My group finished a campaign! I’m hoping to write another post on the campaign experience at some point so this will be a straightforward battle report. Guy Rheuark did a great job running the campaign. He took some liberties with the campaign rules to introduce more variation into our encounters and this last game turn had a larger 2 vs 2 battle that players could participate in.
- Ross P & Chase D vs Don O and Joseph F
- Pirates and Dutch Caribbean Militia attacking Spanish Militia and English Buccaneers
- Amphibious Raze
- 200 points per player totaling 400 points per side
- Using new cannon rules
- Played at Geeks & Games in Oregon City
I won’t go into detail on the scenario rules since I just did a battle report on the same style of game last week. To summarize, the defenders have 3 gun emplacements they’re trying to defend and the attackers can give the defenders a strike point by destroying one. If the attackers fail to destroy one by the end of round 4, they get a strike point.
At 400 points per side, the scenario gave the defender heavy cannons but they all start unloaded at the beginning of the game.
I ran a list of Milicianos, Soldados and one unit of Milicianos Artilleros to man a gun emplacement. I upgraded my Milicianos to Trained and gave them all heavy matchlock muskets so they could start firing earlier as the ships approached.
I had 36 trained and veteran heavy matchlock muskets. They aren’t super accurate but at least I had dice to roll!
My ally, Don O, ran a list of English Buccaneers with a strong focus on keeping our heavy cannons firing throughout the game. He even bought an extra gun emplacement and heavy cannon to bolster our defenses. I think his list looked something like this:
Our opponents were playing the Pirate faction and the Dutch Caribbean Militia faction which had taken a heavy naval emphasis throughout the campaign.
Chase brought a Fluyt filled with European Militia, Kapers and Militie Artillerie and 4 medium cannons. Here is his list:
Chase put 4 Militia in each fighting top.
Ross ran a Pirate Sloop filled with English units. His commander was attached to a unit of 8 Veteran Forlorn Hope in the back of his Sloop.
His list looked something like this:
As per the scenario rules, the attackers chose to deploy on the first turn so Don and I placed all units at once. One of the things I learned from my 2 player practice game last week is to be very careful with the placement of the defending cannons. We deployed them inside the cove (per Christopher Tunez’s suggestion on Facebook) so they had overlapping cones of fire and so they had to be approached straight up the cove. This was a very strong position for us as defenders and in hindsight, I feel bad that we did this because I had created the board it ended up benefiting us to a high degree.
I took our Left flank and deployed lines of Milicianos behind breastworks along the beach. I put my core unit of 12 Soldados in the center of my position so the commander could reach all my units and I place my officer on the far Left of my line. I also controlled one of the central gun emplacements.
Don deployed his English on our Right with 3 groups of 6 Sea Dogs manning the emplacements and one reserve group of Freebooters on the back line and the Commander’s unit of Freebooters on the jetty.
The two attacking ships moved onto the board on turn 1 and tried to maneuver into a good position to fire off some cannon before moving into to the cove. The defending artillery crews scrambled to load their empty cannons. The Dutch Fluyt fired off its cannons at long range as it made its way around the point and the forward Freebooters exchanged volleys with the Dutch in the Fighting Tops.
Near the end of round 1 my leftmost Milicianos were able to get off a volley at around 30″. In spite of the relatively small unit size of 6 models, I was fairly consistent in getting one 10 on every volley at extended range but only a few got through the Hard Cover rolls.
We were able to fire off our defending heavy cannons during round 2 but while they sometimes made contact on the ranging shot, we didn’t have much luck actually getting damage through to the hull since we were needing 10’s.
With the help of my commander’s 2 command points and my Officer, my Trained Milicianos were able to consistently fire every turn and they got a decent number of hits on the Dutch as they sailed around the jetty and moved into the harbor.
As the ships moved into the cove, the Fluyt crowded the Pirate Sloop a little which limited its ability to use its cannons for a turn or so. But in doing so, the Dutch Fluyt was able to fire its medium guns at a group of my Milicianos behind breastworks. That cannon fire proved devastating and I lost an entire group of 6 Milicianos to 2 guns on turn 2.
This wholesale massacre of Milicianos via cannonballs would become all to familiar an event to me before the game was done.
At the opening of turn 3 my most forward Milicianos got another volley off which cause the small unit of Sea Dogs manning the Sloop’s Swivels to go prone, but the Sloop’s cannons took vengeance and totally eliminated another group of 6 Milicianos. If I remember correctly that was 11 hits on 6 models!
