The Cursed are not known for their ability to run (let’s be honest, GATHER) gold, and at first glance the Dark pact appears to be a gold ship for them. However, a closer look reveals more than just a gold ship on your hands.
4 masts, so larger for a Cursed vessel. 6 cargo, lots for any ship anywhere. Speed, S (ouch). Cannons, mix of 4S and 4L (ouch again). Point cost: 13, enough room to fit a powerful Cursed crew or two. Finally her ability: This ships crew cannot be eliminated unless she sinks.
That ability saves the ship, as no other Cursed piece has this ability at that size. Now what would you do with the Dark Pact?
On most any other ship, 6 cargo or more gives you either a gold runner or a hybrid. The Dark Pact falls into neither category perfectly. She has the cargo to be a hybrid fighter, but her speed and cannons hold her back from that. Her speed also holds her back from being a true runner, even though it’s what she’s best suited for. In the end, the combos you want to use will determine the best use for her, since she has a combination few cursed ships have; lots of cargo, and expensive enough to fit one or two of their named crew onto.
Strategies and game play:
Once again, the strategies you employ will depend on the combos you choose to put on her. If you suit her up for gold, then send her towards islands for the loot; if you can catch them, enemy runners will be easy prey to boards and you have much less of a risk of losing valuable crew with her ability.
If you suit her for fighting, try to outfit her for boarding fighting. Her ability will keep her crew safe from all but sinking and even that can be worked around if you bring in an ETERNAL crew.
Combos with other miniatures:
With that much cargo, you can go one of two ways; run her bare bones to try and maximize her space, or look for some interesting crew options among the cursed to make her something unique.
Bare bones will be a simple helmsman and Explorer, with optional Navigator on another ship. Total points: 16 points (without navigator)
The Navigator will drop handy trade currents for the pact, which when coupled with the Helmsman give her a respectable S+S+S. Realistically however, she will be moving S+S, since Navigator Trade currents may go to speeding up your Cursed warship.
With bare bones, you’ve got space for a decently outfitted Cursed ship, like the Grinder
~~~~~~The Sac option previously listed here will not function, since the Pact's ability will prevent you from eliminating your own crew. This is unfortunate since there is no other usable Cursed ship (read: not a ten) that has enough cargo to make a SAC build worthwhile.~~~~~~~
Sammy the Skull +Helmsman+ Musketeer +Oarsman+ Explorer(optional). Total points: 25 or 26
Costs the same as the SAC option, but takes better advantage of the Pact’s ability, with a point left for an explorer. Should you include that Explorer, you’ll max out the Pact’s point space, but still have two cargo spaces open for loot (oarsman takes up no space).
Papa Doc/ Edward Low+ Helmsman+ Explorer +oarsman
One point left on the points, but not so much cargo taken up. The upside to this combo is that Doc and Low can potentially steal some VERY valuable crew from enemies, which once stolen will not eat into the ships point cost OR take up cargo space and the Pact will protect them with her ability (unless the ship sinks…). The drawback is that valuable crew like that are often on first or second rate gunships, which will shred the Pact before she gets within range of Doc's or Ed's possession ability. Furthermore, they require a roll of 6 to capture a crew. Should they fail, you can still give the ship an action, but it may still cost you.
El Fantasma + Helmsman +Captain+ oarsman
This maxes out the pact’s point space, but takes advantage of her crew protection, allowing the Pact to come back via El Fan’s Eternal, and he cannot be killed unless your opponent goes out of their way to cancel the Pact.
If you decide to make your opponent hate you forever, you can bring in some events to try and make the pact competitive. Just remember, you can only play one ‘at the beginning of turn’ Event per turn, and always bring Favor of the Gods as a safety net.
Hidden Cove - can sling her out to the nearest Wild Island. The bare Bones set up will work best with this one, since Hidden Cove is not that expensive.
