The crew of the "Pirate Hunter" was literally whipped into shape by the obsessive Almirante Devante del Nero. He ensured that the only thing they hated more than him was pirates.
The Cazador del Pirata is one of my all-time favorite ships. Another fantastic ship from the first set, the Cazador (as I'll refer to her) is simply one of the best overall hybrid ships in the game. She is very capable at fighting and gold running, or doing both at the same time. She was reviewed by vladsimpaler, and although he covered most of the basics, I felt this ship deserves more attention. As with most of my other reviews, I'm examining a ship that has been extremely underrated and almost forgotten about. She's been used in just 2 fleets, and unsurprisingly one of them is mine (and the other one is a joke, so I'm essentially the only one who has submitted a fleet with this fine ship).
Why is the Cazador del Pirata so great? Well, she's good at everything. She has enough firepower to be a support gunship. She has enough cargo to be a good gold runner. In addition, that cargo and her point cost allow her to play various other roles, such as home island raider, treasure stealer, or even "medical barge".
My suggestion would simply be to use her as you see fit, as she can fit into just about any role. I wouldn't necessarily suggest using her as your primary gunship, but in a 40 point game with a gold-runner-heavy fleet she wouldn't be the worst option. Also, she's too slow to tow either of the two flotillas Spain has.
Strategies and game play:
By using this ship as a gunship, you can hit ships from long range and distract enemy gunships from your gold runners. Using her as a hybrid opens up a lot of possibilities, which include confusing your opponent as to the ship's role in your fleet. Also, if your opponent uses the Pirates a lot, she can be one of the better options to bring to the game.
Combos with other miniatures:
The simplest combo is to simply add a captain, helmsman, and explorer. For 17 points, you'll have a hybrid moving L+S with room for 3 coins. This is actually one of the best combos for the Cazador, and provides great bang for your buck. This setup would still leave 23 points left for other ships and crew!
There are tons of great Spanish named crew, and some of them warrant serious consideration. SAT or EA crew can easily fit aboard the Cazador, but after you add a captain and helmsman, you start to approach the 11 point limit of the ship. To maximize this ship's hybrid potential, try Victor de Alva, Duque Marcus Vaccaro, and a helmsman and oarsman. This runs you 22 points for a ship moving L+S+L+S quite often with 6 shots available and 4 cargo spaces still empty!
This ship could become a great treasure harasser using the SM version of Castro along with Castro's Loyalists. With a captain and helmsman it would run you 21 points, but the link provides an extra cargo space, leaving the ship with 3 still available for gold. Against smaller treasure runners the Cazador can dismast them with the first shoot and ram, and then board them twice with a second move action.
To raid enemy home islands, try using Fernando Sanchez in conjunction with Bianco's Haulers and a helmsman. The Cazador can steal up to 3 coins, and won't be able to be shot at while docked. Keep in mind she can still be boarded, so prepare to sail out if danger appears.
If you want to go more of a true gunship route, consider adding a musketeer or Almirante Devente Del Nero. The musketeer can prevent the Cazador from being completely at the mercy of ships like the Jarvis, while del Nero would give the Cazador 2L cannons (and 1L vs. Pirates!). (or use Luis Zuan to save a cargo space) In addition, her huge cargo hold means that she can have a plethora of cheap options aboard. Load her up with a cannoneer, firepot specialist, or any number of dangerous equipment, and watch her blast other ships to pieces!
In huge campaign games, a "medical barge" will sometimes make its way towards the outskirts of a battle. This would entail loading up the Cazador with a helmsman, oarsman, and up to 4 shipwrights, which can be passed to ships in need of repairs without sailing too far from the battle.
It's worth noting that adding an oarsman to most of these setups could also be a great option. Just to be complete, also remember that Luis Zuan is the only 2 point captain in the game, and that navigators could help the Cazador's relatively slow speed while silver explorers could help her gold efforts.
Padre Francisco is an option because of the ship's dual nature - use him to pull in Zuan, an explorer, or whatever else you might need depending on the circumstances. With such a fluid role that the Cazador can play, the recruiter could actually be useful.
I generally wouldn't recommend using this ship with S-boarding, as that's an ability best suited to large ships (especially 5 masters) that move quickly. Also, 6 cargo on a ship with just 3 masts mean that you probably won't need Dominic Freda or Master Bianco, although with so much potential cargo to protect his later incarnation is an option.
Ways to counteract it:
-Ships with immunity to L range cannons (like the Jarvis)
-Cancel the ship's most important crew
-Sink or dismast the ship (or better yet, capture her because she could be a valuable member of your fleet!)
This is undoubtedly the reason the Cazador del Pirata has been underrated for so long. Her sister ship from the very same set, Asesino de la Nave, carries one of the most potent offensive payloads in the game - 2S guns and a devastating ability. The Asesino may be slightly better overall, but is not nearly as flexible as the Cazador. In addition to her guns being shorter range, the Asesino will have lots of trouble against ships like Le Bonaparte. However, the Asesino was one of my first 4 ships, and I like both ships quite a lot. Which one you use depends entirely on your preferences and how the rest of your fleet looks. Over the past few years I've really enjoyed ships with large cargo holds and L range guns. As a result, the Cazador is almost a perfect ship.
However, she's not quite perfect. L speed is rather slow. The Colector del Dia has S+S speed, and a slightly better ability to boot. However, she's a physically nonexistent ship from the least-known set, so the Cazador del Pirata can rest assured for now.
Spain's excellent selection of 3 masted ships gives an idea of how strong they are as a faction. El Alquimista is better at running gold, El Monte Cristo is better at fighting, and the Virtuous Wind is better at stealing. However, the fantastic Buscador is the only other Spanish 3 master with more than 5 cargo spaces, so the Cazador del Pirata remains one of Spain's finest hybrids to this day.
-Very high versatility
-Value for points
-L range cannons
-Cannon bonus against the Pirates, the best and most numerous faction
-Very good selection of Spanish named crew to choose from
-Tons of cargo
-Low point cost limits how many crew you can fit into that huge cargo hold
-L range cannons cannot hit ships with L-immunity
-Outclassed by her best competition
Artwork and aesthetics:
The Cazador has very normal Spanish artwork that was especially prevalent in the first 3-5 sets. Nothing exciting, but you'll never mistake her for a ship of a different nationality.
I rate the Cazador del Pirata a 9/10. She loses a point for having L speed, and because her guns and ability aren't quite optimal. However, she's very close to a 9.5. I highly recommend her, especially if you like hybrids like me!