Playing Black Powder with Napoleonic figures continues to be my obsession, with no sign of ‘game fatigue’ appearing. I still play at least once a fortnight at the club, only recently having a break every other week to play Muskets and Tomahawks. The other guys at the club are quite amused at our adherence to this rule set and period and we are now known collectively as the ‘Black Powder’ lot! That said, our ‘gang’ is growing and whereas it used to be just two of us slugging it out over a table, there are now at least six ‘hardcore’ members of the sub club, so to speak, with a few more that are happy to join in and even more that come over to check our battle progress during the evening.
So whats the secret that keeps us locked into this rules set. Well, read the opening line of this blog. We are well aware that we are playing a rules set with Napoleonic figures and we are not too hung up on how realistic the rules may or may not be, we just know that we will have a fun game. Of course, there is a nod in the direction of historical realism, but thats all. When ever we play there will always be a talking point about what may or may not be realistic. Our current debate concerns the use of Howitzers and the limitation on the effectiveness of these guns at close range. The rules say that you cannot fire on an enemy that has closed within 6 inches of a Howitzer, which pretty much implies that you have no closing fire option. It also prevents you from firing canister into Squares at close range.
Is this historically accurate? Probably not, but I don’t think it matters too much when playing a table top game. The rules are clear, and you take a howitzer in your ‘army’ knowing those limitations. Of course there are benefits in the game for Howitzers and when you put your army list together, you take the rough with the smooth. That’s not to say we haven’t modified some of the Black Powder Rules to suit our style of gaming. The two Napoleonic Supplements, Albion Triumphant 1 & 2, introduced some new rules and ideas, some of which we have adapted, some not. The beauty of Black Powder is that it allows this, provided everyone is clear at the start of the game.
For anyone that is interested, here’s the points system and a few of the rules modifications that we use for our club night. They are designed to allow us to play a reasonable game on a 6 foot by 4 foot table in an evening or a couple of hours.
The 30 Point System
Level 8 Commanders are free. +1 point for each addition level (Max 10)
Regular Line Infantry = 2 points
Regular Light Infantry = 2.5 points
Militia, Conscripts, Reserves = 1.5 points [Cannot be upgraded]
Foot Artillery ( 1 Cannon = Battery) = 1.5 points [No half Batteries]
Horse Artillery ( 1 Cannon = Battery) = 1.5 points [No half Batteries]
Regular Heavy and Lancer Cavalry = 2.5 points
Regular Light Cavalry = 2 points
Vetran Status = + 0.5 points
Elite Status = + 0.5 points
Rifles = + 0.5 point
Old Guard = + 0.5 points in addition to Veteran and Elite Status cost
Large units = + 0.5 points
Small units = – 0.5 points
Tiny units = – 1 point
Standard Infantry = 12 to 16 figures
Small Infantry = 8 figures
Tiny Infantry = 4 figures
Standard Cavalry = 6 figures
Small Cavalry = 4 Figures
Tiny Cavalry = Not Permitted
Unit Restrictions (Maximums)
Rifle Units = 9 points
Old Guard Units = 9 points
Lancer Cavalry = 9 points
Regular Light Infantry = 15 points
Small and Tiny units cannot constitute more than 25% of a brigade and do not count towards the Brigade’s morale.
Infantry brigades must have a minimum of three infantry units and Cavalry a minimum of two units in addition to any Artillery.
Mixed Brigades must have a minimum of two Infantry units.
Brigades and Army break on greater than 50% loss
Cavalry may retire in the movement phase when disordered.
Mixed Order Columns do not benefit from a column save bonus if you are shooting at the skirmishers or from artillery fire.
French Columns do not benefit from Pas de Charge – they already have a bonus from being in column.
British first fire only applies if you have not moved more than once during the orders phase.
British troops fight in line and do not form column
Now I guess that there will be a few dissenters out there with regards to these amendments but don’t worry, they are not official and you will only be asked to use them if you join us at the White Hart…. In the meantime, I can only hope that other gamers enjoy Black Powder as much as we do.