This is the first chance I’ve had to fight against the Spanish! Nick just joined our local club and has embraced the ruthless Spanish ethos to the fullest!
I usually play Spanish on land so it was fun to have a good excuse to to try the English Caribbean Militia.
We played at 150 points. Nick misinterpreted the costing for Characters so his force ended up closer to 160 but we only realized that midway through the game and we just kept playing.
My force of 26 models was led by an Untested English commander mounted on a horse and attached to a unit of 6 Trained Militia Cavalry armed with Carbines. The core of the force was a unit of 6 Trained Freebooters and a unit of 7 Trained English Militia. A unit of 6 Veteran African Warriors with a Grizzled Veteran rounded out my force at 150.
Nick’s Tercio Force was led by an Untested Commander attached to a unit of 10 Trained and Elusive Milicianos with a Musician and Standard Bearer. A unit of 8 Veteran Lanceros and a unit 9 Veteran Soldados with a Stinkpot and a Grizzled Veteran completed the elite Spanish force.
We rolled on the core rule book scenario table and got Control the Field. I like this scenario because it doesn’t put too much extra pressure on the Attacker, but I find it usually turns into a fight over a single objective since the other two basically start controlled by the two players.
We took turns placing terrain until we felt the board looked good enough. The two outer objectives were fairly easy to control with buildings right next to them to provide cover, but the central objective was basically out in the open. We had created a nasty killing zone. With a setup like this I expected the game to focus on killing off the enemy’s models rather than rushing out to take the exposed objective.
I rolled low and took the Defender’s role and selected the upper Left corner of the board (using the orientation of the pictures above) as my deployment zone.
I set up my Cavalry and Militia behind the rock outcropping with the intention of moving up the long side of the board to control the center and I placed the Freebooters and African Warriors on the other side of my deployment rectangle with the goal of locking down the easy objective with the Freebooters and moving up the other long side of the board with the Quick Africans.
Nick placed his command group near the small building that would control his easy objective if occupied and placed the Soldados and Lanceros on either flank.
I rolled for the Musician’s Terror, but the English Resolve held and I didn’t take any Fatigue.
I drew an event in my opening hand which turned into Misfortune on Nick’s command unit of Milicianos. With the Musician and Standard Bearer attached to the unit, he decided to take the 2 Fatigue over the 3 Reloads.
On the first round the Spanish Milicianos moved into the building they started near and rallied away their Fatigue they earned through the Misfortune. The commander used his command point to start moving the Soldados down the long side of the board towards my Right flank. I moved my Militia out from behind the rock and took a shot at the Spanish in the building across the board but failed to roll any 10’s.
My cavalry activated next and moved behind the cover of the church and using my command point, I put the Militia into a safe space as well.
The Lanceros went prone behind a rocky ridge and my Africans moved up past the objective into the cover on my Right flank.
The Soldados moved another 8″ on their activation and fired across the field drawing the first blood by taking out a Freebooter and applying 2 Fatigue (I forgot to apply my faction re-rolls for Fatigue on turn 1!).
On turn 2 the Soldados reloaded and fired again taking out an African Warrior. My English Militia moved into the church and partially reloaded.
My Cavalry and Africans moved further up my flanks and I got one arrow through and killed a Soldado before they were able to get into the building where my arrows had only a small chance of doing much. The Soldado’s Resolve held strong here and basically through the entire game.
Moving into turn 3 I drew another event which started some Light Rain. This gave all units shooting gunpowder weapons outdoors extra reloads which can really slow down ranged combat. Luckily there were plenty of buildings to hide in on our map!
The Africans gave me good service using my Spades. They could move up within 7″ of the Soldados, fire twice with their bows (bows don’t care about rain!) and move back to their cover at 11″ away with Skirmishers.
The Cavalry moved up along the edge of the board and the Veteran Lanceros carefully moved up to counter them, often going prone to make themselves invisible to my Militia in the Church building.
The Militia and Milicianos shot back and forth across the field a few times and I scored a couple lucky 10’s. Even inside a building both these Militia units only Save on 7’s!
Meanwhile the Elusive Lanceros were saving like bosses while my nimble cavalry blasted away with Brace of Pistols making several hits over a couple turns but never actually killing a model! With a Shoot Skill of 7 and the pistols’ penalty, you really have to get up to point blank range to have any hope of landing substantial hits. I had Carbines but with the Light Rain making reloads more difficult, I didn’t want to waste them on a less-than-optimal shot.
Near the end of turn 4 the Lanceros got bold and moved up near the church. My Militia couldn’t see them from inside the church so on the last activation of turn 4 they stepped outside and fired a volley into the exposed Lanceros at 3″ and killed 3 of them.
This softened up the Lanceros for my much-desired cavalry charge, but they took 0 Fatigue from that attack.
Going into round 5 I drew the ideal hand and…
Nick wasn’t so lucky.
My cavalry really hadn’t done much throughout the entire game (like, nothing…) so I was determined to make this charge!
Activating on a Spade, I used my free “mounted move” and my Quick move to get within 4″, then fired my Carbines with my 1 action from the Spade. All the Lanceros were behind hard cover so they Saved on 4’s and my carbines only took down 1 model and applied 1 Fatigue.
I hoped to apply 2 Fatigue so the Lanceros couldn’t do a defensive attack vs my precious cavalry. At this point I had to decide whether I should use my Command Point to shoot with my pistols (hitting on 8’s) without danger of getting impaled by lances, or go all the way and charge where I can hit on 5’s with a Pistol re-roll.
I chose to charge! The Lanceros did their defensive attack and got 2 hits which both got through my lousy saves and reduced my cavalry force to 5 models.
