Thursday, 11 October 2018

Black Powder Two. A first review.

  I got my copy of Black Powder Two at the weekend and have been slowly reading it to see what has changed and are the changes for the better. What I have noticed and find very surprising is the lack of any type of review opinion etc from wargames bloggers regarding the 'new' rules. Very strange. I mean a lot of wargamers do use the rules and one would think that the new set would have elicited some discussion.
  Now before I start, can I say I haven't completed reading the new set but John and I did fight our first game today using the new rule book so I can comment about how it went.
 John based the inaugural game on one of the new scenarios in the book, The Battle of Elixheim from the War of Spanish Succession, except it was a much bigger battle. We dont do small.
 So each side in the game had five foot brigades and three cavalry brigades using John's lovely 10mm Malburian armies.
  I was in command of the French [naturally] John had an Austro-British army.
  The battle itself was a tense affair with all of the foot initially not on the table and one needing to throw a dice to activate them.
 To speed things along a bit, John had deployed blinds for his three cavalry brigades allowing me to put mine down where I felt they would be most effective.
  The crafty beggar had put two brigades on his right wing facing just one of my cavalry brigades and the Austrian cuirassier brigade on his left wing facing another of my cavalry brigades. So my third cavalry brigade of Bavarian cuirassiers which I placed in the centre was facing nothing!
As for the five brigades,  in the new book they mention a very simple but neat idea whereby tokens are used per brigadier. So in this battle, one of my brigades had 2 tokens, ie +2 to their command dice roll, then 3,4,4 and 5 tokens for each of the other brigadiers.
 To activate the brigade and be able to bring it on you have to get under the command score, ie the brigadier with 5 tokens who would normally be an 8 is reduced to a command score of 3 or less! to activate the brigade.  If you fail you remove one token which means next time you would need a throw of 4 or less to activate the commander. It means nothing is certain and it worked really well. Needless to say my brigades were tawdry getting into battle whereas John's did okay.

 Having now played our first game I would recommend that any players using the new rules keep their original copy close by because of the errors that are evident in the new rules.
 The new rule book looks lovely as is to be expected given who has produced it and contains the inevitable and wonderful eye candy we all enjoy.
 Sadly I spotted the first error on page 19 which was an image of some nice Napoleonic Chasseur a Cheval but which were identified in the text as 'dashing French Napoleonic cuirassiers.'
Okay it doesnt affect the rules but sadly it was a sign of things to come.


  The next glaring mistake which is more important is on page 49 and concerns the Morale dice modifier table, which has been filled in with the Command dice modifiers instead? One has to use the Quick Play sheet to get the correct information. When I first read the page I was totally confused and it was only when John explained what had happened did I realise what had occurred. God help a new wargamer or someone reading the rules for the first time.
I had read a brief synopsis of what was being changed in the rule book and one rule I have always disliked was enfiladed targets.In the old BP rules it meant double the normal fire dice which could prove devastating, it has now been amended to a normal firing throw ie 3 dice for infantry and instead of 6 dice, one can only re roll misses from the original 3 dice. I like the amendment better. It still allowed John to shake on of my regiments but it felt 'right.'.  Sadly in the Quick Play sheet the old double dice rule is still there! 
In the original rules the actual C in C figure could attempt to move units whose commanders had failed their command throw. There were penalties to pay but if a player was lucky they could repeat this with their other commands. I didnt like the rule as it seemed possible for a General to have too much influence in a game.
  They have changed that rule and introduced the use of ADC'S who act as a proxy C in C. One can ignore this and move the General into control distance of a brigade he wants to influence, but we used the idea of an ADC being sent to a Brigade to help the units move. Now only one brigade per move can be 'helped' and what it now entails is the ability to re roll a failed command by the Brigadier. Again I like the new rule although there is no actual movement rate provided  for them which again made us use a house rule. [cavalry speed]
There are always risks to brigadiers if they join a unit or do a follow me order. They can be killed. Amazingly there is still no mechanism for a replacement brigadier to take over and in theory a brigade can become leaderless. This was the same in the original Black Powder rules so we introduced the house rule that the new brigadier was one less than the original, ie if originally an 8 they became a 7. Its works for us, but what do others do? In BP2 the brigade cannot move should they lose theirs. 
The new rules have also made evading a more interesting prospect and could in theory see the evaders ending up three moves back from their original position which again I think is an improvement. I managed to chase a unit of John's dismounted dragoons away and totally out of position. Another big improvement is now shaken and disordered units can use their initiative and move away from an enemy unit although they obviously cannot reform.So gone is the sight of a disordered cavalry unit standing and being shot to pieces  without at least attempting to get out of range.

