Friday, January 2, 2015

On the Road Again...To Borodino-A Black Powder Road Trip!

I've had Black Powder for several years sitting in the "gonna do someday" bookshelf for rules.  Full disclosure, I've got rules like "Shock of Impact", Gush Renaissance, Dead Man's Hand, ad nauseum.   I've been playing Pike and Shotte and consider it my standard for the period.  As I have grown older, I've wanted to pare down the sheer number of rules sets I play. I've done that with Pike and Shotte, 40K, Flames of War (limited myself to Early War and Mid War Mediterranean), Fire and Fury (old school), and Might of Arms for ancients.
Most after action reports are full of really cool stuff like diagrams, maps and rousing tomes to the exploits of the gamer generals.  I wanted to play out a complete Black Powder game, learn and understand some of the basic components and make a decision whether to keep and use these rules or put them up on EBay.  This is a compilation of the game journal I kept.  I've also noted questions and thoughts.  I've put enough pictures in to show the action and illustrate some of the foibles encountered during the game.  If you wanted a dumbed down version, please go to the Internet.

I'm using the following game aids. I use yellow beads from "All the King's Men" to denote disorder, red beads from ATKM to denote shaken status and have pressed a dial type of marker used in Pike and Shotte to denote stamina of units.  I don't like to clutter the table with junk other than my whisky glass or the occasional beer bottle; dice, measuring tape and these guys are all I used.  I like simple.

The terrain table was 8'x6'. It was open with undulations but not difficult terrain. I did not use a village or many pieces of "eye candy" other than the sheep herder and the cantiniere.  The Russian general was definitely drawn to the cantiniere.

Most, if not all the miniatures used are Hinchcliffe, Foremost, Connoisseur, Front Rank or Old Glory.  I've not had reason until now to paint any Warlord figures; this game showed me how the battalion packs or regimental packs would be a good buy to bulk up the forces.  I did use 24 figures for line infantry, 32 figures for grenadiers, 16 figures for light infantry, and 12 figures for all cavalry.  This fit my collection's parameters rather than having to either re base/bulk up to fit the rules.  This is a plus for Black Powder as the authors write that these rules were constructed to fit their collections.  I like that!  Here's the game afterwards.  This was a good game! I'm doing it again and will probably use it as one of my three standards for Napoleonics.

The Game! 
Turn 1: VIII Corps won the dice roll and have first turn.
1. Cavalry brigade failed to move due to distance from CiC.
2. French infantry brigade moves briskly forward to take the crest of the hill. 1
3. VIII Corps Westphalians move down the road and form order mixte. (1 move)
4. VIII Corps Light Brigade fails to move due to distance from CiC

Turn 1: Russians
1. Russian center brigade moves hastily and into Hand to Hand; receiving Closing Fire from the French.
2. Grenadier Brigade sits-activation failure!
3. Light Brigade sits-activation failure!
4. Cavalry Brigade moves normally in support of the hasty infantry brigade.
5. French closing fire causes 4 hits with 3 saves by Russians. Russians close! Urrah!!!
6. 7 dice (+1 for charging)=3 hits on French/2 saves=1 casualty.  Russians take 2 casualties. Make break test.  Both have rear support and flank support. Russians stick in the scrum because of their "steady" designation.  That works fine and fast. It takes longer to log the journal than to play out the results. Looking pretty good right now.

Turn 2: VIII Corps
1. Light Brigade moves 2-forward and deploys into skirmish formations
2. Line infantry move forward and form order mixte. 1st Batt. moves 2, 2nd Batt. moves 1,  3rd Batt. fails activation roll.  (not a brigade order). Artillery deploy.
3. French brigade in combat, 2nd batt. uses "free move" to support 1st Batt. Light Batt. moves to support deployed arty.
4. Cavalry brigade rolls 3 moves. Charges Russian Tsarina's Hussars.
5. Inconclusive artillery and infantry shooting.
6. Infantry combat:
    -French hit on 3+ because they won last combat
    -Result: Russians lose, get fall back result. French take position.
7. Hussar battle:
    Westphalians: 4 Hits/3 saves, Russians: 4 Hits/1 save
    Russians fail break test and are DESTROYED.  Westphalians sweep advance
    into Russian Dragoons.  Russian Dragoons lose and retire.  Westphalian
    Hussars make second sweeping advance to threaten Russian infantry

