I played the first turn using the standard combat rules. The "endgame" process is officially in motion....
Pirate infantry move around the top of the Tunnel! 3 units make their way west, and two units go east.
The Celtic Fury's explore action got some big 2L ladders to the summit. These were then thrown over the edge of the Tunnel by the troops working on the eastern area.
To the Hades' Flame waiting below!
The HF was already in position from last turn, and troops clambered up the ladder to join their comrades!
Greetings are exchanged as yet more infantrymen become familiar with the Tunnel's top.
The Hades' Flame was also carrying something a bit heavier!
A cannon is hoisted to the top!
One of my favorite pictures so far of the Tunnel logistics:
Overall the Pirates have done quite well with their mission. They have explored the Tunnel at both ends, finally found a suitable spot where they can tunnel to the top, and now have both boots and artillery atop the summit. Quite the impressive show!
Captain Mission's Pirate Kingdom, more well-defended than ever.
With all Pirate wild islands now out of resources, various Pirate cargo ships receive captains for the final stage of the game, which promises to be the bloodiest conclusion in CG history. The Pirates were already using some very good hybrids as resource ships (Eagle, Grand Barnacle, Darkhawk II, Foresight, etc), so making the change to full-time warship will go smoothly. Some of them even had captains already!
The northern whirlpool of Allost is swarming with Pirate gunships.
A triple line of gunships guards the reef barrier. Calypso now has about a dozen "bodyguards". XD
Ready for anything, the Pirates will continue to optimize their defenses and wait for the best faction to come to them.
Many ships repair at Dead Man's Point, as the newly launched ships join the newly repaired ships.
Still blocking both whirlpools, the Pirates are in a very good position.
The kingdom from above:
A few shots out of the east:
And now we move to the JR-Cursed War, where the normal combat rules are seeing their first action of the game.
Already a ton of progress is being made at the battlefield. The Monkey's Paw is nowhere to be found, sunk by the Sahara and Virtuous Wind.
The Grand Path is going home for repairs, while the Poor Adams and Sea Hag lose masts.
The Grand Temple is finally able to emerge from the fog and return home! The fog bank she was in lifts, and more of the Tunnel is revealed to the Jade Rebels! The Naegling, Sea Wind, and Noble Swan are eager to explore what has been plaguing them for so long after rolling poorly in the fog banks.
The Nubian Prince gets into action with a bang! The Sickle loses two masts and her captain to Aruj Barbarossa. The Crescent Moon is one of two JR "medical barges" (the other being the Marrakesh), and prepares to give a shipwright to the Griffin.
The Splendor knocks a mast off the Demon Gate, but the galleys closest to the Roost cannot find their mark.
The Rook's Folly sinks and a few squids lose segments, but the Sea Monkey escapes being derelict.
At this point I will try to do "graveyards" at the end of each round or even at the end of some notable faction turns. With regular combat rules in place, the game will now resemble my 2015 Economy Edition game with these massive graveyards. Here are the Cursed game pieces eliminated by the Jade Rebellion this turn, though they also lost the Tiger's Eye to fire.
The Cursed show their dominance near Broken Horn Island. The Needle rolls badly for her fire mast and is doomed.
Terrox and Brachyura have not been in action here in this war, and now they strike hard on the same turn!!
The Sahara is suspended in the air, lifted out of the water by the strong tentacles:
Success and failure for the Cursed:
The Cursed will have a tough time with the Nubian Prince, but they (re) dismast the Donar and take out the Splendor.
The Terror of Gibraltar and Jackal's Teeth were predictably sunk, and for now the Cursed have saved the Roost from direct invasion.
The creatures finished off the Grand Mountain (a true combat veteran of this game) and the Sultan's Sword. Cursed cargo ships are being forced into the line of duty without captains, as the Cyclone and Sea Rat simply block the galleys' advance to prevent them from sinking the Guichuan (suddenly vulnerable at the Roost with the change in combat rules) on the Jade turn.
Calim rises to the surface in a rage to pin the Sea Dragon:
Wow! The Cursed sink 6 JR ships, as compared to 3 Cursed ships on the JR turn. (that is just the Mermaid to the left, as I put the stuff in the southeastern corner of Allost during the play turn)
An ominous sight: Shal-Bala finishes repairing, and may return to the battle soon! At the left, notice that the Cursed troops scurried back up the ladder just before the Bloody Blade finished off the Jackal's Teeth.
The Sea of Allost, 77 turns into the game:
The Pirates control the eastern half, and may control the entirety of this ocean if the Cursed and Jades continue to beat the cargo out of each other.
Already the battlefield looks more empty. Makes me sad, but of course the game must end at some point.
Pure dominance, with a single-fleet point count possibly coming soon for the sake of the record books....
A relatively crowded English HI:
Spaniards heading for the whirlpool and Karkuda...
With Rogelio Vazquez, the Acorazado manages to shoot above the Marie Antoinette and take out a pesky American infantry unit!
You may have wondered by now how the Spanish will retake the Castle. I have devised a custom ruling for it. Enemy ships can "dock" at the Castle and combine their boarding rolls (for example, a 3 master with a roll of 4 would contribute 7) together. If the total score is 25 or more, the Castle is captured and changes hands. Especially this late in the game, I am not interested in automatically destroying the fort upgrade inside used for launches, so when/if the Castle changes hands, so does the ability to launch ships from it.
On this turn the 4 Spanish ships at the right amassed a total score of 21, and failed to take the Castle. The Spanish will try again, and plan to retake the Castle and use it as their new "home island"!!
