My local campaign is slowly but steadily moving forward. I wasn’t able to coordinate a game with my assigned opponent during this 4th round so Guy, our campaign master, filled in and played a L’Olonnais force against my Natives for this campaign turn.
We played this game at the 200 point level and for our campaign, we’re granting the attacker and extra 10% so my South American Tribes force totaled 220.
My commander, Abuti Arunau Golu, is up to 18 XP and is starting to really change my game. The combination of Ruthless, Great Warrior and Savvy make him really deadly attached to a unit of Warrior Musketeers.
My force consisted of a unit of 7 Veteran Warrior Musketeers with my commander (with a musket) attached, a unit of 8 Young Warriors, two units of 6 Warrior Archers with Grizzled Veterans and 2 units of 5 Warrior Archers, one of which also had a Grizzled Veteran. All 5 units with bows were equipped with Poisoned Arrows. All 6 units had their own canoe. At 38 models, my force would take a Strike Point at every 9 casualties.
Guy built a standard 200 point list to oppose my campaign force. He chose L’Olonnais and his personal force of the Flibustier Nau. He had 2 units of 9 Les Enfants Perdue, one with L’Olonnais attached and a unit of 12 Marins equipped with 4 Blunderbusses and 8 Buccaneer guns. 3 Breastwork fortifications rounded out his force to an even 200. At 31 models, Guy’s force would take a Strike Point at every 7 casualties.
This force has some real strengths and weaknesses when put up against Natives. There are a lot of grenades here and that’s one of the easiest ways to take out Natives since it negates their strong save. The 4 Resolve on the Enfant combined with Tough means it will be really hard for me to keep Fatigue on them, especially since L’Olonnais has Very Inspiring and the full 3 command points. The Enfant’s weakness is in their Save numbers. With a Shoot and Fight Save of 8, even the arrows might find their way into some French bodies. The Breastworks are a good way to compensate for that but they won’t be saving as well as the Elusive Boucaniers.
Legend has is that the ruthless L’Olonnais was eventually killed by Natives so this felt like a matchup with some historical precedent
We played Breakthrough in an amphibious setting with my Natives as the attacking force.
My goal was to get on the land by turn 3 and get at least 4″ from his deployment zone by the end of turn 3 and then move into his deployment zone to give my opponent a Strike Point while Guy’s goal was to keep my troops at bay.
Before setup we chose our Tactics that are available in campaign mode. I chose Night Attack and Caught Unaware. All visibility was reduced to 12″ and Guy’s French couldn’t activate any units until the sentries sounded the alarm. Guy chose High Tolerance (which counteracts Drunk) as his tactic since Drunk can be devastating to a force relying on small arms fire.
We set up on a 4×4′ board with the land covering slightly less than half the board. Since I chose Caught Unaware, Guy had to place his entire force first. He placed all 3 units within his breastworks near the center of the board as far forward as possible.
I placed my 6 canoes as far to the left of my board as possible since it appeared I could land my force on that side of the board without getting within 12″ of his fortified position.
After placing our units, Guy placed 4 sentries along the very edge of the coastline at 9″ intervals.
I placed my Young Warriors’ canoe on the far Left, followed by two canoes of Archers, then my Commander’s canoe of Musketeers and then another 2 canoes of Archers were on my Right.
I rolled a Resolve test for each unit for L’Olonnais’ Terror and took a Fatigue on 4 units.
I moved my canoes forward the full 3″ on my first activation and shot 6 poisoned arrows at the unfortunate sentry, hoping to kill him quietly and sneak on to shore unnoticed by the sleeping French. 3 Arrows found their marks but the sentry screamed and gurgled as the poison took him down and immediately alerted the rest of the French force. So much for my sneak attack!
At 18″ or so from the rest of the French I was still out of sight in the dark so I used most of the rest of the turn to rally the Terror fatigue off my units.
The French jumped out of their breastworks and moved into the cover of the trees to contest my landing. The Marins led the way and L’Olonnais moved to the closest corner of the breastworks where he can cover, but could command the other units and see the approaching canoes.
