OK so the Folks at Adler hobbies (see G dog's blog) are starting to get into Napoleonic and the black powder new England forum has been buzzing with the discussion of how to get started.
I thought I would share my own incites. I'm not writing with any particular system in mind.
Battles in the black powder era are big, it doesn't really matter if we are talking War of Spanish Secession, Seven years war, Napoleonic or American Civil war.
There are two approaches on one end is V&B my personal favorite game because you can portray an army. Each stand is a multi-battalion Regiment or Brigade representing one to three thousand men. I'm not going to address this system at all in this particular article. (I may write something up on this as well)
Most other system have multiple stands per battalion or brigade, This is the case with Black Powder, Might and Reason, Age of Reason and Rank and File (just to name a few I have some knowledge of).
Some folks coming from games like Flames of War may be initial confused because in Flames of war you can start off with an HQ and two platoons and start playing buy like 8 tanks and off you go.
In black powder its Rock, Paper and Scissors an all infantry force will suffer badly at the hands of some one with Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry so you want some of each from the get go.
So get that HQ usually one or two officers on horse back you are going to need him.
Infantry is the basic building block of armies in this period,(in any period some would say) yes that box of Guard Cruisers looks sexy but it may not be what you need, you will need some solid regular infantry. In my opinion you want enough for between two and three units of infantry to start. This is because generally speaking two to three battalion make up a regiment or brigade and two or three regiments or brigades make a division of infantry.
The above is an extreme simplification but it works as a starting point.
After regular infantry I would recommend getting some Elite infantry. In most cases Grenadiers are the way to go but in some armies you may be better served by some light infantry type. If your not sure what will suite your army best or if getting these guys means buying another expensive box of miniatures hold off.
So that's your infantry force 4 units at a maximum! How many figures that will be is going to vary but if we assume an average of 16 per unit(Black Powder recommends 4 infantry per 40mm x 40mm base and 4 stands per unit, if memory serves) that's 32(if you go small with two infantry units)to 64 figures (if you go with 4 units)
Artillery get one gun stand ready make it a light or medium gun if you can. You will probably have to buy more than one gun in a set or several players could buy and split a set if money is tight.
Cavalry in the black powder era comes in three flavors Heavy, Medium or Light. For your first cavalry unit I recommend going with what ever the army you are portraying had the most of. In most cases this will be Medium or Light cavalry. If you can get a Light Cavalry unit. They look good and most armies can benefit from having at least one unit of Hussars or light Dragoons. I would advise the novice painter however to go with a unit of Dragoons as their simpler infantry like uniforms will prove easier to paint.
Hope this information is helpful.
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