An Introduction to Black Powder
Black Powder is a game system produced by Warlord Games and written by Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson. As the introduction to the rules says:
Black Powder is a game for militarily inclined gentlemen with straight backs, bristling beards and rheumy eyes that have seen a thing or two. If tales of battle and glory in days-gone-by stir nothing in your breast, if the roar of cannon does not quicken the pulse and set a fire in the belly, then stop reading forthwith. Ours is not an adventure to be embarked upon by the faint hearted. Put down this book and be glad that you have spared yourself the discomforting spectacle of grown men attempting to relive the great conflicts of history with armies of toy soldiers.Black Powder 2nd Edition (2019)
So heft your muskets and prepare for battle. The library or billiard room will serve as our battlefield, or else some similarly spacious and secluded refuge. Ensure that children are put to bed and lie safely beyond earshot. Secure the doors against the intrusion of womenfolk as yet unfamiliar with the conventions of war. Ready your armies for the long march to glory.
And finally, let us remember that the ideal accompaniment to the journey may be found in good brandy, fine cigars, and the companionship of like-minded enthusiasts.
Black Powder covers the Horse and Musket period from 1701 (War of the Spanish Succession) to 1898 (Second Sudan War). Most commonly you’ll find players use the system to refight engagements from the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War.
I personally believe that Horse & Musket games come in one of two formats. Either simulation, where the rules will try and accurately represent a battle of that period in minutiae. Or in a more ‘Arcade’ format, where an approximation of the overall battle is given.
The game itself can be played at most miniature scales, with the smaller scales adding to the big battle feel of the game you’re playing.
Black Powder doesn’t have miniature removal and instead uses markers to show the status of units. Units are usually made up of 4 stands and these will be arranged to shoe what formation a unit is in. Units are usually at a battalion/squadron level, but you can use Units to represent larger formations such as Brigades.
So if this time period interests you and you have a specific war in mind, Black Powder may be the system for you.
To give you more of a taster, we’ve put together a number of articles covering the basics of a turn in Black Powder which, should give you a feel of how the game plays.