On the last activation of turn 1 I was able use my command points to fire off two volleys of Poisoned Arrows into the closer group of Les Enfants Perdus and kill one or two and give them 2 Fatigue. The Poisoned Arrow rerolls started having effect right away!
Guy drew an event on turn 2 which gave him the option of moving his commander from one unit to another but he chose to keep things as they were. I’ve never seen that event before and it could be really cool!
Guy activated first on turn 2 and shot into my rightmost canoe with his Les Enfants Perdus and killed two of them. My archers fired several times into the Perdus getting maybe 1 kill and getting some Fatigue through their steely resolve.
My larger number of units soon began to give me an advantage.
After moving my boats the second time my commander was able to command two volleys of poisoned arrows into the Perdus which gave them Fatigue which set them up for a Great Warrior/Ruthless volley of muskets which left them prone.
The two units of archers on my Left were able to fire into the Marins enough to leave them prone on the French far Right flank.
L’Olonnais rallied the fatigued Perdus and then got off another shot into the rightmost canoe finishing off that unit of 5 Archers.
With a hand of 6 Native cards vs 3 French cards, I had a couple units to activate after Guy was finished. Things started to move really quickly after the canoes finally hit land on my last activation of turn 2.
Activating on a Spade, my Young Warriors used their Quick ability to get out of the canoe, moved for their 1 action, then pushed to charge the shaken Marins who were prone on the French flank.
My dice came up amazing and gave me 7 hits out of 8 thrown. The Marins didn’t even get a Save since they were prone! They failed all but 1 of their Resolve dice but Guy rerolled with a Fortune and passed all but 1 in a dramatic reversal of fortune.
With 4 Fatigue the remaining Marins fell back with the Young Warriors following them.
By the end of turn 2 I still had 4 units in their canoes and the Young Warriors were engaged in melee combat with the Marins. The Marins were reduced to the four models with Blunderbusses and they had 4 Fatigue. The French command unit was untouched with the full 10 models present, one Reload and no Fatigue. The other unit of Les Enfant Perdus was prone behind a tree with 5-6 models left and 2 Fatigue. Initiative on the next turn was going to be important!
Even with my hand of 5 cards vs Guy’s 3, He took initiative with a Spade!
L’Olonnais rallied the struggling Marins, commanded the Perdus to stand up and then pushed his unit to race all the way across the woods and charge into the Marin/Young Warrior brawl. 10 Fight dice from the French pistols was “discouraging” to the Young Warriors and they lost 5 men and fell back with L’Olonnais in pursuit. I hadn’t expected L’Olonnais to get be able to get that far across the battlefield so this took me by surprise! I was just thankful my Young Warriors saved decently and weren’t eliminated.
I used my command points to get to more unit of archers out of the canoes then I pushed the Musketeers to charge the Perdus that had just stood up. With 2 Fatigue they couldn’t fire back and I killed a couple more and they withdrew but I didn’t follow.
The Marins with Blunderbusses finally got to fire next and they killed 3 Musketeers and my command unit became shaken and fell back. I brought up a fresh group of Archers, shot into the Marins at 5″ and eliminated the last of them and then charged into the shaken Perdus and eliminated that unit.
This left me with 3 units to pile into L’Olonnais who already had 2 Fatigue. Another charge and then two more volleys of Poisoned Arrows succeeded in eliminating the last of the French models. Just as legend records, L’Olonnais fell at the hands (or teeth) of the Natives.
The game was over at the end of turn 3.
- My Natives had 1 Strike Point for 14 casualties of my 38 models.
- The French had 4 Strike Points for casualties and 1 for the Breakthrough scenario rules.
My Native campaign commander earned 6xp in this battle (1 for playing, 1 for winning by a Strike Test and 4 for the Strike Point difference between our forces).
Post Game Thoughts
- This was a quick game! This was a real “swarm and rush” tactic that actually worked.
- I had several things going for me going into this game.
- I did have more points than the defender. My list was 220 with a free commander who is probably valued at 20-28 points. The French had a 200 points list and paid full price for a 37 point commander. That means I had 208 points to sink into actual troops (excluding the 6 canoes) and Guy had 163.
- The Limited Visibility helped me as I wasn’t getting shot at as I came into shore.
