Friday, July 29, 2011

My not quiet a review of Black Powder.

So I finally got to see the rule book in the flesh last night. I wasn't able to buy a copy because of some other purchase though I did fund AJ's purchase, thanks again for the Bases.

I like what I see. The book has lots of great pictures AJ commented the book was almost worth the price for the eye candy (a little more on that latter). I like the attitude of fun these authors infused into the sections they read. The game mechanics look good (but have not played its hard to judge) and the little I read makes me think Gordon is right these guys did a good job of getting the rules in their head on to the page.

From my stand point (and I do not think I am alone) an important consideration is the fact that I can use my V&B based troops for this game. I don't plan on dropping V&B so getting double duty out of my extensive 18th century collection is important, especially given the massive rebasing project I have been working on (thanks AJ).

So that's the good part, now the "negative."

Really the only criticism I can give at this point is price. The book weights in at a hefty $54.99, its a quality product at that price, and I will probably be buying at some point. Still this is not an impulse purchase. I get the high price, the weak dollar, the cost of shipping to the US, the very high production value. As a comparison Volley and Bayonet Road to Glory costs $49.99 and while an excellent set of rules, its a soft cover and the pictures are mostly black and white where as Black powder is hard cover and has lots of color photos. So the price isn't bad it may even be a value (if I like the rules a much as I like V&B it will be an outstanding value) but like I said its not an impulse purchase, I want to get in a few games and see what some gamers I know think before I buy.

Though I do not believe any one from Warlord will read this I wanted to add one more little thought. Offering the book at one price through certain on line vendors and another at smaller retail stores may make sense for short term profits but in the long run your better off getting the book into stores at a reasonable price (hey if you can shave some money off the on line price you can offer the book for less generally) and is a better investment. If I buy this book it will because my local gaming circle plays it and speaks well of it not because of reviews I see on line.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Battle of Whizdenburge (Some were in Germany)

French General Carriere having by passed the Army of Observation and penetrated into central Germany met Prussian General Tyler Bembenek.

Both armies were approximately 3000 points using the V&B Seven year’s war army list. To simply the game both armies used full deployment rather than the deployment cards option. General Bembenek using my personal rule for Fredrick the Great got the advantage of selecting the side of the table he preferred and of setting up second. General Bembenek chose the more open side of the map, permitting the French a stronger defensive position but General Bembenek’s position being more open allowed easier maneuver between sectors of the battle field. (sorry I have no pictures or maps to share my words will have to be enough I hope.)

The battle field as seen from the French side was centered on a Y shaped road with the split on the French side. Off set from the Y on the right was a town with its adjoining fields and orchards. To the left of the road was an open area approximately 10” wide were an oblong forest about 12-14” long and 6” wide crossed the battle field with one end pointed at the Prussian left hand corner. A small hill baked stood in the split of the Y but too far back to influence the action. The farm fields were surrounded by stone walls providing cover and the orchards around the town were ruled open enough to allow formed units to recover from disorder but movement though them would still causes disorder to formed stands (true woods do not allow formed troops to recover form disorder.

The other Key terrain features was a plateau with a gentle slope on General Bembenek’s side of the board and scaleable cliff face (well for skirmishers any way). The gap between the Plateau and the wood provided a gap of only about 8” on the left for formed troops to exploit. On the Right had side the area to the left of the orchards provided about a foot of open ground before the “end of the world”.

The Prussian Army consisted on 12 “Divisions” 1 Grenadier, 6 Infantry, 1 Hussars, 2 Dragoon and 2 Cuirassiers. In total this represented 44,000 men under arms.

The French army consisted of 13 “Division” 7 Infantry 1 Light division (mix of lt. infantry and Hussars) 1 Wurttemberg infantry division and 4 Cavalry (all heavy cavalry). The French army represented 66,500 men. French infantry stands have 4 SP while Prussian stands had 2 SP; in addition French Cavalry Divisions have 3 brigades as apposed to Prussians Division which have only two. This accounts for the difference in numbers even though the number of stands was about even. Each side had 5 artillery units and battalion (or Dedicated as the rules now call them) guns. SP or Strength points represent 500 men or 6 guns each.

We diced to see who would move first and I have the high roll so the French moved first. Rather than describe the battle turn by turn I’m going to stick to the action in each sector.

