The Silver Bayonet: The Carpathians – Castle Fier | First Impressions

May 25, 2023 by brennon

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The Silver Bayonet: The Carpathians - Castle Fier is now available for you to snap up from the folks at Osprey Games. Joseph A. McCullough has launched the first expansion for his Historical/Horror skirmish game set during the Napoleonic era and it's packed with bloodsuckers, two new campaigns and plenty for those seeking to bring new content to this surprise hit.


Get Your Hands On The Carpathians - Castle Fier

I got my hands on The Carpathians - Castle Fier (which will be referred to as Castle Fier from here on out) and thought I'd give you my first impressions on what's in the book and whether or not it's worth picking up for your collection.

Castle Fier - What's In The Book?

McCullough, by his own admission, wasn't thinking that this was going to be the first expansion for The Silver Bayonet. There might not have even been an expansion had The Silver Bayonet not flown off the shelves and gone down well with the community. To that end, it seemed apt that McCullough went with a tried and tested format for his expansions that have also graced some of his other skirmish games.

The Carpathians Castle Fier - The Silver Bayonet

At the heart of Castle Fier are two campaigns. The first campaign is a competitive one focused on a classic tale of Gothic proportions with an eerie castle deep in the mountains which is watched over by a warlord who has an unnaturally long life. You and your specialist team of soldiers and monster hunters have been sent to uncover the truth behind the folk tales and hopefully come out the other side alive.

The second campaign is solo or cooperative in nature where you are heading through a three-scenario story looking to reach a watchtower where some powerful weapons have been hidden away. As is the way with a lot of these seemingly easy missions, things aren't going to go well!

Wolf - The Silver Bayonet

As well as the two campaigns, the book also comes with some new Soldiers for you to add to your units. As you might have guessed, the Soldiers have been themed around the Carpathians and that particular setting. Whilst that makes them perfect for Castle Fier, they can also be added to your regular campaigns and you can justify it in whatever way you wish! You get to add a Coachman, Highwayman and a Woodsman into the mix with only the Woodsman having restrictions on the Nationalities that they can fight for.

New Soldiers Art - The Silver Bayonet

I like that the different Soldiers included in the book aren't just more flavours of military personnel. McCullough has gone down the route of introducing some more of the "common folk" that end up getting mixed up in these stories and perhaps end up being the heroes. Perhaps they know more than they are letting on about what's happening in the local area. Mysteries within mysteries!

The final section of the book is focused on the Bestiary which introduces new monsters to your games alongside some rather fun characters that you'll fun into on your travels. Of course, you'll find profiles for the mysterious warlord in his tower, Marcea Lupul and some of his Gothic allies. That means werewolves, wraiths, vrykolakas (a subspecies of vampire) and plenty more that you'd expect to see stalking through the ruins of a tumbledown castle.

Marcea Lupul Art - The Silver Bayonet

You've also got the notable Forest Witch, Muma Padurii, who protects the forests of the Carpathians and might not actually be as villainous as you first thought. You have entered her domain though and she will do anything to protect the dark corners of the forest that she calls home. She is also joined by thematic monsters like forest walkers, swarm-like creatures and more giant versions of classic beasts like rats and bats.

All of the monsters found during the two campaigns in the book are detailed here but you could of course take them out of the Castle Fier scenarios and drop them into your regular games. Why wouldn't you want more vampire-based enemies to face when you're trudging across the muddy fields of Europe?

Castle Fier - The Iron Keep Campaign

It's quite hard to talk too much more about what's included with Castle Fier. A lot of what I could say would end up being rather spoilerific so I'll try and keep it as general as possible.

The Iron Keep Campaign - The Silver Bayonet

First off, you have The Iron Keep Campaign which is the classic competitive-style campaign that folks will be familiar with. Some background to get you started...

