I finally played a French faction! Here’s a quick 200 point battle report pitting my French led by Francois L’Olonnais against my friend Bryan’s Portuguese led by Francisco Dias Velho.
I chose to play the Flibustier Nau, Francois L’Olonnais’s personal force. This faction is a much more limited version of the French Buccaneers but the entire gets the Ruthless special rule which has the potential to make the already deadly French musketry even more punishing.
My force included:
- 6 Flibustiers with L’Ollannais attached
- 5 Veteran Boucaniers with a Grizzled Veteran
- 8 Les Enfants Perdus with 2 Grenades
- 5 Engages
- 4 Engages
With only 29 models, my force was pretty small for a 200 point game but I hoped my strong commander and accurate long arms could make up for low numbers.
Bryan’s Portuguese force focused on using larger units. His army contained:
- 12 European Sailors with muskets with Francisco Dias Velho attached (illegal-we forgot this was a support unit for the first half of the game)
- 9 Trained European Militia with a Reformado
- 9 Trained European Militia with a Grizzled Veteran
- 8 Milicianos Indios with the bows replaced with muskets
At 39 models, the Portuguese outnumbered my French by 10 and were still all trained models and had a high powered commander!
We randomly predetermined the scenario a day before the game and it came up as Escort on land.
In this scenario the Defender has to move a special Dignitary model (with no real abilities) across the map and help him escape off the opposite corner from his starting position. The Attacker needs to hunt down and kill the dignitary or at least stop him from moving off the board.
Setup is pretty flexible in this scenario. The Defender’s unit with the Dignitary has to be placed in a 12″ box at one corner of the board, but they can also place units within 3″ of the diagonal center of the board. The Attacker gets a 12″x8″ box at a corner but they can also move units onto the board in the opposite corner during the first turn of the game.
We set up the table and used a road to make the setup and path for the dignitary very clear. We rolled for Attacker and Defender and in spite of my faction having a +3 bonus for being the Attacker, Bryan rolled high and I took the Defender’s role.
We alternated placing units. I placed unit all along the road, hoping to have a nice defensive line for the Dignitary to move behind.
With painful memories of being punished for having a divided force in previous games of this scenario, Bryan opted to place his entire force before the game in the 12″x8″ box.
I added the Dignitary to the Les Enfants Perdus and placed them very last, putting them at the corner of the deployment zone closest to the middle of the table. The corner of that 12×12″ is 16.9 inches along the 60″ diagonal line through the 3×4′ board.
I was going to keep my commander with the Dignitary but decided at the last minute to add him to the smaller unit of Flibustiers instead. It’s slightly dangerous having a 37 point commander attached to a 6 model unit in a 200 point game but I decided to go with it. I wanted the Dignitary with the Les Enfants Perdus because in spite of their poor Shoot Save of 8, they have a Resolve of 4 and Tough to keep them going and Vanguard to give them a nice head start.
Before the first turn of the game, my commander’s Terror rule forced the Portuguese units to each take a single die Fatigue test. They all failed. This was a bit of a rough start for Bryan’s force.
With some Veteran, Trained and Inexperienced units in my force, I was able to use all my cards pretty well on most turns.
Both of us used the first turn to move our men into cover. I started by moving a unit of Engages into cover, firing and pushing to do a half reload. With the Boucaniers’ Grizzled Veteran close by got rally actions, I planned to push them fairly regularly to get more value out of them.
But even looking for only 8’s those Engages failed every shot! And those Milicianos Indios were just sitting out the in open!
The Indios returned fire and scored some hits, killing 1 Engage.
My units moved into cover and fired all the way down the line causing some casualties and discomfort in the Portuguese ranks. I used a command point on the escorting unit to move 4″, then a double move on their activation. Those 12″ combined with the Vangaurd move meant they covered 16″ on the first turn. 16″ plus the 17″ they gained from setup put them 33″ inches into the board and only about 23-27″ from escaping off the opposite board corner.
The Terror Fatigue combined with some damage and Fatigue from my opening volleys slowed the first turn for Bryan’s Portuguese. Most of his units either rallied and moved or rallied and fired. One unit of militia moved twice up on his Right flank but the rest of his unit didn’t moved closer to my forces.
Bryan drew an event on turn 2 and to compound his Fatigue problems he ran into some Vexatious Flora! The nasty plants actually broke one of his militia and they fell back to be rallied by Velho.
My center Boucaniers had hot dice over the whole game but their friends the Engages rolled incredibly poorly! I don’t think they ever got a hit over the course of the entire game.
They also refused to rally with the Grizzled Veteran’s Command Point…
A Portuguese volley killed one of L’Olonnais’ Flibustiers and left them with 2 fatigue but his Very Inspiring rally cleaned it up later in the turn.
With another double move and a command point move, the Les Enfants Perdus moved another 12″ across the table, getting within less than 8″ of the escape edge on turn 2! But the Portuguese Militia pushed hard to move way up that side of the board, taking cover behind the well. They might catch me if they activated first on the next turn!
By the start of turn 3, Bryan’s Portuguese had spread out to make a good battle line but only the one unit had moved to threaten the speedy Enfants escorting the Dignitary. A few French had fallen to the Portuguese muskets, but the French musketry was taking a heavier toll. Never Engage in a musketry duel with the French (when death is on the line!).
