I (Dan) have been looking to diversify my Blood and Plunder miniatures for some time. I have tons of sailors and lots of militia, and I’ve mainly bounced between Pirates and Dutch for most of my gaming “career”. After watching the movie Prey (2022) that I gravitated towards one of the factions that is featured in both Fire on the Frontier and Raise the Black: French Raiders. So, after some historical research ( I like to know the “lore” of any Faction I play, an antique holdover from my 40k days) I set out to make a Blood & Plunder French Raiders Force!
At the same time, My brother Tyler over at Doubloon Lagoon expressed interest in building a Maroons Force, so we decided to do a little collab and do a series of 3 Articles each based on our process. In this series, both us us will be building a 200 point Force to play against the other. Oue Lists will be shared in our first article which will cover prepping the minis and a brief historical overview. Part 2 will be painting and an overview of our thoughts on the minis, and Part 3 will be a Battle Report based on our game and to see what we learned by playing these two Factions. You can find Part 1 of his series here.
French Raiders Historical Overview
The French Raiders represent a different approach to what we think of when we think of European colonization of the Americas. These early English colonists had left make settlements to get away from life in the old country and religious persecution. The English then moved to sending people over to make colonies and start making parts of North America a “New England” (get it?). However, as with all things, eventually powerful people saw that there was money to be made in the New World. As a result, these frontier settlements eventually became colonies meant to harvest wealth and send it back to England. While this was also the purpose of New France (who was mainly after beaver skins to be sent back to Europe for felting), the French had sent young boys to live with the Native Americans in order for them to become translators. They were quite surprised when the boys had assimilated into the Natives’ culture and even married into their communities.
At the time of Fire on the Frontier, New England had some 65,000 colonists while New France had only 7800. This size difference meant that the French had to learn to adapt to “Indian-Style” fighting with hit-and-run style tactics that most Europeans would find odd and difficult to adapt to.
The Intended French Raider List
For this List, I was aiming to try to even out the amount of French and Native units in order to give my entire Force the Quick Special Rule, which gives any unit that activates on a Spade a free move. While this Faction appears in both Fire on the Frontier and Raise the Black, I decided to go with the RtB version since the only real difference is that Native units do not gain the Poorly Equipped Special Rule. I know Spanish players are laughing right now, but 3 reloads on a Musket for the crime of activating on a Club is too risky for me. Additionally, the Faction as a +2 modifier to the roll to determine the attacker in a Scenario, so this means I stand a decent chance of being the attacker!
This Faction and this List are designed to combine those hit-and-run tactics they used historically by offering solid ranged options as well with a few units that can charge in and start applying tomahawks to the enemy’s faces.
“The hardy Frenchmen of Canada are among the toughest militiamen to be found on the American continent. Though not quite as well-traveled as the Coureur de Bois, they are still rugged woodsmen who have adapted well to their new home.”
For a Core unit, the Milice Canadienne are fantastic! These hardy Frenchmen weigh in at 4 points per model and are armed with Firelock Muskets and Standard Melee Weapons. They come with the Elusive, Scouts, and Marksmen Special Rules, making them more at home sitting in cover and fighting from a distance. Their 7/7 Fight means they are only really good for aiding other units in melee, but aren’t the unit you want to charge in unless their target is fatigued. Even if you pay the 3 extra points for Thrown Weapons, 7s with re-rolls is sub-optimal for good hits.
Where they really shine is their 6/7 Shoot. Being able to use Marksmen to shoot at a base of 5 is awesome, and will easily outgun traditional Militia units. While that 7 Shoot Save may seem like a deal breaker, Elusive will drop that save to a 6, which makes them much more survivable when in cover that isn’t a structure. Scouts allows them to move through terrain with impunity which will aid in positioning for some good shooting. Their main drawback is the sub-par resolve of 6, which can really bite you if you aren’t careful or your dice decide that a 50/50 chance of gaining fatigue it too good for you.
