On our recent trip to England, I managed to pick up a copy of Black Powder, the Perry Brothers' excellent and well-produced rules set for 18th-19th century miniatures warfare. Black Powder uses the same basic engine as Blitzkrieg/Cold War/Future War Commander in that it's a mutation of Games' Workshop's old Warmaster system. I thus thought it'd be a great game to get as it would allow the folks I play with to learn one basic rules system for combat from 1700 to 2100.
Back in Rio, I set about re-basing my O8 3mm American Civil War armies for the new rules. Here's the first two Confederate States regiments on a recently built terrain module:
Black Powder units are regiments or battalions and can be based to any size you like, depending on what your collection holds. All you really need are enough stands to reasonably portray the five basic unit formations: line, column, assault column, square and skirmish. Using 28mm figures (which is the scale the Perry Bros prefer, being independently wealthy and owners of a huge, private gaming room), this means 24-36 figures, based two b y two on 40mm x 40mm stands.
Being that I am an apartment dweller and independently impoverished, I play in 3mm. I've thus decided to base my Black Powder regiments on four 20mm x 20mm stands. Four is enough to attractively model the four principle formations and I have a bunch of skirmisher stands painted up for when the regiments break down into the fifth formation.
Each stand contains two O8 infantry strips, which makes each regiment cost about USD 1.75. I plan on building 12 infantry regiments, 2 cavalry regiments and 3 artillery batteries for both the Confederate and Union armies, which means that the entire ACW project, including houses and fences (also bought from O8), will be brought in at under 100 USD.
I've also provided each regiment with a separately-based colonel because I plan to port the leader rules from the old Battles and Leaders boardgame to Black Powder.
Cavalry and artillery will be based differently, of course. Each cavalry unit will be a half-regiment of four stands, accompanied by 4 dismounted skirmisher stands. This will give the cavalry the proper on-table foot-print as compared to infantry. Union batteries will be three 30mm x 30mm stands and accompanying limbers, each stand with two cannons. Confederate batteries will be two similarly-sized stands.
When O8 comes out with its Napoleonics line later this year, I'll probably go with six stand units as it will allow me to make each stand a French Line company. Even so, this means my Napoleonics game will take up half the footprint of one of the Perry's 28mm games. I'll probably simply reduce inches to centimeters and play that way.
For the ACW, however, I can cut all ranges by 1/4th if I like, given that my regiments are 1/4th as large as the Perry's suggested 32 figure regiments in 28mm.
Again, this shows off the two great benefits of 3mm gaming: cost and space. There is no way I'd ever take up ACW gaming if I had to play in 28mm - or even 10mm, for that matter. But at 3mm, it's a small project that costs very little and can be played on a coffee table. And while it's not as visually impressive as 28mm, by a long shot, I think the above photo quite clearly shows that we're not dealing with "grains of rice" or "counters", as many 3mm haters often charge.
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