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"Is Blood & Plunder really the best pirate rules?" Topic

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Personal logo Mister Tibbles Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2023 5:58 p.m. PST

In response to the controversy around the latest pirate rules poll here TMP link I figured this might be fun.:-)

Blood & Plunder is the best pirate game rules.
1. Strongly Disagree
2. Disagree
3. Neither Agree nor Disagree
4. Agree
5. Strongly Agree

HMS Exeter22 Jan 2023 6:18 p.m. PST

2. B&P isn't something I've played very much, but from what I've experienced, the rules set has an awful lot of moving parts. I'm not sure much of anyone could get enough trigger time with these rules to ever get really good playing them.

An experienced player will more often than not really dominate a green player, and a very experienced player will more often than not dominate everybody who isn't.

I don't have a particular recommended alternative, but I wish Firelock had streamlined things, kind of a lot.

That being said their figs and ship models are outstanding, although I do lament their choice to move their new figs into plastic.

Martian Root Canal22 Jan 2023 9:29 p.m. PST

The plastics provide more opportunity for customization (and are less likely to clog/ruin your metal files which the old metal figures did).

I think you're overstating the complexity. It has a learning curve as a game. As with any set of rules, the more you play, the quicker things go. It's no harder than other age of sail games I've played.

My answer is 4. Agree. The only thing keeping me from giving it a 5 is that I also like Firelock's Oak & Iron game.

Personal logo Wolfshanza Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2023 10:28 p.m. PST

#3. Only played a couple of times. Had to build forces, though <sigh> Use Old Glory pirates and ECW for the early era. Hopefully will get some more games in ?

Dexter Ward23 Jan 2023 2:16 a.m. PST

We used Blood and Plunder for a while, but found it a bit fiddly,and the ship rules don't work too well. Switched to using Donnybrook and Donnybrook at sea for pirate games. Simpler and more fun

codiver23 Jan 2023 6:27 a.m. PST

Besides some of the fiddliness that has been mentioned previously, IIRC one mechanic we found that detracted from the game was how when one unit charges into combat with another, only the charging unit fights. [At least this is how I remember it. Were we wrong, or has it changed?] This led to a lot of "shadow boxing" on the table, where no one wanted to close with the other side, for fear the other side would then get to charge them first.

SpuriousMilius23 Jan 2023 7:16 a.m. PST

Decades ago, my group played a lot of pirate games; I wrote the man to man & artillery rules & Shagnasty wrote the sailing rules. I named my set "Arrrgh Matey!" We had much fun coming up with characters & silly names for our characters & our ships.

Personal logo Sergeant Paper Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2023 7:25 a.m. PST

1. Definitely not a fan.

Dexter Ward23 Jan 2023 8:34 a.m. PST

The 'only the attacker fights' is indeed how the rules work. It is actually OK, because usually the other side gets to activate, and then they fight, but it is certainly a bit odd.
As I recall it ended up making pike armed troops very powerful, which is not terribly piratey.
Having to keep track of both which units have activated, and also how many actions they used (because they might get another one using command points), plus fatigue, plus reload markers, all became a bit of a faff.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2023 8:43 a.m. PST

Arrrgh Matey, B & P was not my cup o' rum.

Martian Root Canal23 Jan 2023 9:33 a.m. PST

Everyone has their favorites. I think some of the posters here may not have been playing melee battles correctly.

The 'only the attacker fights' is indeed how the rules work.

Not quite. First of all, unit activations are based on card bidding, so the game is not an IGO-UGO system. That defending unit could have bid a higher card (if possible) to avoid a charge by moving away or charging first. Second, recipients of a charge can make a Defensive Attack if armed with small arms before the charge closes in. Third, there are saving rolls allowed for melee combat, so things tend not to be so one-sided.

As I recall it ended up making pike armed troops very powerful, which is not terribly piratey.

