By Dan Carlson
While some people prefer fighting at sea, there’s a surprising amount of folks within the Blood and Plunder Community that prefer to fight on land. That role typically falls to factions based around Militias. For the Dutch, there are two flavors of militia: Caribbean Militia and North American Militia. Today, we’ll be focusing on the Dutch Militias in North America.
The Dutch North American Militia (we’ll just say DNAM) plays more like a traditional militia than its Caribbean counterparts. Where the Caribbean variety can be played as an elite force, a cavalry force, or a guerilla force, the DNAM strictly relies on regular, European-style musket based warfare with a few sneaky units to hit the enemy in its sensitive spots.
Force Special Rules
“At the end of the turn, if this force has more Strike Points than it did at the end of the previous turn, remove 1 point of Fatigue from all non-Shaken units in this Force.”
This Faction Rule is great! While the North American Militia doesn’t have any other options like the Dutch Caribbean Militia has, this makes your entire Force hardy and less likely to fail a strike test late game, as well as knocking off that dreaded fatigue. This option has saved my smelly, scurvy-ridden hide several times! Spaniards hate this rule because it can make Ruthless no longer in effect, allowing you to capitalize on their lack of advantage!
Untested, Experienced, and Seasoned Dutch Militia Commanders
The “vanilla” commanders clock in a 0, 15, and 25 points depending on which option you take (untested is 0 points, Experienced is 15 points, and Seasoned is 25 Points). All of them can take Brace of Pistols or a Firelock Musket in addition to a Standard Melee Weapon, and all of them can add a Horse for 1 point. The Untested commander has no Special Rules, an 8 Inch command range, and 1 Command Point. The Experienced version has a 12 inch command range, 2 command points, and the Inspiring Special Rule (all units within his/her command range reroll failed Rally tests while his/her unit is active). The Seasoned version has a 16 inch command range, 2 command points, and the Inspiring and Battle Hardened (this unit reduces the number of dice by one when the unit rolls a Fatigue tests that is the result of a Fight Action). The Experienced Commander is the best bet if you stick with the “standard” Commanders. If you are playing a larger game, the Seasoned variant is nice, but we can do better.
Peter clocks in at 23 points with a 16 inch command range and 2 command points. For two points less than the Seasoned Commander, he trades Inspiring and Battle Hardened for Tough and Strict and cannot take a Firelock Musket. Tough lets his unit remove a point of Fatigue at the end of its activation so long as it didn’t gain any Fatigue or Push during said activation. This gives him some good staying power under stress. Strict allows him to give a unit a -1 Bonus to any single Test the unit takes, but at the cost of gaining a point of Fatigue. This cannot be done if it would cause the unit to become Shaken or is already Shaken. Strict can help in a pinch, and lets you get an advantage on crucial tests.
Sven Svenson Skute
Sven Skute costs 30 points, has a 16 inch command range, 3 command points, is armed with a melee weapon and can take Brace of Pistols or a Firelock Musket. He comes with the Inspiring and Aggressive Commander Special Rules. Aggressive Commander makes all units within his 16 inch command range gain the Hard Chargers Special Rule (gives a -1 bonus to the free Fight action when a unit Charges). Adding him to a unit of Soldatos makes them hit on a 4+ on a Charge, meaning you will hit as hard as Marins and have a better statline. However, this means that your Commander needs to be close to the action, putting him at risk. His best use is to put him behind the units you want to charge and let him buff them.
The Militie is the Dutch variety of Militia. With a 6/7 Fight, a 7/7 Shoot, and a Resolve of 6, they are less stubborn than the English Militia, but better at melee than the Milices des Caraïbes. They can be upgraded to Trained for 1 point per model, and come with the Drilled Special Rule, which will help you hit your target easier the closer you get. If you plan on charging with these guys, only do it on weak, fatigued units as that Resolve of 6 will come back to bite you if you are forced to spend multiple turns in combat! The most notable stat here is their 7 Shoot Save which is better than other nations’ Militia unit which have a dismal 8.
These are the professional soldiers of the Dutch Militia Factions. They are 6 points per model and start off as trained. They have a Fight of 5/6, a Shoot of 6/7, and a Resolve of 5. They can be upgraded to veteran for 1 point per model, take Plug Bayonets for 4 points, 1 of 8 models can take Grenadoes for 4 points or Firebombs/Stinkpots for 2 points. They come with the Brawlers and Expertly Drilled Special Rules. While pricey, the Soldaten are an excellent unit. They can hold their own while shooting or fighting in a melee, and that 5 Resolve means they will typically stay put when on the defensive. Expertly Drilled is the bane of inexperienced units or units with a bad Resolve, as when the Soldatos make a Dedicated Shoot Action on a spade or a heart the unit getting shot at must add an additional d10 to their Fatigue Test caused by the attack. However, as with all elite units, don’t leave them out in the open. Losing an entire unit to targeted musket fire hurts….don’t ask why.
