Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Black Powder - Rebellion - first impressions

Having just read through the Black Powder AWI scenario book "rebellion" I thought I'd summarise my first impression.

 Overall it's 148 pages long, of which 14 are historical background, which I skimmed through, but it provides an overview and context for the scenarios, especially for those new to the period. Then there are over 40 pages on the armies, commanders, tactics, all quite well done, and for those starting out a very good uniform guide.

Then the real meat the scenarios, 19 of them and you get plenty of variety for your money, from major actions down to grand skirmishes, all given with notes on how to adapt the rules to cover the peculiarities of the troops involved in the action. I could argue with the attributes given for some units mostly where the uni's performance on the day fell below their long term achievements, but the author does admit this. There are also some liberties taken with the terrain, such as Charlestown appearing on the immediate flank of Breed's Hill, but I think these are mainly done to create a playable scenario. In the Breed's Hill case I think it forces the Crown player to make the historically accurate direct assault. I could work though scenario by scenario, but I'd rather play some first.

One niggle is the mix of unit sizes as my preference is to try and make units standard size as far as possible as I'd rather have two standard units in a brigade rather than a large and a small just to keep it compatible with the OOB rather than because the fighting characteristics are substantially difference.

There is lots of nice eye candy, and it's tempting me to consider painting more figures like the 2nd New Hampshire in their blue coats and some new Rebel cavalry.

Could I use it with my rules? Has to be yes - just adjust the strength point up/down to reflect large or small unit I'd use 7 and 3 points. Then where more/less dice are given for fire or melee use +1/-1 to the factors. Morale should just be adjusted similarly, but watch that stamina hasn't been adjusted as well. More tricky are the special factors, Wavering could be covered by lowering the morale more. British Infantry with both first fire and steady might have their strength points increased. Mostly the changes have to be considered for each scenario.

Overall opinion - it's the best scenario book produced by Warlord for Black Powder.

 Link to Warlord

Friday, 6 July 2012

Germantown - reflections

"Thomas" raised the question of how well the game handled (felt) with 5 bases per unit. it's a difficult question to answer simply, so here are a number of thoughts:

  1. In my original design  back in the early 80s I felt that the size of the units minimised the potential for variation across the firing line/zone of interaction.  i.e. a small number of units occupied the combat frontage and their performance dictated play.  With the new rules figures were doubled ranked and large British/German units were deliberately split creating a much smaller frontage.
  2. Observing FOG played in both 28mm and 15mm, where the move distances are the same but the frontages are wider, In 15mm there is more scope for manoeuvre and in 28mm the concentration is on managing "impact".
  3. The larger frontage (number of bases) avoids some of the issues making march columns over powerful, but maybe something is needed to cope with ad-hoc assault columns on narrow frontages and the "new" French columns.
Germantown is something of an exception in larger AWI battles and where the the full forces were not deployed effectively, so the frontage scaling issue is not so apparent as in more "formal" battles

My conclusion is that the change will work well on larger tables and smaller battles and particularly well for meeting engagements.  However it is a personal judgement on the exact balance between manoeuvre and clash for the battle being fought.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Germantown - offside report

Low Roller aka Wargames Amateur has posted a report of the game over on his blog. The five base units and the same -2 for column gave me cause for concern.

 Looking at my original calculations for firing, etc. and how they related to outcomes I used 7 as the baseline target for 2d6 which gave a 58% chance of a hit, a -2 for column/half line unit should have 29% and a minus 2 on the dice gave 28% so quite close.

Over years of playing I had become concerned that the rules have really reflected a assault column in firing/combats but a march column for movement/flexibility and it still reflects Charlie Wissencrafts original ACW rules used at COW back in the 80s rather than general practice in the AWI, excluding the French who were experimenting with assault columns.  (Also ignoring the cases where a line has to split fire between two units)

The move to larger based units used by Steve gives an opportunity to address this somewhat. The 2d6 system works well for 4 base units with modifiers. Taking the base line of 58% with four base units the factors for 4/3/2/1 should be 58%/44%/29%/15%, now using -1 for each missing base gives 58%/42%/28%/17%, which is pretty close.

