Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Thoughts on "Blackpowder" from Warlord

Warlord games have released some notes about their forthcoming 1700-1900 era rules "Blackpowder".

Have a look at

My initial reaction (before reading the article) was "Hooray!" since I'm planning to slowly build a decent Napoleonic French force to fight against Jimbo's redcoats. He's looked at number of rulesets but has not been inspired. To keep things simple we discussed the idea of using the Napoleonic variant of those well known Warhammer rules. Whilst I think that it would give a perfectly playable game, I'm not sure it would truly capture the 'feel' of the horse & musket era. In particular, the difficulties encountered by commanders trying to direct troops on a confusing, smoke shrouded battlefield, i.e. the fog of war. So ... seeing these rules advertised as being written for the horse & musket era and by such respected persona as Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson, I was jolly excited!

However, my excitement was soon tempered by the article stating that the rules were tailored for their gaming environment, namely a large collection of figures and large tables. Units of 30 for infantry and 15 for cavalry. Hmmm? Our initial forces will be modest at best and the table will probably be the average 6'x4'.

Continued reading revealed that the rules (in part at least) owe something to the Warmaster set, particularly the movement rules. I've never played Warmaster but having read the rules I was impressed with them, e.g. the command and control aspect for moving units and/or brigades of units. This I felt was encouraging news!

Further on I note that casualties are not removed, instead units accrue markers to reflect their battle-worthiness. This idea I like because it means that all your hard work (painting and modelling) stays on the table for much of the game. Markers needn't be bits of paper, they can easily be nicely modelled mini-vignettes. Fun to paint and look great on the table.

Not much information about how shooting and combat work, but the morale system allows for units that have taken a pounding to become 'shaken' whereupon their fighting and shooting ability is reduced and their likelihood of running is increased. Additionally they cannot engage the enemy in combat. This all seems fairly sensible.

So my earlier worries about the possible necessary size of the game and units have been somewhat assuaged. Move distances can be scaled for all troops easily enough, as can unit sizes.

Additionally, the rules are not aimed at highly competitive play. Good I say! I prefer to play toy soldiers in a spirit of gentlemanly co-operation. Of course the rules still need to be worded well to avoid in-game confusion. But my view is that if people like Rick, Jervis, Dave Andrews, the Perry's play this game regularly and enjoy it then it has to be worth trying out.

So, will I buy the rules? Probably!? ;-)

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