Characters are fun upgrades you can add to units to add layers of customization to your force in Blood & Plunder. In this article, we review how Characters work in Blood & Plunder and provide analysis on the new Characters in the new Raise the Black Expansion.
This is a Part 2 to A Complete Guide to Blood & Plunder Characters from the 17th Century in No Peace Beyond on the Line. If you can’t find the Character you’re looking for, it’s most likely in this article.
In Blood & Plunder, Characters are special upgrades to models that grant special abilities to units or models in your force.
In the new 18th Century Raise the Black Expansion Book there are 12 new Characters in the game. We’ll take a look at each individually below or you can click a quick link in the Table of Contents to skip ahead.
How Characters Work in Blood & Plunder
Characters are models that represent heroes, hostages, or specialists that enhance the abilities of the unit that they attach to. They are not as important as Commander, work very similarly.
Table of contents
- How Characters Work in Blood & Plunder
- Fighting Men from Raise the Black
- Advisors & Hostages from Raise the Black
Rules Summary for Characters
- You may add 1 Character to a force for every 50 points (round down). For example, in a 325 point game you up to 6 Characters.
- Players must pay points to add Characters to their force, just like any other model.
- A unit cannot contain more than one Character unless another rule states otherwise.
- A Force (or company) cannot have more than one Character of each type unless otherwise noted.
Characters are attached to units exactly like commanders and follow most of their rules:
- It must begin the game attached to one of the Force’s units, and it activates with that unit. It does not count against a unit’s maximum size.
- A Character adopts the Experience Level, Fight Skill/Save, Shoot Skill/Save, Resolve Value, and the Special Rules of its unit. If the unit does not have a Shoot Skill value, the Character counts as having a Shoot Skill of 7.
- If a Character is the last surviving model in a unit, it retains the unit stats as explained above.
- The unit gains any Special Rules the Character has. Likewise, if removed as a casualty or otherwise leaves the unit, the unit loses the Special Rules.
- The Character has its own weapons and equipment.
- Characters may have their own limited versions of Command Points, which work exactly like they do for a Commander.
However, a Character cannot:
- Avoid removal as a casualty by spending a Fortune Point to Cheat Death.
- Roll a Strike Test if the Commander is removed as a casualty (unless another rule says otherwise).
Fighting Men from Raise the Black
Fighting Men represent combatants with special training or unique abilities. They are upgrades to models in units
Rules Summary for Fighting Men
- Like Commanders, Fighting Men may take actions and become casualties like any other model in the unit.
- Unless a rule says otherwise, they have the same weaponry and equipment as a typical model in the unit.
- Fighting Men have the same options available to them as the rest of the unit, unless a rule says otherwise. (e.g. you can give them Explosives or Bayonets)
- Fighting Men are upgrades to a model in the unit, not additional models. The cost listed is in addition to the base cost of a model.
For example, you have a unit of 6 English Militia (3pts each) and make one an Expert Scout +3. The 6 model unit now costs 21pts (18 for the base models +3 to upgrade 1 model).
This is an interesting Character. Available to all Native factions, and all the pseudo native factions like Black Caribs, Maroons, and some of the new Raiders factions in Raise the Black. It grants its unit the Scouts Special Rule, and has a Command Point, but it can only to Stand or Go Prone. Standing and Going Prone isn’t the most exciting little corner of the Blood & Plunder ruleset, but there are some good combos in the newest Native American factions in Blood & Plunder.
All Native American factions in Fire on the Frontier and Raise the Black have the option of having a targeted unit dropping to prone when fired upon. They get a -1 bonus to their Shoot Save during that attack, and then they are prone after the attack. This helps Natives survive against some of the massed volleys of the European style militia and army units, but going prone can really hurt since you have to take an action to stand up again later, and while you’re prone, you’re very vulnerable to a charge.
Benefits of the Expert Scouts
The Expert Scout mitigates the cost of a standard Scout, making the new Native option much more attractive. Native models aren’t cheap and you don’t want to see them removed as casualties. The option to go Prone is a strong ability, but that means you have to use an action to stand. That extra action is costly so the Expert Scout Command Point to stand again is helpful. You still can’t break that cap of 3 actions per activations.
