Battle a Report – Spanish Tercios vs. French Caribbean Militia

This game was a test game for a new scenario coming out in the next rule book that will be covering more 18th century forces and scenarios. This was a casual 200 point land game with my friend Guy.

The Forces

I’ve been playing English in our current campaign so I took this chance to play my original Spanish force. I built a rather complex defensive force featuring several types of units and a unique commander.

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My Spanish Tercios Force contained:

  • 8 Veteran Hostigadores with a Musician and commander Cristobal Arnaldo Issasi attached
  • 5 Veteran Hostigadores
  • 5 Caballeria
  • 5 Soldados
  • 7 Milicianos Artilleros with a Master Gunner on a Heavy Cannon (with grapeshot) in a Gun Emplacement fortification
  • 5 Milicianos Artilleros in a Watch Tower fortification manning a Swivel Gun
  • 1 Breastwork Fortification

With 36 models in the force, I would take a Strike Point at every 9 models. The Tercios rules removed Poorly Equipped from all my Hostigadores.

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Guy’s French force was less complex (and more effective). His French Caribbean Militia force contained:

  • 12 Veteran Boucaniers with a Local Guide and an Experienced French Militia Commander
  • 7 Trained Milices de Caraibes with a Grizzled Veteran
  • 6 Trained Milices de Caraibes
  • 5 Marins without pistols

At 32 models, his force would take Strike Points at every 8 casualties.

The Scenario

This new scenario is called Capture the Settlement and involves the attacking force attempting to take control of buildings in the center of a 3×4 board.

 

In a 200 point game, 4 objective buildings are placed throughout the board, no less than 6″ from board edges and from other objective buildings.

The Attacker aims to take buildings while the the Defender tries to keep the enemy out of the buildings.

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The deployment forces the defender to deploy all their units within 12″ of the center of the board first, then the Attacker can choose any board edge and deploy all their units within 6″ of that board edge. The Defender also gets Strike Points if they attempt to destroy their own buildings since they are supposed to be defending the town, not merely deprive the attackers of taking it.

After we set up the terrain but before we placed the units I placed my 3 fortifications. At this point I realized this might not be a great scenario for fortifications since the Attacker can approach from any board edge and I have to place the fortifications before I know which board edge they will come from! The Watchtower was fine since it has a 360* firing arch, but the Gun Emplacement has only a 45* which is rather limiting.

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I made a bit of a mistake here. I misread the deployment rules and placed all my men in a 12″ square in the center of the table rather than the specified 24″ square. I put my cavalry in the center with some buildings blocking line of sight from the edges, the Soldados in the church, the 5 Hostigadores outside the church, the heavy cannon covering the easiest approach, the commander’s Hostigadores behind the breastwork and the swivel gun in the watchtower placed fairly close to the center so it could see nearly everything.

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Guy placed his men all together on a small end of the board directly behind my Gun Emplacement (rending it useless for the entire game).

Before the game started we rolled for Terror on the French force but it only applied Fatigue to the Marins.

The Game

We both drew an events in our opening hands Mine came up as Angry Locals and Guy’s was Damnable Gun (using the land events tables).

My units were the only troops close enough to a building to qualify for Angry Locals and this was highly offensive since I was defending the town! They must have been French spies and traitors! I passed all my Damnable Gun tests and only one unit of French Militia failed on their tests.

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There were only 3 Angry Locals but they rolled 10, 9, 9 which killed two of my Artillery crew. They promptly failed all their Fatigue checks and became shaken and went prone. All before the first activation! Those locals must have been an elite resistance force!

At least this unit was already kind of useless…

I took the first activation and moved my unit of 5 Hostigadores forward and fired on a Spade. They got one kill but didn’t do enough to slow the large units of French marksmen. The massive unit of Boucaniers fired back massacring all 5 models in that unit. 

My Soldados got a volley off from inside the church building but the French were unimpressed and moved forward into the cover of the cornfield.

