Thursday, 4 October 2018

Still here

I may have given the impression recently that I was imminently going somewhere; that was as reliable as most things in this blog and I am not only still around, but have managed a couple of games into the bargain. We are still in the Peninsular two centuries ago and our first game was first and foremost an attempt to play Black Powder correctly. We succeeded (I think) in this limited objective, but there was a consensus afterwards that it hadn't felt Napoleonic enough. French versus British surely implies at a minimum blue columns charging red lines and receiving a volley or two as they do so. For some reason - not on this occasion related to D3s being thrown by your bloggist - this never really happened. We therefore determined to give Piquet a try.

Let me first say that this game played out much more in line with our view of how things worked on a Napoleonic battlefield (*). And let me secondly say that this may quite possibly have been down to the way the luck went on the evening (**); Piquet never plays the same scenario in the same way twice. On this occasion the French got all the initiative, thus allowing them to charge the British line, and the British got a Reload card just at the right time, thus allowing them to give the French two volleys from each unit.

The appropriate Piquet period supplement is 'Les Grognards' and we left it to James to decide whether to use version 1 or the much chromed up version 2. Naturally enough he instead chose to use his Seven Years War version, 'Lemony Picket', with amendments. These primarily concerned the large number of extra formations that infantry can adopt (as an aside, if there is anything duller than Osprey book illustrations of the difference between a column of companies in quarter intervals and one in half intervals then I really do not want to see it) and skirmishers. The latter are probably the more problematic, but I thought James' proposals worked very well for a first pass. There was a general agreement to further restrict the range and position of skirmishers from what we started with, but other than that they will (probably? perhaps?) last until the next game at least. There were a couple of aspects where I couldn't decide if they were carefully thought out design features or strange quirks that didn't really make any sense. So, to aid my memory as it may be a while before I play them again (***), here they are:

  • Piquet uses the concept of initiative. This is allocated between sides (we use dominoes) and then the side with higher initiative goes first in that turn. It seemed to me as if the side going first got substantially more value from skirmish fire than the side going second when shooting at formed infantry rather than at other skirmishers.
  • Skirmishers firing at other skirmishers can do permanent damage to the parent unit of the target, skirmishers firing at formed infantry cannot; intuitively I would have thought that men standing in rows would be easier to hit when shooting than those in an open order.

* Not of course to be confused with how they actually worked.
** There is also the possibility that it had something to with James rebasing everything between games.
*** I am going away shortly.

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