By Guy Rheuark
The recent partnership between Firelock Games and 4Ground Publishing has produced an extensive series of exciting terrain for Blood & Plunder. The kits that are initially available are relatively cheap, fun to assemble, and look good out of the box.
Of all of the buildings and piers, the crane stood out the most to me. It might look modern, but is actually of ancient design. It takes its name from it’s most peculiar feature, the large drum that works as a counterweight and operates the hoist.
It is called a treadwheel crane. This model is of a single treadwheel crane, but most cranes of the era had two treadwheels. They were operated by having two people climb in the drum and walk to raise or lower the hoist. Yes, like a massive hamster wheel. Some treadwheels were made for donkeys or dogs, but most of the time they were people powered.
Rather than being a static model, 4Ground took the time to make this model functional, with a working treadwheel, and the ability to rotate. Assembling it was straight forward and enjoyable. The parts fit cleanly with each other. It’s a good idea to use a damp cloth to clean any soot from the model before assembling. The entire base of the crane, and other large sections, can be assembled before glueing, so you can check for any areas you have to sand, and the best places to glue. You also need to keep glue away from the areas that are meant to turn or rotate.
Once put together the Treadwheel Crane looks ready for any table top. The simple paint they applied, along with the artificial planking, compliments the woods natural hues and burns. My only complaint is that the attachment point in the center of each treadwheel plank catches the eye. I plan on going over these areas with a dark brown paint to make them more uniform. All together though, I was very happy with this purchase.
So happy that I decided to make some rules for operating the crane during a game of Blood & Plunder. Truthfully there are not a lot of reasons why anyone would want to work a crane while being shot at, but you can use these rules to modify scenarios like Plunder, and have the objective be a crate that only the crane can move.
I’ve also taken the time to make a scenario where two sides fright over a crate only the crane can move. You can find it at the bottom of this article.
Slew, Single Treadwheel, Slewing Platform, Estibador
Slew: When a unit is assigned to this crane it may be rotated to any point as an action if at least one model is at the base of the crane. When the crane rotates, assigned models at the base of the crane may also move up to 3″, as long as they stay in cohesion with the crane.
Single Treadwheel: This crane has a single treadwheel attached to it as a subsection that can hold up to 2 models. If an entire unit occupies only the treadwheel, the treadwheel provides hardcover. When a unit is assigned to operate the crane, up to 2 models may move into the treadwheel. As long as a model is in the treadwheel, the assigned crew may raise or lower the hoist as a single action.
Slewing Platform: This crane has an upper platform that can hold up to 7 models. Because of its height, the Treadwheel Crane has to be climbed to reach the Slewing Platform. When a unit is assigned to operate the crane, up to 7 models may move to the slewing platform. One model is needed on the slewing platform to operate the crane. When this crane is hit by a Cannon and after casualties are removed, roll a D10 for each surviving model on the slewing platform. On a result of 1 or 2, the model is removed as a casualty. Roll the Fatigue Test for affected units after all casualties have been removed.
Estibador: A unit with Sailors or Expert Sailors within 3″ of a lowered hoist may attach or remove it from a prepared load as a free action during their activation.
New Assignment Action: Crew Crane
A crane that is crewed may be Rotated, Lowered, and Raised. Crew assigned to the crane use it as cover. A crane that has been breached may not be crewed. If a crane is breached while a crew is assigned to it, any surviving units are unassigned as a free action.
A unit within 3″ of a lowered hoist may attach or remove it from a prepared load as an action,
New Scenario: Sudden Enemies
After a successful raid two allies come ashore and divide the plunder. They stick the heavier goods on the dock to be divided later. As all good raiders should, they then head off to two different taverns on opposite sides of town to celebrate.
Before too much rum has been poured, a ship arrives with news: War has broken out!
The guards run to tell each of their own commanders what’s happened. Each sees the opportunity to grab the plunder off the pier, and rushes to gather their men.
Use a 4’ x 4’ amphibious board with a land mass that takes up at least 50 percent of the board area. Place a pier that is wide enough to accommodate the crane in the center of the board, extending from land at least 8” into the water. Place the Treadwheel Crane on the center of the pier.
Place a size 2+ ship at the end of the pier, in the water, with it’s bow pointing towards one of the land/sea edges of the board. This ship is grappled to the pier on its main deck, and has its sails set at 0”.
The rest of the land portion of the board should be set up as a busy port town with plenty of buildings. Try to place structures and object terrain close to the crane.
The wind blows in from the sea edge.
The defending player chooses one of the land/sea board edges, and sets up units within 12” of the edge. The attacker takes the opposite land/sea edge, and sets up units within 12″ of the edge. Any ships used by either side, and the units on them, are held in reserve. These ships and units do not use the Reserve rules. Deploy these ships so that part of them is within 2″ of that player’s deployment zone, in the water, at the end of turn 2.
Before any units are placed, set up a large prepared crate (like the one that comes with the crane) in the center of the board as an objective. This objective can only be moved with the crane.
Each side received news of the war the morning after celebrating. All units start Drunk (without a roll).
In this scenario, players attempt to control the large crate by moving it onto a ship.
>> Attacker/Defender: A force gains two strike points if the large crate is in a ship controlled by an enemy force.