Ahoy there! Cap’n Dan is back to bring you a Blood and Pigment Exclusive Sneak Peek at one of the Commanders and Factions coming in the next big expansion for Blood and Plunder: Raise the Black! We are going to be looking at the most famous pirate in history: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach and his unique faction!
So first off, we’ll address the man himself: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach (We’ll just call him Blackbeard from here on out). As far as aesthetics go, I have to say I am THRILLED with the execution. From the concept art to the prototype model, Firelock did a bang-up job! With the amount of myth surrounding Blackbeard, they combined the two for a truly terrifying result. He looks as fearsome as he does feral, without looking too “Hollywood”.
Blackbeard comes in at 32 points and can lead Golden Age Pirates and Blackbeard’s Men (more on that later). He comes equipped with a Brace of Pistols (BoP) and Standard Melee Weapon. His command Range is 12”, he’s got 3 command points, and packs a wallop in the Special Rules Department.
I will break them down below:
Bold: This allows Blackbeard to use Command Points (CP’s) even if his unit is Shaken or in Melee Combat.
Terror: At the beginning of the game, all enemy units must take a Resolve Test on 1 d10. If the unit fails the test, they gain a point of Fatigue.
Cold Blooded: Blackbeard gains the Ruthless Special Rule (The unit gets a -1 bonus to Shoot Tests with Small Arms and Fight rests against units with less fatigue than this unit.) and when he uses a Command Point to tell another unit to Shoot or Fight, they also gain the Ruthless Special Rule.
Tough: If Blackbeard’s unit ends an activation with any amount of fatigue, and it did not Push or gain any fatigue during the activation, the unit may remove a point of Fatigue at the end of its activation.
God’s Blessing or The Devil’s Luck: If Blackbeard is your Force’s Commander, he starts the game with 4 Fortune Points.
As a Commander, Blackbeard is really set up to command one large ship. The lack of Commodore (in my opinion, representing a more piratical command than a classically trained Navy command) means if you try to run multiple ships in a larger game (where I find most Legendary Commanders *really* shine) you won’t be able to benefit from Cold Blooded.
As far as play style goes, he is clearly meant to be an aggressive commander. At sea you should get in close, fire off grapeshot, swivels, and throw explosives then board your weakened enemy! You have 4 chances to correct 4 times your dice decide to turn against you at critical moments as well, which can really help when you roll poorly on a Fight Test. Tough can really help you clear Fatigue and keep your units fighting, while Terror can wreak absolute havoc on weaker units and ruin an opponent’s strategy on turn 1 (or, if you’re lucky, they will be forced to use Fortune points on good units in the beginning!).
Blackbeard’s Men (1690-1730) Faction Overview:
This new breed of pirates brings a ton of special rules and a unique flavor to the upcoming expansion. I’ll start by breaking down the Faction’s Special Rules.
“If this Force includes the Queen Anne’s Revenge ship or has 2 or more ships, the Force gains Vendetta: X. X being the opposing Force’s Nationality.”
Now once all ye scurvy dogs are done fangirling I have some bad news. I currently do not have access to the Queen Anne Revenge. However, if you choose to run two ships in this force that means you’ll get to re-roll one d10 whenever you make a Rally Test. Which is good because as you see, your Core units aren’t the best at staying courageous.
“If this Force is the attacker in an Amphibious or Sea scenario, it may fly false colors to deceive the opposing force. Roll a d10 at the start of each Turn. On a 7+ the ruse is discovered and has no effect, so no other rolls are made. Otherwise, no unit in this Force may be attacked by any enemy units this Turn unless a unit in this Force attacks first or moves within 12” of an enemy unit.”
Basic False Colors rule. Great when it works, but in my experience it rarely makes it past turn 1.
“Veteran units in this Force with the War Cry special rule may spend a dedicated action to choose a single unit in the opposing Force within Line of Sight of this unit to take a Fatigue test rolling 1 dice per action spent. If the target gains no Fatigue as a result of this action, the unit initiating the action takes a point of Fatigue.”
So this makes War Cry (which as of this writing is only on one unit, which we will address later) do something more. For those who are unfamiliar with the rule, War Cry says that when a unit with this Special Rule uses the free Fight action from a charge, any unit that it scored hits against must roll an additional d10 on the Fatigue Test. This flavor makes you able to stack up Fatigue on enemy units. Ideally, you’ll want to play this on a Club where you get 3 actions. The best use of this ranged Fatigue check is against units with weak resolve scores, or against units that already have some Fatigue on them.
