Saturday, 2 June 2018

Black Powder game with small units

Here are pictures of a game we played recently at the club.

Black Powder, but with little differences. We played this AWI game as a kind of skirmish game with 8 figure units. None of us have enough figures to do a game like this with 24 figure battalions, so I suggested a skirmish type game as I thought all the mechanics would still work. And they did. We had a great game on a 6 x 4 table.

The other thing I suggested using was the Quick Start rules from the Waterloo boxed set. This is a simple 7 page easy intro to the game and was perfect for what I wanted to do. We were all rusty on the rule mechanisms as we'd not played BP for a long time. 

The scenario we chose was Freeman's Farm from the BP rulebook. Here are the British on the road. In the distance are the British skirmishers being surprised by the Americans emerging from the woods. And, to my eye, this looks fine as a game of BP. 

And here are the first American die rolls, needing 4+ to hit.  Hilarious.

The British advance over the river. The British advancing along the road have hits and are disordered. The Americans in front have hits. The British are about to take their break test. 

And some time later the British advance over the river in the opposite direction. The British attempt to move around the left of the wood may show some success.  

Same view from a different angle. Near the back of the table are Americans who showed an amazing ability to fail their command rolls. 

On the British left flank, three American units are advancing while the Hessians on the road stand and watch. 

At the end of the night is was looking like an American victory.  It was a great game, and to the chaps who played, the game played well and looked well.

We'll return to this simple version of BP again and probably with the same size units. Though next time we may try the full BP rules. 

The other thing that's come out of the game, is my decision to keep my 28mm plastic Italians and Waterloo box set and my own AWI/imagin-nations stuff.  

The reason behind this is a couple of weeks back I had a game of Sharp Practice 2.  I've never really taken to SP and while the game was OK, I just got fed up of the writing style and trying to find stuff in the rules. And to me, the SP rules are not well written. I seemed to spend more time figuring out how many actions this officer or unit could perform and checking charts and tables than I did playing the game. I came away from the game somewhat down-hearted and thought about selling off my 28mm stuff.

But then my mind turned to Black Powder and what I regard as the elegant simplicity of it's mechanisms. There seemed to be no reason not to play this as a skirmish style game with smaller units.  And it worked.  Particularly with the Quick Start rules. And so I'm happy and looking forward to another game, and I'm going to keep my 28mm figures. 

As a final note to fellow gamers, if you have or can get the BP Quick Start rules, try to have a game as a skirmish. It's great fun, and the rules need minimal tweaks.

And a note to Warlord Games; please consider doing a skirmish version (or supplement) of Black Powder using the Quick Start rules as the basis.  It may not sell a lot of figures, but as an intro to BP for those without huge armies, it would be great. 

More later. 


  1. I have just finished reading through BP, thanks to the free download.
    It will be a hit with me as it is the same system as Hail Caesar and Pike n Shotte. These are all descendants of Warmaster, which was my favourite after getting bored with warhammer ancients and it’s super heroes.
    I have solo played hail caesar for years as it is so easy to play.
    I think I will have to run out my ACW armies for some BP soon.
    Ps, your forces look fine to me, I play using 6mm figures on a much smaller table.

  2. Looks good and interesting to see how well BP transposed to skirmish level gaming too!

    Downloaded the pdfs for Black Powder and it's friends and the berths start drive on the computer died. Currently in the process of reinstalling from the back up drive, once finished I'll try again 😀

    Strangely was thinking of BP for ACW as well but in 15mm.

    Cheers, Ross

  3. Good post, the flavour of BP writing is that it is for 12' x 6' tables with hundreds of figures and that is a wall that many want to cross to get to their realistic set-ups, but BP seems flexible enough to work in the 'average' home, I think the book should have made greater emphasis on that.

    I have been using frontages of either 120mm with 10mm or 150mm with 28mm and everything seems fine, though I halve measurements.

    The Quick start rules are very helpful …. though my set did not show how to recover from Disorder! fortunately, I also have the full set.

  4. Thanks for the comments, gents.

    Strangely enough, I read more of the Rebellion book on the AWI and saw the last two scenarios are skirmishes with 6 figure infantry and 3 figure cavalry units. Doh! If only I'd actually read more than looking at the eye candy.

    Norm. Yes, the Quick Start rules don't show how to recover from disorder. A bit of a nuisance, but thankfully the Waterloo box has the full rules that explain that bit.

    Hopefully we'll get back to BP soon and I'll try to post some more.