So I finally got around to playing a game of Black Powder. You'll recall I finished up the forces about a month ago then needed to tinker with the rules a bit (partly because it's who I am and partly to make it a bit more interesting from a solo standpoint) before getting a game in. Surprisingly the rules are pretty much intact, at least so far as I recall. The major changes were the turn sequence and I added a 'skill test' for closing actions.
Regarding the turn sequence, for me it's always more fun in solo games if it's not an IGOUGO sequence, so I put each side on cards, one for each brigade and CinC. It's 'Bolt Action' style, meaning a card comes out for one side or the other, and the commander chooses which of his units to activate. Changing to this meant there could be no more 'Side A moves, shoots, then melees, then Side B does same.' So 'shoot' became an order, as did reload, and when you charge into melee it's carried out right away.
But, just like there's 'closing actions' in the regular Black Powder rules, I have them too. My only change to them was to add a skill test, so that a closing action wouldn't be automatic, you had to pass a test in order to be able to form square or carry out closing fire, etc... I'm sure I screwed up the rules in places, but other than the stuff I mentioned I believe I'm playing the rules as written. I will say I screwed up the 'disordered' deal constantly; very infrequently did I check to see if one of the hits was a '6'...
So, the game was a lot of fun, but really dragged on. I'd say I had a fantastic time for the first four hours, was pretty happy for the following 30 minutes, then I was simply exhausted for the last 50 minutes. Part of the problem was I couldn't figure a spot to logically end the game; there were multiple times during the fight where I could (should) have declared one side or the other the winner, and if just one more thing would have gone right for that side I would have.
But every time one side had the advantage, they either screwed a command roll and lost the opportunity, or carried out an action that ended up being indecisive and letting the enemy back in the game. Ultimately it was a slaughterhouse and a draw, and when I threw in the towel I figured it made sense by that time that the sun had gone down and the two sides fell back to lick their wounds.
So here lies the results of 6 turns over 5 hours and 20 minutes. I started the game with Brits/Prussians owning one table edge and the French owning the other; neither side had any forces on the table, but brought them on when a card was drawn and they passed a command roll. Let's get to work.
Turn 2: The turn starts with a French card, and the 4th Brigade on the south road would be really handy if it could move up a bit and get into line, anchoring on the village. Instead it rolls a command blunder, but it's pretty innocuous as it's a 'make one move right,' which it does, hugging the south treeline.
So let me start showing my lack of knowledge regarding Napoleonic strategy and tactics, as well as my own impetuousness. With the hill not yet mounted, and worried the Prussian Brigade and Allied Hvy Cav Bde are in position to whack 4th Brigade (still in road column after its blunder). So, it's time to act decisively.
-Brit 2nd Bde activated, with a plan to pull off a shoot then charge the French Cav (who stood a decent chance of being caught flat footed following the melee); problem is, they only got one action, and the fire was ineffective.
-Brit Lt Cav Bde charges into the scrum, getting at the two French Hussar regiments (one managed a countercharge, which was all that was available as the Brits had rolled 3 actions and the French regiment couldn't have outrun them). Most everybody takes a hit or two, and one of the French Hussar regiments fails its break test and retires (top right). Dead center is the other French Hussar regiment (Blue/Brown with 2 hits), with Dutch and Brit Hussars both sporting a hit, and the Chasseurs (in green) are next to one of the 1st Bde squares.
In the south, the Prussians have designs on the blundered French 4th Bde, but manage only 1 action and creep forward.
The French 3rd Bde, still off-table, fails its command roll again and remains off table. The French CinC sits tight next to his 1st Bde atop the hill.
Then the Dutch Bde (on the north road) failed its command roll, and the French 2nd Bde (at rear of French hill) decided to go to help the French 4th Bde, but only got one action to move in that direction.
During the confusion, the French Lt Cav Brigadier grabs the lead troopers of the the remaining Hussar regiment and leads them past the Brits to the shelter of the French Hvy Cav Bde!
The Brit 2nd Bde (center, with Hvy Cav Bde at top right) trying to fill the void caused by 1st Bde's dallying, forms road column, moves atop Brit hill, then shakes out into double line (the cotton shows they are 'fired' and need to reload).
