In the collective human consciousness, it tends to be easier in some cases to define words or ideas not with a written (or spoken) definition, but with imagery closely associated with them. For the purposes of this vein of thought, I will submit a word, followed by a string of synonymous imagery, and shall lastly attempt to summarize all of said imagery as it pertains to the word in question.
That word is "Pirate", not of a modern sense, but of a classical. For imagery, things that would doubtless be associated with such a word - the skull & cross-boned design of the Jolly Roger, whose nearly infinite deviations in appearance lend to the versatility an persistence of such a strong image; a charismatic figure commanding a vessel on the high seas, not in command of some sailors working on the property of a navy, but a proud, independent ship, crewed by a family of strangers, cut-throats, and vagabonds, in search of fortune for her captain and crew alone; that very ship, as it sails onward, equally in search of lost or buried treasure, or perhaps a merchant ship at sea without proper escort, whose valuables could be 'recovered' through certain malicious actions.
To be honest, there are many ships in this game that could package the ideals of the classic "Pirate", as I have laid them before you. However, personally, I can attest that one of the first ships ever to be in this game comprised these images so well and still does to this day. That ship is the Revenant.
The Revenant is not shy about her true purpose. She's big, she's got accurate guns, those guns ignore other ships that might try to block her from her true goal. This is a gunship. Without crew, the foundations of a sound battle ship are in place. As the game's title was "Pirates of the..." and not something akin to "Courteous People at Sea", it can be implied that a certain measure of the game is devoted to making life inconvenient (if not flat-out unpleasant) for your competition.
Good gunships can be that inconveniencing measure in a big way, and being of a nationality with strong crew options can leave you with a variety of options of how to do so. From an absolute terror of a combat vessel to a hybrid, playable as a flagship in middle-point games as easily as being a buoyant Juggernaut against those foolish enough to take her on with a small point fleet, the Revenant can easily be packaged for the specific type of aggression necessary for a fleet to claim victory.
Strategies and game play:
To simply say the Revenant is best served in a combat role is like pointing out that eating is a good way to ease hunger pangs. She is a good ship, even by modern standards, and having as strong a crew nationality as the Pirates to draw from, the exact setup for this ship can be tailored to whatever your needs may be.
As a true gunship, she serves admirably. Her cargo space of 4, while lacking in comparison to some of her 5-masted Pirate kin, is more than enough to assemble the crew necessary to move, shoot, sink, repeat. Adding any of the shots/specialists ( Exploding Shot , Stinkpot Specialist ) not only increases the effectiveness of the cannons on the ship itself, but gives you a variety of other options for play.
Perhaps you're looking at her as a secondary gunship? Need her to hold onto a treasure or two? Not to worry, given the flexibility of the Pirate faction in terms of crew, outfitting the Revenant as a hybrid isn't such a daunting stretch. She'll be far from the fastest to hold the position on a fleet, and her cargo space is a little lacking, but her durability in combination with the exceptional chance of making a pursuing ship pay dearly for the folly of provocation could surely make up for her more traditional shortcomings if needed for this post.
Maybe you're settling in for a huge game, a high-point, multi-player, days-long battle royale for every last treasure coin available for use in your hometown. With all of those ships in the way, one would think that the poor ol' Revenant might get lost in the shuffle. To the contrary, I contest that the shuffle can be where she shines the brightest! 20, 30 ships at sea at once, no problem! Thanks to her ability, the Revenant can simply ignore ships in her way (both friendly and hostile), making sure that, if her cannons can reach her designated target... her cannons WILL reach her designated target!
Next, I submit the area in which I feel the Revenant is suited the strongest - games with build totals less than 50 points. At 15 points herself, the Revenant is a bargain for 5 masts carrying rank 2 cannons. Crewing her to maximum would put you at 30 points, allowing you room for at least a serviceable to good treasure runner in a 40 point game. Fleets comprised of smaller ships will flee this ship in terror, as fighting with her would lead to inevitable defeat. Smaller ships' best chance aginst the Revenant would mostl likely come from a swarm attack, leaving your runner all the rest of the ocean open for the plundering! If another fleet happens to run a similar ship in stature, the titans simply go toe-to-toe, and your opponent's biggest ship has now spared your runner for a time. Additionally, I would be remiss to point out that, the closer the game point total is to 30, the better chance the Revenant stands of being and insurmountable battleship, mowing down the opposition and sending all comers to the deep!