Russian II:
1. Russian Kurassier charges Bavarian Dragoons. (untested=random stamina)
2. Dragoons successfully counter charge!
3. Line Bde:
    1st Batt retired
    2nd Batt fails to charge French infantry advance
    3rd Batt forms square in face of the Westphalian Hussars
    Arty deploys to the left of square.
4. Grenadier Bde fails to activate (getting a bit tedious)
5. Light Bde fails to activate (due to distance from CiC)
6. Kurassier rolls 3 stamina. Both regiments have +D3 combat results because
    heavy cavalry designation.  I don't quite understand how this is important but
    documented anyway.
7. Bavarian Dragoons win, Kurassier takes break test and retires one turn.
    Oops, the Bavarian Dragoons do a sweeping advance to keep the Kurassiers
    running. The Kurassiers test and successfully evade beyond the edge of the
    table. They go to Borodino wondering how a bunch of sausage heads could
    beaten the Pskov out of the Kurassiers!

Turn III:
VIII Corps:
1. Cavalry Bde-3 moves
   - Bavarian Dragoons vs retiring Kurassiers
   - Westphalian Cuirassiers (ha...I never get to play them) vs. retiring Dragoons
   - Westphalian Hussars vs. Arty(firing cannister...ouch)
2. French Infantry-2 moves
  -Arty turn and shoot square
  -Infantry II charge square
  -Light Infantry form up in battle column and follow Infantry 2 in support of
   right flank ( move)
3. Westphalian Line-2 moves
   -Form line and shoot flank of Russians
   -Form battle column to the left of the line (Order Mixte)
   -Form battle column to the right of the line (Order Mixte)  (FAILED)
4. Inconclusive shooting on square.
5. Closing fire on Hussars-1 hit/1 save/they close...close your will be
6. Square holds ground! Urrah!
7. Arty. Destroyed-Westphalian Hussars sweep into the flank of shaken Russian
   infantry not in square!
8. Kurassiers break off table...I made an error earlier.
9. Westphalian Kurassiers beaten by Russian Dragoons. Retire 18" They're
    going back into the box. von Zastrow wannabes!
10. Hussars destroy Russians not in square; forcing Brigade tests

Brigade Tests:
Russian Cavalry leaves field
Russian Center Infantry leaves field

50% over! Thanks for playing!

What did I learn?
1. Move the general constantly throughout the game. Go back and see if I played command correctly. I play batallia commanders in Pike and Shotte. Do I play Brigade commanders here or only a CiC? If the Russians could have moved, this game would have been quite different.

2. Incorporate individual stats for commanders. I was left a bit cold at the plain vanilla of the standard CiC numbers.

3. Don't spread out over the entire 8' of table. This rules set compliments historical play.  Concentrate forces and defeat in detail.

4. Do I need to expand to 12' next time? Two players per side should be ok with the 8' but expanding the forces will definitely force a 12-16' table given the rules.

1. Do artillery batteries count against brigade morale if they're included as part of the brigade?
2. Do games play better on the 6' side or the 8' side? Again the issue of mass....
3. Would French infantry play as Elite or would they have several units only with that designation?

24 figs of Russians...impressive!

Westphalian 2nd Hussars sweep into the non squared Russians

Sausage eating Bavarians smack down the Pskov Kurassiers

I haven't played these Dragoons in years.  They kicked Russian butts

Perfect storm forming!

Lay on with cold steel and musket butts!

Russian Arty didn't run to square...oops...can they do  that anyway?

Westphalian Lights out on a holiday stroll

No Russian cavalry...

Old..Old Glory Russians painted when I had cataracts..LOL

Bird's eye view of the developing storm!

Enthusiastic Russian....probably drunk again!

Napoleonic scrum down at the 22!

Tsarina's to paint...well..they were fun to paint


Bad News Westphalian Hussars!

This general must have been drunk. These two brigades sat all game!

bird's eye view of cavalry flanks

1980s vintage Hinchcliffe figures!

Yeah..the Westphalian Kurassiers think this will be easy pickin's!