By Joseph Forster
The English Caribbean Militia is a hardy and aggressive faction that gives the English player in Blood in Plunder solid options for fighting on land and even venturing out to sea if necessary.
This faction was originally published in the core rule book but has since been updated in No Peace Beyond the Line. This review will look at more expansive version of the faction found in No Peace Beyond the Line.
One of the strengths of the English is their solid Resolve. They don’t easily take Fatigue and this faction reinforces that theme even further by allowing all failed Fatigue and Rally dice to be re-rolled on the first turn. This is a simple and seemingly subtle faction ability but it allows the English Militia faction to really push for an advantage right away. If you can engage right away on turn 1, you can quickly gain an upper hand if you don’t take any Fatigue while your enemy takes Fatigue and has a slower second turn. All the units available in this faction have a solid 5 Resolve or better so this re-roll ability bring your average success rate of a Resolve check up to 84%.
Some scenarios start with forces fairly far apart and in that case, this special rule tends to fall a little flat. The English Militia player will do well to place their units to maximize interaction on the first turn to leverage value out of this rule.
The Jamaican Militia force option lets you take the stout Musketeer unit as a core unit along with Sea Dogs if you give them muskets. If you chose this force variation, you cannot take any Militia Cavalry.
This version of the force is slightly more able at sea, but it’s still not very efficient on a ship with cannons since you can’t buy those cheap 3 point Sea Dogs. If you’re willing to spend the extra points to put Muskets on Sea Dogs, they’re actually superior to Trained English Militia in several ways. The main advantage is the 7 Shoot Save on the Sea Dog which makes them a little harder to kill than easy-to-spot red-coated militia unit with a Save of 8. The Sea Dogs are also better on attack and defense in a melee.
The Musketeer unit is extremely solid but in this faction it’s always a hard call when choosing between Freebooters and Musketeers. Both are 6 points and have distinct strengths.
The Jamaican Militia is a good force variation but you don’t necessarily need to take it. Both versions can be effective.
Militia factions usually focus on larger numbers of cheaper units and this faction can do that or it can focus more on highly skilled and mobile units as the core of the force.
The basic version of this faction has three very different options for core units. The Sea Dogs with muskets and Musketeers sort of count as Core units but I’ll categorize them as Support for now.
English Militia is the only militia unit that can boast of a 5 Resolve. This unit is brave and reliable but with the 8 Shoot Save and 7 Fight Save, they tend to die pretty fast. If you want to build a force with a really high model count to overwhelm your enemy, this is a great way to go but remember that they will get shot down pretty quickly with those red coats and they won’t last long in a melee either. If you want to march straight out in the open with lines of muskets, these guys are pretty good because they won’t run even while they take massive casualties!
I consider the option to upgrade to Trained very useful and I’ll take it in most cases. If you’re doing a super spam list like mentioned above, Inexperienced might be the way to go, but they sure feel sluggish. If you ever take advantage of the Drilled rule, being trained will help you get that full 3 action shot and will help you reload faster after taking that drilled shot. I wouldn’t buy the Bayonets by default but if your tactics involve a lot of melee fighting, it might be worth it for a larger unit.
The Militia unit’s main weakness is their 8 Shoot Save but fortifications can mitigate that weakness with the Superior Cover special rule. When stationed inside the Stone Tower Fort or Blockhouse, even lowly militia save on a 3+!
These are an unusually high quality unit to be found as a core option for a militia faction. If you can afford it, this unit makes a great command unit. With Fast Reload, Marksmen, Ball & Shot, a sidearm and a solid Fight Save, you can throw this unit at any situation and they will be able to handle the job.
If you end up at sea with this faction, this unit also has the Sailors ability so they can help out with the ship management when necessary although you really should be shooting as much as possible.
Freebooters compete with Musketeers for a similar “professional” slot in the Jamaican Militia force. Both have a 6 Shoot, options for improving that score (Marksmen and Expertly Drilled), and solid, although not amazing, melee stats. The Freebooter can fire faster and score more hits through Fast Reload and Ball and Shot while the Musketeers’ strengths are found in their amazing Resolve and the Fatigue put out through Expertly Drilled. Both choices are solid and I would try to work at least one of these units into most English Caribbean Militia forces.
