Two weekends ago at RapierCon (12-14 June) in Jacksonville, Florida I got the opportunity to try a historical miniatures game called By Fire and Sword. This game is centered around the rich history of the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the disputes they had with their many neighbors.
The game itself is geared toward 15mm miniatures and terrain, but can be scaled up with only a little effort. The demo I played featured the basic rules of the game, but also included a few of the advanced rules. I feel in love with the game’s simplicity of execution and depth of concept.
There are two aspects of the game I really appreciated. First, was the basic and advanced rules options. Not every game you play is with a seasoned veteran, so having the luxury of scaling back the rules to a more basic form or adding to it with the advanced rules is a great selling point. It also allows folks to get the feel of the game without being pushed away by unfamiliar advanced rules. Second, is the scalability of the forces themselves. The rule book contains, at its most basic form, skirmish scale organizational charts. Also included are the organizational charts (with advanced rules) to scale up to a divisional level game. The rulebook also identifies two higher level organizational scales that will be printed and released separately as they will include their own rules for operating at these other scales.
The rulebook itself includes everything you need to play. In addition to the rules and organization charts, the book includes a very nice painting guide. Something that is not seen in most miniatures rulebooks. There’s also a number of skirmish level scenarios included. The historical commentary included int he rulebook is hands down one of the most robust I have seen in quite some time. The rules themselves number about 60 pages and this includes the advanced rules; making this game very approachable to novices and veteran gamers alike.
At present, the company also offers a wide array of miniatures designed specifically for this game. The rulebook includes army organization charts for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, The Cossacks, The Kingdom of Sweden, the Crimean Khanate, Muscovites, and The Ottoman Empire. Each nationality has a skirmish box pre-built and packaged for you to field a basic skirmish force. They also offer a variety of additional boxed and blistered units to allow you to further customize your skirmish force based on a points-based system or to create a divisional level army.
There is one expansion book that was recently released through Kickstarter entitled “By Fire and Sword: The Deluge“. This add-on book increases the army options by adding the Principality of Transylvania, The Electorate of Brandenburg and Ducal Prussia and The Holy Roman Empire. This book also includes additional advanced rules, organizational charts, 10 new skirmish level scenarios and much more.