Saturday, 3 November 2018

Black Powder 1 vs Black Powder 2 - a quick book review

So here's a quick review of the physical Black Powder 2 rulebook.  

I'll leave a review of the actual rules to others, though I will say I do like the rules and have had very good games with them. And I'll continue to play BP games. 

However, while the Warlord chaps are no doubt smugly congratulating themselves on a flawed product, I thought I'd give my view. 

Let's start at the very beginning ... the cover. 

BP1 had a clear cover. Dramatic main figure on the front surrounded by smaller images, and the key subtitle "Battles with model soldiers in the age of the musket." The simplicity of the cover gave the full idea that the rules cover battles from the 18th century through Napoleonics and the 19th century. 

And BP2?  Well, to me it looks like just another set of Napoleonic rules. There's nothing special here and no hint of other black powder conflicts. Just a bland cover.  

Now, if it was me, I would have kept the same cigarette card theme for the cover, and perhaps replacing the highlander with the French Line Infantry as the main central figure if I wanted to give it a Napoleonic theme. I would also have kept the key subtitle "Battles with model soldiers in the age of the musket."  

The vanity page. 

The vanity page. Ho-hum. It's part of a modern trend for authors and artists to put themselves into action paintings for rulebook covers. You know the kind of thing - Over the Hills, Napoleon and anything by Barry Hilton. 

You just know that these vanity people would run when they heard their first shot, and probably clutching their brown trousers. Still, at least the BP vanity page is a relaxed setting.

The text. 

Now to my main issue with the book.  Do you see the changes.  On the left is BP 1, on the right BP2.                                 



In BP1, note the black bold text headings and the text laid out in 2 columns. All good.

Now in BP2, headings are now orange on a buff background, and the text is now in 3 columns. 

Seriously guys, what stupid clown in the editorial team though that orange text on a buff background is, 
    a) readable in the first place, and
    b) more readable than black bold text.  

Seriously? What did the change to orange achieve. To me, it looks like change for the sake of change. Just the kind of thing smug idiot managers want because they don't think about the customer.  

I can't easily read these headings when flicking through the rules.   

And, 3 columns?  Again, seriously, why? WTF did this achieve? Change for the sake of change. 

Compare this picture of Hail Caesar (left) and Pike & Shotte (right). See how simple and readable it is. Bold black headings and 2 column text.                                    


Scenario for Quatre Bras. 

The hint on the back cover is that this is a scenario. Except, inside the book, it's a photo 'replay' of a Quatre Bras game. 

Again, seriously guys? 10 pages of photos?  How many times do you thing readers will look at this? Once if you're lucky.

This is a complete waste of 10 pages that could have been used to provide an actual scenario, or better, more diagrams and examples of play. e.g. How about examples of fighting at the edges and inside woods? More examples of support?                             



There are a few, and you'll find them on the internet somewhere. Most hilariously on pages 20 to 22. Lo and behold, here is a heading 'Skirmishers' in black bold text and a paragraph.  Except it's repeated at the top of page 22, this time with an orange heading. 

This looks like someone was changing BP1 and forgot this bit. It's also very amusing that the Skirmishers is a black bold text.  

Later in the rules there's even a die roll modifiers table in the wrong place. 

There's also a change to enfilade fire in the rules, but the QRS has not been changed.

All of these are just bad editing and bad proof reading. Probably done by people who were far too familiar with the rules and did not actually proof read anything.


So, all in all, a very disappointing product. Specially when they charge £30 for it. 

The clowns in the editorial team really need to be given a gook kick in the rear echelon. Or as Billy Connolly once said, "hanging is too good for them; it's a good kick up the arse they need."

Finally, if you have BP1, keep it. And keep playing games with it. Find out any changes and apply them if you want. Don't buy BP2. 

If you're part of a game group, buy one copy of BP2 for the group and learn the changes. No need for each of you to buy BP2.

Enough for now. There a good few more examples and you'll find them on internet somewhere. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

And the activity continues - tricornes and more tricornes

After recent forays in bigger figures, I reckoned it was time to get back to 15mm.

First up were the final units for the Great Northern War Swedes. The bases have still to be finished and the flags added, but I'm happy to get to this point. At the top left is a finished unit I used for quick reference. The cavalry at the top right are the Life Guards in their pale blue uniform. The chaps at the front are the traditional Swedes in blue and yellow. I used Miniature Paints for the blue and yellow. Mid-blue for the coats and canary yellow for the facings. Nice and bright, and looks good across the table.   

And after a long time, I'm getting back to the Seven Years War Austrians. I want to see if I can finish enough to do a decent scenario of Austria vs Prussia with these chaps.  

Finally, some pictures from a recent Black Powder game at a friend's house. Napoleonic British vs French in the Peninsula.  In 15mm.   

A group of us have now got the Black Powder 2 rules.  We've had some great games with BP1 and hopefully BP2 will be just as good. 

I'll do a critique of BP2 later. I think the rules are still good, but I feel the physical production of BP2 is disappointing compared to BP1.  BP2 has typos and bits that are bad to read. The layout has changed a bit and it seems to have been rushed. Disappointing when it could have been so much better. 

