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ACW Wargaming

Page history last edited by Dan Fraser 11 years, 5 months ago

ACW Wargaming


Example Scenario 2 is here......Scenario 2


I given alot of thought to the black powder period in designing CWC/BKC for that period here are some notes.


BKC is an excellent game system in its own right.  Abstract enough to appeal to novice with outcomes historically accurate enough to satisfy “old hands”.  Keeping this system intact was foremost in my mind in developing a black powder version for this system.  At the same time I did not want to develop another version of ACWarmaster, I wanted something having all the period favour with little rule changes. 


Units - This meant that 1cm = 20m must be kept which in turn means a platoon/company level basic unit or stand.  The unit definition was changed to reflect that a unit is a collection of stands for artillery, cavalry and infantry.  Formations in their turn would be defined as a collection of various units.  The one thing in common amongst all units in the period is the frontage they occupy.  This is because Black Powder warfare is stylized linear warfare where lines of men plug away at each other until one side breaks or dies.


The next issue was how to organize the unit.  Units in the period could be separate battalions, squadrons, batteries or regiments.  Given the variety of unit types and sizes, I decided to use a set number of stands per unit of 225 to 700 men.   I also adopted a ratio of 15 men equals 1 war game figure. Looking across warfare from 1710 to 1880, I found that most regiments or battalions contained 8 to 10 companies.  Looking that the frontage of each these companies in scale would have given me 8 to 10 stands of about 1cm wide and a very un-wieldy movement system.  I choose instead to 2 company stands which is more in keeping with other rules systems (thus no rebasing) and provides for a 4 to 5 stand unit.  Moving to the more abstract (in keeping with the rules) I choose to use 5 as the number of bases within a cavalry and infantry battalion (or single battalion regiment).  I also choose 2 as the stands for an artillery battery (1 each for the gun deployed and the limber/caisson model).  Infantry stands should have figures in two ranks except for “light” infantry who should be in longer single rank stands.


Hits – In the BKC/CWC, hits were pre-determined by the type of unit.  BPC hits are a function of the available personnel in the unit which is represented by the number of figures on the unit’s stands.  This approach is traditional to most war game rules on the period.  The trick was to give it a BKC favour.  Therefore, units take hits in the BKC style but when the hits equal the number of figures on a single stand that stand is removed (with a continued penalty for having less than 5 stands available).  If hits do not exceed the figures of a single unit stand then all hits are removed as with the original BKC.  It will take a lot of firepower to destroy a unit which is historically accurate.  Players will also be able to model historical manpower in a unit more accurately as they vary the total number of figures on each of the stands.  I recommend stands be no smaller than 3 and no larger than 6 figures.


Most elite and veteran units were smaller than the green units as they had taken casualties during their experience gain but had more staying power than the larger green unit.  A hits modifier is used to simulate this result.


Artillery – Artillery is abstracted by sub-period simply because the attack and hits worked out that way.  The only exception the rule was the introduction of shell ammunition in 1850 for cannon and that is noted as a soft target increase after that date.  All artillery is direct fire during the whole of the period including mortars which fire high angle direct fire and thus can fire over the heads of any troops in the line of fire to the target.


Players should note that shell (HE value) is available only to mortars and howitzers before 1850.  After 1850, all artillery can use an HE value.  Canister is only used when artillery is charged by infantry or cavalry and is very limited in supply.


Cavalry – During the period cavalry were still evolving tactically.  Some cavalry charged at a slow pace and discharged pistols at short range, some at a fast pace with edged weapons, some were mounted infantry (dragoons).  By the end of the period all would be capable of charging at a fast pace with edged weapons and acting as dragoons as well.  Modelling this required a number of new categories of cavalry (both mounted and dismounted). 


Small Arms – The black powder period was certainly a revolution in small arms.  At the beginning, the firelock was still in common use; by the end, the smokeless powder magazine fed bolt action rifle was predominant and the machinegun was making its first appearance.  In modeling this, I took the firelock as a factor of 1 and developed from there ensuring that the end magazine rifled infantry did not exceed the BKC SCW infantry factors.


Attacks - The big issue was designing attack values because units during this period fire as single entities so although the values are calculated as single stands (in 3, 4 , 5, and 6 figure stands) the fire result is applied times the number of figures in that unit divided by the number of stands.  Attacks for small arms are based on the type of small arm in use.  There is also a requirement to have a fire cone of the area in front of the firing unit as volley firing units fire straight out from their front facing (about 10 to 15 degrees either side of the unit flank should be considered a danger area).


Formations – Formations are the most important part of unit combat.  They are the means by which units move and fight and without them units cannot move properly or project firepower on to the enemy.  There are 5 formations necessary; line, extended line, column, attack column and square.  Each formation has benefits and risks. 


Line is the best formation to project firepower and move to face an enemy in contact.  Line puts most of the unit weapons forward and is close enough to command.  Line is vulnerable on the flanks and to cavalry attacks in certain periods or if armed with certain weapons.


Extended Line is used to skirmish with the enemy; a unit in extended line can cover more ground and present less of target to the enemy than line.  Extended line makes it harder to command and concentrate firepower.


Column is an excellent formation to take advantage of road movement but has little firepower available to it.  If caught in column while being charged, a unit is dead. 


Attack column is the secret of Napoleon.  Attack column extended the frontage of column to extend the firepower available but kept the depth of column to give the weight to carry a position via bayonet.


Square is the infantry response to cavalry attacks.  By forming an all round defence, the infantry can keep the cavalry at bay with a combination of bayonet and firepower.


Light Infantry – Light infantry is a specialized branch of infantry in general use between about 1745 to about 1850.  This type of infantry was trained to use irregular tactics such as sniping from cover and skirmishing.  The main purpose of light infantry was to screen the main body of infantry from enemy light infantry.  They also received the first rifled muskets and carbines.  By 1850, the title light was largely ceremonial as most infantry was trained in these tactics and the need for separate battalions was down graded. 


We moved ahead with adapting BKC to the black powder period.  We have rules written and play-tested.  Here is the QRS for the rules, we intend to complete more testing over the winter and by spring will have a set of rules that allows play from 1700 to 1890. 


Below is the latest version of Black Powder Tactical Commander:




This rules set is designed using free material from a variety of ACW Warmaster sources which were then formatted into the Blitzkrieg commander format for user familiarity.  It does not contain all the rules of BKC not is it intended to be useful to a WW2 or Cold War wargamer as there are no rules for those periods which BKC/CWC covers.  Indeed,  it contains a number of unique rules that are designed by the author to make BKC/CWC playable in the Black Powder period.  Much of the original material in BKC/CWC has been stripped from the BPT Commander as it relates only to the mechanized period of warfare.  This is a simple free player designed variant like Johnny Reb 2.5 is to Johnny Reb 3 or Johnny's Fury is to Fire and Fury.  BPT Commander uses the same movement system and combat system of Warmaster which it shares with BKC/CWC.  This is a free product and not intended for re-sale.  If anything I hope this product would generate interest in BKC/CWC.  The copyright holder's of BKC/CWC should quit whining and enjoy any extra interest that this variant will stimulate in their product.







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