Friday, 26 August 2011

Nobody likes a bully

Nobody likes a bully, so your parents tell you, when you get home from school having been thrashed soundly during break (also “All bullies are cowards – stand up to them”). Neither of these statements is true. Bullies always have an entourage and in my experience standing up to one rather than running away was just a way of being punched earlier in the process.

So, it shames me to admit that in the third and final session of our Black Powder WSS game that I was a bit of a bully. Phil, as the French general, didn’t object on each occasion that I suggested there was more play in the game, although he was correct that the game was unwinnable for him. It was just that Chris and I hadn’t actually won it. So I made him continue to play whilst his units were slowly and steadily beaten into a bloody pulp.

In my defence I would say that I didn’t see it as so black and white as Phil did, and my Dutch colleague had spent a while manoeuvring his troops into a favourable position (despite very poor command rolls) and to my mind deserved to be allowed to let slip his dogs of war, so to speak. He’d been so patient and it seemed cruel to say we had to finish just as we got to the exciting bit for him.

Admittedly this was the equivalent of the bully’s mates piling in and kicking the weedy kid whilst he was on the ground, but it was all done in the best possible taste.

So, in summary, on the Anglo-Dutch left the French cavalry tried a “ride round” to get at the artillery, whilst my remaining Dragoon regiment thundered into the flank of some rallying French cavalry. This move nearly came unstuck as I mistook another rallying unit for a pile of dead in the corner of the table. Luckily they failed their command roll.

The brave English cavalry launch another victorious charge

On the right a fierce fire fight between the Dutch and the opposing French brigade resulted in heavy losses and the eventual destruction of the French, the supporting English artillery playing an important role. This freed the Dutch cavalry to launch an assault of the French infantry clinging on between the two villages.

Look at that! Successful charge launched across about a third of the table
The middle was a near run thing (prior to the Dutch arrival) as punching through the middle had turned my initial victory into a Cannae-type pocket, with French infantry closing in on the flanks and pouring in musketry of variable effectiveness.
Looking fairly bleak in the middle
The combat resolution systems for both firing and hand to hand allows for massive variability but are usually very decisive so you are never sure if you’re going to win or not but you know it is going to be over quite quickly. The arrival of the Dutch cavalry finally bailed me out before I lost too many units.

That's more like it! The Cavalry at the top of the picture get stuck in
On the whole we’ve had a good three weeks. The game would have been over more quickly if we’d used the brigade morale rules (my fault, - I just completely overlooked them on my re-reading of the rules). We’ll play BP again with my WSS figures, and probably use “The Last Hussar’s” modifications, which are known as “…& Blenheim Palace”. You can find them on the internet through a simple search in google.

At the end of the game we had our usual last cup of tea of coffee in the kitchen and started to hatch a plan for a sort of group project to do some “Old School Wargaming”. It’ll be a slow burner with no pressure to get everything finished, so it might be quite a refreshing thing for me to do. Just need to source some appropriately 1970’s style tricorn wearing figures in 30mm (which is what we used to call large wargame figures when they were properly proportioned.).


  1. I think I just got characterised as 'the weedy kid' ... :(..

    I do recall saying 'the rules will now oblige my brigades to withdraw' as part of the reason for suggesting that the French position was lost.

    I really enjoyed the game, and appreciate the point of playing it out (if only in order to see how much 'end game' we want to ertain).

    However, in the last session, having conceded defeat, I did feel I was being asked to go through the motions purely so that the other guys could play 'pass the baseball bat'! My infantry get to roll 6 dice looking for 6s ... Chris's cavalry hit them in the back rolling 7 dice looking for 3s ... I wonder what will happen?

    All that said, it was a great game and the most complete BP WSS game we have done. Good, and thanks for setting it up.

    I think it helps clarify what do _and what we don't like ...


  2. In fairness the brigade morale rules pretty much required everyone to retire. Except possibly the Dutch cavalry.

    I think it was fair to let Chris launch his final cavalry attack as he had waited three evenings to do so, but I accept that you were playing the punching bag for him.

    And I agree we know what we do and don't like!

  3. .. only fair Graham,

    I remember a Western Gunfight game back in the '80s that consisted of my character being knocked unconcious in round 1, tied up in round 2 and then waiting until round 6 to be hanged or rescued. It was still most sporting of Phil to hang around though, and much appreciated by me, even if we all knew what was about to happen.

    I have crossed the Western Gunfight game off with great pleasure in my Book of Grudges at long last; well worth the wait :O)

    Kind regards, Chris

  4. Chris,

    Glad to see you've found the time to go back through the "back catalogue". WGF games where you only have one figure are always asking for trouble from the player fun perspective!