You're far more likely in the game to rout units with gunfire and cannons than melee. That's especially true in the 18th century version of the game (Raise the Black). Most units have pistols, muskets and cutlasses. The Spanish Milicianos armed with pikes in the 17th century are a little overpowered, but that's easily countered by shooting them at range, forcing continual saves and morale checks.

redmist112224 Jan 2023 10:52 a.m. PST

BLUF: I'm a "5".
Saw the other post the other day on the voting for Blood & Plunder for "Pirate" like gaming. Here are my thoughts about other game systems versus what B&P has to offer, and the reason for my rating of a "5" (sorry a bit long):

My fist introduction to "Pirate" gaming was a rule system called, "Limey's and Slimey's" back in late 90's. This was very popular rule system in the club which used 15mm figures and ships. Wanting something more, I came across "Pirates 2nd Ed." from Flagship Games. These included a more fantasy element than what I was looking for. Later, I came across a self-publish rule system of the same name called, "Pirates" from Craig Martell. These were written and distributed by the long gone gaming pamphlet called "The Gauntlet". I really like the rules for land engagements, but their second set, called, "Per Margin" were a bit of a disappointment for sea action. So our games were mix of Pirates for land, L&S for sea battles. Always on the hunt for something bigger and better, I came across another game system called, "Dread Pirate" from Front Porch games. It was more of a board game with a really cool old looking map to play on, but not a miniatures game. The bonus out this game was the metal doubloons it came with. These are used in current B&P games for Fortune Points. We also played a home-brew game called "Seadogs & Spanish Gold" written by my buddy, Arofan Gregory; a fun game for land engagements. We didn't try the ship action. The next system we tried was from Wargames Foundry system called, "Pirates in West Africa". This was available in their Compendium they published. The publication was a mix of various rule systems and painting guides/techniques. That was a fun game, but was limited to land and not the sea. Next was from Two-Hour Wargames called, "And a Bottle of Rum". I really like their "All Thing Zombies" game system, but sea action was over-complicated to play. I tracked down a guy from Historicon in 2013, which ran BIG Pirate games. He developed his own rules called, "Fist Full of Seamen". There are tons of pics and some videos on YouTube of his BIG games. His games sparked another level of excitement and narrative I wanted on my tables. Next was from Old Glory 25s called, "Buccaneers, Broadswords and Blunderbuss". This was another fun land game, really dialed down to the skirmish level. The ship rules didn't work well from land to sea action.

Finally, in late 2018 I broke ground with Blood & Plunder. When I saw the several video they had shown on YouTube, I saw what I was looking for…a smooth trasition of gaming from sea to land and vice-versa. This was huge for my games as I like to do raiding engagements or even a cutting-out action. The presentation was also key as the videos were really easy to follow and the guys playing the rules seemed to be having a good time. The game play/flow made a lot of sense, which yielded a lot of cool mechanics. What stands out for me was the deck of cards for activation, manageable figure count and the big one here…the fortitude. This was genius! This was an easy way to reflect the deterioration of the ship's hull or a fortification.
I've ran many many small and very large games over the pasty few years and until something else comes along, these are mule go-to rules for all things Pirates.

Anyways, to each there own and figure I would share a few of my thoughts on the game system.

Take care.


wingnut24 Jan 2023 12:34 p.m. PST

"I tracked down a guy from Historicon in 2013, which ran BIG Pirate games. He developed his own rules called, "Fist Full of Seamen". There are tons of pics and some videos on YouTube of his BIG games. His games sparked another level of excitement and narrative I wanted on my tables." Redmist 1122

Thanks RedMist. I enjoyed running those games. Hope to run one in July @ TwistedLords Con in Oklahoma City.


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2023 4:09 p.m. PST

Donnybrook At Sea for me!

TMPWargamerabbit24 Jan 2023 6:04 p.m. PST

A solid 4+ to 5 for this 1600-1700 time period fan.

I was a late comer to the B&P game as my years of miniature gaming has me deep into the 1680-1720 era gaming on land, alongside other eras like ancients, medieval, napoleonic, ACW, WW2 and various naval rulesets. I joined as a junior landlubber, last year (in March) after collecting several ships and Firelock miniatures to create four small factions (English, French, Native and Spanish). The reason I joined in was the annual summer world wide campaign was announced to start in June 2022 and continue into first weeks of September 2022. The second year of this fun world wide activity, run by the blog folks at well tried Blood & Pigment, with strong Firelock rule writers and painters alongside and support.

Last June came along and my growing Spanish faction was in the thick of the weekly adventures. Painting madly terrain or opponent faction miniatures for the next weekly campaign bonus points, I enjoyed two games played on average per weekend or mad week of four games with pirate son or local gamers of the group. Reported in the game result with a fully written out photo leaden commentary at weekend eve. Much more then the simple tick off boxes and attachment requirement at B&P blog site. My effort rewarded with two weekly scenario submissions actually posted on the Blood & Pigment blog site, plus with my Spanish, English, Dutch, Scots, and natives…sailed away with a galleon prize. Yep… even fought two Scottish faction brawls someplace in Southern Carolina. Scots came from my 28mm WSS collections.

