Monday, June 4, 2012

Black Powder: French vs Russians

A week ago Saturday, I was able to get in a game of Black Powder at David's house. As usual, since I do not have any Napoleonic figures to speak of, we used his figures and terrain.

In the scenario, French and Russian forces were to meet and fight over a small town's water supply. Dave won initiative and began to march his French brigades on the field of battle:
David rolled really well for his activations, and was able to advance his infantry about 3/4 of the way across the table. In addition, his cavalry was able to move past the disputed town:
I rolled poorly (VERY VERY poorly) for my activations, and was barely able to get a couple of units on the field (we were deploying from off the table). Threatened by David's cavalry's quick advance, I ordered my units into squares to repel the horsemen:
Meanwhile, David had split off some light cavalry to occupy the town:
David rolled well for activations again, and was able to advance his infantry against my infantry. My troops were still in squares because of the threatening cavalry, and were caught in the wrong formation for taking on other infantry:
Though I took some casualties, the squares held, and I was able to bring on some additional infantry support on the next turn, rolling just well enough to advance and form a line of infantry:
David's cavalry, which had been dissuaded from charging my infantry, had no qualms about charging my much smaller cavalry unit. Knowing the end result would probably go against me, I nevertheless counter-charged!
While the cavalry units engaged, David continued to advance his infantry and some supporting artillery to face the Russian line:
In the town, David's cavalry unit dismounted, and held one end of the bridge that bisected the settlement:
I was bringing a column of infantry into the town from the opposite end, but they took a while to get where I needed them, especially because of my dice rolling problems. (Have I mentioned I was rolling poorly?)

Where the main thrust of the battle was taking place, I wheeled some of my infantry and fired into the flanks of David's troops:
Things were looking decent for me at the time, until David's cavalry, having seen off my own horse units, charged into the flank of my line. Formed into line as they were, since they were facing infantry, the cavalry charge proved decisive:
My units began to break, and my once well-formed line dissolved into individual units with gaps between them where the broken units had once stood (Cowards!):
But all was not lost! In the town, my plodding infantry finally came to grips with the small unit of horsemen holding the bridge:
After several rounds of a vicious melee, my Russian infantry finally chased off the pesky cavaliers, and occupied the town:
At the game's end, the Russians held a strong defensive position in the town, but the bulk of David's forces, having totally scattered their foes, was approaching and a fierce battle loomed:
Alas, time had run out. We called the game a pyrrhic victory for the Russians. Technically, I did hold the objective, which David had overlooked in his zealous attempt to smash my forces. But I can't argue with the fact that everywhere else on the field, my troops had taken a thrashing at the hands of the French!

David and Stephen finished the game the next day. I was unable to attend, but here's David's description of the outcome:

"The Russians continued to hold as the remnants of the defeated  Russian brigade returned to the battlefield along with a reconstituted brigade of 2 cavalry regiments with horse artillery - this was just enough to hold off the renewed French attack as the French Polish brigade was forced into square and one disordered square finally broke as the Hussar cavalry assaulting it retired after a simultaneous break test. Fresh French reinforcements of 5 battalions made no headway in attempting to break into the village from the south eastern corner. French forces will have seek fresh water further downstream. The French cavalry Polish Horse artillery battery was crushed after 3 rounds of melee as the artillery vainly struggled to hold on to the battery."

So, another game of Black Powder under my belt.I must say, they are very different rules to what I am used to, since I am not a Napoleonic gamer. There are things about the rules that I like, and others that cause my grief. I think perhaps some of my difficulties stem from the fact that I am not familiar with Napoleonic strategy and that definitely has an impact on how I play the game. I am keeping an open mind, however, and want to get in a couple more games before I make up my mind about the rules. Of course, I will report back here and tell you all about it.

'Til next time!

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