Friday, 8 May 2015

'Black Powder' Kreigspiel

Anytime for wargaming in the past few months has been in very short supply due to the usual factors of work and family life. Finally the planets aligned today, giving me a brief window to get some form of solo game in. I decided to give my Kreigspiel style blocks a run out along with 'Black Powder' as in the next few weeks, if all goes to plan, I will be playing quite a few games with this ruleset.

Scenario Details
I toyed with various scenarios, eventually settling on Scenario 4, 'Encirclement or Breakout' from 'Scenarios For All Ages' by Grant & Asquith. The forces were exactly as per the book, with two blocks forming a unit, with infantry side-by-side and cavalry one behind the other. The single square blocks were horse artillery and the round ones command units. 

The Red forces had advanced deep into Blue territory, expecting to launch an attack on the Blue forces in the bottom left hand corner. However as dawn broke, they realised that they were in danger of being surrounded and cut off. Their objective was therefore to exit off any table edge with 80% of their forces intact. For the Blue forces their objective was to destroy or capture 60% of the Red forces.

Nominally I set this battle circa 1750 somewhere in Europe, with both sides having 'vanilla' forces and a command rating of 8. I've added some comments to the photos to give an idea of how the game played, rather than a detailed AAR as this was very much a trial game.

The table with both sides in their deployment zones. The Red forces had 3 command units, the same as Blue, but Blue had them split with one per force.
Red decided to exit off the way they had 'come on' but all Blue forces moved toward them at great speed (2-3 moves due to good command rolls).
Combat is is joined, with Blue cavalry charging into the Red infantry rear unit, whilst the Red roght flank shoot at the Blue forces sweeping around the wood.
The Blue cavalry win the combat, pushing Red back, but flee having failed a morale test themselves due to a single casualty suffered!
Red carrying on moving as quickly as they can towards their baseline, with their right flank once again taking the attack towards the Blue forces by the woods.
Blue press forward where possible.
Despite the pressure, Red manage to extract a large part of their forces (the blocks in the bottow left hand corner).
Blue closes in for the kill, hoping to inflict severe casualties to give them victory...
...but despite destroying one unit, the other flees off the table, resulting in a draw.

Post Game Thoughts
Well it was great to be playing a game again after such a long break. It's been sometime since I played 'Black Powder', but below are some thoughts on the game, the blocks and the rules:

  • The Kreigspiel style blocks work for me visually. I know they won't be to everyones taste, which is understandable, but I like them. In fact I'm considering investing in some Lego blocks of different colours and shapes to give me more 'detail' to the units for future games.
  • They also allow for a very simple Fog-of-War to be replicated on the tabletop. As each block is the same size, your opponent won't know whether they are facing Cuirassier cavalry or Prussian Landwehr, until the unit can be spottted or a unit reveals itself due to its movement rate. This is something that I will be exploring in future games when I have an opponent.
  • The 'Black Powder' rules are pretty easy to pick up and are a nice toolbox for those that want to add variety and detail to their units. I'm still a complete novice, so am looking forward to exploring the options and period details in future games. Ditto 'Pike & Shotte'.
  • The only downside with 'Black Power' I would say is the extremely generous movement rates. This has been commented on by many other gamers, and I will look at the suggestions that address these issues in a 'Hail Napoleon' article in a past issue of WS&S.
  • The scenario played suffered a bit from the above 'va va voom' movement as mentioned above. If the red forces had had some good die rolls and the Blue bad, they could have gotten off the table without a shot being fired. Hopefully the above solution will help fix this. 
So all-in-all nice to have given my blocks and the rules a quick run out. I think based upon tonights game I will go with some smaller forces and some simple encounter scenarios, just to allow me to get a more detailed hang of the game mechanics, as well as a feel for certain periods, unit upgrades etc.

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