“If this Force is the attacker in a Scenario, once per game the controlling player may discard all the Activation Cards in their hand and replace them with the same number of new cards without spending a Fortune Point.
Basic pirate/buccaneer rules. Use when you draw poorly. Enough said.
Weapons: Brace of Pistols & Standard Melee Weapons
Special Rules: Sailors, Artillery Crew, War Cry
Unit may be upgraded to Veterans for 1 point per model.
Unit may add Buccaneer guns for 1 point per model, or exchange Brace of Pistols for Buccaneer Guns at no cost. In either case, the unit gains the Ball and Shot Special Rule.
1 out of 3 models may add blunderbusses at no cost.
1 out of 4 models may add Grenadoes for 4 points per model.
1 out of 4 Models may add Firepots or Stinkpots for 2 points per model.
Finally, we get a new unit! The pirates of the Golden Age trade skill for firepower. While they clock in at 3 points per model trained, and 4 points for Veterans (which is amazing), they suffer from mediocre stats. This means, to be effective, you’ll have to adopt one of my favorite tactics…bring more bodies than the enemy has units! The low point cost for Veteran models means you can have tons of these guys! While free Buccaneer guns in exchange for BoP may sound tempting, I honestly think you’re better off keeping their BoP. These guys are better off boarding and chopping heads. However, the key here is to Charge Smart! What you should be focusing on is applying fatigue to weak units and getting rid of them first. While these guys have a decent chance of hitting with BoP, you’ll want to compensate for their lack of skill with numbers. Overwhelm small units, and if you keep these guys within Blackbeard’s 8 Inch “Bold” Range, Ruthless and Tough should help keep these guys at the front. While the War Cry “Ranged” attack can be useful, you have to spend an entire activation to do it. The cheap point cost also means that you have a decent cannon/swivel crew as well! So in larger point games you shouldn’t have any issues manning cannons while still having enough points for specialized units.
Weapons: Brace of Pistols and Standard Melee Weapons
Special Rules: Expert Sailors, Artillery Crew, War Cry
Unit may add Buccaneer Guns for 1 point per model or exchange Brace of Pistols for Buccaneer Guns at no cost. In either case, the unit also gains the Ball and Shot Special Rule.
1 out of 3 models may add Blunderbusses at no cost.
1 out of 4 models may add Grenadoes for 4 Points per model.
1 out of 4 models may add Firepots or Stinkpots for 2 points per model.
Roundsman are veteran sailors and are a decent upgrade from the Pirates. They get the same War Cry ability and “ranged” Intimidate as the Pirates, but without needing to upgrade them to Veteran. The BoP is gonna hit harder in combat due to the 6 Fight skill vs 7 on the Pirates, and their saves make them a little harder to kill. While you may be tempted to grab these guys to man the Sheets and Shrouds, I don’t think it’s an efficient use of points. These guys should be the ones doing the initial boarding of a vessel. Being within Blackbeard’s 8” range will keep these guys in the fight, and they would benefit from a Grizzled Veteran as well.
I’ve covered these guys before, but will summarize them here. These are sailors from the English Nationality. They clock in at 4 Points per model at Trained (for 5 points a model you get Veteran), and have a Fight Skill/Save of 6/6, a Shoot Skill/Save of 7/7, and a Resolve of 5. They come with Brawlers (every time you roll a natural 10 in a fight test, roll for an additional hit), Expert Artillery Crew (Free Artillery reload action on a Spade or a Heart), and Sailors (pass all Advanced Maneuver Tests on a 5+. As support units, I really don’t see a point to taking these guys except to maybe crew grins on a smaller ship. The 2:1 required for Support Units (One Support Unit for every Two Core units) is a steep price for what are core units for other Factions. I’m going to be honest, any Support Unit I take MUST have a purpose, and we have better options for that. Running Blackbeard and Blackbeard’s Men isn’t meant for a Broadside Brawl, you should be aiming to close and board. These guys are better in melee than your regular pirates, but I cannot justify these guys unless you’re on a Sloop and want a unit to man the one deck of guns.
The French Sailors clock in at 4 points a model at trained (5 at veteran), have a Fight of 5/7, a Shoot of 7/7, a Resolve of 5, and come stocked with Artillery Crew, Sailors, and Hard Chargers (-1 Bonus to the free Fight on a Charge). These guys have a place because they are going to hit harder in melee. On a charge fifth loaded pistols, they will be hitting on a 4+ and rerolling misses. The only issue is that they don’t man guns or sails exceptionally well, and will get destroyed by most other melee units when charged. If you need more melee, these guys are better than the other Support Units, but don’t expect them to survive getting hit in melee.
