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"Is Blood & Plunder the best rule system ?" Topic

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27 Sep 2021 3:26 a.m. PST
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Mister Tibbles26 Sep 2021 7:36 p.m. PST

Is it currently the best rules for pirate games?

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 12:00 a.m. PST

For some people, yes. For many others no.

May i humbly suggest the question might be more productive as "do you enjoy blood and plunder. If so, what makes it great for you?"


Dexter Ward27 Sep 2021 1:33 a.m. PST

It is not a bad set of rules. Has some nice features, but it is also quite complex; you need to track activations and fatigue. The ship rules are very clunky, and interact poorly with the land rules. We used B&P for a while, but have now switched to Donnybrook since Donnybrook at Sea came out. Simpler rules, with better handling of characters and much cleaner ship rules

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 2:56 a.m. PST


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 5:48 a.m. PST

I don't really care for it. The activation system feels very "gamey" and it is hard to do larger games given the movement rates.

I on't think it at all complex, I find it rather simple, YMMV

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 8:55 a.m. PST

Nope. I much prefer "Buck" Surdu's "Blood and Swash."

SpuriousMilius27 Sep 2021 12:55 p.m. PST

I 2nd Mr. Goddard. The last time I ran a pirate convention game I used THW's "Bottle of Rum". In the "Golden Age of Piracy games" for my group here in DFW (late '70's & the '80's) we played with a set of rules that I wrote called "Aargh Matey!" much influenced by "Boot Hill" &"Chainmail" with ship movement provided by Shagnasty.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 8:34 p.m. PST

Not best for me, and local group. We enjoy GANESHA GAMES Flashing Steel, link

based on Song of Blades and Heroes. We are not doing ship combat, just land based.

Dexter Ward28 Sep 2021 2:09 a.m. PST

En Garde from Osprey works well for small pirate skirmishes

Crazycoote29 Sep 2021 8:13 a.m. PST

In my opinion…yes absolutely the best by a hefty margin. Not just for pirates either, but all early modern skirmish game both on land or at sea.

Here are six reasons off the top of my head…

1) it's not just a rule set, it's a whole system with ships, miniatures, dice, measuring widgets, markers for fatigue/reloads, beautifully produced unit cards etc etc. Now you can use just the rules with other minis etc perfectly fine…but everything you would want is available if you need it (even terrain in partnership with 4Ground!)

2) the rules themselves are excellent. Someone above says too complex, another too simple…for me they are in between those two extremes…ie just right. The initiative/activation system is highly innovative and forces decision making. The shooting and fatigue management also forces a level of thought into the game…making it way more interesting than the usual dice rolling fest.

3) ships…this is the only rules set that I have played (and I have played quite a few) that properly integrates ships into the game. The movement activation for ships does take a bit of getting used to (one maybe two games), but experience makes for some amazingly cinematic sea/amphibious battles.

4) ships…the models are undoubtedly the best on the market for both aesthetics and historical accuracy.

5) diversity…it's more than just a pirate game. Rules and force lists exist for most early colonial factions from the late c17th Americas. Portuguese Bandeirantes, Carib and Darien Indians, Coureur des Bois, plus buccaneer factions from all the major nationalities…stuff I've never even heard of! The existing expansions cover the late c17th…but they are about to release an expansion covering Queen Anne's war and the early c18th pirates. Future expansions will move the timeline and geographic focus to cover Indian Ocean pirates, mid/late c18th privateers etc etc

6) community…the game is extremely well supported by the company, and has an active (and extremely pleasant) online Facebook group – far and away the best group I have been a member of. In addition there are some amazing blogs and podcasts available. Blood and Pigment is an astounding resource with articles on everything from force building, painting, tactics and modelling. No Dice No Glory run regular paint nights online, and do a monthly podcast about the game.

I could go on…but yes, it is hands down the best gaming experience I have had in thirty years!

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Sep 2021 7:51 a.m. PST

Very informative response.
Reasoned and clear

thank you


Crazycoote30 Sep 2021 2:41 p.m. PST

You are very welcome Martin Goddard.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2021 6:22 p.m. PST

How does it compare to Donnybrook? I ask because except for cc's first point, and maybe last,, I would say those things about Donnybrook plus the expansion.



Crazycoote05 Oct 2021 11:19 a.m. PST

@Joe Legan

I have played Donnybrook and bought the At Sea expansion.

You are quite correct in saying that Donnybrook doesn't have the online community or range of models/materials to support it, so one can only really compare the rules – which is always going to be subjective

Whilst Donnybrook is a fun one off game, and fairly traditional in its approach to the core mechanics, I find B&P offers far more depth of gameplay and long term interest.

The Donnybrook activation system is rather bland (each unit has a card, and activates when the card is drawn – there is no tactics or decision making involved). B&P has you play a card from your hand, the higher the card the fewer actions you get, so you effectively trade initiative for actions – and then decide which unit to activate.

Donnybrook has a very familiar (traditional) turn sequence once a unit activates; move, shoot, charge/fight, rally. In B&P you choose your actions up to the limit on the card you played (1-3). You are therefore again having to make tactical decisions about what the units will do…move, shoot, reload, rally, perform seamanship actions or repair damage. I like game mechanics that force me to make choices, and I find B&P far more innovative in this regard.

Shooting in Donnybrook is a test on a die which depends on the quality of the unit (d6, d8, d10). I quite like this – it comes straight from Beneath the Lily Banners which is a rule set I enjoy. What I do not like in Donnybrook is the way reloads are handled. When the reload card is drawn, everyone on the table on both sides magically reloads their weapons. B&Ps shooting is a bit more sophisticated, and you have to take actions to reload your weapons. B&P also allows defensive fire to a loaded unit when it is charged, and so managing reloads is a tense part of the gameplay. B&P also allows units to half shoot, meaning you can save some of your firepower in case you are charged – which I really like.

Close Combat in both systems is similar (except for the defensive fire mentioned above).

Morale is one of the biggest differences. Donnybrook is traditional and familiar; lose half your unit or lose in cc and you roll a morale test on a table. B&P tracks morale through "Fatigue" – whenever a unit is hit, takes casualties, pushes itself for more actions or makes defensive shots, the unit tests to see if it gains fatigue points. The more fatigue, you start to lose actions and eventually fall back or run. Managing fatigue is a key part of the game in B&P – but in Donnybrook morale is really just die rolling.

To be honest, I was massively disappointed in the Donnybrook at Sea rules for ships. Ships are essentially just another unit that has its own shooting, damage track etc, and they activate once per turn like any other unit (the units on board don't really crew the ship). The sailing rules themselves are basic. B&P handles things differently – the ships are effectively mobile structures – and move in parallel to the normal turn sequence. Units on board have to actively manage the ship however – manning the guns, changing sail settings, taking seamanship actions to perform advanced manouvers etc.

Both games have a lot of historical background and lists of factions. Donnybrook has more geographic breadth (covering everything from Scots Covenanters to "Natives"). B&P covers only the Americas currently, but has a huge amount more depth, with far more differentiated unit types and more detailed force lists within each nationality. I found Donnybrook forces played very similarly – the biggest distinction being the quality of the units fielded. B&P factions and units have a lot more special rules, and different factions/nationality have very different play styles and tactics.

In summary (and in my own personal opinion with which I am sure others will disagree) I wouldn't call Donnybrook innovative or detailed. Fun, but basic and quite traditional in approach. Blood and Plunder is a far more sophisticated rule set, with a lot more depth to the sailing rules, factions and gameplay.

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