By Guy Rheuark
The Firelock Games longboat is a great way to add inexpensive and easy to paint terrain to any Blood & Plunder game you might play. Whether you place it next to a building and load it up with crates and barrels, to tell a story with your scatter terrain, or have a pair of them bobbing along a dock in an amphibious game, each Longboat looks great and lets units use the structure and cover rules. First though, let’s look at what Firelock Games says about the longboat!
Longboat: These open boats were used primarily to move from ship to shore and back again. They were on occasion used in small “fleets” by Pirates and Privateers to take on larger ships as well.
You can also use the Longboat in aquatic games, for only 3 points each. Let’s look at what this boat can do.
Each Longboat has a hull fortitude of 2 and hull integrity of 3. These are the same as the Canoa, and in practice it means that the Longboat can’t take any concentrated cannon attack, or even half hearted cannon fire.
Speed and Maneuverability
Even though the Longboat kit doesn’t come with a mast or spar, or a place to mount a mast, the Longboat has a sail setting of 3”. Given the size the Longboat is meant to represent, around 25’, it makes perfect sense this boat is suppose to have a small lanteen. The boat also has sweeps of 4”, the best way to move your boat if you plan on keeping up with any ships. You also get the typical 0” and anchor settings.
This boat has a turn rating of 3”, much like a square rigged ship. It’s important to remember that if you are moving under sweeps, you can move between 4”-1”, or drift, and you can choose to move backwards.
The Longboat can hold 13 models, split between one and two units. There is also a forward mount for a swivel, though dedicating a unit to crew it can be awkward at times if you intend to also use the sweeps. Like all boats, the Longboat does not give hard cover.
Uses for the Longboat and list building
The best use for a Longboat is in a story driven scenario, like the landing force in an amphibious game, or as terrain. Through extensive trial and error, the Longboat, even under sweeps, is not a match in most 100+ Sea games against any 2 deck ship, especially ones that bring cannons. This is because the Longboats sail speed of 3” is outclassed by every two deck ship. This means that your opponent determines how and where they approach your ship: if you brought a group of boucaniers or freebooters, you will be staying at max range most of the game, and be weathering cannon shot besides. To use the faster speed you need a unit on sweeps, or have a single large unit manning sweeps that doesn’t get to use four rowers. If you put two units in the Longboat, you are usually going to add at least 4 models, to account for casualties, meaning that the other unit in the Longboat can only have 9 models, reducing the effectiveness of the whole boat.
There are a few exceptions: the two Spanish factions that increase sweeps to 5” helps by making Longboat very aggressive. With Native factions, the Longboat offers a couple advantages to the Canoa, offering a larger crew maximum and losing the unstable trait, while being about the same boat for 3 points instead of 2. It also gains the paddles trait with natives, allowing you to maintain forward momentum if you pull your unit off the sweeps as you close on your target.
The optional cannon rules and boats
My club have been using the new cannon rules since the release of No Peace Beyond the Line, and it has lead to more dynamic games. The overall effectiveness of cannons is about the same, but you end up rolling more dice. Against boats with the Low Profile ability though, it means boats get hit more often. With the original rules, at +16”-20” a cannon needs a 10 on the initial hit to make contact, or 10%. This has the effect of making boats feel like hard targets against cannons, compared to larger ships. Under the optional rules, at the same range of +16”-20”, the number you need to hit is 8, or 30%.
Here are some sample lists I made:
Here is a 23 point English patrol boat. Longboats and canoa demonstrate that Blood & Plunder sea games can be fun at any point level.
This is a 50 point Danish list. I used a list very close to this in an early campaign game.
Here is a 50 point French Chasseur list. You idea is to use engages as oarsmen until the enemy gets close, and focus on quality gunmanship.
I really enjoy playing my longboats, and if was an enjoyable afternoon to paint. Much like my bark, however, I would much rather use them as terrain in a coastal village. It is fun to play scenarios that require them, or use them in the early matches of a campaign, so they do have a niche to fill.