Sometime during round 3 some cannons hit my Soldados but I lucked out and only lost 3 of the 12 and I succeeded all my Fatigue rolls! Another starboard broadside from the Fluyt took out a couple more of the English Freebooters on the jetty and left them prone.
Between another round of cannon fire and continued small arms fire from the Freebooters, the Dutch in the Fluyt took some heavy casualties leaving the Dutch command group with only the Commander, the Master Gunner and the Captured Merchant character (which I’m just realizing breaks the rules of 1 character per unit). The Militia in the mid deck had voluntarily gone prone to try and avoid taking casualties.
The Dutch rallied a bit at the end of round 3 when the West India Company rule took fatigue off each Dutch unit.
I drew a King of Spades going into round 4 and I was able to get off a Expertly Drilled volley with my Soldados right away with the hope of slowing down the Sea Dog/Medium Cannon killing machine.
I landed 4 hits on the Pirate Sloop but Ross made 3 of his saves and the English Resolve proved itself again. They kept coming!
With time running short and no surplus of actions to reduce sail speed, the Fluyt sailed straight for the rocks in an effort to get men onto land and attempt to take out an emplacement.
The defending English reloaded and fired those heavy cannons nearly every turn and slowly wore the Fluyt’s fortitude down to 3 as it closed in. (While looking at Chase’s Dutch list, it appears he had paid for Heavily Built on his Fluyt which would have considerably changed the game. Most of the cannon shots only did one or two damage so that would have likely reduced the incoming damage by half and let the Dutch contribute a lot more to the fight.)
The Pirate cannons hit me again and eliminated my 3rd full unit of Milicianos!
The Dutch Militia in the fighting tops were effective and annoying. The previously shaken Freebooters made a solid rally attempt at the end of turn 3 and got revenge on those sniping militia at the beginning of turn 4, shoot all 4 of them out of the forward mast.
With a crunch, the Fluyt beached itself on the rocks near the Rightmost emplacement and the Dutch Commander made a last heroic charge with his Sharpshooter and Captured Merchant. With the help of the Merchant, the Sea Dogs’ pistols had no effect and they killed one Sea Dog in the charge but the brawling Sea Dogs eliminate the brave Dutchmen and captured the merchant on the following activation.
At this point the Fluyt was badly shot up with only a remnant of the crew left but the Pirate Sloop was still nearly fresh with only 5 casualties.
At the end of turn 4 we tallied the strike points.
- The defenders had 2 strike points for 28 Spanish casualties.
- The attackers had 1 strike point for not destroying an emplacement/gun, 2 strike points for 19 Dutch casualties, 1 strike point for losing the Captured Merchant, and 1 strike point for beaching the Fluyt, bringing their total to 5.
We adjusted the rules a little for a 4 player game and had Ross’s English Pirate captain roll for the strike test (the Dutch commander was dead). With 4 Resolve from the Forlorn Hope and a bonus from Resilient and the Pirate faction’s ability to roll 2 dice and keep the best result, I was sure they would have no trouble passing. But… he rolled two 1’s and with no fortune available to re-roll, the game ended there.
Both the English defenders and the Pirate attackers were still relatively fresh and ready for more but the Spanish and Dutch were battered to pieces with well more than 50% casualties. The placement of my troops and the way the Fluyt screened the Sloop as they entered the cove made the Dutch and Spanish take nearly all the casualties.
Had the game gone on, Don’s English would have boarded the beaches Fluyt and likely taken the battered ship. The Pirate Sloop would have continued up the cove and probably got some good hits on one of the emplacements but all of those heavy guns would have had close range shots along with the remainder of my Spanish muskets and the reserve unit of 8 veteran Freebooters. His crew was relatively fresh so that would have been exciting.
The final casualty count was 28 for my Spanish, 4 for my English ally, 19 plus the Merchant for the Dutch and a mere 5 Sea Dogs for the Pirates.
It was a good game but we made some mistakes and we all learned a lot. I think each player would do some things differently next time!
