Getting Started with Blood and Plunder

So you’re interested in Blood & Plunder! You have chosen wisely! It’s a great game. Read on to learn more about Blood & Plunder, how you might want to approach the game and what the best approach to buying in might be for you.

Blood & Plunder Pirates of Legend minis on a dock with a Bermuda Sloop in the background

Article Contents

What is Blood & Plunder?

Blood & Plunder is a fast paced 28mm skirmish miniatures game set in the Golden Age of Piracy in the Americas and surrounding Caribbean and Atlantic made by Firelock Games. Players can play pirate, colonial, or even native American forces in sea, land, and even amphibious engagements.

Blood & Plunder is a historically based game set that covers the years 1620’s-1730. The ruleset is a flexible system where you can fight epic naval engagements with the likes of Black Bart Roberts, Henry Morgan, and Blackbeard. You can defend Spanish a port city from raiding Buccaneers or you can spring the perfect night raid with your Native American braves against an unsuspecting New England village. In fact, you can play as any one of 99 different factions under Pirate, Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Native American, and the flags of many minor nations.

Fully rigged Blood & Plunder Brigantine Ship on a wagaming table

How Does Blood & Plunder Play?

Blood & Plunder is perfect for the small-scale pirate and raiding conflicts common in the Americas during the 17-18th centuries. Players assemble forces of 10-40 miniatures led by a commander. Forces are divided into distinct units, each with a unique historical & gaming flavor. Scenarios last 45-120 minutes and range from the simple, generic tournament style, to more story-driven, or historical scenarios.

Units can have varying experience levels and a variety of flavorful special rules. In each game round units are activated through a innovative card activation system that fosters deep, tactical, and tense gameplay yet is extremely simple to grasp. Games typically last a max of 6 Turns and can last from 30min to 2-3 hours with 1-1.5 hrs being the average.

Blood & Plunder French Faction collage with dice, miniatures, cards, coins and the rulebook

Additional features of Blood & Plunder include realistic and intuitive ship movement, an excellent fatigue mechanic, and dynamic force-building options.

Blood & Plunder Game Styles

Using all the same rules, Blood & Plunder can be played:

  • At Sea – Powerful Frigates, massive Galleons, and quick Sloops can face off in deep or coastal waters
  • On Land – Militia, armies, and raiding parties can fight through forests, towns or the beaches of New England, Florida, Caribbean Isles or the Spanish Main
  • Amphibious – Asymmetric forces can vie for control of a port town, a beached ship, or a pile of booty on the beach.

The Blood & Plunder system is flexible, making all three settings enjoyable.

Blood & Plunder English Minis in a longboat coming ashore from a 6th Rate Frigate in the background

How Much Does It Cost To Get Started with Blood & Plunder?

Realistically, getting started in Blood & Plunder is going to cost around $150-250. This will get you a starter army of minis, the core rules, and a small ship. We’ll cover that and some specific recommendations of what to buy below.

What Do You Need to Get Started with Blood & Plunder?

The Blackbeard vs. Maynard 2-player starter box is releasing in late 2022 and that’s going to make jumping into the game super easy and simple! This 2-player starter box includes:

  • 26 Multi Part Plastic Minis (including Blackbeard and Maynard)
  • 2 Customizable Plastic Sloops
  • Double-sided Paper Game Mat
  • Softcover Rulebook
  • 2 Activation Decks
  • Ship, Unit and Commander Stat Cards
  • Turning Gauge, Wind Gauge and Stinkpot Smoke Marker
  • Double-sided Cardboard Terrain Pieces
  • 6 d10
  • Marker Tokens for Fatigue, Movement, Reloads, etc
  • Ranger Ruler

This massive box is currently on preorder for $145 which is incredible savings when compared to buying everything individually. With just this box, you can assemble your models and ships, lay out your game mat, and start gaming with no additional product at all. This is/will be the perfect way to get into Blood & Plunder, but its still a few weeks out from being shipped (December 2022/January 2023 for current preorders).

blood and plunder blackbeard vs maynard two player starter box

But in the meantime, if you want to dive into the game now (which is understandable), here’s what you need:

  • Miniatures
  • Rulebook
  • Dice
  • Some Terrain
  • Deck of Cards
  • Measuring Device
  • Game Mat (optional)
  • Fortune Tokens (optional)
Blood & Plunder Fatigue Dice, d10 dice, coins, and cards on top of the rulebook

Blood & Plunder Miniatures

You need some minis to play a miniatures game! Firelock Games has created a fantastic (and authentic) line of 28mm miniatures for their game. Right now most of that line is made of finely detailed cast metal, but multipart hard plastics will soon be available as the Raise the Black Kickstarter project gets delivered in late 2022.

