Black Powder ‘Command’ rule amendment Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Never been happy with the statistical likelihood for the various move probabilities in Warlord Games ‘Black Powder’.

Every commander on the table has a command value – usually in the range 7 to 9, but 4 to 10 is the total range; the higher the better. This can be modified for local conditions

When giving an order you roll 2d6.

Equal or 1 less – one move
2 less – two moves
3 or more less – 3 moves.

The problem is that this generally makes 2 moves the LEAST likely, which seems odd. You expect

i) 1 move most likely, 3 least, or
ii) 3 moves most likely, 1 least likely, or
iii) 2 MOST likely.

All 3 can be rationalised – increasing likelihood, or ‘2’ being the ‘ground state’. 2 moves LEAST likely makes no sense.

So recently we trialled a modification.  To get 3 moves you must roll 3 less than target AND equal or under half, otherwise it stays as ‘2’


Command 9- 3 moves on 4 or less
Command 8- 3 moves on 4 or less
Command 7- 3 moves on 3 or less

The differences can be seen in this table
Combos is number of different ways to get this result of 2d6. For example Command 8 you get 1 move on a 8 or a 7. There are 6 ways to roll 7, and 5 ways to roll 8, so ‘8 combos’ out of a total 36.

Original Method
Command 9 Command 8 Command 7
Moves Combos Chance Combos Chance Combos Chance
1 9 25.0% 11 30.6% 11 30.6%
2 6 16.7% 5 13.9% 4 11.1%
3 15 41.7% 10 27.8% 6 16.7%
New Method
Command 9 Command 8 Command 7
Moves Combos Chance Combos Chance Combos Chance
1 9 25.0% 11 30.6% 11 30.6%
2 11 30.6% 9 25.0% 7 19.4%
3 6 16.7% 6 16.7% 3 8.3%

War of Spanish Succession – Open Thread. Monday, Aug 15 2011 

A poster going by the name of ‘Little Keithy’ expressed surprise at hitting the thread on the riots, when he came here looking for stuff about the War of Spanish Succession.  He was obviously not expecting the somewhat eclectic nature of my blog (read ‘any old rubbish that comes to mind’, refered to by my wife as spending half the night on the internet ranting at people).  Unlike many wargamers this isn’t a wargame only thing. (It originally started as I wanted to share some fiction I had written with bloggers from other sites I frequent, for their opinion).

He wrote

Anyway what I was going to ask: what’s the allure of the WSS? I like the SYW as there is a variety of troop types plus nice uniforms to paint (not that I ever get round to painting them).

The WSS appears to the uninitiated limited in troop types (in western europe), tactics and pretty uniforms (nice whigs though). Is it more a test of skill having limited opportunities for a coup de grace or clever manoeuvre?

Well, to tell the truth, I chose the period based on hats… (more after the break)


Why I wargame 10mm Saturday, Jul 2 2011 

Tonight I played a game of Black Powder for War of Spanish Succession.  I wanted a chance to get all my newly painted figures – 4 regiments of cuirassier and 3 grenadier battalions – on the table.

My total was

  • 18 infantry battalions – 36 men in 2 ranks in each
  • 8 twelve man cavalry regiments
  • 3 cannon
  • 5 generals with AdC’s etc
  • Commander in Chief

My opponent fielded 2/3 to 3/4 of this. We fitted this on a 6 foot by 4 foot (approx 1m80 x 1m20) table.  My army cost approx £110 (at a guess, it was bought in bits) from Pendraken (my figure caster of choice).

My opponents said that it looked impressive from where he sat.  Indeed it did – far more from his side.

I took some photos – unfortunately I had to use my phone, as I forgot my camera.

As we are using 10mm we have used cm instead of inches in the rules, or as close as is practical, so an infantry battalion is 6 20mm bases, rather than 45mm bases.  This means I could get over 700 figures on the total to give a real mass effect.  To play the same game with 28mm it would have had to have a table 12 feet or more wide.

