Monday, April 28, 2014

Black Powder Napoleonic Game - Rear Guard at Quatre Bras

Finally got around to playing the Rear Guard at Quatre Bras scenario that I converted for Black Powder from the General de Brigade scenario books.  The scenario is going to need some tweaks, but overall we had a good time playing.  With all the Bolt Action games we had returned to being rusty with the rules, but we quickly got back on track after a couple of turns.

Before I dive into the game, I recently came upon a great resource for Black Powder.  In my efforts to see what others have done with Black Powder for ACW specific rules, I stumbled upon the "Contemptible Little Wargames Club" Black Powder resources:

They published extensive modifications to the basic Black Powder rules that add a bunch of "period" flavour into both the ACW and Napoleonic conflicts.  Our plan is to use these moving forward and see how we like them ... I think we'll adopt 95% of the changes they've made as I think the play-ability of the game and clarifications around some of the foggier parts of the rules will be a welcome change.  They also have some excellent QRS (Quick Reference Sheet for the unassimilated) sheets for both periods.  I'd also mention that they are for the most part sticking to the basic Black Powder rules ... although at first glance you'll notice some very big changes ... but give it a chance.

Ok, onto the game.  For the most part we played the scenario as it is detailed here.  The only change I made was that both main French infantry brigades used 3 x line infantry and 1 x light infantry units (instead of the one brigade that called for 2 x line and 2 x light).

The Prussians started with a solid advance, until my dice completely failed me.  I started failing critical order tests and rolled and 4+ occasions, 2-4 on break tests (meaning the units broke - destroyed).  The Prussians lost as two of the three brigades broke (within a turn of each other).  The British brigade came onto the board but it was too little too late.  The first modification to the scenario is to start the British brigade on the board between the Prussian cavalry brigade and central Prussian infantry brigade.

Roy and I will be using our normal Wednesday board game night to now play miniature games ... and if a game takes longer than we have on a Wednesday evening then we'll play it over the course of two Wednesdays if necessary.  We really want to play more games --- one of our summer objectives ... and this is the first step to getting several Bolt Action and Black Powder games played out.

Apologies for the pictures --- I took the ones below on my phone, my camera has pictures ... but my transfer cable broke (new one ordered along with a card reader).  When I get those transferred I'll post them up as well as there is some nice pictures on the Nikon D3200 I have.

I need to work on the terrain for my Napoleonic games ... several improvements are planned ... but I used what I had for this game ... nothing too fancy.

Prussian starting positions.  The British brigade entered on
turn two on the central road.

The French await the Prussian advance.

The Prussian cavalry brigade had the advantage on
the right flank (facing French Lancers and Chasseur a Cheval)
but a miscalculation on my part let the French Lancers get
my Uhlans and after some terrible rolling they broke.  This
made the situation much more even for the right flank a
little would develop before the end.

Central and left flank Prussian brigades deployed.

From the other end.

French brigade - this one would advance and cause
the most trouble, breaking the left flank Prussian
brigade (again, some horrible rolls on my part didn't help).

Overall picture of the table.

The British brigade has entered the table while
the central Prussian brigade is well stuck in - however
failed command rolls have left most of the left Prussian
brigade behind the lines.

The cavalry play cat and mouse ... in and out of melee with
little progress being made on either side.

Yay - the British arrive!  Just in time to fail tons of
command tests for orders ... failing to move very
far at all before the Prussians decided to fold
and call it a day.

Firing line good ... Cuirassiers and Carbiniers
loose on the flank ... beyond the point of
being able to form square in response to a charge > bad.

The Prussian cavalry that allowed the French heavy
cavalry free reign on the Prussian left flank.

Flanks, flanks, and more flanks ... ugh! 
The rest of the left Prussian brigade decide to try and
help out ... but not in time ...

Broken brigades for the Prussians end the game
with a French Victory.

Ending victory points for the French = 14, for the Prussians = 4.5.

More fun to come!


  1. So. Many. Units. :)

    I know it was a bit of a warm up game, bit how long did you guys play for? I'm curious what the expected time frame is for a game of this size in BP.

    1. We started late, about 2pm, and Matt had never played the game before and both Roy and I were fuzzy at best ... but we finished by 6-7pm (with a lot of distractions). Roy and I could play through this sized game in 3-4 hours normally.

  2. Impressive looking game !!

    Best regards Michael

  3. Lovely troops and terrain. Nice to see the use of Black Powder too!

  4. My buddy and I are looking for a ruleset for 6mm ACW, how do you feel about BP? It seems like the failed activations/orders were pretty frustrating; Was that due to particularly bad rolling, or is that how the game usually plays out?

    1. BP is a great rule set for my tastes. The failed orders where are exceptionally bad rolling (very much against the odds) for me ... also, I had forgot two key rules in several turns ... the first, the units within 12" of the enemy didn't need to roll since they get initiative moves --- and the second was that the limbered artillery still get a single move even if they fail a order roll. It is a very good game, I'd recommend for anyone to at least take a serious look at it and see if it is to your tastes.

  5. Very nice report, beautiful minis and terrain...and glad to see a French victory!