Faction Review – The Black Caribs

By Guy Rheuark

At the end of the Unaligned and Peripheral Powers section in No Peace Beyond the Line lies a curious entry. The Black Caribs faction.

Black Caribs, or Garifuna, have an interesting history. Ostensibly they are listed as a separate people than the Native Americans of the Caribbean, and those of Saint Vincent, but are related to the Kalinago or Caribs. Even in Blood & Plunder the Garifuna are mentioned as part of the Caribs faction, but listed as an Unaligned faction, as a possible echo of colonial sensibilities.

This faction is also one of only a handful that survive well into the 18th century, and have a rich history as one of the only successful native resistances in the area, to the point that the British referred to them as Fighting Caribs.

Faction Rules

If this faction’s special rules look a little familiar, that is because the first four are the same as the nationality rules for Native Americans. The Black Caribs are not a faction you will want to take to sea often, so restricting them to boats doesn’t really hurt. The same goes for paddles and artillery.

Of the first four faction rules, lying in wait with half your forces when attacking is going to be the most relevant. I’ve built whole lists around this special rule, and when you can get it to work for you it is amazing. It does rely on winning the attacker/defender roll, in a faction that does not get any bonus to that roll, and, as per a recent ruling, you cannot use Fortune to reroll your attacker/defender dice.

The last faction rule is to give all units Tough and Spry. Tough is one of the best Special rules, and will let you push your units during the early turns with impunity. Tough also works with Spry, a special rule not on any units I know of. It gives a -1 to melee saves if the unit doesn’t have any Fatigue. This makes melee a little less deadly, and will give your African Warriors the best melee save: 5.

Black Carib Core Units

African Warriors

African Warriors are the only core unit that the Black Caribs faction gets, but luckily they are a very flexible unit. African Warriors have some of the best scores and saves in the game, and have six special rules. Elusive, Skirmishers, Quick, Scouts, Tough, and Spry are all useful. Elusive and Scouts make African Warriors at home in cover. Skirmishers and Quick both give free movement when triggering off a Spade, and Heart for Skirmishers. As I said, Tough is one of the best special rules, and works with Spry for when this unit gets into melee.

This unit is strictly for land games however, as four of their special rules turn off when in a boat. Another thing to be aware of is that without the hardcover of a two deck ship, even this unit’s good save of 6 is the same as a 3 point Zeelieden behind a gunwale.

With experimentation, I believe that it is better to keep these as a bow and arrow unit, then to give them Slow Reload and a musket. Even though musket shot is more effective, you will get to shoot with bows three times instead of reloading, or four total times. You do have the option of taking a seasoned commander with Savvy, and loading up on 12 musket wielding African Warriors, but that’s 97 points, or 109 if you upgrade them to War Captains. That is a lot of points, and without a cheaper core unit to cover a flank, it is a little risky.

This unit has two other configurations of note. The best one is to take away their bows and use them as a melee unit for 5 points a model. While African Warriors are not as good at melee as Lanceros or Flibustiers, as the only core unit in the force it’s nice to be able to take some models at a little bit of a discount. The other option is to give the unit pistols. Most of the time pistols will only be used once, before or during a charge, so they are not usually worth the extra point each.

This is a good unit to upgrade to veteran, even though it makes it a 7 point model. As veterans this unit can do five actions of a Spade (counting a command point). If you keep them as a bow and arrow unit, most turns you will have them advance 4″, shoot once or twice, then retreat back to cover.

Support Units

Lanceros

The presence of Lanceros as a support unit for this faction is welcome, but a little strange. As Lanceros are the only Spanish unit in the force, it makes me think that they are meant to represent something other than small groups of Spaniards aligned with the Garifuna.

This unit is a good alternative to melee African Warriors, and share three of the same Special Rules, for the same 5 points. Lances are better than standard melee weapons, and allow this unit to stalk pinned enemy units while giving you a defensive poke should your opponent charge them.

Lanceros are nicely boosted by this faction’s special rules, as both Tough and Spry fit nicely with their other special rules. Having tough means that this unit can be pushed every other turn, to get closer to charge range. Spry works with Tough to protect the unit during a counter charges

I would not usually make this unit veterans in this force. Save the points for more models.

Warriors

Warriors are an even cheaper melee option for Black Caribs, and an easy way to add some 4 point models to a list. It’s usually best to consider this unit with bows at 5 points a model first, so you can use its decent shoot score. By the same token, it’s usually a good idea to swap heavy melee weapons for thrown weapons because thrown weapons are amazing and have no downside compared to heavy melee weapons.

Warrior Musketeers

This native unit compares well with African Warriors with muskets, but with Evade and Hidden, a potent combination for covering flanks. This is a good unit to fill out your force for 4 points a model, and offers some deadly but slow ranged fire.

I do have problems with Slow Reload, but with Tough you can push this unit every other turn to help keep the reloads off. Also keep an officer near this unit to help it keep a consistent rate of fire, and it should be fine.

Young Warriors

I don’t really know why Young Warriors are in this faction. As a support unit with Support for other support units, you have to take four African Warriors units and a Warriors or Warrior Musketeers unit before you have the chance to take a Young Warrior unit.

Once you do fit them in, they are a natural fit with the African Warriors. I would keep their bows on them, as you will most likely only use this unit in larger games.

Command Options

The Black Caribs use the Native American Southern Tribes Commanders. These are the only commanders they may choose, and do not have any historic commanders. I think that Captain Tabary and Captain Peter could be included as commanders, as they led large groups that included the Garifuna, but maybe that is best left to army scale games.

