By Fire and Sword game had been going for quite some time in Poland, but never really reached beyond it’s borders till quite recently. On last Salute (2013) group around that game put a lot of effort into creating interest for this system with nice stall, intro games and most importantly rulebook in English. After their successful Kickstarter campaign it looks like the game is in full swing. After eyeing it up for some time already, I talked with few people down the club and it looks like few people are interested in starting armies, so I decided to buy a rulebook.
First of all a little bit about the system itself. It is a 15mm game focuses on 17th century warfare in Eastern Europe. This is quite broad period and area to make this game interesting and creative enough possibilities and scenarios not to be bored. Main powers that we can play are: Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth , Sweden, Muscovites, Cossacks, Tartars and Ottomans, with possibilities of alliances as well (providing they are historically accurate).
Let;s have a look at the book first. It costs 38 pounds, which is not cheap, but for that price we are getting absolutely stunning, full colour, around 400 pages hardback. When I say stunning I really mean it- layout is really nice and book is full of high quality illustrations and also photos of different units by variety of re-enactement groups. Very original idea and one that definitely adds a lot! There are also many pictures of painted models and lots of diagrams to help visualize different situations.
Rulebook is divided into introduction (including very handy painting guide), rules, scenarios and army lists. When it comes to rules themselves we have basic ones and advanced ones, allowing you to add more depth to your game (such as ammunition levels for units etc.). Game uses d10 dice and looks detailed enough to satisfy those wanting challenging games, whilst being simple enough that you shouldn’t be getting bogged down in endless tables etc. At least that is the impression i am getting after first read. I don’t want to dwell too much on rules themselves as I haven’t played a single game yet (and it looks like it might be some time before others in the club got some forces ready) but there are some very interesting solutions here. First of all you need to give your units orders so they can do what you want, otherwise their actions will be very limited (units can still shoot without an order, but won’t move or charge and so on). Commanders got limited amount of command points to use (differs from army to army and also depends on a commander’s rank) so it seems like you have to be quite careful about what actions you want to do with your units. There are 4 levels of game- starting with skirmish , ending on Great Armies and size of a game determines its length. There are also quite few scenarios that got really different objectives for weaker and stronger side, which is nice as it looks like scenarios really differ a lot from each other, rather than just being slight variations. One very interesting aspect of a battle is the fact that there is no points! Yes, you don’t set any point limits, instead of that people use their army lists (that are quite strict and very historically accurate) and then scenario’s aims are adjusted depending on a difference between both forces. According to authors it is perfectly feasible to have a game of very small force vs much bigger one (I guess within limits of reason) as scenario rules should accommodate that difference.
There are a lot of army lists for each force, allowing you to build different historical forces plus creators of the game promised more stuff added in future such as historical commanders etc.
I have to say, without yet playing a game, that this ruleset looks really, really good and interesting and I am definitely looking forward to play some games !
In UK rulebook and models are distributed by North Star Miniatures.