Monday, October 8, 2018

Fix Bayonets 2018, Napoleonic Black Powder Game AAR

(Somewhere near the border of Spain's Provincia de Steilacoom)


The first game I played during Fix Bayonets 2018, was a Napoleonic battle run by my friend Dean, and using the rules Black Powder. While I wrote a review over two years ago, I spent the days prior to Fix Bayonets re-reading the rules.

In the meantime, Dean readied his miniatures and terrain:

(Picture by Dean:  Britian's Steilacoom Province Expeditionary Force)

(Picture by Dean:  France's l'Armee du Province de Steilacoom)

The Tabletop Situation:

The French currently hold Spain's Steilacoom Province.  The British assemble a force to retake the region, but shortly after crossing the province, bordered by the Rio de la Steilacoom, a French force advances to intercept the British.

The Players:

Game Master--
--Dean M.

The French Players--
--Left Flank Brigade Commander--Scott A.
--Center Brigade Commander--Tim M.
--Right Flank Brigade Commander--Bruce M. (also overall commander)

The British Players--
--Right Flank Brigade Commander--Yours Truly
--Center Brigade Commander--James S. (also overall commander)
--Left Flank Brigade Commander--James M.

(Dean, the Gamemaster in the flannel shirt)

(The French Players)
(A couple of my British teammates at the far end of the table, with Dean and another friend)

Order of Battle:

Each force consisted of three brigades, containing at least one line infantry unit, one or more light infantry units, one or two cavalry regiments, and possibly one or two artillery batteries.

My command consisted of one infantry regiment, a cavalry regiment, and an artillery battery, and was positioned on the British right flank.

The Objectives:

Both sides were to seize and hold the church, the bridge, and the tavern, identified in the picture below:

(The objectives identified in "Google Spanish")

The Course of the Battle:

In general, both sides attempted to advance and engage each other somewhere in the middle of the battlefield.

Note:  Black Powder requires players to "activate" their units through die roll and comparing it with the leader's Staff Rating.  So it's more than likely your units will spend some time during a game unable to do anything, but react to your opponent's actions.

The details of the battle are illustrated in the following photos:

(The British General issues his orders for the entire expeditionary force to advance)

(My brigade commander urges his men of the Right Flank Brigade forward)

(The British Left Flank Brigade advances towards the woods)

(The French Center Brigade advances)
(The British Right Flank Brigade, forms a defensive line along the Rio de la Steilacoom)

(The French advance stalls)

(An overall view of the battlefield)
(The British Right Flank Brigade battery opens fire)

(The French Brigade commander urges his men forward through shot and shell)

(British cavalry mass in the center)

(The French Center Brigade opens fire on the massed British cavalry)

(Empty saddles among the British cavalry)

(The French Right, and British Left Flank Brigades advance towards each other
(French cavalry charge British light infantry near the tavern)

(Surprisingly, the light infantry hold their ground for a bit...)

(...but are driven from the field)

(The French Center Brigade advances toward the church)

(British cavalry counter charge their French counterparts near the tavern)

(The line battalions exchange fire near the tavern)

(The cavalry melee near the tavern ends, causing both sides to retreat)

(An overall view from the center of the battlefield looking towards the tavern)

(The British battalion near the tavern receives enfilade fire from another French battalion...)

(...and routs)

(Meanwhile, the French finally advance on the bridge)

(The French charge the British guns!)

(And are wiped out by a "whiff of grapeshot," while British heavy cavalry engage French light cavalry)

(The British heavy cavalry scatter the French light horsemen and charge the center gun battery)
(After dispatching the gunners, the British heavy cavalry charges into another French cavalry regiment)
(As horsemen exchange sword strokes, a Royal Horse Battery unlimbers and fires into a French infantry battalion)

(Another French battalion gets a whiff of grapeshot)

(French and British horsemen continue their duels)
(But eventually tire and retreat from each other)

By the time the last cavalry duel in the center ended, both commanders had their buglers sound the general retreat.


We finished the game shortly before the period ended.

Objective-wise, The British controlled the church, and the French held the tavern.  However, since I didn't have any of my troops physically on the bridge, the game was considered a draw.

Dean always runs a good game, and I had an enjoyable time participating in this one.

Note on the rules:  While Black Powder is a fairly easy game to learn, it does play fast & loose with Napoleonic tactics.  It is definitely a "game" as opposed to a "simulation."

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