16 May 2013

By Fire & Sword Kickstarter 4 days left - reasons to join

The By Fire & Sword Kickstarter is nearing its end with 4 days to go. If you haven't heard about it already and are interested in a very dynamic and innovative set of rules which supports and provides army lists for both skirmish level as well as division level sized games.

Skirmish level games are fights between the patrols sent to reconnaissance ahead of great armies, their size range from 12-30 bases per patrol and are composed of swift moving troops fighting for various tactical objectives in the scenarios that the book provides.

Division level games are larger battles, fought between divisions (3-6 regiments, artillery and divisional support units).

The game has several interesting aspects that make it dynamic:

1) Army lists are very historical in their nature, buildings army lists comes with restrictions to prevent players from fielding cheesy and overpowered lists made up of the best units alone. Instead you always "unlock" the next step of you army list bit by bit when you add more troops to your force - which in turn unlocks the specialist and elite units whom are limited in numbers to the size of your force. It's pretty much impossible to power game the army building in By Fire & Sword.

2) Armies and forces can be of different size, in fact the game pretty much encourages one player to field a weaker army while the other player fields a stronger army. The game features two excellent mechanics that balance the game - "tactical advantages" and "additional effects" which the weaker player has at his disposal. This means that a weaker and outnumbered player may alter the deployment zone, decide along which table edges players will deploy, place additional terrain on the table such as rivers to slow down the stronger attack etc. It gives you a feeling of the smaller army being able to pick the location for their stand against the stronger opponent.

3) An excellent reconnaissance system which is handled pre-game. Players have the option to send troops on a recon mission and may end up with a great bonus if they succeed but also risk losing troops in t he process. In skirmish level games armies that are cavalry heavy have a reconnaissance edge over slower infantry armies (which tend to be cheaper and balance this fact by more often ending up being the defender). Reconnaissance in By Fire & Sword awards the winner of the recon mission with points that can be spent on placing Ambushes, making pre-game moves or send away a unit to flank the enemy from the rear of their table edge.

4) A broken up turn sequence with many shared steps makes both players constantly involved and able to make tactical decisions and be invested in the action that take place on the battlefield from the start to the finish of each turn.

5) A great system of Command & Control, revolving around commanders, orders, instructions, command points and various combinations of these elements give a real feel of commanding troops amidst the chaos of battle. The system also enforces the tactical limitations which in turn force players to carefully plan their actions and make sure troops don't stray too far away and above all protect their commanders.

The rulebook itself, which is just over 400 pages long is a quality full color and hardback product. It contains the basic and advanced rules for the game (around 95 pages), scenarios for skirmish level games, tactical advantages for skirmish and division level games, historical background for the wars of 1648-76, historical information for each army in the book (Swedes, Poland-Lithuania, Muscovite Russia, Crimean Khanate, Ottoman Empire and the Cossacks), unit profiles and historical information about each unit. Players will be able to understand the rating and combat roles of their units as well as the concept of the special rules and national special rules in the book as these tie in with the historical sources and are well explained. 

The book also contains an index of all the historical sources used so you know that the authors put some effort into this work.

So if you have even a remote interest in the 17th century and want to play something else than the English Civil War or Thirty Year War, then By Fire & Sword provides a fresh and unique experience - allowing players to refight the wild and colorful battles of eastern Europe so vividly described in the novels of Henryk Sienkiewicz. 

Below are links to additional sources of information which might prove interesting and explain the game further.

Information on how Skirmish forces are built: LINK

Information on how Division armies are built: LINK

Review of the rules: PART 1 PART 2 PART 3

Review of the rulebook: LINK

Link to the Kickstarter, click on picture


  1. I've looked at it a couple of times, and I must say I'm impressed by the work. Haven't had the chance to go through the system in detail, but it's easy to tell that the author of the game is dedicated to his work and has made a grand job of it. Remember you even asked me if I was interested during one of the first times we met ^ ^

    Unfortunately, it also comes down to the most basic of problems: Economy.
    FoW is eating up the last vestiges I have left of that, and dedicating 1,000kr to getting starting is therefore a bit hefty. I hope I get the chance to try it out next time we're at the club together and have the spare time


  2. Anders, it is a LOT cheaper to get into By Fire & Sword than Flames of War.

    By Fire & Sword basic rulebook is roughly 350 SEK and includes ALL the army lists and rules. FoW 3rd ed is 450SEK for the rulebook, then you have to buy a campaign book with army list for another 200 SEK before you even get to the models...

