SE boxed ships were often one flavor or another of mediocrity. Take a four masted jib, give it a middling ability, some intriguing flavor text, a good name, nice artwork, and ship it. It doesn't need to be good if it's a new player's flagship.
Hades' Realm isn't one of those ships. It may initially be hard to swallow, but this ship occupies an interesting spot among the Cursed, and the game as a whole. Why? Because according to my knowledge, she's tied (with a few other ships) for the role of second fastest four-masted ship in the game, sea creatures excluded. Her only same-faction competitor is Executioner, which I will discuss later.
I will precede her ideal setup by discussing her ability and stats, which impact her role. Her point cost and armament are distinctly average, and her base move is atrocious. Hold space is alright, and her ability fair, but even with a captain aboard, she's still nothing more than an unremarkable hybrid for 16 points. Decent, but I'd argue Grinder performs the same role a tad better for a point less, assuming a captain is the sole crew used. She could either run gold ineffectively for her cost, or act as a warship, with the same problem. Basic setups are not where her strengths lie.
Her strength is, as you would expect, with her speed. S+L with a captain puts her among the fastest of the 4-masters, and her cargo space, cost, and crew selection give her the advantage of being able to use a setup to almost double that speed. Between her speed and acceptable armament, she makes for a strong interceptor. Here are the roles I can pigeonhole her into, useful or not.
I think the best among these are the versions that use Sammy, or better still, the maximized interceptor role at the bottom, which is capable of S+L+S+S move, or 254mm in one turn. It can catch almost anything in the game, and will deliver a boosted quartet of 2S guns when it arrives—enough to severely tilt the fight against another warship in your favor, or obliterate a gold runner. Coming in at 28 points, however, you will find her a tad expensive for small games in this form, and another setup might be better utilized. You will also find that Executioner works better in this role, and you can ditch Charles Richard's de-limiter for a regular captain. It's only a four point upgrade for 1S-1L-1L-1S, Fear, and no negative ability.
Weaknesses with each of these combinations. None of the hybrid choices are really all that good, considering the existence of competitors like Franklin and HMS Oxford. Dedicated four-masted warships like La Resolucion will eat her lunch, and ships like La Joya del Sol and Raven's Neck are better suited to running gold. In combat, her forgettable firepower leaves her at a disadvantage if faced by any enemy with defensive abilities, and if you attack a gold runner with a reverse captain, even a single hit will force you to shed a crew critical to keeping her useful. The helmsman would be the first to go, but after that, you'd have to ditch Griffin.
Strengths/Pros: second-fastest maximum move of any 4-masted ship in the game, solid armament, enough flexibility to fulfill a hybrid role.
Weaknesses/Cons: low cost forces a de-limiter to use to her potential, slow base move forces you to use a captain (preventing her from being an empty gold runner,) average base armament.
Artwork and aesthetics: pretty dull for a Cursed ship. Grey sails and a grimy hull is so last year among Cursed fashion circles.
Overall rating: 7.5/10. Notable for being one of the few good SE and Cursed ships, and a solid option for the role she can fulfill. Strong competition in this role and lack of flexibility prevent her from scoring an 8 or higher.
Current score for this Miniature Review, based on 3 votes:
Solid review, but I think Mr. Fantasma should be mentioned. Sammy is decent but I'd MUCH rather get El Fantasma as a sac captain for a point less. With him, a helmsman, and 3 oarsmen, you can zip around at S+L+S x2 with up to 8 shots. I think this version is another decent option, especially since Eternal may kick in early in the game since the HR may get to a battle and be disposed of quickly.
I understand you like to keep cargo high and try to maximize certain stats, but a brutally effective sac setup can often still be the best combo for certain ships. In this case the above combo would only run you 23 points, coming in at a lower cost than the setup with Griffin. I think you need to win or be beat by sac stuff so you can understand how good it is.
In fact, I don't think I'd ever go out of my way to use that version of Sammy unless I was specifically targeting a hybrid role. I'd rather just take captain and helmsman for 1 less point, skip the waste of points that Fear will likely be, and still have 2 cargo spaces open which is decent. The high speed still depends on the captain being alive, so it's good to keep in mind stuff that knocks out crew, and boarding of course.
It's a niche option, but this ship is a decent spot for the Sargasso Nightmare if you're using that with quick sea monsters or a double boost strategy like I enjoy employing. The high overall speed can help you keep pace with the beasts, something my beloved Serpent's Fang can have trouble with.
Not bad. I agree with Ben however, some of the other Cursed crew need to be mentioned. Either version of El Fantasma can find a home on the Realm, with the SAC set-up possibly being the most effective. When I use this ship, I try to use that version of Sammy, simply so I can have room for other things, case in point in CG3, I used the Realm with Sammy and a bunch of equipment/specialists.