Blood & Plunder Battle Report

 

A couple months ago I went to Adepticon, a premiere miniature wargaming convention in the Midwest and I played many games and spent lots of money. I’m no stranger to blowing a wad of cash on cool minis but normally I keep my purchases within my wargaming comfort zone (Warmachine/Hordes, Infinity and Guild Ball). However, this year I spent my coin on something completely out of my comfort zone, a historical wargame!

The game I bought is called Blood & Plunder and it is from Firelock Games. I have never played a historical mini game before, but the models looked sweet as hell so I took a leap of faith and invested in a new game.

Blood & Plunder is a 28mm war-game based around the Golden Age of Pirates (roughly 1650-1730). The game can be played entirely on land with pirates, entirely on the seas with ships or on a land/sea table with a mix of both pirates and ships. My longterm goal is to provide you all with a review of this game but since I have only played a single land battle I am going to share with you today a battle report instead. Enjoy!

 

Our Lists

Dan’s English Buccaneers

x4 Brethren of the Coast

x4 Seadogs

Medium Cannon

x5 English Militia

x5 Free Booters

Untested English Militia Commander

Dave’s Spanish Caribbean Militia

x6 Lanceros

x4 Milicianos Indios

x4 Milicianos

x6 Marineros

Seasoned Spanish Militia Commander

 

The English troops land in south side of San Domingo looking for food, gold and a fight. The Spanish, having seen the English ships in the distance, assembled on the outskirts of the town near one of their oldest churches.

 

 

Start of the game

I won this flip with diamonds. The order of suits are: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and then Clubs. If both players play a card with the same suit then they will use the number to determine the winner. Losing a flip is sometimes the right tactical decision though because lower suits, like clubs, will grant a unit more actions than a high suit, like spades.

To start the game off each player draws cards equal to the number of units they currently have. Dave and I each brought four units so we each drew a hand of four cards and then each played a single card facedown to determine who would go first. I flipped a 12 of diamonds and he reveled a 10 of clubs so I won the flip and chose to activate first.

Units in this game vary in their level of experience and the more experience they have the more actions they can accomplish. This this is a historical game, the level of experience ties in with the units history. For example, the Forlorn Hope were the Special Ops of the pirate world who were sent ahead of raiding parties and were charged with secret missions like securing crucial strategic positions or foiling ambushes; this is why the unit is trained. Whereas, the English Militia were just your random joe’s and that is why they are inexperienced.

For my first activation I went with my Forlorn Hope, who were already slightly up the board because they have a “Vanguard” ability which granted them a free move action at the start of the game. The 10 of diamonds I played stated I could have two actions with any trained unit (which they are trained) but I only took one action with them because if a unit moves more than 8″ in a single turn they get exhausted and take a point of fatigue. Fatigue is a mechanic which inflicts negative attributes on units and the negativity scales based on how many fatigue they have. For some players this may be frustrating but for me, I think it enhances the historical aspect of the game. I mean, these aren’t Space Marines, they are pirates, and let’s face it, running on a beach is exhausting!

The Milicianos Indios were the Christianized Natives who fought with the Spanish. The Spanish themselves were poorly equipped and didn’t have the means to equip them so the auxiliary unit fought with their bows and arrows.

The Spanish weren’t intimidated by my invading Forlorn Hope and they responded by sending some Milicianos Indios directly towards me. I would have preferred to spill Spanish blood but natives bleed just as much when shot.

Sometimes units have special abilities which trigger off certain suits. For example, my Sea Dogs have the Expert Artillery Crew ability which grants the unit a free reload action with artillery if they are activated with a Spade or a Heart.

For our second unit activation I dropped a 7 of Diamonds and Dave revealed a 7 of Spades which meant he would get to activate first. Right now the most immediate threat to my Forlorn Hope are the Milicianos Indios but thankfully the rules prevent Dave from activating that unit again this turn.

In Blood & Plunder, Commanders are kind of like the Warmachine equivalent of a warcaster. However, rather than having a once-per-game feat they influence their armies each turn by spending command points which give free actions to nearby units.

OK, technically Dave could have activated his Miliciano Indios again if he used his nearby Spanish commander to order his Indios but he needed at least two actions to do any damage (one to move into range and one to shoot). So, rather than activate his Commander he decided to instead activate his Marineros. Currently they were out chilling out on the beach on the opposite side of the old Church and were essentially in an irrelevant position. Dave decided to move those beach bums closer to the church where he predicted most of the fighting would converge.

Firelock Games has red dice to mark fatigue. One point of fatigue has no impact. Two points of fatigue will cost the unit one of their actions. Three points of fatigue causes a unit to become “stressed” and prevents them from doing anything other than rallying. If a unit has twice the number of fatigue as they do models than the unit is immediately removed from the table and considered to be routed.

Since my Forlorn Hope were directly opposite the majority of the Spanish force, I didn’t want to exert them any further than 8″ up the middle. However, my English Militia & Commander are the tail of my forces and I wanted them to advance up the flank as fast as they could so they could become relevant. I used both of the units actions to move and then activated my Commander to order them once again. By moving 12″ I was able to get into a safe position behind a small cluster of trees but the cost of my hustling more than 8″ this turn was that the unit did end up taking a point of fatigue.

For our remaining units we each essentially just moved them forward. The Spanish and English were on a collision course to the middle.

Turn Two, more positioning.

Wheeling around a field carriage would obviously be a lot of work so to mirror the historical accuracy there are penalties; my medium cannon imposes a (-2) movement penalty on units who are carrying it.

Weighed down by the medium cannon they are lugging, my seadogs trudge up the board slowly.

Hard Cover is made from materials like stone and timber add a -1 bonus to Ranged Saves to models that are using them as cover.

After seeing my English Militia push up a cannon the crafty Miliciano Indios showed a degree of tactical flexibility that I did not expect savages to have. Rather than charge at me, the Miliciano Indios laterally repositioned themselves behind cover. This puts my English in an awkward spot because shooting enemies behind cover makes it more difficult for me to hit.

For the remainder of this turn we each ended up moving the last of our units. My Free Booters positioned themselves inside the corn field and Dave’s Lanceros ended up hustling round the ruins to get a bead on my Forlorn Hope.

Turn Three, the fighting begins

No Photo

Dave and I drew four new cards and he started the turn with a spade which trumped my heart. He activates his Milicianos (with his Tested Spanish Commander) and they move and open a volley of powder and shot at my Forlorn Hope. However, even with the Ruthless leadership of their commander (Ruthless is an abilities that makes shots easier to hit) the poorly equipped Spanish Matchlock Muskets miss their mark completely and I go unscathed. They gain two reload markers for their effort.

My Free Booters literally couldn’t stand upright in the field, that is why they are lying down. Also, the black dice represent reload markers. When an entire unit shoots their small arms they receive 2 reload markers and must spend two reload actions in order for the entire unit to shoot again.

Having escaped multiple musket shots without a single wound, I felt pretty invincible. For my response, I had the option to shoot either his Milicianos or his Lanceros. Both were sadly outside of my grenade range so I decided to target his Milicianos because that unit was hosting his Spanish commander. I figured, if I could kill his commander than that would be a much more devastating blow than killing some random natives. My Forlorn Hope advanced and unloaded their Buccaneer Guns which killed two Spaniards. In addition to dealing death this volley also inflicted three fatigue on his now remaining two-man-unit (one Miliciano and one Commander) which caused them to be Shaken.

Never underestimate natives. Now normally, I would’ve been able to take a defensive shot against my charging foes but since I had just fired my guns I was currently in a state of reload and had no powder available to shoot. His charge was timed perfectly.

My victory was short-lived. While my Forlorn Hope were bragging to one another about the favorable exchange of gunfire they just had with the Spanish Milicianos the sneaky Lanceros pounced. Dave had laid down a club for this activation and clubs gave his Natives three actions. They spent two activations just to get close to me and then spent their third activation to charge me. Charging did inflict a fatigue on the unit but it was a good tradeoff because not only did my unit become engaged but the charge action gives the unit a free attack. Dave rolled six dice for his attacks and he killed all four of my pirates.

My horizontal Free Booters opened fire on the murderous Lanceros but all my musket fire only managed to kill one. Either the awful screams of the Forlorn Hope had pierced through my Free Booters psyche and threw off their aim, or the corn crop was blocking their sights and getting in the way; either way they failed to get payback.

As you can probably predict, things weren’t going will for the English. At this point I stopped taking pictures and started working on a plan to turn this around. I was currently way down on attrition and I would need some heavy fire power to catch up.

 

The medium cannon only rolls one initial die to hit, but to represent how destructive they are, after a successful hit I then get to roll 3 additional dice to try and cause more hits and casualties.

Heavy fire power? Wait a second, I have a fricken cannon! Like most of the rules, cannons are pretty easy to understand and follow the same shooting-mechanics as units, basically I just roll a d10 and try to match or exceed a target number. Unlike a regular gun though cannons can cause massive damage when they hit and can also hit targets at a much greater range than small arms. I wanted to shoot those damn Lanceros but sadly my Free Booters were in the way and blocked line of sight so instead I had to settle my sights on the previously shaken Milicianos. Ready.. Aim…FIRE!

The ball struck true and the Spanish Commander and his last Miliciano were blown to bits. *If Dave had not spent all of his fortune coins at this point then he could have saved his commander by spending a fortune and moving him to a nearby unit*

This small victory was extremely gratifying. As I tried to imagine what it must have been like to be struck by a cannon my mind took me  back to that scene from Mel Gibson’s The Patriot.

Turn Four, the fighting ends

Dave was up on attrition but now no longer had a commander. To start our next turn we drew some more cards and flipped to see who would activate first. Dave won the flip and his first action (of course) was to  quickly dispatched my Free Booters with his Lanceros. Once again his dice were on fire and I couldn’t roll a save to…save my life…

Who needs guns? The Lanceros once again finish off an entire unit.

With so much devastation on my side I started to really appreciate the irony that I had chosen an Untested English Commander to be in my force. Tactically, I picked the Untested Commander because he was 0 points, but narratively he made this whole debacle very interesting. I began to envision my mustachio’d redcoat commander as some bourgeois dandy who one day left his office, hopped on a boat and fancied himself a pirate. And like any inexperienced commander my English dandy did not listen to the advice of his men but instead marched with petulant anger directly at the enemy.

Next time I’ll invest the points and try out a more seasoned commander

My commander didn’t get far before the arrows let loose and struck him and his men down. All that I had left at this point were four Sea Dogs. They did not regret the loss of their sniveling commander but they also knew how “merciful” the Spanish were to prisoners so they chose to flee. Leaving the cannon was a difficult decision but it had been fired recently and would require many activations to reload and time was not something they had.

After firing a cannon it receives 4 reload tokens. A unit can spend four actions to reload it and then be able to shoot it again or at the cost of one action a unit can disengage with artillery and leave it.

The Sea Dogs were scrappy but even they knew they couldn’t fight off the overwhelming Spanish forces. Also, being on an island meant “running away” wasn’t a long-term solution. With little options left they decided their only chance was to make a run for the church and seek sanctuary. The Spanish are devout Catholics and they hoped that once inside their pursuers would be unwilling to spill blood on holy ground. It wasn’t a long term plan but it was the best option they had.

By positioning themselves behind trees they prevented one of the units from being able to shoot them and mitigated their losses.

By the time the church was within view one Sea Dog had already died. It was an arrow in the neck that did him in, compliments of the Milicianos Indios. Sancturary was now in sight though and if I could make it just a couple more turns then maybe, just maybe, one of my Sea Dogs would make it out of this mess alive.

Nope! The Marineros peeked out from behind the trees and shot me down.

 

More battle reports will be coming in the future and I am currently planning for the next one to be entirely a naval battle, so stay tuned and subscribe so you don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. Brian May 6, 2017 Reply

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