As Year 2022 ended…. my maximum effort even surprised myself:

1). Almost 2,000 (1,989 exact spreadsheet count) painted 25/28mm pirate or European faction miniatures or era terrain pieces. Almost all units are eight painted figures in size and cover several factions. The major "double sized" factions have 280-320 painted miniatures. The small single player sized factions have 80-160 miniatures.
2). Launched four ships, fleet of canoes and longboats. More ships to be completed, including the "Real Caribe" galleon.
3). Created quick and easy assess storage for the collection in my gaming warren (Northridge CA).
4). Fully painted "double size" factions for the English, French, Spanish, and Pirates factions. Double sized means two players can game with the available painted miniatures of that faction. Have playable single player factions for NA Woodlands, Arabic, Portuguese, Chinese sea pirates, and Marcoon factions.
5) Collection of the supportive card decks, unit informational cards, charts, the rule books with spare virgin copy. I even cut and pasted in the printed errata directly into my MRB as released.

So I am a Blood & Plunder guy still learning the game. One member of our gaming group has the game tactics down ice cold….. cleans my pirate or European faction clock every time unless I work a winning card hand. His card play, character rules use, loves the Dutch faction, and ship handling skill shows my "experienced" rating vs his "veteran" status. Players of the game know what I mean. If living nearby, get in contact with me by leaving a note: mrverity58 at yahoo period com

As REDMIST above mentioned, there are lots of videos to explain this game. The first site I would direct anyone to is the "Blood & Pigment" blog site. Everything is there… case closed. Type in Google Blood and Pigment. They have weekly articles on factions, sub-factions, ship painting, the flow of play, rules, news of interest…. its all there. You can look up the previous year B&P campaign if interested.

My goal this year is improve my gamesmanship with the factions. Each is different from the others so learning one only gets you in the ajar door with the other factions. With the release of Raise the Black and expanding the game into the early 1700s, the adventures continue.

Got to paint & rig that galleon.

Lurking in an inlet near Northridge CA

wingnut24 Jan 2023 8:43 p.m. PST

Do you have your Ships' images posted anywhere other Gamers can see?


TMPWargamerabbit25 Jan 2023 9:20 a.m. PST

Most of my gaming last year was land actions as I was painting up units in general. A basic sloop or brigantine was involved in the Pirate "Run with the loot" scenario. Staged a large Spanish town, with coastal fort, invasion game which had some shipping in harbor (inactive) but the photos are not on a commercial site for TMP link to (they were posted on B&P's blog for the ongoing YR2022 campaign news). I hope to expand to the naval side this year as I play single or double ship actions to learn the naval rules and tactics.

Run with the loot scenario on Blood & Pigment posting: link

wingnut25 Jan 2023 10:47 a.m. PST

Fine looking Game. Please post when those naval actions take place. Seeing other's work is inspirational and motivational and contribute to the community as a whole. I don't actually play Blood & Plunder but the ships they produce are excellent models for any 28mm age of sail game and I own quite a few in various states of completion. Let's hope more designs are on the way.


redmist112228 Jan 2023 6:46 p.m. PST

Good to hear you're still running games. Definitely a BIG inspiration for "Pirate" like gaming. Since then my Pirate-esk collection has exploded with all kinds of ships, along with some 3D printed ones. Just this past November, I actually used "Pulp Alley" in my BIG Annual B-Day Pirate game. That's was a fun time too.


DukeWacoan Supporting Member of TMP Fezian30 Jan 2023 9:33 a.m. PST

Anyone have opinion on the Cutlass rules from Black Scorpion?

The website has them free, and they say they are going to revise them. It also says primarily for 2-players, and my group is usually more then 2.

wingnut30 Jan 2023 11:26 a.m. PST

@ Redmist,
Nice to hear your fleet is growing and the Pirate birthday is an annual event. I've not ventured into the 3d printings yet myself as I don't have a printer and I have 11 hulls I'm still working on to add to my game. Variety may be the spice of life but it is also the burden of storage. I should have two of the Blood & Plunder ships done this week. Do you have your fleet/ ships posted anywhere? I always enjoy seeing peoples work.


redmist112230 Jan 2023 4:55 p.m. PST

All my pics for "Pirate" gaming is posted in FB.

Completely understand storage challenges as my ships don't break down due to the rigging. I guess that's why I have a several in the que to be painted and finished. I finally broke down and bought that massive Man-o-war from OG25s. I believe I still have your email…will check and send some pics of the fleet.


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