"High amidst the rocks and trees of the Carpathian Mountains stand the ruins of Castle Fier, better known by its English name of ‘The Iron Keep’. Once it was home to the rapacious warlord, Marcea Lupul, a man famous for hunting his enemies with a pack of enormous, blood-thirsty hounds. Then, on ‘the night of flames’ a group of crusaders attacked the castle. The sounds of death and battle rang off the mountainsides, and the light of fires flickered against the cliffs. None returned from that fight, but the smoking ruins could be seen for miles. Since that night, people have shunned the ruins as a place cursed and haunted, while the castle’s spires cast their oppressive shadows over all the nearby villages."

The Iron Keep breaks down into five different scenarios that take place amongst the castle ruins. One of the nice things about this campaign is that they've ratcheted up the tension and the threat that is posed by running around in a vampire's castle. A new Iron Keep Unexpected Event And Encounter Table has been added which can throw even more creepy threats at your soldiers as they try and undertake their mission. I think this is great and helps to set the scene very well, building up the tension.

There are some decidedly Gothic adventures for you to dive into as you and another player (although you can take this to four if you like!) battle through the ruins of Castle Fier. It all culminates with a clash in the dank darkness of the castle as you battle over treasure and a threat that is watching from the shadows.

Castle Fier - Starting With Solo/Cooperative Play

The second of the campaigns is much shorter but has been designed for solo and cooperative play.

The Broken Watchtower - The Silver Bayonet

It can stand on its own but McCullough has also mentioned that it would be great as either a prologue or epilogue for The Iron Keep Campaign. Here's a little snippet of lore about the first scenario...

"It’s been more than a century since anyone willing journeyed to the ruins of the watchtower. The only path runs straight through a witch-haunted wood, where the trees and shadows shift, making navigation nearly impossible. The locals talk of Muma Pădurii, a hag who controls the beasts and the plants and murders intruders to fill her stew pot. The only way to safely cross the woods is to find the witch’s hovel and burn it to the ground, thus driving Muma Pădurii out."

I really like the idea of starting off your The Silver Bayonet journey with something solo and/or cooperative. It gives you and your friends a chance to get your minds wrapped around the rules of the game without feeling like you're hammering your opponents and making them not want to play anymore. It could keep everyone on an even footing and then be a neat launch pad for you to then jump into the game properly.

Fighting Vampires - The Silver Bayonet

McCullough has also introduced a new optional rule that you might want to throw into the mix. Because of the nature of the campaign and how one scenario flows into the other very quickly narratively, you can decide to play on "Hard Mode". Hard Mode means that instead of healing up to full between scenarios, you can only ever regain a maximum of seven health after each game. This builds on the grim and Gothic nature of the campaign but it does make it significantly harder. Embrace hard mode at your peril!

Castle Fier - Is It Worth A Shot?

Is Castle Fier worth picking up then? I would say yes. If you've been enjoying The Silver Bayonet and want to focus your attention on a well-penned narrative that fully embraces the Gothic themes of the game, you'll find that here.

Wounded Soldier - The Silver Bayonet

The Silver Bayonet comes with solo play burned into its core rules and so having The Broken Watchtower added into the mix here as well, helps to build on that and the options available to you and your friends and you start exploring the game for the first time. I could see folks picking up Castle Fier alongside the core rules and using The Broken Watchtower as their first introduction to the game, using the smaller campaign to get their eye in rules-wise.

Let's Play! The Silver Bayonet - British Vs French Confirmed Kill Scenario

The larger competitive campaign should also last for quite a while and give you a chance to collect some fun thematic terrain and of course, plenty of new miniatures to bulk out your The Silver Bayonet collection. I also like that you've got the bonus Soldiers in here that are going to be helpful when expanding your options during your regular games. So, even after Castle Fier, you'll be finding a use for the book, especially with the additional monsters in the Bestiary.

Learn How To Play The Silver Bayonet! (Solo Mode Guide)

McCullough hasn't gone overboard with the first expansion for The Silver Bayonet but then again, I don't think he had to. The core game has a lot of mileage in it and Castle Fier just adds a couple of new options into the mix so that you can embrace different approaches to enjoying this Napoleonic Horror-fest.

Are you tempted to pick up The Carpathians - Castle Fier?

"At the heart of Castle Fier are two campaigns..."

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"...a well-penned narrative that fully embraces the Gothic themes of the game"

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