Thursday, 16 January 2020

The Bridge at St. Ulrichsburg

With our ACW campaign due to kick off next week, we thought it wise to reacquaint ourselves with the rules we plan to use, namely Black Powder, with the amendments from the excellent Glory Hallelujah! supplement. Given that we hadn't played these for at least a couple of years, it seemed a sensible idea.

To keep things simple, Dave suggested we use the first scenario from the Honours of War book as the basis for our game. So I laid out the table and added in some fields and fences to try and make it look like an ACW game. We could move this around as we saw fit, as the main aim was to try out as many options in terms of cover and its effect on movement and firing etc.

We kept things really simple, with both sides having generic troops, so as not to complicate things. The command ratings for both sides we set at '9', to try and keep things moving as much as we could. The following 'photos should give an idea of how things went:

An overview of the table, with the Confederates (me) deployed in front of the bridge and the Union troops arriving in march column from the left.

The Union troops arrive and are faced with cornfields and fences.

The town of St. Ulrichsburg. I was really happy how these buildings looked on their new bases.

Confederate troops ready to move forward to the snake fence line.

The Union troops push forward.

Both sides seek what cover they can along the various fence lines. The Union cavalry have dismounted in the wood on the top right of the 'photo.

After sustaining quite a few hits, the first Confederate unit breaks. Fences are no protection against artillery!

The view from the Union lines.

Recycled troops cross the bridge to keep the game going.

The troops crossing the bridge are very vulnerable to fire whilst in march column.

The Confederate troops somewhat outnumbered.

Post Game Thoughts
The scenario worked well and provided us with plenty of opportunities to try out the rules. So a few thoughts on the game, rules etc:
  • To say we were a little rusty might be a bit of an understatement. We broadly rememered the rules, but spent the early parts of the game checking a few things which we had simply forgotten. So it was a good move to have a run out before things kick off in earnest.
  • Dave had BPII whilst I was using BPI, but we deferred to the new rules if there was any difference, which we couldn't really spot to be honest. Both of us had planned to have a read of the rules in advance, but work and other things simply got in the way. I'm sure things will run more smoothly next week.
  • The Glory Hallelujah! supplement is great and really does make tweaks that allows the action to feel like an ACW battle. I'm not sure how much we will use in our campaign as I have to have a re-read, but we will certainly use the unit stats for the 1862 period as a base.
  • It was good to have a variety of terrain to see how this affected movement etc. I'm so used to setting up European games and how much terrain there is in comparison to the ACW theatre, that it feels quite naked in comparison. This is certainly true of our campaign which will be loosley based around the Shenandoah Valley. 
  • The rules did give a good game, but they seemed so quick in terms of movement compared to BBB or Honours of War, that it came as a bit of a shock. Having a unit or Brigade that can make 3 moves in one Turn makes for a potentially fast game. 
  • We found that the firing by both sides can take time to take effect or can suddenly lead to a unit routing off the table if the break test roll is poor. Again this takes a bit of getting used to but does add a nice dynamic to the game. I can see why gamers may not like these rules, but they are easily tweaked to suit your style of play etc.

The next step is to familiarise ourselves with the rules and for me to knock up some unit reference sheets, as well as sending Dave the first maps to give him an idea of the terrain ahead and where the enemy might be. So plenty to be getting on with before next week.

Alongside of this I'm reading up on the Gettysburg campaign to improve my limited knowledge of this conflict. I have also ordered some books on Gettysburg and Chancellorsville by Sears, which were great value and look to be excellent reads. So until next time...


  1. Nice looking table, Steve! Your buildings on their new bases look superb. I handle buildings, towns, and BUAs, for large scale games the same way.

    In games where movement is large wrt to firing ranges, I am sure you will adjust quickly. One thing large movement rates bring is the ability for flanking maneuvers and the need to protect those flanks. That is good, I think.

    1. Glad you liked the look Jonathan as i'm really happy with how the bUAs have come out. The 6mm figures looked a bit dwarfed by the terrain, but that's because mine is largely for 10mm.

      I'm sure we will get used to things and it's appropriate to have them moving faster than say the SYW, which lends itself to a more measured game. Really looking forward to things kiciking off next week.

    2. Sears’ Gettysburg is good but so is Trudeau and Guezlo. Guezlo is likely my favorite.

    3. Thanks for the recommendations Jonathan:).

  2. Steve, nice action to re-acquaint with BP. The dynamic range of outcomes falling from hits, saves and uncertain movement rates make this an enjoyable set for me and I look forward to following your campaign, both for the mechanics and the battles. A good start to 2020 :-)

    1. Thanks Norm and BP is a set we really should play more. I think with the aim to play with around 12 units per side, these will get more of an outing this year, especially if I get my 19thC forces finished as planned.

  3. Steve, if you scroll down this link, the Black Powder II changes are listed.

    1. Thanks for this Norm and will check it out. I've also got a link to a Blog somewhere that runs through the changes as well.

    2. In the end I ordered a copy of BPII for a pretty good price, so look forward to giving these a good run out this year:)

  4. Looking good Steve, the new buildings look great.
    I am very interested to see how the campaign shapes up having been involved in a pbem campaign recently.

    1. Thanks Stu. Campaigns work well for us and make the whole experience more interesting. The odd one off games are OK, but much prefer the former.