In Blood & Plunder each nationality has certain distinctives that make it interesting and unique. I’ve been writing a series of articles that look at distinctives of individual factions (there are several factions within each nationality i.e Spanish Militia are very different than Spanish Corsairs) and those articles get into the nitty-gritty details of units, abilities, and strategies. This is part of a new series of (hopefully) shorter articles aimed a newer players or people interested in getting into the game. In each article I will take a bird’s eye view of the several nationalities as a whole. When you buy into the game, one of the first things you will need to decide is which nationality (or nationalities) do you want to play. Hopefully these articles will give you an idea of what makes each nation special, what options you have within that nationality and which factions would be the most fun for you to play.
This article takes into account everything from the core rule book and the No Peace Beyond the Line expansion book. Many of the factions discussed here are found in No Peace Beyond the Line and you won’t find them in your core rulebook but you can find all the info and unit stats on the most excellent Force Builder online.
What Makes the Spanish Unique?
In Blood & Plunder the Spanish units are generally the cheapest, and often aren’t equipped very well with weapons, powder and equipment. This means you can field larger amounts of models in a force but they won’t be as effective or dangerous. This doesn’t hold true for every Spanish faction but they’re kind of the Orc faction in this game.
The other really interesting part of the Spanish in this game is their Ruthless bonuses. If they hurt their enemy early and start to get the upper hand, all their troops start to fight better.
The Spanish are also an extremely diverse nationality in this game and they have many different styles of units and forces, along with options to deploy more Native units than the other European factions in the Caribbean. There’s also a lot of fun historical commanders available to the Spanish player.
Among all the unit options available to the Spanish there are a couple that have no equivalent in the other nationalities. Both the skirmishy Native Militia and the Lancero are unique units in the game that only that Spanish get access to.
I personally think the Spanish are a little difficult to play really well but that might just be me.
This is one of the more poorly equipped naval forces in the game but you can sure put a lot of units in your ships! You can also pay a little more to upgrade some troops and their weapons. You have limited units to choose from when playing this force but there are some interesting support units you can bring along for some variety.
This faction also has a bunch of interesting unique commanders available and when you’re paying less for your men, you can afford to bring along a more expensive commander. Some of these unique commander also open up options for different units.
Guarda Costas (RtB)
The Raise the Black expansion released an 18th century version of the Guarda Costas that is very dynamic with several new options and units. The main attractions here are a new Veteran unit that can use Blunderbusses and Explosives, and the Foreign Service option that basically lets you sail as British, French or Dutch under the Spanish flag.
Buying into the Guarda Costas
The Guarda Costas uses primarily Sailor style models so the Two Player Starter Set is a great place to start if you’re just getting into Blood & Plunder. It provides you with 2 Ships, 24 Sailors and all the accessories you need to play. You can supplement with Militia or Soldiers plastic boxes, or go with the more Spanish flavored (but expensive) metal minis with the Spanish Nationality Box.
The cheapest way to get started with your Guarda Costas Force is the Spanish Nationality Bundle that contains a box of Sailors and Militia, a metal Spanish Commander and a nationality card that has a couple Spanish factions and unit stats on it.
There’s some overlap between models in this faction and the Spanish Corsairs, The Armada de Barlovento and the Ostend Privateers.
This is one of the most interesting factions in the game for me. There are three variations on the faction possible, one which adds a lot of Native units to the force, one that focuses on cavalry and one that focuses on guerrilla style fighting. There are a couple commanders that can semi-successfully take this force to sea, but in general it’s a land faction that flounders even in the shallow end of the Caribbean.
Since they’re so flexible, it’s hard to say anything very concise and general about the faction.
I personally like playing the sneaky guerrilla style Spanish Militia force with some Native support.
Reformed Spanish Militia (RtB)
This is an 18th century version of the Spanish Militia faction found in the Raise the Black expansion. This faction is similar in essence but has a couple new units that aren’t as inexperienced and cowardly, and some fun new Force options like the Far Flung Outpost.
Buying into the Spanish Militia
This is similar to the Guarda Costas but instead of low quality Militia units, it has access to skilled professional soldiers. This faction isn’t as cheap, but the skill levels are more on par with the other nations’ seagoing factions, plus you get the Spanish ruthlessness which makes them fun.
This faction has access to some really deadly Dutch units as well. This faction has extremely good firepower as far as Spanish armies go and I consider it a strong naval faction in the game.
