This was an experimental game 3 player game, 1 player at 300 and two players at a combined 315 points. It was also a “make up” campaign game for one of the guys in our local group that didn’t get his regularly scheduled game in.
Guy played a 300 point Spanish Merchant Frigate, Kevin played a 150 point English Buccaneer campaign force and I played a supporting 165 point English Navy Fluyt.
Guy, our campaign organizer, played a fun thematic 300 point Spanish list in a Merchant Frigate. His command unit of 15 Marineros with blunderbusses, an Experienced commander, a Standard Bearer and a Spiritual Leader was placed on the back deck of a Merchant Frigate with 2 Light Cannons and 2 Swivel Guns. In the middle deck there was another group of 14 Marineros on 3 Light Cannons with a Master Gunner and a unit of 12 Trained Milicianos. In the front of the ship on 2 Swivel Guns was a unit of 8 Marineros Piqueros.
Kevin used a campaign force but I didn’t get his commander’s details aside from his fearsome name: Cap’n Mel O’Tonin. Using the Atypical Armament ability, Captain O’Tonin is permanently equipped with Brace of Pistols, a Buccaneer Gun and a Grenado! In this game he was attached to a unit of 8 Forlorn Hope which was amazing since that brought their grenade count up to 3! In the front deck of his Tartana was a unit of 8 Sea Dogs (2 Blunderbuss) on 2 Swivels, and a unit of 7 Freebooters.
The back deck had 2 Swivel Guns as well. His list came to 24 models which put his Strike Point threshold at 6 casualties.
I used a simple English Navy cannon list. Three groups of 8 Sea Dogs without Pistols manning 3 sets of 2 Light Guns on a Fluyt. My commander was in the middle with a Sailing Master and the other two units had a Master Gunner attached. I had two swivels in the front and 2 swivels in the back as a defensive measure. I planned to just load and fire these cannons as fast as I could! I would have used a faster Frigate, but it’s hard to effectively man 3 cannons on that main deck with a max unit size of 8 models.
I built a 165 point list but apparently I should have been at 150 and missed a memo! My fault.
At 25 models, my list would take a Strike Point at every 6 casualties as well.
Guy’s list had 51 models but he modified the Strike Points rules to balance the 2 vs 1 game. He halved his Strike Point value from 12 to 6 models and then planned to compare his Strike Points to both of ours together.
We played Breakthrough at sea with Kevin and me as defenders and Guy’s Spanish as Attacker.
In this scenario the attacker is trying to get close to the defender’s flagship. If they are within 8″ they give the Defender a Strike and if they aren’t within 12″ by the end of turn 3 or later, the Attacker gains a Strike. Either force can give their opponent a Strike by reducing their top speed by half through damage to rigging. Kevin’s Tartana (Bark model rigged as a Tartana) was our flagship.
Kevin and I placed first within 6″ of the impassable edge with my Fluyt right behind his Tartana.
Guy placed his ship 24″ away from us coming downwind with the Tartana clearly in his sights! This setup was a smart counter to my cannons since I would have trouble turning to starboard to bring my cannons to bear on him because of the impassable edge. Turning to port would put me upward or in the wind’s eye and the Fluyt doesn’t do so great sailing upwind, even with a Sailing Master.
The Spanish spent their first turn increasing sail and sailing downwind towards the Tartana.
The English Buccaneers bravely sailed towards the Spanish and fired off muskets and landed several hits on the Piqueros in the focsle of the Frigate but they saved impressively and I don’t think they lose a man.
I turned my Fluyt to starboard and let off a 4 gun broadside on my first activation so I wouldn’t waste my first turn doing nothing. Three of the four cannons made the ranging shot but I didn’t get any of the necessary 10’s to do any damage. I shot my last 2 guns later on the turn but didn’t do any damage and I spent the rest of the round reloading.
The Damnable Gun! event was drawn on round two and it effected 2 of my decks, two groups of Spanish and one English swivel (their Buccaneer Guns are immune to this event!).
The Spanish continued their run forwards the Bark firing swivels and killing a few models in the foredeck as they came. The Marineros in the back deck fired their cannons at my Fluyt as I struggled to maneuver against the wind and got several hits through including a lucky hit that I promptly repaired. I think the mid deck cannons of the Frigate hit the Tartana this round as well, dealing a lot of damage and a Steerage crit but not killing many men.
I was in a nasty spot on turn two. I was moving slower than the Frigate and against an impassable board edge so I couldn’t bring my Port guns around to fire. Guy’s ship placement was really good and made sailing difficult for me! I turned into the wind on my first activation. A Fluyt sailing into the wind moves a mere 2″ and feels like sailing a bathtub! I used my Sailing Master to try to get a 3″ move on my next activation but failed, spent a Fortune and failed again! So I crept forward and reloaded all my guns on turn 2.
