Wednesday, April 27, 2016

5 year anniversary! Also, an overview on Black Powder: Glory, Hallelujah!

Look at that. It's been five years and a month since my first blog post! Somehow it feels like the past five years have gone by really fast but then I look at my first posts and it feels like my bull run project in the spring of 2011 was ages ago. The human perception of time sure is strange.

Well, since I started out with ACW stuff, might as well write you some today! Warlord Games has released an ACW sourcebook for Black Powder and I got my hands on a copy. It's called Glory, Hallelujah! and it's written by Dr David B James. Note that I won't take pictures of the contents, you can find the pages they've seen fit to publish over here.

First thing I notice is that the book is quite heavy. In fact, it has a page count of 180 pages, the same length as the Black Powder rulebook itself! I definitely expected something lighter. It's a softcover book with all the gloss and colourful pictures you expect from a Warlord Games publication. As you might guess, doing a page count like that on a supplement requires quite a bit of background fluff written into the volume. There is quite a thorough introduction to the various aspects of the American Civil War as a wargaming theatre which makes it a good "first ACW wargame" book for anyone not familiar with the period but for the grognards out there its mostly unnecessary padding. The "fluff" takes about 57 pages.

Yup, that's thick.

The additional/modified rules take about 22 pages of the book. Here's a rundown on what rules are included:

- Rules for terrain, especially different types of woods
- No squares or assault columns allowed
- Cavalry less effective in charges, better handling for dismounted cavalry
- Stat tweaks for artillery, range tweaks for all weapons.
- The role of skirmishers is to screen friendly infantry, not very effective when firing
- Passage of lines is possible but can lead to some units passing through, some not
- Moving fast and firing is not possible for infantry
- Smoothbore muskets have a close range bonus
- Breechloaders and carbines are more effective but may run low on ammo
- Units that break from shooting are "whipped" instead and remain on the table instead of being wiped out
- It is more difficult to order infantry to charge
- Generals may fight on foot and are less prone to getting shot. Generals on horseback are more vulnerable
- Snipers may be attached to regiments and make it easier to drop generals
- a section of rules for forts
- a section of rules for naval units

Nothing dramatic and overall the rules look like good tweaks to the basic rules to make them feel less like Napoleonics and more like ACW without sacrificing playability. It should definitely give players a common framework on which to build ACW games using Black Powder rules.  

Army lists, special units and characters take about 45 pages. Scenarios and battle reports take about 50 pages. The army lists contain rosters and points values to the opposing armies in different years of the war, but the rules on composition are quite light. Also the varying sizes of regiments during the war are passed with a bit of a shrug which was a bit disappointing. One of the things that doesn't "feel right" when gaming ACW with standard Black Powder rules is in how to represent the different sized regiments.

There are ten scenarios which are most welcome. There aren't many ready made Black Powder ACW scenarios around the net and frankly I'm a bit lazy to adapt scenarios from other sources. What I don't like about the scenarios is that like in for example the Hail Caesar rulebook they don't bother telling us the size of the table even though they're careful to specify some range restrictions in inches. I think it would be much clearer to just state "this scenario was originally played on a 6´x5´ table" or whatever so that the players wouldn't need to guess what size the table they playtested these on was.

In summary, it's a good supplement to Black Powder. It's not essential as the base rules work for ACW well enough but enough thought and work has gone into this book to justify its existence. It's a good buy especially to those who are hesitant to make up their own house rules and wish for something "official" to rally around. 

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