What I meant was Warlord Games's "Horse & Musket" period rules Black Powder. Andy had the rules and suggested we do a play test at the Games Group's Saturday gathering. Since it was Board Games Day and some of our regulars -like my son- went on the "board games crawl" around London, there were only four of us at the group - Andy, Kevin, my wife, Beth, and myself. It ended up being the perfect size for the playtest. Andy laid out four battalions and one cannon for the British forces in the War of 1812 and the same for the US. Since we'd never played the game before, we decided to keep the experiment small. Cavalry played only a tiny part in the conflict (I only know of three cavalry charges in the entire war!), so they were left out.
We had all heard somewhere that Black Powder used the same mechanics as GW's Warmaster, a favourite game system of mine. (It's sometimes referred to as Warhamster.) I was not interested in doing another Napoleonic/SYW/Horse & Musket set of rules, but I was game to try these. It ends up that the mechanics of BP are quite similar to the mechanics of Warmaster with some extra detail or chrome added in. The game flows nicely and anyone familiar with Warmaster would find it familiar. There are differences in the command and control rules, in the shooting and the hand-to-hand fighting rules, but the differences make a lot of sense. The morale rules differ slightly, but again, the differences make sense.
Black Powder is quite flexible, allowing for any scale of figures so long as both opponents are based similarly. The rules cover 1700 to 1890, or the period of history from the universal use of the flintlock musket to the advent of the magazine-fed bolt-action rifle.
A few photos are in order (photos by Beth, Andy, and myself):
|The "Brain Trust" looking over the field. From the left - John, Andy and Kevin.|
The troops moved up fast due to the command & control rules effecting movement.
|American troops advance. Andy has a huge collection of War of 1812 infantry and artillery.|
|The Soldiers of the King advance in turn.|
|We kept terrain to a minimum and kept the troop numbers down.|
Next time, I hope we add some light infantry - maybe rifles and Native warriors.
|The opposing sides are impressive. Andy was a long time collecting these.|
|Melee combat! We turned a stand sideways to indicate the unit was disordered. |
Being disordered has consequences for movement, firing, receiving orders, and morale.
|The business end of the artillery.|
|Special delivery for Cousin Jonathan! Here Kevin has moved his cannon into position to enfilade one of my battalions.|
It wasn't pretty. At close range, cannon roll 3d6, but DOUBLE that when enfilading an enemy.
|The other side of the mess. When a unit has taken more than 3 casualties, further casualties are considered "excess" and this has consequences for morale/break tests.|
My verdict? A simple, enjoyable game that has lots of flexibility and possibilities. It is not simplistic and in all honesty, it won't appeal to those who like to remove casualties. The counting of casualties has more to do with loss of unit cohesion and morale than body count, and I have to agree with that. We made all the units equal in all their values, but there is provision in the rules for better, elite troops and for disaffected or green troops. There is an element of chance, but isn't there in every game? (If all the outcomes came predetermined, who would play?) The command & control rules allowing double or triple movement if the commander rolls well or blunders if he rolls badly take some getting used to, but as I said before, if you've played the full rules of Warmaster, you have some familiarity with that. In fact, I think the BP rules are an improvement on Warmaster. The authors (Rick Priestly and Jervis Johnson, well-known names in wargaming circles) say this is more a reflection of an efficient or imcompitent staff than the sense of the general. The same comment - that BP might be better than Warmaster in some ways - could also be said for the break test rules; Black Powder provides the players with more possibilities.
I might not run out and buy the rules, but I have an itch to paint up some of my 28mm figs and base them for this set of rules. I do think this is an perfect set of rules to introduce new gamers to table-top gaming and fantasy player to historicals as well as playing in at a convention.
|A few years ago, Andy made up some "personal" figures for the two of us, so we're seen here discussing the deployment, care, and feeding of model soldiers.|
|28mm figures in large groups make an impressive array.|
|The US 22nd had failed morale and was in the process of being removed when the photo was taken. |
Casualties are not removed in Black Powder, although entire units can go poofters after some hard pounding.