Remember a unit can only benefit from a single command point per turn. So if you use a Command Point to stand, you can’t take a Command Point from a Commander or any other Character in the current turn. Even with that limitation, an Expert Scout still makes that “drop to the ground” option much more attractive.
An Expert Scout also grants the Scouts Special Rule (how could it not). That’s not a huge benefit though as most units in these factions have that rule anyway. The Scouts Rule lets you move through difficult terrain at normal speed instead of at a -1″ penalty.
I don’t see this Character as useful on the Black Caribs, Maroons, Spanish Mission Militia, British Raiders or French Raiders. These factions lack that ability to drop to prone when fired upon. However, it could be combined with any of these factions that let you deploy using the Lay in Wait rule. Units that use Lay in Wait have to deploy prone and this gives you the option to stand on that first activation.
At 3 points, I wouldn’t say this is an auto include in Native forces, but it I would say its a serious contender, especially for North American Native forces.
Miniature Options for the Expert Scout
Unfortunately, there is not an official Expert Scout miniature produced from Firelock Games. This Fighting Man can be taken for a number of nationalities, it is hard to create a “generic” model that fits them all. But we have a couple of suggestions!
The squatting Brave model (1 in a 4 pk of Braves) makes a great Scout. It looks like he’s reading the ground for signs or tracks. Or as a bonus, he could be dropping prone and dodging that incoming fire from the colonists!
Custom Expert Scout Miniature
However, Jason Klotz has created a custom native mini using the new plastic Native American’s kit. The pose implies he’s just checked the ground for tracks and is pointing in the direction of his quarry. Because it uses the new plastic Natives box, you can use different heads to change styles to Black Caribs to Maroons.
Final Opinion on the Expert Scout
Great option for North American Native Factions. Still not an “auto include,” but a solid and great choice for land games. 7/10
Still useful, but not great for other non-NA Native factions. 4/10
Canoe Assault Expert
The Native Americans aren’t particularly strong at sea in Blood & Plunder. Not being able to use size 2+ ships and artillery obviously puts them at a disadvantage compared to other factions. Native factions have to rely on Boats (size 1 ships) when at sea. One of the disadvantages of boats vs ships is boats tend to be slower. This can result in larger ships just running away from an attacking Native Force, and that is really frustrating! The Canoe Assault Expert helps Natives move more efficiently and competitively.
Canoe Assault Expert Stats Analysis
The Paddles trait lets you move as if using Sweeps, but 1″ slower. Sweeps requires you to devote a unit to actually manning the Sweeps, Paddles does not. All boats have Sweeps 4, so using Paddles lets all Native boats move at 3″ for free. A Canoe Assault Expert lets friendly boats within his 4″ Command Range ignore the -1″ penalty of the Paddles trait. This means 1 or more of your boats can move the full 4″, and be fully active (e.g. not dedicated to the Sweeps). This is VERY useful!
Canoe Assault Expert Special Abilities
In addition, the Canoe Assault Expert grants the Sailors Special Rule and has a Command Point that can be used to Grapple, Abandon, or Assign. The Sailors ability isn’t huge, but it is actually really hard for Natives to get and it can be useful. Piraguas are very fast under sail, but without the Sailors rule, Native units can flub both Advanced Maneuvers and Sail Change actions.
There are couple Native factions that have access to size 2 ships as well (Wabanaki and Northeastern Woodland Tribes). While the name doesn’t make sense, you can take a Canoe Assault Expert on a Size 2 Ship. This can be super useful if only for the Sailors ability on your unit manning the sheets & shrouds.
Using Canoe Assault Expert Command Points
A 4″ Command Point range means you have to keep your boats and ships tightly packed to get the benefit. As Canoes can pivot at any location, placement in the boat can greatly affect things. Based on your attack path, you’ll have to decide whether to keep your Character in the middle or one end of the boat or the other. It might take a few games to get the hang of it.
I consider the Grapple the most valuable bonus action option. With the Paddles bonus, this will be your fastest boat. Which means it will like be the first to board. So make sure the unit is geared towards boarding. That extra Grapple action is always useful as it keeps your unit available to still Charge after the Grapple!
