Sunday, 5 September 2010

Black Powder - next steps

In my quest to adapt Black Powder for the War of Spanish Succession I tracked down and joined the yahoo group for the rules.

They (it's not us yet, I haven't posted to the group) have had a few discussions about various periods and there are some files with ideas for WSS. Nothing from the authors on the site so it is just guess work and people writing their own rules. When you get to a certain level of special rules I do wonder whether you should have started from scratch.

I can only guess that the authors aren't posting because thewy're going to sell us a supplement or two next year.

Any how, whilst browsing the as yet brief archive I came across this posting:

Before purchasing BP I read through Rick Priestley's interview with WI, which I found helpful in understanding what the rules were about. Amongst Rick's comments I found this:

'...if we were going to play a game based on the Spanish Succession, at the very beginning of the period covered, we would have different rules for manoeuvring the units and formations; these things were less developed in that period. Napoleonic armies have special rules that allow them to adapt their formations and move in mixed formations. You can tailor the rule set to the period quite easily.

The adaptions are all described in the rule book. They are covered as a series of mechanics and the idea is that whatever period you wish to represent using these rules, you can adopt the mechanic we describe or you can invent your own.'

Having read through the rules several times, and having played one trial game (SYW period), I find that one thing missing from the rules is exactly that which Rick feels the rules cover: that is, information on how the rules can or should be adapted to different periods. Battles in the SYW period obviously differed from Napoleonic battles (the absence of squares or attack columns being examples), and I feel the rules should have brief sections outlining such differences and indicating how the authors think the rules can best be adapted to each period - what needs leaving out, what needs to be included, what unit stats are most appropriate.

Such information is particularly absent for European wars of the 18th century. Napoleonic and colonial gamers get some indication of what might be suitable from the scenarios section, but sadly the first century of the 2 centuries covered gets scant attention amongst the scenarios, coverage being limited to a single AWI game. Going back to the quote, I am left asking: well Rick, what are those 'different rules' for gaming the War of the Spanish Succession? Which ones are they? Where do I find them?

If I put myself in the position of writing a set of rules covering this 200 year period, sections on rules adaptions for specific campaigns, wars or periods would have seemed a basic requirement. Considering the size of the rulebook, I find the absence of such coverage a definite failing. I can and will work out the adaptions needed for myself, over time. But it was surely the responsibility of the rules writers to indicate their solutions to gaming the successive periods, even if only as initial guidance to those who might disagree once they
had gained experience with the rules.

Sorry for the long post. I like these rules and will probably adopt them, so I am interested in why they are the way they are. I just hope that this lack of period information is not an excuse for publishing period supplements at a later date. After all, Rick is a pretty big figure in GW...

I haven't quoted the name of the original author. If you want to know you can join the group. If he contacts me I'll put his name on it or take it down as appropriate.

Just makes me feel happier that I'm not a lone voice on this one.

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