Untested Southern Tribes Commander

This untested commander is a lot alike other untested commanders. He has a single command point and a 4″ range. Like other generic Native American commanders he only has a melee weapon. Unlike other Factions, the Black Caribs will use this free commander in 150+ point games, usually because African Warriors cost 6 points each. I try to take Great Warrior on the command unit whenever I can. The boost to the African Warriors already good stats can make a difference, especially if your shooting arrows each turn.

Experienced Southern Tribes Commander

The experienced version of the generic commander gets two command points at a 8″ range. As with most other Factions, this is the sweet spot for the generic commanders, giving Inspiring a large command range, and the command points to make a difference. If you plan to a lay-in-wait melee list, this is most likely the commander you want. If you plan to push through with bows, this is the commander you want.

Seasoned Southern Tribes Commander

The only real place for this commander is if you want to take a large block of War Chief African Warriors with Muskets. This type of list needs at least 200 points to really be worth it, with 12 African Warriors attached to the command group. Other then that strategy, the generic seasoned commander doesn’t add a lot of the 10 extra points he costs over the generic experienced commander.

No Peace Beyond the Line Campaign Commanders

If you plan on playing through the campaign from No Peace Beyond the Line, the commander you get to create has abilities and weapons wholly different than the generic Southern Tribes commanders. This is because they are an Unaligned faction instead of a Native American faction. This lets you take the Nautical category, but locks you out of Savvy and other Native American only Special rules.

I suggest playing the Unaligned Commander in a campaign as a recently escaped slave or a Maroon from a different island that has been displaced by raids and planters. The main reason to play this type of commander is to gain access to the Nautical skill category, and Sailors. The special rule Sailors is not as useful in boats as it is in ships, but does let you include several characters in your command group that Black Caribs don’t usually have access to, such as a Sailing Master and Son of Neptune.

You should also be able to play the Black Caribs as a Native American faction. Talk to your campaign group about this very sensible change. I suggest playing a Native American Black Carib Commander as a person born on Saint Vincent. The best skill category for Native commanders is Character because it lets you choose Savvy. When choosing Atypical Armament, remember to include all the options from the African Warrior, so your commander can have a bow and pistol, or a musket. Usually the musket is the best choice, to go with Savvy, but a bow and pistol is also fine.

Strengths and Weaknesses

African Warriors are a great unit, and especially fun to build a force around. They have six special rules in this faction, much more than most other units in European Faction. They also have enough options to fit most roles you would need them to.

Even with all the options African Warriors have, at the end of the day they are still a 6 point model. You can make them as cheap at 5 points, but a melee only force is very skill intensive. You will usually have less models than your opponent, and every one they kill will hurt. Having less units than your opponent will also make it harder to use Quick and Skirmishers.

The support units help add some variety to this force, especially the Lanceros. Opponents that have had a group of Lanceros rip through their units will be wary of them, and they are arguably better in this faction than the Spanish Militia. This will take the heat off your African Warriors a little, and let them work their bows.

The Warriors and Warrior Musketeers are also against most Militias. Use the special rule Hidden to hide your African Warriors behind the Native Americans and force your opponent to close to be able to shoot at all. It is a little risky, as you will have to rely on skirmishing up from behind to be able to shoot, an action intensive feat even with Quick and Skirmishers.

The most trouble this faction will have is in a sea game. We at Blood and Pigment have said that all Native American sea lists are boarding lists, and that is true for Black Caribs as well. They can’t fill their canoas with 4 point or 5 point models though, or use Poison Arrows. If you want to use this faction in canoes, longboats, or piraguas, they work well in an amphibious game.

Putting this all together, this faction is mostly for players who want to try something very different. Luckily it shares models with the other Native American Factions, letting you try out this faction if you have already bought into them.

Builds

25 point Raiding Party

This force only includes 5 models in two units, but that should be enough to fight other 25 point lists.

50 point Black Carib War Canoe

This is about what to expect at sea with Black Caribs. The second unit of African Warriors man the sweeps so the canoa can keep up with most other ships.

100 point Black Carib Veterans

When you are already spending 6 points on a model, making them veterans for only one point is quite easy. This simple force uses two units of six African Warriors, with four Warrior Musketeers.

150 point Lopsided Melee Gambit

Of all the faction abilities, Lay in Wait is one of the hardest to trigger. You need to win a dice roll before you can spend Fortune to re-roll it. This list doesn’t really work if it can’t Lay in Wait, but when it does it puts two melee units 9″ away from your opponent. I once spent all three Fortune redrawing a hand looking for a Spade, but it was worth it to get a charge on the first activation!

200 point African Muskets

If you want to give African Warriors Muskets, this is the best way to do it.

Collecting for Black Caribs

Even though it only comes with four African Warriors, the Native American Starter Set is one of the best ways to start collecting for this faction. The only model in that box that this faction doesn’t use is the Warrior Archers, so all eight that come in the box can be proxied as African Warriors.

After that, you just need to buy African Warrior blisters till you have enough. Even a 200 point list might only use twenty at most. That is still a lot of one model, and will usually only be used in this faction.

Final Thoughts

Of all the Factions introduced in No Peace Beyond the Line, Black Caribs stand out as one of the most unique. They look like a variation of the new Native American Factions, but having a single core professional unit makes them play completely different.

As Blood & Plunder enters the eighteenth century with Raise the Black I expect that the Black Caribs will get new units and commanders. This faction did fight a successful resistance against the English for over a hundred years.

Leave a Reply