The Spanish Sailors come in at the same points cost of the other sailors in the Support Units, and come with a 5/7 Fight, a 7/7 Shoot, a Resolve of 5, and come with Sailors, Ruthless, Artillery Crew, and Poorly Equipped. The best use for these guys are in melee, but they aren’t as good as the Marins. Poorly equipped makes reloading anything a pain, and while Ruthless is awesome, I don’t see it being a saving grace for these guys.
The Dutch sailors are my favorite of all the sailor units currently in Blood and Plunder. In my opinion, they are the most “well-rounded” of the lot. Like the Sea Dogs, they have a 6/6 Fight, a 7/7 Shoot, and 5 Resolve. However, they outclass the Sea Dogs in the Special Rules Category. They Come with Expert Artillery Crew, Expert Sailors, and Hard Chargers. The Zeeliden are a utilitarian unit that you can use to man swivel guns, or man the Sheets and Shrouds with dazzling efficiency! They are only outclassed in melee by the Marins, but make up for it with a better save. Of all of the main Nationalities’ Sailors, these guys are your best bet to fill in any gaps in your list.
These guys seem pretty basic at first. They have a 6/7 for both Fight and Shoot Skills and Saves accordingly, and a 5 Resolve. The Special Rules add a little bit of staying power with Battle Hardened (Reduce the number of dice rolled on a Fatigue Test by one if it was caused by a fight action), but offer only the basic Sailors and Artillery Crew rules. That 6 Shoot Skill is the only thing that sets these guys apart, and can be used as a good musketeer unit. If you can keep a unit within 8” of Blackbeard while Boarding, you can use Ruthless to reduce that to a 5, making hitting fatigued units much easier. Battle Hardened will help them stay put longer in Melee, but they won’t hit as hard as Marins or Zeeliden on the Charge. If you want some good ranged options outside of swivels and cannons, take a group of these guys.
2 Points a model, a 7/8 Fight, 7/7 Shoot, Resolve 7, inexperienced, and the ability to take lances at 1 point a model or Pistol sidearms for 3 pets per unit. This unit doesn’t make a ton of sense to take unless you have filled everything else up and want a weak unit to soak up shot and/or blades. They will rarely get more than 1 action, and will run away at the first sign of trouble. Where Pirates are mediocre but useful, these guys are terrible and relatively useless. Avoid if you can, only take them if you’ve filled everything else out and need a meat-shield unit.
Joseph’s 150 Sea Force:
Teach – 32
Bermuda Sloop – 14
Swivel Guns x8-32
Pirates x10 with Firepot and Stinkpot
Pirates x6 with Stinkpot-20
Guy’s 150 Land Force: Smoking Pirates
Teach – 32
Local Guide – 6
Roundsmen x5 – 30
Pirates x8 with Stinkpots – 28
Pirates x8 with Stinkpots – 28
Pirates x6 – 18
Dan’s 200 Land Force:
Medium Gun Structure-7
Pirates x6-18 (Assigned to Medium Cannon)
European Sailors+Veteran+Muskets x12-64
Dan’s 300 Sea Force:
6th Rate Frigate+Wheel-27
Light Cannon Pair x11-77
Pirates x8-24 (Assigned to Front Deck Guns)
Pirates x12-36 (assigned to Second Deck Guns)
Pirates x12-36 (Assigned to Third Deck guns)
Pirates x8-24 (Assigned to Fourth Deck guns)
Sailing Master- 3
All in all, Blackbeard and his men (or women if you have female sailor models to use as a character!) are tailored to be an aggressive Faction, better suited to be on the attack than the defense. However, due to the sheer amount of bodies you can field compared to other Factions currently in the game, I would argue that you could potentially use them on land since you have one support unit with long range potential in the European Sailors, and the cheap cost of basic units means manning things like Gun Emplacements easier. Obviously, this is NOT ideal, but since you should always outnumber your enemy, smart, strategic play is required to fight on land since most dedicated land factions will be able to field Cannons on Carriages. Blackbeard’s arrival in Blood and Plunder is a fine introduction to the Golden Age of Piracy, and I’m sure Firelock Games will be giving us just as many colorful characters from the era!
Thanks for Firelock Games for letting us take a first look at this exciting new commander and faction!
All images used by Firelock Games’ permission. All preview material subject to change.