The Raise the Black expansion includes a huge number of new “legendary” pirate commanders. Not only has Firelock Games delivered historical, fun and interesting sets of rules for each of these pirate commanders, but they have produced a set of 10 unique sculpts which you can buy on a sprue. One of those new unique pirate sculpts is Charles Vane!
Here is my version of Charles Vane, taken straight from the Pirates of Legend Captains Box.
Vane first appears in the “historical account” (Charles Johnson) in 1715 when he joined Jennings’ raid on the wrecks of the Spanish Treasure Fleet. He seems to have acquired a taste for plunder on this expedition, and by the summer of 1717 he was commanding his own ship and crew.
Like most pirate captains of the era, Vane’s record was mixed. He captured many small merchant vessels and apparently became known for his cruelty and practice of torturing captured sailors to reveal information. On one occasion he led his crew of 80-100 pirates in an attack on a large French merchant ship.
A cruel reputation was a tool used to encourage these merchants to surrender rather than fight. But this doughty French merchant chose to clear the decks and lead his 30 men to defend his ship. After several hours of hard fighting, Vane had to pull off the attack on the larger ship and leave empty handed.
Vane’s main claim to fame seems to be his refusal to accept the general pardon offered to pirates by King George in 1718. Or, rather, his going back on his word after taking the pardon.
Vane sailed with many notable pirates including Henry Jennings, Edward England, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Charles Yeats, and Jack Rackham (who would eventually betray Vane).
In July of 1718, Vane was in Nassau when Woodes Rogers arrived to root out piracy and take office as Governor. Vane was blockaded in the harbor but still had no intention of giving up the pirate life. During the middle of the night, Vane launched a fireship at the blockading English, forcing their superior ships to scatter, and escaping to continue his
Later that year, Vane chose to break off an attack on a troublesome looking potential prize and his crew, led by Jack Rackham, voted him off his own ship. Vane attempted to build up a new crew, but ran into bad weather, was marooned on an island, and recognized shortly after being picked up by an old buccaneer captain. He was arrested, returned to Jamaica in irons and hanged for piracy.
Charles Johnson makes him out to be a cruel and fearsome pirate, but he was likely not a hugely impressive strategist, tactician, or master sailor. But to his credit, he did manage to “stay in the business” without getting killed for more than one year!
In Blood & Plunder, Charles Vane is a 18 point pirate commander with a 8″ Command Range and 2 Command Points. He’s a mean son-of-a-gun with both the Terror and Cold Blooded Special Rules. That’s a great combo as Terror can help put some Fatigue out on the enemy on the first turn, then Cold Blooded can capitalize on that Fatigue and gain bonuses for hitting the terrorized units. His final Special Rule is Vendetta: English. Not surprising after all the cat and mouse games he played with William Rhett, Woodes Rogers and King George himself.
This sculpt portrays Vane as a “low down sailor” villain, with no finery, wealth, or culture (unlike our Hero, Stede Bonnet). He doesn’t resemble the romantic “and ripped” portrayals of him that we might be familiar with in Black Sails, or Assassin’s Creed (Netflix did a bit better). He looks like a cruel sailor with a wooly hat.
Speaking of wooly hat, I did a little research on sailor headwear and found a good picture of a cap just like this model is wearing.
This is (supposedly) a late 17th century hat of a Dutch sailor currently on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I added the 300 years of vibrancy back to the shade of blue and hoped I got kind of close to accurate. I used some blood effects to play up reputation for cruelty and torture. After adding blood to his sword, I used the scary “splatter technique” to get some gore on his face and clothes. I dipped a large, stiff brush in GW’s Blood for the Blood God, then bent the wet bristles back and let them fly, splattering the otherwise finished model with the blood technical paint. It was a messy process and only mildly successful. I was probably too conservative in the amount of paint on my brush, especially since most of it just sticks to your finger, but I didn’t want to overdo it. Always better to not ruin a finished paint job….
Paints Used on Charles Vane
I chose very plain and “poor” colors for this Vane paint job, using GW’s Dryad Bark for the jacket and Zandri Dust for the trousers, and various shades of Vallejo Prussian Blue for the hat. I always use Vallejo Metal Color steel as the base for the metals.
The flesh tones were done with GW’s set of flesh colors and the hair was down with Hardened Leather, a Speed Paint from Army Painter. The blood effects were applied after the flat varnish. I used the GW’s Blood for the Blood God technical paint.
Building a Force with Charles Vane
Charles Vane is a great choice for commander a small to medium sized pirate crew in Blood & Plunder. At 18 points, he can competitively fit into games as low as 100 points (easy with cheap units in the Pirates factions!). After selecting Charles Vane as your commander, you get the choice of Golden Age Pirates or The Flying Gang as your faction. The Golden Age Pirates have more unit options so they’re more fun to build with, but the Flying Gang has much better faction rules. I don’t like having a drunk crew, so I prefer the Flying Gang, but both factions are a lot of fun and are very competitive.
At only 150 points, this force packs a punch. With this force you can capitalize on Vane’s Terror but rushing towards your enemy and trying to board him before he’s able to really recover. The Bermuda Sloop has the Freshly Careened Hull upgrade so it can make a move before the game starts. You have a Sharp Eyed Lookout character to increase your chance of being the Attacker. The Master Gunner gives the Marins the Expert Artillery Special Rule so they can go crazy on their swivel guns. The Pirates can stay prone until they’re close, then stand, grapple, throw their stink and firepots, then charge into the fray with their Brace of Pistols. The Jamaican Privateers can support with muskets, make any necessary sailing tests, and still use muskets/blunderbusses/grenades at close range.
Not a bad force for 150 points!
It’s awesome to have these household pirate names available in Blood & Plunder now! Charles Vane isn’t the most glorious or noble of pirates, but he’s a solid option for a smaller pirate force and his model seems to match his historical reputation well.
What kind of force do you plan to lead with Charles Vane? How did you choose to paint up this ruffian?
Article and paint job by Joseph Forster
Suggested Additional Reading
- Read all about Vane’s home faction in this Golden Age Pirates faction review
- Check out Blackbeard in this Edward Teach preview article.
- Check out this showcase article on Stede Bonnet.
- Check out our other painting related article here on Blood & Pigment.
- Check out a detailed look at the Pirates of Legend sprue in this Raise the Black Sprue guide.
- Check out this guide to assembling the new multi-part plastic models from Raise the Black.
- The Pirates of Legend box (Contains Vane)
- Blood & Plunder Blackbeard vs. Maynard 2 Player Starter Box (Contains Blackbeard, 2 ships, and 24 crew models)
- 18th Century Sloop Kit
- Brigantine Model (for The Ranger)