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Black Powder AWI demo game

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.

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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Feature

 

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A New Project – Black Powder by Warlord Games

I call this a ‘new project’ but in honesty it’s hardly new.  I first picked up the Black Powder rules at TotalCon 24, over a year ago.  I read through them, liked the open ended nature of the system, then shelved the book.  I was deeply involved in Flames of War then and lack of spare time nixed any idea of painting up figures for anything other than FoW.  That and the fact that my gaming group at the time was wholly devoted to Battlefront and Flames of War meant that any side project just wouldn’t get played.

I attended Historicon 2010 and had the opportunity to play in a massive Black Powder demo game that was sponsored by Warlord Games and the Perry brothers, all of whom were present to participate as players and advisers.  This was my first time playing the rules and I was thoroughly impressed.  Even on the massive scale of the demo game (I believe the table was 24′ x 8′) and countless figures the game played very fast and smooth.  This is doubly impressive given that most of the players had no experience with the rules, other than myself and a handful of others who had at least read them.

I hesitate to call Black Powder ‘simple’ because that word has negative connotations for some hard core historical gamers.  But, there isn’t a lot of nitty gritty detail to get in the way of the game, and this of course contributes to the system’s high playability.  There are of course distinctions between troop types, morale levels, armament and so forth, and when playing the differences between units feels right, but this is accomplished without the endless tables and stat cards of some systems.  I’m not knocking stat cards and tables by the way, some of my favorite games (ASL) are buried in them.  I’m just saying they aren’t necessarily needed, and their absence doesn’t make a game less worthy.

Part of the reason for lack of hardcore detail is the open ended nature of the system.  Using the Black Powder rules, you can simulate any conflict that occurred during the “black powder” era which can be roughly defined as the 200 year period from 1700-1900.  Clearly including all the minutiae for every possible troop type in the period is not practical.  And it is not necessary.  As I said earlier the system evokes the proper ‘feel’ and that is what matters.  You can certainly tell the difference when your militia levy  goes toe to toe with a veteran grenadier regiment for example.  And different weapon types are differentiated as well, rifles, muskets, rifle-muskets, breech loading carbines all have different characteristics that have a measurable effect on the game.

Recently, there has been a flurry of interest in Black Powder at my local game store, Battleground Games & Hobbies.   This has encouraged me to pick the game up again; several of the store regulars have forces already for the AWI period.  My preferred periods are ACW and Napleonic, but I can work with Rev War just fine.  A friend of mine has begun collecting figures to field a Colonial militia force.   Jonathan (CWF Gamecast) is known for developing a strong interest in a particular game, but having weak follow through when it comes to modeling.  My challenge to him was once I saw some paint on his colonials, I would place an order for enough figures for my first Hessian regiment.

As can be seen from his blog post, he is on his way, so I will order my Hessian troops this weekend.  More painting *sigh*.  Not my favorite part of the the hobby, but the 28mm Perry figures should be easier on my old eyes than the 15mm figs I painted up for Flames of War.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Feature

 

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