European Soldiers are another variety of professional soldiers. They are 6 points per model and start off as trained. They have a Fight of 6/6, a Shoot of 6/6, and a Resolve of 5. They can be upgraded to veteran for 1 point per model, take Plug Bayonets for 4 points, 1 of 8 models can take Grenadoes for 4 points or Firebombs/Stinkpots for 2 points. They have the Expertly Drilled and Battle Hardened Special Rules. They beg a comparison to the Soldatos, as they cost the same amount of points on everything from the standard cost to their equipment options. The Soldatos will hit harder in melee combat, but aren’t as hardy at a range with a 7 Shoot save instead of the European Soldiers’ 6. You can only take one or the other, so the choice is up to you. You’re essentially trading better ranged survivability for a more effective Charge.
Boslopers are Dutch Woodsman that specialize in hitting from cover and attacking weakened enemies. They have a 6/7 Fight, 6/6 Shoot, and Resolve 5. They have the Skirmishers, Scouts, and Cunning Special Rules. They can take Thrown Weapons for 3pts, and they benefit greatly from it. These guys are meant to harass and eradicate weakened units in combat. Skirmishers allows these guys to (when activated on a spade or a heart) move, shoot, then move back for free; or Charge, then move back after the free Fight action is resolved. Their Resolve is good enough to keep them in combat if they are unable to run, and Thrown Weapons will maximize the damage you do when you charge in (they are essentially Brace of Pistols, but not as cool). Boslopers are meant to be played aggressively and should only strike from behind cover to take advantage of their good Shoot Save. Cunning not only moves them back 5” instead of 4” when they become Shaken, but gives them a free Rally action on a single D10.
I have praised these sailors enough in both the Dutch Privateers and Dutch Navy Articles I have written so I won’t spend too much time on them here (You should go check out both those articles if you plan on taking The Dutch out to sea!). They have a 6/6 Fight, a 7/7 Shoot, and a 5 Resolve. They have the Expert Artillery Crew, Expert Sailors, and Hard Chargers special rules. If they were a Core Unit, I would advise taking these guys on Fortifications. However, being a Support Slot means generally you can only have 1 unit of them, and they take up one of your precious Support Unit slots. If you take a Stone Tower, these guys are ideal for keeping your cannons firing. Once you get into other fortifications, its simply more economical to use the Militie Artillerie (even though they are inferior).
Kapers are the sailor musketeer unit of the Dutch Nationality. While at a glance, they may seem out of place on land, they can actually be a good unit to take if you have the points! Clocking in with a 6/6 Fight, a 6/7 Shoot, and a Resolve of 5. Artillery Crew is good for cannons if you’re using a fortification, Brawlers is better than nothing in melee, and unless you’re playing an amphibious scenario Expert Sailors most likely won’t come into play. While they are 2pts more than both Militie and European Militia, they have a better resolve value, making them a bit more hardy when getting shot at. While they lack Drilled or anything else to help them with shooting, they can shoot and fight decently, meaning you can press them into service for either role without losing much battlefield effectiveness.
These are the Dutch version of Pikeman and they are no slouch. They have a Fight of 6/7, no Shoot test score but a save of 8, and a Resolve of 6. They are Tough and have the Drilled Pikeman Special Rule, which allows them to not take a point of Fatigue from Defensive Attacks. This rule also makes any unit charging the Militie Piekeniers (and friendly units nearby them) take a +1 penalty to their free fight action, essentially canceling out Hard Chargers. However, you can only take one of these units per unit of Militie, Jewish Militia, or Soldaten. This unit allows you to bring a dedicated melee unit into your force, and are best used when on the defensive. While they can take Armor for 2 points and take Lances instead of Pikes for free, they can only be Inexperienced which limits them to a defensive role.
The Militie Cavalerie are Dutch Cavalry units, and like most cavalry they are expensive both in terms of points and monetary cost for the models, look fantastic on paper, but points can be better spent elsewhere. They have a Fight of 7/8, a Shoot of 8/6, and a Resolve of 6. They can take Armor for 2 points, can take Firelock Carbines along with their Braces of Pistols for 4pts, and come in as inexperienced with the option to upgrade to trained for 1 point per model. They have the Quick Special Rule *only* when mounted. It means that if the unit is not involved in melee combat, and is activated on a spade, the unit gets a free move. While it may be tempting to make your commander mounted and charge headfirst into squishy units, this will be expensive to kit them out and their abysmal fight save means if any competent unit hits back they will tip like cows…er…horses. The best tactic for a unit of horseman is to assign a job and have them stick to it. While carbines don’t have the same range as muskets, your speed and maneuverability can let you pick off units from afar while your dedicated melee unit of horses mops up weakened units.
