It has been a few months since I have purchased the book and started to work on my ships and slowly collect some crews to start playing. I figure it is a good time to put forth a review….
The book is very detailed with tons of models from various companies and for the most part a well done book. Some stuff could have been better organized in regards to finding rules but this is always been a fault of GW with anything. You often have to “hunt” for some tidbit related to a rule.
The first 48 pages cover the rules from movement, to fighting to ships and the armory. After that the next few pages covers building your crew then some fluff pages to give the reader some historical perspective. The remaining part of the book covers campaign rules such as income, trading, injury as well as scenarios you can play. It also has rules to generate a Non-player ship and crew to take your crew against to raid the high seas. Then you can round out your crew with Hired Hands, Legendary characters and a nice “how to” build your own small Sloop to get you playing quickly.
The game itself is designed to get you quickly into the action. The book is a bit more detailed that say Legends of the Old West or Gladiator with the addition of the ship fighting rules which are very similar to those that was in the old General’s Compendium for Warhammer Fantasy some years ago.
At this point there are only three official factions for Legends of the High Seas: Royal Navy, Pirates and Privateers. Each group has the option for 4 heroes and then some henchmen to join your crew. Some henchmen groups are limited to the numbers you can have aboard your ship. While this does not sound like much in variety you have to look at the historical context of the times and also they accounted for some of the
Hollywood archetypes that you can apply to your captain to add some character.
Archetypes include Bloodthirsty, Gentleman, Stern, Courageous, Lucky and Bold. Each grants a different benefit including many modifiers to Courage rolls to outright fearless as well as rerolls and discounts when you purchase crew for your group.
The Royal Navy is your “shooter” faction if you will. Three out of four heroes can have a shooting of 4+ and you can have up to 5 Marines as henchmen. The main perk of this faction is that you’re less likely to have a Mutiny result than other factions as well as you have some nice leadership modifiers for Rout tests. The captain also starts with 1 Fame and 2 Fortune. This faction is also the only group to have the initial access to bayonets for their muskets.
Pirates are your more or less physical faction for the game. There are only two heroes (Captain and Quartermaster) that have a shooting of 4+. The Cutthroats are your best henchmen with a Defense of 4 making them tougher than the average crew in combat. The faction special ability for them is called “Life is Cheap” that allows you to shoot into close combat unlike other factions. Granted, you can also end up shooting your own me, but oh well you’re a pirate! The Quartermaster also allows you to reroll a single die on the income chart to help improve your chances of making a decent income. They also add grenades to their henchmen list as a bonus weapon from the armor.
Privateers are what I call your “mixed bag” faction when it comes to the game and perhaps the best all around. Their faction rule does require Rout tests when you take a loss of 1/3 of your crew instead of the usual ½ but you’re also less likely to take losses with Henchmen as your out of action rolls of 1 indicates dead instead of a 1 or 2. Sadly this does not apply to Heroes. They have 7 models that can have a shooting of 4+ which comes close to that of the Royal Navy and instead has grenades also instead of bayonets. They are also allowed to have a “Proctor” on board that allows a captain a reroll every turn if he is within 3”. When it comes to your henchmen you can have up to 5 Mercenaries which are not only has a Shooting of 4+ but also a Strength of 4 making them a good counter against the tough Cutthroats in the Pirate faction.
The book is packed with 9 scenarios to play including 4 ship based games that go from raid a ship in port (and steal it if you want), boarding action, and a battle at open sea or among dangerous rocks in the area. The rest of the missions are “land” based and play on 4/x4 tables that include kidnapping/rescue the governor’s daughter, prison break and the ever famous “tavern brawl”.
No only that but again, the random generator has been included to quickly generate a ship to raid and rules to allow you to build NPC’s for specific missions like civilians, soldiers and tribals.
I give it four out of five sails! A great game, there could be some additional stuff they could have added (and may with future books like Legends of the Old West). The layout is well done and the art is very engaging. The soft cover makes it light but the hard cover on the Gladiator book is more appealing.