Fire on the Frontier Preview I

By Joseph Forster

We’re all patiently waiting for the Piratey goodness of Raise the Black to be delivered, but lo, out of nowhere, Firelock has announced a new book with a small line of new models! Huzzah! Blood & Plunder: Fire on the Frontier was announced on November 5th. New products include a new book, legendary commander models, two new units of Native models, and a new generic Native commander.  You can find the announcement article on their website here. All these are available for preorder now with a estimate shipping date of December (next month!).

(Early mock up that may be changed)

Before we go any further, I have to confess that I have had the privilege of doing some design and playtest work on this product so my shock and surprise is all feigned. 🙂 So I  have to admit I will have a bit of natural bias here, but I’m thrilled to see some new material released for Blood & Plunder and I’m very excited to share a preview of what’s included in this new product!

There is lots to cover here but this will be a brief overview of the upcoming release, then a bit of a closer look at a couple of the new forces that are prominent in King Philip’s War in New England and their accompanying new models.

Fire on the Frontier

The center of this new set of releases is a new book. Fire on the Frontier will be a smaller rulebook (about 80 pages) that focuses on two late 17th-century conflicts in North America: King Philip’s War and King William’s War. This book focuses closely in on the late 17th century, specifically King Philip’s War (1675-1678) and King William’s War (1689-1697). No Peace Beyond the Line’s wide time frame technically covers that era, but this zooms in closer on these two conflicts.

In this book you’ll find

  • Brand factions lists for
    • Natives
    • English
    • French
  • Updated Native Factions
  • Updated French Canadian Privateers Faction
  • Updated North American English Militia Faction
  • 18 New Commanders (+5 commanders repeated from NPBtL)
  • 5 New Characters
  • New units for:
    • Natives
    • English
    • French
  • Historical summaries of both King William’s and King Philip’s Wars.
  • An entire chapter on Fortifications, including official rules for the Palisade Fort, updated stats for the Stone Tower Fort and several new fortified structures.
  • 4 Historical Narrative Scenarios
  • 2 New Competitive Scenarios

This book is really linked to No Peace Beyond the Line. It relies on that rulebook (or the forthcoming new rulebook from the Kickstarter) for all the Special Rule/Trait definitions and equipment & weapons rules. This is a new style of book that focuses in closer on the some of the history and events while relying on the main rulebook for general game rules, special rules indexes, weather tables etc. I think it’s an exciting, new step for Firelock Games!

New England

King Philip’s War was fought between Native tribes (who fought on both sides) and New Englanders who knew each other well and were part of a very integrated and complex society. It’s fascinating history! To reflect this history, Fire on the Frontier presents several brand new factions with new play styles. Let’s look at the two primary opposing factions: the New England Militia and the New England Tribes.

The New England Tribes Native faction features a mix of the new line of North American native models (see below) and the original line of “earlier contact” units like the Warrior Archers. With 6 possible units to build with, there’s a lot of variation possible! In addition to that variation, there are 3 force options, representing 3 of the primary powers active in the struggle: the Wampanoags, the Narragansetts and the Mohegans. Each played a very different role in this brutal war and there are small unique rules to reflect that. The Wampanoag had a long and close relationship with the New Englanders, going back to Massasoit’s assisting the Plymouth in it’s earliest days. The Narragansetts were numerous and powerful, but they lived further from the colonies. The Mohegan actually sided with the New Englanders when war broke out and were essential allies, familiar with both the Native locations, habits and tactics.

This was taken from an early mock up and the finished book may look different.

These tribes can hit fast and hard with fearsome melee weapons and disappear again, hopefully before their enemies can counterattack. Representing several tribes, this force list has several possible commanders providing even more historical flavor and tactical options.

On the English side of things, there are three brand new English factions and one updated faction from No Peace Beyond the Line. Let’s look at the updated North American English Militia faction.

Early mock up and subject to change

Representing various English forces in North America in the last quarter of the 17th century, this updated faction has some key differences, not the least of which is a brand new unit! The semi-professional Provincial unit should be a great addition to English Militia forces! At 5 points, this unit boasts stats much superior to the English Militia model that has always struggled with….dying…

Early mock up and subject to change

With a 6 Shoot skill (and a less abysmal shoot save than the English Militia unit), this unit is making me want to play as the English again! The unit options make it flexible as well. You can stand in line and deliver deadly volleys or you can take cover in the forest and have a change of not getting shot to pieces by those OVERPOWERED FRENCH! The new Colonial Expeditionary Force force option makes Provincials a Core Unit. That looks like a solid list to me. Especially with the new, updated (better) main ability which helps you keep Fatigue off your key units during a skirmish.

The faction’s updated ability reads:  “Once per turn, a single English unit in this Force may re-roll a Fatigue test without spending a Fortune Point.”

I’ve play tested this numerous times at this point and it is fun and it is awesome.

Command options include some fresh names as well!

The war in New England is further represented by the New England Village Garrison, a new faction which will feature a very unique unit and a very different playstyle, and the New England Militia, a dogged force that is intent on victory, no matter the cost.

Fire on the Frontier gives the Legendary treatment to three of the big names from No Peace Beyond the Line. For this New England theatre, both King Philip (Metacomet) and Benjamin Church get custom, legendary factions, spotlighting their leadership roles during King Philip’s War.

New Native Models

The Native line of models created for No Peace Beyond the Line largely focuses on South and Central American Tribes. The Braves were released a while back, and now Firelock is releasing 10 new sculpts to represent Natives in North American. I’m really excited for these new models!

First we have the Young Braves, the bold, untested young, eager to prove themselves against any worthy foe. This unit is armed with bows as a primary weapon (bows were long used, even after the introduction of firearms), but has the option of taking a musket sidearm and thrown weapons.

These models lean heavily on the classic Iroquois style of dress, hair and equipment, but they will be excellent for representing many of the First Nations in North America. I’m partlically happy with the added variation of equipment like quivers, straps in and bows, most of which are based off surviving examples! These should be fun to paint!

(early unfinished 3-d render)

The native factions receive a new elite unit as well. Coming in at a hefty 7 points, Pnieses come as Veterans and have awesome stats and fearsome weapons.

These models feature some of nasty clubs and melee weapons used natives throughout North America. Some of the great warriors had tally marks on their clubs exceeding two-score!

(early unfinished 3-d render)

To lead these new warriors, Firelock has made a new generic North American Tribes commander and a new King Philip Legendary commander sculpt.

Image stolen from cubannerd’s Instagram account.

The King Philip model features longer hair, Wampanoag style accessories and is set in a dignified pose.

The generic commander model is on the move he carries a musket!

More photos of these models all painted up should be available soon.

These new models will be released in December and will be made from a high quality resin mix. So far, examples I’ve seen have looked great! I love my metals, but with metal material costs skyrocketing, I’ll be happy with a quality substitute.

More to Come!

We took quick look at two of the factions and some of the new models, but there’s plenty more in this book and there’s more models on the way as well! There’s even some supporting buildings for this book in the works from another company! Keep an eye out for more previews coming soon!

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