My friend Guy recently finished up his Galleon so we decided to get crazy and try a 1000 point game using the Army Scale rules. Each of us built a force consisting of 3 companies totaling 1000 points. The last game I played with the Galleon was at 300 points and it was not nearly full. At 1000 points you can completely load up a Galleon with Heavy Cannons and nearly fill the decks with models. Both of these ships had 150+ models on board!
Building this type of force is a totally different project! It stretched my brain and after the game I learned some things that will inform my list building next time.
The Army Scale rules make you use at least 3 different companies in your force. One commander is the Army Commander and can use his Command Points on anyone. The commanders of the other companies can only use their Command Points on units in their own company. During the game you activate an entire company at a time using a single card. Each unit in that company gets actions according to the card used. The Companies don’t have to be equal in size so we both built two large companies for the cannons and decks, and then one small company for the Fighting Tops (and Gallery). When building a force, you have a primary faction and you can have 1 company of allied factions for every two companies of your primary faction
My opponent Guy chose Henry Morgan as his Army Commander and the Brethren of the Coast as his primary faction.
- 16 Marins with no pistols with Morgan and a Standard Bearer on the Forecastle assigned to the 4 Swivels
- 17 European Sailors with Muskets on the Main deck with a Son of Neptune
- 16 Marins with Firepots and Blunderbusses on the Quarterdeck with a Carpenter
- 11 European Sailors with Muskets on the Quarterdeck
- 16 Marins with Firepots and Blunderbusses on the Poop Deck
- 6 Veteran Freebooters on the Gallery subsection in the back of the Galleon
This company had a total of 83 models and totaled 435 points.
His second company occupied the gun decks subsections as was led by Captain Kidd. It looked like this:
- 20 Sea Dogs with no pistols on the front cannons with a Son of Neptune
- 19 Sea Dogs with no pistols and Captain Kidd attached on the main deck cannons
- 20 Sea Dogs with no pistols on the mizzen deck cannons with a Master Gunner
- 12 Sea Dogs with no pistols on the poop deck cannons with a Grizzled Veteran
- 14 pairs of Heavy Cannons
This company had 72 models and totaled 462 points.
His third smaller company was much smaller in the 3 fighting tops.
- 3 Veteran Freebooters with an Experienced French Buccaneer commander
- 4 Veteran Freebooters
- 4 Veteran Freebooters
The three combined companies came to 167 models and exactly 1000 points of piratey goodness.
Guy organized his force horizontally with each level containing a company, but I organized my force more vertically.
I chose the Armada de Barlovento as my main faction and Mateo Perez de Garay as my army commander.
My first company occupied the back two decks.
- 12 Veteran Soldados with de Garay and a Spiritual Leader on the mizzen deck
- 12 Marineros without pistols with a Carpenter assigned to the 4 Swivel Guns on the mizzen deck
- 20 Marinoros without pistols with a Master Gunner assigned to the 4 pairs of Heavy Cannons in mizzen gun deck
- 11 European Sailors with muskets with a Son of Neptune on the poop deck
- 12 Marineros without pistols assigned to the two pairs of Heavy Cannons in the back gun deck.
- Galleon with the San Pedro Heavily Built upgrade that comes with de Garay
This 434 point force contained 70 models.
My second Armada company was in the front two decks of my ship and was commanded by a Untested Armada Commander.
- 12 Marineros Piqueros with an Untested Armada Commander, a Musician and a Spiritual Leader assigned to 2 of the 4 Swivels on the forecastle
- 10 Enter Ploeg with a Reformado assigned to the other 2 Swivels in the Forecastle
- 20 Marineros without pistols assigned to the 4 pairs of Heavy Cannons in the front of the ship
- 8 Trained Milicianos on the main deck
- 12 Marineros without pistols with a Son of Neptune assigned to the sheets and braces on the main deck
- 20 Marineros without pistols with a Master Gunner assigned to the four pairs of Heavy Cannons in the main deck gun deck sub section
This 438 point company contained 85 models.
My third company used the Spanish Tercios as an allied faction. This 126 point company contained:
- 4 Veteran Soldados with an Untested Tercio Commander and a Spy in the Gallery at the stern of the Galleon
- 4 Veteran Soldados with a Grizzled Veteran in the mizzen mast fighting top
- 4 Veteran Soldados with a Sharpshooter in the main mast fighting top
- 4 Veteran Soldados in the foremast fighting top
This 126 point company contained 18 models bringing my entire force to 173 models. I used the Tercios so I could get Soldados as core units. The 8″ command range for the Untested Commander is also large enough to reach across the entire ship (if I’m understanding the structure sections correctly).
At 1000 points, the Army Commander gets their basic 3 Fortune, plus 4 Fortune. Captain Morgan has God’s Blessing or the Devil’s luck which gave Guy an 8th Fortune in addition to the Lucky ability. With my two Spiritual Leaders, I started with 9 Fortune, plus my Spy’s ability to discard a hand of cards and redraw. In this setting, the Spy is essentially the same as a Spiritual Leader, but I thought this was an opportunity to get this model into a battle.
We wanted something fairly clear cut with a parallel setup so we could start firing those cannons right away. We chose Take and Hold which rewards either play an immediate victory if they take control of their opponent’s flagship.
We set up at the back of the mat parallel to each other at 24″ away and the wind at our backs. I had a bonus of 4 and Guy’s Brethren of the Coast had a bonus of 2 for being the attacker but I rolled low to Guy’s 9 so he became the attacker. It doesn’t much matter in this game but I set up first.
We drew our hands of 3 cards (one for each Company) and I drew 2 events! I couldn’t bear the thought of my fully loaded Galleon hitting the infamous Submerged Hazard again so we chose to use the Universal Event Table (which we hardly every use). One resulting event only did something if I was out of Fortune Points. The second event was Bravado, which I had never used before. You can choose to play a card off the top of your deck rather than one from you hand during your activations over the course of the round. That event also made us roll on the Wind Table and the wind reduced speed by 1 so now our ships were moving at 3″.
I used Bravado on my first activation and moved first. I turned in a little towards Guy’s ship and fired my Soldados in my Fighting Tops on the first turn. At more than 20″ I didn’t want to fire off my cannons yet. I got some hits but they were all saved leaving on some Fatigue on a couple of his units and a couple reloads on my men.
Guy’s snipers in the fighting tops weren’t very effective either but the ships closed closer!
I used Bravado again on the second activation and moved closer to his ship. I activated the back half of my ship but unfortunately I was still out of Swivel and Firelock range so several of my units weren’t able to fire. I also chose to conserve my cannon fire until the following turn when we would be closer. I knew I was risking taking the first broadside but I figured I could withstand one at this range.
But…I was overoptimistic. Captain Kidd down in the gun decks let loose an expert broadside and WOW! A full Strict Broadside from 12 Heavy Cannons can be INSANE! We were still outside of 16″ but between Strict and a Master Gunner, those cannons were deadly accurate. The dice just kept coming at me! Nearly every cannon made contact and that first shot scored 12 hits. I saved most of the models but it gave a Critical Hit which knocked out a gun and a Lucky Hit which slowed me to a mere 2″ per turn. And it reduced me to 4 Fortitude which would make the next cannon shot even more painful. The dice weren’t stingy in rolling 8-10’s! I vastly underestimated the effectiveness of the broadside at this distance.
That took the wind out of my sails (literally) but I still had a company to activate. I activated the front half of my ship, firing my cannons, Milicianos and Swivel Guns. I was down one cannon from the Critical Hit earlier but still had 6 Heavy Cannons to fire. I just needed 3’s to make contact with the enemy and 8’s to hit. I rolled a hit and two 2’s so I spent one of my 9 Fortune to re roll. I rolled three 2’s. Noooooo! My other cannons did better but not by a lot. I only needed 8’s with 12 dice! I got 2 hits so I opted to re roll with another Fortune and it came up with one hit. One damage out of 6 Heavy Cannons! And the ironic thing is that we both forgot our Heavily Built rule through the game so this would have been no damage!
I killed a total of 2 models with my small arms and cannon fire together on that first turn. I had lost 5 models but my Galleon was in deep trouble with close to half it’s hull shot away and damage to the sails.
Henry Morgan looked on, very pleased with the situation.
Going into turn 2 I was pleased to have the 12 of Spades. At least I could get another volley of cannons in before I was hit again by that nasty broadside! Maybe I could make one of his gun crews become Shaken. I activated my rear two decks which included my Commander, de Garay. His Sailing Master ability triggered again which gave me a little extra speed so I could move 3″. Upgrading those Soldados to Veteran in the Armada faction makes them Expert Sailors which makes his ability much more reliable.
I targeted his gun deck subsections with my cannons and fired using Command Points for a Broadside. My results were again unimpressive with only 3 more damage from the 4 Heavy Cannons. I got my only Lucky Hit of the game here on his Sails and Spars which slowed his ship down as well.
I fired my Soldados with a 3 action Expertly Drilled Ruthless (I messed up the Ruthless by taking a Fatigue for that third action which put me equal to my target. Got to watch for that!) I was hitting on 7 but only scored 2 hits with the 12 dice. I was having a little trouble finding those high numbers.
Then came the second round of cannon fire from the Guy’s ship. It wasn’t a massive Broadside this time but it was almost worse. The forward two decks fired separately, scoring plenty of hits on my Gun Decks and applying 2 Leaks. Then the back two decks fired together as a Strict Broadside under Captain Kidd and it went from bad to worse. To worst! The final Broadside applied 8 damage which brought me down to 1 Fortitude, applying 4 Critical Hits and another Lucky Hit. A Leak, a Sails and Spars, a Leak, a Fire and… another Leak. The 5th Leak started my ship sinking. The Galleon was sunk on the first activation of the second turn! This was beyond anything I had imagined for this game!
With my ship sinking, I could no longer make Ranged attacks and I conceded the game.