I drew my second event going into round two and it came up as Lingering Smoke which I’ve never rolled before. Every unit that had reloads got a +1 penalty to their shoot tests on turn 2 representing black powder smoke lingering in the air and obscuring their line of fire.

All my (surviving) units except the prone gun crew had reloads so this wasn’t a great round for me!

Lingering smoke across the battlefield.

Guy has been working on building these watchtowers. It’s fun having an elevated platform like this but the single swivel isn’t that menacing.

The Marins saw a good opportunity to follow up on the angry locals’ work and they charge into the gun emplacement while the gun crew were prone and killed them all.

Not wanting to let the French take my precious heavy cannon that was aimed at my own men, I charge them with my remaining cavalry (one was killed during the first round before they made their way to cover). This brought up a rules question. The Gun Emplacement is technically a structure and mounted units can’t enter structures. But if you take the gun emplacement at “face value,” it’s obviously easy for some mounted men to charge up those small embankments. We decided that it was possible so I went through with the charge, destroyed the Marins and withdrew the cavalry behind one of the buildings. I asked Mike Tunez for a ruling on this and it was illegal. Horses can’t charge into a gun emplacement!

That beautiful heavy cannon all loaded and unmanned.

The Boucaniers moved up into the cornfield where the Marins had been. My Soldados in the church took a potshot at their flank and got a hit but those Boucaniers save on 5’s while in cover like that and I don’t think I killed one. My swivel gun did get one more kill thanks to the save penalty the elevation applied to the defender. Both units of French Militia moved forward during turn 2 as well. One moved up into the cornfield as well and the other moved forward and fired on the Soldados, killing 3 of them and leaving 2 men in the church. The French were out-shooting my Spanish!

Turn 3 opened with a nasty surprise for me. On a Spade the French Milices de Caraibes gained the Quick and Scouts rule from the nearby Local Guide, moved 8″ forward and caught my cavalry in the flank (pushing for the second action to fire). At nearly point blank range they shot them all down.

My precious cavalry all gone…

My Veteran Hostigadores with the commander kept shooting every turn from their breastwork fortification but even with 8 muskets, I never killed more than 1 man per volley. The massive unit of Boucaniers next turned their wrath on the remaining Soldados in the church and eliminated them with an accurate volley.

By the end of turn 3 I had lost over 50% but not 75% of my force. Guy had 1 Strike Point from casualties and he had one unit in a building so he avoided taking any Strike Points from the scenario rules. Neither of us had to take a Strike Test.

Turn 4 opened two Spanish units left: my commander’s Hostigadores behind the breastwork and a few Milicianos Artilleros in the watchtower. Not looking good for the me!

I believe I opened the 4th turn with more ineffectual shots from my remaining guns. I may have picked off one more man but I know the Milices de Caraibes on the French Right flank destroyed the remaining swivel gun crew. I failed to take many pictures on turn 4.

At this point Guy could have probably shot me to pieces with another volley from the Boucaniers but he decided to make a more entertaining story and take command of that Heavy Cannon and let it fire once during this game.

On a Spade he accomplished his Local Guide’s Quick movement to get into contact with the gun emplacement, used his first action to move into the structure, then used one of his command points to man the cannon, then their final action to shoot grapeshot into my Hostigadores.

The cannon scored 3 hits but I saved all 3 taking only one point of Fatigue. My best roll for the game!

At the end of turn 4 I had only 8 remaining models of my original 36. I had three Strike Points to 1 for the French so I had to roll for a Strike Test. My target number was 6 and I rolled a 10 so I “got” to continue.

With nothing left to lose and most of the Boucaniers tied up with servicing the cannon, Issasi commanded his remaining Spaniards to charge! The Boucaniers had their rifles loaded but the under the updated Assignment rules, only models above twice the necessary models for the assignment can make a defensive attack.

If those shots were successful and I took two Fatigue the charge would fail and I would be in a even worse position! But I had a chance to get revenge on the Evil Boucaniers so I took it!

