I've started yet another game between the Pirates and the Americans. The next 2 or 3 games will have an 80 point limit. The Americans subbed (pun intended) the Mercury back in for the Eagan, added the Nene-Nui (3 masted junk from SS) and crewed her with an explorer, and used the USS Bartlett (3 master from MI) instead of the Paladin. Peregrine Stern was replaced with Captain Montana Mays and a generic captain (on the Bartlett), while the Mercury added to her crew complement by getting a musketeer, firepot specialist, and oarsman (in addition to her captain and helmsman).
The Pirates went for an even more extensive overhaul, as they have not fared well with their previous fleet choices. The Swift is the only ship that stayed in their fleet, and she had Bartholomew Roberts come aboard to join her helmsman. The Pirates commissioned the Obago (OE promo) as their largest vessel, with 4 3L guns. A captain and helmsman make her a capable gunship. The Pirates also added their other two F&S LE ships, the Royal Rover and the Queen Anne's Revenge. The Royal Rover was crewed by Blackbeard (captain + crew-gold capturer) and a helmsman, while the Queen Anne's Revenge received Sean Cannonball Gallows (extra action version) in addition to the standard captain and helmsman. In this way, all four Pirate ships had captains, with one ship (the Queen) a HI-raider and another (the Rover) ready to capture crew and turn them into gold.
The setup called for a fresh take on the islands and treasure. Three islands were placed in an obtuse triangle fashion, with another three around 4L or 5L to the south. The home islands were the upper two islands on the edges, and just two coins were placed on the middle island, so the fleets would have to travel south to win. The southern trio of islands held 6 coins each, since 4 UT's were introduced in addition to the regular 16 coins from the earlier games.
The Pirates went first, with the Queen Anne's Revenge accompanying the Swift to the island in between the two HI's. There she found two 1's, using Bartholomew Roberts to trade one away for a 2 from a southern island. The Obago and Royal Rover headed south in anticipation of the Americans doing the same thing. All four American ships started out sailing south, with the Frontier's S+S+S speed giving her the advantage of being the first ship in either fleet to reach a southern island (the middle one in this case). Using her hoist to explore the island, she found 3 of the 4 UT's that were introduced for this game. Wine and Letter of Marque are a powerful combination that lets the ship in question steal gold from enemy home islands, repair while they're there, and not get shot at while they are within S of an enemy home island. The Frontier also got 8 gold and Homing Beacon.
To the north, the Mercury turned around underwater when she saw the Queen Anne's Revenge turn for the American HI. The Revenge was ready to prey on any gold that would come in, now that she was done escorting the Swift, who brought home 3 gold for the Pirates. Seeing the Mercury's maneuver, the Revenge quickly turned back, at least for the time being.
Meanwhile, the first shots were being fired in the middle of the sea. The Obago shot just 1 for 4 against the Frontier, rolling three 1's and one 6. The Bartlett was about to help out, but the Royal Rover got to her, shooting away two of the Bartlett's masts and dismasting her via a ram. The boarding action was an easy win for the Pirates, who used Blackbeard to capture Montana Mays, who happened to be the highest point crew (7) in the American fleet. Up to this point, the Pirates had all the momentum.
The Mercury responded to the Pirate attack by turning around, surfacing, and taking off three masts on the Obago, setting her on fire. Just to the south, the Nene-Nui had explored an island and was in the process of taking 3 coins back home when she got involved in the mess. The Obago rammed her and blocked her path, taking out two of her three masts. Her other prey, the Frontier, escaped with just one lost mast as she used Homing Beacon to return home.
Who will win this hard-fought game?
Edit: This game has been finished up. The Mercury ended up sinking the Obago, while the Queen Anne's Revenge dismasted the Frontier. The Royal Rover was almost to the Pirate HI with Montana Mays on board when the Nene Nui docked home 10 gold for the Americans, giving them 18 gold for an 18-3 win!
