Cutlass! first look

I mad a quick pitstop at Sentry Box today to grab my copy of the Cutlass! fantasy pirate rules from Black Scorpion Miniatures. The book itself looks amazing and Tammy from Tears of Envy does her usual excellent job with the layout and design work on the interior and the game tokens.

One of the main concerns with these rules that I have seen expressed online is the activation system. At the beginning of each turn each player makes an Authority roll and that is the number of activation points they have during the turn. All leaders in a pirate gang start with a D8 for Authority and there are two problems with that. The first is having players roll opposing high and low values for Authority – a 1 and an 8. There is really nothing that can be done in the game but the suggestion on the Black Scorpion forums is to roll two dice and pick the highest. I’ve yet to play the game so I don’t know how much of a problem it would be but it seems an unlikely enough occurrence that it shouldn’t warrant much concern.

The other issue is just that a player can possibly get a lot of actions from his force when he rolls high for their activation points. When players use an activation point they can do an action with as many models as that activation point value. So if you roll 5 activation points then you can do an action with five models. The next activation point generates actions with four models and so on.

The concern online is that a player with a high number of activation points can overwhelm their opponent with firepower. This is quite nicely overcome in the game with the ability to react to an action and attempt to become the active player. If you miss a ranged attack, move within 6″, a model counter-attacks in hand-to-hand combat or a model reacts to a friendly model being “taken out”.

It seems readily apparent that there are several critical points that would require you to carefully plan your actions to avoid having your opponent take over. Firing needs to be done with your best units first so you lower the risk of a miss and the potential for a reaction. Since hand-to-hand combat is done outside of a move action you either have to risk having your opponent react to your movement or risk possibly falling during a dash. And finally you also need to do your hand-to-hand combats in the correct order to again minimise the possible reactions your opponent will get.

The campaign system looks fun and on par with other games like Mordheim and Necromunda. The campaign system also has a end-point when a gang gets to $5000 in value it triggers a final scenario which ends the gangs participation with a suitably cinematic battle.

I still have to fully go through the rules but it looks like a lot of fun and I am itching to get the rest of my undead pirates so I can start gaming.