Battle Report – Tower Fort Ambush: English Caribbean Militia vs French Caribbean Militia

I played the Tower Fort scenario again! I played it a couple weeks ago as the Defender and this past week I had the chance to try it as the Attacker vs my friend Bryan.

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The Scenario

This is the new fort scenario recently released in the Downloads section of the Firelock website. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this scenario!

The game takes place at night which limits visibility and must be played as an amphibious game.

The Defender has to bring a “size two” fortification (the Tower Fort is the only option at this point) and gets “caught unaware” which gives the Attacker more control of the opening turn or two. The Defender also gets a free boat they need to defend.

The Attacker has to bring at least part of their force into he game by sea. They have to bring at least one ship or two boats.

In addition to standard Strike Points, the Attacker can get a Strike Point by letting enemy units flee the field and failing to get within 6″ of the fort by the end of turn 3.

The Defender gains Strike Points if the Attacker gets one of their units into their boat on the shore of if the Attacker has occupied or destroyed the Fort.

The Forces

I played the English Caribbean Militia at 200 points. My army composition was heavily influenced by how I played as the Defender in my last game using this scenario but that ended up backfiring in this game.

My force consisted of:

  • 8 Inexperienced English Militia with an Untested Commander
  • 5 Inexperienced English Militia
  • 7 Inexperienced Militia Cavalry
  • 6 Trained African Warriors
  • Tartana with 2 pairs of Medium Cannons
  • 9 Inexperienced Militia Artillery Crew with a Master Gunner
  • 6 Trained Freebooters

As the Defender in my last game I sent several of my units off the board to call for help and give the Attacker Strike Points so I brought the quick Cavalry and Africans to chase down any runners.

Even with a ship and cannons, I had 42 models in my force!

Bryan’s French Caribbean Milita force was led by Julien Lambert. His force consisted of:

  • 6 Trained Milices des Caraibes with Lambert attached
  • 6 Trained Milices des Caraibes
  • 8 Flibustiers with a Grizzled Veteran
  • 1 Tower Fort with 2 Medium Cannons
  • 8 Marins without Pistols with a Master Gunner
  • 1 Free Piragua per scenario rules

Bryan deployed the Marins with the guns on top of the Fort, the Commander’s unit in the lower level of the fort and the remaining two units right outside the door.

I deployed my Commander’s Militia unit on one side of the Fort with Africans and the Cavalry on the other side with the smaller Militia unit. The Ship would move on to the board on turn 2.

I placed all my units last per the Caught Unaware rule.

After placing all the units, Bryan placed 4 sentries 6″ from the fort.

We used the middle portion of this 6×4 mat but the play area wasn’t as large as it looks here.

 

The Game

Bryan’s opening hand had an event which came up as a very thematic “Helpful Locals’ event which deprived the Africans of their Hidden and Elusive rules for a turn.

I tried to quietly take out the sentries but my Africans couldn’t shoot straight in the dark and the ended up raising the alarm on the first activation!

Besides alarming the sentries, the first turn was uneventful as I moved my troops in but kept them more than 12″ from the fort so they wouldn’t take fire.

Bryan moved the troops he had outside into the fort, leaving the Flibustiers up on top with the Marins and both Milices des Caraibes in the lower level.

At the opening of turn 2 I moved the Tartana onto the board sailing at 3″ per move. I fired my cannons right away and failed to do any damage at all. That 6 Fortitude is hard to punch through. (I just now realized we messed up the cannon rules. We use the optional NPBtL cannon rules but I forgot to use the good part about them and I applied the Fortitude of the fort to all my ranging shots! That didn’t help at all…)

For some reason I thought Bryan’s French would try to escape the board and call for help, but he just holed up in the Fort and I had to set up an assault. Every time I got within 12″, my troops took more casualties than the Defenders. The Hard Cover, Superior Cover in the lower level combined with the Save penalty I was taking from the elevated fire meant I was taking a lot more casualties than the French.

The cannons on the fort returned fire to the Tartana but only landed 1 hit.

With the help of my Master Gunner, I was able to fire my cannons again on round 3. I made contact with one cannon but again did no damage even after spending a Fortune (we used the optional cannon rules from NPBtL)! That fort was made out of something stout!

By the end of round 3 I could tell this wasn’t going to end well for me. My Africans had been whittled down to 4 models, both groups of Militia had taken hits and my cannons refused to make even a dent in the fort’s walls.

With no units trying to escape, I found the Africans and Militia Cavalry had nothing to do! Trusting to luck and the speed of my horses, I sent the cavalry in towards the door at the end of turn hoping I could get them up to the door and try for a miraculous 10 to breach the door before the French musketry mowed me down.

You can’t count on French muskets to miss! The Flibustiers shot my Cavalry to pieces as they rushed the door! In the open they were saving on 10’s since the elevation gave them a penalty. Two models remained with no Fatigue after losing 5 in one volley, but they too were soon shot down.

