By Joseph Forster
Let’s take another look at the new Fire on the Frontier book coming out later this year. In our last preview we looked at the basic table of contents, then looked at some Native and English factions. Today we’re going to look at the new way this book interacts with the historical narrative that gives life to the game.
Fire on the Frontier primarily focuses on King Philip’s War (1675-1678) and King Williams’ War (1689-1697) and that limitation of scope allows for some deeper interaction with some of the historical events and characters within the book and the game itself.
While the previous books (Blood & Plunder core book and No Peace Beyond the Line) have used timelines to outline the important events taking place during the years covered in the book, Fire on the Frontier will contain more of a narrative historical summary. Knowing the background and history behind the factions and commanders you’re playing can really make the game come alive on a new level, and, let’s be honest, some of us have never really studied (or heard of) King Philip’s or King William’s War before! Certainly not as well known as the American Revolution or the French and Indian War of the mid 18th century, both King Philip’s and King William’s Wars are complex, interesting and important both in the flow of World and (especially) American history.
The first full chapter of Fire on the Frontier is a historical summary of these two wars and taking the time to read through this chapter will let players enjoy the new units, commanders, factions and scenarios included in the book.
Scenarios are another place where this book is able to dig a little deeper into the real events. The last chapter of the book contains 6 new scenarios, 2 of which are “generic” scenarios, and 4 of which are actual historical scenarios from King Philip’s and King William’s Wars.
Let’s take a look at the Great Swamp Fight historical scenario. You’ll first encounter the historical background of this scenario in the first pages of the book in the historical summary of King Philip’s War.
(all images from the book are from a mock up and are not from the final product)
The middle portion of the book provides the needed factions and commanders to play the scenario historically. In this case, the Defending player will be using the Narragansett Force Option of the New England Tribes faction.
The Native force will use Canonchet, one of the historical Narragansett commander in the book. Canonchet was one of the best war chiefs fighting against the English in King Philip’s War. His stats and special rules reflect his respected position as a great sachem among the Narragansetts. His massive command range represents the numerous Narragansett warriors and allied warriors that would fight under his command. His Tactician special rule represents his battlefield ability to lay effective and complex tactical plans. The Castilian rule represents the Narragansett propensity for building sturdy fortifications and the Vendetta: English rule reflects the fact that his father was executed by English command (as he himself would be). The Resilient special rule reflects Canonchet’s continued and dogged leadership even through the darkest and most desperate months of the war, even as King Philip himself layed low for several months.
The English player will use the New England Militia faction and the will have a choice between using savage Samuel Mosely (previously published in NPBtL) or the entire expedition’s commander, Governor Josiah Winslow.
Moseley is more of a “lead from the front” tactical commander while Governor Winslow is a strict commander with a more extensive command range that can coordinate an assault from the rear.
All this comes together in the last chapter of the book where we finally get the actual historical scenarios.
The Great Swamp Fight is a asymmetric scenario of about 200 points where the English must attack the weak portion of the palisade wall around the Narragansett town deep in the swamps of Rhode Island. The Natives had the advantage of walls, breastworks and a sturdy blockhouse, but the English had numbers. In this scenario the outnumbered Narragansett warriors must hold off the English army and defend the breach in the wall until the civilians can escape near the end of the game. It’s the English player’s job to try to rush across the open ground fast enough to overwhelm the defenders and put the town to the torch while not taking massive casualties.
Since the town was massive, this scenario uses the Palisade Fort kit to represent part of a much larger wall that surrounded a town of more than 500 wigwams and longhouses. This scenario also uses the new rules for the Blockhouse.
Records indicate that the Narragansett built several stout buildings in the style of a European blockhouse as part of their fortified town. This is a perfect building for civilians and warriors alike to retreat to if the wall is breached. With the Fortified trait, any unit’s Shoot Save is boosted to a 3 making this the safest place on the battlefield. Unless the English set fire to it!
This scenario lets players try out new factions and commanders while highlighting the new Fortification rules. It will be a desperate fight!
Fire on the Frontier will feature 4 historical scenarios *(3 land and one sea) along with 2 standard land scenarios that highlight some of the most common tactics employed during both King Philip’s and King William’s Wars.
I’ve enjoyed connecting with the historical people & events on my gaming table, and I hope, through the historical narrative, colorful characters, unique factions and historical scenario rules in Fire on the Frontier, that history will come alive for you too as you battle for control of the North American frontier.
Fire on the Frontier, Young Braves, Pnieses, the Woodland Native Commander, and the Benjamin Church and King Philip legendary models should all be shipping before the New Year. Iberville and some new French models should be released early in 2022. You can pre-order now!
You can find more info on this upcoming release at on Firelockgames.com, on our previous preview, in a Blood & Pigment interview with myself you YouTube, and here with Mike Tunez, Liam Taylor, myself and the Tales of the Sail crew on the No Dice No Glory podcast.