Hi Gregory, and thank you for giving us some of your time and participating in this interview. Please introduce yourself as a person and as “a gamer.”
Hi, I go by Greg or even “P”. I was born and raised in Los Angeles California, and currently reside in Tucson, Arizona, USA. I did a 21-year stint in the U.S. Air Force; which led me all over our country, then to Europe and Asia. After I retired I continued employment as a civilian federal employee, doing the same job when I left the military. I met my wife of 37 years of marriage in the military and we have two sons, which are young men now. When my boys were really young, I got them interested in all kinds of hobbies; model rocketry, model railroading, model building, and various board games like checkers, chess, Stratego, RISK, and so forth. They eventually graduated into miniature tabletop gaming. I happened to get into gaming by chance in the early 90’s. I was at the local community center working on a scratch build box car for my train layout. Another gentleman was at the same table painting up 15mm Napoleonic soldiers. After about a few hours of build/painting and talking about our hobby, we pretty much swapped our hobby interests. He got into model railroading and I started in wargaming. I was later introduced to a local group called the Colorado Military Historians and dove headfirst into 15mm gaming. Periods included Napoleonic’s, American Civil War, English Civil War, Medieval, Ancients (DBA), WWI Dog fights (Blue Max), Pirates and the French and Indian War. Yup, that’s a lot. It wasn’t until I finally retired in 2004 from the military; I met a local group here in Tucson which was all about 28mm gaming. The madness continues with more Napoleonic’s, the French and Indian War, Pirates, War of the Grand Alliance, bigger games of Ancients, WWII and recently some fantasy action.
It sounds like you’re a long-time pirate gamer! How long have you been playing Blood & Plunder and how did you get into the game?
Oh yes, love me some Pirate action. I found out about “Blood & Plunder” by chance around the end of 2017. I was searching YouTube for something Pirate like for planning my Annual B-Day Pirate Game I host every year in November, more on that later. There was an 8-part series called, “How to Play Blood & Plunder” by Firelock Games. The series was essentially covering each chapter in the rule book. I was hooked immediately! I watched those eight videos several times and was pretty much knew how to play the game without even drawing a card. I knew this was “The” game for all things Pirate.
What other pirate gaming systems have you tried and how did you settle on Blood & Plunder?
The first introduction to “Pirate” gaming was a rule system called, “Limey’s and Slimey’s” back in the late 90’s. This was a very popular rule system in the club which used 15mm figures and ships. Wanting something more, I came across “Pirates 2nd Ed.” from Flagship Games. These included a more fantasy element than what I was looking for. Later, I came across a self-publish rule system of the same name called, “Pirates” from Craig Martell. These were written and distributed by the long-gone gaming pamphlet called “The Gauntlet”. I really like the rules for land engagements, but their second set, called, “Per Margin” were a bit of a disappointment for sea action. So our games were a mix of Pirates for land and L&S for sea battles. Always on the hunt for something bigger and better, I came across another game system called, “Dread Pirate” from Front Porch games. It was more of a board game with a really cool old-looking map to play on, but not a miniatures game. The bonus of this game was the metal doubloons it came with. These are used in current B&P games for Fortune Points. We also played a home-brew game called “Seadogs & Spanish Gold” written by my buddy, Arofan Gregory; a fun game for land engagements. We didn’t try the ship action. The next system we tried was from Wargames Foundry system called, “Pirates in West Africa”. This was available in their Compendium they published. The publication was a mix of various rule systems and painting guides/techniques. That was a fun game, but was limited to land and not the sea. Next was from Two-Hour Wargames called, “And a Bottle of Rum”. I really like their “All Thing Zombies” game system, but sea action was over-complicated to play. I tracked down a guy from Historicon in 2013, which ran BIG Pirate games. He developed his own rules called, “Fist Full of Seamen”. There are tons of pics and some videos on YouTube of his BIG games. His games sparked another level of excitement and narrative I wanted on my tables. Next was from Old Glory 25s called, “Buccaneers, Broadswords and Blunderbuss”. This was another fun land game, really dialed down to the skirmish level. The ship rules didn’t work well from land to sea action.