I took the Fatigue to fire my pistols for this charge (firing carbines and pistols in the same activation will give a unit a Fatigue) and got the full 5 hits vs the 4 Lanceros! Hard Chargers and pistols are such a nice combination! With only 4 models to roll saves for, the Lanceros ended up with one model left which routed since it had too much Fatigue.
This left my Cavalry with 5 models, 2 Fatigue and exposed with no cover between me and the Milicianos in the building and the Soldados across the clearing. But I had eliminated the vicious Lanceros!
The Milicianos took the shot and got 2 hits on my exposed Cavalry. I failed both saves and desperately used my last Fortune point trying to save at least one of them. But both failed again and that left the remaining 3 models shaken and they retreated.
The Soldados caught my Militia in the open before they could retreat into the church. Nick threw dice for a Drilled Shoot before we remembered that Drilled only works in the open or structures without roofs. This saved my Militia in a big way and I only lost 1 model to that volley.
Going into turn 6 I had a bit of a tactical advantage with 4 cards in my hand vs 2 in the Spanish hand.
Over the course of turn 6 the Soldados took out another Freebooter, the Africans got another Skirmishy kill on the Soldados and the Milicianos rolled poorly and missed on their shot vs the English Militia.
I was able to activate last on this last turn (which can be a huge advantage on some of these scenarios) and take control of the central objective with the 6 remaining English Militia. The game was basically over but the Freebooters, who had failed to really kill anything over the course of the entire game pushed forwards and fired their Sidearm Pistols into the Soldados’ building. They finally got lucky and made 2 kills! The Soldados, who had only failed one Resolve die the entire game (in spite of a constant rain of arrows and Freebooter musketry), finally failed all 3 Fatigue dice on this last moment of the game and went prone.
At the end of turn 6 we calculated strike points:
- The English had 1 Strike Point for 8 casualties out the original 26 models.
- The Spanish had 1 Strike Point for 13 casualties of the original 28 models and 1 Strike Point for the English control of two objective markers.
A tight game with a narrow English victory!
- The English Caribbean Militia and Spanish Tercios are fairly well matched against each other. In this case the Spanish are actually better equipped than their opponents! Very unusual situation!
- I’m still struggling to understand how to use cavalry well. I invested 41 points and my commander into my cavalry unit here and they succeeded in defeating the Lanceros but they literally didn’t do anything but threaten that flank and play a little dance with the Lanceros until I had an opportunity to use my Militia to weaken the Lanceros so I could approach them without fear of being impaled! I’m not sure if I’m being too cautious with them or if they really are a glass cannon. They look intimidating on the field since they take up so much space, and they can move really fast and end up in unexpected places, but their Save numbers are so high, they fall apart if they get targeted in a serious way.
- The English Cavalry has better Resolve than any other Cavalry in the game, but the lack of the Skirmishers ability and that 7 Shoot Skill (the French have a 6) make them a little less fearsome than some of the other nationalities’ mounted units. But I do like Hard Charging Cavalry! The English Cavalry are good chargers!
- I’m still trying to decide how to set up terrain for a game. I really like setting it all up in a way that looks real, but if I set up the entire board, I’m always afraid that I’ve set up the board (or my opponent thinks I’ve set up board) in a way that gives me an unfair advantage. We used the method described in the book (alternate placing groups of terrain) for this game and I think it made it more balanced (and everyone knows it’s fair). It didn’t look as “pretty” but I think I prefer doing it this way.
- Lanceros are terrifying. I’ve used them plenty but never faced them! That Ruthless charge with the Lances’ Save penalty just doesn’t look fun! And I just couldn’t kill them with my ranged weapons! That 6 Save with Elusive was pretty hard to penetrate. They did cost a good bit (nearly as expensive as my Cavalry) and they can’t do anything until they get close, but they are scary and super deadly when they get into the action.
- I really appreciated the 5 Resolve on the English Militia. Every other nationality’s primary militia unit has a Resolve of 6 and between their 8 Ranged Save and that Resolve of 6, most militia have a hard time keeping Fatigue off. It felt great having a 5 Resolve on all my units!
- Structures can really change a game. I’ve sometimes felt the hard cover bonus isn’t really enough to accurately represent the defensive advantages a building like that church would supply, but I think if the Save bonus was any better, it would really break the game. Even as it was, half the units on the board sat in a building and simply shot and reloaded for most of the game. You can’t make that too attractive or it would make for some dull games. The rules are nicely balanced.
- Both the Veteran African Warriors and the Veteran Soldados performed really well in this game. For the same point cost, I’d say the Soldados were more effective, but the survivability of the Africans makes them pretty good, in spite of not killing as often. I considered putting Muskets on them, but the slow reload would make them shoot about every 1.25 turns instead of twice per turn.
- I’m used to playing the Spanish Militia faction so moving to the English Militia faction was interesting. The Spanish Militia has a huge variety of units to pick from. Their core unit selection is notably large (when you consider the three variations possibly). When compared with the variety of Spanish units available, the English Militia options feels really constricted. Militia, Cavalry and Freebooters are your only options for core units! I like variety and I think I prefer the Spanish Militia faction over the English but these English are nice and steady. The English have a lot of comparable units, but most of them are in the Support Unit column which means you only can use one or two of those units in a standard-sized list. I had to choose between bringing Musketeers and the African Warriors and I would have brought both if I had the option. I’d say army building for the English is a little easier, but not as interesting in the long term.
- Ruthless really is a good ability. When I play Spanish it seems like I can’t bring it into play as often as I’d like, but playing against the Spanish makes it look better. Nick got off a lot of shots with that Ruthless bonus. Great game mechanic. Really makes the Spanish feel unique.
Thanks to Nick for meeting up and playing such a good game! He’s only been playing for a few weeks, but he already has a good grasp of the rules and how to build armies for the various factions. Thanks to Nick for a bunch of the pictures I used here as well!
Thanks for reading!