Thursday, March 31, 2011

Black Powder - Old School Gaming

My Boston wargaming group recently ran a demonstration game of Black Powder. This is a set of rules designed for battles with miniature soldiers from the era of "black powder," the American War of Independance, War Between the States, or Napoleonic period. The game was marked with quite a bit of grumping but in the end I believe the rules have some qualities that are ideal for younger players.

The Black Powder rules were designed by some of the world's best game designers. Serious wargamers had high expectations for Black Powder to rock the gaming world. They probably should have read the book's forward which states that these rules are designed to allow players to put lots of toy soldiers on a table and play a quick simple game.

Our demonstration game bore this out. Black Powder ignores a multitude of details which experienced wargamers expect. Instead, a game involves laying out as many miniature soldiers as you can on a nicely decorated table and then speedily zipping them around until the battle is over. I found the game to have a very charming quality. It's a hardcover version of game rules designed by clever ten year olds who own 300 green plastic soldiers and want to have a battle.

Specifically, I'd recommend Black Powder for anyone with lots of soldiers who is looking for a simple fast game. That would include a parent who wishes to introduce their kids to miniature games. I might consider combining these rules with the Walkerloo figures or the 54 mm figures available through outlets like the Hobby Bunker. Alternately, I think Black Powder is terrific for experienced gamers with lots of figures. It is not, however, a complex or detailed game and I would look elsewhere if that's your desire.

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