The Assign and Abandon actions aren’t very useful. You don’t need to assign to the Sweeps with this guy around. You could possibly use this CP for other boats before they move out of his range, as and edge case. Or if are using a Raider faction with a Ship that has Artillery, there may be some utility for the ability.
In another super strange corner case, you could jump on an enemy’s ship, use the Assign to man the cannons or swivels and shoot them all in the same activation! Provided you had a target and the ships’ guns were fully loaded.
Custom Canoe Assault Expert Mini
There currently isn’t an official mini from Firelock Games for this model. The following is a another custom kitbashed mini from Jason Klotz using the new plastic Native American’s kit. The paddle was carved from a wooden coffee stirrer.
Final Opinion on the Canoe Assault Expert
Pretty much an auto include when playing Native Americans at sea. If you’re using Piraguas, the Sailors Special Rule is nice. Obviously the option is no good in land games, but I will rate it highly for Native factions. Great for other factions, as long as you’re using Canoa that have the Paddles trait.
8/10 for Natives at Sea
Native American Emissary
In Blood & Plunder, the French have more sneaky, “Native style” tricks and abilities and have access to Native allies. The English/British also have the ability to take Indian allies as well, but slightly less so. The British Raiders specifically have difficulty coordinating their forces with Command Points across language barriers. Many Indians availed themselves of the opportunity to learn English customs and language and served as important go-betweens, especially during times of conflict.
Using a Native American Emissary
In Blood & Plunder, the Native American Emissary serves two functions, one very specific to the British Raiders faction in Raise the Black, and the other increasing the fieldcraft of the attached unit.
The Native American Emissary is British/English only, but has no other Faction or Unit restriction. That opens up a lot of interesting opportunities! This Character has an 8″ Command Range, but no Command Points. The Command Range becomes important for the Extra Ability:
- Units in Command Range may always receive Command Points normally, and ignore any tests or penalties required to take them regardless of any other special rules or faction rules.
This allows you to trump the British Raiders faction’s rules for limitations due to language barriers and difficulties in communications.
This “fix” for communication within this faction is helpful, but maybe not worth a 4 point character by itself.
The other, and much more valuable, thing the Native American Emissary brings to a unit is a set of solid Special Rules to his unit. Scouts is very valuable in land games! Especially when paired with inexpensive units like English militia that are slow due to being Inexperienced. Quick is another solid Special Rule, possible my favorite rule for land games. Getting an extra move for free while activating with a high initiative card can be a game winning move with a deadly Charge.
Benefits Breakdown for the Native American Emissary
Compare a unit of English Militia activating on a ♠ without this character vs with:
Example 1 – Without Native American Emissary
English Militia activate on a ♠ and move 3″ in the woodland terrain, and have the option to Push to move another 3″ or to fire.
Example 2 – With the Native American Emissary
English Militia activate on a ♠, get a free 4″ move from Quick & Scouts combined, then uses a standard action to move 4″ again without pushing. They could take a Fatigue to push to move/charge another 4″ for a total of 12″ (free Move actions don’t count towards the limit of 8″ ), or move 8″ and Push to Fire.
How to Use the Native American Emissary
The Emissary dramatically improves efficiency! It works great on cheap units like Militia, but it also improves expensive units like Regulars or Grenadiers. Seeing your 7 & 8 point models with Tough, Expertly Drilled, Fast Reload, Unwavering & Brawlers struggle in rough terrain is painful! Add this character and they’re darting from tree to tree, gaining cover benefits while moving efficiently or surprising enemy units with quick Charges.
This Character is a variation on the Praying Indian Character from Fire on the Frontier. The Praying Indian is cheaper and you can take of multiples in your Force, but has Elusive instead of Quick.
Model Options for the Native American Emissary
There is not an official model, but pretty much any Native mini could work as this Character. Especially, since it’s going to be a Native model included in an non-native Unit. It’s kind of important that the model be armed the same as the unit joined, but that’s pretty easy. I like the Brave model with the large blanket over the shoulder. Blankets are one of the important trade items the Native Americans valued highly. That subtle bit of historical flavor makes this model feel right to me. The Woodland Native Commander or the King Philip also look like good choices.
Final Opinion on the Native American Emissary
I think this is a really strong Character for the English/British. Not many English units have Quick or Scouts so this is a very valuable resource that can help the English catch up to the OVERPOWERED FRENCH.
