“Capitan Guillen’s vicious raiders have become a matter of national pride for Spain, as its power declines and victories become harder to achieve”
It is no secret that Spain is not about the cannon, but the coin. This is probably why I have always had issues with playing the Spanish, because my bloodlust usually is not fully met by what they have to offer. (And playing with the San Cristobal so much gets boring). Still, there are a few ships out there that do strike fear in those who oppose Spain, and Santo Columba is one of them. With some of the best cannons Spain has to offer, good speed and cargo, she is a ship that every Spanish Capitan should field, and I am always surprised when she does not get as much attention as she should. She has, to date, only served in a hand full of fleets.
Is it her ability that often puts off players? Many players believe boarding is a hard way to win, and they see an S-Board and instantly shy away. But hey, Spain loves the S-Board – they have 3 crew that have this ability – and it plays to Spain’s usual gold grabbing ways. Even the flavor text points it out – this ship is known for its boarding ability. I pulled Santo Columba in one of my very first packs in one of my very first games of Pirates. I ended up using her, and winning with her… and not using her ability once (probably because I didn’t know how to…) She is a value – and an asset – even without that ability. Boarding is just another weapon in her fully loaded arsenal, and something that is very valuable when the situation arises.
Uses and Strategies:
I know it’s hard to think this way with Spain, but forget running gold. Santo Columba boasts the 3rd best set of guns Spain has to offer (after OE La Resolucion and La Tartessos), so it is clear she is meant for offense. Her good cargo space and mid-range price tag make her able to support this role with lots of good crew.
The main question you will have here, however, is just what kind of offense will you be running with her. If you ignore her ability, she still holds immense value as a straight gunship. However, you could also use crew to enhance her boarding ability, truly making her a ship to be feared. Either way, she will probably serve as the main gunship in your standard game fleet.
If you use her to board, you must remember that the S-Board can be used after one movement segment. What does that mean? It means you can move S toward a ship, getting within S. Then you can board using her ability. Then you can finish your movement, and even ram. If you ram, you can then shoot with a captain and board again. Remember, since she is a combat ship, she probably will not have more than one cargo spot free. Boarding’s objective here is mainly to kill crew or find that one important piece of gold that will win you the game.
Combos with other miniatures:
For a nation that is usually known for its gold grabbing, Spain certainly does employ its share of excellent fighting crew – they have almost every possible combination you could want. This lets you crew Columba in many different ways.
Let’s look at one of the most basic combinations. You need a captain and helmsman to really make her fearsome. Then of course comes your double action crew: Capitan Alarico Castro is the easiest option, with a 5/6 SAT. If you use Alimirante Carlos Pavon Y Miranda, who is a Captain/Reroll (to help with SAT and boarding!), you have Columba coming in at 25 points, with one empty cargo spot. She has SSS speed, all 2 guns, and a reroll SAT.
This is my usual build with her (with an oarsman for security), and if you use a +5 crew, you can team her up with El Algeciras with Return of the Fiends “Is he seriously a 2 pt Captain?” Luis Zuan (5 pts) and La Joya Del Sol with a Helmsman (14 points).
Another option is to improve her one glaring flaw: no long range guns. Although expensive, Spain has a solution: Master Gunner Rogelio Vazquez. At 5 points, he makes all guns have long range. This does eliminate the S-Board effectiveness, but it takes away the worry of cancellers and ships like La Bonaparte. To fit her on the ship, however, you are going have to sacrifice something, probably the reroller (unless, of course you use the Limit Reroller). You could use Vazquez, 2 pt Captain Luis Zuan, Admiral Alarico Castro for a 5/6 Extra Action, and a Helmsman and come in at a fat 28 points.
Want overkill? Sure, you can do that too – Spain has just about everything you need. You could heighten her already potent boarding ability by adding Master Bianco and Castro’s Loyalists (linked to either Castro) which would make her almost unstoppable at boarding. Or channel the Inquisition and kill all the heathens! How about adding a Worldhater to make those guns near perfect? Another version of Luis Zuan will do it, as will the Barbary Coast version of Almirante Devente Del Nero. What about a Broadsides? Sure it brings back the S gun problem, but those 2 ranked guns sure scream for it. Spain has the Barbary Corsair version of Comandante Antonio de Silva who lets her get broadsides for 5 points, and is linked to all Spanish ships. With either of these options, you will probably have to drop the reroller or double action crew, because even with Master Bianco or Inquisitor Sebastian Blanco, you are going to run out of points or room.
Whatever your flavor, Spain can give it to you. Too bad her link, which is even mentioned in the flavor text, is worthless because he provides the same ability.
The last thing to note here is combinations with unique treasures. If indeed you are using her boarding ability, knowing what gold or crew the boarded ship has would be a key advantage. Spain only has one crew that can do this, and because he gives other abilities, he is insanely expensive at 10 points. As a result, one may want to invest in a unique treasure like Maps of Alexandria, which turns up all gold on islands.
I could go on and on here comparing Santo Columba to other ships, but I think what you have read already makes her case.
Among Spanish 4-Masters, only La Resolucion has better guns because of a built in worldhater. Several do go faster than Columba, but do not match her fire power (El Rosal, El Corazon Dorado) or are meant for more of a dual role (La Santa Isabel, La Espada de Dios).
And then there is her ability. This ability works best with maximum masts, so a 5 Master with the ability would be better than Columba. There are three 5 Masters in the game with the ability, and you can probably make the case all are better than Columba despite them costing 2 or 3 more points. Seven other 4 masters have the ability in the game, and while again some are faster, only one is cheaper (Fire Djinn with 1 less cargo) and none can match Columba’s guns.
Ways to counteract it:
As stated above, Columba’s biggest weakness is her all short guns. Assuming she does not correct this with Vazquez, this leaves her very vulnerable to cancellers and ships that cannot be shot within S. In addition, if you use her to board (especially against a 4 or 5 master) you run the risk of losing a boarding action, and having one of your crew lost. Other than this, the usual tactics for an overpowered gunship will apply: attack first, attack with more than one ship, and maybe use an event to get the upper hand.
- Great Guns
- Good Cargo
- Good Speed
- Useful Ability
Artwork and aesthetics:
- Only S length Guns
- Not enough cargo to match ability
- Worthless Link
Although I find her exciting to use, there is nothing exciting about Santo Columba’s
artwork – it is typical Spanish coloring, complete with the crosses on the sails. It may be boring, but it does give quite an effect when your whole fleet matches – something I am sure the real Spanish navy enjoyed. (Although this makes them annoying hard to tell apart on our battlefield!) As she is a part of the Davy Jones’ Curse set, often she has paint scratches or marks.
One peculiar thing about this ship is her name. The name “Columba” is most famous as Saint Columba of Scotland
– obviously, this is not named after him. After doing a quick search, however, I found that there was a Saint Columba of Spain
. She was beheaded by Muslims in Cordoba after condemning Mohammed and not denouncing her own faith. Before becoming a nun and having this happen to her, the legend says she was a witch. In addition, the creators here made a slight grammatical error – if indeed this is named after Saint Columba of Spain, it should be “Santa” not “Santo.”
An S-Board is usually assigned a value of 4 points, meaning that if you took it away you would have the Santo Columba’s stats at a mere 10 points – I think if she instead was listed like this she would be ranked as one of the game’s best ships. However, she isn't 10 points, so here ranking has to take into account the S-Board. Even at 14 points, I consider her one of the best Spain has to offer, and the S-Board just makes her more fun to use. I give her an 8/10 overall, and a 9/10 if you are just considering Spanish ships.