This is my fleet for selvaxri's Bumpercars Fleet Challenge.
When I saw that the challenge would focus on ramming and boarding, I immediately thought about the French. While other factions (especially the Pirates and Cursed) have fun and numerous boarding options, France has always seemed to me like the best faction for ramming and boarding, especially boarding.
A few of the obvious behemoths immediately came to mind, namely the Saber and Le Gaule. However, between the 50 point build total and my history of using those two ships, I decided to embrace the "bumper cars" theme and go with some smaller ships.
I originally had Le Republicain (one of my first and most nostalgic French ships) in this fleet, but then realized that the ship would be the ultimate party pooper given the theme of the challenge. I had similar thoughts about turtle ships, considering them for their "bumper car" nature and their resistance to ramming and boarding, but decided that I didn't want to spoil other fleets on purpose. Ram and board at will and let the best crews win!
In essence I had some small ships (bumperships) ready for a small fry type game. However, changing up my original ideas may have lead to a more interesting fleet.
The first ship is the only ship with a captain, Le Mercure. She was one of my first French ships (possibly the first), and is somewhat underrated given her speed and cannons. Those cannons will be augmented by some firepots, which fire at the full cannon range (rather than using the specialist with L-range guns). Though fragile, the Mercure is the main defender of the fleet and will look to harass enemies in general. She also cannot be pinned, so if there's even a remote chance of an enemy ship losing a mast to a ram, the Mercure will crash and burn (quite possibly literally!). The specialist isn't indispensable so she can afford to lose a boarding party.
The second ship is where I went a little overboard. Le Descharges has always been one of my favorite French ships, and is simply stacked with great stats and combos. Even without crew she would be a reasonable threat in a game. Here, two underused crew come aboard to maximize her effectiveness. Cartier provides extra actions, and gets rerolls from Mr. Rousseau. The general idea is for the Descharges to board an enemy ship, take all her gold (up to 3 coins!), and then use Parley as necessary to get as much home as possible. Cartier adds a bonus to make the boarding more likely to succeed, while an oarsman comes aboard to fill out the build total and protect the valuable crew. If the ship gets in trouble, she's got great guns, extra actions, and even Parley to save her (if it's optimal to use Parley). Having half my build total invested in a ship without a captain OR a helmsman is risky and odd, but I wanted to think outside the box on this one. In addition, all the abilities on the ship (essentially 6 different ones) complement each other quite well.
With 11 points left over (I hadn't yet added the oarsman to the Descharges), there wasn't much room left for more excitement. I very nearly went with La Belois and a helmsman, or even her near-clone La Moulin Rouge. The alternative was the Intrepide, an overused ship I've certainly seen enough of. However, at this point in my Pirates CSG career I simply hate what I consider to be "boring", so another named crew was fit into the fleet (barely). I believe Leander Arnaud links to Cartier (not that it matters here), and either way it's fun to have a crewfer twofer in the same fleet! Maybe the Intrepide wasn't the best choice for the final ship (Libellule, anyone? ), and maybe she'll never win a boarding party, but she has the speed and cargo space to not only take full advantage of Arnaud's capabilities, but perhaps more importantly serve as the main gold runner. That said, she'll definitely see some ramming and boarding usage if the Descharges falters, and could even harass enemy gold runners by herself (or tag up with the Mercure and leave an enemy gold runner formerly laden with treasure on fire and penniless!).
The UT's were added to hopefully aid in stealing treasure (hoping the enemy gold runners don't have many crew and that the Intrepide might find one on her first gold trip), and to add to the theme of the challenge.
Overall I think it's a fun fleet and fulfills the challenge theme reasonably well. It's also a bit quirky, with no helmsmen present. In addition, I never even considered a 0LR +5, which could certainly be a weakness against other fleets. Lastly, the Descharges' lack of speed and the fragility of the other two ships could spell doom, but this fleet is worth a shot when playing.
Thanks for reading and thanks to selvaxri for making the challenge! Comment and vote!