By Joseph Forster
Legendary Commanders each get their own custom faction in Blood & Plunder and these factions, while being less flexible than many of the more generic factions, offer some of the most interesting and (often) powerful force rules in the game. In this post we will look at the Morgan’s Buccaneer’s faction which must be commanded by Henry Morgan himself.
Representing the various forces Morgan led over his remarkable career, the Morgan’s Buccaneers faction is a very interesting and strong faction with an English/Pirate feel. Since this faction requires using Henry Morgan as the commander, it is “best” to use when playing games of 200 points or more, just because the 42 points used on Morgan himself make organizing a smaller force difficult.
Force Special Rules
Morgan’s Buccaneers has three special faction rules and these rules are really the best part of playing this faction.
First, Morgan Buccaneers get a +3 to their roll when determining the Attacker in a Scenario. Morgan liked to attack! I consider this Force as best on land and most land forces don’t have any bonus to this roll at all. On land, you’ll be attacking most of the time but at sea, you’ll likely run up against factions that have a +2 so it will be less consistent. I think land scenarios are slightly harder for the Attacker while sea scenarios might be easier for the Attacker. This force led by this commander is well equipped to attack so overall I think that bonus is a good/neutral effect.
The second Force rule is the standby “Buccaneer rule” where the controlling player may discard their hand of activation cards and draw a new hand without paying the normal cost of a Fortune Point. This is a very strong rule and can help you seize the initiative when you come to that crucial turn.
The final rule is really the reason to play Morgan’s Buccaneers. This is a unique rule not seen anywhere else in the game and it is very strong! “Once per turn this Force’s controller may replaced a revealed Activation Card with another card from their hand. This card replaces the original and determines initiative and actions for this activation.” This gives you a truly incredible tactical advantage on the table. You want to bid high on the first activation of a turn but your 7 of ♠ isn’t a sure bet. You can go ahead and play your ♠ and if it’s high enough, great, you got the initiative. But if your opponent has a higher card and takes the initiative, you can replace it with a club to get maximum actions on that first activation since you aren’t going to go first anyway! Or lead with your heart hoping to get those Expert Artillery Crew reloads but if your opponent has a ♠, swap it out if you have a higher card! The opportunities are amazing. You’ll pretty much be able to use this ability every single turn. The activation system is really good in this game and having the ability to manipulate it just a bit and mitigate a risky bid is powerful. When I’ve played with this ability, my opponent has said “You’re playing with cheats on!”
The faction has a Panama Invasion Force option which replaces Fast Reload with Drilled. I don’t personally care for his rule as I feel Fast Reload is more reliably beneficial but that could depend on your intended tactic.
For a legendary faction, Morgan’s Buccaneers actually has a good variety of Core Units. Most of them are focused on ranged small arms fire and there is a notable absence of a basic, 4/3 point Sailor model which limits options at sea. There are options for models at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 points which makes list building very flexible.
At 6 points, Freebooters aren’t cheap but they are a rock-solid unit. With a Buccaneer Gun, sidearm pistol, a stout Fight Save, and special rules emphasizing accurate musketry, these guys can really do it all. Their offensive melee ability is mediocre, especially if they already used their one pistol, but they are great at sniping with their Marksmen ability and their Fast Reload helps them keep it hot. A great unit, especially to use as your command unit.
With the exact same stats as the Freebooters, Kapers come it at 5 points but have a completely different feel. With no pistols, they are slightly less flexible and don’t carry the same punch in a charge but they do have the Brawlers special rule to help out a bit. They lack Marksmen and Fast Reload so their musketry is less impressive, especially at long range. At short range, they can be more powerful if they trade 1/3 of their muskets for blunderbusses. They’re one of the only units with the 6 Shoot Skill that can also care blunderbusses, and that’s a big deal since blunderbusses give you extra range penalties like a pistol. At sea, Kapers could be worth taking since they have the Expert Sailors special rule (which no English unit has!), but if you’re on land, I consider the Freebooter well worth the extra point.
On the high end of the cost spectrum, at 8 points, we have the Veteran Freebooter unit. The biggest thing these guys bring to the table is a 6 Shoot Save. When you’re saving on 60% of any hits while on a ship in Hard Cover, the 8 point model is almost worth it. The rest of the stats are the same as the standard Freebooter model. Their other perk is free bayonets which can make them safer and more deadly when it comes to close combat. With the good Shoot Save and all the musketry perks, at unit of 4 of these guys works great in a fighting top. The cost makes the pretty hard to combo with a 42 point commander.
This is my favorite English unit in the game! With buccaneer guns, Fast Reload, free grenades, and brace of pistols, and that amazing 4 Resolve, these guys are the best of the best. Their Shoot and Fight skill of 6 each isn’t amazing, but they can do pretty much anything at a competent level. The only problem is their cost of 7 points makes them difficult in any force that includes Morgan under 200 points. It’s possible but you just have to be careful to not run a vastly outnumbered force.
If the Forlorn Hope are a little expensive, you can compensate for that with the 3-point English Militia. These guys have the dreaded 8 Shoot Save so they fall in droves when shot at, but their 5 Resolve is a cut above most other militia units. You can bring a unit of 12 of them for almost the same cost as 5 Forlorn Hope!
It’s possible to field massive numbers of English Militia under Morgan and do pretty well if you’re smart with your command points. You could field 36 English Militia with Morgan at 150 points. That’s five units and 36 muskets with 5 Resolve, Very Inspiring, 4 Fortune, Lucky, and a massive tactical advantage in the faction rule. That’s not a bad list…
The Support Unit options are French and Dutch along with the standard English Sea Dog sailor unit.
