23 June 2014

Black Powder - American Civil War

Mike B has been furiously painting 20mm ACW soldiers recently since picking up Black Powder a few months ago. He's been eager to put BP on the table top so Sunday afternoon we gave it a good play-through. We had four players which made it easy to divide up the troops. Mark J and I took the (damn) Yankees while Johnny and Mike took command of the CSA boys.

The basic setup was that the Yankees were attacking a small southern town and its important bridge and crossroads. The Georgia boys were defending the town and pretty well in control of the battlefield to begin with.

The battlefield. No, we weren't trying to recreate a historical battle. it was more of a set-up and fight. The five white objective markers are pretty well visible. I'm not certain why the ruined building is an objective. Perhaps there were some gold bars hidden under the floor boards.

Mark and I looked at the situation and quickly concocted a battle plan:
1) With four of the five objectives on the right side of the river, we decided that the bulk of the effort should spent on the right side of the river. I was going to send one battalion forward on the left side as a distraction. The goal was to get as many of the Confederate reinforcements to enter on the wrong side of the river as possible.

2) My larger component was to march down the road , take and hold the bridge and just push the center objectives.

3) Mark's troops were to advance and remove enemy opposition on the right side of the battlefield. The objectives on that side were going to be difficult to get to, but we'd at least have a numbers advantage on that side.
The map of the plan. My planned advance is in dark blue - Mark's is in light blue.

The Confederate setup. Mike's got a battalion forward on my side (perfect!) and John's got a battalion further back in a good defensive position.

I got my first battalion to arrive right where I needed it. I very purposefully left my other two battalions in reserve. Mark only managed to get one battalion to arrive. My troops opened fire at the nearest company of enemy.
And it was a very effective volley... the company took three hits, became disordered and failed their break test, quitting the field! Oh boy, this should be easy!

Mike pulled in a handful of reinforcements - some of which ended up on the left side of the river. Not entirely what I was hoping for, but not bad. The lead CSA battalion fouled up a leadership roll and one company dropped back two full moves. Heheh.  The Confederate return fire resulted in one of my companies becoming disordered. Nothing too terrible.

On the second turn, Mark's sharpshooters arrived on the road. My command rolls were miserable and although I managed to succeed with one, the blasted sharpshooters were creating a traffic jam on the road and my reinforcements stayed off the table. His battalion on the far right advanced and both sides exchanged more gunfire with little in the way of results. The CSA's command rolls were absolute garbage and left us in a fine situation.

On the third turn, Mark's sharpshooters cleared the road and my second unit entered, albeit very slowly.

 We fired more muskets into the Southern positions.

And caused a second company to rout, resulting in the remainder of the battalion routing! A loud cheer erupted from the Union lines.

To start turn 4, I had some fabulous command rolls and not only was able to get the balance of the Union army to arrive, but managed to get them into very good positions. Because the road was such a log-jam, I only had one battalion march up it, whilst my new unit marched alongside them on the other side of the river. Mark maneuvered his troops around a bit, trying to get a shot off with his artillery. I didn't think all the wiggling around was necessary, but what's a sub-commander to do?

I believe it was about this time that one of Mark's companies finally took enough gunfire to rout. Sorry, poor documentation.

So, onto turn 5. Mike's command rolls were complete crap so I just waltzed up to the bridge and captured it giving us two objectives now. The battalion that had come down the road started to form up into battle lines in preparation for the final assault in the center.

Here's a shot of Mark's situation. He had some seriously shitty terrain to deal with. Those grey lumps were "impassible rocky ground."

So, with turn 6 upon us, I advanced further into the center, trading shots with the unit on the road and the unit in the building. Mark inched up towards the wall.

Mark managed to put an obscene amount of firepower into the unit manning the wall, finally breaking it. It had been a long time coming!

Mike's command rolls finally started to take shape and he advanced his now dismounted cavalry and an infantry unit towards my lines on the left. Maybe a bit foolhardy, but at least he was getting positive results. Mike's other units filtered forward into the ruins and beside them.

 I was honor-bound to charge the haughty Confederates. having them outnumbered three to one helped. The Southerners in the ruins took some pot-shots as I closed but it wasn't enough to break the charge. The unit of rebel soldiers was wiped out handily.

An American tragedy.

Back on the other side of the field, the Union sharpshooters had managed to flank the hell out of the cannon position but left themselves terribly exposed to a Confederate charge. The brave Georgians rushed forward!

But the skirmishing sharpshooters were able to turn and fire, and the artillery which had piddled about all game unleashed a gout of flame and iron! The charge was broken and they quickly turned tail and retreated.

The battlefield after seven turns. We'd managed two objectives and destroyed five or six Confederate companies and only lost one. Although the objective in the center was officially ruled "contested" I personally think we'd have lost a lot of troops trying to capture it. 

We declared the battle a Union victory as the sun was setting. We all had a brilliant time. This was my first time playing a Civil War game and I rather enjoyed it. The Black Powder rules are OK, certainly not great. You can tell it's a Rick Priestly opus with playability and the almighty d6 being king and queen and a useable QRS being no-where in sight. I swear, that man ain't givin' away ANY rules for free. The game is very GW with a full IGO-UGO in effect. I think the game could do for a bit of re-arranging myself; I'd have each side alternate moves, then shoot (simultaneously), then resolve charges. I'd also like to see a d8 or d10 instead of that damned d6.

I've had Fields of Honor on my game shelf for nearly 20 years and never played a game of it. After this, my interest is piqued to be sure, but that's a lot of miniatures that I don't have. One of these days...

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