The final casualty count was 18 killed from my Spanish Force and a mere 4 killed from the Henry Morgan/William Kidd alliance. I had only applied 5 damage to the hull of my enemy. The Brethren of the Coast had hit hard and won the day! Mateo Perez de Garay surrendered and he and his men were fished from sea to be held in for ransom or pressed into service. A dark day for the Armada de Barlovento.
Post Game Thoughts
- Wow. Largest game I’ve played and finished in the least numbers of turns! 1000 points and minimal casualties but a Galleon sent to the bottom. Amazing. So how did this happen? A combination of excellent force building on Guy’s part, firing at the right time, and some good fortune with the dice and Lucky/Critical Hits.
- Guy’s list was superior to mine. I imagined the first two turns being very indecisive with minimal cannon damage coming through so I split my cannon crews between two companies so they weren’t as coordinated. Guy put all his cannon crew in on Company and put that Company under Captain Kidd, arguably the best commander of cannons in the game. The new Strict rule gives a -1 bonus to both the ranging shot and the damage shot on cannons which is amazing. Between those bonuses and the coordinated broadside, I was simply outclassed.
- And then we have to look at the dice. The damage dice were good for Guy, but not out of this world. I’m not blaming my loss on dice. But I will say the Critical/Lucky Hits on that second turn were kind of nuts. I literally got 5 Leaks in one activation. Before I could respond to the first one, I had 5 and my ship was sinking! That is pretty much impossible in standard play and still extremely unlikely in Army Scale play. But it happened!
- Army Scale Rules makes Fatigue management much different. If a unit starts their company’s activation shaken, you can either start with a Command Point to rally them and then activate them as normal, or you can rally them on their activation, then use a Command Point to do something with them later. It’s harder to pin down a unit with Fatigue, especially with Very Inspiring Commanders on board along with more than one Grizzled Veteran and Son of Neptune. There were lots of options for removing Fatigue in both our forces.
- I do generally like the Army Scale rules. Those huge activations of multiple units at once can get a little overwhelming but it does help the game move a lot quicker. The rules for building the companies and the faction you get to use are all great in my opinion. I like how you can have “imbalanced” numbers in your factions. It let us have a smaller faction which allowed for a 4 model minimum so we could put complete units in the Fighting Tops. At 1000 points in a standard game, your minimum unit size is 12 with is difficult to manage and makes some of the smaller subsections much less useful.
- We both enjoyed using the Gun Deck sub sections. It was fun having the choice of firing cannons on either the surface decks or at the cannon crew. We saw pretty quickly this game would be decided by cannons and started targeting the gun decks almost exclusively.
- Heavy Cannons are impressive. Especially when you have 12 of them firing! If you hit with all those that’s 48 dice to roll! If you compare than with a Frigate full of Light cannons, that’s 4 Frigate broadsides which is as much as a Frigate could deliver in an entire 6 turn game. That’s just an amazing amount of firepower. Imagine a First Rate in this scale!
- In spite of having a good 500+ points wrapped up in small arms and sailors on deck, they did remarkably little in this 1.3 turn game. I’ve never seen so many men do so little in a game! Cannons truly dominated this match.
- I’m disappointed I forgot to apply my Heavily Built trait, but at least we both forgot! Evens out. Not sure it would have really helped me anyway!
- I’ve now played games with the Galleon at 300 points, which felt too low, and 1000 points which is on the high side. I would like to do a game around the 500-600 mark and I’m suspecting that might be the sweet spot.
- Management of my troops at 1000 points was pretty complex. I had printouts from the Force Builder for all my Companies and all the characters penciled in on the appropriate units. It was further complicated by using the Gun Decks with “imaginary” models in them. I just used tally marks on my printout to keep track of casualties on those units below decks.
- The Galleon were attention grabbers! We had several people comment on the size of those ships while we played.
- I thought I had an amazing amount of Fortune at 9 with the 2 Spiritual Leaders, but with Captain Morgan on the table, Guy effectively had more Fortune than I did with 8 and Lucky. I used more of mine in this game than he did and I would have likely run out first.
- De Garay is still my favorite Spanish Commander but he didn’t do too well here. His combination of Sailing Master, Expert Broadside, his Heavily Built ship, Very Inspiring and 3 command points is totally worth 30 points. But looking across the table I felt a little small compared to Captain Kidd! I want to play with him again. Strict is pretty great now!
- I was hoping Captain Morgan’s limitation on using Fortune at sea or on repair actions would really hurt using this big unwieldy ship but the game just didn’t last long enough for that to matter. Starting out set up for a broadside may have been a mistake. It would have been a little more interesting to have some manuevering before the battle became engaged but we expected the Galleons to be incredibly tough so we wanted to start firing right away.
That was a crazy experience! Thanks to Guy for a good game and congrats on a sound victory! It’s fun getting these large ships to the table. I’m inspired to get my 6th Rate Frigate painted and pit it against the Galleon (at a lower point level).
Thanks for reading! If you have a Galleon or 6th Rate, I’d enjoy hearing how your battle have gone. What point levels have you gone up to? Have you seen cannons tear a ship apart like this before?