I had a chance to fight another battle with my Logwood Cutters force. This was my experiment using them at sea and it turned out to be a very entertaining game with my friend Kevin.
I used basically the same set of troops I used on land in my last battle report, merely adjusting some unit sizes and adding 5 Canoa. We aimed for a 200 point game but Kevin’s force came in around 210 so we both bumped it up a little.
Kevin knew I was planning a canoa swarm so he decided to counter with a fleet of two Barks.
Kevin’s 210 Point Pirate Hunter force contained:
- 6 Sea Dogs with pistols and 2 Blunderbusses with an Experienced Pirate Hunter Commander.
- 8 Sea Dogs with pistols and 2 Blunderbusses
- 1 Bark with 2 pairs of Light Cannons and 4 Swivel Guns
- 6 Sea Dogs with pistols and 2 Blunderbusses and an Officer attached
- 8 Sea Dogs with pistols and 2 Blunderbusses
- 1 Bark with 2 pairs of Light Cannons and 4 Swivel Guns
His force came to 29 models and it had lots of artillery power compared to my force!
I’ve been wanting to try the fleet of canoa with a “European style” force for a long time. After some decent success with a Native force in a bunch of Canoa, I finally worked up my nerve to try it with the Logwood Cutters.
My 211 point force contained:
- 6 Freebooters with an Experienced French Buccaneer Commander attached
- 6 Flibustiers
- 8 Vetern Boucaniers
- 6 Engages with a Grizzled Veteran attached
- 6 Engages
- 5 Canoa
All of my 33 models had either Firelock Muskets or Boucanier Guns with a Shoot skill of 6 or 5. My force would take a Strike Point at every 8 casualties.
We used the Take and Hold scenario at sea. In this scenario both ships/fleets start on opposite sides of the board sailing large. There are no Strike Point conditions but whoever captures the opponent’s flagship first immediately wins the game.
Kevin rolled high with his +2 from his Pirate Hunters faction and he took the role of the Attacker. The roles don’t much matter for this scenario but being the Defender meant I had to roll on the Logwood Cutters table of Fun and Misery.
I rolled a 6 so there was no effect on my force.
I placed my canoes within 12″ of the board edge and Kevin placed his ships across the board. We took the wrong sides of the board as Defender and Attacker by accident but it really doesn’t matter here.
All of Kevin’s units were assigned to artillery and all my Canoa were under paddle power.
Starting on opposite sides of the board meant that we were at extreme range on the first turn.
I turned all my canoa towards the English ships and managed to get my Boucaniers within 28″ so I could start taking potshots at long range.
I started by taking half shots and fully reloading if I had two actions or a full shot and reloading on clubs.
The English Swivel Guns were out of range and while turning in to close the distance the cannons couldn’t get at the right angle to target my boats.
I got some lucky 10’s on the first turn and applied some Fatigue to the units on the main deck of both Barks.
It wasn’t a pleasant round for the English as they had to take the shots but couldn’t return fire yet.
After shooting early with the Boucaniers and fully reloading, I fired them again with a command point on the last activation when the distance was short enough to get my target number down to 9.
The Boucaniers got lucky and got 4 hits out of 8 dice at 16″ to 20″. The English Saved well in spite of not having Hard Cover in the Barks.
Turn 2 opened with all vessels closing in on each other.
My musketry started out brisk but as the Swivel Guns got into range, Kevin’s English opened up and things started to get less pleasant for me.
The English flagship angled itself to fire off its two Light Cannons at a canoa of Engages.
Luckily the cannon balls went clean over the boat due to the Low Profile trait on the canoa.
I continued to fire muskets as the distance closed but my dice went cold and I didn’t land as many hits even with the reduced range.
The Engages fired the most successful volley this turn and I was able to whittle the Sea Dog crew on the front deck down to less than a full crew for the 4 guns on deck.
Then things started to get bad for my precious Veteran Boucaniers. They had fired twice on the previous turn so I was slow activating them on the second turn. Before I activated them they were hit by a single cannon ball. That single shot dealt two damage and I saved both those models but then I had to roll for each model to see if it would survive due to the canoa’s Unstable trait. I had to roll a D10 for every model and on a 1 or 2, that model is taken as a casualty. I lost 3 Veteran Boucanier to that tipsy boat!
I had to roll 4 Fatigue dice which left my Boucaniers prone with 3 Fatigue. They only fired twice before losing 3/8 of the unit by falling out of the canoa!
Swivel guns opened up as well and took out 2 Flibustiers and 2 Engages.
In spite of nearly all my muskets firing again at closer range this turn, I barely scored any hits! Round 2 ended with 7 casualties (44 points) on my side and only 4 on Kevin’s (16 points).