For the second 80 point game, the setup would feature another variation in island placement. The two home islands were connected, forming one bigger island (though they still acted as separate home islands). The four wild islands were in a half-moon design about 4L to the north. Instead of having their bows touch the HI's, the ships in both fleets were in line abreast on either side of the combined home island. Just to make things even more interesting, each fleet started on the side opposite their HI, in the hope that the fleets would be forced to cross paths if they didn't do so intentionally. The ships sailed out and the game was under way!
The Frontier found a handful of gold and Homing Beacon on one of the middle wild islands, looking to use the UT to quickly return home and then still have time to go back out again and get more gold before the game ended. However, the Pirates sailed the Obago right up next to the American HI, blocking the straight-line path the Frontier needed to dock.
As in the previous game, the Royal Rover went after the Bartlett and her valuable crew, Captain Montana Mays. Without a helmsman or a high die roll from Mays, the Bartlett was easy to catch moving at just L speed. The Rover dismasted the Bartlett with her cannons and ramming power, but failed at the critical moment, losing the boarding party by rolling a 1 while the Bartlett rolled a 6 and eliminated the Pirate helmsman.
In the meantime, the Frontier was coming home at her regular S+S+S speed since she couldn't get a clear path for Homing Beacon. The Pirates were able to surround her with the Queen Anne's Revenge, Swift, and Obago. Unfortunately for the Pirates, their gun rolls didn't go to their liking, going just 2 for 8 despite having all guns at rank-3 or better.
The Americans looked to strike back next turn, with the powerful Mercury coming to the surface for the first time. The Mercury (three 2L guns with a musketeer on board) managed to miss all four shots against the Queen Anne's Revenge, but the Frontier had the chance to dock, bringing in 14 gold for the Americans, leaving them 2 gold shy of yet another impressive victory.
The Nene Nui would soon feel the wrath of the Pirates. She had enough gold on her to win, but the fact that she had to travel the extra distance to dock at the more distant American HI spelled her imminent doom. The Queen Anne's Revenge sailed up and dismasted her with one broadside.
The Pirates were now in a dominant position, and they were eager to finish the job. To the west, the Royal Rover sunk the Bartlett, while the Obago sunk the Frontier. On the next turn, the Royal Rover sunk the Nene Nui as well, leaving the Americans with only the now-submerged Mercury as their last hope.
The Mercury, with the protection of being underwater (the Pirates had no way to counter a submarine), took off for a wild island in search of a final treasure coin to bring home. However, the Mercury had completely forgotten that the Queen Anne's Revenge had the HI-raiding ability, and not only that, but the Swift had found the Wine UT (exchange Wine for a treasure of your choice from an enemy HI) earlier in the game. This gave the Pirates a golden opportunity to steal enough gold from the Americans to tip the balance in their favour, while they waited for the Mercury to get back. After a few turns of feverish plundering, the gold turned 13-4 in favour of the Pirates.
As the Mercury came home, the Obago and Royal Rover lined up stem to stern and blocked off the American home island. Here's where I messed up. I forgot that subs could move underneath other ships while they're submerged, as long as they aren't overlapping at the end of any move actions. This presented an odd situation where the Obago and Royal Rover both moved to block the Mercury after each turn that she moved. The interesting thing is that the Mercury, being a 3 masted sub, has a relatively long game piece, which probably would have overlapped underneath one of the Pirate ships' hulls, [i]but only since she would run into her home island[/i]. As a result, the game may have had a slightly different ending if I had played the rules correctly (I should have looked at the Code like I usually do), but the Pirates would probably still have won. As I played it, the Mercury was unable to dock, while the Revenge stole a 3 from the Americans to give the Pirates a 16-4 win. I won't replay the game or situation, since the Pirates probably would have won anyway, not to mention the fact that they had played a better game up to that point (they would have sunk the Frontier way back if not for my terrible gun rolls!).
