Rackham to the Teeth – Historicon 2023 Tournament List

Guest article by Erich Goebel

As a new player to the treasure that is Blood & Plunder (BnP), I wasn’t 100% sure what to bring to a tournament. I heard both sides of the Reale: Swivel Mania was meta that the new cannon rules were much stronger and were king. Deciding between the two seemed to pigeonhole me in my practice games, so I ultimately decided to go with Both. This all-rounder pirate list boasts an impressive 8 swivel guns, 3 pairs of light cannons and 37 models all jam packed within a Balandra Sloop.

Picture of Round 3 after the back deck units took some damage.

Force Overview:

  • Faction: The Flying Gang (Raise the Black)
  • Commander: Jack Rackham
  • Points: 200
  • Theatre: Sea
  • By Erich Goebel

Here is a link to the saved list on the BnP Force

Faction Rules

When picking a Nationality/Faction I knew I would need cheap, but effective units to man a ship that could truly be multipurpose. The new Raise the Black Pirates are a fantastic choice here and The Flying Gang soars in this regard, especially without the unpredictable downsides of the Golden Age Pirates (Drunk).

The Flying Gang:

  • Gains Shallow Draft on all the ships in the force – The Balandra (and Bermuda) already have this built in.
  • May not include size 3 or larger ships – No worries with the Balandra.
  • If the attacker, can mulligan Activation cards for free once per game. – This is a great trait if you need to fish for special ability activations (Spade or Heart), but otherwise unreliable.
  • All units in the Force gain Ruthless – This is where the action is.  Although the list contains a large number of artillery, if you end up in close combat, a blanketed Ruthless and its -1 bonuses can make charges with pirates seriously dangerous (more on this later). I also don’t need to fiddle with Cold Blooded or more expensive commanders.
  • Can add Grapeshot for free, but then can only fire with Grapeshot – Swivel guns already fill this niche in the list.


As my favorite and cheapest named Commander in the game (8 points), the lightweight champion, Jack Rackham, offers a lot that may not be inherently obvious to some players. In addition to freeing up a multitude of points for other armaments, Jack brings two key words to the table, Terror and Felicitous. In a tournament setting, Terror ended up getting canceled out more than it fired, but it pairs excellently with Ruthless. Felicitous keeps the fortune points coming and lets you spend them early and often without fear. I would pay 8 points for this keyword alone. Jack Rackham’s weakness, however, comes with his 1 Command Point and 8’’ Command Range. The range doesn’t matter as much on a ship and we can build around the Command Point…

The star-studded cast


Anne Bonny and Mary Read: These Fighting Men (Women) are only 3 points each and can only be taken with Rackham. These two head the swivel crews which can turn into chargers at a moments notice. Each of these named Characters brings Tough to their units, which is an invaluable keyword to keep the Fatigue off with Pirate units only having a Resolve of 6. Tough wins games. Every action your opponent uses to Rally that you don’t gives you action advantage and lets you shoot more. In addition to this, they bring either Brawlers (Anne) or Battle Hardened (Mary) which gives you a boost to close combat offense/defense. Lastly, both cause their unit to inflict an additional dice on Fatigue tests after Fight actions as an Extra Ability. This, paired with War Cry baked into Pirate units can cause enemies you Charge to shake…even if you don’t kill anyone.

Master Gunner: This character makes my front unit of Sea Dogs a self-sufficient artillery crew that would make even the British jealous. He brings a Command Point for artillery reloads that will always go to the cannon crew, freeing up Rackham to dole his single point out in other places. This, paired with Expert Artillery Crew, allows the unit to reliably reload 3 times on a Heart or Spade (push necessary on Spade) and fire the 3 light cannons every activation save for the 5th turn of the game. He also gives a -1 bonus to the initial cannon shot, taking the Base of 4 down to a 3 to hit. More hits = more crits = more wasted actions on their end (not to mention casualties). Here is an example Activation/Turn 1:

  • Trained – Heart; 2 actions
    • Shoot
    • Reload
    • Command point: Reload
    • Heart: Free Reload


From the front of the ship to the back:

Sea Dogs x10 – The Cannon Crew with Master Gunner

Keywords: Sailors, Brawlers, Expert Artillery Crew, Ruthless

With a slightly better resolve (5) than the Pirates (6), the Sea Dogs should stem Fatigue better. I went down to Melee Weapons only on these guys for -1pt/model. They have a better melee save than Pirates and should be able to hold their own in a fight. I only need 6 of them to be working for the cannons and being next to a unit of 12 Pirates helps soak some hits.

