Battle Report: Sea Plunder – Brethren of the Coast vs Dutch Navy

Here’s a 100 point battle report. It’s been a while since I played a 100 point, and even longer since I played a small game like this at sea. This is a 100 point naval game using the Plunder scenario, played with friend (and blog contributor) Guy Rheuark.

This was the first game in a set of 3 linked games in a mini-campaign idea I’ve been putting together just for fun while thinking about ideas for Organized Play. You can see the mini campaign rough ideas in this Google Doc if you’re interested.

The Forces

I’ve been working on painting up a Dutch force and at this smaller point level, I can field a decent little crew. I chose the Dutch Navy faction knowing that both their Shallow Draft rule and the Zeelanders could be useful for the scenario we had chosen ahead of time.

My Dutch Navy force contained:

  • 6 Zeelieden with no pistols assigned to the 2 main deck swivel guns with an Untested Dutch Navy Commander attached
  • 6 Zeelieden with no pistols assigned to the stern pair of swivel guns
  • 7 Kapers, starting the game assigned to the Sheets and Shrouds of my ship
  • Privateer Sloop

This force is exactly 20 models so it will take a Strike Point at every 5 casualties.

Nice and simple list. Those are my West India Trading company Dutch Fortune Points[/caption]

Guy’s Brethren of the Coast list contained:

  • 6 Flibustiers with an Untested French Buccaneer Commander and a Grizzled Veteran attached
  • 6 Marins without pistols
  • 7 Pressed Men with the new(ish) Unknown African character attached and assigned to two pairs of Light Cannons
  • Tartana

The Unknown African is a new character from the Buccaneer’s Companion Volume 1 Organized Play material. There are a bunch of new commanders which can be used as Characters or Commanders along with some more generic Characters like the Unknown African. This particular Characters comes with the Indomitable special rule which is amazing for 3 points. This rule isn’t easy to come by in Blood & Plunder, only being found on some of the highest cost Legendary Commanders in the game. Here he was great support for the poor Pressed Men who are infamous for their 7 Resolve.

african

The French and English Buccaneers and Brethren of the Coast are already all good factions and this makes them that much better! Very cool character.

The Scenario

I find the Plunder scenario very entertaining, especially at sea. The roles for the Attacker and Defender are the same which makes it very fair and it has a racing element built into it, along with a nearly inevitable melee clash near the end of the game. Very exciting!

The sea version has the players start across the board from a 2-4 deck wrecked ship with a loot objective on each deck. Players race to claim objectives which will give their opponent a Strike Point while they hold it. The wreck has a 3″ ring of shoals around it which means you should probably bring a smaller ship or a boat to approach the wreck.

The “story” of this mini campaign is that the Attacker’s nation has lost a supply ship to a storm and they have sent a ship to recover what they can from the wreck, but when they arrive, another ship full of pirates/opportunists has also arrived on the scene hoping to pick up some free treasure!

The Game

In addition to the shoal terrain around the wreck, we added two more fairly large shoals near the center of the board.

With the wind at our backs, we set up on opposing corners of one side of the board and began the game.

With my Kapers helping my Privateers Sloop take advantage of the Swift rule, my ship sped along at 5″ a move towards the prize. The Dutch crown was counting on us to recover chests of gold and silver coin!

Taking advantage of the “power of the turn,” Guy actually outpaced me in the first few turns, getting closer to the prize than my ship, in spite of me moving 1″ faster than him. Turning is always faster somehow!

We exchanged some small arms fire as the distance closed between us. Not many hits but the main deck Zeelieden thought it was pretty scary, losing one man and rolling double 1’s for their Resolve test.

The Pirates fired their cannons from a fairly long distance, made contact, but failed to produce any damage on their first volley.

I drew an event on turn two which came up as Salty Dogs which gave the unit of my choice a -1 bonus on Sail/Manuever actions for the turn. I gave it to my Kapers but didn’t end up using it. 

After my first move of turn 2 using the Swift 5″ speed 1 more time, I took my Kapers off the sails assignment and got off a good shot at the Tartana at less than 12″. Four hits out of 7 dice looking for 8’s isn’t too bad!

The Marins were laying down and were saving just fine but the Flibustiers had a terrible time saving and took some hits.

Guy’s Tartana grappled the wreck first after passing the shoals check. Both of our ships had a 5 draft value so we were pretty safe from beaching.

By the second activation of turn 2 we were both there at the wreck but neither of us had grabbed an objective yet. 

Neither of us had taken many casualties but both my Zeelieden and his Pressed Men were dealing with Fatigue issues.

I successfully grappled the wreck near the end of turn 2 but neither of us had jumped into the ship yet.

On turn 3, the Marins jumped into the Bark wreck, snatched one objective and jumped back into their Tartana and cast off. I was anticipating a brawl! I wanted a fight! I guess the Brethren wanted to grab some easy loot and get out of there without loss of life.

After the Brethren cast off, I jumped my Kapers into the wreck and claimed the other objective. 

The Kapers put some real hurt on the Tartana at the beginning of turn 4, eliminating the Pressed Men with a nasty volley followed by a poor Resolve check. That Unknown African kept them in line for a while, but that 7 Resolve is hard to deal with.

At this point the Tartana was starting to look pretty empty as my Swivel Guns and Kapers took their toll.

The Marins moved to the back of the Tartana to man the cannons as the Tartana moved past the wreck, but the casualties from the Swivel Guns were whittling them down as well. 