Going into turn 3 my force had several units fully loaded but a little too much Fatigue for comfort while Kevin’s force had recovered pretty well from the first turn with some Inspiring rally actions.
But the Logwood Cutters were undaunted! And not very clever…
We both played low clubs and I unexpectedly took the first action of turn 3. I paddled some canoa closer while backing the floundering Boucaniers up a little bit (hoping to avoid getting rammed) and used my commander to fire three units in a coordinated hail of lead trying to suppress the crew in the flagship.
Freebooters, Flibustiers and Engages all fired into the oncoming Bark at close range. I was hoping to cripple both units in the Bark but my marksmanship was lacking. I ended up killing all but two Sea Dogs in the front deck but they were made of stern stuff and didn’t even fail one Fatigue check!
Which meant they could still fire their loaded Swivel Guns!
The Bark moved into close range and fired into the canoa of Engages, killing half of them and leaving them prone with 5 Fatigue.
Getting an Inexperienced unit with 2 Reloads and 5 Fatigue back into the fight is very difficult! Even with a Grizzled Veteran!
Then the ramming started… The oncoming Bark collided with the canoa of Boucaniers. The rule book says when a ship hits a boat “it’s very bad for the boat.” If I made the calculations correctly, the canoa had to take 2 damage (which was now double the remaining hull Fortitude since it took two damage from a cannon earlier), and then I had to roll for each unit to see if would fall out! The rule book says you need a 7+ to Save every model. I rolled for my surviving Boucaniers and they all died… Bad day to be a Boucanier. After the game I remembered there had been an adjustment to that Save in the most recent errata and that Save had been changed to a 5 so that might have helped a little but I don’t think it would have changed the game.
“Especially lethal” is right! Ouch.
At this point in the game we started to play more quickly as the game store owner had given us the “10 minutes until closing” warning.
Things got close and personal on turn 4.
I was starting to have less options to work with. I had taken substantially more casualties and Kevin’s second Bark was still basically in mint condition. I had to go for the flagship and hope for the best!
My Engages were the closest to the English flagship. I was able to move my boat within grappling range and attempt to board. Activating on a Diamond I had two actions but I missed the first grapple attempt. I used my second action to make a successful grapple then pushed my unit to charge. The English were assigned to their cannons and couldn’t make a defensive attack. Engages aren’t meant to get in there in the melee, but sometimes you work with what you have!
On the following turn I was able to get my Flibustiers grappled and charge into the melee. The Flibustiers with Brace of Pistols hit a lot harder than the Engages and the charge forced the English commander to fall back to the front deck of the ship with one remaining Sea Dog and 3 Fatigue.
The front deck had another unit in it but it was prone (not Shaken). I think this still stopped the Flibustiers from following them.
We hurriedly started the next turn and I charged the Flibustiers and Engages into the front deck of the Bark and killed half the remaining Englishmen but they still contested the ship!
As our game time ran down Kevin made a desperate and dangerous move. His second Bark was in a perfect position for a raking shot on his own flagship. With more enemies on his ship than friends, he took the shot, hoping that lucky Saves could win the day!
But alas, they did not. His gunnery was accurate and he ended up killing the last of his own men along with all my Flibustiers and one Engage. But the battered Engages miraculously held on as the sole occupants of the English flagship, immediately ending the game in favor of the Logwood Cutters. The Engages were Shaken with 3 Fatigue but it appears from the rules that they still “control” the ship.
I’m not sure of the exact casualties at the end but I know Kevin took around 50% since all the models on one of his two twin ships were gone. I know I lost all 8 Boucaniers, all 6 Flibustiers, 3 Engages from one units and at least 2 Freebooters and that comes out to a little more than 50% of my force as well.
Post Game Thoughts
- That was a wild game! That ended was unexpected. I think if we hadn’t been feeling the rush of the store closing on us we could have played a little better and I’m not sure what would have happened.
- We weren’t even sure it was legal to fire on a ship with your own men in it. I couldn’t find anything prohibiting it. I know you can’t fire on a melee with your own troops in it with small arms, but cannons are a little different. What a way for the English commander to go. Shot by his own troops. Maybe that Officer in the other Bark was looking for a promotion…
- I learned some things piloting the canoa fleet. I’ve done it with Natives before but it feels different with a non-Native force. I wish I had actually kept my distance for another turn or two. As soon as we closed within less than a foot I had to worry about getting rammed. Swivel guns have no extended range so it’s almost to my advantage to stay away for a bit a snipe for a little longer. Or maybe my luck just turned bad for a turn or two. As soon as I got close, the combination of ramming and mass Swivel Gun fire nearly destroyed my force.