Additionally 28mm figures are 10 times more expensive as they use so much metal – a battalion costs me about £4, that could easily be £40 or more for 28s- even the plastic ones would cost £15+ for 36 figures.  10’s are easy to paint – I’ve just painted 3 battalions -108 figures- in 48 hours, and that includes doing housework, moving my stepson and daughter in law stuff to their new house and generally not painting.  In addition I can fit all of the figures in a 4 tray ‘very useful box’ for nice and easy storage, and it can be easily lifted

French in the War of Spanish Succession – painting guide Saturday, May 21 2011 

French painting guideI put together this basic painting guide for a friend. As we do 10mm only the major bits are identified – no lace etc.


The flags should print roughly the correct size for 10mm, I believe they are from the rather fine “Warflag” site.

Black Powder – Broken Brigades Saturday, Mar 5 2011 

The Broken Brigade rule in ‘Black Powder’ is considered overly harsh by many players.  These are the amended rules we play.

1) A brigade is broken when OVER half the units in it are shaken or destroyed.  i.e.  in a six unit brigade 4 units shaken/destroyed are required to break the brigade – not 3 as per the rules.

2) Units in a broken brigade can be rallied if the ‘break’ status is due to Shaken units, and disordered units may reform.  For the above  brigade with 6 units

– if 4 are destroyed, the Brigade is permanantly Broken

– If 3 are destroyed, and one Shaken, the Shaken unit may be rallied.  Once it is no longer Shaken, the brigade is no longer Broken.  Remember ‘Rally’ is the last order a commander may give. 

– if 2 are destroyed and 3 Shaken, then 2 must be rallied to 2 hits or less to ‘unbreak’ the brigade.

While a brigade is broken it must still retire on initiative so units are more than 12 away from the enemy.  As movement on initiative counts as an order, a further Rally order can not be given that turn.  This encourages the opponent to keep up pressure on Broken Brigades to stop them reforming, rather ignore broken brigades that are almost useless.

We feel this method is a fairer reflection.  It also means that cavalry, who are easy to shake due to their hand to hand role, act like historical accounts – they charge, become blown and spend some time reforming before rejoining the fight.

“Black Powder” wargame rules – Moving in towns/villages. Monday, Feb 14 2011 

Playing Black Powder the other night I left a town in the centre of our lines with no one in it: My brain said obsticle, though we had not designated it as such.  This was almost our undoing.  However built up areas – ven if just a collection of wattle and daub houses do obstruct an army.  What do people think of these compromise rules.  They are designed so you don’t have to represent individual houses and roads.

Represent the town with a template.  It can have buildings on but these are for show – move them around to allow the troops to move!  If a specific piece of open ground is desired  this can be marked – town rules do not apply for units on it.

Units can only enter a town/village in ‘Assault column’ (even if in a period where not normally used).  Rules for assault columns are used as normal.

No change to command rules except blunders happen on a 11 as well (in a village or town its easier to get disorientated, as you can’t see the rest of the battle field, so not appreicate that the road curves, or you take a wrong turning).

A unit can take up residence in buildings – place in a ‘square’ style formation to show this, the unit uses the rules in the book for buildings (not squares).

Maximum fire range in a town is 6″.

Units outside of buildings (ie in Column) do not get the benefit of cover if fired at by other units in the town.

A Line Infantry may deploy into line at the edge of a town.  It does NOT get cover unless the settlement has be designated as providing it on that edge before the game.  A unit may enter buildings at the edge of town, so it can fire out. Infantry in skirmish order DOES count cover.

Shooting into towns from outside has a maximum line of site of 3″ from the edge.  In this case columns DO get cover.

War of Spanish Succession for ‘Black Powder’ Tuesday, Feb 1 2011 

“… & Blenheim Palace” (Do you see what I did there?)

These are the playtested (and amended, and playtested again, and amended again) rules we use for War of Spanish Succession with Warlord’s “Black Powder” wargame rules.  These are independent of Warlord and the original writers.

Blenheim Palace v2.2  (PDF)

I know some will bring up specific situations where some of these will not be applicable, or counter to what happened at certain battles.  I think these sort of instances are better handled in scenario specific rules.

Please remember the aim of these are to add the flavour of the period, not an indepth study of early 18th century warfare, so while I’m happy to receive constructive comments, Black Powder remains at its heart a game for Gentlemen played with Toy Soldiers!  I wished to stop two identical armies being fielded, especially with the cavalry rules.  Here I wanted there to be an actual difference beween armies using the two doctrines.  More notes on page 8.

