Today I started the much anticipated five way 500 point game (the 2500 is in total between the fleets).
The 20 islands and 21 pieces of terrain were placed, home islands chosen, treasure buried, and dies rolled. I, as the English went first, followed by the Pirates, French, Amercursedcorsairebels, and Spanish, in that order. The Leicester, HMS Grand Temple, and HMS Titan used extra actions/SAT's to get a jump start. The Pirates set out, and had a balanced strategy that included collecting, stealing, and sinking the gold (not surprising, eh?). The French had their own corner, and had the most ships since I don't have very many crew for them. The Amercs set out not sure of their strategy but knowing they could create havoc with their best ships (Divine Dragon, Enterprise, and USS Stephens). The Spanish were going to try to avoid conflict while providing their treasure ships with adequate cover.
Turn one passed almost without incident. During the Amercs' turn, they revealed the All Powerful Davy Jones! Obviously the Pirates were quite ignorant of the fact that the Cursed would use him, placing two of their best gunships, the decked out Harbinger and the similarly loaded Prussian Crown, both five-masters, right next to each other! Now I know that what happens next is technically illegal, but I like to keep my games full of surprises! The Amercs rolled a six! (FYI: The OE Davy Jones has guaranteed extra action capabilities, 1-4 is for the ship he is on, 5 for any friendly ship, 6 for any enemy ship) Arguably the most feared man (?) on the sea gave his order, and the Prussian Crown began firing on her own ship, the Harbinger!!!!! Behold the incredible power and almost limitless possibilities of DAVY JONES!
At the beginning of the second turn, I rolled for my SAT with the HMS Leicester, and got a 6. I also had Myngs and the Gentleman for reroll on board (I know triple actions are also frowned upon, but you'll see how badly I got paid back!), so I decided to go take on the Harbinger. Using my helmsman, I put my gunship right in the narrow space between the Harbinger and Prussian Crown, the Harbinger already missing three masts. Then I let the dice do their thing, and when it was all said and done both five masters had been sunk!!!!! The Leicester's superb ability of eliminating two masts per hit let me hit the Harbinger twice, sinking her, then turn to the Prussian Crown, and with the help of Sir Christopher Myngs, sink her, too!
The revenge the Pirates exacted on me was very painful. The Revenant came up and dismasted my Leicester with one broadside! Then I tried to get the Leicester out of there, but accidentally ended up in a horribly undesirable fight! A complete disaster, the Leicester sunk without any crew being saved. The Titan was forced to stop and fight, and was able to dismast the Revenant before the Titan was dismasted by the Broken Key. Even worse for my morale, my HMS Grand Temple, newly built (out of the 151 ships participating in the game, she was the most highly anticipated) and decked out with Calico Cat, Griffin and helmsman, was sunk by a combination of Pirate ships, including the underrated Xiamen's Claws. I thought I was going to lose all three of my best gunships before getting any treasure/captured ships, but through a small miracle I was able to extricate the HMS Titan from the action through my version of chain-towing (I checked on the Rules thread of MT, this is legal). I used one ship to tow the Titan, placing her at the [I][U]stern[/U][/I] of the nearest ship, then releasing her, then towing her and placing her behind the next ship, and so on down the line till she was out of harms way. I lost the HMS Concorde in the process, but that was a small price to pay for the salvaged ship, probably paid thirty plus points with the crew I had on the Titan.
Both the Pirates and I were happy to disengage and lick our wounds as we headed back to our respective home islands, the Pirates managing to capture the Sea Tiger with Commander Temple on board in the process. Meanwhile, I had signed an imaginary non-aggression pact with the nearby Spaniards, as we were both feeling like being nice and sharing the few nearby islands. The Pirates were doing some simple treasure running with their Darkhawk II's, and they are trying CCMike's idea of using a crew (Genny Gallows here) to add +2 to every treasure. Another 6+ ships and the two sea monsters, Seleucis and Teach, tried unsuccessfully to get to the battle with the British, the Britons already sailing away. It was not a large scale battle, but the Broken Key was also sunk.
