Th' Big "AYE!"-dea

Nothing can better illustrate what a game of 7th Sea is like than to actually sit and play one. But, of course, part of the purpose of a review is to provide vicarious experience without requiring one to invest in the game itself or to find an opponent. To that end, I offer a front-row seat to a simple and moderately quick (ending after six full turns) 2-player game as it might occur between two of my (grotesquely rookie) decks: a Crimson Rogers and a Brotherhood of the Coast deck. The Crimson Rogers are a bunch of Peter Pan-style ruthless pirates and tend to go very heavy on the Cannon. The Brotherhood have a propensity for adventure and, mine in particular, for Boarding Attacks.

We'll refer to the two "players" of our pseudo-game by the names of their factions' Captains: Reis of the Crimson Rogers and Allende of the Brotherhood of the Coast. At the start of a game, the players reveal just their Ship & Captain, and then choose the other starting Crew. Reis ends up with two other Crew: Jemy (whose most notable trait is enough Sailing skill to move their Ship) and Domingo (a decent Gunner). Allende starts with three: Denny LaBree (Jemy's analog), Buccaneers (noteworthy most for Adventuring), and Jillison Brown (a mandolin-playin' fellow with some Influence). According to their text, Allende starts in La Boca, the midmost of the 5 Seas, and Reis starts in the Forbidden Sea, between La Boca and The Mirror.

In the following example game, I'll give a snapshot of the game status at each turn's outset, followed by a list of the actions taken by each player.


TURN 1

A
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
R
A: Allende, Denny LaBree, Jillison Brown, Buccaneers
R: Reis, Domingo, Jemy
Both Reis and Allende have 6 Sailing skill on the table, so they must cut to see who will take the first action this turn. Allende's cut shows Eisen Cannons, which loses to Reis's Across the Mirror.

Both draw 3 (and get then get back down to 7), and untack all of their cards.

TURN 2

A
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
*
R
A: Allende, Babette, Denny LaBree, Jillison Brown, Buccaneers
R: Reis (Forbidden Delicacies), Domingo, Jemy
Again, both players have 6 Sailing, and so cut: Allende's "Decks Awash" beats Reis's "The Living Storm," so Allende will have the edge this turn--probably not a drastic advantage when 3 Seas apart.

Both players pass, draw 3 (and get down to 7), and untack their cards.

TURN 3

A
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
*
*
R
A: Allende, Babette (Castillian Swordmaster), 2x Denny LaBree, Jillison Brown, Buccaneers, Fancy Dans
R: Reis (Forbidden Delicacies), Domingo, Jemy (Scraping the Bottom)
Allende's ship has 9 Sailing aboard, beating Reis's 6: Allende goes first.

Both players pass, draw 3 (and get down to 7), and untack their cards.

TURN 4

A
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
*
R
A: Allende, Babette (Grappling Gun, Castillian Swordmaster), 2x Denny LaBree, Jillison Brown (Bolts of Fine Cloth), Buccaneers, Fancy Dans
R: Reis (Forbidden Delicacies), Julius Caligari (Wind at Your Back), Domingo, Jemy, Jemy (Scraping the Bottom)
Reis now has the initiative, with 12 Sailing over Allende's 9!

Both players are now tacked out, and so pass, etc.

TURN 5

A
*
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
R
A: Allende, Babette (Grappling Gun, Castillian Swordmaster), 2x Denny LaBree, Jillison Brown (Bolts of Fine Cloth, Casks of Fine Wine), Fancy Dans
R: Reis (Forbidden Delicacies), Julius Caligari (Wind at Your Back), Domingo (Sinking of the Swan), Jemy, Jemy (Scraping the Bottom), Gerald Höhne
Reis maintains the upper hand in Sailing.

Guess what happens at the end of the turn?

TURN 6

A
*
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
R
A: Allende, Babette (Grappling Gun, Cutlass, 2x Castillian Swordmaster), 2x Denny LaBree, Jillison Brown (Bolts of Fine Cloth, Casks of Fine Wine), Fancy Dans
R: Reis (Forbidden Delicacies), Julius Caligari (Wind at Your Back), Domingo (We Needs Us an Ussuran Gunner, Sinking of the Swan), Jemy, Jemy (Scraping the Bottom), Gerald Höhne (Wind at Your Back)
Reis doesn't quite have twice the Sailing Allende does, but he's getting there.