A final thought: though you'd be hard-pressed to actually pick a time you'd build with this specific purpose in mind, the Revenant's ability lends itself to be used in a unique fashion to dispose of one of the peskier crews in the game - Marines. Simply run her down alongside any of the ships that require two hits to eliminate a mast (e.g. the USS Emerald ). Run that ship next to the island, let the marine exhaust itself shooting her in vain, and park the Revenant beside, shooting past your blocker to eliminate that (heavily armed) meddling kid.
Combos with other miniatures:
This is where the review gets fun - exploring specific crewing possibilities for this ship. While not entirely complete, and though my knowledge of the game is steadily growing from a very basic standpoint, every attempt will be made to show an array of different builds.
Back to Basics: Captain , Helmsman , Cannoneer , Musketeer . You know them, you love them! Generic crew may not be the most exotic choice, but in a bang-for-the-buck sense, they could combine with other crew to give you the ability to smile as you sail head-on for your opponent, wondering if they'll have the sense to turn and run in time.
Sharing the Hate: Bruce Grey . The logic here is simple - guns are good. Guns with good ranks are better. Guys that give a +1 to rolls for guns with good ranks are even better still.
Actions So Nice, We'll Take Them Twice: Calico Cat , Crimson Angel , Captain Blackheart . If any gripe can be had about the Revenant, it's surely pertaining to her less-than-stellar speed. Crew that give extra actions are a good way to mitigate that lack of speed, and combined with captains, can pave the way for devastating waves of fire upon ships that get too close.
I Can Even Do It Backwards: Benito de Soto . Captain's the keystone ability for a gunship. Reverse captain isn't so crucial, but it has its applications. Getting both in one package means there truly isn't a turn this ship won't be a major threat.
The Multi-Talent Show: Hammersmith , Geoffery Flores , Griffin , Christopher Moody , etc. Much like the previously mentioned Sr. de Soto, several crew in the Pirate faction have two separate abilities for only one space taken up, leaving you with a bit more valuable cargo/crew room in your build. From the short list of options above that tickled my fancy as I took notes on Pirate crew, I will say that a few stood out as decided favorites. Geoffery Flores giving you the ability to move and shoot a 5-mast broadsides at rank 2 is almost criminally good. If you're like me and tend to roll 1s and 2s at crucial moments, the reroll ability from Griffin might literally be the most important addition to your build.
Additionally, a nice way to run the Revenant would be a 'Bounty Hunter' build consisting of Hammersmith and Barstow . Such a combination would give you a modest move of L+S, and if run into an enemy ship, allows for up to 5 shots in addition to a ram attempt, followed by a boarding party which would allow you to capture the enemy's most expensive crew if won, and get paid for it later!
Unconventional, perhaps... Gentleman Jocard , Ammand the Corsair , Captain Villanueva . Threre were a few crew options that I looked at, liked, but just didn't get that "well, that's awesome!" vibe from. Among them, these were some of the highlights. Gentleman Jocard gives you that extra space you'd need to start thinking about the gold game in setup, and does so for a slight 3 points. Ammand the Corsair's ability isn't anything that will single-handedly win the game for you, but if you have the points and space available, adds a new level of the aforementioned inconvenience for you opponents. While the Revenant is hardly the ship a person looks at and says, "Hello, you're going to be a Home Island Raider tonight!", Villanueva does offer that very ability. In such a role, her cargo hold should suffice, she'll be more than durable enough to survive most raids in traditional games, and when paired with a captain, can mean trouble if you make a break for you opponent's home island the same time one of her treasure runners does.
There are certainly some I've left off the list, though not for lack of trying to at least represent the ability. Grim the Savage , Coconut , Captain Jack Hawkins all come to mind, but I feel these omissions serve to illustrate the bigger point: when crewing the Revenant, you can do anything your heart desires (short of moving upwards of S+S+S+L+S in a turn or collecting 6 coins from an island).