Pirates x12 – Swivel/Boarding Crew 1 with Anne Bonny

Keywords: Sailors, Artillery Crew, War Cry, Ruthless, Tough, Brawlers

4x Blunderbusses (1/3 models) and Brace of Pistols

This unit’s main purpose was to fire the 4 swivel guns in the front of the Balandra while getting closer to board. They also serve as chaff to keep the cannon unit alive from enemy barrages. Brace of Pistols coupled with a Brace of Keywords makes them formidable should the enemy choose to get in close for boarding.

Pirates x7 – Musket and Dedicated Action Crew with Rackham

Keywords: Sailors, Artillery Crew, War Cry, Ruthless, Ball and Shot

2x Blunderbusses (1/3 models); 1x Firepot (1/4 models); Buccaneer Guns

This unit is the first on the upper deck and serves to be an unassigned unit for any potential repair actions or sailing maneuvers. I’ve taken the free swap from Brace of Pistols to Buccaneer Guns so they can pressure enemies with musket fire. The Firepot was taken just in case I had the opportunity to fulfill the Summer of Plunder weekly objective and scare the enemy, but other actions were almost always the better choice than the low chance to set an enemy ship on fire.

Pirates x7 – Swivel/Boarding Crew 2 with Mary Read

Keywords: Sailors, Artillery Crew, War Cry, Ruthless, Tough, Battle Hardened

2x Blunderbusses (1/3 models); 1x Firepot (1/4 models)

Much like the first Swivel/Boarding Crew with Anne, this unit pressured enemies with 4 swivel guns. Again, I took a firepot here to have another unit with the possibility. A few keywords make this unit a threat in melee as well. Only 7 models here, so I was unable to reload each of the swivels after the first shot, but that gives an illusion of weakness….

In each of my three tournament games, I tried to swing/turn my ship to force my opponents to focus on my back deck while peppering them with efficient fire from the front. This was a strategy to maintain the main bulk of my force and one that worked in each game.


Balandra Sloop: The main reasons I picked the Balandra Sloop over the Bermuda are the extra Hull fortitude points and the cheaper hull. The Bermuda moves faster, yes, but in my well-balanced list, a 4 speed is sufficient to get my broadsides lined up and the enemy close for swivels. I took a full armament of 8 swivels, 3 pairs of light cannons in the front deck in addition to the Reinforced Bulkheads and Freshly Careened Hull upgrades. The former upgrade is a mandatory in my eyes, as it gives everyone on board Hard Cover and that sweet -1 to shoot saves. The fresh hull proved to be worth every point in a tournament setting, allowing me to immediately set up my broadside before the game even truly began. Each of the three rounds were the Encounter scenario, but this would have helped with objective play as well and in round two, allowed me to get a Raking shot.

Shot of Round Two after Freshly Careened Hull and 1 activation of movement.

Force Tactics

Adaptability. One thing I have felt piloting this list is that you can take it in any direction depending on what your opponent does in his first turn or so. I use my first turn lining up and shooting a broadside, using Freshly Careened Hull to get a range band (8’’) closer to make the first broadside count (any Fatigue is wasted actions on their part). After that, staying at mid-range is highly beneficial for the list between the cannons hitting on 5-6 and the swivel handfuls hitting on 8-9s. If going up against medium cannons, not all is lost, but you may not last long in a cannon fight – just know they spent a large portion of their points on them and getting in close might be better for you than them. If boarding looks like it may happen, don’t be afraid to pull off the guns go prone while far and charge when close – you will inflict large quantities of fatigue quickly.

Final Thoughts

This list has a lot going on, but it is a well-oiled machine: Cannon crew shoots every turn (and likely deserves your Fortune against another smaller ship) and the rest just shoots as much as it can. Depending on how your opponent is applying Fatigue, Tough, should carry your two swivel crews relatively well. Try and bait your enemy’s fire onto the back deck – if those two units should become shaken and go prone, they become very difficult to rout with shoot saves of 4, Tough, and a Command Point to aid. You will lose Pirates, but with 37 models crammed onto the decks and enough powder to blow a fort, you have plenty of room to lose men before you start to feel the pain – do they?

3 thoughts on “Rackham to the Teeth – Historicon 2023 Tournament List

  1. This sounds like a cool list. I always wondered how viable it would be to run both cannons and swivels, and it sounds like it worked pretty well for you. Thanks for sharing!

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