Sunday, February 14, 2010


I have recently received a small order I placed with 'Koenig Krieg' for something that Black Powder makes necessary - a set of casualty markers! They are lead bases, triangular in shape, with recessed numbers at each corners (perfect for BP) and a fallen figure in the middle.

I painted up a set yesterday evening and thought I'd post the results. Most BP units become 'shaken'with three hits, so these markers will remove the need for placing dice next to regiments to denote hits (which was my previous method - effective, but annoying on photos!)

I simply painted them generically for about five Aschenbach and seven Luftberg infantry. Overall the casting seems okay, although some of the arms looked a little 'elongated' compared to the body. And the set had only one pose, face-down. I believe Old Glory do a good set of 15mm casualties, but I gave up ordering them thanks to one of the most user-unfriendly webpages I've ever come across! If you feel like getting some, then I would recommend Koenig Krieg or (if you feel patient) Old Glory 15mm. The last photo, below, is the best close-up I could get. I intend to flock the bases to make them more 'grassy' but I'm quite happy with the full set being painted and effectively ready in a single day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Campaign Counters

The upcoming campaign in Muckenmire is planned to be a little different from the previous Spitzplatz affair, mainly because I want to split he armies up a lot more. Before, I had two large armies colliding every so often for a major battle, but with this campaign I am hoping to fight more 'small' battles between a few units at a time in various places, to get a bit more strategic interest. To this end, I've made up my hexagon map and drawn it with Google Sketchup. There are a large number of roads and fortresses, and armies will need to have a road running back to their supply source through a succession of friendly fortresses. One problem this posed was that as the armies were split up they'd be pretty short on infantry, and detaching more and more as garrison troops just seemed to likely make things worse.

What with all the painting having been mostly done, the chances of me expanding the armies was precisely zero! So, I decided to break them down a bit more, and represent every regiment on the campaign map with a pair of counters - effectively a first and second battalion for each regiment of infantry and cavalry. This should mean that fortresses get held correctly and a decent force still turns up on each battlefield!

I made counters by simply printing off a grid of squares by using Excel, then I went to Junior General to get pictures of the various troop types, placed them in each box, and printed them out. Although with a bit of work I could have printed the text for each unit, I preferred to hand-write them on myself. Far easier than trying to insert text boxes around nested drawings in Word, which has become a total nightmare every time I've tried to do it!

I also wanted to avoid the 'killer stack' situation where each side forms a monster-sized grand army and can't be stopped, so the endless possibilities for cutting supplies should mean that a variety of smaller armies can elude and frustrate a large single enemy. This will give the personalities a bit of scope for independent action, which may or may not be wise in the strategic sense, but should be fun for the game!

With all this growth on the strategic level, I was also able to fling in a few non-tabletop items which would not be deployed in model form. First up I wanted to include some sappers, or engineers who could help the armies cross the rivers and soggy terrain. I made up one counter for 'Pontooneers' or bridge-building engineers, drew a stylised plan view of a boatbridge (crude and basic, true, but it does the job!) I issued one of these counters to each army, to get them going.

The other big strategic factor is all those fortresses, and struggling around with sieges will be required. As a result, I also issued each army with a set of 'Siege Artillery' counters to serve as the army's siege train. This will represent all the heavy guns, mortars, pioneers, gabions and shovels a man could want. It's possible to besiege a fort without the siege counter, but it's presence will give big bonuses to anybody who tries it.

That covers the armies on the strategic level, so I'll shortly post on my method for setting up the armies and deploying them, plus the initial strategies each side will try to follow. I will also, in the next few weeks, try and give a more detailed Black Powder ruleset example, as some posts have requested a bit more detail on how it plays.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Black Powder Battle Report

I've had a one-off battle to try out the Black Powder Rules, and thought I'd post some photos & notes. Very loosely, the fight was a re-run in the style of the recent ‘Might & Reason’ ruleset battle of Froschbach from a month or two ago. I adopted a ‘pile everything on’ philosophy and decided to simply play every painted and based figure I could. Luftberg were there in full, of course. Aschenbach were mainly present, and could muster a decent show – they had only one Grenadier unit, a half-sized Fusilier regiment, and one missing Infantry regiment. Cavalry were also 75% done in Cuirassiers and Dragoons, so rather than field one full and one half-sized unit of each I put them all into one large unit of each – subtle as a brick through a window!

The battle plan adopted was pretty similar, mainly because I was curious how each rule-set would handle it. The field was roughly similar too – each side advanced in columns onto a field with a stream perpendicular to the two battle-lines, plus some hills to the edges.

Aschenbach went for the central Infantry attack with a mass of Cavalry on the right flank, to turn the line. Luftberg deployed similarly, but had Cavalry on both their flanks and deployed (as per the old ‘brigades’ standardising notion I had devised and not gotten round to using,) which meant that the left flank was all Dragoons & the right flank was all Cuirassiers. The whole army was preceded by the ‘Advance Guard’ brigade of shifty Irregular types, Croats and Hussars.