8/10 for British land forces.
Loyal and Scheming Quartermasters
The Loyal Quartermaster is a Pirates Exclusive Character that serves as a Reformado, but better. He is the #2 officer on any pirate vessel. Historically, while the Captain ultimately makes the decisions, those decisions may be challenged by the crew. This is where the Quartermaster comes in. He is the representative of the crew, and is tasked with relaying their concerns to the captain without punishment (something that was NOT done on official Navy vessels).
There are two versions of the Quartermaster character in Raise the Black: the Loyal Quartermaster and the Scheming Quartermaster. The Loyal version simulates a Quartermaster who is loyal to the captain and crew, while the Scheming Quartermaster has plans to either usurp the captain or swindle the crew!
The Rules for the Loyal Quartermaster
For 5 points, the unit gains Hard Chargers and Elan, which are excellent melee rules. The Loyal Quartermaster essentially turns a group of terrible 3 point Pirates into an especially killy unit of 3 point Pirates. His 3″ Command Range allows him to give a Command Point to any unit on the deck he occupies, or any adjacent deck from him. He is most at home in lists specializing in Fast Boarding, as he can give a Grapple, Charge or Fight Action with his Command Point.
Tips for Using a Loyal Quartermaster
While he lifts the 3 point Pirate rabble into somewhat even footing with the national sailor units, the Loyal Quartermaster can turn a few other unit types into deadly boarding machines. The humble Marinero becomes a slayer of men as a unit with a Loyal Quartermaster now has Hard Chargers, dropping their Fight from a 5 to a 4. Marineros also have Ruthless, which wills tack with Hard Chargers, bringing that number down to a potential 3, and combined with re-rolls for using pistols in close combat, suddenly that 4 pt unit is hitting as hard as certain Native units from Fire on the Frontier.
Sea Dogs are another unit that greatly Benefits from a Loyal Quartermaster. Their 6/6 Fight becomes a 5/6 on the charge. On most ships, they will be saving on 5s since they are in Hard Cover, and charging drops their “meh” 6 fight down to a 5, making them hit as hard as charging Zeeliden!
The key thing to watch out for when using the Loyal Quartermaster is to not accidentally stick him with a unit that already has Hard Chargers, as that’s a waste of 5 points. You need this character to be surrounded by units prepared to board to best make use of his Command Point.
Modeling Options for the Loyal Quartermaster
Creating a model for the Loyal Quartermaster is relatively simple, but each hobbyist can take as much time as they need. I personally prefer to use Caesar from the Pirates of Legend Box, but customizing a standard sailor miniature from the Sailors box or Two Player Starter set is also an option. The main thing to remember is to make the Quartermaster stand out from the regular sailors. This can be done through kitbashing a fancy hat, or painting a specific hat to look fancy. For poses, try to make the model look like he is in a “commanding” pose like maybe pointing and barking orders, or simply arm him to the teeth.
Jason Klotz has created a model for Hal Gates from Black Sails that is usable as a Loyal Quartermaster (…or arguable scheming)
The Scheming Quartermaster is different than most Characters. His Special Ability isn’t a straight bonus, its a risk/reward option. With his Extra Abilities, 50% of the time he’s helpful and 50% of the time he penalizes you. For 1 point he is essentially a Loyal Quartermaster, but he has a chance of taking away a Command Point from your Commander. While this may seem risky, if he doesn’t undermine your Commander, you get a 5pt model for 1 pt! He is best used in medium to small games where you can “afford” to lose a Command Point if you roll poorly.
Modeling the Schemer
Modeling the Scheming Quartermaster follows the same principal as the Loyal Quartermaster above. but allows the model itself to be taken in a different direction. Charles Vane and la Busse make great models for the Scheming Quartermaster because their sculpts can be seen as “shift” with Vane curled over like an animal and La Busse laughing heartily. For those seeking to kitbash, make sure the model is easy to identify, and maybe make him or her less fancy so they aren’t drawing attention to their deplorable machinations…
If you are feeling like a challenge, you can craft a Long John Silver mini, who is the ultimate scheming cook/quartermaster from Treasure Island. Again Jason has an article with a custom Long John Silver mini you may be interseted in.
