Thursday, 17 March 2011

[NOT] Galloping at Everything!

16th March 2011-03-17
6mm Black Powder.

We wanted a game of Black Powder but as my own 28mm French Napoleonic Army is still in training our choice of scale was a bit limited.  In the end we decided to use my own and Rob (B)’s 6mm Napoleonics which have been put on the 60mm frontage bases for the Polemos system.

The Scenario was a variation of the fighting withdrawal scenario in the Black Powder Rules Book.  A small British Force trying to get from one end of a 6ft table to another, hotly pursued by a larger French force.

Order of Battle.

1st Brigade
2 Battalions Line Infantry
1 Battery of Foot Artillery
2nd Brigade
2 Battalions of Line Infantry
1 Battalion of Light Infantry
3rd Brigade
2 Battalions of Hussars
1 Battery of Horse Artillery

1st Brigade
3 Battalions Line Infantry
1 Battery of Foot Artillery
2nd Brigade
2 Battalions of Line Infantry
1 Battalion of Guard Infantry
1 Battery of Foot Artillery
3d Brigade
2 Battalions of Dragoons
1 Battalion of Hussars

Each side had 2 Brigadiers with a staff rating of 7 and 1 with a staff rating of 6.

Both sides opted to deploy in March Column and initially it looked like it would be a simple foot race to the end of the table.

Obviously before we could start we had to have the usual discussion with Bob about the rules and how they are written.  Rob (B) and I are fond of all the pretty pictures of toys while Bob is disapproving of “fluff”. Luckily things didn’t get heated thanks to my clever use of a mini bag of Haribo Star Mix.

I have to admit that Bob has a point about using the book when actually playing the game.  Although enjoyable on the first read we did struggle to identify specific rules during play.  I think an index would have be really useful. The situation was not helped however by the fact that Rob (B) had enjoyed looking at all the pictures so much, he had neglected to actually read the rules!

For those who have not played Black Powder yet; a main part of the game is the Command phase.  One has to “declare” their orders to the brigade by stating what they are intending to do.  For example;  “The Brigade will advance in column to beyond the trees and then deploy in to line”.  You then roll against the Brigadiers staff rating to see if the orders are communicated efficiently or not.  This can mean that a Brigade could get to have up to 3 moves in a turn or none.  This gives a lot of freedom of movement in that a battalion or brigade could potentially march, deploy in to line and then advance in line all in one turn. 

The Game 
Things started badly for the British.  They failed nearly every command role and would have remained stationary but for the 1 free move they got for being in march column.

The French did better,  moving out for the confines of a wooded are and on to open ground where they could release the cavalry and deploy in to attack formations.  The French Brigade on the left deployed in to Attack Columns and, on the right the Cavalry in to line thus forcing a nearby British Battalion to form Square.

Things then got worse for the British as a blundered command role caused a Brigade which up until then was making good it’s escape, turned about face and advance directly on the enemy.  Clearly not quite grasping the concept of a fighting withdrawal.  The manoeuvre blocked the British guns and put two battalions of infantry in the path of 2 supported  French Attack Columns who; with trumpets blaring were barrelling towards them.

Luckily for the British things then started going down hill for the French as their  command rolls starting drying up and as the French charged home we realised that the British had an Artillery battery on their  right and the infantry battalion in square to their left which were both close enough to count as flank support.

Despite the overwhelming melee strength of the French in their Attack Columns the British held their ground initially and then forced one of the French formations, to retire.

The French cavalry had ground to a halt and though supporting the infantry as it went in to the attack but not able to advance up the field and cut off the British escape as I had hoped.

The result was a draw.  The British were doing well in the centre but were pinned there and would find it difficult to withdraw, the French at the same time had lost any momentum and would struggle to cut off the British without sustaining heavy losses.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to properly finish the game as we ran out of time.  As with any new rule set a lot of time was spent pouring over the rule book and as mentioned above we did find it very difficult to find rules quickly and resolve issues.

Rob (B) and I felt that 6mm on the 60x40mm bases did not really work with this set of rules either.  You really need the flexibility that larger scales (or smaller bases) give you.  Saying that, I do really like these rules!  They are simple, fun and the open play and freedom of movement means one avoids those silly situations where formations; due to the draconian movement rules, spend the game wheeling one way and then the other trying to get in to the right position.  I am looking forward to playing Black Powder more but Rob (B) was a little put off due to the fact that because of his terrible command roles we dubbed it “Rob’s Static Phase”  (we forgot that he could have actually used the battalions own initiative to move when close to the enemy and did not find the rules until we were packing up….oops).

 Finally an apology for the quality of the pictures, I rushed these I'm afraid so the quality is terrible.

Rob S

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