ON the left the French had their light division, a division of 3 French and One Scottish infantry Brigade with a light artillery unit attached and a Division of Cavalry.
French Hussars rushed into the gap while light infantry infiltrated the woods. The heavy Cavalry followed the lights trailing them by a safe distance while the infantry brought up the rear. French light cavalry was rushed by their Prussian counter parts and driven back but the counter charge of the French Cavalry sent the Prussian lights back in turn. A sharp bloody battle with a division of Prussian Cuirassiers followed. The French Cavalry had the worse of it in the end but drove the Prussians far enough back to ensure the French infantry could secure the Gap. General Bembenek as if to assault with one of his dragoon division drawing one of the French reserve Cavalry division to the area but then sent his horsemen back to the center. Since French cavalry is mostly poorly trained this was an action General Bembenek to make much quicker than I could. Things stalemated here more or less.

It was on the right that it seemed the main Prussian blow would fall. Here General Bembenek had placed his Grenadier Division (4 Brigades) an Infantry Division (3 Brigades and 1 Artillery) and his Guard Cuirassiers (two Brigades) another Infantry Division and a Dragoon division were echeloned to the left of these. The French forces placed to oppose them seemed far too meager. One Division of infantry consisting of 3 French and one Irish Brigade with the support of a Light artillery unit was quick to move into position to the right of the orchards behind the town. These were backed by three brigades of cavalry. For those of you counting at home General Bembenek had the potential of concentrating as many as 14 Prussian Brigades on 7 French. French light troops occupied the Orchard and sniped at the Grenadiers as they advanced. General Carriere sent the French Guard cavalry two Brigades to the right keeping only the Irish men of Fitz-James as a final cavalry reserve in the center. Another division of French infantry (3 Brigades) also began its ponderous march to support the right. Unlike the charge and counter charge of the left the battle on the right was an infantry contest. Prussian Grenadiers assaulted the French infantry. The Initial exchange saw two Grenadier brigades driven back or destroyed and two French brigades including the Navarre Brigade (one of the oldest and finest in France) were like wise driven back but the Irish brigade held as did the Orleans Brigade (when French regiments are brigaded together the brigade is named for the senior Regiment, the Nava Regiment with 4 battalions so it is a brigade unto it self while Orleans has two battalions so the other two are from two other less senior regiments). My Wing commander on the left was also killed in the this melee, this would make command and control problematic as regiments advance and or fell back and would prevent me from rallying troops who had routed. French Cavalry quickly restored the situation though one brigade was force to retreat in the process forcing the division commander to leave two units out of command in order to bring up the third that had fallen back.

The Prussians brought up one infantry division and were content to fire with their artillery form beyond my range. This force was backed by the Prussian Guard cavalry and despite our victory over the Prussian Grenadiers I did not yet have the strength to push them back. General Bembenek sent his dragoons to the center and diverted his second infantry Division on the right toward the town in the center. I still had a second infantry division advancing on the right… I might have been able to use these to turn the Prussian line had the game lasted longer.

In the Center the French moved the German Division into the town of Whizdenburge this force consisted of a Field artillery unit, two German Brigades and the Loraine Brigade, Brigades La Mark (German) and Loraine occupied the town it self and the Ansbach Brigade with the artillery stood to the towns left. Left of them was the Swiss Division a Heavy artillery unit with 3 Swiss Brigades took up positions on either side of the Road. Two French Brigades with a field artillery unit held the ground to the right of the woods with one French Brigade immediately to the rear to pug any holes. Be hind these initially were posted the French reserves the two cavalry division which were quickly sent to the flanks. Two French Divisions were also posted here though one was sent to the right almost immediately. The remaining Division was the Vieux Division with the Regiments of Picardie Champagne and Normandy (4 battalion regiments like Navarre also one of the Vieux regiments) a powerful reserve but with the diversion of troops to either flank they and the troopers of Fitz-James were the only reliable troops behind the fount lines. The French do not trust there Wurttemberg allies to fight well against the Prussians.

General Bembenek advanced slowly in the center his troops moving to musket range and soon fire was ripping into both lines. From time to time single units would close into contact a process that soon blasted wholes in both lines. Two Prussian Brigades were blasted from existence by French muskets and Cannons but Prussia did equal damage to two French Brigades. The battle in the center see-sawed for two turns with the French holding their line by virtue of position and luck. General Carriere prepared to advance his last fresh infantry division while General Bembenek sent his Dragoons hurrying to support the assault.

Sadly we had to end the battle just as it was reaching the decision point because the General Carriere had to pickup his mistress after work (you know how the French are).

A great battle Tyler deserves a lot of praise especially since he is new to gaming the period and was not familiar with the rules. After failing to gain the flanks he took advantage of his troop’s ability to march and maneuver better than mine to rush troops to the center.

I made some mistakes. 1) I should have ignored Tyler’s attack on my right as there was not good object for him to attack instead I let my soldiers get sucked into a battle that was irrelevant to the decision, unless I got very luck. 2) I should have placed my weakest troops (the Wurttemberg division) in the most secure position the town. This would have given me another French division to plug the holes in the center line.