Battle Report – Campaign Game 4: Pirate Hunters vs Spanish Corsairs

My local custom campaign has proceeded to round 4 where my English Pirate Hunters encountered a Spanish Corsair Corvette.

This is 200 point naval game again featured my custom commander vs Guy, who is running our campaign and playing NPC ships which the players might encounter

The Forces

The Corsair corvette was much different than any other ship I’ve battled in this campaign. No cannons but maneuverable and full of muskets and swivel guns.

The Spanish force consisted of:

  • 10 Marineros with no pistols with the Commander (custom “campaign style) attached assigned to the rear 4 swivels.
  • 7 Marineros with no pistols assigned to the sweeps.
  • 6 Marineros with no pistols assigned to the forward 2 swivels.
  • 4 Corsarios in a fighting top.
  • 4 Corsarios in a fighting top.
  • 8 European Sailors with muskets with a Son of Neptune attached.
  • 1 Corvette with 2 fighting tops, 6 swivel guns and moving under oar power, boosted by the Spanish Corsairs +1″ Sweeps bonus.

When playing a NPC ship, we have the advantage of seeing the opposing list before the battle so I was able to customize my force before the battle. I beefed up my cannon power for this battle knowing that the corvette is fragile and prone to taking critical damage.

Captain Thomas Clarke’s Pirate Hunter ship contained:

  • 8 English Militia in the middle deck with the commander attached.
  • 9 Sea Dogs with no pistols assigned to the 2 pairs of medium cannons on the mid deck.
  • 9 Sea Dogs with no pistols assigned to the 2 pairs of medium cannons on the back deck.
  • 10 Sea Dogs with no pistols assigned to the 4 swivel guns on the front deck.
  • 4 Zeelieden with no pistols with a Sailing Master attached on the front deck.
  • 1 Sloop of War with 4 pairs of medium cannons and 4 swivel guns.

The Scenario

Straight up encounter at sea!

The Game

Guy rolled high and was counted as the Attacker. The wind was coming from the Left in the photo above.

I drew the Salty Dog event in my opening hand and applied it to my Zeelieden but it didn’t do anything.

We sailed straight at each other in the opening activations. I waited until the second move to shoot off my swivel guns to get into better range.

Corsarios in the Fighting Tops.

The Spanish let loose with swivels and muskets from the fighting tops and decimated my forward deck, eliminating the Zeelieden (and Sailing Master) and killing 3 Sea Dogs and leaving them with 4 Fatigue!

I wasn’t able to maneuver my ship to fire my back cannons on the first turn but I managed to fire my mid deck guns on the last activation of the round.

I was relying heavily on cannon damage to get ahead in this game so it was a pity that I had to waste the back guns on the first turn. The 2 cannon I did fire did decent damage to his mid deck, Sailor Musketeers and rowers but didn’t get any critical damage applied.

Overall the first turn was pretty rough for me! I lost 9 models including all my Zeelieden and heavily reduced my swivel gun efficiency.

Turn 2 presented a fine moment for the Spanish to grapple my ship and board while my muskets were unloaded and my forward Sea Dogs were prone.

But the grapple roll failed! Spanish Corsairs get to re-roll failed grapple attempts but it failed again! A lucky break for me!

I pulled away a little and “let loose” with my mid and then my back cannons. I only needed 2’s for my ranging shots and the second volley. And…I got two 1’s. Luckily I had one Fortune Point left and I used it!

Both guns made contact this time and this salvo brought the Corvette’s Fortitude all the way down to 1 and gave it a Steerage and Leak critical.

I felt pretty good about shooting his ship down to 1 Fortitude by the middle of turn 2, but the game wasn’t over yet. Not at all.

I had taken a lot of casualties and had a lot of Fatigue to clean up but I had put some good damage into his crew and his ship was pretty well ruined. I just needed to get another shot out of my cannons to really pile on the critical hits and use up Spanish actions with repairs to keep the thing afloat.

By the end of turn 2 I had lost a full 15 men which was really hurting!

I had a nice 11 of Spades going into turn 3 but it wasn’t good enough.

The Spanish led with the 13 and and they turned towards me and boarded! All my prone Sea Dogs were massacred and my front deck was taken.

Here the Commanders represent their entire unit.

This finally gave me the chance to use my Faction’s Hard Chargers ability! My commander’s militia charged into the Spanish and took some of them down but their Resolve held.

The remaining Corsarios sped down from the fighting tops to join the fray and my Sea Dogs in the back of my ship abandoned their cannons (which didn’t have a good arch of fire since the Spanish had intentionally grappled their ship to the front of mine.

With two units from both sides on that front deck, this left my Sea Dogs on my mid deck in a strange situation. There was battle all around them but they couldn’t do anything! Their guns were loaded but the ships were grappled in a way so that they couldn’t fire. There was hand-to-hand fighting on the adjacent deck but they couldn’t do anything about it since the decks were full.

Turn 3 ended with most our units locked in melee combat on my ship. I was up to 2 Strike Points for 50% casualties and Guy’s Spanish were at 2 Strikes as well for casualties and a battered ship.

Intiative would be very important going into turn 4 as both our commanders were in melee combat. We both had a 9 of Spades and I won the roll off which basically saved the game for me.

My militia fought twice using their normal action and the command point and ended up eliminating the Corsarios (who were difficult to fight with their Swordsman trait) and driving back the Marineros, regaining control of my ship and cutting the grapples. If the Spanish had won that initiative roll, I probably would have lost my ship.