The English Sailor unit is a great artillery crew unit. The biggest thing to note here is that you can’t take unlimited Sea Dogs which really means Morgan’s Buccaneers can’t really run a ship focusing on cannons. In this faction, taking Zeelieden is usually better so this probably isn’t really a great option for a Support unit in most cases.
If you’re going to run a sea list with Morgan’s faction, these are probably your best Sailor unit option. With Expert Sailors, Expert Sailors, Hard Chargers, and the same stats as the Sea Dogs, these guys can manage your ship and any cannons you may have along.
This is a fantastic unit but it is really best in a sea boarding list. On land, they can be devastating if you’re able to safely get them close to the enemies so their explosives and pistols can be used. In many ways, Enter Ploeg are similar to Forlorn Hope but since the Forlorn Hope have buccaneer guns, they are more well-rounded and much better suited for land combat. If you want to take Morgan’s Buccaneers to sea, this would be a very good selection for a core unit if you can afford the 6 points.
This unit is the French equivalent of the Freebooter. With a 6 Shoot skill, a buccaneer gun, and Fast Reload, this unit can be used as a decent ranged attacker just like the Freebooter. But instead of having Marksmen the Flibustiers have a full brace of pistols and a nasty 5/7 Fight Shoot/Save instead of the Freebooters’ 6/6. These guys can shoot well moving into close range and then hit like a ton of bricks on a charge. And they can keep charging! This is one of the best all-around units in the game.
If you want accurate musketry that works well on land, you can’t get better than Boucaniers. With a 5 Shoot skill (best in the game) and Fast Reload and Marksmen, these guys can pick off enemies all the way across the map with relative ease! They are very weak in a melee but they have an excellent Shoot Save so your best tactic with these guys is keeping them back a little and hitting whoever is giving you the most trouble on the battlefield. They start at 7 points at the Trained experience level and you can upgrade to Veteran for 8 points which makes them the same cost as the Veteran Freebooter unit. This unit is excellent at sniping while the Veteran Freebooter is good (but not excellent) at everything.
With 10 different unit types to pull from, Morgan’s Buccaneers actually has a lot of options. But their Core Unit selection really focuses the list on solid mid-range musketry as its specialty.
Being a legendary faction, this force can only be commanded by Henry Morgan. We’ve looked at his faction rules and all the possible units and now let’s look at Morgan himself. He has a whole list of special rules:
- God’s Blessing of the Devil’s Luck
- Very Inspiring
- Misfortune at Sea
Most notable among these for me is the Lucky and God’s Blessing or the Devil’s Luck combo. Morgan starts every game with 4 Fortune Points instead of the standard 3 and the Lucky rule gives the Fortune token back if the re-roll wasn’t better than the original roll. This makes spending Fortune at “questionable moments” more reasonable and it is actually really fun! With this Fortune “insurance policy,” Morgan’s force can attempt difficult tasks like setting fire to a building, breaking into a fortification, or spiking a gun with a much higher chance of success, and less costly consequences if you spend a Fortune to try again after an unsucessful first attempt.
This massive flexibility with re-rolls combined with the tactical flexibility granted by the Force rules make this faction insane to play and annoying to fight against!
The Very Inspiring combined with the huge 16″ command range is another huge advantage playing with Morgan. Pretty much every rally you perform all game long will be within that huge 32″ circle so you’ll get those free re-rolls on failed rally dice.
The Broadside! special rule increases the chance of applying a Critical Hit against an enemy ship while firing off more than one deck of cannons. This rule is probably better used with Morgan in the English Buccaneers faction since he has better access to cheap artillery crew in that context.
Morgan’s final rule, Misfortune at Sea is actually a penalty. It prohibits this force from spending Fortune Points to re-roll many of the skill tests you might perform at sea. Morgan ran his ships aground on several occasions. In the game, Morgan gets no second chance on Run Aground, Repairs, Sailing Settings and Advanced Maneuver tests. This limit, along with the lack of cheap core sailor units, makes this faction more land-focused to me. If you really want to go to sea anyway, the Fore-and-Aft Rig trait and the Shallow Draft upgrade can mitigate the extra risk that Morgan brings with him.
Force List Examples
This 150 point land list is just Morgan and 36 Inexperienced English Militia. Militia aren’t great, but once you layer on the 3 Command Points, huge Command Range, 4 Fortune Points that can potentially be used several times, advantage on Rally tests, solid Resolve, and the tactical advantage of being able to replace an activation card every single turn, those militia can actually put up a pretty good fight!
This list has grenades, marksmen, hordes of militia, swivel guns, brace of pistols and almost everything you could want! The sloop should mitigate the Misfortune at Sea rule. You will be outnumbered in most cases in a 200 point game, but you have a lot of small arms fire to try to suppress cannon crew that might batter your sloop.
This list relies on English Militia to get up to that 32 model mark. But it uses a solid unit of 8 Veteran Boucaniers which lay down murderous fire every single turn.
With the low model count of 37, this force shows you how expensive this faction can be! I didn’t use English Militia because I don’t think Morgan took Militia on the Panama attack. The local Guide can give some of your units Quick and Scouts rules. Quick on Forlorn Hope is really good.
I find Morgan’s faction to be a real delight to play. I absolutely love the design. Morgan’s rules combined with his faction rules make it very powerful as well as fun, but the overall high cost of the commander and core units keep it balanced. If you haven’t tried Morgan and his Buccaneers out yet, you owe it to yourself! Take on the charisma and genius of one of the most famous characters of the era!
For more analysis of Henry Morgan, check out our video review of him.