Forces usually use 10-40 miniatures and the 25 model Nation Starter Boxes are a great place to start. The Starter Boxes are set up to more easily facilitate land games so if you want to get straight to piratical sea action, you might want a few extra Sailors of your chosen nation to load the guns and man the sheets and braces.

Blood and plunder spanish starter box with resin sea board

Firelock Games is in the process of releasing plastic miniatures, both the multi-part hard plastics (from Raise the Black), and Siocast one piece soft plastic miniatures. Both are great miniatures with even more detail than the metals.

In addition to the 28mm figures, you’ll need a ship (or two) to play games at sea. Firelock Games makes a good selection of resin ships for the game as well as a mdf ship and the new plastic Sloop that is part of the upcoming 2-player starter set. A Sloop is always a great place to start!

Spanish Infantry models with a commander and spiritual leader for Blood & Plunder

Blood & Plunder Rulebook

The current selection of books available for Blood & Plunder includes:

  • Blood & Plunder Core Rulebook
  • No Peace Beyond the Line Expansion
  • Fire on the Frontier Expansion
  • Raise the Black Expansion (currently on preorder)
  • Blood & Plunder Rulebook from the Two-Player Starter Box

Blood & Plunder Core Rulebook

The core Blood & Plunder rulebook is a nice hardcover book of 156 pages. It contains all the rules you need to play along with forces lists for 7 different factions and 15 scenarios. The hard copy costs $40 and you can get a pdf version for only $15.

No Peace Beyond the Line Expansion

No Peace Beyond the Line is a huge expansion that offers a massive number of new force lists and commander options. The Dutch, Native Americans and many minor colonial European powers are added to the game, along with new factions for the Pirates, English, Spanish and French. It also includes additional ships, some more advanced ship and cannon rules, a campaign system and several new scenarios.

Fire on the Frontier Expansion

Fire on the Frontier is a smaller softcover expansion that specifically covers some of the colonial wars of the late 17th century in North America. It includes new characters and force lists for England, France and the Native Americans, along with new rules for Fortifications and several historical scenarios.

Raise the Black Expansion

This fresh expansion brings Blood & Plunder into the early 18th century and introduces all the household names like Blackbeard, Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Black Bart Roberts, Charles Vane and the entire pirate crew into the game. In addition to the Pirate forces, the book contains the pirate hunters, navies from varies nations, the army and militia forces and even the native American factions that were warring against each during first third of the 18th century. This is a must-have book if you want to fully explore the full pirate part of this game.

Blood & Plunder Rulebook from the Two-Player Starter Box

This is a slightly slimmer and updated version of the core rulebook. In a softcover format, this rulebook contains the complete ruleset but doesn’t include as many force lists as the hardcover rulebook.

Deluxe 17th Century Rulebook

This beautiful book combines the core rulebook with No Peace Beyond the Line in an awesome leatherette binding. A luxury, but a very useful and eye-catching book.

Deluxe 18th Century Rulebook

Currently on preorder, this book combines the updated core rulebook with the Raise the Black expansion.

Recommendations Summary for Blood & Plunder Rulebooks

You need the Core Rulebook, No Peace Beyond the Line is a wonderful supplement that fleshes out the game in a huge way, Fire on the Frontier is a little more focused (and you need No Peace Beyond the Line to use it) and Raise the Black focuses more on the true Pirates. Buy the Core Rulebook now and put No Peace Beyond the Line and/or Raise the Black on your Christmas list. Snag Fire on the Frontier if you are interested in the French/Native/English conflicts of the late 17th century.

Pile of Pirate related Books with Blood & Plunder ship models int he background

Blood & Plunder Dice

The Blood & Plunder system is built around tests using d10’s so you’ll need 6-12 d10’s. Firelock Games sells some beautiful dice, but you can use any standard d10! During the game, you’ll need to track various conditions including Fatigue and Reloads on your units, and effects like critical damage on ships etc. Firelock Games offers a set of dice to help with that, but you can use generic d6’s for this if you want to save some money.