The Boatswain is a new and interesting character that helps out with a part of sea combat that can be very important, but isn’t high profile. He helps your crew keep your ship running, especially in cases of disaster.
The Boatswain can be used by any Nation/Faction, but he must be attached to a unit that has the Sailors or Expert Sailors Special Rule. If the attached unit didn’t already have the Expert Sailors Special Rule, the Boatswain grants it along with the little combat perk of Brawlers (exploding 10’s in melee). With a Command Range of 4″, the Boatswain can use his single Command Point on pretty much any deck of most any ship. The Boatswain’s Command Point is limited to only Assign or Abandon actions and that’s where he get’s interesting.
So what can you do with an Assign or Abandon action? How can it help you in a normal game of Blood & Plunder? The main things you want to be assigned to on a ship are:
- Sheets & Shrouds
Let’s look at each of these individually.
Great guns are the main item your units will be assigned to in most ships. They need to be assigned to Fire and Reload those guns. Sometimes you’ll never take them off the guns but there are reasons you might need to take them off or assign them.
If an enemy is getting ready to board, you’ll want your unit to abandon their guns so they are free to fight back. When you’re getting ready to board an enemy ship, you’ll want to prep your crew to board by taking them off the cannons. If you have a Critical Hit on your ship that needs repair, sometimes you have no choice but to have your cannon crew address it. Abandon is a simple Standard Action, but Assign is Dedicated, making this Command Point that much more useful.
If your original cannon crew has been shot to pieces, you can use this Command Point to assign a new unit to the guns and keep them in action. If you had to take your main crew off the cannons to do one of the tasks listed above, having that free Assign action to get the guns back in action quickly can be a life saver.
Sheets & Shrouds
This is a less used position on a ship, but it’s pretty common to start with a unit assigned to the Sheets & Shrouds to benefit from the Swift ship trait, then take them off as they get into close combat. And on the flip side, this Command Point makes it easy to re-assign to rigging to speed away from an engagement that is going poorly. The Boatswain’s Expert Sailors Special Rule makes his unit really great for manning the Sheets & Shrouds and doing Advanced Sailing Maneuvers.
Sweeps can be a fun option on some of the smaller ships in Blood & Plunder, or essential for the smaller boats like Canoes, Longboats or Piraguas. Those piraguas speeding around under Spanish Corsairs super-sweeps are really fun! But those forces are usually made for boarding so you need to get your rowers off the Sweeps at some point. This character makes that easy and provides that bonus of Brawlers, making melee that much more deadly when you actually board.
All of these Assign/Abandon actions can be done with a Commander’s Command Point, but having a Character help out can leave the Commander to focus on aggressive tactics or rallying a faltering crew.
Final Opinion on the Boatswain
The Boatswain can be a great character in several types of lists. But he is specialized and won’t benefit every list. If you know you’ll be messing with Sweeps or Sheets & Shrouds, or or have a standard approach of shooting cannons before boarding, or just like a little insurance and flexibility on your well rounded ship, the Boatswain can be great.
6/10 for sea games, but more useful for specific lists.
Raise the Black introduces to characters for the Spanish that really bring their force building options to a new level. Both the Mission Priest and the Hildago are really fun and strong characters that give Spain a little buff and explore a little more of what makes Spain unique in Blood & Plunder.
Mission Priest History
Spain planted & maintained a large network of Missions throughout the New World and often they would be run by a fairly small number of Spaniards, even as few as 1 priest, or 1 priest might even run several small missions! Some priests were corrupt and lazy, but many worked tirelessly and selflessly in their pursuit of Christianizing indigenous populations. Relations between a Mission Priest and the local populations varied widely, but often the priest would be looked up to and respected and he would be a powerful person in their community. Some priests would take charge and coordinate defensive efforts against raiding war parties, or even accompany raiding parties headed into enemy territory. Their ability to call upon the supernatural and ask for God’s blessing often inspired their men to greater efforts on the battlefield.
Father Angel Miranda leading a defensive effort against an English & Creek raiding party at the Ayubale mission is a well documented example of a doughty Mission Priest.
