By Joseph Forster
At long last, Fire on the Frontier has been released! Sort of. You can now get your digital pirate fingers on the pdf version of the new Fire on the Frontier expansion. The physical soft cover book and the new minis should be shipping soon.
I got to help out with a lot of the design for this project so this is a really special release for me! Liam Taylor and myself spent a lot of time over the past few months working on this under the “watchful eye” of Commodore Mike Tunez. It was a privilege and joy to immerse myself in the history and collaborate with Mike, Liam, Lily, and play testers on this project.
Fire on the Frontier is an expansion to Blood & Plunder that focuses on King Philip’s War and King William’s War, conflicts in North America in the late 17th century. It includes new forces, commanders and units for the Native Americans, English and French in New England and Canada. Fire on the Frontier can be used with as an expansion to the core rulebook with the online Force Builder as a supplement, but it is best used in conjunction with No Peace Beyond the Line. Fire on the Frontier uses various elements introduced in No Peace Beyond the Line including Characters and expanded Weather Tables. Essential material like the core unit profiles are included in the appendices for ease of reference.
Here is the table of contents for this new book.
The first portion of the book contains a solid historical overview of King Philip’s & King William’s War, written by the venerable Liam Taylor. Reading through these pages will help you understand & connect with the characters and forces presented in the later pages of the book. Next there is a big chapter on the Native Americans, including updated and brand new Forces, many new historical Commanders and a deadly new Character. King Philip gets the Legendary treatment and has his own faction and model! The last portion of the Native American chapter introduces three new units for the nation, including the Inexperienced Young Brave, the Trained Brave and the Veteran Pnieses.
The research that went into writing and designing the Native American factions was hard work. We tried to present the Native Americans as neither the vilified barbarian or the noble savage but to understand their perspective. It was a complicated and violent time to be sure and I think we struck a good balance and represented them accurately. Wargaming can become political really fast if you aren’t careful!
The English chapter updates the “flagship” North American English militia with some new options and force rules. The English also get several brand new factions, including the intimidating New England Privateers and the innovative New England Village Garrison faction which will force you to play in a whole new way (and probably lose your scalp). Among the new Commanders and Characters, the Angel of Hadley stands out to me as a fun new character type. The English are all about not giving up and standing when others might flee and William Goffe pushes that English character even further. When it appears all might be lost, he can show up in your game and rally New England Village Garrison to (possible) victory! The English get a second Character specific to their nation in the Praying Indian. With an Indian guide and advisor, English units gain Scouts and Elusive as they benefit from the Native experience in woodland warfare. This Character also breaks normal Character rules by not having a limit of one per force! If you’re smart and want to avoid walking into those deadly Native traps, you’ll take as many Praying Indians as you can!
Benjamin Church, introduced in No Peace Beyond the Line, receives his own Legendary Faction here, which can face off against King Philip’s Alliance.
The majority of the factions in this book are what are considered “land factions,” but the New England Privateers faction really gives the sea player something fun to work with. The English also get a new (and very solid) unit to help battle against the French and Indian enemies.
The French weren’t major players in King Philip’s War so they get slightly less material here than the Natives and English but you can still rely on them to be OVERPOWERED! With 4 Factions, 5 Commanders, 2 Characters and a new Unit, the French have plenty of new material to work with. They double down on their alliances with the Natives in this book, using many of the Native-style special rules and gaining the ability to take Native units in their forces. Pierre Lemoyne d’Iberville, a giant of a character in this time period, gets his own (overpowered) Legendary Force, emphasizing his flexibility and giftedness as a commander.
Raiding was the most common tactic used by most forces in both wars covered in this book and that led to an increase in the use of fortifications. Fire on the Frontier can’t be Fire on the Frontier without something to light on fire! The next chapter includes expanded rules for fortifications and rules for several new structures including the Palisade Fort, the Blockhouse, and Garrison House.
These defensive structures can really change the flow of the game and will provide a lot of variety for existing scenarios as well as being central to some of the scenarios presented in this book!
The last major chapter in the book includes 6 new scenarios. The first four are historical scenarios which recreate some of the important battles of King Philip’s and King William’s War. These scenarios include suggestions for creating historically accurate forces and special rules that will force you as the commander to face some of the difficult choices made by warriors and leaders of men almost 350 years ago. Three of the four historical scenarios let players use the new Fortifications introduced in the book and the fourth scenario lets players fire off massive broadsides at each over in Hudson’s Bay, in the arctic! The two final scenarios are standard scenarios represent some of the most commonly used tactics during this era.
Finally, the appendices include the unit profiles from No Peace Beyond the Line for players’ convenience and a new and strange Unaligned unit-the Civilian.
These wars were absolutely devastating (and often deadly) for thousands of non combatants who were caught up in the conflict. Included in the New England Village Garrison Force and used in several of the scenarios, Civilians add a new twist to Blood & Plunder and they might dethrone the Pressed Men as the new worst unit in the game!
I hope that gives you a solid overview of what you’ll find in the book. The digital pdf edition is available now from Firelock Games for $20. The softcover physical edition should be shipping within a week (or two) and costs $35. You can get a package deal of both the digital and soft cover book for $45.
The new Native American models and the new Legendary Benjamin Church models should be shipping with the physical print version of Fire on the Frontier. These models are a new resin model instead of the standard metal that Firelock has been producing but rumor has it they are great models with good detail and solid durability. I’m looking forward to painting up some new Natives!
A Legendary model for d’Iberville and new models for the French Compagnies Franches de la Marine unit should be forthcoming this Spring. A release of palisade bastions has also been promised as well, as soon as resin supply allows.
Thanks for reading! If this looks like a fun book to you, the digital version is currently available from the Firelock website and you can preorder the physical book and minis. Raise the Black is looming large on the horizon, but for now, we can enjoy Fire on the Frontier!