Changing over to 5 base units should give 58%/47%/35%/23%/12%, which is quite difficult to match on a 2d6 roll. It would mean moving to a 3d6 roll say targeting 10 gives a base hit of 63% (note it is higher than before) and the reduction for each base should be 63%/50%/38%/25%/13% and applying -1 per missing base gives 63%/50%/38%/26%/16% so quite a close fit.

Just working through this highlights how the balance of play can be affected by what seem small changes and could result in a change of mechanism. personally I would use 2d6 and -1 per missing base as the lower effectiveness should better reflect the less effective fighting formation being used in addition to the smaller number of muskets deployed

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Germantown - a refight

Lord Royston awoke early with a ringing bell inside his head. He tripped over the floozie sleeping on the ground and fought his way out of his tent. The air was cool and damp and there was a heavy mist. The sentry was caught unawares, but managed to salute but Lord Royston didn't care, he headed towards his portable latrine. While there he had the impression of muskets firing, but it was difficult to think clearly after the previous nights indulgence. Anyway if there was a problem, surely his ADC would inform him, otherwise it was probably the picquets firing at something edible.

After a while he emerged to see one of his regiments forming up, but a sudden nauseous feeling overwhelmed him and he rushed back to his latrine. Meanwhile, out on the picquet line his troops had observed Americans advancing and manoeuvred to resist their march on the British camp. Rather than occupying the solid Chew house they fell back on Germantown itself drawing the Americans onwards
Later Lord Royston would claim that it was his Fabian strategy that caused the Rebels defeat. Only just in time the remainder of Lord Roston's forces mustered and presented a solid line covering the British camp.

The Americans couldn't believe their luck, if they could just coordinate their forces their combined strength would surely overwhelm the Royalist and liberate the colonies. At that very moment more Royalist forces poured onto the battlefield in response to a vaguely worded request for assistance penned by Lord Royston's ADC.

The Colonists put up a determined resistance, but to no avail, although they did enjoy the sight of Hessians advancing repeatedly into cannon range and then hastily withdrawing, before eventually routing back to Philadelphia.

The moment of the game for the British was the Cavalry exploiting a gap in the Rebel line to ride up behind them and sweep back again, wiping out most of a Rebel column.

A great game by the Gentlemen Pensioners, hosted by Steve, who has been investing in 28mm figures for the period, but the rules were mine, with minimal variation to see how they coped with 5 base units. Apologies to Roy who had command of the British vanguard and had never read accounts of the battle and therefore didn't see the value of occupying the Chew house, probably for the best. I expect further report to appear on other blogs and I'll add links

Thursday, 24 November 2011

More rebasing

Having earlier rebased some of my AWI collection, I decided on a quick rebase of a few more, as a number of figures were falling off their bases. Easier said than done! The culprits were based with a coarse sawdust that was difficult to remove, and I found quite a most needed touched up, and a few repairs were needed as well.

The original units were split by pose, but since I had started the work I decided to split the kneeling/firing poses between the 10th and 14th Foot by changing the yellow/white facings on the appropriate figures.

Overall they were not in bad condition from thirty years service and they are now ready to see a lot more service.

Over the next few days I'll try and post details of the individual units.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


While preparing for a game a couple of weeks back I picked up my fusiliers to find several figures loose from the base and the flag still needing fixed from the last time they were used. So I decided it was time for a rebase and touch up. Unfortunately I couldn't find an easy way off re-fixing the flag without damaging it, so it has now retired after over 30 years service. The unit has also changed from the 7th to the 23rd Foot.

Background is my scratch built southern mansion that will take the whole unit

In addition I also rebased my German (Hessian/Brunswick) grenadiers, just to see how much easier it was to rebase figures that were still firmly fixed to their bases.

Overall starting from existing basing didn't save much time, so for other units I may just rebase from scratch.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Inspirational figures

I spotted the review of the Trident Designs 40mm Hessians in the latest WI, it's not my scale, but the site has lots of inspiring eye candy convering a lot of the AWI.

Trident Designs link