Mermaids - this will stall one of you opponents ships for at most a turn or three, depending how heavily crewed it was, giving the pact time to get islands for gold, or to smaller ships for some sinking.
Becalmed - this one will freeze all ships within range for one turn, which can be enough to buy you time to get home, or to get to them for some gimmicky fun- Papa Doc/Ed Lowe combo.
False Treasure - If used correctly, this could tip the game in your favor. Imagine, your opponents Banshee's Cry, or some other speedy little devil is almost home, and it’s the start of your turn. You play this, and then grab some gold at the island the Pact has finally gotten to. Now your opponent is down one haul of gold, and has to go and get whatever scraps he left behind, or try to take it from your much larger Dark pact. Aside from the possibility of losing it from an enemy FoG, the other major drawback to this Event is its cost at 10 points!
Ways to counteract it:
Whatever the Pact has been tasked with, keep in mind she is not fast. Most simply, you can avoid her with faster ships. Trying to sink her might be more difficult as she's a larger vessel, but any well outfitted warship should be able to sink her (or render derelict) in one go. I use italics there because you can sail up in your decked out HMS Grand Temple and roll 5 1's. Unlikely but still possible.
Large, for Cursed.
Lots of Cargo, 6, only one other cursed ship has that much, only two have more, and only three (excluding squids) have one less.
Useful ability in board heavy cursed, she's the only ship her size to have it within the Cursed ranks.
Mix of L and S range cannons.
In accurate cannons.
Ability prevents using SAC options for guaranteed extra actions.
As slow as the crew is dead, which is VERY slow.
Only 13 points, so not so much room for the more expensive Cursed crew.
There is only one other Cursed ship at 13 points and 4 masts, the Hades' Realm, which is a far superior gunship (in comparison), but is far worse gold gathering ship.
The only Cursed ships with more cargo are both Ten Masters which only ever see use in high point games or campaigns.
There are three ships with similar cargo (5) the Maman Brigitte, Nightmare, and Sea Rat.
The Brigitte is the same size, but has WORSE cannons, and a slightly less useful ability. The Nightmare is smaller but has two better cannons than the Dark Pact, but also has a situational ability. Both the Brigitte and Nightmare have the same speed and 5 cargo. The Sea Rat is marginally faster with a base speed of L, but has the two single most inaccurate cannons you’ll see at 5S and 5S, and is considerably smaller, with another situational ability.
There is only one Cursed ship to match the Dark Pact’s cargo, and interestingly she comes from the same set as the Dark Pact, Davy Jones Curse, the Loa's Justice. The Justice is about the cheapest Cursed ship you can get your hands on that is occasionally worth using. Her cargo of 6 and ability to allow crew of other nations opens the door to point reducers galore. Her drawbacks however are her size and slightly worse cannons, no L range, only S. The only reason to use the Justice over the Dark Pact is that the Justice is cheaper and better fit for Bare Bones set ups.
In short the Dark Pact has no direct competition in the 4 mast category. No Cursed ship is that big and has that much cargo. For all this however, the Dark Pact will most likely be left in the bin in favor of faster 'flashier' Cursed ships, such as the aforementioned Grinder or Executioner .
Artwork and aesthetics:
I quite like the Cursed Artwork, it separates them from the sometimes shabby looking pirates, and the Dark Pact is no exception. Dark brown hull that looks sea weathered, mysterious stains on her sails, and what looks like a pile of bones on her deck near where her aft sail goes. She feels very cursed. Sends the message: I may be slow, but don’t let me catch you.
The Dark Pact is not a good ship in the ranks of other nations, but in the ranks of the Cursed, she is one of their few decent options for gold running. Not only that, she can fill niche rolls as a hybrid ship, though her poor speed and poor cannons hold her back, as well as her ability preventing you from using SAC options on her. Overall 5/10.
Feel free to comment and vote!
P.S. The Dark pact only has one other review, but that one has no votes, so give that one a vote or two as well.