Thursday, 30 September 2010

Black Powder

Battles with Model Soldiers in the Age of the Musket (1700-1900)

Let me get straight to the point ... this is one of the best rulebooks I have ever purchased. Hardback and 182 pages. It's beautifully produced with lavish illustrations and superb photos throughout. The style of writing is light hearted and jovial without being comical. Rules are clearly explained along with the authors views on how gentleman should play wargames.

Let me dispel a few potential myths about needing large tables, lots of figures and whether the rules are 'rules' or merely 'guidelines'.

Firstly, large tables are not essential as the authors give guidance on scaling movement and weapon ranges for smaller tables. Distance is generally calculated in blocks of 6" or 12" so a simple adjustment for a smaller table, e.g. halving distances, is very easy. This view was supported when I asked about table size on the WAB forum.

Secondly, lots of figures in huge units (whilst desirable) are not essential. Units are classed as Tiny, Small, Standard or Large. The authors view of Standard is approx 30-36 but again they give guidance that the size classifications can easily be adjusted to suit your collection. So battalions of 12, 16, 20, etc are perfectly ok.

Thirdly, this book is definitely a complete set of rules. Like all rules there's bound to be occasions where the rules do not fully cover a particular situation, so like all rules a little bit of player common sense is required. I also feel that they are quite elegant and will prove to be rather subtle. Whilst I have yet to play a game I get the impression that with these rules you'll feel more like you're fighting a historical miniature battle rather than playing a game. Particularly with the orders phase where players are encouraged to give orders very much in the style of their historical counterparts.

These rules have *really* inspired me to properly get in to gaming Napoleonics. I feel that they'll suit my own relaxed style of play very well indeed. So much so in fact, that I've ordered some more figures from Front Rank, plus a couple of boxes of Perry British - huzzah!

At just £21 (incl free delivery) from Amazon, this book is well worth adding to your collection, even if you're only an occasional gamer. Whether it's the battles of Malborough, the '45 rebellion, the Age of Napoleon & Wellington, or just the Thin Red Line fighting Queen Victoria's enemies in far flung places - anyone with an interest in the black powder era will find the book a fascinating read.


Grimsby Mariner said...

You're quite right about them being subtle. We've found that the skill is to apply the right characteristics to the right troops for a good game.

Matt said...

Thanks for the tip. It will be ages before I get to play, but I'll bear it in mind.

VolleyFireWargames said...

Actually the rules do favor larger units especially with the modifications for fire and morale - I spent several months playing them with a club in Scotland with mixed results - based on all my years of playing Napoleonics - I came away feeling I was playing a game and not a historical simulation. pay special attention to the support rules and how historical artillery batteries (different sizes) especially in the Napoleonic era are minimalized. Also National charateristics seem weak or non existant - but given all that and the multiple moves capability which I found a bit strange - the rules are playable for in August I played a pick up game with a friend and we found iy enjoyable although in need of as i put it ATPD (across the pond) modifications - So check out my blog for Scotland battle reports as well as Blenheim to Berlin another gentlemans blog with reports and his own set of amendments. I plan on trying the rules with Skirmish Pirate games where the various excentricities of these rules should be perfect. I am going to classify pirate crews as warbands for simplicity sake. Cheers David from the USA