Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Club Napoleonic - A Black Powder play test.

General view of the battlefield after the first move or two
The 'Retreat from Smolensk' narrative taking far longer than I anticipated to get itself written up, methought to fill the gap with this action from last weekend.  This game was played at the Woolston Club - a 'playtest' of the Black powder rule set.  The occasion and the scenario were arranged by Paul 'Jacko' Jackson (Painting Little Soldiers).  He and I played the Allies - his Prussians, and my Austrians.  Opposing us were Mark 'Chasseur' Ottley and his French troops.
My Austrians - Minifigs, except for the limbers,
and the Hungarian grenadiers - Hinchliffe
The following pictures I took throughout the day.  It was something of a set piece, with the French purportedly holding a rearguard against slightly superior Allied forces.
Flanquers of the Guard defending a farm. 
This was the only one I took of the flanquers, and 
I forgot altogether to take one of the marins.

French main positions.

Prussians advancing.

Marshal Mark in command - I just had
to take a pic of that Napoleonic hoody.

Austrian columns advancing.

Mark's 'Polish Cossacks'

Mark's infantry drawn up...

... and what about these carabiniers, eh?

Austrian attacks going in.  I do like to attack!

Powerful Prussian columns closing in...

Battle has become general almost all along the line

More close quarter fighting on the Austrian front.

I stopped taking pictures from this point.  The French right was pretty much driven in, and the battalion and battery in front of the village overrun, but the effort exhausted the Allies.  The French were still in possession of the villages at the end of the day.  

The rule set was similar to the 'fast play' set Mark has been using for his battles - one can see where he got some of his game mechanics from, at any rate.  The action seemed to flow pretty well, on the whole.  I did find the 18-inch musketry range pretty disconcerting - but the movement rates were commensurately generous.  Definitely a rule set for big tables, I think.  I'm also not a fan of 'saving rolls'.  In my own sets I don't use them, but instead use a 'rounding' or 'normalising' system similar to that used by Charles Grant for his 18th Century War Game.

But these were quibbles.  I had an enjoyable day's action, with convivial company.  My thanks to Paul for arranging the game and transporting me and my troops; and to Mark as an amiable adversary.



  1. That is a super looking battlefield Ion. Glad you had such a good time. Regards.

    1. Hi Tony
      The battlefield was made up from Club resources. I particularly like the table mats. The thatched farm complexes I think were made my Mark for the Club a good thirty years back. They have stood up well to the rigours of time.
      The armies, however, belonged to the Marshals and Generals who commanded them.

  2. Nice one Ion - big table, big figures, big battle. I trust someone had long arms, to be able to “push lead” in the middle of that mighty table. 🤣 It is a nice set-up though, just a tad too large to fit in most domestic houses.

    You ought to be commended for continuing to lead the Austrians, or perhaps you just enjoy the challenge?



    1. I just have a 'thing' about Austrians - or at least the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Geoff. At that I reckon they have got rather a bad press from military History.

      Having said that, the 'Black Powder' rule set (along with 'Shako' and 'General de Brigade', among others) favours large units for Napoleonic Austrian line infantry and light cavalry. I make - or intend to make - my Austrian light horse larger than standard, but that's as far as I will go with that.

      But I really began my Napoleonics with the French, and wanted a Continental historical opponent to face them. A bit of an un-fan of the Prussians, it came down to a choice between the Austrians and the Russians, at least to begin with.

      At some point I will begin a 'War of the Nations' to follow the 'Retreat from Smolensk' narrative. The Austrian contribution is by far the largest of the Allies - the Russians and Prussians together probably just equalling the Austrians. All three together outnumber the French by roughly 4:3. Totalling the lot - French plus Allies - comes to nearly 2000 figures. They'll never appear on the same table all at once!


    2. ... By the way, I also have a small British army as well. Although I give its units Waterloo identities, it is actually a 'generic' Peninsular war army. I did that for the flags. Attached to it is a Portuguese unit, and some Spanish.
      - Ion

  3. I too am a fan of the Austrian army, from the SYW onwards. Fairly decent troops, great cavalry and artillery at times, but general poor commanders being their undoing.

    1. ... But when they HAVE good commanders, they are very good, professional soldiers. Apart from Archduke Charles - no mean commander himself - I have a favourite in Michael Kienmayer: more than an able cavalry commander. During the 1809 campaign, he was operating with a more-or-less independent command in Bohemia, facing Saxons, Bavarians and French under the wannabe Marshal, Androche Junot. With 15,000 facing double that number, he ran rings around them and even beat Junot in battle.

  4. Great looking battle. You can't beat Napoleonics for spectacle, can you? And yes, the Austrians were good troops and I have a soft spot for them too, from the 18th century onwards. :-)