After playing a long and interesting land game using the Natives and French Expeditionary Force, Guy and I cleared the table and played a 200 point naval game. Again, I used one of the lists I’m thinking about using for our local tournament in March.
I used the English Buccaneers for my force. My goal was to load out my crew with grenades and other nasty short range weapons and catch my opponent and board his ship.
I brought an Untested Commander attached to a group of 8 Forlorn Hope with Grenados and a Sharpshooter. The other unit in my front deck was 8 Sea Dogs with a Sailing Master and no pistols assigned to the 2 Swivels. My rear deck had a small group of 5 Freebooters and a unit of 9 Enter Ploeg with 2 Firepots, 2 Blunderbuss and a Reformado assigned to the four Swivels. I tried to balance my long range a short range units on both decks so either deck could fire muskets or board as necessary. Since I aimed to catch and board my enemy, I used the Privateer Sloop (with no cannons).
Guy used a Portuguese-Brazilian Tercios & Militia list with the Guarda Costas faction option. The core of his force were 2 units of 12 European Sailors with Muskets. The forward deck unit had a Master Gunner attached and was manning the 3 Light Cannons. The unit on the back deck contained the Untested Commander and a Sailing Master and was manning the 4 Swivels. Also in the front deck was a group of 10 Inexperienced European Militia with Heavy Matchlocks and an Officer.
His faction also gave all his units the Drilled rule which meant his Sailors were potentially very dangerous on their muskets with a 6 shoot skill.
We rolled a d10 for the scenario and it came up as Encounter but we decided to reroll since we had just played a land Encounter directly before this game. We rolled again and it came up as Raid. In a single ship game this is essentially the same as Encounter except a different setup but we went with it anyway.
Guy’s Brazilians rolled high for the Attacker again so I deployed first along the back edge of the board sailing to windward per the setup rules. Guy’s Sloop deployed a little ahead of me at exactly 24″ from my ship.
I led with a low initiative card so we could close a little before firing my small arms. The Portuguese fired off their cannons at my rigging to no effect and my Forlorn Hope and Freebooters fired off their muskets and applied a little Fatigue. On the last activation of turn 1 we both fired our swivels which resulted in a few casualties. I lost a couple Forlorn Hope right away and rolled two 1’s for my Fatigue test which would have left them shaken so used a Fortune point early to reroll that test which gave me a better result.
Moving into turn 2 I drew an event which came out as a Freak Accident. I had to roll on the critical hit table and I got a Steerage crit! My turn value got reduced by half!
I hoped I could move first on turn 2 so I could close and throw grenades into his Sloop but I came up short on my initiative cards throughout that entire turn. The swivels in the back of his Sloop ravaged my front deck leaving the Forlorn Hope severely weakened and my Sea Dogs shaken. I picked away at his rear deck and did a little damage but I took worse than I gave on that turn. I have now decided chasing a Sloop is not a good idea…
Both of our Sailing Masters failed their extra speed checks on both turn 1 and 2! That extra 1″ can make a huge difference! On the last activation of turn 2 the Portuguese swung around and lined up a raking shot with reloaded cannons! If I won the initiative bid I could close and board but if he took the first activation, he would rake me from prow to stern.
I was drawing 4 cards to his 3 and I had my Buccaneer free mulligan so I was hopeful I could take the initiative. This was the key moment where the Buccaneer’s ability should shine! I drew a 2 ♠️ as my night card and I hoped I could do better so I redrew but was left with a 9 ♥️. That certainly wasn’t good enough to beat Guy’s K ♠️ and my ship was raked! I won’t dwell on the gory and painful details but I lost a lot of men off my front deck but luckily didn’t get a critical hit.
Going into turn 4 drew another Freak Accident event but thankfully I rolled a 1 and didn’t get another critical hit on my poor Privateer Sloop. I chased him for another turn and my Sailing Master finally gave me that extra speed! I moved 6″ and had to roll on the rigging damage table and it came up as a 10! That would be a broken mast on the critical damage table but it only counts as a Lucky Hit so it was reduced to a Sheets and Shrouds damage. I panicked for a minute when that 10 came up!