When finally free of the grapples, I was able to shoot my cannons again getting two more critical hits. We had a strange situation happen here where I rolled two “gun” critical hits on a deck that didn’t have any guns. When there are no guns, you apply an addditional point of Hull damage, but the hull was down to 1 Fortitude already so it was basically no effect… Since that happened twice on the same attack, we  counted that as additional 2 points of damage on the hull which doubled the Fortitude and resulted in another roll on the Critical Damage table. Not sure if we did that right but it felt weird to have 2 crits do absolutely nothing.

I drew all Spades going into turn 5! An event moved the wind direction clockwise which was perfect for me as I turned my ship.

Using my command actions, I was able to fire 3 of the forward Swivel Guns that the unfortunate Sea Dogs had left loaded when they were massacred by the Spanish.

Throwing 9 dice looking for 7’s I hoped to finally take out this aggressive Spanish Commander! But I got 0 hits! Ultimate Swivel failure. All my Fortune was spent long ago so there was nothing to do but marvel at that Spaniard’s luck and move on.

The Marineros on the Sweeps were still hard at work and managed to keep the Corvette off from my port side even as I turned so they wouldn’t have to face my fresh starboard cannons.

The Spanish worked hard at repairing a few critical hits and fired their swivels again which spread Fatigue on my ship.

By the end of turn 5 we still both had 2 Strike Points and I was looking to fire my cannons one more time and take out enough Spaniards to tip the balance in my favor.

My Sea Dogs were prone and pretty well out of action but I was able the Militia to move to the middle deck, use a Command Point to assign them to the single loaded cannon and get one final shot off before the end of the game.

I fired at the rear deck hoping to finally take out this Spanish commander but the commander got one Save and passed all the Fatigue checks and the commander stubbornly refused to die!

Both ships were pretty well depopulated as the game came to an end.

I had 9 models left and there were 12 Spanish left on their battered Corvette.

At the end of turn 6 we tallied the Strike Points:

  • My Pirate Hunters had a full 3 Strikes for 75% casualties.
  • Guy’s Spanish had 2 Strikes for 27/40 casualties and 1 Strike for his ship’s hull being shot away.

It basically came down to a tie! Guy graciously awarded the win to my English, partly because ties aren’t fun and partly because we had made a couple mistakes through the game that slightly benefited the Spanish (I believe we forgot to apply a double Steerage damage at one point). The Spanish captain agreed to a truce and gave us some information regarding a crippled Galleon to the NW.

What a game! It felt evenly balanced for the entire time.

What a lot of dead Englishmen!

Post Game Thoughts

  • Guy and I have built up a good history of games together at this point and these 200 points naval games keep getting tighter and tighter! It feels like there’s no room for error for either of us. We both know the rules and our forces really well now and it makes for really good games. Exhausting, but very good and competitive sessions!
  • We still made some rules mistakes! We forgot to apply a couple Critical damage results a couple times and we drew the Light Rain event and promptly forgot about it for the rest of the game!

  • Several abilities and rules came into play that I haven’t seen happen before. I finally got to use my faction’s Hard Chargers ability! And it was pretty useful. Hard Chargers and Brawlers on those Sea Dogs makes them pretty decent fighters! No Marins or anything, but not half bad. And they have that extra survivability with the 6 Fight Save. On the flip side, I saw Swordsmen come into play! It basically negated my Hard Chargers ability on one occasion.

  • This game also helped me appreciate Sweeps on ships. I’ve long dismissed Sweeps on anything larger than a Piragua as basically useless but that isn’t so. Sweeps are slower, but they are so flexible and that helps win games. Under sail power, you have a fair guess as to where your opponent’s ship will go. With Sweeps, the possible options for where a ship can go more than doubles! I found it very frustrating to see that Corvette simply reverse course to dodge my cannons! Usually there’s a moment where I can cross the wind and present the “fresh” side of my ship and get a mid-game boost, but fighting this ship with Sweeps, I never had that opportunity and I certainly didn’t have control of the encounter, in spite of having a faster ship. Guy used the Sweeps really well. The Spanish Corsairs are obviously the best faction to use Sweeps with since they have that +1″ under Sweeps.

  • Cannons seem much more balanced now but the smaller ships like the Corvette are pretty fragile in the current meta. Two good shots out of my cannons and the Corvette was down to 1 Fortitude. If I had been more lucky or if Guy hadn’t been so efficient at destroying/distracting my cannons crew, I could have probably sunk the Corvette. As it was, Guy got close enough to supress my crew and I really didn’t get many shots off with my cannons. The back cannons only fired once and I think the middle guns fired 2.5 times.

  • The game basically came down to the initiative on turn 3. If the Spanish had been able to Fight first, I think they could have cleared my forward deck and possibly killed my commander and I think the game would have been over for me! We both had a 9 of Spades that round so that one die roll was so crucial!

  • Sub sections bring up lots of rules questions! Both measuring and movement become trickier when subsections are involved. I’ve read the rules many times, but questions still come up and strange situations come up that don’t seem very realistic. I’m still trying to make friends with these rules…

Thanks to Guy for a good game. That was probably the toughest game I’ve played in a while! Seems like I was pushing and fighting for every advantage and we fought until almost everyone was dead! I hope I was reasonably accurate in this report.

I sailed Northwest after this game but didn’t find the galleon yet. I’ll have another campaign report coming in a week or so! Thanks for reading.

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