By Joseph Forster
Blood & Plunder is a great game and if you’re reading an article on this blog, I probably don’t need to convince you of that. The core rulebook lays out the rules, provides a solid set of scenarios, and presents a selection of Spanish, English, French, and Pirate factions to play with. The core book is all you need to get going and you can expand into further force building with the excellent online Force Builder. BUT, I think the game really matured with the release of No Peace Beyond the Line. I really fell in love with the game after this book was released. In my opinion, this book belongs in every buccaneer’s gaming chest!
In this article, I’d like to look at what’s inside this book and then you can decide if it’s something you’d like to add to your Plunder collection.
The core rule book has the 3 primary nations (Spain, England, and Frace) in addition to an Unaligned pirate-ish faction. No Peace Beyond the Line adds the Dutch, Native Americans, and a whole mass of unaligned factions and minor powers like various pirate factions, the Scottish, Danes, Swedish and Portuguese.
This is obviously closely related to new nations but this went beyond just adding a couple of factions for the new nations. Within the various nations, this book vastly expanded the ways you can play. Each faction has its own special rules and set of units available. The core rulebook has 9 factions. No Peace Beyond the Line expands that to 50 factions! And some of those factions have options that drastically change them as well! This opens up so much more room for exploration and creativity in creating and experimenting with various forces. Force building is a major draw for me since I can think up new lists and experiment with creating forces when I don’t have time to actually play the game. This book blows the force-building options wide open!
These factions are available to work with on the free Force Builder but owning the book with the factions clearly presented and a bit of history on each force makes it worth purchasing this book for the new factions alone. This huge set of new factions is what really drew me into the game.
Some of the new factions for existing nations include Spanish Corsairs, North American English Militia, French Canadian Militia, and Logwood Cutters. Each of these new factions lets the original nations play in new ways!
These new nations and factions need new units! Not only did the Dutch and Natives get an entirely new line of units, but you can use most of these new units in some capacity in the original factions which were updated. Those expert Dutch sailors can be recruited by your English Buccaneers to upgrade your force from the original book!
Commanders are central to almost every force in Blood & Plunder and No Peace Beyond the Line multiplies the options for commanders. The core rulebook has 6 generic and 3-5 historical commanders for the French, Spanish, and English but No Peace Beyond the Line expands that in a massive way. The options for the Spanish move from 6 generics and 5 historical commanders to 15 generics and 12 historical commanders in No Peace Beyond the Line. This opens up so many new force-building options!
Each Nation (besides the Unaligned) has a Legendary Commander with a unique sculpt alongside the generic unnamed commanders and the rest of the historical commanders.
This is a whole new part of the game and it again makes force building much more interesting. Characters can provide specialized abilities to focus your force on a specific tactic or they can help your force running smoothly. There are 15 different characters you can add to your force and they really increase the interest and depth in force building.
A Comprehensive List of Special Rules and Weapons
Many new special rules were added in No Peace Beyond the Line and this book has all of the old and new abilities laid out in one chapter for easy access. This is a great reference! The Force Builder will provide the details on rules but only as they pertain to a specific unit or commander.
Some of the wording for various equipment has been updated and some (like horses and bows) have been changed considerably. This is a great chapter!
New Ships and Alternate Rig Ships
Ships are an awesome part of Blood and Plunder. The Core rule book includes the Sloop, Brigantine, Light Frigate, and Longboat. No Peace Beyond the Line more than doubles that number, providing rules and stats for 16 different ships. Not only does the book give you stats for brand new ships, but it also gives you alternate rules and rigs for existing models. The Brigantine really gets a boost. There are 3 very different ways you can use it included in this book. The selection of small boats is tripled as well.
There are some basic rules additions and improvements including updates to the Assignment rules, new rules for subsections on several ships, and vastly improved cannon rules. Just the updated cannon rules are worth the price of the book!
Large Scale Game Rules
Blood & Plunder is really a skirmish game but sometimes you need to run that big 6 player game at a convention. Chapter 13 provides rules for bigger games and games with many more players.