With my steerage reduced to 2″, the Portuguese took a risk and turned sharply into the wind on his second activation of turn 4. This could have widened the distance between us and brought the loaded cannons to bear on my English. During my second activation I was able to attack the only unit that hadn’t activated and that attack left it Shaken. Stuck in the Wind’s Eye with no unit to attempt the sailing action to maintain control of the ship, the Portuguese Sloop began to drift backwards which let me finally catch up!
I activated with my Enter Ploeg and used the Reformado to command the Sea Dogs to grapple. The Enter Ploeg then charged the prone Portuguese command unit using their boarding axes and cutlasses. This eliminated that unit and I use a shoot action to throw firepots and shoot my pistols and blunderbusses.
The firepots didn’t blow up in my hands and landed 8 hits and lit his forward deck on fire. Those Enter Ploeg hit so hard! 14 dice from those eight figures. This was the moment I was hoping for when I built this list!
.This attack left the sailors in pretty bad shape but the European Militia continued their strong performance and rolled well on both their Saves and Fatigue tests.
Going into turn 5 Guy beat me on initiative again and fired a deadly volley into my Enter Ploeg killing a couple and leaving them with 2 Fatigue. He the charged and eliminated the entire unit! With 2 Fatigue on his unit, my 4 remaining Freebooters countercharged and drove his final unit back, and the last of the Sea Dogs charged next.
At the end of turn 5 we calculated the Strike Points:
- My English had 2 Strike Points for 20 casualties.
- Guy’s Portuguese had 3 Strike Points for 31 casualties and 1 Strike Point for a deck being occupied by enemies.
With his commander out of the game as a casualty, the Officer took the Strike Test with the -1 penalty but he rolled a 1 and the game concluded.
- Don’t chase a Sloop! And if you do, make sure you’re slightly upwind of it so it can’t turn on dime and rake you! That was a major error on my part! I blame it on the Untested English commander… or the game starting at 11pm. Or the two beers…
- The Privateer Sloop is pretty awesome. It won’t hold up very well under more than one broadside, but that speed and maneuverability is really fun.
- I wish my Sailing Master had done more (he failed 3 out of 4 tests while his target number was a 4!), but I can see how using his extra speed could decide a game. If you’re close to catching that enemy ship, getting that Lucky Hit on your rigging doesn’t matter that much if you can grapple and board.
- The European Sailors with muskets are really good. With a shoot skill of 6 and a better Resolve, they really outclass the European Militia and they don’t cost that much more if you’re running larger units. The Brazilian-Portuguese faction makes them even better by giving them Drilled. Guy mentioned that next time he would probably swap out the Militia for another unit of Sailors with muskets.
- The Enter Ploeg are deadly. They’re kind of my favorite unit right now. Six points for a figure without a musket seems a little expensive but they can shoot and completely reload Swivels every turn no matter what card you give them and once they get into melee range, they hit like a Mack truck! The Forlorn Hope should be able to hit just about as hard, but that extra Blunderbuss bonus for the Enter Ploeg gives them that extra power. If you consider any standard veteran sailor with a pistol would cost you 5 points, that extra 1 point gets you plenty. For 1 point you get Brace of Pistols, some explosives, some blunderbusses, Expert Artillery Crew (which is better than the Spanish and French sailors), a 6 Shoot Skill and 4 Resolve! I love these guys.
- I attached a Sharpshooter to my Forlorn Hope to give that Marksmen shot but he didn’t do much again. I haven’t really been able to squeeze 4 points of value out of a Sharpshooter yet. I’ll keep trying!
- It’s possible to run a 200 point ship without cannons. I didn’t want to do it for a long time, but it can be fun! Swivels are still basically essential in my opinion. They provide so much firepower for so little cost.
- 200 Points is a nice number for a Sloop. You can fit a lot more on that ship if you want, but 200 points gives you some real list-building possibilities.
- I think both these forces performed really well and would be fun and competitive tournament lists.
- This was a very “cinematic game.” Between all the random critical hits on my ship, the crucial bids for initiative, the raking shot, some insane dice rolling (good and bad), the charge over the prone Portuguese commander, the brutal Militia volley and the deadly grenades, there was no lack of drama!
This was a really fun game. I was pretty confident going in to the first couples turns but halfway through I considered the game a loss. That one extra Fatigue on those Sailors as my opponent turned into the wind swung the game in my favor. Battles can be decided by the smallest things.
Thanks to Guy for fun gaming session!