Adepticon 2023 – Spanish Armada Tournament Force

My name is Garrett Swader and this is a breakdown of the winning list from the Blood & Plunder tournament at 2023 Adepticon. I was not the player behind this list but I did create it as a loaner/alternate for my own list. Credit to Mark Magdowski for using the tools he was given and putting together some great wins to get to the top spot on the podium.

Force Overview

Faction: Spanish Armada (Raise the Black)
Commander: Untested Standard Spanish Commander
Points: 200
Theater: Sea
Creator: Garrett Swader
Player: Mark Magdowski

Force Special Rules: Spanish Armada

Most of these are not used, which makes this list fairly good for a beginner. The fewer triggers to remember the better. My 4th place list had similar rules that mostly got ignored as well.

“+4 to the attacker roll”

This is a nice rule to have but it is not critical to this list and how it intends to win games.

“All Veteran units in this Force gain the Expert Sailors and Expert Artillery Crew Special Rules”

Not Applicable, I don’t have Veteran units in this force.

“Units of Marineros may upgrade the Artillery Crew Special Rule to the Expert Artillery Crew for +4 pts per unit (not per model)”

Not Applicable, sadly no Marineros either. But to stay super lean on points you could run Marineros instead of one of the Vizcainos and drop their pistols.

“This Force’s Commander may spend two Command Points to issue either a Reload or Shoot action to all units assigned to artillery with the Expert Artillery Crew Special Rule that are within its Command Range (Note that the Broadside! Special Rule will apply if the Commander has it)”

This is a good rule to utilize, but I already had Santiago in the list (which we will talk about later) and I only had 1 unit with expert artillery. I can see a version of this list with expert artillery Marineros that may do better but testing would be needed.


I used the Standard Untested Commander for this Force. Nothing sexy here, I made this choice because I wanted to push my Strike Point threshold as high as possible. Most of the time I will not need more than the one Command Point anyway because of Master Gunner’s Command Point and I only have two units that need to reload artillery.


Master Gunner: this guy is a huge aspect of this list and how it operates. He gives a Command Point to reload and he gives the unit he is attached to Expert Artillery Crew. Expert Artillery Crew will give the unit a free action to reload on a heart or spade. His last bonus gives a -1 bonus to the initial hit die for artillery, but in this case, swivels do not have an initial hit die so no bonus is given. Master gunner is still a fantastic value and would be a great addition to most artillery lists, especially Spanish.

Mission Priest: this is in my opinion the best Fighting Man for Spain right now. Mission Priest must be put in the command unit and will give that unit Inspiring for 3 points. I could stop there and be happy, but there is more. This Fighting Man also comes with the Santiago rule: “Once per game on your command unit’s activation, all friendly units within the mission priest’s command range may immediately receive a Command Point action. This counts as having received a command point action this turn.” This can be useful in so many different ways, but timing is key to make the most of it. Remember a unit can only take one Command Point action per round so you will not be able to use Command Point actions after Santiago goes off. That goes in reverse as well as the Command Point actions given by Santiago cannot be used if a unit has already taken a Command Point action this turn. The three most effective things to do with this ability (IMO) is to:

  1. Shoot everything, keep everything loaded and time a withering broadside of swivels and musket fire.
  2. Reload! Your guns need some powder and shot? Give everyone a reload action and get those guns ready to fire quicker.
  3. Rally. If your units are in a bad way give everyone a rally action and remember that this rally comes with Inspiring. You can also do any combination of all 3 as your needs require.


Vizcainos: This is the swivel crew, drop these guys down to Trained and I think they are the best Spanish sailor. I have them here for there survivability, with a 6 Shoot Save that goes down to a 5 with Hard Cover and a 3 when prone. I also put them in for the brace of pistols. Brace of pistols is a great boarding tool if you feel like swivels aren’t doing the job. They also can be a boarding deterrent. I build this list for shooting artillery and don’t outfit for boarding. That said I don’t want to look too ripe for the picking for fast boarding lists so the Vizcainos keep boarding lists honest.

European Sailors: I like running a sailor unit that isn’t committed to doing anything specific. I do this in case of fires, leaks, or the occasional special sailing maneuver that may need done. The European Sailor is my go-to option for this as they are the best at handling a musket while also filling this role. They have the Sailors Special Rule, and you can add muskets for 4 points per unit (not per model) to let them leverage that 6-shoot skill. They are just a solid flexible unit.


Bermuda Sloop: the two reasons I selected this ship are speed, and armament. This ship can close within 8 inches quickly. I play this list moderately aggressively and always try to close quickly to get as many quality shots as possible. If you are running the Bermuda, durability will be a concern so watch those rakes and you may wish to take the “reinforced bulkheads” upgrade to give yourself hard cover. As for armament the Bermuda/Balandra has 8 swivel mounts, 4 on the front deck and 4 on the back. No other ship, other than the galleon, can boast 2 decks with 4. The main reason that I built this list was to get the most out of swivel guns.

Force Tactics

I usually start most of my units prone as I close in for the better shots. Remember that units that have just stood up cannot fire artillery in the same activation. You can circumvent this by using Command Points for a stand action before your artillery crew activates. Once you are in the thick of it, shoot as quickly and as efficiently as you can. Suppress gun crews so that you have fewer shots coming back into your crew. Save fortune for far below average rolls or saves. Don’t go chasing haymakers. Be happy with an average or just below average shot, and let the big swings come to you.

Final thoughts:

This list was designed to be a weight of fire “bucket of dice” type list and it seemed to work pretty well. I didn’t play this list in particular, but I played an almost mirrored version of it using Amada de Barlovento and Marineros Piqueros instead of Vizcainos against it in round 3. Mark Magdowski was a fantastic opponent, and I’m happy that one of us was able to take 1st place due to the top table tie. Playing against my own list I could definitely see some areas to improve next time, but I’m glad that my lists were able to place so high in a very competitive tournament.

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