    And a fully fleshed out Skirmish force for BFaS is also cheaper than a normal sized army for FoW.

    1. Yeah, unfortunately it's a realisation that has come a bit too late. I've already invested in FoW, since it's an active game that I enjoy, and the point is that I cannot afford investing in both games at the same time.
      If if I'd known that it was cheaper before I got into FoW, then it would have made a difference. It is, however, a game worth considering for the future


  3. Not my first choice of period but it still looks good enough to tempt me... mind you everything does, I'm a bit of a magpie in that regard. Great pictures by the way.

    1. The period and geographic area of the conflict was also quite alien to me initially, but has really grown on me and seems to have a bit more flavor due to the vastly different type of armies and nations involved in the wars compared to the wars between “western”.

      I also look forward to the more in depth look on the various campaigns which will be released as separate expansions, first out the Swedish invasion of Poland which will also introduce Brandenburg, Imperial troops, Denmark and Transylvania – which will mostly add additional “western” armies.

  4. I have been watching this closely but I have yet to jump in. One thing that is holding me back is the 15mm Aside from FoW I don't do 15mm, preferring 28mm for all my gaming. How scalable are the rules for 28mm figures?

    1. The main problem you and anyone else who wants to play this period in 28mm will run into is the lack of miniatures to cover all units for the armies involved. It's mostly an unexplored period and market and thus has a limited number of manufacturers. Those that exist mainly focus on a couple of well known units rather than the complete array of troops needed.

      You would also need a lot larger tables to play this game properly on 28mm scale (especially if you want to play division battles) as just swapping centimeters for inches would make cavalry able to traverse the short length of a table in 1 turn, while keeping centimeters would make gun ranges extremely short.

      I'm sure you can adapt it to 28mm but it would require a bit of clever work and be a lot more expensive. Then there is the issue of finding fitting terrain for this period and geographic area in 28mm, once again you could make it work with "Eastern Front" buildings but you will have a harder time finding accurate architecture for this specific period in 28mm, something that has been commented on forums when I have posted pictures of the 15mm buildings.

      Wargamer really has a “Battlefront” approach to their game, in that you get complete units in the boxes and blisters, starters sets to get you going, terrain and other details needed for the game are all existing and get expanded all the time.

    2. I only play 28mm, but I pledged for the rulebook the day the kickstarter opened. Here's why:

      I love converting. I've made Cossacks out of ACW Zouaves, peasant rebels out of of ancient Persians, noble levy cavalry out of WSS officers, and more.

      Even if you don't love converting, The Assault Group has pretty much everything covered for this era in 28mm. It's not cheap, but it is pretty.

      The BF&S book looks to be jam-packed with historical information and visual references. For me, it'll be worth the cash even if I keep using Warlord's Pike & Shotte for my actual gaming. For example, P&S has no lists for Cossacks or Muscovites. But with the BF&S book I should easily be able to create some historically accurate lists.

      It's shiny.

      If you pledge enough to get the rulebook, you also get a handful of sample miniatures. Like I said, I only play 28mm, but I do enjoy tabletop RPGs as well as wargames, and 15mm humans should work fine as 28mm gnomes/halflings. Paradoffsky will be some kinda steampunk gnome, the witch would work as a gnome or halfling spellcaster, and Sosinski is clearly a halfling rogue.

    3. Haha! Love the idea of your RPG characters Thaddeus :D

  5. Is this even possible to play this ruleset with western european pike and shot armies?

    1. The Swedish army relies heavily on Pike & Shot formations and blocks of Reiters and Dragoons. But these are "modern" Pike & Shot formations and not the Tercio squares of the TYW.

      It will be very interesting fighting western vs western army when people start collecting the Danes and the Brandenburg and Imperial troops get released in the upcoming expansion.

      So yes it does support Western Pike & Shot armies, you could probably play ECW with them without any problem - but would of course have to come up with unit stats and army lists yourself.

  6. Can you think of examples of the complex rules that veterans and judges had trouble with... I'm just starting with this and I want to have a heads up on things that I can look up in the forums..

  7. that last post was meant for your tournament post
    i'll repost


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