The French 3rd Bde finally passes a command roll and comes on the table with one action, while the Brit CinC tries but fails to rally some 1st Bde infantry, while the French CinC darts right (south) up to 4th Bde and rallies.
But that's not what happened. The Prussians, despite being in square, didn't suffer much from the shooting. When the French charged, the Prussians were able to shake out into lines, and so they didn't suffer a lot there. Two of their Inf Bns had to take break tests, but they both passed! And then the French 2nd Infantry Brigade, which could have followed up and swept the Prussians aside, failed its command roll!
Then the Brit 1st Bde failed its command roll (after blundering last turn).
The Greys gave out a hit but took two, and despite becoming disordered they passed their break test. The Prussian Hussars weren't so lucky and were easily broken.
Back in the south with 4th Bde, the French CinC fails at rallying some troops, and the French Lt Cav, who's down to only one Hussar regiment but has some easy pickings in front of it (it could hit already beat up Prussian infantry in the flank), fails its command roll.
In the center the French 1st Bde's Ft Arty Btty (atop French hill) pounds one of the Brit 1st Bde's Inf Bns, but it passes its test and the Brit CinC comes over and rallies a couple hits off...
I may have screwed up, but the French rolled up 9 hits, and despite the Greys' saving 8 of them, that one made them shaken, and they failed their break test, running away. That's them in the foreground, with the Brit Dragoons, who really could have helped things out with just one activation, sitting idly in front of the three French Hvy Cav regiments...
Now there's the issue of the left flank; while the Prussians are putting up a brave fight, it can't last forever, and with the Hvy Cav Bde practically gone (the Dragoons are fun, just sitting there, but the Prussian Hussars broke and the Greys are running for the exit), something needs to be done. I know, I'll order the back line (the 3rd and 4th battalions of the brigade) to face left, move forward to refuse the flank, and (if I'm lucky and get three actions) fire at the French Hvy Cav milling about!
But I don't get lucky, I roll a blunder, and so the 3rd and 4th battalions make two moves away from the nearest enemy. That's them in the foreground, running away from the French Cav at top, past the absolute mess of 1st Bde at center right, and leaving the other two Inf Bns of 2nd Bde all by their lonesome (upper center, in line). End of turn 4.
The Dutch work up the courage to charge and, ah, no they didn't, they failed their command roll...
The French CinC, still to the south with 4th Bde fighting the Prussians, tries unsuccessfully to rally the troops.
Lets' review here, and I hope I'm doing something wrong. The Prussian is engaged by a French battalion to his front, thereby making it possible for him to be engaged to his flank (the French units still moving in the most direct manner). The French get no bonus for outnumbering the Prussian (everybody gets their normal number of melee die), and the French get no bonus for hitting the Prussians in the flank (no bonus for melee, but you double the dice if you fire at someone's flank). The only knock on the Prussian is that he 1) has to split his melee dice between the attackers and 2) his 'to hit' value is -1 because he's engaged to his flank/rear. My biggest heartburn is that I believe a unit's morale save should be negatively affected when engaged to their flank or rear. There's no way the Prussian's save should have been 4+ when he's got two French battalions on his flank.
I will be the first to admit I am probably screwing up. If that's the case, please someone shoot me the page number.
The very last action of the game was when the French CinC rallied some hits off of the 4th Brigade.
Like I said, I had a lot of fun, but it really drug on and I just couldn't figure out a way to end it. Every time someone had the advantage they blew it, either with poor command rolls, poor combat rolls, or the opponent's incredible saving and break test rolls.
I really enjoyed how the rules worked out for me, though I need to look up/clarify a couple things. But they were pretty small things, the 'bones' of the rules are outstanding. It probably seems silly/crazy, but I loved how it worked with both sides starting off the table and having to roll to get on. I just remembered, another thing I need to look at is brigade morale. I've got it down regarding a unit having to take a break test, but what about a brigade that's lost 50% of its units? I'm sure that one is in the book, I just neglected to put it in my cheatsheet.
I will definitely get to this again, but for now I've got WWII stuff to dive into.