The Brethren of the Coast had succeeded in getting some of the loot but the Dutch had made them pay in blood. 

At the end of turn 4, the Brethren had lost 13/20 models and it wasn’t looking good. 

The Strike Points stood at:

  • 1 Strike for my Dutch for the Brethren controlling 1 objective and no Strikes for my 3 casualties
  • 3 Strikes for the Brethren. 1 for my controlling 1 objective and 2 for 13 casualties

With 2 more Strikes than me, Guy rolled a Strike Test at it came up a 3 and with no Fortune to reroll, the game was over. The Dutch had succeeded in protecting at least half the salvage from the Brethren!

Post Game Thoughts

  • Playing at 100 points moves so fast! Three cards and three moves per turn. Pretty easy! But you feel every casualty at this point level too. Every man is essential!
  • Swivel Guns are still good. Their sheer number of dice, combined with a 6 shoot, combined with the speed of reloads makes them devastating, even without extended range. The set of six 3 point sailors and 2 Swivel Guns costs 26 points for a total of 6 dice with a target number of 6. Compare that with 6 Flibustiers costing 36. Flibustiers are clearly more versatile, but when you’re looking for pure and efficient ranged firepower, swivels are king at sea. Swivels also decrease at a slower rate (with 6 crew you can take 2 casualties and not decrease your firepower) and they can have a better version of Fast Reload with Expert Artillery Crew

  • When it first came out, the Privateer Sloop was really dominant in my local group. The ability to move 5″ per turn is pretty amazing, especially in smaller games where you won’t be running into huge amounts of cannons. The errata to Swift kind of killed it since the effective cost went way up to get that speed. You now have to have a unit assigned to the sails to get that extra speed and in most cases, that cost plus the reduced sturdiness is too prohibitive. But I liked it here! I was able to keep the Kapers on the sails for a couple turns to get some extra speed. It felt like a good use of the ship and of the “Swiss army knife” unit like the Kaper. The Freebooters and Flibustiers could be used the same way, squeezing a little extra value out of them for a turn or two before they can really shoot well and making good use of the Privateer versions that are available for some of these ships.

  • Kapers are a weird little unit. Not as strong as the French and English sailor/fighter, but 1 point cheaper and still pretty good. I fully meant to give 1/3 of them Blunderbusses but I forgot to use them the first two times I shot them and then I felt that I couldn’t start using them because I didn’t take the range penalty for them when I was a longer range. But I’ll remember next time! 

  • I enjoyed using my real Dutch coins for Fortune Points. That physical connection with people from 3-400 years ago is just neat. You can find these coins for “reasonably low” cost on eBay. Or you can enter some cool photos in my 2021 Blood & Pigment photo contest next year and win some! 

  • Shoals make sea games much more interesting. You don’t always hit them, but they just change the way you sail and give you one more decision to make. Even at drafts of 5, that decision to take the risk is always interesting. We used some of Guy’s shoals and I’m not sure how he made them but you can find a little guide on making a similar sort of shoal here on this blog.

  • I like the Plunder scenario at sea a lot. I think it would be even more interesting at a high point level. At 200-300 points you could use a 3-4 size ship for the wreck. Having 3-4 Strike Points up for grabs would be huge. You would come to blows for sure! And you’d have the choice of filling out a smaller ship with a low draft value with great troops so you could get to it fast, or you could bring a bigger ship and trust to luck which it comes to those surrounding shoals or bring a boat. All fun considerations for a good, balanced scenario. If you haven’t tried Plunder at sea, you need to do it!

  • The Dutch are particularly good for this scenario if you can get the Shallow Draft trait on their ships. I really enjoyed knowing I only had a 1% chance of beaching my ship while approaching the wreck. 

  • I’m still learning the basic feel of the Dutch factions but I feel like the Dutch sea factions are pretty strong. They are just solid. Good seamanship, cannons and solid melee ability. Not as strong in musketery as the French and English, but you can just replace muskets with Swivel Guns! In this game, both the Shallow Draft and the Zeelanders ability kicked in and felt like they were helping. Both those abilities are kind of “passive” (you don’t decide when to use it) so it’s not as dramatic as drawing a new hand for free like the Buccaneers, but those passive rules still change the game a lot. I would highly recommend the Dutch Navy as a strong naval faction after the few games I’ve played with them. They don’t have the variety possible in the buccaneer factions, but everything that they do have is really good.

  • Props to Guy for making such a cool Bark. Along with all the barrels and crates he supplied, it make a great looking shipwreck.
  • Guy mentioned something after the game regarding cannons. They are hard to “sprinkle” into a list. You kind of need to focus on them or leave them out to get maximum efficiency. Cannons are cool because they become increasingly deadly through a game as they wear down a ship’s fortitude. But if you don’t have “critical mass” of cannons, it’s hard for them to do as well.

  • The Tartana and Sloop compete for the same slot in most lists and it was fun to see them oppose each other. At 13 points, the the Privateer Sloop is 1 more point than the Tartana They have the same basic toughness and sail settings but the Privateer Sloop can get a little more speed when it needs it, plus the Fore-and-Aft rig makes it a little better in my opinion. I like the Swivel setup better in the Tartana but really, they’re really close. I’m not sure which I like better! Both are great for the 100-200 point range of games.

We played the next game in the mini campaign right after this and I’ll try to get a short battle report out on it as well. Once the Brethren escape, the Dutch Navy has to track them down and try to get the loot back from them!

Thanks to Guy for a good game and thanks to you for visiting the blog here!

 

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