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. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Tom, thirty sobs saved! 😃 With you on the text and I haven't even seen it. Orange isn't friendly on the eyes and text on a colour background should be clear. Not a fan of colour for the sake of it - too many products are getting over designed now in my opinion.

    Will pick up a second hand copy of BP1 in the future.

    Cheers, Ross