More later …  

close up on the 28mm Italians

Some photos on the Italians. I've not found a flag yet, so I may well just doctor a French flag and paint the blue bits green. 

First the command. The senior officer holding the sword in both hands was a mini-conversion job. I liked that pose from when I did some Historex stuff a long time ago. 

The skirmishers. 

The fusiliers firing.

The fusiliers marching.

A closer picture of some fusiliers marching. Why is it I only spot a figure is skew-wiff on a base after I've taken the picture. The officer is now standing straight in the picture below. 

And the grenadiers. 

Sometimes I think I put too much flock on the bases, yet at other times it looks OK.  The slightly curved sabot bases came from Warbases. The idea was to give the impression a line of troops without it being too precise.  

More later … 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

And the 28mm Napoleonic Italians are done

Here are the finished figures. 

First a couple of pictures from my outdoor varnish session last Saturday.  It was a good dry day with minimal wind, everything worked out fine. 

And the finished figures, though I've still to do a flag. Overall not too bad, though I may have slightly overdone the green undergrowth. 

And having done these, the question is what to do with them. I'm going to move on to do French and British.  I'll offer these Italians to chaps at the club and if there are no takers, then they can go to ebay.   

I'll also try to take some better pictures of these. Maybe some close up. 

When I'm painting my next batch of 28mm figures, I reckon I'll try to adopt a much simpler style of painting - almost toy soldier style with bright flat colours. But we'll see … more later. 

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Current activity 2 - some 28mm Napoleonic Italians

No posts for ages, then 3 show up at once.  :) 

This is my current painting project. I'm trying to get these Victrix Napoleonic infantry finished. 

First, the chaps nearly finished. This is an officer and a detachment of the Italian 1st Light Infantry. This was done using my favourite semi-wash technique over a white undercoat, followed by more detail painting and a small bit of shading.  

And some chaps that are work-in-progress.  White undercoat again, and shading in the folds. 

And waiting on the tray are the rest of the chaps. There are 60 figures in total.  

I'm not sure if I'll keep them after this. Painting them is fun, but the force was put together for Sharp Practice, which I'll not play again, and I may not use them for Black Powder. I'll see how I feel after they're all done, and then offer them to chaps at the club or put them on ebay. 

Hopefully more posts soon.  

Current activity - some 10mm WW1

Here are current activities.  First a bit of stumbling with WW1 figures and black undercoat. 

Now, I'll admit, I've never really liked a black undercoat, much preferring white.  I think it's really because I can't see any detail on a black undercoat. And so, when I got some Kallistra 10mm WW1 figures I had a debate about which to use, then decided to trial both. 

Here are pictures. After undercoating black, I gave the those figures a top down dusting of pale grey. It looks OK so far. 

Then I applied some field grey, and washed over it with a green wash, because I understand the WW1 German uniforms seem to have been slightly more green than in WW2.  It's OK so far, though I'm not convinced the black really achieved anything. 

However, at the back was my airbrushed attempt to do the blue coat on the French, and it was a mess. I just didn't like it, and after a bit of a debate, decided to strip the paint and start again. 

And a final shot of the figures after being brushed with isopropyl cleansing alcohol.  It was like reverse dry-brushing.  

After all this I've decided to pause and think some more about how to paint these figures.  I think I may even rebase to 3 infantry and 2 cavalry per base. 

More later. 

games have been happening

I've not posted in ages, though gaming activity has continued. There were a lack of decent pictures on my part, mostly down to forgetting on the day and sometimes a shaky hand on the camera.  

Here's a selection of reasonable pictures. 

First was our first game of 1914. It was a new rule set and we played with 15mm figures belonging to a couple of the chaps at the club.  A nice game system based on playing initiative tokens to do stuff. As the name suggests, it's for 1914 and the initial battles where there was still an element of movement. I liked it and would like to try the game system again, but we have so many games to play. 

Next is a snapshot of a Black Powder game and an AWI scenario.  This battle took place in open woodland, hence the scattered trees.  The British were advancing from the bottom.   

And the clash when the two lines met.  This was another fun game using Black Powder.  

Back to the great war, this time in 6mm and using the Spearhead rules.  The figures were by a fellow club member.  6mm may not be to everyone's taste, but I like the more operational possibilities in games like this. While 28mm looks very good, many games do tend to involve charging over the table as fast as possible and throwing lots of dice.  

If I remember correctly, each base represents a company, and this is me, as Germans, trying to take a river crossing on my left flank, with 3 battalions of a regiment with accompanying machine guns and artillery support somewhere off to the rear.  

And this is my corresponding attack on my right flank with a similar sized force. 

Back to Black Power and a Great Northern War scenario. Holzowyn.  This is the only decent picture I took. At the top of the table the Swedes have just emerged from the marsh to attach the Russian right.  The rest of the Russians stretch down the table towards the camera, and are defending a long low ridge against more Swedes advancing from the left. 

The objective of the scenario is that the outnumbered Swedes have to attack and win before all the Russian reserves arrive.  It was a really goo game, but we stumbled a bit by having 7 people round the table, most of whom were new to Black Powder.  I'd really like to do this scenario again with 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2, to play more slowly and demonstrate the rules  a bit better. 

 More to come.