The French begin their assault! Dead Man's Point is quickly destroyed, and the Pirates have gathered their gunships near some reefs at a point south of where the fort stood.
Shortly after this picture, the Maui's Fishhook was able to complete her crew logistics mission to perfection, using an extra action to give an oarsman to the Mobilis (who also received a shipwright from the Hephaestus before being a given a move action of her own) and 3 oarsmen to the Shui Xian.
Attack! The French do tremendous damage, sinking multiple ships and getting the advantage of the first shot. The Pirate counterattack saw the Gris and Delacroix take considerable damage, with Barstow capturing Robert Surcouf.
At this point the English decided to intervene! The English were after the Nayru's Captain Darbus and the Nautilus' Christian Fiore, which could allow the English to complete their canceller squadron. HMS Rye and Scott Bratley cancelled Darbus and the Nayru's ship ability (same ability as El Acorazado), which allowed the Titan and HMS Union Jack to dismast the Nayru. Five support ships followed those three English ships through the whirlpool.
The French then surrounded the Nayru with all of their ships in the area, trying to prevent her from being captured. A 5 roll meant she would be scuttled at the beginning of the next French turn. The Union Jack and Rye lost masts, the Nautilus surfacing to shoot at the UJ. Many months ago the French had told the English that if the English attacked them, the French would retaliate with everything they had. The English had forgotten about that, and the French stuck to their plan. Indeed, France's attention now appeared to be solely fixed on England, as the French/Pirate battle was essentially over already. At this point, the French had declared war on both the Pirates and the English.
The English showed their classic gunnery on their turn, blasting their way to the Nayru and capturing her with Commander Temple, who was aboard HMS Swallow. The English had accomplished half of their objective (with one canceller captured), but with the unintended consequence of France declaring war on England. It was truly total war, as the French suddenly sent their gold-laden treasure runners north to invade English home waters.
French gold runners attacking Ramsgate and the ship docked there, the Tiger's Eye. At the bottom you can see more French ships on the way, while to the left the damaged Victoria has returned through a whirlpool.
In the southeast, Christian Fiore committed suicide by ramming the Nautilus into the Union Jack and dying in the boarding party, so the English couldn't capture him. Between Fiore being gone and the difficulty of capturing the Nautilus, the English decided to sink the Nautilus. The Gris was captured while HMS Phoenix missed a bunch of extra-long-range shots. The Pirates were enjoying their time off from fighting, looking to re-explore the island that Dead Man's Point was on, towing the Cursed Blade in the southwest, and getting the Grand Temple home to repair. All four French ships at Ramsgate have been dismasted. At the end of their turn the English launched HMS Endeavour and the Celtic Fury, giving them seven total 10 masters. The English hadn't planned on launching the Celtic Fury (her ability allows French crew aboard), but seeing that the French were deploying a total war strategy and seeing that the French likely wouldn't have the funds to launch her, the English broke their own record for most 10 masters in a single game. Shortly after this picture the Vengeance dismasted the Victoria.
And that was that. Unfortunately this means that the game is effectively over. The French will attack the English, who have no choice but to fire back and eventually eliminate them. The Pirate fleet is still weakened by the English raids earlier in the game, and further weakened by the French attack. Letting the Pirates build up their fleet would take a while, and the English would have a ton of gold saved up even if they backed off for a long time. Even if the Pirates came back, the English would have an advantage between their 7 10 masters and 6 cancellers, not to mention all the English capital ships in reserve. (The game has not ended, but the English have all but won.)
Out of curiosity, I did a point count of the English fleet to see how big it is. The fleet totaled 54 ships for 1,177
total points, which is one of the biggest fleets of all time and surprisingly it could be the largest English fleet I've ever commanded. Although, with the 10 masters, the fleet has a lower percentage of English game pieces than in past English fleets I've had.
Here are my strategies as the English.
(keep all players in the game and let them build)
Assemble canceller squadron, keep it intact
Capture the Nautilus/Nayru if possible (Lenoir?)
Use MF for crew logistics (Mobilis: oarsman, Rye: oarsman, Fortaleza: oarsman, Slipstream: shipwright+oarsman, Zhanfu: oarsman, Zeus has an extra oarsman)
Beyond that, I was hoping to break up fights between the Pirates and French and keep the fun of this campaign game going for as long as possible.
Customs (my crew, other English customs) (Custom sets)
More gold ships
Gunships with chieftains (establish canoe fleets at forts)
Ships with Bow Chasers
Double boarding ability
Monjuer, Crown Jewel
Fort upgrade in south? Fire squadron?
Potential ships for chieftains: