Sunday, 5 February 2017

Black Powder - the next Boot Camp from the Demo Gamers

British Riflemen shoot at French Skirmishers
Yesterday I was treated to a most enjoyable game of Black Powder by a fellow gamer and his son. They both got into wargaming after one of our early Bolt Action Boot Camps and play World War II wargames as well as Napoleonic.
My vision of Napoleonic gaming has always been of grand majestic battles spanning large tables and taking a ponderous time to complete.
Not so with Black Powder from Warlord Games.
In this battle, my main army comprised four battalions of British Line infantry, a Rifle Battalion, an Artillery battery with the Brigade commander and General. I had additional reinforcements of similar size that would come on in turn six.
My excellent opponent commanded similar French forces with four line battalions, skirmishers and an artillery battery with Brigade commander and General, plus he had reinforcements of similar size.
My riflemen were hidden on the board and his skirmishers were at the crossroads. Soon enough I revealed my position by shooting at him - as one does. And then the action came thick and fast!

My always smiling, yet challenging, French Opponent
His French line raced up to the river's edge and then my forces started to arrive. Shortly afterwards the rest of my forces arrived and I defended my little area behind the fordable river.
His General then commanded two of his battalions to advance on my right flank but he rolled a 12 - a blunder. His two battalions did a quick charge right into my thin red line! I was stunned at how quick the game moved.
My Red Jackets defended well, forcing the first battalion back. The second battalion was unable to contact in his turn, so when it came my turn I charged him. I did not have enough options to change formation so I just charged in Line formation, hitting both his front and side.
It worked, so I'm not complaining and with a little help from the riflemen the two very brave (or foolish) French units were destroyed.
Suddenly my opponent was faced with the imminent collapse of his French forces.

Two British Lines charge the exposed French column

Luckily his reinforcements arrived and rather than contest my right flank he reinforced the crumbling main attack. Boom! Suddenly there they were on my flank getting all these enfilade fire bonuses. Aargh.
Somehow I was able to fail just enough to force a falling back which is just what I wanted for the exposed two battalions. And then with some very handy moves and dice rolls I forced the French over the edge and they ran, forcing the reinforcements to fall back as well.
The English had held their positions and jeered at their retreating foes.
But more importantly we both won. The game was enjoyable and could have gone either way at many points. My pre-conceptions regarding Musket Era wargaming was shaken and I now had the perfect game with which we can use to train new players.

Aargh! The French rush up and attack my flank.
We are now working with my fellow gamers so that at future Demo Gamers Boot Camps we will have Bolt Action AND Black Powder games for the public to try.
Why do we reckon Black Powder is the perfect set of rules to use for demo games?
My Napoleonic guys are coming out of the closet.

  1. The rules are simple and easy to learn
  2. A game can successfully be completed in 2.5 hours
  3. A force of 4 line battalions, Skirmishers, Artillery, Brigade Commander and General is enough troops to learn the rules and have various tactical challenges.
  4. Action happens quickly and your choices impact the results. It is not just a game of rolling dice.
  5. The game teaches you about history and demonstrates historical tactics and strategy without excess complications
Naturally, the first thing we have done is create an Index for the rules. You can download a copy from here. Just print it at 100% and it fits beautifully in the inside back or front covers.


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