Tuesday 9 August 2016

28mm Black Powder Napoleonic Game

Had a game at Bob's this week to try out the Black Powder Rules again, this time using Bob's French and Russian Napoleonic Figures.  The scenario was as follows:

French scouts reported back that a Russian force was advancing towards the only bridge and ford in the area. A mixed French force was immediately dispatched to take and hold the bridge and ford to enable artillery and supplies to continue their advance.

The French force consisted of:
2 Infantry brigades each of 3 regiments of infantry
1 Infantry brigade  of 1 regiment of infantry
1 light cavalry brigade of 3 regiments Chasseurs au cheval
1 heavy cavalry brigade of 2 regiments of Cuirassiers/Carabineers
2 batteries of horse artillery

Against them was a Russian force of:
3 Infantry brigades each of 3 regiments of infantry
1 light cavalry brigade of 5 regiments of Uhlans
1 regiment of Cossacks
1 regiment heavy cavalry Cuirassiers
2 batteries of horse artillery

Determined to take and hold the position.

Bob conducted operations for the Russians whilst I commanded the French.

Some of my French forces

The Russians

Amongst the obstacles separating the two forces a 'flock of sheep'.

This is a really nice resin piece made by First Corp representing a flock of 50 sheep. It is grey and therefore only needs a white dry brush to make it quite effective.

Anyway back to the game itself...for those who have used the Black Powder rules, you will know the frustration of orders not being responded to.  Bob won the initiative and suffered badly from a lot of inactivity on his first move but some infantry did manage to get going.

I on the other hand was able to advance my troops and change formation ready for the Russians.

 an early round of artillery found it's mark on one of the Russian battalion causing it to stop.

The large mass of Russian cavalry (mostly dreaded lancers!) on my left flank finally got going and headed at speed towards my small heavy cavalry brigade.

Meanwhile in the centre and right an infantry fire fight developed with Russian infantry moving through the woods and fields.

Their advance brought them into a better range for my artillery which was supporting my infantry. Some good dice saw Russian casualties but their morale held

Meanwhile on my left the Russian cavalry struck home. One Cuirassier Regiment saw off its opponent causing them to break and run, but the other regiment suffered badly being all but wiped out.

 A brave and desperate follow up by the victorious regiment in an attempt to stem the flow of Russian cavalry was ill fated. Thus ended my cavalry brigade!

Faced with a threat of cavalry to the front and flank my infantry regiments formed squares. Sensing victory Bob ordered a regiment of Uhlans and another of Cuirassiers to charge the squares. 

Never having done this before we consulted the rules to work it out, only to find that cavalry charging formed square is not allowed unless the squares are disordered.  Having both seen Dino De Laurentitiis's 'Waterloo' and Ney's (Dan O'Herlihy) charge on the British squares depicted in the film whilst not 'impossible' it did happen (in real life and in the film) so we gave it a go to see what would happen. 

Basically the rules are constructed so that a formed square cannot fail to cause casualties on every dice roll (6 at a time).  So you need some very good saving throws to to survive. 

One square saw off and destroyed two cavalry regiments on the basis of these rules, but was left on the brink of breaking (probably a good reflection of reality).  A third cavalry unit would definitely have broken it but the waste was enormous.  However, having experimented we put the cavalry back were they started and carried on as if the charge had not happened.  

With all the Russian cavalry movement on the left a gap appeared between the Russian right and centre and I sent forward my cavalry to try to take advantage of it, create a threat and stop the Russian having a free for all on the left.

Bob's Russian artillery were out of position and screened so they set off to try to have an impact elsewhere on the battlefield.

The French artillery were having a field day in every sense of the word.  Having stopped the Russian brigade, they drove off one regiment causing it to break and run, leaving a gap in the line, but by now there were no French cavalry in any position to take advantage of it.

The French cavalry turned to take on their Russian counterparts.  This was always going to be something of an unequal struggle with light cavalry pitted against the remaining Uhlans, but in they went.

Bob's cavalry ultimately won, but enough damage was caused to them to prevent them exploiting the gaps caused by his early victory over the French heavy cavalry.  It also relieved pressure on the infantry squares who were able to reform under a cavalry screen.

More infantry fire on the right saw one of the French regiments fail a break test and leave the field. With the other two regiments weakening as well. the remainder of the brigade withdrew behind the next line.

Bob looks on delighted at his infantry firing.  The local peasant continues to harvest the corn regardless of all the bullets flying around!

The game ended more or less with honours even. Fortunately, apart from the odd failure to move we didn't have a repeat of an entire brigade not moving for the whole of the game which help the enjoyment.  It was good to try out the 'Square' rules in the middle of the game.  It shows the need for artillery or infantry to be close by, which mirrored the reality of the period and also that if you really were desperate and had enough cavalry you could break a square but at a high price. 


  1. Thanks, really enjoyable, I liked the cavalry 'experiment'.

  2. Thanks for your comments Bob and I really appreciate them.

  3. I know what you mean about the layout of Black Powder rules. Have made several "after the fact" discoveries myself! I think, regarding the squares v. cavalry, a square fights with two dice per side (up to the maximum allowed for the unit), and then you just add 3 "points"(?) to how-ever many casualties it managed to inflict and there's your score for that round. But you've probably realised this by now. Great reports, looks like you're playing with the right spirit!