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Subject: Strategy and Tactics for the Bretonnian Fleet rss

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This is the second in a series of detailed articles of basic strategy and tactics for each of the Man O War fleets in the game. Please comment and suggest new strategies or tactics for the Bretonnian fleet. All valid suggestions will be incorporated into this main article (with credit given) to keep it up-to-date and as comprehensive as possible.

Other articles in the series:

Original boxed set:

Strategy and Tactics for the Imperial Fleet
Strategy and Tactics for the Bretonnian Fleet
Strategy and Tactics for the Dwarf Fleet
Strategy and Tactics for the High Elf Fleet
Strategy and Tactics for the Dark Elf Fleet
Strategy and Tactics for the Orc Fleet

Plaguefleet expansion:

Strategy and Tactics for the Khorne Fleet


Strategy and Tactics for the Bretonnian Fleet

The player who utilises the Bretonnian fleet must have a solid understanding of how the ships function from a tactical standpoint if he is going to be successful in a battle. Although the Bretonnian fleet is very comparable in firepower to Imperial ships, they have to be used much differently to have the same results.


Your Assets:

*Movement by Sail
-Further range than other fleets (9") with sails (except for High Elf ships).
-Critical hits on sail locations can not cause Below Waterline damage.
-Sail locations usually have to take multiple hits to be destroyed.

*Type of Attack (Cannon)
-Cannons are reliable and cannot misfire causing damage to your own ship.
-Cannons fire up to 9".
-Cannon attacks at close range give -1 to saving throws.
-Cannons fire out the sides of the ships, making it easier to manuever and still fire your cannons.

*Type of Attack (Catapult)
-Catapults are reliable and cannot misfire causing damage to your own ship.
-Catapults fire up to 9".
-Catapults fall through and can cause multiple damage from the same attack.

*Template Locations
-A Bucanneer only has 3 locations – enemy attacks miss it 50% of the time.
-Galleon and Corsair have several locations that can take damage without affecting the ship.

*Boarding Actions
-Crews are typically larger per ship than many other fleets. Galleon 4, Wolfship 3, Wargalley 2
-May use Cannons in defense if facing properly.

*Magic
-Standard Cabal of Wizards – cannot self destruct.


Your Liabilities:

*Only Movement by Sails
-Wind can change and immobilize your ship.
-Vulnerable to spells that affect the wind.
-No ram capability.

*Type of Attack (Cannon)
-Cannon attacks at long range give +1 to saving throws.
-Cannons are on broadsides only, so you may not move as close as other ships and fire, you must turn to shoot.

*Type of Attack (Catapult)
-Catapults may not fire at close range.
-Catapults take longer to cause critical hits.

*Magic
-Standard Cabal of Wizards – Can be overpowered by other magicians.


Strategies and Tactics:

In my experience, the Bretonnians are VERY difficult to effectively manuever and come out on top in a battle. However, I have several friends that swear by them and seem to do quite well. The tactics and strategies below are only from observations of others who've done well with the Bretonnians.

1. Ships with broadside cannons mostly need to manuever "Line Astern" - which is where the Bow of the 2nd ship is right behind the Stern of the one in front. With their superior speed, Bretonnian ships can close quicker than other ships and generally decide which enemy ship to attack first. The "Circle of Death" manuever - where all 3 Corsairs create an arc around a target and all attack the same ship, can work very well IF you can get all 3 Corsairs to target a single ship but it is tough to do.

Line Astern Example: Circle of Death example:

X O
X X X
X X


In the "Circle of Death" example, all three Corsairs would have one side of their broadside cannons facing the enemy ship(0), thereby targeting the same ship with a total of 9 cannons - and usually that ship will be pulverized.


2. When facing ships like the Empire who tend to line up "Line Abreast" (where each ship is side by side seperated by an inch or two), a potentially devastating manuever for a Corsair squadron is to close quickly on them and go from Line Astern to Line Abreast and slip IN BETWEEN his nicely aligned Wolfships or Wargalleys so that your ships (the X's below) are alternating with his ships (the O's below).

From this: To this:

O O O X O X O X O
.
X
X
X


The manuever described above allows up to 15 (Yes, FIFTEEN!) cannon shots spread out amongst the entire Wolfship squardron. Two of the Wolf ships will each get 6 shots against them and the 3rd one will get 3. This is a much better attack and it often will take your opponent by surprise as he expects you to keep trying to do the "Circle of Death" manuever.

Add in an Imperial Greatship (shown as a G below) - or any other ship next to one side of the Wolfship squadron and then all 3 Corsairs can unload 6 cannons! Like this:

G X O X O X O

I guarentee that attack is going to do some major damage!

This manuever works best when the Bretonnian player moves the Corsairs LAST in a turn (moving up 9") and then winning initiative and moving them FIRST in the next turn and unleashing 15-18 cannon attack! The beauty of this manuever is that if you were able to move last/first like described, the Corsair squadron could have been up to 18" away and not even looked like a threat yet!