Guy’s Spanish activated last on turn 2 and grappled the Tartana but lacked the action to board.
I knew if I could activate first on turn 3 I could fire off 4 cannons at fairly close range and possibly cripple the Spanish boarding party so I spent my last fortune drawing a new hand. I drew into a 10 of Spades which I was pretty happy with but I ended up going last!
Kevin played a 12 of Spades and made an effective shoot/grenade attack on the Spanish Militia and Piqueros taking out a couple and applying 2 Fatigue on the Militia. The Spanish bravely charged into the Forlorn Hope took 2 casualties from the defensive pistols and miraculously passed all 3 Fatigue dice (after a Fortune was spent).
Milicianos are actually pretty deadly in a fight and they landed 5 hits on the Forlorn Hope! The stout English saved all but one and eventually drove the Spaniards back into their ship and cut grapples.
I finally got to shoot my cannons again and I applied several damage to the Frigate and applied a Fire damage to the back deck.
Somehow as I was sailing upwind I lined my ship up perfectly for the Spanish to get a single cannon raking shot on me and they got two damage and killed a man.
The Spanish fired the 3 mid deck guns into the Tartana again leaving it at less than half of its hitpoints remaining and causing a couple units to go prone.
The English Buccaneers spent a good portion of turn 3 rallying after being hit hard by ranged attacks.
With the Buccaneer flagship taking considerable damage and both ships sailing faster than my Fluyt, I bit the bullet and sailed into the wind hoping to get a decisive broadside into the frigate before it got away from me.
We ended turn 3 with my Fluyt squarely in the wind’s eye, but ready for a solid broadside.
The casualty count was relatively light on both sides with the exception of the Spanish Militia who took casualties from the charge and the Sea Dogs on the Tartana who took heavy casualties from swivels and solid shot.
Going into turn 4 we had some dramatic weather!
Guy drew and event which came up as a 10! We had a tidal current flowing across the board that slowed ships movement in that direction by 1″. The current was the same direction as the wind so for a moment I was in the wind’s eye and sailing against the current which put my speed at 1″.
We had to roll on the wind table and Guy rolled a 10 again which let his opponent choose a result!
We chose to have the wind shift clockwise which got my ship out of the dangerous zone and put his directly into the eye of the wind! Talk about winds of change!
The Spanish had initiative and Guy activated his command unit ready to fire cannons on both of our ships. We got halfway through calculating cannon damage on the Tartana before Guy remembered he had to take a Fatigue check for the Fire critical damage! The Marineros failed the Fatigue check and became shaken which saved our bacon! Instead of firing 3 sets of cannons, the Spanish had to rally and use command points to wear away from the wind (the first attempt failed, the second attempt succeeded). This was probably the pivotal moment of the game.
I fired two cannons applying 4 hits with a lucky hit and a critical hit (I finally got his fortitude down to 2)! Maybe my cannons were about to do something epic! My lucky hit came up as a 2. No effect. My critical hit came up as a 1. No effect! Aaaarg!
Halfway through the game and I had only lost 3 models but I hadn’t really accomplished a lot either.
The Spanish fired on me again and brought me really close to half my hull shot away. I lost two more models leaving they front deck with the minimum 4 models to man those guns.
Got to love that Heart with Expert Artillery Crew. With a Master Gunner you can remove a full 4 reloads in one activation.
At the end of round 4 we calculated Strike Points:
- With 4 casualties the English Navy still had 0 Strikes.
- With 10 casualties, half the hull points destroyed and an enemy ship within 8″ of our English flagship, Kevin had 3 Strike Points.
- Using the 3 player modified Strike Point threshold of 6 casualties, the Spanish had 4 Strikes for casualties with something like 25 casualties and one Strike for the Frigate being below half health.
With 3 Strikes to 5 Spanish rolled for a Strike Test and rolled a 10!
Going into turn 5 the English had a opportunity to either charge the struggling Spanish commander or throw grenades. With Fire on board the frigate, the grenade option looked much more attractive and the 9 grenade dice plus some pistol shots proved too much for the Marineros and the unit was eliminated along with the commander.
At only 7″ away I had the opportunity to fire my mid deck guns into the weakened Frigate. I needed 2’s and up to make contact. I rolled two 1’s! Keep your powder dry boys.
As round 5 came to a close the Spanish sailed towards me and fired off their swivels at my commander’s unit killing 2. My Resolve finally gave way and I failed all 3 Fatigue tests! These were the only Fatigue I took from attacks the entire game!
My guns were nearly all unloaded so I finished with some swivel shots that didn’t do much vs the Piqueroes.