The French slowly made their way away from their corner to the southeast and started to gather gold. The Soleil Royal possessed the only extra action crew in the fleet, and pounced on the Cursed ship Dark Pact, dismasting her before she could use Wraith to eliminate all the French crew, but then fell into a similar situation as the Leicester. She was isolated and didn't have access to backup in time before she was also sunk, by the USS Stephens. The Amercs weren't interested in a full-scale fight, so they let the French eventually capture the Dark Pact, Bashaw Folly and USS Quigley while letting the rest of their ships get away. The Divine Dragon continued to create havoc with Davy Jones as the HMS Bretwalda lost three masts after being fired on by fellow English ship HMS Granville.
The Amercs and Spanish didn't do too much, although the Spanish got some treasure while the Amercs encountered problems. The Nautilus had Captain Nemo, Luc Savard, and a helmsman on board when she docked at a mysterious island. She rolled for effect just fine, but upon turning over the treasure, found the UT Missionary! Goodbye crew!(16 points worth, too) The new terrain I got, icebergs and whirlpools, didn't play a role so far, but I expect that to change.
Overall, a very satisfying start (albeit a sad one) to my very anticipated game! I will be away tomorrow but will hopefully play some turns Sunday. I think things through, so moving more than two dozen ships per faction takes a while. Great time I had!
I've played a few more turns, and I, as the English, was able to capture the Cursed Blade (with Captain Mission, Lucky the Parrot, and a captain aboard), after she came through a whirlpool looking to steal UT's from my HMS Lord Walpole. The English also formed an alliance with the Spanish, and now the fleets are collaborating on what to do next. The Spanish seem content to help me get back the Sea Tiger (I want her back for Commander Temple, who is still on board). It's possible I might go after the Divine Dragon with Davy Jones on board, but this would be difficult. The Amercursedcorsairebels have not been hostile towards anybody(besides with Davy Jones), but seem to be biding their time doing almost nothing. The Nautilus went through a whirlpool to escape the French Rocher Noir (can shoot at submerged ships within S of her), but didn't have to lose any masts due to her finding of the UT Protection from Davy Jones earlier in the game.
Meanwhile, the Pirate ships damaged from their battle with the English are back at their HI and repairing, while some ships recently brought back some treasure.
The French are about to capture the derelict L'Aguila, who, along with the Alquimista, went in the opposite direction of the Spanish fleet, heading east for gold. Now they are both in trouble! Earlier in the game the French captured the Amercs' Dark Pact, Bashaw Folly, and USS Quigley, and seem to be developing an effective strategy of hunting in wolf packs of ships that close in on enemy targets who have been separated from the main fleet. They are doing this because I don't have very many French crew, so instead they have mostly empty ships (37 in the fleet to start), and want to make up for lack of crew by having the largest fleet by a decent margin.
The French and Amercs are the only factions lacking gold right now, but there should be some coming in soon for the French. The Enterprise just passed by some of the Pirate fleet without firing on them, so either a non-aggression pact or alliance may come to fruition between the Pirates and Amercs. It remains to be seen what the goals of the Amercs are, but the English/Spanish are planning to go on the attack as soon as they can repair their damaged gunships and formulate a plan of action (or a plan of extra actions, haha).
BTW: the icebergs actually were a factor today, taking down 4-5 masts in three turns.
Today I got through four more turns.
The English finished repairing their damaged ships and set out to punish the Pirates. They also managed to capture a Longshanks that was out looking for treasure alone. The English got there first, however, and now have some impressive UT's: Dry Powder, Mines, and Marksman's Map, although they also have Albatross, so he's been limiting the number of extra actions ships get (-1 to die rolls made for the ship).
The Pirates are almost done repairing, and the Pandora was able to bring in some more treasure. The Black Diamond and Muerta de la Corona were out raidng the Spanish, but on their way back were surrounded by these same determined Spaniards. The Spanish sunk both ships, but the Pirates were able to put their valuable crew (OE Jack Hawkins and a helmsman, among others) on a few Darkhawk II's that were nearby. They then proceeded to run away! I don't have Captain Jack Sparrow, but it seemed like he was in charge, as the Pirates quickly fled from any contact with the Spanish gunships, including the loaded Acorazado.
