• Choosing your army
The choice of the army that you are going to play with can be difficult. Each army in By Fire and Sword is different and leading it into battle requires a different approach and strategy. In By Fire and Sword – just like in history – there is no perfect army. Each of the warring parties has its strengths and weaknesses. Below are some hints and tips which might help you choose your army.
• What do you like?
In choosing your army, some people pick their favorite figures or nation. It is a pleasure to command an army that you like.
• What armies are collected by my potential opponents?
If nobody is collecting the Muscovites in your usual gaming group, then by choosing this army you gain a wide array of opponents. We should mention that the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is very popular – the flapping of hussar wings can still be heard in the very soul of every Pole. Ukrainians are often excited about fielding Cossacks, and Swedes will be naturally drawn to fielding a Swedish army. The more exotic and rare army is under your command, the more popular opponent you become.
• What way of playing suits me?
It is worthwhile to think what way of playing suits you. Gamers who like aggressive and offensive armies should consider choosing the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth or the Turks. Commanders who put their trust in firepower and discipline should kindly look upon the Swedes. Tatars are a natural choice for those who prefer fast attacks, tricks and unexpected maneuvers. If you like to have numerical superiority and prefer quantity over quality then you should choose Muscovy or Cossacks. The above examples are only general information. You can learn more on strengths and weaknesses of all the armies in the article titled: Armies in By Fire and Sword – for a short description of the armies click HERE.
• Choice of units in the army
However the choice of an army does not completely determine the style of play. You can easily base your Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army around foreign infantry and reiters, what will make it similar to the Swedes. Similarly you can easily form a Turkish army that will operate almost like a Tatar army. It depends only upon the units you choose for your army. That is why you should carefully study the army lists so you know exactly what units you may have under your command in future battles. It is also worthwhile to have a look at specials skills and equipment of various units. This might be important as many beginners may be surprised by the fact that their expectations concerning some units, based on films or fiction, do not correspond to what they find in the rules.
• Assembling figures necessary for the “Skirmish” level
If you begin your adventure with By Fire and Sword you should start with getting to know the first level of battles – that is the “Skirmish” - HERE. The rules include information on types of units that you may have under your command. So before you purchase your first set of the powerful winged hussars for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army, you should check if you can field them at the “Skirmish” level. In other words, you will not always need the best known and popular formations of a given army to play By Fire and Sword.
The “Skirmish” level is an introduction to By Fire and Sword. Its rules enable you to fight a small skirmish. Only a few units (banners/sotnias/companies) will usually be under your command and you will have one commander with an appropriate number of orders.
After you decide which army you want to play with, then it is time to purchase appropriate figures. If you cannot make up your mind and make a choice from the variety of figures in our range then you should purchase a prepared “Skirmish” set for the army of your choice. It includes all the models you need to start your first battle.
• Preparing and painting figures
While preparing for a game of By Fire and Sword you need to properly set up your units. Information on preparation of figures and bases for the game can be found in the article titled “Preparing figures for the game” - HERE.
Figures look best when painted so before you place them on bases why not read an article on painting – “How to paint figures?” - HERE.
At the beginning all you need is a simple kitchen table. Too much terrain elements will spoil your fun when you are only starting to learn the rules. As you gain experience, the need to decorate your battlefield with scenery elements appears. At the beginning a few hills is more than enough. The easiest way to prepare them is to insert a few books under a cloth on which you play. Of course it is nice to play on an aesthetic gaming table with suitable model terrain. Materials for the preparation of such terrain elements including: static grass, mats, and trees (in all cases, avoid using the term etc) can be found at Wargamer.pl. You will also find there terrain elements and buildings specially designed for By Fire and Sword.
You will need a few ten-sided dice to play the game. You might also use some tokens for marking losses in the units. For this you may use small dice, coins or special loss markers with dead soldiers for all the armies (both horse and foot). Thanks to such markers the battlefield will look in a more realistic way. Finally you will also need order tokens – you may download them HERE, or purchase special tokens in the shape of coins with national emblems of all the factions.
• Choosing your army