Cavalry is a real wild card in Blood & Plunder. They move so fast and can do unexpected things but they’re pretty expensive and very easy to shoot down since they have poor Saves, can’t really move through covering terrain very well and are so large they are difficult to hide from enemy fire.
The English version of Cavalry comes with Quick and Hard Chargers making them ideal for lightning strikes on weak or unprepared targets. They lack the Spanish Skirmishers and the French solid shoot skill that makes Carbines more tempting but their strength over other faction’s cavalry is their 5 Resolve. They are more reliable than all other Cavalry units in the game but they still seem to draw a lot of fire and don’t last long on the board. It’s extremely satisfying to pull off a devastating cavalry charge but I find it difficult to pull off. This unit can be a great flanking unit or strike force if you can afford devoting that many points to a unit that might not be able to contribute a lot to the first couple turns of the game.
There are some fun customization options for cavalry including upgrading to Trained, adding carbines and armor. I usually leave the cavalry Inexperienced because ideally you’re activating them on a Spade anyway so they can use Quick. Armor seems efficient when defending against Natives with arrows but woefully inadequate to make a difference against gunpowder weapons. Carbines make the unit more useful as a ranged unit but their real strength lies in their charge potential. With Hard Chargers, Brace of Pistols and a 6 Fight, they can statistically score slightly more than 8/10 successes. They are more reliable than most other cavalry in the game when charging units that have the potential to make a defensive attack since they have a good Resolve.
Sea Dogs are pretty flexible and can be used in a couple different ways. They are great as artillery crew if you’re running cannons in fortifications. Expert Artillery Crew means you’ll be firing your cannons at maximum efficiency and for only 3 points a model if you remove pistols. You can also use them as a cheap brute squad, with or without pistols.
As mentioned before, these can be turned into slightly better basic musket-wielding soldiers than the Militia if you give them muskets. They still aren’t the best but the improved Save and better melee capability can make them a better choice than the Militia if you don’t plan on using the Drilled rule.
The Jamaican Militia option to take them as a Core Unit can really change how the English Caribbean Militia feels. You can go to sea much easier with these in your Core column, but since you have to give them muskets, they aren’t cheap like you usually want for a cannon crew.
Militia Artillery Crew
The Militia Artillery Crew is your only option for bringing field guns but if you don’t need field guns, Sea Dogs are vastly superior as an artillery crew. At 2 points a model, these are as cheap as they come but Inexperienced troops are extremely slow and if you pay to upgrade them to Trained, it’s probably better to take Sea Dogs without pistols.
Not a bad option for a cheap crew to man a gun or two and it’s always nice to have the English Resolve of 5 which is better than all the French and Spanish version of this unit.
At 8 points, these are one of the most expensive units in the game. They come at the Veteran level and can pretty much do anything. They have a whole host of rules that mostly focus on their musketry skills. The best part of the Veteran Freebooter is their 6 Shoot Save which makes them harder to hit than most models. They have sidearm pistols and a decent Fight and Fight Save which makes them an extremely well-rounded unit.
Veteran Freebooters kind of compete with the standard Freebooter upgraded to Veteran (which isn’t confusing at all). You basically pay the extra point for the bayonet and better Shoot Save.
They’re a great unit, but I find it hard to pay the full 8 points in this faction.
I find it hard to find a good place for Pikemen in most lists. The only real advantage these guys have a melee unit over the other options on this faction is the Drilled Pikemen rule which lets them make defensive attacks without taking Fatigue. Unfortunately the 8 Shoot Save and Inexperienced training level make this unit a sub optimal choice in most cases.
If you want a real army, this unit will make your force truly “respectable.” You can make Musketeers Core Units by taking the Jamaican Militia force option and then you can take as many Musketeers as you can afford. They have a typically English well-rounded set of stats with their 4 Resolve being their outstanding trait. This unit can take a huge amount of punishment and still stand and fight, they might die, but they won’t run!