The slow but steady flow of incoming Spanish ships will continue next turn. The Cristal del Obispo is the latest ship to arrive.
Chaos reigns in the Sea of Karkuda as the Mercenaries all rise to the surface at once!! The Mobilis and Devil Ray don't have captains, but the French sub hunters are attacked and lose 3 masts total. Nemo captures the captain of the Espadon.
French revenge is swift, and just like that the Mercenaries are almost out of the game. The Terror and Devil Ray are sunk, and only 5 hull segments remain in the Merc fleet.
At long last we get to see the French machine in action, with various gunships all over their home waters ready to assist combat operations at a moment's notice. It reminds me of how fast and efficiently the Pirates took care of the English not too long ago.
At Pearl Island, the French 2 masters have teamed up to finally capture the Sunrise Fire:
The beauty of French power in this game: even with the Merc uprising (pun intended XD), they are able to maintain their close blockade of the Cursed whirlpool and calmly continue to sail gunships out west towards the real deal of warfare in this game.
As the action develops! The Montreal and Toulouse finally need replacing, and the Epee and Flamberge are happy to oblige. Their American counterparts will also need replacing. In yet another example of equipment backfiring on me, the Auguste rolls a 1 with fire shot.
The French press their advantage!!
You may have noticed some new space opening up: the Saratoga and Hudson were sank (both were already mastless hulks), while the Blackwatch was also sunk!
No less than 10 ships are in various stages of the repair process at The Flat:
About half of those are ready to return to action, while the crippled Soleil Royal will provide additional work for the island's numerous troops.
The American line has gradually been thinned out, and now the Americans are being pushed back.
The Philadelphia will not be able to warp the Hudson home after all, and the French may finally be able to move into American waters soon.
The Paladin and Lenox lose masts, but the French crews aboard Le Gaule and L'Auguste are utterly spent and will need to be replaced soon.
From near the masts of the Gruesome, the Bonaparte and Descharges continue making their way around the big island.
Here you can see the supply line of fresh French gunships arriving near the battle.
Considerable firepower has yet to shoot, as the Tepant, Grand Vainqueur, Aube, and Saber attempt to find American targets.
The French position looks very strong, as the tide of battle begins to sway in their favor:
The French sunk 4 American ships this turn, including the mighty Blackwatch:
The Speedy Return replaces the Atlanta, and the Flamberge is set aflame by the Mohican:
A unique view of this area from the north:
The Marie Antoinette is doomed to burn. She rolled for a terrible fog exit location, placing her right between the American-Spanish crossfire. In fact, this area has now become "the spot" in the American-Spanish part of the battle ever since the Spanish established their foothold in the NE corner of the Castle.
6 ships are heading to the Castle for crew, while the Overton can finally repair somewhere.
The Cheyenne tows the Minuteman flotilla under the Castle rampart - a nice shortcut for ships that can fit!
Of course, the Carolina has done this before:
The Americans fight back quite well! There's so much carnage and debris that it's hard to tell what's going on, but at the left the Providence has dismasted the Moulin Rouge and Intrepide. The Ville de Paris has been dismasted and set aflame.
At the right, the Cleopatre is not even visible under the wreckage of her own masts:
The arrivals of the Constitution (with Ralph David aboard) and Ghost Walker mean that the French will not be able to advance unchecked into American waters.
Similar to the 2v2 situation near Fish Island, attrition finally favors the Americans! Le Gaule is sunk and the Auguste nearly dismasted, with a solid morale victory for the Americans. The Gaule has been a powerful force in this battle since the start. Her loss combined with that of the Ville de Paris (likely but not guaranteed due to chain towing rescue attempts and even a good fire roll XD) and captured Charlemagne means that the French fleet of capital ship 5 masters is not completely intact.
Here I count about a dozen "gunships" headed towards the battle areas, some more well-equipped than others.
The ones at the left are certainly ready to fight, among them the newly launched Thomas Jefferson and Eagan. The Charlemagne has actually repaired all of her masts, I just didn't want to deconstruct almost the entire battle area by "the spot" just to find the masts. I'm probably just going to leave as many masts in the water as possible for the rest of the game for maximum carnage. XD
A dozen gunships here, a dozen gunships there - 'tis a HUGE GAME!! XD
Last report I hinted that the Americans were thinking about an "experimental purchase"... I now ask you to consider what that nice open space could be used for... now devoid of fog and without a lot of ships right there....
Hmmm what could it be......... ?
A CASTLE EXTENSION!!!!!
Spending 100 of their 188 current gold, the Americans have built a new structure that adds onto the Castle development! Real estate in Pirate CSG! XD
This didn't come about by some fluke. When exploring the Castle further in somewhat recent turns, the Americans found various maps and plans detailing possible ways to expand the Castle. They were intrigued by the possibility, and with the latest resource change, they finally have the resources to pull it off. The Spanish were aware of these old plans, which is part of the reason they wanted to retake the Castle: before the Americans could do this! The reefs provide a solid base for structural support underneath the new castle area, which has been built right near the battlefield!
The "new" Sea of Karkuda - bet you didn't see that coming! XD The French now have another giant obstacle (literally) in their path to reaching the American home island. It also serves to shrink the battle area back down even as the lifting fog and new combat rules were beginning to open up more space in the area.
The Turn 77 graveyard. 16
ships were sunk, obviously a high for this game by far and not a huge surprise given the two massive battles going on under the normal combat rules. The Jades and Americans suffered most heavily, but the wars are FAR from over....
More excitement and surprises to come, so stay tuned!