Finally, in late 2018 I broke ground with Blood & Plunder. When I saw the videos as mentioned earlier, I saw the smooth transition from sea to land battles. That was huge for my games as I like to do raiding engagements or even a cutting-out action. The presentation was also key as the videos were really easy to follow and the guys playing the rules seemed to be having a good time. The game play/flow made a lot of sense, which yielded a lot of cool mechanics. What stands out for me was the deck of cards for activation, manageable figure count and the big one here…the fortitude. This was genius! This was an easy way to reflect the deterioration of the ship’s hull or a fortification.
I also played a couple of computer-based games as well; Sid Meyers Pirates and Tropico 2 -Pirate Cove.
What factions do you like to play?
I really like to play the Spanish. They may not be the power house of the Caribbean, but they are the most versatile. They have so many troop-types; from musket wielding to arrow shooting and Lanceros. In my games I always try to incorporate the Spanish and in particular the Milicianos Indios as they’re really unique in who and what they are.
Describe your local B&P community.
Sadly, I believe I’m the “community” for promoting the game in my area. The four gaming stores are highly influenced by fantasy gaming, which puts historicals to the back seat. I’ve talked with store owners about running games, but it takes a lot of dedication on both parties to get it off the ground. I run a game at a local shop about once a year, but the majority of games are played out of my garage.
It sounds like you run a large pirate gaming event every year. Tell us about that!
Yes sir, every year in November. It’s called the “Annual B-Day Pirate Game”. It stems around my birthday in November. Now that I think about it, it probably comes from my mother, who would give me a costume birthday party every year while growing up. That died out as I got older, but was re-kindled when I had kids.
The annual event starts about four months out to prepare and plan for the event. As of this year, I planned for three games before the fourth one in November. This helps re-kindle the rules play and getting in the “Pirate” mode. We just played game one last week; the next will be on “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, then on or about Columbus Day.
My scenarios are highly influenced by the “OnTableTop” videos, various movies, and of course video games. This will be the twelfth annual event I’ve hosted. It has grown quite a bit, with family and friends coming out to play. This past year, amidst the pandemic, my mother and brother came out for the event. Since the B&P rules are easy to pick up, it is a great “convention” game to run. So essentially, my BIG annual event is like a convention game. There are even some bonuses for those gamers who dress up too!
I typically give out prizes to the gamers like flags, models, games and books. Since I got a 3D printed a few years back, I up the level of gifts a bit. I copied a genius idea from Rufus D and his creating some B&P Medals. I 3D printed something similar called them participation doubloons. I believe Rufus did theirs in clay. My doubloons are about 3 inches round with the unique theme and info for that game. I also print out the grand prize too. Last year’s theme was a Voodoo one, so the grand prize was a shrunken head. This year’s theme is centered on Firelock’s latest Kickstarter addition to B&P for Raise the Black Flag featuring Blackbeard.
Describe your Blood & Plunder collection.
Let’s start with my ship collection. In a nutshell I have scratch built, store bought, and 3D printed. As mentioned before I built several ships using Mr. Chalk’s technique. They get used every so often. My store bought ones originally came from Old Glory 25’s. They have a nice selection with a mix of foam resin and hard resin for their ship’s hull. I have a favorite as it’s my “ghost” ship. This came in a nice combo set of ghost pirates and the ship. I modified the ship to hold more crew, and added the ghostly look to it. All my ships from OG25s are very large and can fit into the Frigate size and larger. Other store bought ones come from Firelock Games; one brigantine, two sloops, and two barks. As for my 3D printed ships, I have three more frigates, a fluyt, brigantine, and a sloop. I really like the 3D ships as they come with a variety of rigging and deck extras.
For figures, well, the majority of my collection comes from Old Glory 25s. I have about 400 figures from their collection which cover the time frame for B&P. Another chunk comes from Wargames Foundry and finally a nice selection from Firelock Games. My figure collection rages about 500+ in total. Yes sir, that’s a lot. My collection of figures isn’t just sailors and captains, it’s also townsfolk, port soldiers, governors’ guard, the governor and his entourage, natives & headhunters, and animals. I have an unpainted box of Firelock’s Native Americans screaming at me to be painted.
It looks like you have a lot of great terrain pieces! What sources have you used for your terrain?
Thank you. Great question! I was initially introduced to “Pirate” terrain from older Wargames Illustrated articles years ago by Gary Chalk called, “It’s Cutlasses Now Men!” (138), “Adobe Architecture” (146), “A Spanish Church” (148), and “Any Port in a Storm” (154). This led me down the path with foam board and coffee stirrers to scratch build my port and town. The combined plans help me build many buildings, the port, and even some ships. I still have many of those builds as they have survived the test of time and still fit into my port town scheme. I love modeling and building stuff. Since then, I have rebuilt my port about four times incorporating different building techniques. My latest version is gleaned from the ride from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean town.
