The scenario had a large, but middling quality, French army stretched out in three lines along the left side of the table. The Prussians had a much smaller force, but it was a tough one, with many units getting a first fire bonus (add one to hit on the dice roll). with still others being able to take four hits rather than three before taking a break test.
|The cream of the Prussian army ready to swing into action.|
|Looking down the Prussian line to the left.|
Nothing in front but green fields...
The French general had the unenviable task of having to ponderously reorganize his lines to meet this coming threat before the dark blue mass could start to wade into the vulnerable flanks. And of course, they didn't have the Marquis de Sangfroid there to help them!
|French in line- facing the wrong direction!|
|Prussian power bearing down on the effete French.|
|von Seydlitz & Co. looking forward to a bit 'o fun at Good King Louis' expense.|
|Four regiments of beaux sabreurs ready to meet them.|
|Front Rank dragoons on what look to be Essex horses. Miniatures in Walter's collection, painted by (IIRC) Doug Hamm.|
|The French had one unit of wild Hungarians on their left flank, who were to give a most lacklustre performance. |
More miniatures again painted by Monsieur Hamm, these are from the collection of Andrew Mah.
The French were ably commanded by Walter Melnyk as Soubise, with Andrew Mah taking the key command of the right flank cavalry. I was Frederick, and at first was the only player commanding the Prussians. Soon Dave Smith arrived and had the (dubious) honour of commanding what was to be a very tardy Prussian right.
Unfortunately things began to go awry for the Prussians early on, as they failed to send the French cavalry packing- I was really rolling dreadfully at that point in the game. It was a real see-saw battle (typical for cavalry, and something that I feel Black Powder handles well).
I needed to do more than just to keep the French horse at bay. Space was at a premium, so I wanted them routed out of the way completely so that my infantry could then slam into the French infantry before the latter was able to redeploy in the face of our attack. Each turn that went by without our seeing off the French cavalry saw the French able to steadily reform their infantry line to face the threatened flank.
Time was not on my side.
While not doing badly in terms of casualties, I wasn't coming even close to achieving the goals I had set out for myself by this point in the engagement.
|Those Frenchmen look awfully close...|
Unnecessarily galling was the fact that I had placed my artillery too far on the right flank of my first line. The advancing French infantry rejoiced in taking pot-shots at them so that they eventually broke under the constant fire (although they were able to put a few units into disorder, which certainly helped to slow down French re-deployment somewhat).
By this time the Prussian left found itself getting into what was promising to be a pretty intense firefight with the French infantry, as battalion after battalion of the latter started getting into position. As the situation developed, Konig Freddy kept looking over his right shoulder to see where the hell the rest of the Prussian army had gotten itself to.
However, in all my experience of Black Powder, I have never seen such an unwilling, bloody-minded, and incompetent (or treacherous!) commander as had evidently been appointed to command the Prussian right, nor such a steady succession of failed command rolls. A real slap in the face of mathematical probability!
This meant that on numerous occasions, and despite being needed elsewhere, King Frederick had to race off to the right in order to try to get the troops to do something- anything- that would see them off their butts and wading into the French. But more often than not to no avail.
|"Aren't we supposed to be, like, well- doing something?|
A unit of rabid grenadiers did show some spunk, and was able to see off the French hussars in fairly short order, but that was all they really achieved.
|Much more where that came from, mein freund!|
|From the Prussian side|
|...and as seen by the French|
|Man of the Hour! Hungarian cavalry command stand (in French service!) painted by Doug Hamm. Andrew's collection.|
In turn, the Prussian horse was pretty much a spent force as a result of the cavalry combat, and would need considerable time to lick its wounds before it would be in much state to carry out any further attacks. In addition, much of the infantry that made up the Prussian flanking force had been forced into using their first fire bonus- with little effect.
All would now depend on the tardy Prussian right, and even if they deigned to get moving again, the French commander could easily start falling back down the road, getting most of his army off the table to safety.
As for Gen. Gerhardt von Slothdorf, the sullen & gouty septuagenarian commander of the Prussian right flank, His Majesty has a special posting in mind for him; garrison commander of a run-down fortress in the middle of some disease-infested East Prussian swampland. Don't call us, mein herr, we'll call you...
We all thought the game played well, and that it looked and felt like what we imagined an 18th C. battle to be like. The scenario made for a close game, with a good balance of manoeuvre and combat. The game mechanics worked smoothly, and we found ourselves concentrating on tactics rather than on the system. Most of all, it was both challenging and fun, with moments of great tension!
It was also a nice change for me not to have lots of skirmishers complicating things as is the case with our Napoleonic games,
#1: Too many tokens on the battlefield! The first fire bonus meant having to keep track of who had and who had not fired. Walt had some good ideas in an e-mail he sent me:
"I used to give all my Prussian or British boys First Fire and/or Steady to credit their superior discipline and fire control. Both, however, can only be used once which meant using tokens on the units or a roster system to keep track of using these traits.
Instead, to make things easier, these units will get bonuses such as Shaken at 4, instead of 3, Elite 4+ to save disorders, or 3+ saving rolls instead of 4+, and/or sharpshooter (re-roll 1 missed shot per fire). All these are examples of permanent bonuses which eliminate fiddly record-keeping, especially troublesome in larger games."