Monday, January 24, 2011

Black Powder at Home

I had my first game at home (note to self - need a table tennis table!) with Harry, an ex-NWA member who lives in the same suburb. While our respective broods entertained each other, we got down to the serious business of playing our first game of the Black Powder rules.

Even with all the leaves inserted in the dining room table, I could only use ?2/3 of the terrain tiles and the ends hung over the edges quite dramatically and anyone (like inquisitive offspring!) squeezing past the end of the table tended to bump the overhanging end and threaten to topple the nearest formations over.

Anyway, to the game. We started the game under a misapprehension that orders from a general were rolled for brigade by brigade, rather than battalion by battalion, resulting in my first blunder roll (in my first turn!) affecting the whole British brigade. This blunder rule was a killer for my game, even when we decided to test for command unit by unit rather than brigade by brigade. Once a blunder is commited, no more orders can be given by that commander for that turn, which left me like a shag on a rock, after rolling 3 double sixes through the game!

Not surprisingly, Harry took full advantage of this by getting in between my two brigades and pressing home his attack on my British units. My Spaniards did reasonably after the Irish regiment were smashed, but mainly because Harry's dice rolling for casualty saves was as appalling as my rolling for command blunders. The casualty mechanism works similarly to the disorder mechanism in our club rules in that trying to do anything with an accumulation of casualties is very risky as morale becomes very brittle. I'll have to paint up some more casualty markers because my supply was woefully inadequate and we had to resort to yellow counters instead, which didn't look nearly as good.

In the end Harry broke 2 British battalions in the centre and managed to get his cavalry around on my left flank which threatened my whole brigade, so we ended there declaring a French victory.

The verdict for Black Powder? It was an entertaining, if frustrating, introduction to the rules. It isn't as detailed as our club rules and I found some of the mechanisms strange, such as the ability to move the same distance in line as in column. We reduced distances due to the table size and the number of troops, moving 6" instead of 12" per turn, which worked well. Next time I'll try tinkering with unit special abilities to make a more accurate representation of forces. As it was, I gave the British cavalry the Determined Charge characteristic, which means they have to charge if given the opportunity. That destroyed my left hand squadron, charging against superior opposition, but allowed my right hand squadron to charge and break an infantry square! The Spanish were classed as Unreliable, which sounds worse than it was, so in future I'll have to make them less powerful than they were this time around.

As Harry said, the dice were the 3rd player, which offered some surprising and entertaining, if frustrating, elements of chance to the game that may not appeal to purists, but for an afternoon hit and giggle type of game I thought it was a lot of fun. The command elements of the game has given me some food for thought for our own club rules and I could see that adapting some of the BP rules to our game could offer a bit more of the element of chance, or the 'fog of war' to our game that may make it that more entertaining. On the other hand, another layer of rules might be asking a bit too much for our rules. Stay tuned!

Apolgies for the quality of the photos; it took me a while to realise that the photos would turn out better without the flash!

British brigade after the 1st blunder move forced it to the left
British infantry advancing after blunder move
Harry's French
His left brigade heads for the buildings and my Spanish brigade
My Spanish left showing their flank to the French after my second blunder move left them stranded!
British try to make the best of the blunder move by forming between woods and wall. Guns too exposed, though!
Reg. Irlanda about to be crushed by French charge after already suffering maximum 3 casualties
Waloons repulse French charge, while putting Reg. Toledo in a good position to catch the French in the flank
Vol. de la Patria threatened from the flank and rear
Vol. de la Patria manage to re-align to face French threat while Toledo and Waloons prepare to smash the French to the front
The French not smashed, but forced back with maximum casualties.
Harry moves his cavalry from left to right behind his infantry which advances up onto the hill
British spread out in line with riflemen in skirmish order to meet the oncoming French
Skirmishers fire on advancing French column inflicting casualties
French fan out into line and fire on British line through the skirmish screen. The opportunity fire function of Cold Steel would have come in handy here!
The French advance on the Thin Red Line.
French and Spanish clash on the ridge to the right.
The Spanish brigades's artillery made the 3rd blunder roll, panicking and fleeing to the rear!
Luckily, the Vol. de la Patria repulse the French
French light infantry catch the British artillery battery and smash them!
They continue onto the flank of the British line
French form up from the farm across the field while the Vol de la Patria and Reg. Toledo prepare to meet them
The French light infantry attacks the flank of the British line which falls back, but the French also come out badly and retreat. The damage is done, though and a big gap has opened up with plenty of French to exploit it

To the north of the farm, the British cavalry charge the column previously repulsed by Waloon Guards, who form square........

...but are crushed by the light dragoons. Huzzah!
The fire fight at the farm heats up with the Spanish taking casualties
After a fruitless combat to the left of the British position, Harry sends in his fresh Chasseurs supported by the weakened dragoons to smash the other cavalry squadron. Having the Determined Charge characteristic, the British cavalry couldn't refuse to fight.....
.......and were crushed!
The firefight in the centre ended with...
....the centre breaking....
...and with the French cavalry sweeping around the left flank, the game was declared a French victory.

1 comment:

  1. A stirring account. I hope the Spaniards behave well this time!


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