Mission Priest Rules
The Mission Priest can be used by any Spanish or Portuguese force and while he is a Fighting Man, he can only be attacked to the Command Unit. This means he cannot be used in conjunction with a standard Spiritual Leader or another Hostage/Advisor. While this Priest has a 12″ Command Range, he has no Command Points. That looks pretty weird but we’ll get to that in a second. Finally, he has the Inspiring Special Rule, which would help your Commander’s effort in rallying his troops by granting free re rolls on failed Rally Attempts while his unit is active.
The real fun part comes with his special “Santiago” extra ability. Once per game, the priest can basically give a Command Point to all units 12″. This is reminiscent of Blood & Valor’s “Over the Top” rule, giving the force a massive, coordinated action. It is important to note that it doesn’t haven’t be one single type of action to all units. Each unit can do it’s own thing. Also important to note that this would count as receiving a Command Point for the turn, and since no unit can take more than one Command Point a turn, this renders your Commander kind of useless for that turn. The priest usurps authority for one turn!
Model Options for the Mission Priest
The Raise the Black Kickstarter included a special Plunder Sprue that contains a great little Spiritual Leader model that can work well. He isn’t holding a gun, so it’s not optimal, but you can sub in Militia Arms to give him a Matchlock or Firelock Musket. The cuffs don’t match very well, but if you paint it right, it’s not too painfully obvious that the sleeves don’t match the habit.
If you didn’t get the “Box of Plunder” sprue in the Kickstarter we have another article with recommendations for 14 Spiritual Leader Proxy Minis for Blood & Plunder. Several of these miniature suggestions are also viable for a Mission Priest.
Another Character for Spain (and Portugal)! The Hidalgo is an entertaining Character. At 4 points, he isn’t the cheapest so let’s see what he brings to a force.
He is easy to add to your Spanish force with no unit restrictions. The Hildalgo has a limited Command Range of 3″ for his Command Point which can only be used to Charge or Fight. And that’s what this character is all about! Charging and Fighting!
Hidalgo Special Rules
His two Special Rules are Swordsman and Impulsive. The Swordsman Special Rule is a funny one, especially included in an expansion that is rife with cheap pirates with Brace of Pistols but it can occasionally be of some use. When this unit is attacked with a Fight action by a unit using Standard Melee Weapons, it will receive a -1 bonus to their Fight Save. Many Spanish units already have a 6 Fight Save and bringing that down to a 5 or even 4 with Hard Cover on a ship is pretty great! But you just hope Indiana Jones the Pirate didn’t bring any pistols to this swordfight…
The Hidalgo’s second Special Rule is really what makes him interesting! Impulsive compels the Hidalgo’s unit to shoot or charge any enemy unit that is within 8″ at the start of its activation. This is a little crazy because you lose some control of your unit, but it comes with a little perk in that if you’re at sea, the rule grants you a free Grapple attempt. So you have be to ready to be crazy aggressive with this Spanish character!
The combination of Swordsmen with Impulsive is solid as they will have some potential extra staying power with the improved Fight Save. The addition of the Charge or Fight Command Point makes him that much better, mostly because it opens up the possibility of the Charge and then a Fight action to double strike that enemy unit during one activation, much like a Commander, but without endangering your high value Commander.
The Hidalgo Character is a double edged sword that gives you a boost in aggressive power, but takes away some control. He’s a lot of fun and actually pretty powerful (until he screws you over!).
Hidalgo Miniature Options
If you weren’t aware, Firelock Games offers a custom Online Exclusive Spanish Commander model that works great for a Hidalgo mini.
If you don’t have one or can’t seem to find one when they in stock, you can build your own from the new plastic miniature kits. Jason Klotz has also crafted one from a combination of the Sailors and Militia kits.
Meet the new and more affordable Grizzled Veteran! This Character can be attached to any unit that has the Sailors or Expert Sailors Special Rules and he has one Rally Command Point with a generous 4″ radius, and the semi-lame Brawlers Special Rule.
That extra Rally action is really, really good for a Force, helping units receive their full set of actions off each card, if you manage it carefully. But since it doesn’t have to happen during your Commander’s activation, it doesn’t nerf the Commander’s ability to make a decisive offensive.
