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January 11, 2012 by beerogre
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Andy and Darrell take a look through what is probably one of the premier historical game systems on the market at the moment… Black Powder from Warlord Games.
Sounds like fun and a lot of colorful minis. BUT I really really hate that most historical games don’t have a points system. Building the armylists is half the fun of this hobby and why can’t they include a point list so that you can fight a resonably balanced fight? If you don’t wanna use the lists, fine but include them.
How fun is it to battle against an army just full of elites and nothing else? I’m sorry but the “bring what you have” method requires a really really tight group.
That’s just it though. This game is meant for you and a group of your friends who know and respect each other – a real ‘gentleman’s’ wargame. If your opponent is fielding only elite units with tons of special rules and has only painted maybe 1-2 figures, then Black Powder isn’t the game for them.
I’d also argue against the idea that building army lists is ‘half’ the fun of the hobby. Really, it should only be a tiny fraction – the real fun should come from painting your miniatures and then putting them on the table.
Also, remember that, in history, battle are rarely fair and balanced. Thus, Black Powder is more a ‘war’game than games that require players to be near each other in points.
This sounds like a fun system. I do like to see big units of historical models. It’s a personal thing but seeing 10 models on the table and be told it’s 1000 men, doesn’t work for me, unless it’s skirmish gaming. Sometimes a smaller scale can help these BIG battles.
That sounded intresting. Thanks guys.
For years I have done historical reenactments of the rev war and I always had a love for such games.
rumour has it warlord’s going to make a points system for black powder (as they did for hail caesar) so if its true ill definately get the book soon
You’re right – they’ve already released the Last Argument of Kings book for 17th and early 18th century warfare, and they’re currently working on Albion Triumphant, which will be their first Napoleonic supplement.
after reading Sharpe I became more interested in those kind of armies and history period. I agree with @tenntrollet about the “bring what you have” method.
Just a note for Darrell – The US Civil War was in the early 1860s. George Washington wasn’t around during the Civil War. Given that Napoleon died in 1821, pretty sure no one invited him to fight in the Amercian Civil War. And the American Revolutionary War was fought in 1775-1783, when Napoleon was between the ages of 6 and 14, so I pretty much doubt anyone in the US was going to ask for his help. Now, perhaps the war of 1812 maybe???? You’re a bit all over the place on your US history… Don’t get me wrong though, its an interesting idea, just not accurate by any means.
Ah… but he was… Commence Argument From Wikipedia Mode
During 1861 to 1862, Napoleon III positioned France to intervene in the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. The United States repeatedly warned that this meant war but the emperor inched steadily toward officially recognizing the Confederacy, especially after the crash of France’s cotton textile industry and his successes in Mexico. Through 1862, Napoleon III met unofficially with Confederate diplomats, raising their hopes that he would unilaterally recognize the Confederacy. The emperor, however, could do little without the support of Britain, which refused to recognize the Confederacy. In 1863 the Confederacy realized there was no longer any chance of intervention, and expelled the French and British consuls, who were advising their citizens not to enlist in the Confederate Army.
This was only a quick search. I couldn’t find the actual bit where he was invited by the Confederacy, but he was definitely sticking his finger in!
Oh dear Andy, face palm moment! Are you seriously confusing Napoleon Bonaparte (died 1821) with his far lesser nephew Napoleon III?
Should have kept reading the discussion below
And a note for Andy, the Prussians are not in white, those are Austrians! The Prussians are in dark blue
Ok- If there was ever a Spotlight vid in which you should have broken out the Meerschaums and the brandy & snifters, its this one… the self described ‘game for gentleman gamers’… come on guys.
I appreciate the tongue in cheek humor and lighthearted style of writing, it’s a Rick Priestly tradition that goes way back to Rogue Trader but was lost a bit as GW evolved. I’ve always appreciated Priestly’s aesthetic approach to wargames, that there is something certainly fun & appealing about them, but taking it too seriously is a bit mad. I mean real war is horror after all.
Funny how all the core old school GW creative team is together for this, Gervis, Priestly, the Perry’s. Its like this is how GW would be if it hadn’t been taken over by a bunch of corporate nutters. Imagine if this is how GW did things – normal prices with lots of troops. Makes me think I should just chuck GW and go with this.
The way you describe the week by week strategy / guessing game is actually pretty interesting. It’s almost like you win or lose the game before it even starts by out guessing your opponents next strategy based on what you know about their army, and how they will respond to the last battle. A lot of psychology to that. In a way, thats a lot like how it works in reality. By the time the troops show up for the fight, for the most part the outcome is often pre determined based on the old standard – he who gets there first, with the most, generally wins.
I’m a bit surprised that Darrell is ok with the random level of control that you have over the army. I guess its fun in theory, but I wonder, after you’ve lost your 4th or 5th battle because your commanders are ignoring your orders, would you stick with the system. It would be like playing a CRTS and having your units just go off and attack or retreat at random. It would just get frustrating. Seems like this is something you could modify with a ‘competitive’ version of the rules.
Overall, nice review. Thanks.
I’ve been looking at these rules for a future project in the American Civil War. After watching and reading several reviews and previews, I think I’ll go for it. It just seems to be written so cleverly, and presented so beautifully, with understandable and enjoyable rules!