The Spanish Core Box has some good models for this force, but only 13 of the 25 models will probably be useful (although you could always proxy the Militia models for Regulars). You will at least want to supplement with more Spanish sailors, Spanish Regulars, and possible some Dutch models.
The model list in this force has lots in common with the other Spanish naval factions including the Guarda Costa, Ostend Privateers and the Spanish Corsairs.
This is faction is the closest the Spanish get to the other Buccaneer factions. Faction special rules give you bonuses for using more than one smaller ships or boats which you can move quickly with sweeps and board enemies’ ships with hard hitting units. The Spanish Corsairs are
This is one of the best factions for playing several ships (large or small) in once force as their commanders are uniquely able to coordinate a fleet.
The Spanish Tercios are the best equipped Spanish land force. They don’t have the wide variety that the Spanish Militia have, but they have access to the Spanish Regulars and better equipment for their troops. This is solidly a land faction as it can’t even take ships.
You can create the classic European Army of Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Pikemen if you like with the Tercios. If you like European tactics and managing a real army with different branches, the Tercios might be a good fit. They are certainly a good faction.
You can create a Tercios force with just the European Colonial Militia Starter Box and then expand your force by buying a Spanish Starter Box as well.
100 Point Spanish Tercios Force using only the European Colonial Militia Starter Box.
200 Point Spanish Tercios Force using the European Colonial Militia Starter Box and the Spanish Starter Box
If you start with a Tercios force, it’s easy to build a Spanish Militia and Portuguese-Brazilian Tercios force.
This is a very different faction in that half of the models available to this force are Dutch. It’s a strong naval faction that mixes the ruthlessness of the Spanish faction with the skill and equipment of the Dutch.
You will have access to many types of sailor units equipped with anything from muskets, pikes, explosives, pistols and blunderbusses! The one drawback to the faction is they don’t have access to any historical commanders. Their generic commanders are good, but they lack the fun special rules that some of the historical commanders provide.
You can get a great Ostend Privateer force with the Spanish and Dutch Starter Boxes and you’ll be on your way to several more Spanish and Dutch naval factions as well!
Los Corsarios de Pardal
This is one of the two special factions linked to a legendary commander, in this case Manuel Rivero de Pardal, a very colorful and bold but maybe not very experienced character.
In a lot of ways this force is very similar to the Guarda Costas faction: lots of inexperienced and poorly equipped troops but with a bold and crazy commander at their head this time! Sea Orcs! I wouldn’t recommend this faction for a first army, mostly because you need a ton of models, but it can be a lot of fun.
This faction really focuses on Pardal himself, letting him issue a personal challenge to an enemy unit which gives the faction a bonus vs that unit until either Pardal or the challenged unit is destroyed.
Juan Corso’s Corsairs
This is the personal force of Juan Corso and it is awesome. It’s basically a souped up Spanish Corsairs force. You have good equipment, bonuses for all musketry, bonuses for fighting the Dutch, English and French, upgraded speedy boats and options to surprise attack your enemy at night!
There’s a lot going on in this faction, so again, it’s probably not the easiest force to start with but it is a very unique faction..
This is a naval faction designed to use a fleet of smaller vessels to harass your enemy. Ideally you would want one or two Piraguas and possibly some smaller crafts like a Longboat or Canoa. A Tartana or Corvette could be a fun ship for this faction as well. This force has access to excellent ranged and solid melee units.
Buying Into the Spanish
The Spanish Starter Box is clearly a great place to start. Depending on your intended play style, your next purchase could go several different ways;
- For skirmish heavy play style, grab some native models like the Warrior Archers, more Milicianos Indios, or even a full Native American Starter Box.
- For a garrison or more Army play style, you can pick up some Artillery Crew, Cavalry, European Soldiers, or even a whole European Colonial Militia Starter Box.
- For a Sea Focus, you’ll want a lot more Marineros. Dutch units like the Zeelieden and Enter Ploeg are a great addition to most any Spanish force at sea as well. The Pirates and Privateers Starter Box gives you a lot of flexible models you can use for Marineros/Zeelieden/Enter Ploeg etc.
The Spanish are a very diverse group of factions in Blood & Plunder with several play styles available to them. They have a high quantity of unit types with many of them being fairly specialized (compared to a nation like England who tends to have more well rounded units).
Since they are a diverse lot and have a lot of specialized units, I think they reward repeated plays so you can figure out how to use each unit in your army to it’s full potential. They aren’t easy to play, but they reward players who stick with them and figure out how they work. There’s lots to explore in the Spanish factions!
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Blood & Plunder Nations and Factions for more nation and factions reviews.