You actually only need pages 3-7.  The other pages are bells and whistles to make sure it prints correctly for double sided, as well as following the style of the ‘eye candy’ original rules.  Also 8 pages means it can be placed on A3 and make a booklet.

Click the Black Powder tag to the left for all BP related posts by me – there are a number, including a battle report, and my modification to the Broken Brigade rules. The tag at the top does all the BP entries across WordPress, so you’ll also find other people’s take on the rules (some contributed on my earlier WSS rules post – Thank you)

Play Nicely, and may all your dice be lucky.

Figure Storage Thursday, Jan 6 2011 

This is the plan for storing my War of Spanish Succession figures.  It is a 2 tray “Very Useful Box”. ‘P.Inf’ are Prussians, ‘A.Inf’ are Austrian, ‘1st’ will be 1st fire markers (to show units not yet fired this battle, so getting a bonus on 1st shot).  Completed so far are 10 infanty units, with wound markers, 2 artillery, 2 cavalry, 3 generals and the C in C.

The tray compartments are 6cm square, 5 x 3 to the tray.  Infantry bases are 2cm square, the Cavalry bases are actually 25mm, not 30 as shown, but even I am not nerdy enough to set up Exel (the original program) up to do this.

Box layout plan

I have a 2cm space – what to do with it?


My regular opponent said that his research shows a rough ration of 5:3 of Foot:Horse.  This means I need more Cavalry.  The next box size up is 4 trays, so I’ll have space left over.  So I worked out a force that brings this up to 4 trays worth (MGS means Minor German States)

Box layout plan 4 tray

Damn you Graham.

Adding flavour to ‘Black Powder’ orders. Tuesday, Dec 21 2010 

In ‘Black Powder’ you give the order for the unit before rolling the command dice.  The dice may give you 1, 2 or 3 moves.  If you don’t have enough moves to complete your order you must try to complete it, even if you don’t like where it leaves the unit. Giving an order is easy if there is a terrain feature – “The brigade will advance onto the hill and take a defensive position.”  but not so easy to define if moving across open ground, and you don’t want them to go all the way across.

My regular opponent and I have taken to referring to ‘paces’ where 1 unit of movement (UM for ease hereafter) is 10 paces (We use centimeters instead of inches, but the principle is the same).  Thus an order of “The battalion will move 150 paces forward” is a move of 15.

Given I reckon 1 UM is approx 10 yards this works well; strictly a pace is two and a half feet, so  1 UM is 12 paces, but it’s close enough.  A scale of 1 UM to 10 yards makes for easy conversion, but there is no reason why you couldn’t call it 8 yards.

First battle for my War of Spanish Succession troops. Friday, Dec 10 2010 

Last Tuesday Graham and I gave our newly painted War of Spanish Succession armies their first outing.  I used my Allied Imperial-Prussians (Austrians in grey in the diagrams, Prussians in blue), against his French (white).  The battlefield was fictional.  Rules are Black Powder, with modifications (as per other entries in the Barracks), figures are all Pendraken 10mm.

(Please- if you have any comments, please leave here, if you linked here from another thread not there.  I will be linking from a number of sites, and it would be nice if everyone could see all the comments, not just those from their boards)

INITIAL POSITION (Click to enlarge on new page)

The French drew up in two wings/brigades of 5 battalions, while I chose to have the two odd battalions as a reserve, under the direct command of the Commander in Chief, making each wing four.

Our first problem was who should move first.  Being Gentlemen of the Age of Reason, we both insisted we would be insulted if the other did not take this honour.  A duel (suggested by Graham’s wife) was impractical, so we agreed to settle as gentlemen in a fashionable club might, and rolled dice.  My 8, beating his 7, the Allied Armies moved first.  For convenience I will refer to the top as North, left of the table as West, an the end with the marsh as East.

(More after the break)


Usable army! Wednesday, Nov 17 2010 

Finally painted enough figures to have a gamable army for Black Powder “War of Spanish Succession”.  2 brigades of 4 infantry battalions, a couple of guns, and 2 regiments of donkey wallopers.

