Both my opponent and I learned this game together and this was our fourth match, our first two matches were inconclusive and were not played until completion. In the third match, he bested me by capturing both my Great Ships early after I made great blunders. Since we now both had a good grasp on the rules and developed a feel for the game, the stage was set for a rematch, and perhaps the first good game between us so far. I took the French, and deployed my ships in an asymmetrical set up, placing both of my Great Ships and the majority of my Galleons on the left half my deployment area in the front row. He opted for a more conventional set up roughly distributing all his ships evenly, notably though he placed both his Great Ships on his back row. This deployment effected the early game, as my Great Ships were able to take control of the center early, these two behemoths dominated the board and he was forced to react by maneuvering his Great Ships up to meet them. I held the initiative at this point and was able to capture one of his Great Ships. In the very next turn I also exchanged a Galeas for one of his Galleons. Therefore at this point the score was 7 points to 1 point, a seemingly insurmountable advantage. Being up by six points and an extra ship, all I had to do, I smugly convinced myself, was sail my big ships past his in order to end the game as soon as possible. Thus the stage was set for the mid-game.
My opponent, now desperate to make some spectacular captures, immediately became much more aggressive. In hindsight, at this point I should have switched to a defensive strategy, arraying my ships in mutually supporting formations and aiming for preservation of my fleet. Instead I plowed ahead like some mindless robot doggedly determined to get my ships past his line to trigger the end of the game. Needless to say, this strategy backfired, my big slow brutes, bumbling forward with few escorts to screen them faced a harassing swarm of Galeases that canalized me into my opponent’s Galleons and his remaining Great Ship. I was forced in several instances to exchange a Galeas in order to preserve a Galleon, or in foolishly threw them away in order to gain a forward advance and get closer to ending the game. I thought I was safe with my six point lead, but slowly watched it erode incrementally until finally I was a single point ahead as we transitioned to the end game.
My poor play in the middle game left me even worse off in the game's final phase. Now I was in a precarious position, though I had preserved both of my Great Ships they had now sailed past the battle line and couldn’t rejoin, effectively being removed from battle. In the process I had sacrificed my maneuverable small ships, while he enjoyed a huge advantage in this class which he used like piranhas to shape me into unfavorable positions. Once he captured another of my Galeases to even the score, I was now facing 7-3 odds in remaining ships I'm the battle. This inevitably fell apart and I lost the game by three points.
Clearly my opponent was a better tactician, and most likely a better strategist. To summarize, I opted for a strategy based on firepower while his, whether he intended it or not, was based on mobility. Upon reflection, perhaps his setup was superior, though I was able to get some heavy firepower to the center of the board early, giving me an opening advantage, his Great Ship(s), and his Galleons were in play longer, giving him an edge the longer the game lasted. Getting my ships to his back row to end the game as soon as possible was more difficult than I anticipated, especially since his advantage in small ships could stymy my advance with their pesky maneuverability a constant threat.
Thoughts on the game
I really enjoyed our session despite my humiliating defeat. This game has a surprising amount of depth to it with a simple rule set: three types of pieces with various movement and firepower ratings, an endgame condition that players can initiate themselves, but the most interesting twist is that the bigger ships cannot move backwards so it can mean, like in our session, that the balance of power shifts over time, where the player in the lead gets weaker and loses the initiative. Plus it has small footprint, it’s portable, plays in about an hour or less, and looks nice on the table. Hats off to Jon Hather for this accessible and fun design.
- Last edited Fri Sep 27, 2019 9:23 am (Total Number of Edits: 3)
- Posted Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:36 pm