On Napoleon, I’ve never heard that he was invited to participate in any American wars; certainly he could not have been involved in the Revolutionary or Civil War. Rather, Napoleon’s actual role in American history lies in the fact that he sold President Thomas Jefferson a large amount of land controlled by France in America, a la The Louisiana Purchase. Rumor has it that Napoleon sold Jefferson the land so cheaply and willingly due to the fact he was planning to conquer America later anyway (and so essentially got a great quick cash in, while giving England a more dangerous rival). Now THAT could be an interesting scenario; Napoleon wins Waterloo, goes on to conquer Europe, and attacks America during Monroe’s presidency. So much for the Era of Good Feelings
France vs USA does sound like a great what if- Statue of Conquest on No Liberty Island
@ubiquanon Hi Britain did have a war with America from 1812- 1815, It was called the war of 1812. If Napoleon was asked to aid in some way I have no idea, but seeing 1812 was when the french were retreating from Russia and 1815 was the year of Waterloo and Napoleon did go into exile in between i would have thought he was a bit busy. As Britain had been at war with France since the turn of the Centuary it would be quite possible that the American would ask for some aid from our enemies
Ubiquanon already mentioned the War of 1812 in his post! The USA (and most certainly the CSA) never asked Napoleon for help. Don’t look to Beasts of War for historical info! Napoleon III wanted to aid the CSA, that may be the nugget of truth Darryl is thinking of, but he was nowhere near as good as his uncle.
youre probably right on all counts
@huscarle In point of fact we, the US, received aid from the French, specifically from De Grass and Rocheambeau, during the later part of the American Revolution. Many U.S. American’s forget that in no small part are we deeply indebted to the French (and also by treaty to Austria) for our independence. Their Navy, in particular, proved to check the Royal Navy’s complete domination of the U.S. coastal cities. Had the French not provided over 8,000 men in the Siege of Yorktown (matching the number of US troops), in the final and most significant battle, it is uncertain that the outcome would have been the same. Of course the great irony of the war is that France’s support for American independence, by Louis XVI, wrecked the French treasury and ultimately contributed greatly to his overthrow, which cleared the way for Napoleons truly astounding rise to power.
The war of 1812, in the US / Canada, was really a rather pathetic opportunistic land grab in which the War Hawks & Madison were convinced that Canada would simply embrace the US as liberators and join us without a shot fired. From what I have read, we did not engage in direct discussions with Napoleon or the French government, certainly not in terms of direct military aid, and as you point out much of the war in the US was waged after Napoleons disastrous invasion of Russia. After Napoleons defeat, and the subsequent collapse of his Empire, I strongly doubt that France was in any position to send the United States any aid. In point of fact, after the Russian defeat, the US actually lost several battles, and the British successfully burned Washington DC once they were able to focus their full attention on us. I am of the opinion that had Britain not been thoroughly exhausted by War at that time, the US could have suffered significantly, as she did not yet have a strong federal system of taxation, and therefore could not raise funds or build the arms necessary to fight off a fully mobilized British Empire.
As for Napoleon and the Louisianan Purchase, the Little Emperor had realized that France could not realistically counter British sea power, and he knew that there was no way, without being able to counter the British at sea, that he could ever hope to hold the land claims of the Louisiana territories. Given that he wanted to finance his great campaigns for France’s dominance of Europe, I am sure that was the motivation to sell. I believe the comment about Napoleon believing he could conquer the United States after dealing with Britain is pure speculations, but it is consistent with his ambition.
Of course, in the US Civil War, the CSA was desperate for recognition of sovereignty by any European power – be they Britain or France. But both Nations populace were still living in the crimson shadow cast over their continent from the previous years of perpetual strife, and when they witness the unbelievably high casualty rates that were the result of the Amercan Civil War battles, due in no small part to the advancements in rifling and rifled cannons and the failure of tactics to meet the new technology, they wisely stood on the side lines. As @emperopenguin points out, Napoleon III toyed with the idea of recognizing the CSAs sovereignty, but he could not do so without British recognition as well, and by 1863 the outcome was close to certain. It is interesting that in this instance, Britain’s refusal to recognize the CSA was a significant factor that led to the forging of the modern United States.
With that said, I am curious as to how the rule book deals with the awesome and terrible technical advancements of warfare that were introduced during the civil war – the extended range of the rifled musket, and the lethal penetration power of the Minie (mini) ball. To have the same rule set apply to 200 years of war seems to disregard the many advancements that occurred during the period.
That’s answered that then. Good point about the minie ball it really did move warfare more into the modern era. This rule set has been out for a while and I havn’t heard anything bad perhaps someone who has tried it could post a quick review as to how it works for such a wide range in time. Maybe these are core rules and you will get supplements introduced later?
thankyou enjoyed that
Great to see Historicals coverage Im a big fan of Fire n Fury for ACW and Age of Eagles for Nappies (can do AWI as well). Black Powder looks interesting ps Perry one of best value fig makers in gaming (good sculpts and lots of figs for reasonable amounts)
they should do a Sharpe platoon hahaha
I’m Canadian and I sure I read somewhere (don’t ask where I forgot) it said we had Polar bear cavalry. I think it’s about time someone added them into Black Powder!
I’ve had many games of different periods at my club using Black Powder rules, and every game has been fun and enjoyable. I love the order system, you point to where you want your men to go, roll the dice, if you roll very low they go where you wanted them to go. if you roll slightly higher they go half way. If you roll too high you fail and watch all your men standing around scratching their ar***! Meanwhile a red faced general is spitting feathers and wants you hung from the nearest tree. Get these rules Guys, you won’t be dissapointed!
looks like they may be good for solo gaming as well
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