger away from her HI, where she was repairing. HMS Gallows and HMS Leicester finished her off, and then the Rover was sent to the bottom, officially ending the game for the Cursed Pirates.
At this point, the game normally ends, but with just a few French American ships left, the English took over the entire ocean. HMS Titan dismasted and captured the Enterprise (capturing her to avoid the Eternal Gus Schultz), and HMS Swallow sunk Le Bonaparte with her L-range guns. L'Amazone and the USS Quigley were the last two ships out, being sunk by the Shui Xian, who (finally) had a good day with the guns.
When all was said and done, the English Corsairs were the last fleet afloat. They reached the height of their power at the end of the game, with 29 ships, two flotillas, and two forts. With a total of 89 gold saved up between the two forts and their HI, they could've had more, but they were saving it for the possibility of having some of their best gunships sunk, so they could quickly re-purchase them.
Why did the English win? Superior strategy combined with an emphasis on expanding their empire. They were the only fleet to build a fort not near their HI, and took advantage of it big time, assembling a large western squadron that combined with the eastern fleet in a pincer movement at the end of the game. They also made sure to get the best guns available, and bolster them with extra actions and rerolls. They didn't rush hastily into battle, instead waiting for the right opportunity (and the right enemy) to strike. The Spanish Rebels had a bad HI selection and horrible luck, which ruined their game. The Pirates struggled to a slow start (since the Raven was stuck in a Sargasso Sea for a while), and had to travel too far to get to even the nearest wild islands. The French made the mistake of being too timid, seemingly afraid to risk their beautiful 5 masters (at one point, all 6 of them sailing almost in line-of-battle formation) in a fight. They didn't take the opportunity to expand much beyond their borders, even though they had the chance.
This was a fun, long cumulative game, taking over a week to complete. The English are victorious once again!