Click the photo to see the rest of the pictures


or here for the set

Black Powder – British 5th Division at Salamanca Thursday, Oct 28 2010 

I offered a  friend who is new to Black Powder a game with ‘all the options’, rather than the plain rules as he played on his first Napoleonic game.  Though the game will not be any specific battle, I am basing the forces on actual organisations.  I am publishing here for those who sometimes ask online what a good force for BP would look like to start with.

British 5th Div Salamanca

The Jagers are a company, hence Tiny.  I upped the stats slightly from the book to allow them to have an effect on the battlefield.  Feel free to drop ‘Shooting’ and ‘Stamina’ down to 1 if you feel they are overpowered.

Prussians Wednesday, Sep 1 2010 

10mm Prussians for thw War of Spanish Succession.  Excellent figures from Pendraken, painting that lets them down – mine.

These, and a few more, in the more freindly format of Flickr HERE

War of Spanish Succession for ‘Black Powder’ rules Wednesday, Jun 2 2010 


Finalised rules are here

We have a standing House Rule for all periods to do with Broken Brigades

Everything on this entry is part of the develpment.  I’ve left it so people’s comments make sense.

Having played a number of ‘Black Powder’ games in various periods, these are my proposed period specific rules for the War of Spanish Succession.

Please feel free to comment below.

  1. The only formations are Line and Column of March (edit- and Square? Discuss!).  

  2. No unit may move into its flank zones in a single move- it may wheel and move into the starting flank area if it has two or three moves on the Command roll.  Effectively it acts as though it was within 12” of the enemy.  It may wheel no more than 45′ in any one move.  If its command roll allows multiple moves then it may wheel in each.  In practice this means the unit may end up anywhere in its forward or rear zones, as long as no part moves more than 12″, and it is not aligned more than 45″ from where it started.  

  3. A new change of formation – Turn to Flank. A Infantry or Cavalry unit may change between Line and March Column by turning all stands 90’ in place.  The location of any stand does not change, but they all face in the new direction.  They may make a half move before or after.  

  4. An Infantry unit which wishes to enter a wood must form ‘Platoon Columns’.  All stands are separated slightly to put approx an inch between each.  This takes one move.  The unit may then pass through the wood.  Upon exiting it must immediately stop to reform.  Reforming takes an entire move – not the move which exited the wood.   
    While a unit is in Platoon Columns it receives all the penalties for acting as Skirmishers.  It receives NONE of the bonuses.  Additionally it counts as being Disordered for Break Test purposes until it is reformed – It becomes ordered once it if reformed for this purpose, not at the end of the turn; however if disordered normally then it is treated as any other disordered unit.  It may not initiate any form of combat. It may not come into close range (6”) of an enemy.  If charged or otherwise engaged in hand to hand it halves its hand to hand value


  5. Artillery may make no more than one movement.  Once unlimbered it may not be relimbered- the train is sent to the rear (removed from the table). There is no ‘Horse artillery’.  

  6. Artillery firing Ball may ‘bounce through’ the first line (not column, or line where the cannon is in the flank).  If the line is ‘supported’ (as per the rules, a unit behind close enough to give +1 support in hand to hand) it is hit as a ‘Not Clear’ target (i.e -1).  If the target is within 6″ the firer may choose to fire Ball at 2 dice to get the ‘Bounce Through’, or canister at 3 dice, but no bounce through.  To determine if the unit is eligible to be hit draw a straight line from the middle of the cannon front edge, to the middle of the target front edge, and extend backwards – if this line crosses any part of another unit eligible to give/receive support to the targhet unit then it is hit. (This one is from the Black Powder Yahoo group).
  7. EDIT – Armies that used “Platoon Fire” (rather than Rank fire) get the +1 First Volley bonus.

Franco Prussian War Scenario for Black Powder Friday, Feb 19 2010 

I’ve recently purchased ‘Black Powder’ from Warlord Games. I’ve had a trial game with my son, and my first game against a member of my wargame club is for the Franco Prussian War.

We will be using a scenario the club has played a number of times with a number of different rule sets- I thought this would be a good way to compare the rules.

I invite other Black Powder and/or FPW players to comment on my take on the roster and rules.

The original scenario:

Prussian Roster for Black Powder:
Black Powder Roster FPW PRUSSIAN

French Roster for Black Powder:
Black Powder Roster FPW FRENCH

Please feel free to comment on the rosters/scenario rules.

The QR sheets here.

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