“In North America, a multitude of Native American tribes fight amongst themselves and against European encroachment of their lands. These warriors, known in various Native American languages as “Braves”, have adapted European firearms to their style of woodland warfare to devastating effect.“
The Native American Braves are a solid offering as a Core unit, and are quite versatile. They come Trained and for 5 points a model, they aren’t cheap, but aren’t too expensive. The Braves come with the Scouts, Ball and Shot, Hard Chargers, and Hidden Special Rules (If you play this Faction from the Fire on the Frontier rulebook, they will also have the Poorly Equipped Special rule). Additionally, they have a 6/7 Fight, a 6/6 Shoot, and a Resolve value of 6. They come armed with Firelock Muskets, Standard Melee Weapons, and can take Thrown Weapons for 3 points for the entire unit.
Braves have a respectable 6 Shoot, making them good candidates to lay down suppressive fire on problem units. However, where they really shine is on the charge, where that 6 Fight will drop to a 5 thanks to the Hard Chargers Special Rule, and getting re-rolls if equipped with Thrown Weapons. If you equip them with the Sharpshooter Fighting Man, they now can shoot just as well as your Milice Canadienne, but are also able to do well in melee. The unit options are useful, but a little points heavy for me. They are able to be made Veteran for 1 point per model, mad add bows for 1 point per model or exchange their firelocks for bows at no cost, and may add Pistol Sidearms for 4 points but not per model (I mentioned Thrown weapons above). I just add thrown weapons since its multi-use and cheaper than pistols.
“The young men of tribes of North America out to prove themselves as capable warriors. They would already have years of experience hunting and tracking in the wilderness which gave them a significant edge over many of their European contemporaries.“
Young Braves are just like the regular Braves, only Younger. This makes them slightly suicidal like the Les Enfant Perdue. They cost 4 points per model, are Inexperienced, have a 6/8 Fight, a 6/6 Shoot, and a Resolve upgrade from the Braves at a 5. Young Braves are armed with Bows and Standard Melee Weapons, standard for a Native unit. They come with the Scouts, Hard Chargers, and Hidden Special Rules. Bows are a new toy for me since I usually only have access to units armed with muskets. From what I’ve read, Bows are excellent for stacking Fatigue on models as opposed to killing them outright. This makes them ideal candidates for bum-rushing the enemy after using those bows to put them at that crucial 2 fatigue. Like the Braves, they can take Pistol Sidearms for 4 points and take Thrown Weapons for 3 points. Where they differ is that they can only be upgraded to Trained for 1 point per model, and may add Musket Sidearms for 4 points (not per model).
I decided to spend the 1 point to make them trained so they can hang with the Braves. Their job is to add fatigue to units that survived a volley from their brethren. The kicker here is that Young Braves’ Resolve is a vast improvement over Braves’ Resolve of a 6. They are less likely to break and more likely to reduce their Fatigue on Rally tests.
Coureur de Bois
“Made up primarily of fur traders and other hardy woodsmen, these French pioneers prove to be effective fighters and deadly accurate with their firelocks.“
Coureurs De Bois are officially my second favorite unit in Blood and Plunder. While their 6/7 Fight is pretty unremarkable, their 6/6 shoot and 5 Resolves makes them a solid Support Unit. They have the Elusive, Scouts, and Marksmen Special Rules. This makes them solid shooters able to slink around terrain while dropping militia bodies with every shot. The key feature here isn’t their amazing shooting skills though, its their Resolve. That 5 Resolve makes them very hard to Fatigue, especially if you bring a commander with Inspiring. Their only have two options available for purchase. They can be upgraded to veteran for 1 point per model and to take Thrown Weapons for 3 points. While Thrown Weapons is useful if you plan on getting close, upgrading them to Veteran makes them shooting machines! If you really want to cause some mayhem, stick the Sharpshooter Fighting Man with them so they gain Deadeye. Then watch your opponent cry as their militia are saving on 8s or 9s. While Thrown Weapons may be tempting, I only every bring these if one of my other units needs help in Melee.
