The New and Improved Oarsman. He’s Better (yes!), Stronger (yes!), and Faster (ok, 2 out of 3 isn’t bad). Who is this new superman among your crew, and how do you use him to the best effect? Read on…The New OarsmanThe Oarsman keyword description used to be “If derelict, this ship gains a base move of S. This crew takes no space.” This was fine. If you ship lost all of its masts, and you had an Oarsman on board, you could scoot around at S speed (S+S with a Helmsman), and potentially get home so that you could repair. But, all your opponent needed to do was sail up and touch your ship’s bow. Your ship would be taken in tow, and would become part of his fleet. Many times, it was better to scuttle your ship when it became derelict; otherwise, your opponent could take it and use it against you.

But recently, WizKids has changed the Oarsman keyword description to: “This ship is not derelict when all her masts are eliminated; she gains a base move of S, but can’t ram other ships. This crew takes up no cargo space.” Very different from what it was, and this changes how Oarsmen can be used in the game.

The new Oarsman is now Better and Stronger than the old one. No other crew, including Captains, Helmsmen or named crew can prevent a derelict ship from being taken by your opponent. But a lone Oarsman, costing a measly 1pt, can prevent the ship from falling into the wrong hands. Who are these new Oarsmen, John McClane?

One downside to the new Oarsmen is that if your ship has one on board and lose all of it’s masts, you cannot scuttle her. Scuttling requires that a ship be derelict, and since an Oarsman equipped ship is not derelict, you can’t scuttle.

So, what do you do if your opponent has these new super Oarsmen on his ships? You can’t take the ship and add it to your fleet, normally. But, you can still sink them. But, that may not be the best idea if the ship is Eternal, or has an Eternal crew on board. If that’s the case, you can always cancel the Eternal keyword. Or, better yet, cancel the Oarsman and then take the ship for your own!