A fresh new turn means a fresh new start, right? Guys?

TURN 7

A
*
Trade Sea Frothing Sea La Boca Forbidden Sea The Mirror
R
A: Allende, Babette (Grappling Gun, Cutlass, 2x Castillian Swordmaster)
R: Reis (Forbidden Delicacies), Julius Caligari (Wind at Your Back), Domingo (We Needs Us an Ussuran Gunner, Sinking of the Swan), Jemy, Jemy (Scraping the Bottom), Gerald Höhne (Wind at Your Back)
Reis now has, uh, 5 times Allende's Sailing, so he's still got the initiative.

Even though Domingo's maximal cannon attack of 13 Hits could be absorbed by simply sinking Babette and tacking Allende, Allende instead concedes by sinking himself, thus preventing Reis from adding insult to injury. Certainly he has nothing that can extend his life beyond Reis's next turn. Yes, he'd apparently rather leave Babette behind to fend for herself on a sinking ship while a boat, bristling with cannon and full of would-be rapists stands nearby on the water... no one ever called pirates noble.


Q&A

Q: You suck. You spend all this time talking about how this game only has 2 things happening in it, how you hope more flesh gets added and so on, and then you can't even squeeze both of those 2 things into your sample game! What gives?

A: Hey, can I help it? Reis is a crafty guy, and lucky enough to be holding a Steering Clear in the third turn of the game. You want to know how things would have gone if there had been no Steering Clear, or if, say, this deck were being played by me, in which case probably Steering Clear had been specifically spared from discard for several turns but forgotten the instant needed? Fine.

This would have been a very straightforward boarding: once movement costs were paid, the attacker only had one Crew member, Babette, untacked, while the defender had no one untacked. Apart from the Steering Clear, Reis had no tricks up his sleeve, which simply means all Allende needed was to designate Babette as making a Boarding Attack to inflict Hits on Reis's ship. He'd have put his least favorite card down to indicate the attack type, ignoring such tactical considerations as which types of attacks were less likely to be blocked by the types of cards he expected to be in Reis's hand, as everyone on Reis's ship was asleep anyway. Since Babette was at that time able to inflict 7 Hits in a Boarding Attack, this is what Reis would be forced to absorb. Probably he'd have done this by sinking both his Jemys and Julius, leaving only Domingo and Reis!

Domingo would still have been able to fire off as devastating a shot as ever, except now Allende has the initiative--even if Reis had instead sacrificed Domingo (then with no Attachments) to keep the Jemy with Scraping the Bottom (indeed a sore loss, otherwise essentially stopping any hope of adventures), Allende's second Denny keeps him the nimbler. No matter what, it's clear that Reis would have lost near all the wind in his sails if Babette had managed to get aboard, and it was Steering Clear's play (and the lure of security it enabled) that provided the fulcrum on which this game tilted.

Q: You're not very good at this. If you had made your shots in a different order at the end of Turn 6, Reis could also have sunk Babette, thereby guaranteeing Allende's death with Domingo's first shot on Turn 7!

A: Oh yeah? Well, how else could I remind our audience of the craven sorts of things a pirate's likely to do? Kids need to be reminded that piracy isn't cool, and it's even illegal internationally! Besides that, did you notice the way Reis made mistake after mistake and he still won? I mean, I'm not an expert but I'd surmise that using the ship to pursue and make another 5-Hit cannon attack is usually better than using the ship to add 2 Hits to an attack. But Reis won anyway, thanks to that Steering Clear. That and the whole "get plenty of Sailing adventures while your opponent's Sailing adventures seem to lurk at the bottom of his deck" philosophy, anyway. So we could have killed Babette too, but we didn't. We thought we'd be more dramatic, something you obviously know nothing about! Yeah! Oh, and another thing, smart guy--I made all of these questions up myself before I even showed this to anyone, so I guess I'm not so dumb after all! Thank you very much!

Q: No, you are dumb. First you say this game is great because it works with multiple players so well, and then you show us a 2-player game... Hey, come back here!


Andy Fredricksen lives in Seattle, USA, where he was last seen impersonating a shrubbery. If you see him, please ask him to return the books he borrowed from us.


This Menu Pirate Alphabet-Enabled
1. Th' G-"AY!"-me
2. Th' C-"ARR!"-ds
3. Th' Bloomin' Crew
4. Th' Summ-"ARR!"-y
5. Th' Big "AYE!"-dea