Firelock Brings The End To Empires; The New Expansion For Blood & Valor

March 28, 2023 by avernos

Firelock Games launched their first expansion for Blood & Valor this past weekend at Adepticon and the End of Empires is now available in PDF and a lovely hard-backed book for those of us who still appreciate the finer things in life.

Blood and Valor_End of Empires_Firelock Games

Blood & Valor-End of Empires // Firelock Games

The End of Empires completes the nation lists for the Great War that began in Blood & Valor and is absolutely jam-packed from cover to cover. How jammy? Well at 206 pages it is almost twice as big as the rules! So what is in this bumper book of 20th-century fun then, I hear you cry.  Well, the easiest thing to do would be to consider the book split into three sections, the first section covering World War 1, the second section following on from that would be post-war conflicts and civil wars caused by the Great War, and the final part of the book would be gameplay additions that can be used for either.

end of empires cover

World War 1

First up some light book-keeping for the Great War before getting into the new content, slight changes to how Barrages can be purchased and points changes alongside a change in how grenades in a squad work should make these more viable and less game-breaking respectively. I would imagine these will be in the next errata for B&V as it's literally two paragraphs. Now onto the good stuff.

New options and units for  Blood and Valor, command options have been expanded with options for mounting the command unit if your core is cavalry and adding a Medic, Musician or Flag bearer to the fray. These are nice touches giving a little more resilience to your force or even increasing your commander's sphere of influence, and who doesn't want to add a bagpiper to their British force? There are also four new units including field guns, trench mortars and more importantly a German Tankgewehr which is excellent news because I got one in a blister pack and didn't have rules for him until now 😀

There are four pages containing new Special Rules for the units in the book that add a lot of interesting flavour and content for list building. From the likes of an Information Officer that forces your opponent to reveal their initiative bid (once per game) allowing you to change your own, to Deserters that have the potential to flip sides if the battle is not going their way these new rules really expand the forces and help make them both unique and at the same time help reflect their role and performance in the conflicts.

Onto the Forces themselves. Four new fronts are opened up;

  • The Italian Front contains the Royal Italian Army and Austro-Hungarian army lists.
  • The Eastern Front has a new German list which includes Bulgarian and Austro-Hungarian allies, the Russian Imperial Army, the Russian Imperial Cossack Army, and finally the Revolutionary army of free Russia.
  • Balkans Theatre contains army lists for the Romanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and the Royal Serbian army.
  • The Far East has both the Japanese Imperial army and lists for Chinese Warlord's forces

Each of the lists is comprised of the usual commander, core, and support options and where applicable some historic commander options are presented. I'm particularly drawn to the Chinese warlords that continue until 1926 in a civil war-style conflict as they exerted their power against each other. Strangely the Western Front is also represented by the addition of the Portuguese Expeditionary Force.

Post War

The End of Empires indeed, I shall start with the Conflicts in Ireland. I know you're shocked. Two lists here are the Irish Volunteer Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary. The RIC list is based around police officers and they can take British regulars as support it's not a bad list but I do wish that the Tans had been listed separately from the regular RIC members possibly as a support choice if not an actual core. The IRA have only one core choice with the volunteer rifles, again this could have been expanded with the use of flying columns and I may tweak the list to make something closer to that. Otherwise, it's a solid set of lists to start gaming in the war of independence.

The far more impressive section is however the chapter on the Russian Civil War and post-WWI. This takes up a whopping 70 pages one-third of the entire book and contains twenty-four army lists. Starting with the Red and White armies in 1917 and expanding from there it covers forces raised in Poland, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Siberia and the Northern Russian Expedition. In the closing months of World War 1 the Allied powers decided to send an expedition of troops to northern Russia to support the White forces in the Russian Civil War. These forces ultimately failed in their attempts to support the White Russian cause and bring about the defeat of the Red Army. While these troops were supposed to be involved in defensive operations to keep northern Russian ports open, inevitably they were drawn into active combat against the Red Army.

The detail of this section is fantastic and merely hints at a period that is often forgotten about or ignored in favour of a focus on the War to end all wars and Rufus and Kai have been ably assisted with a raft of consultants to cover this section. There are some interesting touches in the lists as well, for example, a named machine gun team rather than a commander in the Anti-Bolshevik forces as Vera and Maria Mercié manned a machine gun on the walls of the Kremlin against Red Guards attempting the storm the building.


The last section that needs addressing is the additions to gameplay. There is a very brief weather table that you can choose to use with any of your game scenarios, reducing visibility and the effectiveness of fire or even command. It's a nice and easy way to vary your games, but it is basic with only four results on the table. I'd probably vary that for season or theatre, it is much more likely to chuck it down in Ireland than in Italy in the summer, for example. There are also rules if you want to play larger multiplayer games, again brief changes but you don't need a massive section here and it cuts down on the bookkeeping and speeds up play.

After that, we're into the scenarios four Balanced Play Scenarios and five Narrative Scenarios for your gaming. The balanced play has the feel of the first person shooter that inspired Kai in the first place with a King of the Hill scenario, alongside a Kill the Commander. All four are well thought out and offer interesting mechanics I particularly like Attrition for forcing both sides to move and engage.

The narrative scenarios are where it is at for me though. Changing up how armies are both built and fielded breathes new life into the game and forces you to think about the scenario. Tunnel fighting deep below the trenches of the western front or attempting to capture an armoured train as the defenders try to get it working again are just a couple of examples of what you'll find and how to get out of the mindset of static defense lines in France.

The final part of the book adds two sections on armoured cars and gunboats and how to use them in your games. Again shifting the concept of what your early 20th century conflicts can be, whether you want to attempt a boarding action to silence a gun that is shelling a town or ambush a convoy moving through the countryside they contain detailed information on how to incorporate them into your games.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is a fantastic expansion for Blood & Valor, and more importantly, I think it's a great stepping-off point to build on. There are a lot of conflicts around the world and for small-scale skirmishes, you now have a fairly comprehensive toolkit to create your own lists and scenarios. Even the slight issues I have are easily rectified while at the same time if you just want to throw a couple of forces on the tabletop you can do so without having to do any work at all. It's entirely up to you and personally I think it's going to be a must have for B&V fans anyway. Now I just need to con someone into building the GPO for me.

Has this piqued your interest in the First World War beyond Blackadder?

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