When compared to the Grizzled Veteran, the Cook does look a little weak and flabby, but at only 2 points, he’s real easy to squeeze into a list! The aroma of his tasty foods expands his Command Range from 3″ on the Veteran to 4″ which is a nice bonus both on land and on a ship, since that means he can command two decks away which covers all of almost all ships.
The Brawlers Special Rules just gives you a chance at exploding 10’s in melee. Nothing to write home about, but a welcome boost to melee stats, especially on non-English units. I guess that represents the frying pan!
Final Opinion on the Cook
Great for seagoing European Forces. He occupies a busy space, competing with both the Grizzled Veteran and Son of Neptune Characters, but the 2pts is a major selling point. The model presents great opportunities for kitbashing!
8/10 for European Sea Forces
This is a cool Character! Occupying a little explored corner of the rules, this Character does nothing during a game, but has huge influence on how a game is set up.
There is no limit to which factions or nations can use this Character, but the Force must include a ship with 2 or more decks to the Lookout has somewhere to perch. This effectively eliminates it from Native and other factions that don’t have access to larger ships. This Character costs +4 points and offers no Command Points, or standard Special Rules.
Benefits of the Sharp-Eyed Lookout
So what does the Sharp-Eyed Lookout do? He lets you mess with the Attacker/Defender roll off before a game begins. Usually each players rolls a single d10, adds any modifier for their faction, the the player with the higher number will be the Attacker in a scenario. The Sharp-Eyed Lookout lets you re-roll that die, or force your opponent to re-roll their die. This is whole are of the game that hasn’t been “messed with” before and I find it pretty exciting!
Effectively, this characters increases the chance you’ll be able to be whichever roll you want in a scenario. Many scenarios require the Attacker and Defender to accomplish very different roles, and it can be much easier to build a Force that will be good at one of those roles instead of both.
Many factions have bonuses or penalties for being either Attacker or Defender as well and this Character can help you control that a little bit. The biggest one that immediately comes to mind is the Golden Age Pirates. If they are the Defender in a scenario, they might be Drunk. Having your Force trying to fight while Drunk is very entertaining, but doesn’t usually help you win.
Several factions (Logwood Cutters, Baymen, Pirates, Blackbeard’s Men, Caesar’s Men, Flying Gang, Golden Age Pirates) all get the free activation card mulligan if they are the Attacker. But most of these factions don’t have a bonus to their attacker roll, making them vulnerable to pirate hunting factions like Royal Navies, Armada de Barlovento and even Buccaneer factions.
Advisors & Hostages from Raise the Black
These are Characters that represent civilians that have willingly (or unwillingly) joined a force. They differ from Fighting Men in a few ways.
Rules Summary for Advisors & Hostages
- They must be attached to the Commander’s unit at the start of a game
- Only one of these Characters may be added to a Force.
- They are non-combatants so they cannot make a Ranged or Melee Attacks.
- Advisors and Hostage may be removed as a casualty from a Ranged Attack, but not during Melee Combat.
- If this Character is the last model in its unit, or its unit Routs:
- The unit loses all Fatigue and Goes Prone
- It does not exert a Control Zone
- The controlling player no longer draws an Activation Card for that unit
- When any unit (friend or foe) moves closer than 3” to the prone Character, it immediately stands and attaches to that unit. The Character will attach to the new unit even if the new unit is not a commander’s unit, and even if the new unit already has another Character attached.
- If a Force has an Advisor or Hostage attached to one of its units at the end of a game (after all Turns have been taken, not by failing a Strike Test), then the opposing force gains an additional Strike Point.
Benefits of Advisors & Hostages
Advisors/Hostages can win games. Or lose them! Be careful! One of the main benefits of a Advisor Character is they give the opponent an additional Strike Point at the end of the final round of a game (usually end of turn 6). They won’t help you if you are forced to take a Strike Test before the end of the game. This favors “cautious play.” You don’t want to run your Command unit out into danger and potentially lose your Advisor to your enemy. If they capture him, they get all the benefits from a Character you paid for!
So if you take an Advisor, take the advice and play carefully. You just need to tie it up until the end, then the extra Strike Points from owning this valuable fellow can help you win the game!
Risks of Advisors & Hostages
The risk of using a Advisor/Hostage is that your enemy might capture him and turn his benefits against you! If you use one of these Characters, make sure you keep them safe!