My Freebooters got some lucky hits on the Marins and left them Shaken at one point which reduced the cannon fire on my ship but my Militia had a very hard time landing any lethal hits on the Defending units.

My commander’s unit of Militia took a nasty volley and even behind cover, they were saving on 9’s with that elevation penalty! They took 3 casualties and retreated behind blocking terrain.

I rallied on turn 5 and pushed up all remaining forces on turn 6 hoping to kill some of the Defenders before I was driven off. I found myself targeting the troops in the top of the fort most often just because that Superior Cover save of 3 is so hard to get through!

The French Militia in the lower level kept up a constant cycle of half shots which eventually eliminated the smaller unit of English Militia and left the Africans with 2 models.

I pushed hard on the last turn but got a bloody nose for my efforts. My commander’s unit was raked with accurate fire from above again and was left with 3 models which were Shaken and Prone.

My Freebooters tried to slow the boat to a standstill so I wouldn’t sail right by the Fort, but they failed their Sailing Test. I did get a third broadside against the fort but still did no damage! My cannons were pathetic in this game!

At the end of round 6 we calculated Strike Points:

  • With 10 casualties, the French had 1 Strike Point but they still solidly held the fort and they had not last the boat.
  • With 21 casualties, my English had 2 Strike Points plus another for not having a unit within 6″ of the Fort.

This was a fairly brutal loss for my English! The French have no intention of losing this fort and outpost!

Post-Game Thoughts

  • My force was really poorly put together for this style of game! My ship and cannons literally accomplished nothing the entire game and my Cavalry and Africans weren’t able to use their strengths at all. The French played to their strengths and didn’t let me use mine and I was outwitted!
  • The Fort is worth the 20 points! It’s so good! The combination of Hard/Superior Cover for your own models and the Save Penalty the models in the upper level give to their targets makes approaching the Fort a daunting task. I was surprised at the 20 point cost at first (considering the Watchtower in the Core Rule Book costs a mere 2 points), but I can assure you the Fort is worth the full 20.

  • I think this scenario is a challenge for the Attacker. The scenario gives the Attacker both the Night rule and Caught Unaware, but the strength of the Fort seems to easily outweigh both those tactical advantages. It’s a losing battle to try to shoot it out with the defenders and it’s brutal trying to approach the fort to breach the door (looking for a dedicated 10!). It would have really helped if my cannons had actually started to break the fort up and hurt the Defenders but the way things turned out, significant portions of my Force contributed nothing to the battle and my poor Militia couldn’t provide the firepower necessary to suppress the French musketry.
  • The English Caribbean Militia aren’t impressing me so far. I like their solid resolve, but after playing the Spanish Militia so much, I feel the English don’t have as diverse of troop selection to work with. I need to give them more play to really figure them out but they haven’t been my favorite faction so far.

  • That starting Fortitude of 6 is amazingly strong! I fired 6 cannons at the fort and never got one damage on it. Two of those broadsides were under 12″ but that still means I need a 7 to make contact (with the Master Gunner) and 8’s to actually do damage. I couldn’t roll an 8 to save my life!

  • With that sturdy Fortitude in mind, I don’t think a cannon approach is really viable as the Attacker. I guess you could fit out a Frigate or Fluyt with 6 Medium Cannons and fire away and you might get through, but it would be a challenge! I should try that and see how it goes…

  • I want to play this scenario as the Attacker again and build my force for this kind of warfare. I wonder if a coordinated rush of men with grenades would be a decent approach. If you could rush that 12″ and start throwing grenades through the windows, you could bring their Saves up to 9’s instead of 3’s and have a chance to set the Fort on fire which would be a huge issue for the Defenders.
  • Near the end of the game I had my Freebooters try to grapple the Piragua so I could occupy that boat and give the Defenders a Strike Point but I failed that Grapple test 3 times in a row! That did not feel good… I had to use their next activation to slow the ship so I could shoot my useless cannons again!

  • The casualties felt really lopsided but by the end I still had more models left than the Defender. I lost 21 of 42 while the French lost 10 of 27 models. I still felt outgunned but part of that was 15 of my models were on the Tartana and weren’t really accomplishing much. That left only 5 English models left on land by the end of the battle!

English Casualties

  • After playing this game I was eager to try this scenario again and we were able to play again a couple days later. I’ll be posting that battle report as soon as I can!

French Casualties

Thanks to Firelock Games for releasing these extra scenarios for free! Exploring this scenario has inspired me to try the Ambush at Del Los Cayos scenario as well.

2 thoughts on “Battle Report – Tower Fort Ambush: English Caribbean Militia vs French Caribbean Militia

  1. Pingback: Battle Report – Tower Ambush: English Buccaneers vs. French Caribbean Militia | Blood & Pigment

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