Saturday, October 22, 2011


Two weekend's ago I was invited to my gaming buddy Dean's homestead for a learning game of Black Powder. I had my reservations about the rules, particularly the often mentioned need for large amounts of figures, abstract movement and vaguely written rules. Fortunately I decided to attend, even if just for the camaraderie, and ended up pleasantly surprised by the rules and the game.

For the game, Dean decided to use a smaller version of the "El Perez" scenario from the rulebook.

Maréchal de France Dean Pierre
The British were tasked with retiring across a bridge defended by a nearby French garrison of Voltigeurs, while holding off advancing French columns. Figures are mounted in groups on stands, the size of which isn't set in stone, but if I remember, 40mmx40mm was recommended. There were three unit sizes, small, regular and large, and this determined firing dice.

From the start, the majority of British units accompanied by Spanish guerrillas began there march toward the bridge, while two stout units of Highlanders aggressively advanced on the approaching French supported by a British rocket battery.

42nd Highlanders

British rocket battery

Movement was fast and simple, a command could either move freely on an initiative with limited movement, or roll a command check for up to three lengths of movement. Orders were also part of movement and had to include reasonably defined parameters, as with the British first movement command of "advance across the bridge and engage any opposing units".

Retreating British

The French entered from the far edge of the battlefield, taking a risk, I rolled for separate command orders, the cavalry to speed toward the rocket battery, the artillery to set up at the edge of the town and the infantry to follow the cavalry until it met an enemy unit. Unfortunately only my artillery unit made it on the table. I really liked this 'fog of war' system of command, even if it really bit me in the rear later.


Dean's French successfully advanced his cavalry, followed by his infantry through the town while also setting up his artillery at the edge of the town...

Unfortunately Dean's cavalry were later beaten back by the Highlanders, and because they wouldn't fit in the town in their current formation as they retreated, they had to continue back and off the table!

A needed brewskie for the Frenchies

Eventually the rest of my forces entered as my artillery exchanged fire with the advancing Highlanders. British rocket artillery sporadically reigned down followed by devastating musket fire from the Highlanders. The firing phase used a small number of modifiers and a set number of dice were used based on the size of the unit, this made fire combat quick and easy. Casualties were recorded by markers, for our game Dean painted up and mounted dead figures on poker chips colored to correspond with each side, red for British, Blue for the French. As casualties were taken, additional poker chips were placed underneath. Units could also be disabled which prevented commands, but could still fire, or worse, they could become shaken.

As I mentioned earlier, the 'fog of war' aspect came back to bite me hard later in the game. When rolling for command, double sixes caused my two infantry units to 'blunder', removing them from the game permanently. Only my battered cavalry, which eventually broke off the table too, and my pounded artillery piece remained by game end.

By the end of the game the French advance was severely crippled and the majority of the British units needed to exit and win were well on their way off the table. Despite a valiant defense by the French Voltigeurs, they were most likely soon to be crushed and so the British were declared the victors.

Although many Nappy enthusiasts would probably quip at historical looseness with which the game sometimes played, it felt right and was easy and quick to play, not to mention fun with the application of fog of war related outcomes. I plan to soon order my own set of rules, and I am starting on my own British units to contribute which I hope to blog on later, and a large Black Powder event is possibly in the works for this upcoming Enfilade 2012!

For an additional AAR on the battle, check out Dean's infamous  


  1. Nice! Your photos and AAR are better than the ones I posted. BTW, I'm also glad we played out the rules; even after reading them, I was a little apprehensive of some of the mechanics. But after playing them, the rules quickly made sense and I think exactly what Mr. P. intended them to be (fast & fun). Glad to see your blog resurrected. Now get those British painted! :)! Dean

  2. Your pictures came out great, nice AAR.

  3. Looks like you guys had a great time. I've heard a lot of good things about Black Powder. Great photos Adrian!

  4. Good report and nice photos. Those highlanders look very smart indeed.

  5. Very good , nice report and I am glad you enjoyed the Black Powder rules.

  6. Nice looking game! I also really like how the fog of war aspect is represented in Black Powder. It makes for much more fun and unpredictable games.