Black Powder AWI demo game

30 Jul

Today a couple of friends and I got together at Battleground Games & Hobbies in Abington, MA to play a very small “demo” game of Black PowderJonathan, Cort and I are assembling armies so we can run some AWI era games using the Black Powder rules.  None of us have a huge number of units completed yet, but rather than wait until we had “acceptable” numbers of figures ready to go, Jon suggested we play a small scenario with what we had available.  I designed a small, simple scenario using the finished (meaning painted, not yet based) forces that we have.  These lined up as follows:

Hessians (Me)
1 Musketeer regiment

British (Cort)
2 British line regiments

Colonials (Jonathan)
1 Militia regiment
1 artillery battery

The scenario revolved around a hypothetical situation where the British were trying to move a strong column of infantry and artillery south from Boston.  One small regiment of Hessians, the Prinz Carl infantry regiment, was assigned duties as flank guard.  As the column passed the small town of Abington, the Hessians encountered and engaged a small rebel force found to be occupying the town.  The column commander detached two line regiments, the 9th and 62nd Foot to assist the Hessians in rolling up the Colonials.

The colonial militia started behind cover in the town.  The Hessians started out on the board, the British arrived on turn 2 as reinforcements entering on the east edge (from the right in the picture).

Being only one regiment, and a small one at that, I found the prospect of charging the colonials, even drunken militia, to be undesirable; especially given the fact that they were supported by artillery.  I advanced my troops to the edge of the woods and opened fire on the militia.  Unfortunately because the traitors were cowering behind a fence the fire had no effect.  Return fire from the colonials was equally ineffective.

On turn 2, reinforcements arrived in the form of Cort’s line regiments.

The rapid movements possible in the Black Powder rules enabled Cort’s brigade to arrive almost in the laps of Jon’s colonials.  On a small table like this, 4’x6′, it isn’t a bad idea to halve the movement and shooting ranges for units.  We’ll probably do this for our next game.  With the British on the table I decided it was time for the Hessians to charge.  My goal was to make Jon waste his closing fire on my small regiment allowing Cort to freely close in.

As expected, Jon’s closing fire was quite effective, forcing a break test on the Hessians, with the result that they had to fall back a full move.  This cleared the way for Cort’s crack British line regiments though, which was the goal.  At this point I fully expect that the rebels will be rolled up like a cheap carpet.

The British 62nd Foot is unable to engage, having been disordered the previous turn by musket and canon fire.  The 9th charges home however, yelling like banshees and inflict one, just one, casualty on the rebels.  The rebels hit the 9th for 3 casualties.  Even with the 62nd standing in support, this means that the British have lost the combat round and must take a break test.  They are unable to believe that the colonials have hurt them as bad as they did and, discretion being the better part of valor, the 9th Foot flees the field.

Using their initiative move Jon moves his colonials back behind the fence line and gives fire to the the 62nd Foot.  The British regiment takes a few more casualties and, having watched their comrades flee, can find no reason to stay behind.  The 62nd fails its break test and runs for the safety of General Lord Howe’s column.  Only the Prinz Carl musketeers remain on the field, and they are shaken and disordered.  The musketeers hold at the line of the woods and exchange some desultory musket fire with the rebels, but are finally convinced to retire after some accurate shots by the artillery.  The American militia wins the day!

This was obviously just a very small scenario, played mostly to keep up our interest in painting.  Jon is right that the danger of waiting until you have enough troops to fight a grand battle is that you’ll never actually get enough troops to fight a grand battle.  Better to use what you have and get familiar with the rules.  This game was a perfect size for that.  A very simple scenario, and not a lot of troops to get bogged down with, so it was possible to just concentrate on the mechanics of the game.  Cort in particular has never played BP and hasn’t had the chance to read the rules, so this was  a good introductory game.  Jonathan and I have each played before, but aren’t hugely experienced with the game, so it was good for us as well.

My hope is that by the next time we play, perhaps in two weeks, I will have a grenadier regiment and an artillery battery completed.  This will give a reasonable sized brigade.  Ultimately I want my Hessian brigade to consist of one grenadier regiment, two musketeer regiments, a regiment, probably small sized, of the Jaeger corps and an artillery battery.  Once these are complete, I will work on some British units or some Continental infantry depending on if Jonathan needs the help.


Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Feature


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4 responses to “Black Powder AWI demo game

  1. Adler Hobby

    July 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Sweet write up ,thanks for sharing
    Gordon -Blackpowder yahoo group

  2. Garry Wills

    August 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I am not surprised by the result, the game uses fast play resolution techniques once the units are in range and anything can happen if the break test is invoked. The game designers envisaged larger numbers of units where results even out. I would be interested to see it replayed without the sharpshooter advantage on the militia or simply replayed again as is. The artillery can also be fairly effective in the game and remembering that the single model represents a whole battery of guns in BP, the contest is not as unbalanced as it first appears. Finally the British did not have any artillery with which to “prepare” the Militia, as they usually would have.

    • Adrian

      August 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm


      On reflection I guess I”m not too surprised either. I really felt the Colonial troops would need a little something to help with their numbers, but they didn’t. Being in good defensive terrain was benefit enough. I chalk it up to my inexperience with the rules; this was only the fourth time I’ve played them. You’re right too about Black Powder not being an ideal set of rules for a small scale encounter like this one. We just wanted a chance to push some lead around though 🙂

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