This unit is only there for you to man cannons cheaply. They are 2 points per model, a Fight of 7/8, a Shoot of 0/8, and a resolve of 5. They can be upgraded to trained for 1 point per model. They have the Artillery Crew and Field Gun special rules. If you are playing a large game and need multiple Field Guns, these guys are the only way to do it. If you re using something like the Stone Tower Fort, you’re better off using Zeelieden as they are *much* better at loading cannons quickly.
Warrior Musketeers are an interesting unit. They cost 4 points a model and start off as trained. They are armed with Firelock Muskets and melee weapons, have a Fight of 6/8, and Shoot of 6/6, and a Resolve of 6. They can take Pistol sidearms for 4 points, and can be upgraded to Veteran for 1 point per model. They come with the Scouts, Hidden, Slow Reload, and Evade Special Rules. Scouts lets the unit move through rough terrain without penalty so long as they are not inside a structure or Climbing, Hidden makes all enemy units 12 inches or more away from the unit with Hidden Special Rule add a +1 penalty to all ranged attacks made against you unit, and negates any rules that allow an shoot roll of 11+ to hit so long as the unit isn’t within a structure or have the High Standing Special Rule. Evade allows the unit to turn its Defensive Attack into a Move action at the cost of adding a point of Fatigue. It may also Move away from a unit it is engaged in melee combat at the cost of adding a point of Fatigue. What’s cool is that the unit can do this even if it would become Shaken, but doesn’t fall back a second time and doesn’t go Prone. Slow Reload adds an additional Reload Marker to the unit after it makes a Shoot attack (so they would take 3 reload markers instead of 2 after firing, and 2 reload markers instead of 1 when half-firing). The Warrior Musketeers are best utilized in cover (NOT is a Structure) to harass enemy units. They are good at shooting, but their poor Resolve means they can get Fatigue really easily. Use Evade to avoid getting locked in with dedicated melee units, as they will cut through these guys like a hot knife through butter. If you want a large unit of muskets, use these guys as Veterans to get them loading quickly and use them to harass weaker units.
Musket Militia (100pts)
With 24 muskets and a strong command group of European Soldiers, all 3 units in this force have solid Shoot Saves making them excellent at finding a good vantage point and laying down fire on the oncoming enemy.
Peter and Friends (200pts)
Featuring a strong commander, two units of Trained Militia, a unit of Soldaten and Boslopers and a Medium Cannon. The Musician helps compensate for the Fatigue you might apply to yourself with Strict.
Sven’s Shooty Bois (250pts)
This list can shoot and it can hide well while doing it! Doubling down on the European Soldiers and the Warrior Musketeers with that 6 Shoot Save makes this list hard to shoot out of cover once they get in it. The Heavy Cannon is best on Defense but once the enemy approaches, that Aggressive Commander trait will kick in, making all your units’ countercharges that much more deadly.
Palisade Fort Defenders (250pts)
Similar to the force in many of the photos in this article, this force includes a large (12 piece) palisade fort, a cannon with grapeshot, and plenty of muskets to man the walls.
Buying into the Dutch North American Militia
This faction is a bit odd in that the Dutch Starter Box isn’t particularly great for starting this force. The Militie is the only core unit that actually comes in that box! The European Colonial Militia Set is actually a little better since it has those important European Soldier models that will play great in your force or serve as Soldaten and it includes the Cavalry and Artillery Crew with the field gun as Support Units. You’ll want to supplement with two blisters of the Militie and probably choose either the Boslopers or Warrior Musketeers to add some flavor. You can use the European Commander from the Colonial Militia Box but you’ll probably want to grab the Dutch Commander as well for some Dutch style!
The Dutch North American Militia are a great choice for players looking to mix traditional musket lines with unconventional warfare. What they lack in versatility they make up for with solid commanders and the ability to spam cheap units, allowing the player to field enough muskets to deliver withering fire from mid-range and devastating close range volleys if the enemy gets too close for comfort. For a look at Dutch Nationality oveview, the Dutch Caribbean Militia, or the Dutch Privateers if you’ve decided to fight at sea, check out the other articles I’ve written on the Blood and Pigment Website!