The two Boucaniers fired, succeeded on both shots, I failed both Saves and failed two of the 3 Fatigue checks and routed, failing to complete the charge action.

The French Militia on the French Right flank took at Fatigue to move over 12″ to charge into the routed Spanish remnant.

With sidearm pistols, the Militia got plenty of hits, even with their lousy French Militia melee stat. I failed all my Saves due to the Shaken penalty, lost most of my men, then failed enough Fatigue checks to totally eliminate the entire unit. My force was killed to the last man.

I lost all 36 of my men and only managed to kill 9 French, including the 4 Marins I illegally killed with the cavalry charge into the gun emplacement.

Spanish casualties – 184 points, not counting the gun and fortifications

French casualties – 44 points

Post Game Thoughts

  • Ouch! What a beat down! My Spanish were humiliated! Clearly this scenario is imbalance and has to be reworked until I can easily win (wink wink).
  • Firstly, I think I brought a very poor list for these scenario rules.
    • Fortifications were probably a bad choice and the gun emplacement was certainly a bad choice with the Attacker’s ability to place last on any side of the board. The Watchtower was OK although the firepower from it is weak. The Stone Tower Fort would have been OK as well although I would have had to buy 4 guns to make sure I had one pointed in the right direction. The Breastwork turned out to be pretty helpful but it was placed so far away from where the French approached the town, my men couldn’t really hit much from that distance. It seems like fortifications would be good for defending a town but with these rules, they really weren’t. I would have been better off just hiding my men in building and taking a Field Gun if I wanted a cannon.
    • Cavalry is always a bad option if you have to set up in the center of the board. There’s no where to hide them and they just get shot up.
    • Due to these bad decisions on my part, a full 27 points were tied up in that Heavy Cannon that did nothing. The crew got blasted by scarily accurate Angry Locals, then it was promptly destroyed by super angry Marins. The best thing that cannon did the entire game was tempt the Boucaniers to use it so they didn’t use their full firepower on me at the end and that was only done for fun after Guy knew he had won the game!
    • Part of my bad list building was due to a desire to use my new units and game pieces. I painted up my Heavy Cannons and Gun Emplacements a couple months ago but this was my first real chance to use them. I was eager but I should have chosen more appropriate units for this scenario.
    • I chose a high cost Commander just because I wanted to use a named commander I hadn’t tried before but he didn’t bring enough to this game to make him worth the 25 points. I could have used a 15 point generic commander and been better off. This Issasi fellow doesn’t have Inspiring either so I ended up paying an extra 7 points for a Musician (2+5) to make up for that weakness. His other abilities really didn’t give me that extra 17 points of value so I should have taken a generic for this game (Elusive, Guerrilla Commander).
    • If I was to place this scenario again with the same faction I would try something more like this. It’s the same number of models, but more flexible and less risky.
  • I needed to find a way to put fatigue on that massive unit of Boucaniers. That units was death to anything it shot at. 13 models shooting with a base of 5 just wiped out anything it shot at. I had small units in general which means I should have been able to shoot more often and apply more Fatigue, but that isn’t how it worked out. I was quickly worn down to an equal number of units, then less as my smaller units fell. I was shooting with every unit nearly every turn but the combination of fairly pathetic dice on my part and good Save numbers for the French meant I just wasn’t killing Frenchmen. If I wasn’t getting hits then the French weren’t taking Fatigue checks and that’s their real weakness.
  • The scenario seemed fun enough and I look forward to seeing it come out in the next rule book. In general the objectives seem fun and solid. If I was to make a suggestion, it would be limiting the Attacker’s deployment options to 2 or 3 board edges rather than all 4. If the Defender has to place all their units (and fortifications) first, the Attacker has a considerable advantage. I guess the Defender has to read the terrain really well and place accordingly. But if the Attacker was limited to 3 board edges to choose from, the Defender could place units a little more effectively.
  • One more comment on the current deployment options: if the Defender has a 24″ square in the middle of the board and the Defender can deploy within 4″ of any table edge, that means it’s possible for the Attacker to deploy within 2″ of the Defender on the long edges of the table. Not necessarily a problem, but unusual. Most scenarios mandate the forces to deploy a little further apart.
  • The Spanish are largely defined by their Ruthless and Poorly Equipped special rules. For some reason both of those rules don’t apply to artillery and sometimes that feels like it takes away some of the flavor of the Spanish faction. Ruthless has never applied to artillery but the errata changed Poorly Equipped to only apply to small arms as well. I don’t mind the Spanish getting a little boost but it seems a little weird since the artillery seemed to be their most notable area of poor equipment (in the history I’ve explored). I wonder if applying both Ruthless and Poorly Equipped to all their weapons would be balanced. Ruthless might be overpowered and wouldn’t be counterbalanced enough to an expanded Poorly Equipped.

  • Cavalry is hard to use well. I feel like it always changes a battle just because it looks impressive and it makes the opponent paranoid but with these Veteran Boucaniers, I just never had the chance to make a good charge that would have an effect. Having to place in the center of the table is bad for them as well. I really shouldn’t have used them in this battle.
  • The Watchtower is cool and I think I’ll just put regular models with muskets up there next time. The increased area of fire and Save penalty are all very good but limiting the firepower to 3 Swivel dice is a little lackluster. Putting 6 decent muskets up there might be a lot better.

  • This church building was purchase from Firelock games (they sell a few buildings in this line but they don’t actually make them). It’s a decent piece of terrain and I like that it comes prepainted and has a removable roof but the quality isn’t as high as I expected. These building appear in pictures in the core rule book and they look great but my building has several lumpy, misformed and very messily painted areas that I wasn’t expecting from a $100 building. It could be worse, but it could be better, especially at that price point. I’ll be happier buying Firelock’s resin buildings they’re casting and painting them up myself.

  • I hate Veteran Boucaniers. They are so nasty. They deal out so much damage and they are just so hard to kill. If you can catch them unloaded it feels great to charge them but at the Veteran level, they just have so many actions you can’t approach them! I guess I should have tried to charge them twice on a turn so they would be hard pressed to fire defensively twice. They’re 8 points a pop at Veteran level but they’re worth it in the hands of an experienced player.
  • The Local Guide did great work in this game. There was a couple moments in the game where I didn’t account for a unit gaining that Quick trait and it hurt when I didn’t plan for it. I think my opponent drew a good number of Spades over the course of this game and it boosted the Guide’s helpfulness but my overall estimation of that character went up over the course of this game. She’s especially good on a unit of Veterans with a Commander and Fast Reload. You get a free move, a free reload, 3 actions and with this French Militia faction, you can even move again at the end of the action bringing your command unit up to a total of 6 possible actions on their activation!!

  • The rules for cannons shooting at units outside of structures are much better now. It used to be that solid shot was vastly superior to grapeshot when shooting at units in the open. The errata solved that and make grapeshot worth purchasing. Not that it paid off for me in this game but… it’s still a good change.

  • The Marins are still some of the best chargers in the game. That Fight of 5 with Harder Chargers is awfully nasty. It’s weird because a lot of the other French units have a 7 Fight skill but these Marins just go crazy! My poor prone artillery crew just never stood a chance.

I lost badly but it was a good and enjoyable game! Thanks to my friend Guy for challenging me and putting up a really tough fight. I’m looking forward to applying the lessons I learned in this scenario and trying it again and seeing if I can do better as the defender next time. Thanks to Oregon City Geeks & Games for hosting our gaming session and supporting the game! Thanks to Mike Tunez for sharing this new scenario with us and letting us take it for a spin. I look forward to seeing the finished scenario along with several others and some new factions and units in that new 18th century rule book when it comes out!

 

 

 

 

 

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