Force Building II: Building for Land Games

By Joseph Forster

This is part 2 in a series of 4 articles on force building in Blood & Plunder. In Part 1 we looked at some basic ideas for building any force, and this article will build on that content. Here we will briefly go over some ideas for making forces specifically suited to fight battles on land.

Different scenarios can change your force building goals a lot but on land, forces will generally need to either move quickly to accomplish a goal while fighting or defend a position and blunt the attacker’s assault. Finding and exploiting cover and moving efficiently really define land games when compared to sea games.

Here are some ideas and tips for building forces specifically for land games.

  • Put your commander in a strong unit you plan to keep near the center of your line of battle. On land your command range is important and keeping your commander near the center of your force lets him help out most any unit as needed. This matters less at sea where all your men are usually packed into a ship where pretty much any commander in any deck can reach the entire crew.
  • Try to include at least one unit that can move quickly, either through Quick, Scouts, or including an officer than gives them some extra movement possibility. Having a unit that can get somewhere quickly to plug a hole in the line or exploit an opportunity if an enemy unit falters can be game-deciding. Native units or even cavalry can fill this need quite nicely. Including faster units is much more important as the Attacker and movement should be a major focus of your list if you know you will be the Attacker. The Local Guide character can be added to any force and provides a huge boost to mobility. When attached to a Veteran unit, they unit becomes insanely mobile with a Quick move, 2 actions on a Spade and a Command Action.
  • If you’re the Defender, or have a high likelihood of being the Defender, make sure to include some units with decent Shoot Saves that can fire from an important or static position and not get battered too badly. Anything with a 6 Shoot Save or 7 combined with Elusive will serve this purpose.

  • Inexperienced troops are very slow to move across the board, especially if they plan to do any shooting and reloading while moving. This makes cheap untrained militia better pretty bad on offense while being OK on the defense. The militia factions all have access to cheap 3 point models but if you’re likely to play as the Attacker, it’s usually worth it to upgrade them to Trained. Inexperienced units are more tolerable on Defense but upgrading to Trained should always be on the table. Other Inexperienced units in the game like Young Warriors and Engages can’t be upgraded so you have to decide if you can tolerate the low amount of actions they will end up taking in a game.
  • Don’t forget about Fortifications! Fortifications are easy to overlook because they are barely mentioned in the core rule book but both the Stone Tower Fort and the Palisade Fort (released in independent documents) can function as a centerpiece for your force. You can spend between 16-30 points on a fort which can totally change the game for you. Including a Fortification automatically makes you the Defender which is usually good in land games. A fort provides good cover for all units within the walls and it can make cheap militia units much sturdier since they benefit from the constant cover, proximity to the commander and they can focus their fewer actions on loading and firing since they won’t have to reposition very often. The Fortifications rules also give access to more cannons than usual which can be fun. [The fort bastions are still unavailable as I write this but hopefully they will be available soon] Current Fortifications with complete rules include Breastworks, Watch Tower, Stone Tower Fort, Palisade Fort, Earthwork Fort, Blockhouse, and a basic Fortified Building.
  • Ranged small arms will generally be your main focus on land. You can easily make a list of just ranged focused units but it is less advisable to make a list of predominantly melee units. Melee combat often has dramatic results  but ranged firepower does much more to control a game from the very beginning. Charging the enemy is risky business unless you already have a good handle on the game through laying down Fatigue with small arms fire. I try to include mostly range units but I like to include at least one unit that is strong in melee in almost every force. Being able to rush in and smash a faltering enemy unit is very fun and can swing a game in your favor. The Native Warriors with either Thrown or Heavy Melee Weapons are a fantastic choice that is available to several land factions as a support unit. Most sailor units are cheap and can make a good charge. Lanceros and any unit with a Brace of Pistols can deliver a shattering assault as well. Nearly every faction has access to a unit that can serve as your melee brute squad.

Examples of Land Forces

100 Point Spanish Militia for Defense

This force has a solid core of Soldados with a commander attached to anchor the center. The Archers and Hostigadores can cover the flanks and all units can enjoy hard cover within their deployment zone with 3 points spent on Breastworks. The Grizzled Veteran is best put on the Archers to let the occasionally fire twice on one activation.

150 Point Balanced South American Tribes

Native Lists kind of play by their own rules but this is fairly well balanced for attacking or defending. The model count isn’t high at 25 models, but all models have a 6 Shoot Save with Elusive so they will be hard to root out of cover if defending. All models have Scouts and the Warriors have Quick so they can more around the battlefield easily. Using bows also frees up actions to move since they don’t take reload markers. The Poisoned Arrows on both units of Warrior Archers will drop a lot of Fatigue on your enemy, opening up a chance for the Warriors to rush in a deal a devastating blow with their Thrown Weapons. The Warrior Musketeers don’t get to shoot very often with their Slow Reload rule but it’s nice to have some stronger hitting power now and then. The Warriors also have a sidearm musket so they can either make a defensive attack if charged or they can use them deliver a close range volley before charging an enemy.

200 Point French Caribbean Militia for Attack

This force is well equipped to attack and move quickly up the table while laying down lots of accurate musketry. The Experienced and Inspiring commander along with the Grizzled Veteran can help compensate for the worse-than-average French Resolve and the Local Guide along with the faction free move make this force very mobile. It’s not great when it comes to melee so you have to rely on musketry. With solid Shoot Saves, this could easily be modified into a defensive force by taking out the Local Guide and adding a different character or an additional model. The commander should be added to the Boucaniers because he has the option to take a musket and he basically becomes another 7 point model in addition to providing command point to your force.

200 Point Portuguese Tercio & Militia Force for Defense

This force centers around a moderately sized Palisade Fort. With 20 muskets and 3 cannons behind sturdy cover, this force can be hard to overcome in spite of relying on lots of 3 point models. This faction is nice behind walls since their high quality European Soldiers have solid 6 Shoot Save making them pretty hard to while in Hard Cover. You can see this list in action in this battle report.

300 Point English Buccaneer Force for Attack

This force is a little low on models for 300 points but it has speed, plenty of ranged attack and some deadly melee capability if the Command Unit of Forlorn Hope can get close enough to start using grenades and pistols. The combination of a Local Guide, Veteran Forlorn Hope and a commander is one of the most powerful units in the game. You can move 12″ and attack with no Fatigue! This would be a pretty good force for storming a fort.

I hope this has been helpful at some level. Feel free to comment on the blog here or on Facebook with any land force ideas or combos you’ve discovered. There’s lots to explore!

Next we’ll be looking at building forces for sea battles and that should be a little easier to discuss since I find the various tactics a little more distinct and easy to build towards.

Thanks for reading and happy force-building!

One thought on “Force Building II: Building for Land Games

  1. Pingback: Force Building IV: Building for Amphibious Games | Blood & Pigment

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