- Caught Unaware was sort of helpful but the alarm sounded on turn 1 so it didn’t do much.
- The Les Enfants Perdus die too easily. That 8 Save is brutal. I’m not saying they aren’t balanced for 6 points, but they sure die fast. Guy used this game to see if he could make them work but he didn’t sound too pleased with them by the end of the game.
- I think having 6 small units to the French 3 large units was a major advantage for me. In most of our games, large units end up deciding the game, but with the Poisoned Arrow Fatigue Machines on the board, those large units gets bogged down and you lose prime activations rallying those large units instead of hitting hard with them.
- We used the current rules for “Tough” instead of the pending errata version which makes it less useful for the Natives. I tried to not abuse it and Guy’s units benefited once or twice from using the current wording, but it certainly helped me fire more often.
- If Guy had used the sneakier French units with stronger Shoot Saves, things probably would have gone much differently. The Boucaniers, Milices de Caraibes and Engages all have a 6 Resolve instead of 4 or 5, but their solid Saves might have made my arrows less deadly.
- Poisoned Arrows are very strong! When I first read the Poisoned Arrows rules I was very underwhelmed but it turns out it’s way better than it looks on paper. It applies Fatigue even to the boldest of Buccaneers. I paid 15 points to apply it to my 5 units with bows but it was worth it.
- The Terror rule is fun and makes a difference. I still had one of the Terror Fatigue dice on my command unit at the end of the game. I think I used 3 rally actions on it from my neighboring Grizzled Veteran but it was stubborn. That French sea shanty sung around the campfire must have been truly terrifying!
- Command Points feel extra strong for the Native factions because you can almost always shoot with other units! An argument could be made that you should use Inspiring Rally actions with the Native commander but if you can manage Fatigue with Veterans, turning those command points into extra Poisoned Arrow attacks feels really good.
- It’s kind of expensive but I kind of like the small units of Warrior Archers with Poisoned Arrows. It often doesn’t matter how many hits you land with a unit of archers. In many cases the defender’s Save is strong enough that you’ll be lucky to get a kill. Fatigue is the goal and kills are bonuses.
- The Tough Errata is going to a good thing for the game. The current rules say you get to remove a Fatigue if you didn’t Push during your turn. Using this wording Tough Natives can fire their bows twice in an activation with no consequence and anyone can run 12″ in a turn and as long as they had the full 3 actions to do it, they will drop the resulting Fatigue. The new wording for Tough will only grant the benefit of losing a Fatigue if you didn’t take a Fatigue on your turn. That would include Pushing and running 12″ and Shooting or Fighting multiple times. I think it’s fair all around although it hurts the Natives the most, but I guess they can probably afford it.
- The campaign is fun in that it lets you combine skills that are hard to combine in the standard game. My Musketeers with Saavy, Ruthless, and Great Warrior for only 6 points per Veteran model are pretty fun. I could add Sharpshooter to that mix and by combining Ruthless, Marksmen and Great Warrior, you could get their Shoot number down to 3 before applying range penalties. My Musketeers only fired once in this game since it was so short, but hitting on 6’s at 11″ felt pretty good!
- The Young Warriors performed better than I expected in this game. 4 Points for an Inexperienced model with a worse Shoot than the Archer doesn’t look great to start with but their better Resolve and the Quick rule both came into play in this game. Between their standard action, Quick, pushed charge and their follow up move, those Inexperienced Young Warriors moved 15″ on a Spade on that turn they jumped out of the boat and charged the Marins!
- Battles get brutal when you move into melee combat. Men start dying fast!
- Don’t underestimate the Natives’ ability to charge. Their Fight stats are pretty bad but with their methods of piling Fatigue on the enemy, and their Scouts ability means they can often push to get a charge without fear of a defensive fire. If their target breaks with plenty of Fatigue, you don’t need to worry about that terrible Fight Save.
Thanks to Guy for an exciting game (for me at least). I’ve been strictly defending with the Natives so far and this was a fun chance to see how aggressively they can be pushed. I’ve been playing the South American Tribes through this campaign and I feel like they may be the strongest of the Native factions but I need to try the others now and see how they feel.