At the end of round 5 we calculated Strikes again:
- Kevin’s Buccaneers still had 1 Strike for 10 casualties and a Strike for a battered ship but he had dropped the Scenario Strike Point by pulling away past 8″ from the Spanish ship giving him a total of 2.
- My force had lost 6 men giving me 1 Strike and my ship was still 1 pip away from giving me a another.
- Guy’s Spanish had 5 Strikes for 35 casualties and 1 for a damaged ship.
With 3 more Strikes than the English, and no captain to push them on, the Spanish capitulated.
The English Buccaneers took the brunt of the Spanish wrath but they saved well on some crucial attacks and had more than 50% of the force left at the end.
Post Game Thoughts
- The 3-player game worked out fairly well! The two activations per turn were an advantage for us defenses but the 4 cards in hand and the larger unit size was a real advantage for the 300 point force. It seemed close to even.
- Guy gave us a couple breaks when he played “thematically” when he could played a little more ruthlessly. Sending those Milicianos into a boarding action with 2 Fatigue was a bold move that could have ended in disaster but it turned into a fun and dramatic moment.
- The Fluyt is a good size and spread of cannons for a <200 point list. With 2 cannons per section it’s easy to man the cannons at that max of 8 models per unit. With 8 models on the 3 cannons in the mid section of the Frigate, it would be fairly easy for the enemy to focus fire on that section and take out a couple models and render a cannon useless.
- The Fluyt isn’t the fastest ship. I had a severe disadvantage keeping up with the Frigate and Tartana in this game. If they hadn’t periodically grappled and drifted it would have been worse! The tide event didn’t help and my Sailing Master failed more often than not! I felt like a tub compared to the other ships on the board.
- I should have taken Heavily Built on my Fluyt. The Spanish didn’t focus on my ship, but I took plenty of cannon fire and lost nearly half my hull points. Dropping 1 Sea Dog to make room for Heavily Built probably would have been worth it.
- Per usual, I made a couple mistakes. I had 15 more points in my list than I should have had, but still, I didn’t contribute overly much to the battle anyway… I also misread the Tide event and only applied it to a single turn but it seems to actually apply to the rest of the game.
- Cannons are still seem a little weak. Those 56 points of Forlorn hope did more with one toss of Grenades than my ship full of cannons and expert artillery crew did the entire game! Maybe not literally, but I had 165 points of crack cannon crew firing cannons nearly every turn and there were still 7 points of hull left on that Merchant Frigate! I had some rough luck as well, but the cannons didn’t blow me out of the water (pun intended). It sounds like cannons might get a cost reduction soon from the designers at some point and I would welcome that! I’m sure its really hard to balance the power of small arms and cannons, but right now it does seem a cannon ship is a little weaker than a ship full of small arms.
- I kind of like the Royal Navy. This was a simple list with only type of model, but having Broadside on the Untested Commander is really nice and having Tough on all your models lets you really focus on reloading and shooting those cannons, no matter how poorly you shoot!
- With 3 players drawing cards we had more events than in a standard game. We used the Sea Event table and it really added flavor to the game. Both the Damnable Gun and the Tide event changed the game. We also drew the Salty Dogs event and the Spanish player nobly tried to apply it to my struggling English but it turns out you have to apply it to your own force. Even with Expert Sailors and the bonus from the Salty Dogs and spending a Fortune I couldn’t get that Master Sailor to get my speed up when it mattered most!
- Guy used a Spiritual Leader in his force and it seemed like it was actually worth it! He used his Fortune points well and had some dramatic reversals including when he charged with Milicianos and forced the charge to succeed with a re-roll.
- This battle was filled with dramatic moments! Those grenades massacring the Spanish command unit, the Milicianos miraculously making their charge, the Forlorn Hope saving 5/6 models in melee combat, the wind swinging around to help the English at a crucial moment, that Fire preventing the Spanish from delivering another salvo of cannon shot at an important moment, my best cannon hit delivering 1’s on the Lucky and Critical hits, and my closest and most promising cannon shot rolling double 1’s. Memorable moments.
- Those Marineros Piqueros are an awesome unit at sea. Their Save is only 1 better than everyone else, but it seems so hard to kill them! They’re hard to kill and scary on offense and defense when it comes to boarding actions.
- The Forlorn Hope were worth every point in this battle. Their inexhaustible weaponry, strong Resolve and solid Melee Saves kept them in the battle and those Grenades were brutal. The grenades did misfire once but Kevin had the Fortune to reroll when two of the 3 grenades came up 1’s.
Thanks to Kevin and Guy for a good and exciting game! It was really great having all painted ships and models on the table. It’s a beautiful sight!
I hope I reported this game reasonably accurately. This was a fairly long and complex game and I was functioning on 3 hours of sleep.