It takes a good group to take full advantage of this part of the book but it can be very satisfying. In the campaign, you start out with a humble force that has many restrictions. As you continue to fight the enemy, your commander gains new skills and you can get ric of restrictions and unlock new abilities throughout a series of games with your local group. This campaign system can facilitate organized play at your store for a long time. It’s a fun system and it encourages people to play games regularly. This is one of those things you can’t just get free on the Force Builder!
When you’ve completed the campaign, you will have made your own custom commander that you should bring into your future games. It’s a great way to sytematically learn some of the rules of Blood & Plunder, I should caution that the campaign works best with a decently large-sized local community. I’ve played this basic several times and the larger the group, the better it works. It can be tweaked to work with a group as small as 4 players but ideally, I would say you need at least 8 to make this work optimally. There are some special rules that are only available in the campaign. No historical commander has ‘Legendary Gunner” but it’s sure fun when you can apply it to your campaign commander!
Another tiny piece of the campaign chapter I use a lot is the 1-10 random scenario chart. But to use that you need the….
Like the core rule book, this book has 5 different scenarios with variations for sea, amphibious, and land play, bringing the total count of unique scenarios to 15. The scenarios are more “flavorful” in this book. Some of the core scenarios blend together a little, especially the sea scenarios. These are all much more unique. Deployments are more diverse, there are more interesting objectives and required elements in setup. I really enjoy these scenarios. Some of these don’t feel as ideal for tournament play, but they contain a lot more story and narrative.
You can see some of these scenarios played on the Beasts of War/Tabletop videos.
New Event and Weather Tables
Weather and events aren’t central elements of Blood & Plunder but they can provide another level of historical flavor and immersion. The core book has one event table and one weather table. This book expands that to 4 event tables which better cover land and sea games specifically and it adds 2 more weather tables. The weather in Canada should be different than in Jamaica! The truth remains weather doesn’t often do a lot in most games, but having more accurate weather events for the theater you’re playing feels great!
A shoutout to the Sea Event Table which has given me the Sugmerged Hazard every single time I play a sea battle.
At the start of the book, there is an 18-page timeline that outlines the primary important events related to Buccaneering between 1620-1699. I skipped over this part when I was first diving into the book, but it’s a helpful framework to understand. Knowing the history behind the game helps you further enjoy the game!
No Peace Beyond the Line brought Blood & Plunder from good to amazing for me. The new factions, commanders, units, and nations in this book essentially quadrupled the size of the game. Blood & Plunder grew up into a mature game with the release of this book in my opinion.
Blood & Plunder is an easy game to buy into with only a core rule book and a starter box of minis necessary to get going. But I see this book as almost an essential buy for anyone planning to play a lot of Blood & Plunder. If you plan to play Dutch, Natives or some of the less prominent nations, this is absolutely a first purchase.
Firelock has been generous to provide a free online Force Builder that includes all the new commanders and factions from this amazing expansion. But don’t let that stop you from getting the actual book because you’ll be doing yourself a disservice!
I rate this 10/10! This is a fantastic product. It makes the game twice as good. At least twice as good!
I will do you the courtesy of leaving a link to this book right here so you can order it. It currently costs $40 and as a 240 page, beautiful color rulebook, that’s a deal. If you like reading off a device or always having the rules on your phone, you can get the PDF version for only $18. You can also go the full deluxe route and buy the fancy collector’s edition which includes both the core rulebook and No Peace Beyond the Line. It’s a beautiful book!
If you backed the latest Raise the Black (the most recent Kickstarter as of writing this), you may be wondering if this is needed or if it’s even compatible with the 18th-century material coming out late in 2021. The new material will be compatible( from everything I’ve heard). Local communities and tournaments might decide to use a certain era to play within for an event etc, but in general, the 17th and 18th-century forces should be able to fight each other on even footing. If you don’t care about the 17th-century and just want to play games with Pirate factions, Raise the Black might be all you need. But I maintain if you like Blood & Plunder, this book belongs in your collection!