The next inspiration was a few years back the guys from Firelock first played a B&P game out in Ireland with the crew from “OnTableTop”. That table was amazing. So amazing, got the wheels of creation turning. Again, how can I achieve such a look for my table? I subscribed to OTT and followed their build style and copied their technique for terrain such as their docks and islands. Modular is very important to help save storage space and for traveling games. When I make a terrain board, I take into consideration to use in other periods I game which may need a port or building to cover the Mediterranean or the Caribbean coasts. Some of my terrain also comes from Miniature Building Authority. Their stuff is painted resin and looks great. I also decorate the interiors of the buildings too! In some of my games, captains and their crews start in a pub, brothel, the marketplace, or even at the Governor’s Mansion.
The Governor’s mansion is really cool as it has a string orchestra from the period, playing a concert for the governor and his guests. The figures came from Eureka. I build a lot and really can’t afford the cost of pre-made stuff. I rather invest that cash into figures and other cool stuff.
What is your favorite ship and favorite unit?
I like the Sloop, as it’s the iconic ship of lore in the Caribbean. It’s fast and very maneuverable which puts other ships in check. Coming in a close second would be the Light Frigate. This is due to the amount of figures I like to play in a game. I can fit a nice number in a Frigate as oppose to a Sloop.
My favorite unit has to be the “Milicianos Indios”. As I mentioned before they’re really unique in who and what they are. I believe these guys are also the underdog of the game. Fire without reloads along with the other cool things they can do.
Do you have a favorite character or Commander?
It’s hard to say who’s my favorite commander as I like the different skills and abilities each commander brings to the table. The one played the most would have to be “Juan Corso”. With such a crazy but short career, he brings the iconic flavor to the game.
What is your favorite thing about Blood & Plunder?
What draws me to the game system is the ease of gameplay which holds on to the historical aspect of the period. I really like all the game mechanics which are spread throughout from land to ship actions. That is really BIG for me. I’ve played many rule systems which all have their strengths and weaknesses. In the case of B&P, all I see is strengths. When I introduce the game to new players, and they have expressed their enjoyment of the gameplay, which validates that the game kicks ass!
What would you like to see added to Blood & Plunder in the future?
I know the drive in B&P is its historical aspect, as we sail through the different periods for Pirates. The leg in the journey will be the Golden Age of Piracy with Black Beard and the gang, and I suspect a drive up through the Napoleonic period and beyond. That’s fine; I have no problem with that. I would like to see an expansion covering such mythical and fantastical themes in the game like the undead and the sea creature the Kraken.
Like I said, some of my scenarios come from movies that have these elements. On the flip side of the fantastical is the lore of the high seas which are tied into history. That lore includes things like mermaids, the Kracken, and even Davey Jones and his Flying Dutchman ship. I made my own stats for these elements which tend to pop their head in a game every so often.
What’s currently on your painting desk or workbench?
I’m sure it’s safe to say, I’m like everyone else who are working on multiple projects. On my paint desk I have eight Napoleonic British sailors for my Sharp Practice gaming. Two Violent Fungi and an Enchanter and Apprentice for Frostgrave. As I write this article, I just received the latest addition to the B&P madness, the Boucanieres. They have been cleaned up and prep for primer.
On my workbench I have an OG25 “Man-O-War” resin ship. This is a behemoth and requires a lot of love to get it on the table for November. I think I’ll make a Dutch ship with a Dutch color scheme of sorts. Along with the ship, I’m working on a pair of 3D-printed M24 Chaffee tanks for Chain of Command. These are in the early stage of work as I’m adding stowage and replacing the 3D-printed gun barrels with brass ones. In the final stage of a build are four WWII LRDG vehicles for Chain of Command too. They’re already airbrushed and now need to paint in the details.
Is there anything else you would like to mention before we finish?
I would like to say a BIG “thank you” for giving me this opportunity to share my gaming passion and the love of the game of Blood & Plunder. I had to really think about my history in this amazing hobby; which gave me a lot of reflection of where I started to where I’m at today. The gaming conventions and gaming groups I interacted with, and of course the other gamers and friends I’ve met along the way.
Thank you for sharing with the Blood & Plunder community!