The Surgeon is a very interesting Character. Here we have a bit of Fatigue mitigation with a chance of necromancy! This is a first with an Advisor/Hostage with a Command Point. Being an Advisor, this Character has a flat cost of 6 points, it has to be attached to your Command unit. The 1 Command Point and short range is a little weird since you have to activate him the same time as your Commander making him possibly less useful on a medium to high grade commander.
The Surgeon grants no Special Rules, but the Extra Ability is very interesting. You have a chance to bring back a removed model!
“After this Character removes at least one Point of Fatigue from a unit with Command Point, roll a separate d10 and on a result of a 9-10, return a model that unit that was previously removed as a casualty.”
This is an awesome ability, but it’s hard to trigger. For one, you have to roll a 9-10, so you have a 20% chance. You need to do this 4-5 times in a game to have a solid chance of gaining the benefit. Setting up his Rally action correctly can be difficult since it has to be a unit within 4″ and you have to successfully remove at least one Fatigue.
Benefits of the Surgeon/Medicine Man
The Surgeon combos well with an Inspiring Commander since that increases the chance of the successful Rally. He also is a tempting character for a Force using high cost models. It would be a shame to heal a 2pt Civilian or a Pressed Man with this valuable medicine. But a Grenadier or a Veteran Buccaneer, that sounds good! But again, if you’re using high cost models, it’s hard to fit a “fun but not-reliable” character in your Force.
For me he’s not an “auto-include” like the Grizzled Veteran, but the Surgeon/Medicine Man is solid and will create some fun and memorable moments in your games. The ability to use him in all Forces is nice as well.
Remember that he provides a the benefits of being an additional model and giving your enemy an extra Strike Point at the end of the last turn of a game (standard for Hostage/Advisors).
Rated 5/10 for efficiency, 10/10 for flavor and fun.
Miniature Options for the Surgeon/Medicine Man
You can go several directions with this character. You could simply use the fancy Captured Merchant model from the Character pack of metal minis. Or you kit bash something together from the sailor sprue.
I found this little set of 3 minis on eBay made for the Saga line of minis. It’s “more than enough,” taking up too much room on a ship, but I thought it was pretty cool.
I also bought their butcher/cook set and accidently swapped the two models. But the idea is the same.
These are high quality 3D printed minis but they’re still a little fragile. They came with the support still attached so they required a little bit of cleanup. And I somehow snapped off the dagger in the poor victims’ stomach. But a nice little set of minis that fits pretty well for less than $8.
If you’re using a non-European force, you will need to get a little more creative, but there are quite a few options for that kind of thing for Natives.
The Drummer Boy is similar to the Musician Character in that he also adds the Inspiring Special Ability to the Unit he joins and is limited to your Command Unit only. He has an additional restriction that the Command Unit has to have Drilled or Expertly Drilled. This is to reflect his more militaristic role
So why take a Drummer Boy for 4 pts instead of a Musician for 2pts? Because a Musician is MORE than 2pts. Musicians are Fighting Men, meaning they are upgrades to existing models. You have to pay the base cost of the model (e.g. 3 points for a Sea Dog, 7 pts for English Regulars) and the +2 for the Musician. Playing 9 points for a Musician in a unit of English Regulars isn’t viable. But because the Drummer Boy is an Advisor, it’s a standalone model. So you can get all the benefits for a flat 4 points. Pure value!
Drummer Miniature Options
If you were lucky enough to back the Raise the Black Kickstarter you received a “Box of Plunder” sprue that comes with a drum and customizable hands with drumsticks. These work very well when paired with a new plastic Soldier model.
Characters are a really interesting part of Blood & Plunder as they can be used in so many forces and can change the way a force feels and plays. New characters are always exciting and these do not disappoint! Raise the Black adds something new for everyone, with some special emphasis on the Native Americans and Spanish factions.
- For the full rules and to get the reference list of Characters, you’ll want to get a copy of the Raise the Black Expansion book. This is a MUST HAVE book for players of Blood & Plunder.
- Many of the new Characters are can be made from the plastic model kits from Firelock Games. Hopefully one of the suggestions above will give you the inspiration you need to craft your own.