22 November, 2015

Napoleonics: Portuguese and British vs French, using Black Powder ruleset

Scott's French Command.. incredible work..

Well well, here we go again.   Last time we checked in on my French it was to paint them to be used in Kings of War, a Mantic game of ranked infantry in a fantasy setting.   We had an event at this year's local Con, and whilst my french did badly (Who knew a goblin Warlord was better at shooting than a whole unit of Fusilliers?) it was nice to see familiar faces from the old local Warhammer scene.  But I had based my guys singly on 20mm bases in case Mark and I ever got around to playing Colonials. Instead, we met up with Scott and Rob, and played the excellent Black Powder ruleset in 28mm.  Scott had chatted me up at the Late War Flames tourney about dusting off the old 28mm models for a test game in his war-room basement..
"So an Aussie, a Frenchman and 2 Canadians walk into a bar.."
Tonnes of pics after the break

Real fast, here are some shots of the extra detail I put into my Fusiliers.
Nothing fancy, but they are starting to look great once inked and highlighted
Brits and Portuguese vs the French

Mark brought his British, with naval Aux. on the left, rifles in skirmish order in the foreground

Rifles still based for Sword and Flames colonials..

Borrowed brit cannon from Scott
"Thick Red Line" of british soldiery.  Looking great Mark

Scott has some Portuguese line infantry with Cazadores in front, with Cavalry back centre as reserves (see below).

 Enough pre-game pics, lets get to it.   Black Powder is a ruleset from Warlord Games, who also make Bolt Action and Pike and Shotte.   Looking at the credits, it has ex golden-era GW staff such as Jervis Johnson, Rick Priestley, John Stallard and Paul Sawyer.   It is not limited to Napoleonics, either, opting to have a generic template for troops and stats, and you can adjust either stats or add / remove special rules with points adjustments.  So if you wanted to, you could do a what-if of US ACW troops fighting Ottoman Turks for any time period prior to the use of machine guns and trench warfare!

Turn 1, Rob's dragoons are already across the table, unsupported.....
 One thing we found strange at first but awesome once we figured out the rationale, is that in the movement step, you take a command test, and you get 1 to 3 actions.   Example, Rob's Dragoons above had a morale of 8, and he rolled a 6 on 2d6, beating the score by 2.  He got 2 actions.  He chose two move actions of 18 inches which seems ridiculous, but my infantry could have advance 3 x 12 inches as well (I reformed after I advanced)   What this means is all the positioning that in other games takes 2 or 3 turns, gets done in turn one.  In the example above, Rob's infantry failed miserably, and the Div commander couldn't even help out!
Scott's Cazadores head into the woods..

While Mark's skirmishers also head into the woods.. part of a cunning plan??

This is after turn 2, I am playing it too safe, but was hoping to whittle down the enemy with some cannon and musketfire first..

Rob advances into the skirmishers.  Horses didn't want to hit the woods, so the infantry will have to clear it.
 Once units are within 12 inches of each other (and Inf move 12 inches per action) they can only move directly forwards or directly back.  So at closer quarters, you have to spend action points to line up if you want to use a 2nd action to charge.
Rob's dragoons only take 2 casualties from the Cannon...

Meanwhile my Cuirassiers charge the portuguese unit NOT in a square formation.  However I will be flanked by the Cazadores since it is I-Go You-Go for each step in a turn.
 Skirmishers of course can move in any direction, but normally are not allowed to charge into non-engaged units.   My Cav are engaged, so he can flank me.

Devastating Flank charge.. ..
..devastating for Rob's Dragoons!!! the naval Auxilliary somehow defeated the flanking Cav, and their morale broke because of prior shooting casualties!  Who knew deck-swabbers were great in combat?!?

Cavalry in Black Powder always break off or breakthrough.. unless flanked, like here.  It took a while but I was able to grind my way out of this combat.

However infantry v infantry can grind on.   Nearby units provide "support" combat results, which is keeping the Rifles in the fight vs the French in the Attack Column.

But once the Rifles break, I can turn and flank the British now in the familiar 'Thin Red Line' that whittled the dragoons down...

Grinding down the second Portuguese unit, despite the harassment in my rear quarter from the Cazadores.

All in all, Black Powder plays a LOT faster than even Kings of War.  All the rules 'make sense' and I really liked how for each step in a turn, both sides take action.   I got flanked with those Cazadores only because I am used to "I move, shoot then assault, and only THEN will be charge my flank" and it turns out he charges me 10 seconds after my movement step ends!   One thing we thought would enhance the game further is rolling for initiative before each turn, so if you went second in the previous turn you could go first in the next, gaining advantage.   I also like the idea of 'making your own units'   Within just Napoleonics as an example, you could tie up 50 pages with every unit and special rule and points.  In Black powder, its just a few pages.   Example:  French Infantry had a special rule where they can move in an attack column rather than March column (not as vulnerable to cannon, etc) whilst the British had better shooting.   We will definitely play Black Powder again, but it means I rebase all my singles into 40mm squares and try and learn the difference between a Shako and a Cuirassier :)

Glamour Shots of Scott's stuff.  Not pictured, all his Bolt Action armies, Saga, Ancients all to this standard.!!


  1. Nice! You should post more pictures of the armies! They look great!

  2. Will do.. once we get more stuff painted! ;)

    The delay in Team Yankee is perfect actually. Will be able to assemble and base what I bought from Scott (hundreds literally of more models) to be able to run a larger force.


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