Last Saturday, Lewis and I played our first game on Blood & Plunder. I got the rulebook as a birthday present at the start of the month and already had a small selection of Pirates & Militia, so was keen to give the game a go.
As it was a first game, we kept it very simple and played a 100 point per side land battle on a 3' square table. The two forces were English Caribbean Militia and Brethren of the Coast.
I really liked the unit activation system. Although you can play using a standard set of playing cards, I designed and printed a custom deck to make things easier. Each turn you draw a card for each unit still in play, then for each activation you and your opponent choose a card from your hand and then simultaneously reveal it. The activation sequence is spades first, then hearts followed by diamonds with clubs activating last. I added this sequence number into the suite symbol. Within the suite, higher cards activate before lower cards. If both players play the same card (which happened once in our game) you roll off with D10's to determine who goes first. But.... what makes it interesting is that each suite allows a differing amount of actions, depending on the training level of your units, meaning you have difficult choices about playing a card that allows your unit to act early, or playing a card that allows them to do more things.
Lewis rolled a dice to see who was going to play with which force, and who was going to be the attacker or defender. Lewis got to defend with the English Militia, and I attacked with the Pirates. I had a fair number of pirates with pistols and melee weapons, but very few with muskets, so over the last couple of weeks I had painted ten or so musket armed figures. You can check them out on my, ‘What have I painted in 2021’ Blog. My existing pirates were mainly from Wargames Foundry. The new ones that I am adding to my collection to play Blood & Plunder are from North Star Miniatures, Artizan Miniatures and Crusader Miniatures together with some that I have 3D printed from Iain Lovecraft’s Pirates vs Cthulhu Kickstarter.
As Lewis and his English Militia were defending, they got to set up in a 12" deep deployment zone at the back of the table. He deployed a unit of militia in the building, freebooters on the track, a unit of seadogs outside the building and the last unit of militia on the cliff above the cave on his right flank.
My forces set up in a 6" strip along the seaward side of the table. The boats (3D printed from Pirates vs Cthulhu) were not part of my force, they were just added as terrain features to make the table look good! I made a big mistake, attaching my leader 'Ann Bonnie' to my best unit, the freebooters and then placing them on my extreme left flank. I'd not appreciated the command rules before the game, so she was not in a position to use her command activations effectively.
One of my units of seadogs made their way up my right flank, making best use of cover to protect themselves from the deadly fire from Lewis's freebooters to get to a position where they could charge the English seadogs who were defending the entrance to the building. The dice represents fatigue, my unit had 2 points of fatigue after the melee, the white bullet marker represents there firearms being partially unloaded. A marker with two bullet holes represents that all figures firearms are unloaded.
Here a second unit of my seadogs have moved up to the cover of the building. They have a fatigue point as they were pushed to rush forward with three 4" moves, as I wanted them to be in cover from the English Freebooters.
On my left flank, my Freebooters, led personally by Ann Bonnie had been successfully engaging the English militia in a firefight from the cover of the ruins until when the moment was right they advanced past the ruins to close the range and deliver a devastating volley that wiped out the Militia.
Lewis moved his Freebooters into the building, which I then bypassed, as we were playing a breakthrough scenario and I gained strike points for having units in the English deployment zone at the end of the turn. Lewis took a strike test as he had lost 25% of his force, with two strike points for his losses and for having an attacking unit in his deployment zone and failed the test, meaning the first game was won by the Pirates (Brethren of the Coast).
The game was a lot of fun. Melee was pretty brutal. The activation system gave you a lot to think about and hard choices. We are both looking forward to playing another small gaming and then building up some more forces and trying an amphibious or naval game.
A few people have asked me about the modular terrain. The terrain boards are all built using Sally 4th Terra-Former kits.