I could go on but my post would be a very lengthy affair that probably wouldn't be totally accurate given I have only had one game with the new rules and have only read a small part of the book.               Basically BP2 is an improvement on the original rules and certainly adopting ideas from Hail Caesar is a good idea. I'm certain once I have thoroughly read and played the new rules this view will be confirmed. So yes I like what I have read and played up to now.                                                   The overall impression I get unfortunately is that their release was rushed and not properly proof read. It is inexcusable that there are mistakes littered throughout the actual rules. The book costs £30.00 and for that price one should expect clarity. I dont expect to have to write over the play sheet or actual rules in the new book but of course I will in order that I dont forget where the errors are. 
  John and I are very experienced wargamers who have used Black Powder since they were originally released so we will know when the mistakes rear their heads. But God help a newcomer to these new rules. 
 Finally [thank God they say] another bugbear is there is no basic points system included in BP2, which suggests that there will be a rash of further books that will cover specific periods which is fine up to a certain extent but smacks of a little bit of greed and exploitation.
  Surely the original points system could have been retained in this new book to allow opponents to have a balanced night game.
 As for our game, I lost, but for all the right reasons and not because of some anomaly in the new rules.
So 6 out of 10. Must try harder in presentation and clarity.






Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Where have all the armies gone?

As the nights begin to draw in I get more time to think about wargaming matters that have been picking away at my consciousness for a while. The current thought that is disturbing my sleep is this; where have all the armies gone?
 By this I mean all the units and armies that have been painted over these last forty or so years that get sold on for various reasons. What has happened to them.
 As some wargamers will be aware I am currently [well will be when I've done these damned French ] painting English Civil War armies using Hinchliffe figures. My goal is to replicate the wonderful armies that my long suffering wargame enemy John Reidy had in the early 1980's which he inevitably sold. These armies were used at one of our very first exhibition games when we put on the Battle of Edgehill at Durham University.
 Obviously one gets nostalgic tinted glasses when one thinks of old armies, but John created two wonderful armies back then and they were an inspiration [to me especially] Sadly I couldnt afford to buy them when he sold them on. John has always been an annoyingly good painter and worse a very quick one., but because his first love was ECW these armies were particularly lovely.
 Another annoying trait he possesses are his wargames diaries which he has kept since the year dot.
  As a result I asked him to consult the 'volumes' and find out exactly who he sold his ECW armies to and when. Amazingly he has been unable to furnish me with the information, although he was able to provide details of what he bought at the Northern Militaire in 1982, which seemed very important back then but of no earthly use to a sane man.
  This lack of information started my sleepless nights.
  So just what does happen to the armies you sell?
  They never seem to surface again.
 Are never seen at shows or at club nights.
 They never seem to resurface on E Bay and the like.
 Basically they just seem to disappear into the ether.
 Given the vast increase in wargaming blog sites etc one would think I would at least see an odd image.
 Frustratingly I was able to track down and buy TWO! of the old ECW wagons that John had painted for the armies, but it was hardly a consolation more a reminder of just how nice the armies were.

 I now have an image of some nasty wargamer sat in a very large house packed with thousands of wonderfully painted figures, drooling over them and whispering 'my precious,' intent on no other person ever seeing or using them ever again. [Shaun Lowery are you reading this.]

 I can think of many other examples of wonderful armies that simply disappeared, our Napoleonic 25mm armies are a case in point, sold and never seen again period.
 I did manage to locate and buy John's old Turkish renaissance army but have never been able to locate our late Polish renaissance armies which contained lots of the old Campaign Miniatures figures. They have simply gone.
  Frustratingly, following a conversation yesterday I believe these ECW armies may have been sold to an individual called Andy Hardy? who was a member of the old Durham Wargames Group back in the early 1980's who subsequently disappeared.
  A common thread is developing here I think.
So is this the pseudonym of the arch villain who sits in a darkened room refusing to allow his purchases to ever see the light of day again? 

