“The crew of USS Aaron Burr are little more than common thugs, and although they claim to be members of the American Navy, no official records exist to confirm that affiliation”
When Admirals choose their fleets, they often have in their heads a great balance. The question is: do the good aspects of a ship outweigh the bad aspects? Will this ship help their fleet? The USS Aaron Burr is a ship, like many others, that tempts Admirals with its voluminous cargo and decent guns. But if you don’t look harder, you won’t see a ship that is overpriced, disgustingly slow, and has an ability that is better on much larger ships. Like her infamous namesake, the Aaron Burr has so much promise, and talks a very good game, but in the end she is at the bottom of the list of important American ships.
Uses and Strategies:
As stated in many other American faction reviews, the Stars and Stripes boast very few true gold runners. So when American Admirals see 5 cargo for 11 points, they start to salivate. Then their eyes go a few degrees to the right, and they see the death knell for a gold ship: Speed S. There are two very basics rules to this game: gunships need good guns, and gold ships need to be fast and have lots of room for gold. Even with a helmsman, S+S is a snail’s pace compared to what other factions can throw at her. Still, for American treasure runners, this borders on acceptable, especially if you lack other options. If you do use her in this role, you either must protect her long enough for her to do her job, or have help for islands that are further away. In either case, you require a lot of points you may not have left.
Can she be used as a fighter? Those guns sure make it tempting. With a captain and helmsman, however, both necessary with this role, she comes in at a hefty 16 points. In a standard game, that is way too much to pay for a 2-masted fighter that at best could be considered an escort ship.
Then there is that ability. Admirals might be tempted to use her as a special ops ship: swoop in after a main gunship has weakened the prey. Her ability is near useless on its own: boarding with a two-masted ship is usually very bad odds. Yet, there is a chance she could be useful if your main gunship severely damages a gold runner, and the Aaron Burr comes in to board and takes the booty. Still, she would be moving at best S+S, and 13 points for a ship whose role is very situational is probably too expensive in most standard games.
Combos with other miniatures:
First, you need to treat this as a 13 pt ship. As long as you plan on moving her, a helmsman is necessary for any build.
Since this ship is subpar, even for American ships, if it is used it will probably be for gold running. Cargo Master at 5 pts may be an invaluable crew, especially in an all American fleet, although he may be placed on another ship as well. Christian Jefferson will let you trade treasure between islands, hopefully giving you an edge that minimizes the Burr’s slow speed. Revolution’s Ralph David can help make the Aaron Burr pay off when she eventually reaches home, adding +2 gold when she unloads her cargo. A navigator on another ship could be used to give the Burr an extra boost home when she is filled with gold.
Making the Burr a gunship will be expensive in any way. Commodore David Porter may be a good choice, adding the captain and broadsides ability and giving her a little more bite. Making her Eternal with either Gus Schultz or the cheaper, pirate hater Ralph David would help make her price a little easier to swallow. If used as a support ship, giving her a musketeer or firepot specialist can make her an annoying gnat that the enemy might have to ignore because they are dealing with a goliath beetle.
If you would like to take advantage of her ability, a boarding bonus would be a must. Carl Smith at 4 pts can give you a +1 boarding bonus. The Mysterious Island’s version of Montana Mays also gives you the +1 to board plus a 5-6 extra action for 7 pts, which is a much better deal if you can spare the points. A reroller might help your boarding rolls, however the American’s lack a standard 3 pt reroller. Assuming you aren’t using another limit crew, Wayne Nolan can help, or you can use Jonathan Haraden who is a captain and reroller.
One of the best combinations, however, may be with Native Canoes. The Canoes move faster than the Burr, and can transfer cargo from a ship within S. Using the Burr as the treasure ship, with an explorer and helmsman perhaps, and the canoes as intermediary transfer ships not only can make the gold get home faster but may help protect the canoes by keeping them closer to your home island.
Lastly, above all, don’t use William Eaton! He testified against Aaron Burr in his treason trial in 1807, and hated the former Vice President. Using him would probably be very bad luck for your fleet ;-)
Clearly, the Aaron Burr is outclassed in any of these roles, even in a sea of mediocre American gold vessels. For gold running, the Rattlesnake, Lynx, and Carolina all offer better value at gold running that the Aaron Burr. As a support gun ship, the Boston and Peacock are better values, and the mighty Providence is a mere one point more. Clearly, most Admirals can do much better in either of these roles.
As in most historical texts, Burr’s contemporaries and rivals outshine him even in the Pirates world. One of his biggest rivals, Thomas Jefferson, has a 5-masted ship named in his honor that is much more playable. Likewise, the USS James Madison and the mighty Franklin are better values. Clearly, as seen in this puny 2-masted ship, and in the flavor text, the designers echoed the fact that many consider Burr a traitor to the American government. I would hate to see the stats on a ship named the “Benedict Arnold.” One thing the former Vice President would be happy about: there is no ship named after Alexander Hamilton. If there was, it would probably have very inaccurate cannons and a huge cargo.
Ways to counteract it:
At S+S speed, most gunships will be able to catch the Burr easily and get the first shot in. A support gunship will have little trouble taking out a slower, 2-masted vessel. The most important thing is to not ignore her. If she is shielded by gunships, she may very well do a decent, albeit slow, job of winning the game. Slow but steady can win the race if you let it.
- Excellent Cargo (5)
- Good Guns (no long)
Artwork and aesthetics:
- High Cost for 2 Masted Ship
- S Base Speed
- Ability that doesn’t fit the ship
The Burr, like many American 2-Masters, is sleek and good looking. Her hull is a stone color, with her name accented well with a hint of sea green. Most remarkable, however, are her sails. Emblazoned on them are circles of gray stars, a symbol that usually stands for unity or solidarity, and one that is even in the seal of the President of the United States (a position Burr coveted). Giving this symbol to a ship named after a man famous for his alleged acts of treason and trying to break the United States apart is certainly curious, or at the very best tongue in cheek.
The USS Aaron Burr is a below average ship that is surpassed in almost every circumstance by more cost effective ships. Still, the list of American ships capable of taking a lot of gold is short, and she might find a role if you are not lucky enough to own the more elite American treasure runners.
Overall, I would give her a 2/10, which pretty much means most Admirals would never use her. In an all American fleet, I would bump it up to a 3/10, just because of the smaller pool of competition.
As an aside, a few years ago I started researching my lineage and found that I am distantly related to Aaron Burr (1st cousin, 9 times removed). I have just finished reading a book about his quest for power in the fledgling American west (this is what the flavor text alludes to, as well as my subtitle), and thought it fitting that I should be the first to review this ship. I use her as a measurement card only =)