They come with the Expertly Drilled rule that forces their targets to role extra Fatigue checks when they fire using a dedicated Drilled action. This unit also has options for outfitting with more weaponry including bayonets and some limited explosives as well as the option to upgrade to Veteran.
With the cavalry being an exception, this faction doesn’t have many good options for fast or sneaky units but the African Warriors fill that gap. With a whole laundry list of special rules, they guys can move around quickly and hide in cover really well in addition to being tough in a melee.
They’re only armed with bows which makes their ranged hitting power considerably less than your English units but they can put Fatigue down or rush in to exploit a weakness in the enemy line. They are also very customizable with options for taking pistols, muskets, or only melee weapons.
I like taking a unit of African Warriors as my main support unit and having it cover one of my flanks. At 6 points a model, they are not cheap, but with Elusive and a good Shoot Save, they don’t die easily. At higher point levels games I like to upgrade Africans to Veterans since you can do so much with a a Spade. You can move, shoot, shoot and retreat all for one Spade with all their special rules.
The English Caribbean Militia have access to the 3 levels of generic English Militia Commanders in addition to 3 high powered and interesting historical commanders.
For games of 100 points or less, you’re probably best served by just using the 0 cost Untested Commander. He has a 8″ command range, 1 command point and can be armed with a Brace of Pistols or a firelock musket which I prefer since you can basically get another 6 point model out of him if you attach him to Musketeers or Freebooters.
Once you get into the 200 point range, the 15 point commander is kind of the gold standard. With a larger 12″ commander range and 2 command points, he can really make a larger impact on your game. He also gains the Inspiring ability which is one of the most useful abilities a commander can have.
The 25 point Seasoned English Militia Commander extends his command range up to 16″ and gains Expertly Drilled and High Standing (which is a negative ability). Since you can buy superior historical commanders for this faction at around the same price point, this guy is a bit of a hard sell but it is notable that the command range of 16″ is better than all but the very most expensive historical commander available to this force. There could be a place for him if you plan to spread your forces across a wide board.
Colonel Edward Morgan
Edward Morgan is an interesting commander. He has the coveted Inspiring rule and 2 command points so he’s already as good as the 15 point commander. Then he gets Expertly Drilled like the Seasoned Militia Commander. I love using this ability to help break the enemy’s morale. This rule is already on the Musketeers but if you attach this commander to a unit of Freebooters, it is a pretty deadly combo. You have to be a little tricky to make the rules all work but if you activate on a Spade, even with 2 reloads, you can take a free reload from Fast Reload, reload with your action off the card, then use a single Dedicated Action to fire an Expertly Drilled shot to help break your enemy. And if you want to get really crazy you can use Motivated to give your men a second action to reduced your Shoot score. Motivated is a powerful ability but it comes with a cost, especially on Edward Morgan. I find Motivated is especially useful for when you get into close combat so you can move and charge, or shoot and charge. It can also be very helpful in a scenario like Escort where you have to race across teh board. Letting a unit move 8″ off a command point is amazing. If you push that unit to move three times on it’s activation and then use this Motivated command point, you can make them move a full 20″ in a single turn.
But if you’re “too motivated,” you’ll kill poor Morgan! He has the Heat Stroke special rule that forces you to roll for his death every time his unit becomes shaken. On a 6+ he’s removed. Motivated is good but this Heat Stroke penalty makes him a risky choice. An Officer is a nice addition to a force with this commander so he can take over if Morgan keels over from heat stroke. But if you combine his 25 points and the 8 points for the Officer that’s 33 points and you might as well take…
At 30 points with 3 command points, Whetstone is arguably the better choice for larger games but his abilities aren’t as useful for battles on land. He is by far your best choice for going to sea with this faction, not only for his special rules but his ability to bring Sea Dogs as Core units (without the musket mandate). Broadside and Sailors are aren’t useful on land so you’re really paying for 3 command points and Inspiring if used on land.
While his special traits aren’t that great on land, the extra units he brings with him really make this faction more interesting. Just adding some Native Warriors give this faction a really good melee alternative to the vulnerable cavalry. With core access to Sea Dogs he can really manage a ship but with all his Native options, he can make a sneaky and fast land force as well. His rules aren’t flashy, but his new force options blows the force building wide open for the English Caribbean Militia and that makes him a favorite of mine.