A case in point. Which lucky so and so bought this unit by the late great Peter Gilder and why haven't they been seen again? AND more importantly why dont I own them?







Saturday, 6 October 2018

'Old Lags?'

 John and decided to return to the ACW for this weeks battle after last weeks Carthaginian/Roman blood-fest. I was concerned that after a lay off that I would have forgotten the Pickett's Charge rules so its to the credit of Dave Brown that we were quickly back in the groove and whipping along at a fair rate.
 We normally dice for the regiments to see what capabilities they will display, being a Union General it was gratifying to have five brigades which were in the main regular with one inspirational brigadier. A handy thing to have. John's rebels were a more mixed bunch with a fair smattering of 'Old Lags' and mediocre brigadiers.
 'Old Lags' was a Paddy Griffith term I believe and described a veteran unit that would do their duty without endangering themselves too much. In the rules they receive two additional firing dice but suffer in a melee so I was confident that I could use my regulars to effect a Union victory. [fool]
 My main attack was to be on my right wing where I threw forward my elite brigade commanded by a +1 brigadier. I had high hopes for the attack. John however decided to attack on a broader front led by the 'Old Lag' regiments all in skirmish order. By God were they effective as they mowed down my artillery battery and defended a large area of broken ground against a charge by one of my regular regiments who simply disappeared under a hail of bullets and bayonets. As they disappeared the whole brigade 'faltered' which is not good and causes a paralysis in the brigade.
 On my right things were progressing nicely, as John continually struggled to get his 'green' brigade to deploy properly. I still felt fairly confident that I could turn his flank, but after my central brigade faltered I hoped to buy time by throwing in two charges against the rebel centre whilst using all my 'aide' counters[3] to effect a change of brigade orders to close up the gap that was starting to evolve.
                            It seemed reasonable. What do they say about the best laid plans.
                                             Before things began to go pear shaped............


 I foolishly threw forward a 'green' regiment in attack column to help buy some time. The unit simply disappeared under the firepower of the two rebel elite units..

   And then this happened....... This is the regiment of regulars that had been ordered to charge against a badly shot up rebel centre.  The two ones was my 'Elephant test' for them and naturally is the worst reaction one can have, notice the 11 token. A regiment has 12 strength points to start with.



This disintegration led to this.......The whole brigade leaving the centre wide open.They simply had had enough.

This one rebel battery was manned by men who never missed!
 I made the error of placing my 'Old Lag' regiments behind fences expecting the regulars to do all the hard work.

 My only real success, as my elite zouaves charged and shattered the rebel flank, a case of too little too late. But what a game. I know I can get carried away with extolling the virtues wargames rules but Dave Brown has produced a great set of rules that encompass fun, skill and a decent amount of historical feel about them.We love them.

At least we captured the train and were able to elicit it use to get back to Washington.




Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Back in the groove, hopefully.

A week on from my break I have manged to get some painting done. These are the latest recruits for the Waterloo refight next June. I'm hoping no one will notice the different uniforms and lack of shakos. 
 Actually I painted these up for my grandson in the hope he shows a bit of interest in all things wargaming. The figures should be recognisable to anyone who rushed to W.H.Smiths to buy up the first two issues of the latest Games Workshop magazine. I bought them for the paint and brush. Honest. The offer was just too good to miss, but when I got to examining the figures in each issue I had to have a go at painting them. They were interesting although I dont have much idea how to use them.  
 Anyway I have completed the second of my garde 12 pdrs for the refight although I only realised I had managed to base one crew on the wrong way after it was finished? Yes I should re base them but to be honest I just haven't the appetite.
 I also completed two bases of skirmishers to attach to each battalion of Young Garde.

 Finally I completed my vivandre diorama to sit idly on the Waterloo table next year.



 Two more images of the figures that were included in the GW magazines.I think the evil guys are in green, one reminds me of a wargamer I always see at the various shows around the country. Okay, perhaps they dont look that bad but its touch and go.


My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating