Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Scientific Method

This past Saturday, Andy and I tried an experiment at our gathering for the Hamilton Road Gaming Group. We like our Imagi-nations armies and we like the Black Powder rule set from Warlord Games. Our Imagi-nations armies for the Duchy of Frankenschwein and the Electorate of Freedonia are set up for play using Warfare in the Age of Reason. We wanted to try to see if we could meld the two.

Whenever possible...

It didn't work.

Black Powder is an excellent set of rules for the horse-and-musket period. Command and control is primary and the rules allow for a lot of variation in the quality and characteristics of troop types. For example, my standard Freedonian line infantry battalion has the "first fire" characteristic which allows an extra die to be thrown the first time the unit fires its muskets. My Sepoy regiment has the added characteristic of "ferocious charge" which gives the unit a re-roll of failed hand-to-hand rolls in their charge move. The mercenary regiments -which add a lot of colour to the army- were rated as "freshly raised" and have to roll a die when they either fire for the first time or fight hand-to-hand the first time. This determines their reaction which can be "Panic!" on one end of the spectrum to "Up and at 'em!" and other reactions in between. Some folks object to this set of rules because casualties are not removed. Each unit has a "Stamina" rating which shows how many casualties the unit can take before it is required to take a break test. If the unit breaks, it is removed from the table, never to be seen again until the next game. The game reminds me of GW's Warmaster, which is, in my opinion, one of the top games to be marketed by the "Evil Empire."  Here command & control and morale are the main issues of the play. 

Image result for darth vader threats
You WILL buy more figures... your old armies are no longer supported by the Rules.
Nah-nah Na-nah-nah!

Warfare in the Age of Reason is a good game as well. There is a more detailed combat system and fewer troop types. I must admit I prefer Black Powder, but that is a case of personal preference. De gustibus non est disputandum. 

Worth having in your gaming library, if only for the map generating system.
In any event, the basing for Age of Reason is not compatible with the rules of Black Powder. It just didn't work. Andy and I played about 3-4 turns and discovered that manoeuvre was very hard to work out. It made for a less-than-perfect afternoon of gaming, but we got an answer to our question through experimentation. None of us want to rebase our figures AGAIN. So the noble experiment was tried and succeeded! We got an answer and it satisfied us.

The other big question of the day was whether Julius Fučík's march "The Entrance of the Gladiators" (for those who prefer the Czech language  "Vjezd gladiátorů" and for those who prefer the circus screamer title "Thunder and Blazes") was a stand-alone piece or a part of a larger musical composition. It is a stand-alone march which became associated with American circus bands. It is a "screamer" or a fast-paced piece used to accompany some activity in the circus ring. They are really fun to play and quite technically difficult. A concert of circus marches would usually exhaust a band, so I can only imagine what sort of tough sons-of-guns used play for Barnus & Bailey or Ringling Brothers. The marches are fun to listen to.

If you ever run across this album, GET IT! A top-notch circus band at its best.

Then try this: Rolling Thunder and watch your ears fall off. I've been a trombonist for almost 50 years and I'm in awe. 

Who says toy soldiers and band can't go together?
Looks like Britains Ltd, version of the U.S. Marine Band - "The President's Own"
Well, both the director (front rank) and the nearest drummer need a hand... as it were.


  1. I have been playing Black Powder with my Warfare in the Age of Reason based Prussians for a few years now without issue. I just declared that a 12 fig unit was standard.
    I find Black Powder allows bigger armies than Age of Reason.

    1. We had no problem with the unit size, but with the basing --- 3 figures x 4 bases, based in a single line on each base. I imagine if we used four figs in two lines, we'd be better. My armies were based for Koenig Krieg and we had no issue converting.