Remember also to not approach the enemy directly head on (especially true for Imperial Wolfships & Wargalleys and less so for Dwarf ships which can ram more easily) - you always want to make them TURN (even just a little) to re-align themselves with you. Since they can't ram if they have turned, you are safe from that at least. The Bretonnian superior speed is key to staying out of their direct ram path.

As ships close and the battle gets log jammed, the Bretonnian player should always be trying to move between two other enemy ship to fire both sides of his broadsides. I've seen many Bretonnian players make the mistake of manuevering their ships as if they had a Greatship or a Wolfship - staying back and turning to fire only 1 side at a time.

That tactic works much better for the Imperial player as he only loses 1 Cannon per hit - the Bretonnian player will lose a broadside cannon ON BOTH sides if they are hit. If he isn't utilizing that other broadside too, then he is losing guns twice as fast as the Imperial player.

Something else must be said for your Buccaneers armed with catapults. They are cheap, so use plenty of them to shield your other ships. Catapults are unique in that a single shot can damage several areas at once, although it typically will take longer to start causing Below Waterline damage to sink a ship. Once you are causing BW damage, you can only cause 1 at a time making a larger ship more difficult to sink. Bearing this in mind, aim for the enemy's largest ships, for this is where a catapult shot can make the most damage as there are lots of locations to fall through. Causing more locations to take damage means more areas that potentially can get a critical hit from a cannon shot (based on strategy tips by Victor Garcia).


Sea Monsters (based on strategy tips by DW Tripp)

As a Bretonnian Admiral using a fleet that is dependant on the wind direction, it is vital to purchase a Sea Elemental to supplement your standard selection of ships (maybe even more important than selecting a Wizard).

Once successfully summoned, Sea Elementals can attempt to change the wind direction whenever needed. They are successful 1/3 of the time (5+ on a d6) and offer another chance to avert disaster when the wind changes from initiative rolls or through an enemy magic spell. Bretonnian Admirals should begin summoning their Sea Elemental(s) on the very first turn of the game.

The safest way to use Sea Elementals is to successfully summon the creature from it's lair and then move it to an area of the board AWAY from the battle. Once it is "safe", you never need to move it and therefore don't need to roll on the "Monster Reaction Table" to see if it obeys your commands or goes back to it's lair. (This rule has been interpreted in two different ways and can be played as stated or that a roll on the "Monster Reaction Table" MUST be made each turn whether the player moves the creature or not.) There has never been an official response on the correct way to play and you should determine the way your games will be played prior to the start of the game.

Of course, if you play where a roll on the Reaction Table is made every turn, then this becomes a moot point. Either way, the Sea Elemental should be protected as best as possible and only attack when the odds are in it's favor and a counter-attack seems unlikely.

You really DON'T want to lose your Sea Elemental early in the game and then have your opponent exploit the windt to their advantage.


In summary:

1. Close quickly (Use your Buccaneers as shields if necessary).
2. Switch to Line Abreast or Line Astern as the opportunity arises - the enemy can't stop BOTH of them at once.
3. ALWAYS try and fire both broadsides on each of your Bretonnian ships. Yes you are risking the ships by closing, but you can deliver 2X-3X the firepower the Imperial player can in that first trade off of attacks.
4. Purchase a Sea Elemental and keep it safe!
5. Always manuever so a boarding action takes place where your Broadsides can fire grapeshot - the enemy will always break off if they win instead of counterboarding.
6. Use your catapults on the larger enemy ships to do as much damage as possible and create as many areas that can cause critical hits.


Next up in the series: Strategy and Tactics for the Dwarf Fleet
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Re: Strategies and Tactics for the Bretonnian Fleet
Nicely done.

When I used to play MoW I favored Bretonnians because they are more difficult to win with. The Sea Elemental, which you didn't mention, was the one additional unit I never played without. Seeing as how the Bretonnians are dependent on the wind, that unit is vital.

The most troublesome fleets for me were Orc and Dark Elf fleets.

Against the Orcs it's critical to stay clear until you're ready to act, as you describe, and swoop in with devastating firepower when you have the wind favoring you and the timing is right.

The Dark Elf fleet was even more difficult to beat but I eventually got a handle on them by loading my fleet with extra Buccaneers. Dark Elf ships are worth more points per loss, as a general rule, and when you send three squads of Buccanners against a 10 point ship you can afford to lose every one of them and will still end up a +1 point victor... so long as you sink the bugger you're attacking.

This all makes me wish I hadn't sold off my MoW goodies when the local player base moved on to other games and pursuits.

Thanks for the excellent article.
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Re: Strategies and Tactics for the Bretonnian Fleet
DWTripp wrote:
Nicely done.

When I used to play MoW I favored Bretonnians because they are more difficult to win with. The Sea Elemental, which you didn't mention, was the one additional unit I never played without. Seeing as how the Bretonnians are dependent on the wind, that unit is vital.

The most troublesome fleets for me were Orc and Dark Elf fleets.

Against the Orcs it's critical to stay clear until you're ready to act, as you describe, and swoop in with devastating firepower when you have the wind favoring you and the timing is right.