I drew a high Spade on turn 3 but decided not to flee just yet. I still had half my gin & tonic to finish! The game can’t be over yet! Bryan took initiative and fired on the Enfants and killed one. The Enfants hadn’t fired a shot yet so I gave them an opportunity to get into combat. I moved them towards the Militia and fired off a volley of muskets accompanied by 2 grenados. Only using a single action to throw the grenades meant I had to roll to see if they would misfire and hurt my own unit. They both came up as misfires! I used a Fortune to reroll and one still misfired so I had to attack myself with 3 grenado dice. I got 3 hits! I wasn’t thrilled with that so I used another Fortune to reroll those dice but still ended up killing 1 of my men.
I took out a few with the ranged attack then I pushed them to charge and attack with their melee weapons which finished off the unit. The Dignitary got to see his escort in action. Probably wasn’t impressed with their handling of explosives…
The rest of turn 3 resulted in some more ranged casualties on both sides with the Engages taking the brunt of the Portuguese fire.
The Milicianos Indios with muskets were pretty valuable. That 6 Shoot Save with Elusive discouraged me from even trying to shoot at them.
On the first activation of turn 4 I pushed the Enfants off the table ending the game.
The Dignitary is safe!
Besides the two units that had met at the lower left corner of the board, none of the other units on the board had moved more than a couple times. My battle line had given the Portuguese militia enough trouble that they hadn’t been excited about making a run to intercept my sprinting unit.
At the end of the game our casualties stood at 5 French (1 Flibustier, 2 Enfants and 2 Engages) and 17 Portuguese, half of those the result of the scuffle with the Enfants near the end.
Post Game Thoughts
- Well it was fun playing the French! I’ve been fighting against the French a lot ever since the game came out and I think they have some really strong units and factions. Feels good to finally use those units that have beat me! There’s nothing else quite like Veteran Boucaniers in this game.
- This is the fastest I’ve run a unit across the board! I intentionally used a unit with Vangaurd to give me a head start but I was impressed at how fast one can move all the way across the diagonal part of the board. If I had pushed the unit to it’s max, I may have been able to escape on turn 2. It’s 60″ from one corner to the other. The 12×12″ deployment zone means you start up to 16.9″ into that 60″ and you can escape off any edge within 12″ of the opposite corner. If you measure from the corner of deployment to one of the edges of that 12″ escape box, it’s just at 36″ that a unit needs to travel to escape. Vanguard shaves off 4″ so that’s 32″. That’s 8 move actions which can technically be done in 2 turns if you take 3 moves plus a Command Point move every turn. I guess that’s how you optimize/break the scenario if you want to!
- This land version of the scenario felt very different than the Amphibious version which I played not that long ago. That transition from land to sea and the possibility of having a conflict on the water makes the scenario feel very different from this “foot race.” It’s a fun scenario but it really puts the pressure on the Attacker to move fast!
- Bryan’s poor luck on that opening Terror roll kind of haunted him through the rest of the game. The extra Fatigue right away made it difficult to be very mobile and get into a position where the dashing Enfants could be stopped.It also set up my Ruthless shots to be more punishing. It seems like he would have to push hard and get 2-3 units up towards the escape corner really quickly to stop them. That Fatigue combined with a good amount of French musketry made that pretty difficult.
- L’Olonnais is good! I really like his combination of rules. 37 points is clearly a considerable cost but if you take each ability and consider it’s value, I think he is worth every point. I kind of consider a 3 Command Point leader with Very Inspiring to be worth 30 points. It’s very rare to get any 3CP commander for less than 30. The extra Fortune from God’s Blessing of the Devil’s Luck is basically worth the 7 points you would pay for a Spiritual Leader. That’s 37 right there and then you get the perfectly set combo of Terror and Ruthless. These abilities work really well together since the opening Terror Fatigue rolls can set up your Ruthless bonus right away and if you can get that ball rolling, it can compound. Not only does he have Ruthless, but his faction gives all his men the ability! On top of that his force gets a free hand replacement which is kind of like a 5th Fortune point! The only 2 disadvantages I see on him is he can’t take a Buccaneer Gun like some of the French commanders and, in spite of having Broadside, he isn’t great at running a cannon ship at sea (which is special force) since he doesn’t have any cheap cannon crew in the Core Units lineup. But he’s an awesome commander!
- A Grizzled Veteran is a great insurance policy on Boucaniers. Tough helps them shed Fatigue and if, God forbid, they’re ever charged, that Battle Hardened ability will hopefully keep whoever is left from routing. It worked out well to have him next to the Engages in this game. Their Timid rule meant that if the Boucaniers were attacked, they could take Fatigue so having some extra rally opportunities right there was nice.
- Ever since I saw those 6 point Les Enfants Perdus get shot up on a ship a few times early in the game’s life, I’ve considered them a sub-par unit. That 8 Shoot Save just makes them so fragile. Their 4 Resolve and Tough means they will keep going to the last man but unfortunately they find the last man too soon in many cases. But they did their part in this game in spite of their 8 Shoot Save! All their other abilities make them a bargain at 6 points, but I’m always jumpy about taking a high value unit with a poor Save like that. The Storming Party is probably my favorite set of minis in the game so I’m always happy to get them on the table and blowing stuff up (even if it themselves).
- This was my first chance using this set of road terrain and it worked well. I bought this on eBay for a reasonable price ($40) and the seller seems to be active and keep this product up there fairly regularly if you have any interest in picking up a nice set of road terrain. It’s a set of flexible plastic pieces you can piece together any way you want. It included what we used plus a corner piece and a T piece.
Thanks to Bryan for playing a good game and for the gin & tonic.
Thanks for stopping by and reading the battle report. Feel free to poke around the blog and take a look at some of the other battle reports, ship reviews and faction and nationality summaries and analysis articles.
I’d enjoy hearing about other players’ experiences with this scenario as well. I like Escort but after this game, I feel the land version can be hard for the Attacker.