Firelock Dice:

Suitable Generic Dice

Blood & Plunder Terrain

You can go simple or dive deep into collecting terrain for a game like Blood & Plunder, but you will want some sort of terrain on your board when you play. On the cheap side of things, you can put together simple structures out of cardboard and cutout paper templates of area terrain like forests. As you continue to play, you can pick up a few buildings in mdf, resin or 3D printed and get some trees and scatter terrain. With some work and care, you can make some really great terrain pieces on the cheap. Check out The Plunder Den YouTube channel for an amazing series of videos on making your terrain specifically for Blood & Plunder.

If you are looking for more specific recommendations on terrain, check out our Wargaming Terrain recommendations and reviews section of the blog.

Wargaming terrain, two buildings with Blood & Plunder minis

Blood & Plunder Activation Deck

Blood & Plunder uses decks of cards to determine activation. Each player in a game of Blood & Plunder will need a standard 52 (+2) card deck to play the game. Each turn, player draw a hand of cards from this deck and use the cards to determine player initiative order and how many actions each unit will take. You can use a standard deck of cards you already have or you can purchase one of the nice Activation Decks Firelock Games produces that has some helpful information printed on the card, along with beautiful layout and graphics.

Blood & Plunder Activation Deck cards with ships in the background

Measuring Devices

You’ll need a standard tape measurer to determine distances and calculate range while playing the game. Any tape measurer will do.

If playing at sea, you’ll want the ship movement template as well. You can purchase the turning template from Firelock Games as part of the full template set or you can buy a nice double sided turning gauge from Laser Dreamworks. If you’re crafty, you can create your own template using the pattern in the back of the Blood & Plunder rulebook.

Optional Additional Accessories

With miniatures, dice, an activation deck, and some terrain, you have everything you need to play a game of Blood & Plunder. Once you have these basics, you may want to add a couple optional items that will make your games that much more enjoyable.

Game Mat

You can play on a bare tabletop, but a mat with some ground or sea texture takes your game to the next level.

Tablewar makes a great selection of mats for Blood & Plunder. They have several sea mats, amphibious mats and Caribbean land mats. They even have a set of overlays that includes shoals and islands that allow for a lot of customization in your sea and amphibious games. Frontline also produces a great selection of land and sea gaming mats.

blood and plunder sea mat

\For land games, a 3×4′ mat is the “standard size” although a 3×3′ is suitable for smaller games as well. For sea games, 4×4′ is standard but if you know the tables you’ll be playing on allow it, a 4×6′ is very convenient since it gives you more space for your ships to sail around (and most scenarios allow you to “scroll the board”.

Fortune Tokens

One of the mechanics in the game requires 3 (or more) tokens to use as “Fortune Points.” These are usually represented with coins. They can be spent one of several ways during the game. You can use anything to represent these tokens, but blinging your game out with some fun pirate coins is a really fun way to go. Every force starts with 3 Fortune and some commanders (like Henry Morgan) get additional Fortune tokens.

Fortune tokens on top of the Blood & Plunder rulebook with a Laurens DeGraff mini on top

Unit & Commander Stat Cards

While not necessary, stats cards can be a nice accessory and quick reference tool during games. You can get the core set of 17th century commanders and units here, the No Peace Beyond the Line set here, and the Raise the Black set here. The rulebooks contains all the stats for your commanders and units, and you can can print out full stats for everything in your force using the free online Force Builder website, but some people enjoy using physical stat cards.

blood and plunder english unit stat cards

What Nation or Force Should You Start With?

When selecting a force, you first will want to choose what Nation you want to play within, then maybe pick a Faction to focus on for your first army. You can currently play Blood & Plunder as:

Pirates logo for Blood & Plunder

Pirates

The Pirates are sea focused, with good sailors and naval combat skills. They are aggressive and good at melee combat but tend to be poorly disciplined and susceptible to Fatigue.

English Faction Logo - thumbnail

English

The English are the most well-rounded Nation. They have moderate skills in both land and sea combat. Their troops tend to be well disciples and hearty.

French Faction Logo for Blood & Plunder (thumbnail)

French

The French have a very aggressive play style. They tend to have the best musketry and weapons in the game allowing them to hit hard, but they can be a bit fragile. They have a number of specialized and elite units making them a more finessed style of play.

Dutch Faction Logo

Dutch

The Dutch were known as skilled sailors are one of the most dominant factions at sea. Their models are very strong in Melee and excellent for boarding actions. They don’t have as many unit options as the other factions but they are very good at what they do.

Natives logo for Blood & Plunder

Native Americans

The Natives are excellent warriors on land. They are definitely a finesse style of play that focuses on quick strikes and fading away. They are excellent in Melee and often get terrain or movement focuses bonuses.