The unique setup where the home islands were connected to each other can give way to a potential stalemate situation. Even if the Mercury had docked normally and brought back her coin, the gold game would have been around even at that point (the Pirates having already stolen some gold as soon as the Mercury headed out to the wild island). The Mercury could have stayed at her HI and shot at the Obago and Royal Rover without fear of return fire. But the Queen Anne's Revenge could have done the same thing, so whoever moved from their HI first would potentially lose, effecting a stalemate. I've never had to call a draw in Pirates, so I guess it would have to come down to the number of points remaining in each fleet. Although, now that I think about it, the Mercury could have submerged and then rammed the other Pirate ships until they were derelict, but even that wouldn't do much good. A very fun and interesting game either way! I'll play the third 80 point game tomorrow to determine who wins this series!
Edit: Now that I've checked on the Rules thread, I forgot that subs can't dock at islands (even their HI) while submerged, so the Mercury would not have been able to return home anyway.
The final 80 point game has been played! For the final Pirate/American game, the island setup was pretty standard, especially after the last setup had unintentionally given the Pirates a possible advantage concerning their raiders. This time, the fleets had their HI's far away from each other.
The game started with consecutive extra actions for the Queen Anne's Revenge from Sean Cannonball Gallows. This let her reach the Bartlett and the Nene Nui, but she only scored 2 hits out of 10 shots over the course of 4 shoot actions, continuing the deplorable dice luck, although at least now I'm used to it. The Revenge also docked at the American HI and stole a coin that the Frontier had brought back, since the Frontier had used Homing Beacon to return home one turn after grabbing gold from the nearest wild island. She also took a mast off the Bartlett, although the Bartlett took off a mast on the Revenge a turn later. The other Pirate ships all got gold from islands near the Pirates' home island, with the Swift bringing back a 4 and a 3.
The Frontier and Nene Nui had combined to bring back 8 gold for the Americans, while the Pirates had accumulated 9. The Mercury and the Bartlett now chased the Pirates back to their HI, where the Mercury sunk the Royal Rover was sunk with 3 gold on her just before she was able to dock. This evened up the gold game at 10 apiece. Now that the Mercury was finally above the surface, the Pirates saw their opportunity to damage the durable sub (she ignores the first hit she takes as long as she has all of her masts). The Swift went 2 for 2, damaging the Mercury for the first time ever! The Obago looked to derelict her or possibly even sink her, but of course, the Obago rolled three 1's in a row.
Meanwhile, the Frontier and Nene Nui had been finding more gold away from the action. The Nene Nui had to deal with Barrel O' Monkeys, which made it impossible for the Nene Nui to explore the islands with just one coin on them, which was the case with two of the three wild islands that still had treasure on them. To the north, the Frontier found 5 gold on an island.
Back where the battle was taking place, the Bartlett moved to block the Swift's path to explore her island, while the Mercury rammed the Obago (still at her HI) to knock her down to 2 masts.
Since the Frontier and Queen Anne's Revenge had docked at the American HI on the same turn, it was easy for the Revenge to follow and harass the Frontier all the way out on her second treasure run. More bad gun rolls saw the Revenge go 1 for 4, but at least the Frontier was damaged, with two masts now remaining. Right after the Frontier had explored the island near the Pirates' HI (where she got the 5 gold), the Swift was upon her. The Swift hit with both cannons, and the Frontier was derelict. The Queen Anne's Revenge captured her and used yet another extra action (her third of the game) to sprint home moving 4S, giving the Pirates an extra 8 gold (5 from the Frontier and the stolen 3 that was still on the Revenge) to win the game, 18-10!
This was a very enjoyable game, featuring many twists and turns. Who would've thought that the Swift (the smallest ship in their fleet) would be their hero? She brought home 7 gold, became the only Pirate ship to score a hit on the Mercury, and dismasted the Frontier at a crucial moment.
For the entire 8 game series, the Americans beat the Pirates 5-3, although the Pirates fought back to win the final series (2-1) after falling in a hole 5-1. It was good to see the Americans do well, and nice to see the fight in the Pirates! I'm looking at making some more fleets soon, possibly starting with the English facing the French.