|The Battle of Montmirail by Vernet (National Gallery, London)|
So, last weekend I staged my partial pseudo-Montmirail scenario using Black Powder rules. Because of the varying schedules of available players, we ran through the scenario twice, with somewhat differing results.
I was especially glad of the opportunity to game because it brought together three of my friends who I don't see as often as I would like. Though one gets the moniker "Mr Invisible" because of his frequent absence due to travel on the service of his country, all three are deserving of the title, as the others' late work hours (on the one hand) and high school teaching duties (on the other) keep them almost as busy. So we got a shot of The Invisibles which was, appropriately enough, shadowy and hard to see due to the (lack of) light in the room.
|The (Shadowy) Invisibles|
|Game 1: Both sides deploy.|
|Game 1: French outflanking the landwehr.|
|Game 2: Prussian grenadiers advance.|
The Prussian right obligingly stalled, but with the Prussian cavalry making it hard to bring the full force of their
right wing against the enemy, the French threw their left into the attack. Meeting the landwehr, they began a see-saw battle across a series of frozen fields.The landwehr, more numerous in both numbers of units and size of battalions, ground the French Middle Guard down while the grenadiers held on on the left. Eventually the French conceded, though if we had had more time they would have gotten the historical "Michel calls on the Emperor for help" reinforcements that I had standing by.
|Game 2: Prussian landwehr outnumber the Middle Guard.|
One is spoilt for choice these days, with all sorts of wargame rules available for every period and region imaginable. One advantage of Black Powder is that the basic rules are the same for every period; one can find or devise specific cases for particular conflicts, but in most cases even the special rules that give colour and character to units are fairly consistent across periods. So BP is a great set to keep in one's back pocket; learn it once, use it repeatedly. I'm a big proponent of Carnage & Glory, which uses a similar engine for several different periods, but the underlying rules that players need to know (how fast units move and change formation, how they interact on charges, etc.) are different enough that one needs to learn each period's special rules separately. Added to that is the time one needs to invest in building orders of battle; in C&G, this is somewhat of a major time investment, as computer files have to be carefully built through a form-based graphic-user-interface. With BP, one can do a bit of pencil-and-paper work and have a rough OB set up in an hour or two. So BP is an easy choice for a quick pick-up game, while C&G is likely to be my preference when I have time to design a scenario in detail, as it cleaves more closely to the historical tactics (and limitations) that battlefield commanders encountered.
Even if one fields slightly smaller units than the authors use, Black Powder (like C&G) requires a fairly large number of figures. As a result, I'm more likely when playing it to use my existing 15mm armies than I am to build new 28mm ones for BP. I do have a fair number of 28mm Napoleonics, but I think I'll save them for games with a somewhat lower figure density. I recently acquired the Chosen Men Napoleonic skirmish rules just published by Osprey and written by Mark Latham (another member of the Games Workshop fraternity), and although I've only dipped into them so far, they definitely look worth trying out.
I'm collecting votes from my fellow gamers as to the subject of our next tabletop foray. In the meantime, I have work awaiting me on the painting table and the blog drawing board, as the commencement of Project 1777 edges ever closer.