- Canoa are awesome. The maneuverability is remarkable. Being able to simply reverse directions with the paddles feels so different than the typical way you have to turn a ship around. Their ability to place the movement template anywhere on the body of the boat means they can turn really sharply as well (they have no skid or rope like ships and longboats do so you can place it pretty much anywhere). And not to underestimated, the Paddles trait makes your force so much more efficient since you don’t have to have units of dedicated rowers. The Low Profile 4 trait helps a lot. Their Fortitude is only 2, so if a cannon hits them, it hurts but actually making contact is much more challenging than you might think (we were using the “optional” cannon rules from NPBtL). A Master Gunner in the English force would have been a good way to help hit my boats.
- Canoa are terrible! In spite of being maneuverable and cheap to keep moving, they aren’t very fast and once they get hit by a ship, it’s actually pretty difficult to get them out of harm’s way. The width of the larger ships means they cover more ground on a turn and getting rammed feels bad. The Unstable trait really bit me in the hindparts in this game as well. Losing 3 Boucaniers on the second turn and then having them become Shaken because of those loses took them out of the game for me. That was 64 of my 211 points right there! It was certainly smart to target that boat with cannons first. For real though, the canoa is a cool boat. Real advantages and real drawbacks. Excellent game design.
- This game did confirm my fear of investing too many points in a unit in one canoa. I usually keep my unit size to around 6 in a canoa just so I don’t loose too much if that canoa gets hit by solid shot or gets rammed by a ship. I upped the Boucanier unit to 8 at the last minute when we decided to move the game from 200 to 210 points. Can’t put all your eggs in one canoa… Small unit size means you have more to manage and your units don’t hit nearly as hard, but if you spread out your men, the enemy can’t respond to them all. That’s the idea anyway…
- Sailing two ships can be hard. I’ve done it before and I saw Kevin deal with some of the same issues I’ve had. It’s really easy to get in your own way. For much of this game, the English flagship was blocking line of sight between the second Bark’s cannons and my canoa. You would think it would be easier, but it always seems to happen! The placement of the flagship vs the second Bark made a difference in this game as well. Had the positions been reversed, I would have had a harder time getting close to the flagship which was crucial for this scenario.
- Take and Hold was a very interesting scenario with these forces. In a typical one-on-one ship battle, the objective feels different since you have to kill the enemy to the last man to actually take their ship. In this game, taking out one ship/boat did not necessarily mean the enemy was eliminated. It did kind of feel weird to have a canoa be a “flagship.”
- The updated Assignment rules really made this game harder for Kevin and his Bark list. Having all units assigned to cannons meant he had no one available to make defensive shots or sailing tests. He eventually abandoned the cannons on the front deck of the English Flagship so he could make a defensive shot if necessary but by the time that charge came, they were prone and didn’t have the chance to do it.
- A question regarding the Paddles trait came up during the game. Can you still use Paddles while the unit in the canoa is shaken and/or prone? The rule as written looks like you could, but being Shaken usually means you can’t do anything… So when my units were Shaken I just had the boat drift when it had to move. But I would like to hear an official ruling on that.
- Swivel Guns are still good. Even with the doubled cost from the 2019 Errata, they are fast and nasty killing machines. They can shoot faster than my marksmen on their rifles! The Sea Dog’s Expert Artillery Crew is just beastly. It’s fairly easy to get a set of Swivels to fire twice during a turn when needed. You can even do it in one activation on a Heart! Fire, Reload, Expert Artillery Crew free Reload, take two Fatigue to fire again. (one for pushing, one for firing twice). Veteran Boucanier can do that as well, but man that hurts to get hit by swivels twice in a row!
- I was happy with my Engages in this game. Cheap units with a 6 Shoot are always welcome. Their 6 Shoot Save was very welcome as well, especially since I didn’t have the Hard Cover that a larger ship would provide. Their Timid ability hit me a couple times and it wasn’t pleasant, but they got enough hits to earn their keep. And they even made the initial charge into the English flagship with great bravery! They were actually the last unit standing in that ship as well. They aren’t made for that kind of work, but sometimes they will answer the call!
- My force had a nice mix of Veteran, Trained and Inexperienced troops and for the most part, it felt like it helped me use my cards in an efficient manner. Spades were great for my Boucanier since they could basically get 3 actions of them, Clubs were good for my Trained units, and Diamonds were good for the Inexperienced Engages, although they can also work well on the Veterans. The Hearts felt the least useful in this force, but if I was running a cannon list like Kevin’s they would have been the best.
Thanks to Kevin for playing a very enjoyable game. That was an outrageous ending and it probably would have ended in his favor had we had the luxury of more time to carefully play the last turns.
I enjoyed trying the canoa fleet and I think I will play it again. It’s just so different than a “standard” 200 point naval list. I don’t think it’s overpowered by any means, but it just makes the game feel very different.
Next I hope to get a chance to try some of the scenarios from the new Organized Play page!
Thanks for reading!