So today I want to introduce you to something pretty different. Lets take a look at Warlord Games latest 2010 ruleset for historical gaming in the age of musket: Black Powder. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
First off some basics. Black Powder is a new modern ruleset (published in 2010) that covers historical gaming set between 1700-1900. This era covers a great many of the most popular settings such as American Revolution, Napoleonics, American Civil War, Crimean War, Zulu Wars, and many other minor conflicts of the era.
The game system is modern, clean, and very different in feel from almost any other system out there and is authored by none other than Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson. Interesting to say the least. The ruleset feels like an example of what two veteran tabletop designers can do when given acompletely clean slate to work with.
In general, the ruleset allows a very high freedom of movement (being designed for play on very large tables) and places a real emphasis on commanders and the chain of command (as you would expect in this era). It contains a very interesting and flexible take on unit sizes, and the entire concept and implementation of casualties and morale is something quite different from the other systems out there. All the standard rule sections you expect from infantry, to skirmishers, to cavalry, to cannons are there along with lots of modern touches such as pre-measuring, and many little rule-mechanics to keep the game moving along nicely without the risks of collapsing under the weight of detail that the genre could suffer from in less experienced hands.
Players are given a set of generic troops for the entire period with additional suggestions for specific units from each era to round out their armies. While many games say they are specifically designed for a group of like-minded gamers to have a fantastic time, Black Powder delivers. The ruleset strongly advises the use of a neutral game master to set up the terrain, prepare the players, and take care of any surprises which may pop up during the battles. No points are provided, and players are encouraged to try to immerse themselves in their chosen eras and fight battles that interest them or best match their collections. As a small fig-leaf at the very end of the book there is a suggested point system you could use to start to work up “balanced lists” if you want to go there.
The book is of high production quality, wonderful full color plates of many of the newer plastic historical miniatures available these days from outfits like Perry-Miniatures, has a fantastic helping of dry wit throughout, and I think might be the most fun a group of like-minded gamers could have in this era of ultra-balanced competitive wargaming.
For those looking for a breath of fresh air in their wargaming, I heartily recommend it. Go check it out at Warlord Games.
4 Stars (out of 5)
I’d like to get yout thoughts on not only Black Powder but historical wargaming. We already have been covering it with the growing Flames of War products from Battlefront, but there is a whole lot of “under the radar” activity on the plastic manufacturing side in the historical arena. Have at it.