Thursday, 11 August 2011

Mr Grumpy's Got His Hat On

Tonight we’re doing Black Powder in the War of Spanish Succession. I’ve gone for the full sized table – 12’ x 5’ – and will (as is my wont) use all of my figures. My battalions are a bit “sportier” than those recommended in the book, being ex-WRG 3 element, 12 man, units. I think they look good with the flags without being completely over the top.

They’ll no doubt be an update on the game in due course. It’s been a while since we’ve dabbled with Black Powder so I had a quick re-read of the rules. I’d forgotten how badly written and laid out the book is. The actual rules themselves are simple and effective (so, make it clear right now I LIKE THE MECHANISMS) but they are really poorly laid out, with key information scattered around seemingly at random. There’s a contents list, but no index so there’s lots of page flicking backward
 and forwards to find what you want. A quick refresh isn’t exactly quick to do, and the speed with which quick reference sheets popped up on the Black Powder fanboy group would indicate that the QRF in the back of the book isn’t up to snuff. (BTW It was pointed out to a friend of mine by one of the authors that the rules weren’t written for people like me. Whatever that means. People who like to play wargames and paint their own toy soldiers, I’d guess.)

In fairness to the fanboys there’s been some really good discussion on the WSS seeing as the rules, whilst claiming to cover them, actually don’t. So I’ve got some useful ideas from there. (The “It doesn’t cover WSS” issue still rankles me a lot, - I really do feel I was sold a set of rules under false pretences, - it says WSS in the introduction, it has a section of “history” in the back, and the people demo’ing the game said it did. It’s a big, poorly laid out book. How are you supposed to know the rules don’t work properly for WSS?*)

So we have the opportunity for Warlord Games to sell us some supplements to fill in the gaps. The first one of these is now available for pre-order on the website. Note that this means that the rules that should have been in the first book are not available as a free down load. You have to pay to get what you’ve already bought. The author says that the book has rule modifications, lots of background on the various conflicts and the write up of quite a few refights. All perfectly interesting stuff, but as I already understand the period and have a shelf full of books I don’t need a potted history (although I accept a lot of people do want this, so okay for them). All I want is the rules I’ve already paid for.

 You can hop over to the Warlord games website and get more details on the offering. There’s a long essay by the book’s author explaining what he’s tried to achieve, which all sounds really worthy. They’re called “Last Argument of Kings”, which is a fine name, and number 100ish pages in full colour. With a softcover (not “Paperback” you note) they retail for £18.

Although you do get a free figure if you pre-order. Which is nice.

I may just try to pick up the gist of the changes from the fanboy group and flicking through the rules at a show and then write my own changes.

* It has pointed out to me that I can make my own changes. As regular readers will know I don’t have a problem with writing my own rules or adapting rules for other purposes. The point is that I bought a set of rules that purported to cover the period but didn’t. if they hadn’t I would not have bought them. Ironically I might have bought them even if I’d known they didn’t do WSS with the intention of adapting them, but that would have been my choice.


  1. A friend has a copy of this supplement and it has rule ammendments/suggestions for the covered wars BUT there is a awful lot of filler-pocket history . Interesting how they adapt the rules to cover the individual periods and very pretty

  2. Unfortunately this sounds like a lot of rules released nowadays, you have to buy several supplements just to get everything that should have been in the ruleset in the first place. I've had enough of rule sets like that, so I'm steering clear of Black Powder and any similar sets.

  3. The annoying thing is that there's a lot of good stuff in there. Anyhow, one of our group has got a copy, so I'll sneak a look at that.

    I just don't need the filler history.

  4. I found the same with Field of Glory. Simple rules but so badly laid out that you constantly had to flick from one section to another then back again.

    And don't get me going on FOG supplements!

  5. I think one of the clearest sets I've played would be Armati. FOG confused me quite a bit.

    In the case of the supplements, - well there is a casse against them but the difference between BP & FOG is that at least witn FOG they tell you that you need to buy the supplements and don't pretend you don't need them.

  6. There s a thread bubbling under on TMP (short but with links) Nothing there that makes me want to buy iy (mostly it sounds like a sketchy gloss padded out with pictures of a predictable type).


  7. Just had a quick lok at that thread. As you said, nothing to blow your socks off. There's nothing happening on the Yahoo Group, so it's fair to say no one is getting too excited at the moment.