Monday, 21 January 2019

Buccaneers vs Spanish for The Pikeman's Lament

Sir Henry Morgan
I didn't list 'Buccaneers' amongst my projects for 2019 as it wasn't current, but I have been giving the idea a lot of thought. Musing about potential projects has always been a big part of my engagement with the hobby - a sort of wargame equivalent of window shopping.

My attraction to the Buccaneer era goes back to the pirate imagery of childhood, the publication of The Pikeman’s Lament, the appeal of the Northstar 1672 range, watching the Versailles TV series (about Louis XIV) and some discussion on the Lead Adventure Forum (LAF). It didn't come together straight away but things gradually fell into place.

In developing the idea I am indebted to Jose Maria Cagiga Mata of the Spanish Lead Painting blog  for help with  figures, costume, background information and ideas.

North Star 1672 matchlock musketeers
For the benefit of those not fully up to speed, Buccaneers were English, French and Dutch freebooters licensed by European powers in the second half of the 17thC to attack and loot Spanish ships and cities in the Caribbean.

I like to hang my model armies on the peg of a specific historical reference point so I'm focusing in particular on the career of the Welsh Privateer Henry Morgan (1635 – 1688) whose English forces successfully raided a number of Spanish cities including Panama City in 1671.

Blood and Plunder Spanish
Despite their exotic and piratical nature, Buccaneers were typically military veterans, fought in conventional military units, and by 1660 were more soldiers than sailors in appearance. So this project will feature fairly conventional pike-and-shot forces rather than the more cinematic imagery of the Golden Age of Piracy. The Pirate actions of the early 18thC were essentially naval actions, while the Buccaneers also fought large scale land battles.

Subject to checking compatibility, I'll be using Northstar's 1672 and Firelock Games' Blood and Plunder ranges, English Civil War figures from Bicorne and Renegade, and some Monmouth Rebellion shot from Front Rank.

Bicorne Miniatures ECW firelocks
The Buccaneers will be flintlock-armed. Opposing them will be Spanish Militia with matchlocks and half-pikes bolstered with some Marines from the Armada de Barlovento and artillery. The Buccaneers totally outshot the Spanish Militia so it will be good to even the sides with the help of some Spanish Regulars.

Although the project is more-or-less planned, I don't currently have the time or space to pursue it, unless or until I have made more progress with the 28mm Reivers.


  1. It’s an interesting period Richard. Those ‘raids’ were quite large scale.

    1. I was originally focusing on early-18thC pirates. I only had a vague consciousness of the Buccaneer era. Andrew Konstam's 'Buccaneers' (Osprey) is a good intro. I also have David Marley's 'Pirates' (Arms & Armour Press) which has quite a lot of historical detail. I've had these books for years, but they were sitting unread in my collection...

  2. I played a few Buccaneer games back in the day. Using 100 point DBR. Including Morgan's raid on Panama. It is a period I'd like to revisit. So many projects so little time. But I'd definitely go with a different option for rules now days. :)

    1. WRG rules were great in their time. I'd still play DBA, HOTT and Rules of Battle but couldn't go back to other DBM derivatives.

      Rampant games are at the fun end of the spectrum, i.e. they're enjoyable rather than tedious! Other rules might claim to be 'more realistic' but that's often spurious. IMO games have much more in common with each other than they do with reality...