Spanish

The Spanish are numerous and focus on attrition, but they tend to have poor quality, poorly equipped troops. They are ruthless in combat and have a lot of Fatigue focused abilities

Unaligned & Periphery Powers logo for Blood & Plunder

Unaligned & Peripheral Nations

This is a bit of a catch-all category for many of the minor power nations for the time period. It covers a wide variety of factions from the Scottish, Swedish, Black Caribs, Portuguese, Maroons, and many more. They cover a wide variety of play styles and flavors. Many of them do not have their own models but borrow from the other 6 core nations.

Within each of these Nations, there are several different factions you can use that will give your force some special rules and commander and unit options. For example, the English Caribbean Militia in the core rulebook would include more inexperienced militia troops while the English Buccaneers would include more experienced sailor units.

You can start with any of those nations, but the core rulebook focuses on Spanish and English while including a few Pirate and French factions. If you want to play as Dutch or Native Americans, you should really get the No Peace Beyond the Line or Raise the Black expansion book. The Native Americans are the most difficult starter nation as they tend to have more rules and take a greater understanding of the game to play effectively. The English are very well-rounded and easy to start with. The Pirates are a great choice for starting at sea. The Raise the Black book really opens up the game for the real die-hard pirate player.

For more information on the topic check out our Ultimate Guide to Blood & Plunder Nations & Factions

Learning How to Play Blood & Plunder

Be prepared to actually read the rulebook to get a good grasp of the full ruleset. But there are a few great video options for learning the rules as well.

These videos can get you started a little faster and help with some visual examples for learning to play Blood & Plunder. The game system isn’t difficult, so it’s easy to pick up, but it’s pretty comprehensive as far as war gaming rulesets go, so there’s a good bit to mine out of the rulebook.

blood and plunder english raiders

Learning from a real, live person is always the best so check around and see if there is a local group you can plug in to or another player in your area you can learn from. You can find players in your area using the Firelock Games Players Locator Map (please add yourself as well!).

Blood & Plunder Community & Resources

Connecting with the online community can be a great way to learn more about Blood & Plunder, meet active players, get inspired by painted ships and forces and get your questions answered.

You can join Blood & Plunder players on Facebook and Discord where there are discussions and content posted daily. You can find Facebook groups for players in different locations as well.

No Dice No Glory has a great podcast dedicated to Blood & Plunder: Tales of the Sail. You can find them on Facebook, or on the No Dice No Glory blog or join their online community on Discord.

You can find many more helpful resources on our Blood & Plunder Links page.

Blood & Plunder Facebook page prievew screenshot

Buying In To Blood & Plunder

The best want to get started with Blood & Plunder is to pick up the Blackbeard vs Maynard Two Player Starter Box. This is a mammoth of a box with everything you need to play the game bundled together at a great price. You can currently preorder this box now on the Firelock Games website for $145.

If the two player starter box hasn’t been released yet and you want to get started now (which you should!), Firelock Games offers several different bundles at a discount.

Nation Starter Bundles

This bundle contains a starter box of 25 metal minis, a deck of activation cards and a ship of your choice. If you get the Sloop as your ship, this costs $178 and saves you $25 over buying these items individually. You need to purchase the rulebook as well.

blood and plunder pirate bundle

Two Player Starter Bundle

This is a great way to get started, especially if you have a friend or significant other that is interested in playing the game with you. This bundle contains the rulebook, 13 models forces from your choice of two different nations, 4 d10’s and two activations decks from your choice of nations (this bundle does not include any ships). This bundle costs $135 and saves you almost $60!

Deluxe Two Player Starter Set

This is a huge bundle but it saves you a ton of money! Including the deluxe rulebook that combines the core book and the No Peace Beyond the Line expansion book, two starter boxes, two activation decks, two Bark ships, 12 d10’s, marker dice and the Deluxe Template Set, this bundle costs $325 and saves you more than $200! It’s a hefty investment, but it offers huge savings!

blood and plunder bundles

Welcome to the Game!

Blood & Plunder is a fantastic skirmish miniatures game with a vibrant and growing base of players. Jump on in! The water is fine! Blood & Plunder is about 5 years old and is just receiving its second major expansion in Raise the Black and there’s more expansions in development. With the new, more affordable plastic miniatures & ships, and a fantastic starter box on its way, there has never been a better time to jump into Blood & Plunder!

By Joseph Forster

Captain Morgan with a Treasure Chest

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