Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Taking of the The Purple Rose

The Purple Rose

The Purple Rose is an ocean going merchantmen plying the trading routes of the West Indies. Now moored in the safe anchorage of St Reathams del Inglise it awaits a favourable wind for its return journey to Europe. With its hold packed with rum, sugar, spices and silver it is a worthy target of the Pirates operating in the Indies.
The presence of the Ship and its cargo was known to the infamous Captain Bloodspike and it was his intention to steal the ship and its booty.
The Pirates would win in this engagement if they could capture the Purple Rose and sail this off the board. The Locals would win if they could prevent the Pirates from accomplishing their objective.
The table was set up. To the East we have the approaches to the bay controlled by the harbour fort. The Bay itself is ringed with sandy beaches and in the west lies the town and port. To the west of the town lies the cemetery, sugar cane fields and woodland. In the end we only used a fraction of the table but hey it looked great !

The bay and surrounding area

The harbour fort

The Quayside

HMS Hamster & The Cerberus

St Reathams del Inglise

The Bay

The Harbour & Port

Governor Trewilly Redcoats

The Pirates had 10 gangs available to them, each gang comprising of between 6-8 men. They were grouped into three crews (Red, Blue, Yellow).
Opposing the Pirates were a mix of Garrison Regular Troops (10 men) lead by Governor Trewilly, two units of local miltia (12 men in total), a unit of armed civilians (6 men) and the crews of the Purple Rose (8) and HMS Hamster (8). The Locals also had Garrison troops in the Fort but these were so far from the action they would never made it to the action.
The Pirates definitely had both the numbers and the initiative to make this possible.
Our game started in the early dawn hours. A force of Pirates previously landed to the in the Eastern Woods silently slipped towards the sleeping town.
Meanwhilst three jolly boats swept into the bay and headed directly for the quayside. I had anticipated that one or more of these may try to engage the defenders of the fort on the otherside of the bay. My players had other ideas.
The Fight for the 'Hamster'
Heading under the cover of darkness the ships boats soon discovered that the Purple Rose was not alone in the port. Lying alongside her mooring was the Royal Naval sloop HMS Hamster. Trusting that luck was on their side the Pirates decided to wrestle control of the Naval boat first. They didn’t count on the alert nature of the sentries (a six rolled alerted the crew).

Within minutes a fierce battle ensued over the thwarts and bow of the Hamster. The Naval crew outnumbered two to one were able to drive off the first boarders with a gusto worthy of the 1930’s pirate movies. With cries of alarm the crew of the Rose and town defenders raised themselves from their groggy sleep.
Soon after the Pirate Ship Cerberus sailed into the bay, releasing yet more boats packed with Pirates towards the docks. This added weight of numbers soon came into play with both boats now a carnage house of bodies, and injured men.  It was game on.

Entrance of the Cerberus

Pirate reinforcements

The first of our duels took place with Captain Pitt of the Hamster felling the bloodthirsty Axle Slash in a thrilling fight to the death. Probably worth mentioning how we handle the duels.

The Duel

The final winning card

In the event that a hero and villain encounter one another (distance 12 inches) they must contest a duel. With the initiative being the first to reach the other (by usual card activation). At this point the two protagonists draw the two sets of duel cards.
One set is red for attack, the second is blue for the defence. The attacker selects hios form of attack from Slash, Lunge, Thrust, Strike or Counter. Each of these has a hit value ranging from 1 to 3. The victor wins if he scores six points of hits. However for an attack to be successful he must defeat the defence card played by the defender. These are simply Dodge, Duck, Stepback, Block, and Parry. Each defence card negates three different attacks – eg the Stepback card defends successfully against the Lunge, Thrust and Slash attacks. If the defender is successful the cards are picked up and then the roles reversed. If however the attack is successful the attacker not only inflicts the points damage but the players also leave the cards on display and cannot use them again for the next round. This ensures that once the winner begins winning they are more likely to press home a successful attack. Crucially the points for each attack provide a interesting game of guile and skill – do you go for the powerful lunge (3 points) or a simple strike (1 point) –  
Whilst duelling or contesting a duel the Heroes and Villains may not be targeted by other figures .

 With the Pirates flagship now entering the bay the Fort opened unopposed fire with its land based cannon, a desultory set of rolls proved continuously ineffective.
Pirates swarm into town
The continued fight for the Hamster
Redcoats clearing the Quay
Meanwhilst the Pirates entering from the landward side had made their way into the outskirts of town avoiding the local militia. Heading for the docks they swarmed through the streets.

Could the locals prevent the Pirates from capturing the Rose? Thinking that their best course of action was get to sea they prepped the ship whilst holding off the boarding Pirates. This was to no avail as the fresh reinforcements from the Cerberus swept onto the key and onto the Decks. A short bloody skirmish and the Rose was in Pirate hands, a few minutes later the Pirates had cleared the decks of HMS Hamster. Could they pull off the most audacious move possible and sieze both boats?
 Like the dockside the town had become a centre of fierce fighting. Finally the land force of Pirates engaged the local militia, with casualties building on both sides this was a fierce fight but the numerical Pirate adfvantage and sheer aggression swept the militia from the streets.
Fierce Fighting

Butchered to a man
The Militia didnt stand a chance

All that lay in front of Pirate victory were the guns of the old fort and the redcoats of Governor Trewilly. A salvo of fire from the fort brought down two masts of the Cerberus reducing it speed to near zero in the confines of the harbour and the redcoats quickly set about their business with volley fire on the quayside. With continued initiative the garrison troops retook HMS Hamster and prepared for the final battle.

A desperate shot

Governor Trewilly, bold, audacious and very stupid confronted the beautiful but deadly Rosie Gunns, three cards later he lay in a pool of blood the victim of a very quick duel.
With the town now in possession of the Pirates they swept onto the dock and onto the decks of HMS Hamster. With no mercy the red jackets were butchered to a man.
It was going to take the captured ships and the almost demisted Cerberus three rounds to leave the bay whilst under fire of the fortress guns. Could the ships escape?
Into the sunset
Well they did and the pirates sailed off into the sunset.
This was a fabulous game, it sped along at a frantic rate, it was bloodthirsty, desparate and a joy to watch unfold. My thanks to the players for bringing this game alive...


  1. Super grame - great pics and report.

    -- Allan

  2. What game is being used here, esp for the card-based dueling?

    1. Hi temo
      the game was based on muskets and tomahawks
      the duelling cards were home rules based on the old rpg flashing blades

  3. Wouldn't mind seeing your full rules and card sheets, looks pretty cool.