Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Game of Bones: Raiders, Invaders and Hostage Takers

When I looked back at my last Pirate game I was staggered to see that this had taken place 18months ago  (one of those advantages of having a blog) so setting up the first game for 2015 a Pirate adventure seemed like a great deal of fun.

As a recap this is a 28mm scale game using a derived version of Musket & Tomahawks. The only significant differences are morale checks make the units stronger, the leaders can issue duels (a card based game) and movement distances include charges and evades.

If you want to read part one of this saga head here other wise read on....


Its been a few weeks since that infamous pirate Juan De Rectionne kidnapped the Governors daughter Lady Penelope and in the absence of any ransom demand the Governor has determined that a rescue mission should be initiated.

Intelligence has revealed that a number of high ranking hostages are being held in that den of piracy known as the Snakes Nest on the island of St Pedro. The local Royal Naval Squadron under the command of Commodore Croker has been instructed to attack the Nest and recover all the hostages. Hopefully he can find the whereabouts of the good Lady and bring about her rescue as well.

Two Ships complete with complements of Marines and Sailors have sailed into the bay in the early dawn. Their jolly boats are launched and make their way to the shore.

A few pictures of the battlefield are in order. This was the first time I have used my desert boards including escarpments...They make nice cliffs !. Still need to sort out the coast line but I think you will probably get the picture.

The above picture looks south to North. The White Adobe buildings in the North are my own constructs built nearly two years ago but have never seen any action. The sandy covered adobe buildings in the South are from the Colonial Steam Boat company acquired at Christmas. Aside from these all the terrain you see on the table has been built by me over the last few years. Its great when you see it all come together and certainly delivered a wow factor to my arriving guests.

The Royal Navy Ships are in the bay!

Some closer shots of the North End of the Snakes Nest...

The South end of town - the redcoats are going to have fight hard to get through the break in the cliffs

A shot of the south side from another direction...

The Hive is quiet with many pirates sleeping off the excess of the night before. Fortunately one bleary eyed lookout on the cliffs overlooking the bay has seen the warships approach and has raised the alarm.

The Pirate forces were scattered across the towns buildings and other key locations. Given these were irregular forces I achieved this random placement in the following manner. Take one pack of cards. I removed all he red cards and most of the high black number cards,. What was left were a series of black cards ranging in value from 1-8. The total sum of all of these was the same as the number of troops commanded by the royal naval squadron. Into the deck I added half as many red number cards. If drawn they signified non combatants. Finally I added the red picture cards  - these were the hostages. Kings were worth 3 points, Queens 2 and Jacks One. If all the hostages came into play there would be 12 points in hostages. The team with the greatest number of hostage points would win the game.

As it happens all the hostages bar one King came into play during the game. A hostage card once drawn had to drawn with a black number card to denote guards. These were reasonably spread across the board.

To make things tougher for the Pirates I decided despite the alarm bells ringing there would be some still sleeping it all off. So a die was rolled for all spawn locations - 5-6 immediately activates, 3-4 next turn activation, 1-2 they are still drunk roll again next turn. In all cases units could be activated if friendly forces enter their location. Finally if a sleeping unit is attacked they suffered -1 to their attack and defence rolls. Finally I allowed the Pirates to combine units up to a maximum of 10 figures. This could only be done within 12 inches of a leader.

Whilst on the subject of Leaders Commodore Croker following his success in the previous engagement has employed an official war artist to capture his moments of gallantry. This would be earned in bonus points (d3) at the end of the battle if he performed something truly heroic.

The official war artist...Monsiour Pissoir

So as dawn broke the Jolly boats rowed in...

The game unfolded quite rapidly with all the jollyboats making it ashore safe and sound - a six would have caused a boat to capsize. Because I was umpiring I wasn't able to take as many action shots as I would have liked but here are a selection with a small amount of commentary.

Due to the arrival of my guests the two first arrivals would be Pirates which was a jolly good thing to given that Legatus Hedlius was one of these and he had brought his own pirates. He has written a rather wonderful write up which can be found here...


Legatus controlled the Northern end of town with his own boys (& rather splendid looking Pirate ladies) in the guise of the Pirate 'Claw Carver' whilst John commanded the South in the guise of the 'Black Frog' (I know Crap Names ...;-(.

The Naval forces were also split with Rolf commanding the Marines under Captain Rollo and Mark reprising his role as Commodore Croker.

So the forces arrived...

Movement trays double up as Jolly Boats, and Pirates double up as Jolly Jack Tars
So across the Costa Piratica the Naval Squadrons Forces marched up the beaches. Each command had three units of Maries (8 men each) and three units of Sailors (6 men each) All figures were assumed to be armed with Muskets.

Commodore Croker sent a sailor unit up the cliffs only to find there was no way down the other side. He did however have a vantage point on the pirates below. They couldn't make it count and were driven back from the cliff edge by a series of Pirate lead and lots of RRRRghs.

Meanwhilst Captain Rollo pushed up the beach using his tried and trusted route one option...

They quickly stormed the first building finding not only a bunch of sleeping pirates but also a hostage !

The Pirates were dealt with swiftly and the redjackets manned the roof expecting a swift counter attack.

Captain Rollo soon reorganised his forces with the redcoats vacating the building and leaving the roof to their sailor colleagues

The Hostage was soon taken by a bunch of jolly or should I say desperate tars back to the beach
- afterall Miss Scarlet was the first lady they had seen for months...first point to the Naval squadron.

Back in the south Commodore Croker was struggling to move forward. Pinned down by a unit of Pirates in the cliffs and heavy fire from the buildings in front 

There was only one thing for it....fix bayonets and charge. This had the desired affect of clearing the building facing the shore.

But the Pirates under Black Frog weren't going to give in that easy and a counter lead by the Pirate officer himself charged in.
It was at this point a duel broke out between Commodore Croker and Black Frog. Monsieur Pissoir, the official artiste grabbed his sketchbook.
I went off to make tea whilst the duel unfolded....
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 .
Our sword fight lasted for a good 10 minutes with Commodore Croker despatching the villain with a thrust to the heart. Is there no stopping this hero...
Back to the North...

With all the Pirates in action a furious firefight and hand to hand action was breaking out all over the Northern half of town. Neither side giving way to the other...


In a rather callous but very Piratical fashion Claw Carvers men opened fire on a bunch of civilians being herded to safety by navy sailors...

 Carver's pirates launched a number of attacks against the defending naval marines...

He then threw in his Lady Pirates...they soon despatched one redcoat unit but as they emerged from the building in whoops and hollers they got cut down by a volley of British fire..

Take Aim ...Fire

Meanwhilst Commodore Croker had captured another Hostage delivering 3 more points, but still had to fend off more furious Pirate attacks.

With the evening coming to a close a both sides suffering excess of 560% casualties the attack pulled back to the safety of the ships.

How had they done...?

The Pirates had 5 points of Hostages, the Navy 4 points but the Official Artist provided some wonderful work (propaganda value) and the scales tipped in favour of the Royal Navy....who says only the Pirates can be deceitful.?

A great game and a fabulous kick off to more action in the shed for 2015


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  2. I don't think I will ever get tired of looking at your terrain sir. I played a very similar style game years ago now but it was wonderful fun and still sticks in my memory. Yours looks every bit as good!

  3. Simply outstanding table and terrain!

  4. Sounds like a great game! Pirate games are always fun, and yours look splendid.

  5. outstanding game .... looking forward to being the pirates .... they'll be very cutthroat indeed ... :-)