Black Powder Wars: A word About Game Scale

September 22, 2008

Black Powder Wars has the following game scale:

Ground scale 1 Inch = 100 Yards

1 Turn = 1 Hour

Each Unit represents the following…

Infantry or Cavalry represent 1 Brigade.

Artillery represents 2-3 batteries of artillery

Black Powder Wars: Game Turn Sequence

September 22, 2008

Turn sequence in Black Powder Wars is very straight forward.

Rally phase. Disordered units are returned to good order and routed units become disordered.

Barrage Phase. Artillery may shoot once in this phase. If the player wishes to move artillery, he may do so but may still fire during the regular fire phase with a penalty of 1.

Movement Phase. Move all troops now including charges and artillery movement.

Fire Phase. Any unit may engage an enemy with ranged fire. Units involved in close combat and artillery that fired during the Barrage phase do not fire. Cavalry NEVER fire when mounted.

Close Phase. All units in stand to stand contact perform close combat. Results are applied immediately.

Black Powder Wars: Ratings and Numbers

September 19, 2008

Now it is time to put some numbers to the ratings in the previous article. I will also add a few special abilities for units such as cavalry.

We have already defined morale as having three general levels…Green, Seasoned and Veteran. Our troop quality levels are defined in three levels…Militia, Regular and Guard. So what does that all mean? In general, I will use the same rating system for both categories. 3 is the best. 4 is middling. 5 is the worst. These numbers represent the number needed or better on a single d6 in order to “pass”. The general breakdown is as follows:

Morale Grade

  • Green 5+
  • Seasoned 4+
  • Veteran 3+

The mechanic for a morale or rally check is to throw 1D6 and compare it to the rating. If the result is greater than or equal to the number, you pass the morale check. If it is a rally check, then if the number is equal or greater than by 2, you pass and the unit reforms/rallies. If the number is 3 or more greater, you pass with elan and the unit may reform/rallies AND operate normally that turn.

Morale checks work as follows:

  1. Roll a D6 and subtract the number of hits done during the combat phase.
  2. Add any situational modifiers for terrain and leadership.
  3. If the result is equal to or greater than the moral number, the unit passes.
  4. If the result is less than the morale number by 1 or 2, the unit is disordered. If the unit is already disordered, it routes.
  5. If the number is less than the morale number by 3 or more, the unit routes. If the unit is already disordered, the unit shatters and is removed from play.
  6. Routed units that rally are considered bloodied and incur a penalty of 1 to all morale and quality checks for the rest of the game. If they route again, they shatter and are removed from play.

Elite/Conscript status

If a unit is elite (Old Guard, Coldstream Guard etc) you rolls 2 dice for the unit for morale and accepts the best result.

If a unit is rated conscript you roll 2 dice for the unit for morale and accept the worst result. Conscript troops that route are shattered and removed from play.

Troop Quaility

  • Militia 5+
  • Regulars 4+
  • Guards 3+

Troop quality numbers represent the chance to cause a morale check on an enemy. Roll a D6 and subtract the troop quality number. If the number equals 0 or more, you cause a morale check and that number is the modifier for the morale check. Results from multiple units are cumulative. Roll each attack separately and add them up. If a morale check is already forced, then a 0 result will count as -1.

Who shoots first? The defender shoots first in several situations…

  • A defending unit that did not move in its previous turn shoots first
  • A unit defending against an attacker that started its charge more than a half move away shoots first
  • A unit that is defending against an attacker that did not have a line of sight to the target before it started its charge shoots first.


Cavalry may not shoot. However, cavalry enjoy certain melee advantages over infantry

  • Heavy Cavalry in good order enjoy a +1 to the quality roll when attacking infantry.
  • Cavalry get to roll 2 dice and take the best result when attacking disordered infantry

Lancers were a good anti-cavalry weapon.

  • Lancers in good order enjoy a +1 to the quality roll when attacking non-lancer cavalry.

Black Powder Wars

September 13, 2008

My new game, Black Powder Wars, is aimed at capturing the feel of the black powder era from around 1700 to about 1865. The mechanisms will be very simple. There are three basic arms in the game. Infantry, cavalry and artillery. Infantry and cavalry will be rated for Morale grade and troop quality.

Morale grade measure the overall mental toughness of the troops. This toughness comes from campaign experience. The grades are Green, Seasoned and Veteran.

  • Green troops have little or no combat experience.
  • Seasoned troops have seen battle. This is the most common grade found in line units.
  • Veteran troops have much experience. They could be troops that have seen years of combat or are simply a guard unit that is constantly supplied with veterans from other units.

Troops quality reflects the overall training and equipment of the troop type. The quality levels are Militia, Regulars and Guards.

  • Militia are such troops as National Guard or Landwehr. Generally, they are not well equipped and have only a rudimentary amount of training at best.
  • Regulars are fairly well equipped and trained. They are the back bone of the army.
  • Guards are the best of the best. They receive the best equipment and uniforms and usually the morale grade is high.

Here are some examples.

British 5th division would have 2 brigades of veteran regulars and a brigade of green militia.

The French Old Guard infantry division would have 2 brigades of veteran guards.

A typical line division would have 2-3 brigades of seasoned regulars.

Black Powder Era Gaming

September 13, 2008

Napoleonic Miniature Wargaming was probably my first foray into serious miniature collecting.  My friends and I have played many different games over the years.  Some were pretty good (Napoleons Battles, Fire and Steel) and some not so much (Empire).  I have learned to appreciate large battles using element based units, where 1 stand equals a brigade.  There are 3 competing products out there right now.  Grande Armee, Polemos and Volley and Bayonet.

I’ve read through Fast Play Grande Armee.  I think it has some interesting concepts but parts of it seem a bit overly fiddly.  Other parts seem a bit bland. 

Poleomoes, I’ve not seen.  I’ve read enough reviews about it to probably take a pass.  I think it is probably a good game but reports are that the combat system bogs down.   This is not good for someone like me with limited time.

Volley and Bayonet is a game a really like.  The simplicity and elegance of the rules are fantastic.  The second version is out.  I read an advanced copy of the rules and was not very fond of them.   VnB has always been a bit fiddly to try to capture the various phases of the Black Powder Era.  VnB 2 seems to take it a bit far.  The reason I don’t stick with the original VnB is that it relies on rosters to keep track of casualties.  This tends to slow the game down. 

In the coming weeks, I will be posting my design thoughts on a very simple Black Powder game that (I hope) will capture the various nuances of the different phases of the Black Powder Era.

New Site and Bad Luck

September 4, 2008

Hello all,

My system at home had a major failure of the hard disk.  Fortunately, nothing major was lost…only time.  I decided to build my site on WordPress and see how that goes.  While free sites on WordPress are not as full featured as if you were hosting your own, they do have the advantage of being backed up by someone else. 🙂

I should have the game files back online soon.