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.






25 comments:

  1. I like the rules and BP2 sounds like it has some good tweaks, but those rule errors!!!!! how annoying.

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    1. Norm, the ammendments are good and much needed. The new book is very nice as is to be expected but the errors are poor.

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  2. By the way, what was your impression of the new selection of scenarios?

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    1. We have only played the one which was very good. I havent read the Antietam one yet but it looks very interesting.

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  3. ah, it is disappointing that the rules are not as polished as we could have expected. Thank you for the review

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    1. The amendments are decent but I did form the impression they were rushing to get the book out without checking everything properly.

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  4. Rob I agree. No excuse for the errors at all. I want my money back. Good pictures of your game.

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    1. Best of luck with that Colin. I would be happy with a correctly printed errata sheet and a decent quick play sheet.

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  5. My copy came Tuesday. I haven't finished digesting it all, but the typos stood out more than the changes - I had exactly the same reaction. I did like the scenario selection.

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    1. Peter the scenarios look very good, in fact the book is as to be expected, it looks great. But its the meat that's important.

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  6. I must admit I never thought of BP as a set for beginners although the basic rules are relatively simple but hidden in too much text . I haven't read through the book yet but like the new 'General' rules and the 'disordered retire' move . Hopefully somebody will produce a fan version of the playsheet as they did last time.

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    1. Because Ive used Black Powder from the start I unfortunately view the rules as pretty straight forward but then I do compare every set to poor old Bruce Quarrie. The tweaks are good although it might have paid to highlight where exactly they had changed the rules or added to them just to make things simpler. The retire move is good and was definitely needed. Ah but the typos!

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  7. Having watched the Priestley interview on YouTube I like the changes he mentioned, however I will not be buying a copy as the changes are so few to warrant it.
    Funny you should mention the typos, before the rules were officially released I was tempted, for a laugh, to ask on Warlords Facebook page when the errata sheet was going to be available! I Didn't think it would need one so soon! Looked a cracking game though.

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    1. Dennis the new book is fine but I am going to have to cover the mistakes up otherwise I will end up being confused. Hopefully Warlord will sort this out.See you at Battleground?

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  8. The new BP2 is still on my shopping list. Probably CRISIS.

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    1. Phil, I think you will like them although given your love of order I expect you will also be annoyed at the errors.

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  9. Thanks for the review, I've only played pike and shot but Ive got black powder MK1 to play Napoleonics with, I'll give that a go before I spend any more money!
    Best Iain

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    1. Iain, I love Pike and Shotte, they give a decent game, Black Powder were a more generic set to hang extra bits on. It works although the amount of text could put some gamers off.

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  10. Excellent review agter reading i think i will give BP2 a miss and stay with General d Armee and WRG 1685-1845.

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    1. I have played Grand Armee and really enjoyed the weekend, but then Dave Brown was umpiring so it was great.I think Picketts Charge are the best ACW rules but find Black Powder make for a fun game that can be finished in a night, or day. As for WRG 1685, we used to religiously use them until a fateful weekend in the mid 1980's when two groups nearly came to blows over the damned rules. I dont think it was the rules but it put me off them after that.

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  11. Like yourself I enjoy BP games enormously, so I am ready to forgive the two errors you point to, though I agree it’s disappointing that they occur. I do think they rushed at it rather than allowing proper time, but then all they do is a bit like that.

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    1. David, you can rely on BP to give you a result in a big game. They are usually great fun and enjoyable. The new book is fine and the amendments good, but Warlord better get some errata sheets and QPS printed up to cover the mistakes. A shame really.

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  12. Roddie, Good to see a review. I suspect the problem with BP is it has a marmite effect. Some people love them and other hate them. BP2 will not change that. personally I like the idea they are building on the improvements from P&S and Hail Caesar. Poor proof reading suggests they were not passed to an Independant Wargaming Group first. I agree that BP is probably close to the best multiplayer set of rules I can think of that does not get bogged down in move sequence
    Scott (PS I may have to now buy the bloody thing...)

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    1. I have always had a love hate relationship with Black Powder and used to get annoyed at some of the things that would happen during a battle. I think the worst was the 'follow me rule' which would often catch me out.I then gave my head a shake and began to understand that the rules were really a generic set that one could hang ones own ideas on and are meant to be fun. The proof reading issue unfortunately is a common phenomena and isnt just a BP2 problem. The actual tweaks work well, they were needed and will naturally use the rules.I think you will enjoy them all the same.

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  13. Sorry for missing your post earlier, Robbie. Great to hear you guys had a chance to play the "new" rules already. I have mine set for this coming Saturday. We'll see if I catch all the changes or not. The most-significant so far is the removal of the +1 to Hit for Skirmishers. A good thing, IMO.

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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