“Greed motivates El Gato, captain of the Cursed Blade. His crew have mastered many inventive tactics in order to steal an opponents’ treasure, rather than fight.”
I was quite surprised to see that the Cursed Blade not only didn’t have a Miniature Review written about her, she hasn’t been used in single fleet! (Edit: now she's been in 2 fleets) The Cursed Blade was one of my first ships, and she has remained a staple in many of my Pirate fleets.
Along with the Raven she is the one ship that I find almost irresistible when making a Pirate fleet. Apparently forgotten about and one of the games most underrated pieces, she is yet another good ship from Pirates of the Revolution. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that this ship has been forgotten about-with so many great pieces from that set, it was easy to overlook some of the less flashy ones.
For an affordable point cost (11), you get a loaded ship that screams to be used. Almost nothing about the ship is above average, but the overall package is inspiring. Her large cargo hold lets you load up on crew, run treasure, or both. Her solid (if unspectacular, especially for something from such a powerful set) base move of S+S is right in the middle, a good speed for a ship that can (and probably should) see multiple uses. That extra maneuverability is only helped by the Schooner keyword, and it also complements her ability. Her average guns (and the fact that there are only three of them) won’t raise any eyebrows, but I believe this ship is about looking at the whole package, and using her in any and every way you see fit. And what a package it is!
Uses, strategies and game play:
With such a large number of things to look at, perhaps the reason she has been essentially ignored all this time is the fact that players may not know exactly what to do with her. However, her versatility is what can make her special, and I will describe many different uses for this neglected ship. She can see good use as:
1. A pure treasure runner,
2. A treasure-raider that messes with the enemies’ gold ships,
3. A combination of the first two-a ship that creates havoc everywhere she goes,
4. An armed treasure runner that doesn’t need an escort because she is her own escort,
5. A support gold-runner that escorts your primary treasure runner(s) to islands while seizing any opportunity to make use of her ability.
The Cursed Blade can be used in all sorts of different strategies, and she fits well into most setups. The strategies each player might use with her depends on what you crew her with. You can run gold, and/or steal it from the enemy. This ship should not be your primary gunship, but in a 40 point fleet designed to grab gold, she could be. That said, she is there more to harass and confound the enemy than to actually blow them out of the water.
Combos with other miniatures:
Here I will describe the uses while noting the combos that work well with each.
1. The first setup, as a pure treasure runner, is simple. You can crew the Blade with a helmsman and an explorer, and for 14 points you get a ship moving S+S+S that has room for three treasures. Not bad, but the problem is, the Pirates have better, more efficient, and more affordable options in the gold-running department.
2. Another way to use the Blade is as a simple treasure-raider. Give her a helmsman, and maybe Genny's Red Rampage, and steal as much gold as possible. This is where her other ability, the schooner keyword, comes into play. Especially if facing a larger ship where a ram and board is not likely to work, you can use the ‘stern turn’ to make contact with the other ship, and thus trigger the Blade’s ability. The problem with this is that the enemy may be able to fire a good broadside before you can get away with the gold.
3. This third use of the Cursed Blade also makes use of her ability. It is a nice, cheap ability to have, and there are ways of maximizing its potential and adding to it. One crew that takes the random part out of the ability, is Lucky the Parrot. For just one point, you can look at the enemies’ treasures. You can use the ability once or twice to get a glimpse of what treasure you want to take from a particular enemy gold ship, or use it multiple times to obtain an overall picture of what treasures the opponent has, and then act accordingly to steal the highest-value coins. It is up to the player to decide what ship to put the Parrot on. You may be wasting valuable cargo space by putting it on the Blade herself, so I would recommend that the Parrot join the crew of a larger gunship.
To gamble to try to see even more treasures, throw Shipping Charts into the treasure mix.
One thing you can do to maximize the Cursed Blade’s ability involves the use of ramming and boarding. If you are going after treasure runners, it is likely that they won’t be large ships, which helps the Blade since she only has three masts. This boarding strategy can work extremely well due to the order of events. With a captain, the Blade can move (ramming the other ship), and then immediately shoot. Then you can roll for the ram, which will be easier now that the enemy is missing at least one mast (hopefully). Finally, you can roll on the boarding party, which should be able to succeed against all but the biggest treasure runners, especially if you have Jack Hawkins on board. He gives you the (recommended) captain ability, as well as +1 to boarding rolls. He is a near-perfect crew for this ship, as it would be ideal for the Blade to have as much cargo space left over while still employing crew that help her in her role. With a helmsman, she will be moving S+S+S with great treasure-stealing potential, for a total of 19 points (20 if you use the Parrot in your fleet), less than half your build total.
You could also go with Griffin to have the captain ability, but have the reroll for the boarding action instead of the +1.
Either way, she can then be paired with a powerful gunship (a simple Revenant setup with captain and helmsman, perhaps), or a treasure runner (maybe the Raven) and a smaller gunship (such as the Royal James). The Pirates have a multitude of cheap options that let them run gold, steal it, and shoot all in a standard 40 point game.
4. The Blade can be a treasure runner that doesn’t need an escorting gunship. With three masts (more than a lot of the best treasure runners), she is already durable compared to some of her competition. Crew her with Hammersmith and an explorer. Hammersmith saves space, combining the two most essential generic crew into one. Even with the explorer, she still has three cargo spaces left for gold, enough to empty an island in a multiplayer game.
Enemy treasure runners either without an escort or without a lot of masts will be in for a surprise when the Blade fights hard (with her guns and maybe her ability) for the gold. Depending on the situation, the Blade can adapt to existing conditions with this particular setup and be used in any of the other four roles I have described.
5. The last role is that of an armed escort, where the Blade carries a captain and a helmsman (or perhaps Hammersmith) while accompanying a gold ship. If the gold ship moved faster than her and was dismasted, sunk, or captured, the Blade could help recover some of the lost gold by sending it to the bottom or stealing it back.
Alternatively, if the Blade got to the island before your treasure runner (as in the case of a slower ship such as the Darkhawk II), she could try and sink or disable any enemy runners looking to grab the same gold.
Ways to counteract it:
I would suggest disabling this ship early on so that she can’t steal gold and take out your treasure runners. Once she loses just one or two masts, her boarding and shooting effectiveness goes way down. Just go after her with a good gunship and take her out before she can ruin your gold strategy.
Asesino de la Nave can be a good ship to take her out with. This ship has good guns and an ability that can easily and quickly cripple any of the above setups. To maximize the amount of treasure you can steal/run, you need as much cargo as possible, and therefore you need to minimize the number of crew, by using crew who combine two abilities into one. The problem with this is that if you get hit with a crew (or cargo) killer, multiple abilities are taken out very quickly.
You can cancel her ship ability or her crew abilities to make her harmless, and Stinkpot Shot can work well with good guns if you can’t afford a canceller.
A ship with Secret Hold renders most Cursed Blade strategies useless.
She is relatively weak (average number of masts + average guns) when compared to anything resembling a true gunship, and I believe that simply shooting at her is the most effective way to deal with this pest.
-Opponents will underestimate her because she is not well-known.
-Nice point cost that lets you fit crew on, and lets you fit in other good ships for support.
-Two abilities, both of which can be used to great effect.
-Lots of cargo space that fits well with her speed and ability. All that space lets you have some good crew while still having enough space left to run/steal gold.
-Solid base speed that makes her maneuverable.
-Average guns that are usable and fit well with her uses, since you shouldn’t be taking on the opponents’ best gunships with her.
-Pirate, so many crew combos that stretch across many different sets.
-Comes from (probably) the most powerful set, so her competition is notable and almost unfair.
-Speed (S+S) is a bit lacking.
-With three masts, the Blade can be blown out of the water by larger gunships.
-With so many different plausible uses, her owners may feel that she is a conundrum, with no specific use that fits her perfectly, making it harder to execute a strategy.
Artwork and aesthetics:
I certainly like the artwork for this ship. She has a very spooky Pirate look to her, with a dark overall design that features a skull and crossbones on her mainsail. Her sails are kind of a strange maroon-ish colour, and she has a cool green tint on her hull.
This is a tough ship to rate, because the rating given would depend on her use. Overall, I would give her a solid 7, because although she is underrated, she is too lacking to be a truly great ship. In addition, she faces great competition not only from her own set, but the same type of ship (3 masted schooner).