The battlefield (Photos courtesy of Google Earth)

The battle began with Luftberg proving themselves slightly above clueless, only getting basic single-move orders to fumble forward while Aschenbach were clearly able to move far faster. Generally all seemed favourable for Aschenbach’s big central attack, but although the attack brigade made good rolls and hurtled forward to catch the Luftberg troops still deploying, the other brigades lagged behind. The left infantry brigade was particularly troubled by the stream slowing it’s movement and the oncoming enemy cavalry. Clearly moving at max speed and ignoring the rest of the army is not a good idea!

The confused Luftberg advance

Aschenbach's neat battle-line advances

In the centre, Aschenbach hammered on with it’s two lead units up front – one Line Infantry, one Grenadiers – which crashed into a firefight with the lead Luftberg units. The rash advance suddenly looked very unwise, as the lumbering Luftberg masses steadily sorted themselves out – enlivened by the odd regiment ‘blundering’ it’s orders and sailing off in totally the wrong direction! Rapidly, the fight developed into Aschenbach’s two regiments locking horns with five enemy regiments! With both flanks enfiladed, Croats firing in on them, plus Hussars threatening their rear, it rapidly turned into a disaster. Both regiments became disordered, meaning they couldn’t be pulled back from the disastrous situation, and when they were finally hauled out they were badly shaken by the hot reception!

The lead units get enfiladed and disordered

Croats, Hungarians and Fusiliers struggle on the flank

The battered survivors back away, under pursuit

So, where were their supporting units? The cavalry brigade had a fantastic time smashing up the Luftberg dragoons opposite them, but they were weakened themselves and found that by the time they had seen off their opposite numbers, the Luftberg infantry were in place to hold them back. They never even had a chance to try it, as the central attack failed before they had reformed to come and assist, the useless show-boaters!

Aschenbach Cavalry - thanks a bunch, guys!

As to the left-flank infantry, what about them? Well, they advanced gamely enough but rolled badly for orders, plus the stream slowed them down further, representing a terrible dawdling when the crisis broke! As the Luftberg Cuirassier brigade closed in, they deployed into line and unlimbered their batteries to receive them. The disadvantage of having one flank wide open and cavalry-free quickly became obvious! Although one Cuirassier regiment was shot up and forced to a standstill, the other two proceeded to charge and outflank batteries and regiments one after the other, rolling up the line like an old carpet. Finally all Aschenbach units on the left bank of the river were swept away! With one flank wrecked, the other stalled, and the centre reeling, Aschenbach had clearly lost the day and retreated. A sterling victory for Luftberg!

Overall, disaster for Aschenbach was pretty likely as they weren’t bringing their ‘best game’ to the table, what with being only partially completed. Over-eager advances on good order rolls are clearly very unwise, as keeping your force together is pretty essential. An excellent, fun first game, which was far faster than Might & Reason as well as more action-packed!

It is also probably worth adding a little bit more about the Black Powder (BP) Rules, now they’ve been played. The advantage of superior orders seems best while ‘unengaged.’ Once units close up to the enemy, they are more limited in their movements and can make an automatic single move by initiative – and they’ll probably not need more than one. Well-led armies will want to engage in the dramatic flanking marches to turn an enemy line, as the higher order rolls will be useful here in the early stages. BP seems to be a good set of rules for mobile, dramatic battles (ie, the fun type!) I would also add that the 24-man unit is not critical to play. All you need to be able to do is show formations, so technically you could probably play it with a DBx-style of army, if you just used little counters or something to show if units were in line or column, etc. Mind you, you’d lose the visual effect, and a 4-figure unit might look a bit weird with three casualty markers at it’s base (almost more figures shot down than standing - embarrasing!)

The victor preens himself on an overlooking hill...

...While the loser slinks away. Let me know how it turns out, lads!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Parade Ground

I know I promised to detail my campaign plans, and I shall in a day or two, but first – a little diversion for two bits of news in my gaming world, both of them big!

My original games were played out on an old ‘Subbuteo’ game mat, which is basically a green bit of cloth 3 or 4 ft square, and this has been a regular battlefield for me over about ten or fifteen years – no exaggerating! It’s certainly done great service, but I finally decided it was time to get a replacement. Not least because I filled the old mat with the 50% reduced armies in the battle of Froschbach, which meant that any further battles on the old mat would be like a knife-fight in a phone booth. Popping down to Homebase, I’ve bought a grass-green throw to act as my new field of conflict. According to the label it’s 150cm by 200cm, and for the non-metric folk out there that translates into a roughly five foot by six-and-a-half foot of space. Very roomy, even if a bit of that is lost in the tassels at the end, and not bad for about £15.

That would be a big development on it’s own, but there’s more – the lead mountain has shrunk! Here, for the first time ever, is the Luftberg army envisioned over a year ago. Now fully realised in it’s painted and based glory, here is a sight on the wargames table I’ve devoted countless evenings and weekends to realising through 2008, 2009 and 2010. Hooray for Luftberg! Death to their foes!

The full army on parade. I find I have to zoom out far more than normal to see everything on the double-base units!

Infantry Regiments in line, plus artillery.

Dragoon Regiments.

Cuirassiers, Hussars, Grenadiers and Croats.

Elector Ulrich Von Luftberg himself, plus kibitzing nobility of a militarily-minded persuasion.