Ways to counteract it:
Fire.. BAD! Sorry, kind of dove into Karloff-fan mode there. Still the point is a solid one - fire masts are a ship's worst enemy. They're the masts that take out other masts, shorten the amount of time you have to make it home for repairs, and can lead to your ship taking an early exit from the stage. Even as a psychological weapon, I know I've at least superstitiously pondered that a roll I make to stave off additional fire masts at the start of my turn might well have instead been a hit on a cannon roll later.
Additionally, this ship can stand well on her own, but to move in a game, she will need crew. A canceler like Tia Dalma or even the Stinkpot Specialist can be used to nullify any base move boost or extra turn chance the Revenant might have. This opens the door for the most likely route to success in a match up with the old Pirate stalwart - outrun her. While most ships wouldn't relish the thought of going right up to the Revenant and opening fire, it's also safe to assume that most ships, if crewed for running, can outpace, or at least out maneuver, the bulky 5-master.
Of course, if you're of the mindset that you'd like very much to set the Revenant back to rest, a Broadsides attack might just be what the doctor ordered! Big as she is, all it takes is a good die roll for the United States to mow her down!
- 5 guns, at a nice mix of 2 rank long- and short-ranges.
- 15 points, for a point total that won't handcuff you at a smaller build total, but allows you plenty of room for some devastating crew/combos.
- An imposing aspect to her aesthetics. (This will be expanded upon later, but it's a definite positive for me)
- A unique ability that gives her a superlative accuracy in combat.
By far, I'd say the biggest weakness of the Revenant is that she's the blueprint for what Pirate 5-mast gunships should be. Indeed, nothing about her is amazing in the terms of the game itself. In several key aspects, the Revenant is simply not as good in particular traits as many ships in her point range.
- There are five other ships printed with the same unique ability as the Revenant, and among them, three ( Morning Star , Le Superbe , and Monaque ) are 5-masted.
- There are faster 5-masted Pirate ships, to be certain. Black Swan , Grand Barnacle , and the Deliverance (take your pick - Ocean's Edge or Crimson Coast ) come to mind. As good as her guns are, the Revenant can't shoot what it can't reach.
- Speaking of the Grand Barnacle , she leads a list of Pirate 5-masters with deeper cargo holds. Additionally, we have the Flying Dutchman , Harbinger , Lady's Scorn , Morning Star , and the Prussian Crown .
Artwork and aesthetics:
There probably aren't many fans of this game who would argue against the classic artwork to be had in the Spanish Main set. I can be counted squarely as a fan. The Revenant, in particular, was a ship smack of so much 'cool' factor in her looks that I took a short forever assembling her for fear of breaking a mast or scratching the paint. The red sails with the faded, offset skull and cross-bones, the 'pretty kind of ugly' weathering on what clearly looks like an old Spanish ship, even the way the cannons seem to 'pop' under good lighting compared to the dark color scheme of the rest of the ship... this ship just looks cool. It big, it's mean, and it doesn't try to hide it, either statistically or artistically!
I'd personally give this ship an 8/10.
It's true that, over time, several options have been made that, in one way or another, can claim to be superior to the Revenant. However, as a total package, I believe this to be a ship with few parallels, whose brilliance against limited competition set a high standard for what a ship of this particular size should be able to do in future sets. By no means am I saying that this was the best 5-masted ship in the game, or even in her own set, but it'd seem short-sighted in my estimation for her not to be in the conversation.
As an aside, I'd like to thank the user sariouriel, who'd previously reviewed the Revenant in 2008. Though that used is no longer on the site, I found their review to be a good read, and I found myself of a similar vein of thought to theirs. I'd consider my work as more or less an update on the idea of reviewing this wonderful ship.
I hope this review was informative and entertaining! If you have any comments, please feel free to tell me. After all, sharing knowledge is the best way to learn.
The Revenant ("one who returns after death") is an appropriate name for the mysterious flagship of Capitan El Fantasma and his ghostly crew. Appropriate, indeed, and may she sail ever on!