The French Raider Commander
For this List, I chose to bring the Standard French Commander at the Experienced Level. This allows me to grab the Inspiring Special Rule and two Command Points. The Commander will be parked with the Milice Canadienne and his job is to manage Fatigue for the entire Force. The only real weakness to this Force is that half my units have that crummy Resolve of 6. In my experience this often results in gaining more Fatigue than I’m used to and removing less Fatigue when Rallied. Even on a Dedicated Rally I’ve remained Shaken Because the base number wasn’t low enough to matter! Taking Cold Blooded to try and be more aggressive was something i considered. However, I chose Fatigue Management over offense in this case.
I’ve really fallen in love with the French Raiders and am excited to get the minis prepped and painted! That process will be talked about in Part Two of this series! In the meantime, go check out my opponent’s list over at Doubloon Lagoon! He’ll be building a Maroons List for me to fight!
Article by Dan Carlson
Additional Recommended REading
- Preview article for the French Raiders from Raise the Black
- Painted Braves showcase
- French Nationality Overview
- The Doubloon Lagoon blog.
- French Canadian Militia Painting Guide Video
- Coureurs des Bois Unit from Firelock Games
- Milice Canadienne Unit from Firelock Games
- Braves Unit from Firelock Games
- Young Braves Unit from Firelock Games
- Raise the Black expansion book containing the best version of the French Raiders Faction
One thought on “Building a French Raiders Force: Part 1”
I disagree that Native American units are hard charges (except in Hollywood!) but are excellent skirmishers. James Smith i(who was captured by the Lenape and lived four years with the Mohawk) n his 1812 treatise on Woodland Indian warfare stated that they never attacked unless there was a prospect of a sure of victory with the loss of a few men and that (contrary to the media and hence popular opinion) they disliked fighting at close quarters. A war party’s ‘captain’ aim would be to get his men home safely with no casualties and with booty and captives. This has often led to Indians been mistakenly given low morale status in wargame rules where the reverse was true, only their doctrine was to withdraw at the right time, not flee, giving ground not usually being an issue. Nonetheless, James Smith stated that if hopelessly surrounded they would fight to the last man. Joseph-François Lafitau, a Jesuit missionary, wrote in 1724 that ‘… feel very much the loss of a single person because of their small numbers and any loss have such great consequences for the chief of the party that his reputation depends on it.’ Even if a man was lost through natural causes a captain could be discredited. A captain had to be ‘skilful as well as lucky.’ Smith writes, ‘The Indians will commonly retreat if their men are falling fast…’ He also states that they avoided attritional firefights by retreating and, if possible, drawing the enemy on into a more advantageous position. Pierre Charlevoix, a Jesuit priest, wrote in the 1720s that in Indian eyes, ‘… a victory bought with blood is no victory.’ Charging into a melee is a risky proposition when you aim to get back home with no casualties.
There were no separate ‘Young Braves’ units and most men for the period of the Raise the Black would be well armed with muskets. Woodlanders were excellent, elusive skirmishers in woodland and brush and their marksmanship was equal to, if not superior to their colonial enemies. They were also very specific as to what firearms traders supplied them with too and have been known to refuse those that did not meet their specification. From around the beginning of the 18th century Woodland Indians generally carried light muskets, prior to the 1760s the French ‘fusil de chasse’ from the Tulle arsenal. British traders also supplied fusils to meet their specification. Woodland Indians were well versed in gun maintenance, moulded their own shot and had ‘screweyes’ (gunsmiths) resident in their villages to maintain these firearms from the late 17th century. Bows had generally fallen out of use, except for hunting,
In my opinion this needs amending to reflect the fighting techniques of Woodland Indians (which I house rule) in the various B&P supplements in what is otherwise an excellent game.