The Dark Elf fleet was even more difficult to beat but I eventually got a handle on them by loading my fleet with extra Buccaneers. Dark Elf ships are worth more points per loss, as a general rule, and when you send three squads of Buccanners against a 10 point ship you can afford to lose every one of them and will still end up a +1 point victor... so long as you sink the bugger you're attacking.

This all makes me wish I hadn't sold off my MoW goodies when the local player base moved on to other games and pursuits.

Thanks for the excellent article.


Thanks for the great reply.

I was hoping to hear from an experienced Bretonnian Admiral or two out there. I think in all the years I've played, I've only ever been the Bretonnians 2 or 3 times.

Of course you are right about the Sea Elemental - it is definately a KEY element for the Bretonnian player. For those unfamiliar with the use of sea monsters and beasts in Man O War, each player may purchase them as part of their fleet at the beginning of the game - although their dependability is somewhat erratic at times.

Sea Elementals can make a 4 die Tidal Wave attack OR attempt to change the wind direction (roll 5+ on a d6). Obviously that is a major boon to a fleet that is entirely dependant on the whims of the wind. I'm going to add that information in as part of the article (with credit to you).

Being an Orc Admiral for the most part, I never really felt as if they were a big threat as the majority of the time my fleet would be heavily damaged by the time the got close enough to cause any harm themselves. Drillakilla's destroy themselves 1/3 of the time and Bigchukka's can never move AND shoot in the same turn. I'd usually need some major help from my Wizard if I was to have any hope of winning.

Still, it was always fun as the Orcs as something totally hilarious always seemed to happen in each game. It was always great to see my Orc Hulk make an awesome Smash Hammer attack or watch as one of the Hulk's bigchukka catapults lobbed a huge boulder against a Galleon or a Greatship that crashed through the ship from top to bottom.

Against a skilled Bretonnian Admiral however, those moments of glory were few and far between.

The Dark Elves are just plain nasty even if the Black Arc seems a bit under fire-powered to me (yes, you read that right - I'll go into more detail on that thought in a future article). My problem as an Orc Admiral against all the freely turning Dark Elf monsters was that they simply avoid all attacks on their way to engaging you. Even my Drillakillas would have a hard time following them once they slipped past.

As for your selling all your stuff, it probably made sense at the time. If you find yourself in the Bay Area during one of the 3 big Cons (DunDraCon, KublaCon or ConQuest), I'm usually there running a MOW game or two and I'd love to have you join in.

I'm already working on the Dwarf article so stay tuned...
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Matt Hoskins
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Re: Strategies and Tactics for the Bretonnian Fleet
Excellent strategy series Scott. thumbsup Keep up the good work!
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Tristan Brightman
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I was put off GW in general when I played a demo MoW game in a shop against my brother, had the interlacing corsairs tactic you outline above all planned out, then was laughed at by staff in store for not having my corsairs in line astern, and had them forcibly placed in a terrible position to "help me"

Bah!

Nice strategy review though :-D
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Michael Mitchell
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Nice one Scott...
I must finish collecting these critters...
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supertris wrote:
I was put off GW in general when I played a demo MoW game in a shop against my brother, had the interlacing corsairs tactic you outline above all planned out, then was laughed at by staff in store for not having my corsairs in line astern, and had them forcibly placed in a terrible position to "help me"

Bah!

Nice strategy review though :-D


You had the right idea - they were the rookies!

When Man O War initially came out, the "Line Astern" tactic was about the only thing that anyone would ever talk about or use. White Dwarf even had an article about it showing how to do it as well as the "Circle of Death" manuever.

It wasn't until I'd either lost or witnessed many games against Bretonnian Admirals did I realize that those tactics were just the tip of the iceberg for successful Bretonnian play. You intuitively saw that and most likely the GW staff were themselves inexperienced with the other tactics.

Thanks for the compliment too.
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Victor Garcia
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Also, to minimize wind changes problems, keep your ships at exactly 45 degrees to the wind as long as possible, even if you have to sail all over the table, use your speed to decide where to hit.

Buccaneers:
They are cheap; use plenty of them to shield your other ships.
Aim for the enemy big ships, where a catapult shot can make the most damage.
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Rasmus Lundegaard
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Hi

A good strategy guide, as always. I have really enjoyed all of them!

Minor typo: you mention wolfships and galleys, ought to be corsairs and buccaneers. (under the boarding action)

The buccaneers are cheap, and they are special in the way the catapults fire, because they actually have the potential to do below waterline damage. As you say the Buccaneers can be used to soften up an enemy ship, making criticals easier, but often the catapult will only harm high areas, because the area below will get a +1 to it's already ok saving throw. With the corsairs and galleons it is often good to aim low (more "stopping power" in a low shot), which combined does not give a lot of criticals.
Targeting already damaged ships, on the other hand, you will still hit high, often in areas with bad saves. If the rock falls through you might be lucky that the next areas are already damaged, making the catapult a weapon that hits Below Waterline! Which is always nice Off course, whith the price of buccaneers, it is possible to have so many squadrons that you initiate with catapults, follow up with corsairs and end the thing with another round of catapult fire.

Kind regards
Rasmus

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