19th century · 28mm · ACW · Black Powder

Just played… Black Powder


I went down to club this past weekend for an epic game of Black Powder, recreating the battle of Fort Donelson, which took place in February 1862 and turned out to be one of the more important battles of the American Civil War.

The game was set up by club chairman Jesper, who owns an impressive collection of 28 mm ACW miniatures and also sports an knowledge of the conflict that is second to none. As I myself am woefully ignorant both about the period and this particular conflict, it’s always a pleasure to be able to participate in this type of event – you come away feeling both entertained, inspired and educated. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!

For this game we were five players (Jesper umpired the whole thing), using no less than three 6×4 tables to create a massive battlefield, which not only included the fort and the surrounding countryside but also trenches, a river and an Ironclad. Using both Jesper’s own and Sören‘s excellent miniatures, the battle was recreated through a fairly in-depth scenario, with 16 rounds and a small number of special rules amendments that served to capture the flavor of the battle.

The setup and the players just before the start of the game.

As Jesper will probably post a more detailed AAR on his own blog, and also because I’m admittedly a bit lost when it comes to the names of the commanders and regiments involved, I won’t do a “real” AAR here, but just post some of the highlights of the day.

The Western part of the battlefield, with the fort and surrounding trench works.
The Ironclad is a Sarissa model.
Some valiant sons of the South protecting a damsel in distress… or perhaps the moonshine?
It was a busy day for the surgeon, no doubt.
The Yanks had brought some serious firepower, which turned out to be really effective.
They also managed to get most of their troops on the table and into position rather swiftly…
…something which can not be said about the Confederate side. A row of poor command rolls made for several delays and maneuvering difficulties.
As a result of this, the Union side had a clear advantage when it came to numbers, at least initially.
The Confederate defenders came under heavy artillery fire and struggled with morale…
…while Union troops managed to break through the barricades on the Southern side of the fort.
When the Southerners finally managed to get their men onto the table, they came to focus heavily on trying to outflank the enemy, which would prove to be a mistake.
While the bulk of the Southern troops were occupied outside the barricades, the Northerners pushed even further into the fort proper. Meanwhile, the cannons by the river were blown to pieces by the Ironclad.
But the attackers came to face unexpected resistance – a single Militia unit, who held out for several turns against overwhelming odds.
Then the Cavalry finally arrived – but it was too late.
The Union forces had already pushed to far into the compound, forcing the defenders to turn and thus expose their flank to artillery fire.
And the cannonades were severe – just as expected in an ACW game.
Eventually the remaining Confederate troops broke under the pressure, and the North won the day – just like in the actual historical battle.
Northern officers of course took the opportunity to fraternize with the local women, showing off sabre, pistol and uniform buttons alike.

Great fun overall, even if the side I played on happened to lose. As I said, I’ve not generally been into this period, but a great game is a great game.

Also, I was reminded of how good a system Black Powder actually is – due to the heavy focus on shooting and artillery, everything flows fast and easy and there are no long, grinding melee combats. This particular game, with five players and a lot of models on the table, was finished in just over two hours.

Our resident Yankee, Mark (a.k.a Rattlesnake) showing off his command skills. I can’t help think that the cap and jacket contributed to the Union victory…

I had so much fun that I’m actually thinking about starting an ACW project, but in 6mm obviously. Because even if 28mm armies look good and all, 6mm is undeniably better for truly epic battles with thousands of miniatures on the table – in short, the kind of battles that a game like Black Powder was written for.

I’ll probably succumb to this temptation some time in the future, after I’ve finished my current 6mm ancients projects. And I won’t even have to feel particularly guilty about giving in; one of the great things about 6mm is that new projects can be started on a whim without breaking the bank, or having you tied up with one single painting project for a year or so.

We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, stay tuned for some more project logs coming up!



11 thoughts on “Just played… Black Powder

  1. Great looking game.
    Having seen you 6mm Ancients, I would love to see what you can do with ACW figures! It might even get me to paint up some of mine if I had a hope of getting a game in.


      1. We shall indeed. After GothCon my gaming calendar is once again open…and some of those 6mm ACW have waited 10 years to see paint.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great AAR! Thank you for writing this up. I will add a link to my blog. Now about that 6mm ACW project… I can send you what I have for rules so you can take a look at how they look. I think they will play very well and will get the feel of commanding larger formations of Soldiers. Let’s talk, I just placed an order with Baccus for the remaining Confederate miniatures I need to be able to field both Armies at Bull Run and a few of the Western battles.
    Thanks again.



  3. Thank you, Mark!

    It was great fun even though we lost – the trademark sign of a good game. Also, your lively impersonation of a Yank officer kept the immersion level continuously high. 😉

    I’d love to look at the rules and hopefully get some nice 6mm games going. I’ll have to do some reading and background checks before I decide on which side I want to start painting myself, but if you’ve already got minis painted for both sides I’ll be more than happy to play some “trial” games first – I do have some Persians to finish before jumping into the whole ACW thing… 😛


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