The French completed the dismasting and capturing of the Alquimista and L'Aguila and began towing them back. The French lost some masts in the process, but not from the Spanish, but icebergs! The die rolls for the icebergs were very effective today, taking out three masts on La Vengeance and both masts on the L'Amazone. The rest of the French fleet slowly turned to the south, seeing a couple of Pirate ships separated from the main group, but the Pirates quickly thought better of it. The highlight today for the French was the building of my only fort, St. Pierre!
The Amercs continued to baffle their opponents, first reversing direction after heading due west the day before, turning back to the east where they came from. Even more surprisingly, they turned down the Pirates' offer of having an alliance. Then they turned to the southwest to avoid coming into contact with the French. They didn't see how close the Spanish were to them, and disaster struck (albeit a small one). I, as the British, wanted to capture the Divine Dragon with Davy Jones as her captain, and my allies the Spanish shared the same goal. The normal action for the Divine Dragon was used to explore the Nautilus (finally at the surface) to take the UT's Protection from Davy Jones and Screw Engine. Davy Jones used another six to move the powerful Acorazado out of striking distance, but allowing the Santa Ana (SCS) to move in and pummel her! The other Spanish ships were too far away to assist, but nonetheless turned toward the sight of the Divine Dragon finally seeming mortal. The Santa Ana's die rolls were some of the most dramatic yet, the Spanish pausing after each one to yell and celebrate. Out of four possible hits, the Santa Ana scored three, including a firepot, so now the Dragon is on fire and has three masts remaining.
The problem for the allies is that the Dragon has many possible escape routes, and has the entire Amerc fleet nearby. She can dock at the nearby island and use the UT there, Trees, to repair. Or she can use the Screw Engine/extra action to get back to her home island (probably about 8S away) before taking more damage, then repair and sit there until the enemy moves far enough away. The third alternative is to go use the whirlpool to teleport to the remote northwest part of the sea, while not taking more damage due to Protection from Davy Jones. She will not fight because she only has three cannons left, doesn't have the reverse captain keyword available, and the Acorazado is near with a crew-killer on board. Whatever Davy Jones chooses, it is sure to cause difficult decisions for the rest of the ships involved in the skirmish: whether or not to follow the Dragon through the whirlpool (on both the Spanish and Amerc sides), and if the Spanish want a large-scale battle with the Amercs, having already gotten involved with the Pirates.
The very near future has the possibility of changing the game immensely for the duration, and we will see what exciting developments unfold!
The Divine Dragon decided to use the Screw Engine and extra action from DJ to escape to her home island. There she was able to fully repair, but not before the captured Cursed Blade rammed her and used her ability to steal the UT Protection from Davy Jones. The Lechim Namod finally entered the fray to try to protect the Dragon from being hit before reaching her home island, and managed to dismast the crew-killing HMS Granville.
Some other Amerc ships returned home for repairs, among them the Congress and Clear Wind. The Santa Molina managed to use Broadsides Attack to sink the powerful Acorazado, and then the Amercs used the Congress's last mast and the Concord to sink the SCS Santa Ana, which was the only other ship the Spanish had with extra action/SAT capabilities. Now they are in trouble, as the huge French fleet is now sailing for the remaining Amerc ships from the east, while the Spanish are coming at them and engaging them to the west. The Enterprise was cornered by a dozen or so Spanish ships, and decided to go out with a bang, sinking the colorful La Sirviente before being sunk in turn by L'Aguila and the Selkie (captured). The USS Stephens, back at the home island of the Amercs, used Commander Stephen Decatur to get extra actions two turns in a row so she could repair her two remaining masts, then she went and rammed the Cursed Blade, trying to reacquire Protection from Davy Jones. This she did, easily winning the boarding roll and then dismasting the Blade with her built-in captain ability. The only problem is that the Blade can (I think) use her ability next turn to take the UT right back, as she is still touching the Stephens, then have the nearest English ship take it away (maybe I'm overrating UT's, but they are fun to use).