What can I say about Henry Morgan? He’s amazing! With 4 Fortune, Very Inspiring, a huge command radius, and Lucky, he is a powerhouse. That said, I think Morgan’s personal faction has better special rules and is a better faction so if you want to pay 42 points for Morgan, I’d use Morgan’s Buccaneers instead of English Caribbean Militia.
Strengths and Weaknesses
As stated earlier, the primary strength of this faction is found in their Resolve. That is most notable on their Militia unit which is just more resilient than other nation’s equivalent. Their other strength is their ability to rush and push on that first turn and take virtually no Fatigue from incoming attacks. You might die but you won’t run!
It’s very unusual to have a professional unit like the Freebooter as a core unit in a militia faction. This unit is more at home at sea than on land but it’s still a really good well-rounded unit that is a cut above most core units available to militia factions.
While their units aren’t bad, their selection is generally more limited than both the French and Spanish militia factions so army building choices aren’t as robust and I find that to be a weakness. They have very little options for sneaky hard-to-hit units. Their only unit with any sort of good Shoot Save or Elusive option is the African Warrior and at 6 points a model, it’s hard to choose them over Musketeers. Whetstone and his Unorthodox Force totally fixes this “weakness” but only at higher point levels where a 30 point commander is a reasonable choice.
I find their faction ability to re-roll all Rally and Fatigue dice on turn 1 to be weak in most games. It can be great ( I just mentioned it in the Strengths!), but in most cases, you don’t actually roll that many Resolve or Fatigue dice on the first turn. Try your best to get value of it, but realize that in many cases, it does nothing.
English Caribbean Militia Armies
This list upgrades the Militia to give them more actions and lets the Sea Dogs take Muskets for a little more firepower. The group of Freebooters is your powerhouse unit and would be a good home for the Commander, especially since he can take a musket. You can make this army straight out of the box, although the Sea Dogs are not depicted with muskets.
This list has 4 equally sized units with both the Freebooter and Musketeers serving as the solid core of the force. This can be considered a Jamaican Militia force which makes the Musketeers a Core Unit so you can attach your commander to them. The English Militia are the extra bodies and the African Warriors at the veteran level can really cause some havoc using all their special rules.
This 200 point force can be made using the English and Colonial Militia boxes combined. All units have experience upgrades and while the model count isn’t high for a 200 point game, it would be a difficult force to face. This force puts the commander on horseback which is exciting and dangerous!
With two units of cavalry, a unit of Veteran African Warriors and a Local Guide with the Freebooters, every single unit in this force has the Quick special rule making this force very mobile. This isn’t necessarily a great idea since you only draw so many Spades, but it can be fun.
This force takes some advantage of Whetstone’s Unorthodox Force rules to add Warriors and extra Sea Dogs to a force. I used this force to defend a palisade fort with 2 bastions and some cannons. Whetstone was attached to the Freebooters but you have to be careful with a unit of “only 7” models in a game of this size. Don’t let your 25 point commander die!
I built this list specifically for the amphibious land scenario. With the Dignitary character guarded by the Veteran African Warriors, he could speed across the boat like crazy and jump in the long boat. Morgan’s Motivated rule speeds up their advance even more! This was a fun list and I hope to do a battle report on this game.
With Whetstone’s extra unit options, you can go to sea as the English Caribbean Militia! This takes a lot of sailors but it’s not a half bad sea list for a Militia faction.
While the English Caribbean Militia is a fine faction, I find the English slightly stronger at sea than on land. With Whetstone’s force being the exception, this faction doesn’t have the same depth or diversity in force building available to it as some of the other militia factions (French and Spanish) but it makes up for it by having very reliable units and a non-typical militia core unit in the Freebooter. That fact, combined with a bit of a lackluster faction special rule combine to put this faction in the middle of the pack when considering power level among the various land factions available in the game.
The combination of well-rounded units, less list-building choices and consistent Resolve make the English Caribbean Militia a good faction for newer players or anyone who enjoys playing a more well-rounded and reliable land force.