Friday, May 20, 2016

Rulebook Review: Black Powder

A few weeks ago, a bought a bunch of painted Napoleonic miniatures from my friend Dean, author of the popular WAB Corner blog.

I intend to take pictures of my "new model army," but have been busy at work and with non-wargaming projects when I'm off-duty.

In the meantime, I thought I'd at least read the Black Powder rules, which Dean based his figures on.

If you're looking for a set of rules that provide detailed data on the various weapons, tactics, and doctrines of the various armies from 1700-1900, look elsewhere.

Black Powder is a game, not a simulation, a point the authors make clear throughout the book. 

Lavishly illustrated and weighing-in at 182 pages, the Basic Rules comprise the first 50 pages, with another 26 pages of Advanced Rules.  The rest are scenarios, battle reports, a quick reference page and an index.  This makes Black Powder popular for resolving big-battles within the time frame of one gaming period at a convention (usually four hours).

However, rules designed to handle big-battles can also be a detriment.  No one I know has a 6' x 12' gaming table the authors used to play test the rules.  Big-battles also require a big collection of miniatures.  Large--and fully painted--collections take a long time for an individual to amass, or require the cooperation of a gaming group to invest in.

I also think the authors stretched the timeline of the "Horse & Musket Era" to 1900 so their fine-quality, late 19th Century figures can see the light of day--or more likely camera flashes--in order to impress the rest of us.  (I'm certainly impressed).

Despite these quibbles, I'll give Black Powder a 4-star rating.  Published six years ago, and still commanding a $48 price tag, the rules are currently out of stock on (which has a 3.9-star average rating), but can still be obtained at On Military Matters, and possibly other game/book store websites.


DeanM said...

Ted - hope you get a lot of enjoyment out of the figures. As with most "player-friendly" rules, Black Powder can be played "out of the book" or modified/simplified as you like. Looking forward to seeing you at Enfilade in a few days. And yes, I'd love to see pictures of the figures on your blog and/or on the NHMGS FB. Best, Dean

Ted Henkle said...

Thanks for commenting Dean!
What I liked most about Black Powder was its informality, which makes the rules very "convention-friendly."
And speaking of which, I'm scheduled to be off duty during Enfilade. How-ever, I'm this weeks' "floater." That is, I fill in for folks taking time off.
So I'm hoping nothing happens at the last minute.