Sunday, February 28, 2010

You can't always get what you want

I did manage one evening at home, but I didn't have time to arrange the Boating Adventure so that will have to wait now till after Cold Wars.  However, my friend Jerry dropped over to collect his copy of Black Powder which had arrived on Thursday (several of us took advantage of the cheap price to place a group order to get free shipping). Since I was in the midst of sorting the NQSYW figures to take to Cold Wars, it made sense to divide them up and play a few turns to get a feel for the rules. Each Charge! company became a Black Powder battalion  etc. Since it was a quick trial to get the feel, we kept it very simple using CV8 commanders and basic troops from the list of templates.

Once again I did not have my camera to hand but instead my new HTC Hero smart phone.  Not so good at dimly lit conditions (and my lighting is atrocious at the moment) and hard to brace. I'll have to check out settings, practice, and make sure I have my camera at Cold Wars!     Meanwhile, imagine a quick water colour sketch giving a broad sweeping view of the action rather than a detailed mural.

On the left under General Legge, we have the French, on their right, a "Brigade" composed of 1 Squadron each of Fitzjames and the Colonel General's Regiment, a gun and 2 battalions of infantry (Picardy and de Roi iir), and on their left, a "Brigade" composed of 1 squadron each of  Orleans and  Lanciers de Saxe, 1 guns, a battalion of Chasseurs and 2 battalions of infantry (La Reine and Languedoc).

    On the right commanded by the venerable MacDuff, we have the army of Rosmark, on their left a "Brigade" with 2 squadrons of the Crown Prince Dragoons, a gun,  a battalion of Prince Michael Pandours and the Grenadiers and 1st Battalion of MacDuff's Fusiliers. On their right a "Brigade"composed of 2 squadrons of Moravian Hussars, a guns and the 2nd and 3rd battalions of MacDuff's Fusilers.

The game began by a swift advance by the French right which deployed in a firing line around a stone house. This was followed by a tentative creeping forward of 2 march columns and the limbered gun on their left. An opening salvo from their gun did no damage. The Rosmarkians (Rosmarkers? Rosses?) advanced and deployed along the line. An order to the Hussars to sweep forward and ride over the limbered enemy gun  resulted in a lengthy, stirring speech by their Colonel followed by a leisurely walk-march to the top of the hill. The guns and skirmishers opened fire causing some damage to the enemy.

On the 2nd turn the French right was all set to creep forward when we realized that the Pandours were within 12" which was sufficient to cause them all to pause and rethink the matter. (ie the minus one made it a failed Brigade order). On their left, the infantry formed attack column, the gun deployed and the cavalry and skirmishers came up into line. The French fire disordered the Pandours but did no other damage.  

MacDuff's 1st battalion moved forward into line with the Pandours, supported by the Grenadiers but the 2nd and 3rd battalions mistook the order to advance and open fire as an order to return to camp and light their fires. (Blunder, retire 2 moves) Since it was a test game and they were 23" from the edge, we halted them there instead of rolling to come back on. The artillery, Pandours and MacDuff's opened fire causing several casualties and disordering 2 French battalions. The yellow Hussars drove back and disordered the lancers but declined to pursue into the enemy cavalry.      

On the 3rd turn, the French had 4 units within initiative range, but 2 were disordered and unable to move.  La Reine charged into MacDuff's who blasted them with 3 hits and a disorder. The Orleans cavalry charged the 1st Squadron of Hussars who countercharged, leaving their supports behind (luckily as it turned out). The French fire disordered the poor Pandours again, (apparently the red pants make a good target), and put a hit on one gun. The melee was a hard fought draw with fantastic saving throws but the shaken La Reine had to check morale and fell back. The Hussars were ridden over by their heavier enemy and were dispersed but Orleans were disordered and unable to pursue. On the Rosmark turn, the remaining Hussars charged the disorderd Orleans while the 1st Battalion of MacDuff's moved forward and poured another close range volley into the enemy while the gun pounded the shaken column. Orleans were no match for the fresh hussars and routed, sweeping away the supporting gun and skirmishers. The shaken column also took more hits and broke. At this point, with 4 French units broken and 2 more shaken vs 1 broken Rosmark unit, we called the game so I could continue packing.  

Clouds of gunsmoke blur the view even more.
On the whole, I was very pleased with the rules though I enjoyed reading the book enough to have made it a worthwhile purchase anyway. They moved quickly, were flexible, easily accomodated the armies being assembled for a different set of rules, gave what felt like reasonable results and had a good "fun" element of risk, unpredictability and chaos to manage.   Considering that I had only read the rules over once the previous day and that Jerry hadn't even had the chance to do that but had only perused the on line Quick Reference sheet, it was impressive that we could get playing that quickly and have the game move along smoothly with quick stops to confirm rules as we went. (Having played BKC & Warhamster helped despite the differences). Even better, despite the new age  mechanisms and no casualty removal,  (I laid figures down to mark hits and used casualty figures to indicate disorder) they had an old school feel. (Actually, they reminded me of an improved version of some of my own rules in feel and philosophy though not in mechanism.)




  1. *sigh* . . . and I thought that the "game of the month" for February would be a re-cap of our Canadian Ice Hockey Team winning the Gold Medal.

    *grin* . . . it reads like your little play test was enjoyable. I hope that you'll share more of your impressions of BP as time goes on.

    Have fun.

    -- Jeff

  2. We usually refer to them as "Rosmarkers" down here...

  3. Nice game report on Black Powder. I have a set but haven't quite figured out how to get a game started.