Meanwhile, those same Englishmen were busy chasing the Pirates, who seem to be getting the better of the battle so far, sinking the HMS Titan before she could wreak havoc. The Titan still managed to dismast two medium-size Pirate ships after being damaged, though. The Pirates are fleeing far to the southeast, but they have reached the French harbour and will soon be at Ocean's Edge.
The French are going after the Amercs with almost all the ships they have, but the stragglers that were towing damaged ships away from the icebergs of the Frozen North were sunk unexpectedly by the Enterprise.
The Spanish are also going after the Amercs, but from a different direction, creating a trap from which it is unlikely that the Amercs will emerge victorious. Despite the Jarvis and Louisiana sunk, and Santa Molina and Bosun's Bane being dismasted, the Amercs pressed on, and the Swamp Fox used captain/Broadsides Attack to eliminate one of the giant crabs, El Toro.
These are just the highlights, many other ships have been sunk, and many more will go down in the near future!
The chaos continued, with more and more ships being sunk/dismasted. The Amercs continued to fight off the combined forces (though not actually allies) of the French and Spanish, but they were overwhelmed. The USS Stephens sunk, while the Amercs managed to use the nearby whirlpool to warp to the deserted southwest area, although they were only able to get four ships there, the Divine Dragon, the Nautilus, the Boston, and the cursed junk Clear Wind.
In the southeast corner, the English appeared to be losing the battle, having their HMS Gargantuan sunk and other ships dead in the water, derelict. The French were attacking the Amercs with everything they had, losing one Valois, both Bonapartes, and some masts. The Spanish continued to press from the opposite direction, and the Amercs would have lost the battle...
Now for the moment of truth! The two Spanish Concepcions, loaded with gold after exploring the last island, in the deserted northwest corner of the sea, had the last treasure on board. They didn't have helmsman (I only have two for the Spanish), and so were sailing at only L speed. The Dragon and her Amerc comrades were possibly within striking range, and knowing that they wouldn't win anyway, decided to cause some last-minute end-of-game chaos! The Dragon raced towards them as the Spanish approached their home island. The Spanish fleet directly to the east turned around and headed towards the approaching Amercs to try to intercept them before reaching the Spanish treasure galleons. Davy Jones suddenly loomed very large. The Dragon rolled a one and a four on consecutive turns, allowing the Dragon to catch the treasure ships just before they reached their home island (not making this up, they were literally within L of it!). The Dragon had been fully repaired from her battles earlier in the game and made short work of the Spanish ships, sinking both in one turn! The treasure is not divided between the two players in a multiplayer game with 4+ players, so it was removed from the game.
Now it was time to count the treasure. This was very dramatic, and between the first three fleets, very close as well. The final count:
1. Pirates: 48
2. Spanish: 45
3. English: 43
4. French: 28
5. Amercursedcorsairebels: 9
After I finished the final count (disappointed that the Pirates, of all nations, won, and because I came in close, but still only third), I realized just how important it was that the Divine Dragon had sunk both Spanish Concepcions. Guess how much treasure was on them: 11! This would have been enough if they had made it back to their home island, but instead it was removed, allowing the Pirates to win by a tiny margin of three. Now the what-ifs start: If the Dragon had been sunk back when she was in trouble, being hit by the Santa Ana with El Acorazado not far away. If the Spanish had put a helmsman on even just one of the Concepcions, she probably would have made it back. If the HMS Granville had gotten more than one hit on the Dragon not long before she went through the whirlpool (this is significant because the Granville has crew-killing built in, so she could've eliminated another crew on the next turn).
Alas, it was not the Spaniards' day; the Pirates are once again victorious. They were fighting the English on the other side of the ocean when the Dragon interfered, which appears controversial. The Pirates and Amercs apparently never made a deal for an alliance, but they may have made a secret one, as they never fired on each other and the Amercs appeared to have helped the Pirates win. We will never know, this is just speculation. Maybe it was on purpose, but it does seem like Davy Jones to want to go out with a bang rather than just running perpetually from his adversaries. In cahoots, or not? On that note, I say goodbye to the biggest game I have played of Pirates, which included many great moments, excitement, and a mysterious ending that will puzzle us all...