- The board was too big. The attackers could have used Privateer versions of their ships to gain an extra 1″ to every move but it was still too large. The scenario rules call for a 4’x4′ board and we expanded it to 6’x4′ because we had 400 points per side but I think that was a mistake. It just took too long for the ships to get close enough to have a chance to do meaningful damage to the emplacements. With a Fortitude of 5, you need cannons at less than 12″ away to get a reasonable amount of hits vs a structure that tough. A 4’x4′ board would have been fine with the size of landmass we had.
- I built the board (and the shoreline terrain) and I think it ended up favoring the defender. The combination of a large board and the cove putting the emplacements near the back of the board and in an advantageous position (Christopher Tunez’s fault) made attacking them very difficult. I wasn’t trying to give my side an advantage but I did and I feel bad about that.
- All that said, I think the attackers would approach differently if they were presented with this situation again. I heard Chase say “I would do things so differently” several times throughout the game (accompanied by a pained look). I’ll be an “armchair general” for a minute and speculate on a couple alternate approaches that may have been possible. First I think the attackers could have done more spreading their ships further apart. If the Fluyt has passed closer by the tip of the rocky outcrop instead of crowding the Sloop, both of them may have been able to use their guns more efficiently. Another approach would have been to slow down and anchor at the mouth of the cove and pound all my soldiers to pieces with those brutal cannons before entering. At that range cannons are ineffective vs the emplacements and our cannons wouldn’t be damaging the ships, but it would be possible to take our large groups of my Milicianos. Then they could move into the bay with 60% less firepower aimed at them. It would have delayed their attacks on the emplacements even further, but they may have been able to balance the Strike point count with casualties. Another non-standard approach would have been to disembark men on the far side of the jetty and strike the Rightmost emplacement by land. With all my troops on the far Left, there was only 1 group of Freebooters guarding that flank and that might have worked. The Pirate unit of 9 Veteran Forlorn hope could have ripped up that fun gun crew like nobody’s business.
- I think Raze is a difficult scenario for the attacker in any case. You can watch the Native raiders get torn apart just trying to land to spike the guns vs the Scottish Force in the latest Beasts of War Blood & Plunder video.
- Heavily Built would have been extremely useful in this scenario. With only one defending cannon firing at a time, that would have cancelled at least 40% of the damage on the Fluyt and it would have saved a lot of Dutch lives. Chase had it in his list but forgot to apply it which may have thrown the game.
- Cannons vs men outside a structure are DEVASTATING. I said this after my last battle as well but it happened again. That Sloop was sailing by at 8-10″ and hitting on 2’s. Nearly every shot killed an entire unit of my Milicianos. I should have made them run away or go prone or something. It was a massacre, even with breastworks. I think the attacker can really even the field by using their cannons this way.
- The Soldados did good work for me again but they weren’t as effective against the English with their strong resolve. Expertly Drilled helped a little but it wasn’t as dramatic as my previous games.
- The Fighting Tops are a fun and effective option. I misread the rule last time I used them and only put 2 men in each top but they can take 4 which is much more useful. I found myself wanting to target the cannon crews with my attacks so those Militia in the tops kept picking away at us until Don got annoyed at them and hit them hard with his Freebooters.
- This four player games worked, but it moved a little slow. People were getting a little distracted between their activations and things started to stall. Whenever yuh get four historical gamers together they like to talk! (All good and fun and I’m not complaining, just observing.) I started setting up the board around 2:45, we started playing around 4:00 and finished the game around 7:00pm.
- The Sharpshooter character seems a little weak compared to the others. There was a sharpshooter in both forces and neither ever got a hit! Marksman and Deadeye are nice, but I don’t feel like he provides as much power as some of the others and he costs 4 extra points.
- Heavy Matchlocks were really good for this scenario. They limited my movement options a little but that 8″ of extended range helped me a lot.
- The emplacements are very tough in this scenario and destroying them with cannons won’t always be the best option. With two 200 point ships, I think it was a real possibility in this size of game (if the terrain was set up more evenly) but getting 17 damage on the structure within 4 turns is going to be extremely difficult in smaller games. One emplacement took 2 damage over the course of this game.
- The campaign was a really fun experience and I highly recommend it. I hope to do another post focusing on the campaign at some point but this was a great idea for finale game. I’m sorry to see it end because this game put Osvaldo Torres, my Spanish commander, at 35xp which is close to Legendary status! We’re already preparing for a new campaign in the new year!
- Thanks to Don, Ross and Chase for a good game and thanks to Guy for running a great campaign! I’m lucky to have a great group of local guys to game with.