Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Battle of Baker's Run

Last night, we played a large Black Powder game at the club meeting. This was good for me, as I have been pretty busy at work and missed out on a lot of gaming lately.

The battle's name comes from a small stream that bisected the battlefield in our little scenario, and also from the name of the community center at which we meet. The focal point of the battle was a large hill devoid of features, Bald Hill, which was occupied by some rebel troops. Being early October in 1863, with the two armies settling into their winter camps, the yanks did not want the rebs fortifying this hill and having to storm it in the spring!

The rest of the battlefield was all about rail fences and stone fences and corn fields and wheat fields and small woods – just stuff to make the tactical play interesting – as we were using Black Powder for the battle. Yes, I have said it a million times, I love the command system of Black Powder: verbalizing orders. American Civil War terrain, at the regimental level, makes brigades break down into not-so-smoothly operating entities where players have to engage the command system in a very detailed manner.

I have found that some players initially struggle with the command system because most wargames don’t force you to think about what you are about to do (before you do it) – then verbalize those thoughts to your opponent – then move the soldiers about. In most wargames, even those that limit your ability to do whatever you want, you just move the model soldiers in any manner you wish as you are moving them…you don’t have to talk about it or say things that limit your flexibility as new ideas enter your mind. After a few turns, usually everyone comes around.

Ok, back to the battle. Before I get into the listing of units, let me explain something about the way we play Black Powder with respect to unit sizes. We don’t have a units that exactly match the range of miniatures described I the rules for unit sizes. We’ve standardized. All of us have miniatures that are mounted 4 models per 40MM square stand. A “tiny” unit will have 2 such stands, a “small” unit will have 4 stands, a “normal” unit will have 6 stands and a “large” unit will have 8 stands. So, when you see the listing of troops and the pictures, this will make sense.
I drew up some simple forces for the fight, as we would have some newbies…not many special rules, but there are a large number of regiments.

Union Forces
Magruder’s Division (Command: 7)

Brigade One (Command: 8)
•    1 Small Regt (Breech-loaders, Sharpshooters) Berdan’s Sharpshooters
•    2 Normal Regt’s
•    1 Large Regt

Brigade Two (Command: 9)
•    1 Small Regt (Elite, Steady) Zouaves
•    2 Small Regt’s
•    1 Large Regt

Brigade Three (Command: 9)
•    1 Large Regt (Unreliable)
•    2 Normal Regt’s

3 Gun Batteries – 3” Rifles (use range for Rifled Horse Artillery)

Frazer’s Division (Command: 9)
Brigade One (Command: 9)•    1 Large Regt  (Crack, Steady)
•    1 Normal Regt
•    2 Small Regt’s

Brigade Two (Command: 8)•    2 Normal Regt’s
•    1 Small Regt

Brigade Three (Command: 8)•    1 Normal Regt
•    2 Small Regt’s

4 Gun Batteries – 3” Rifles (use range for Rifled Horse Artillery)

Confederate ForcesChrysler’s Division (Command: 8)Brigade One (Command: 10)•    1 Large Regt
•    1 Small Regt
•    2 Normal Regt’s

Brigade Two (Command: 8)•    1 large Regt
•    2 Small Regt’s

Brigade Three (Command: 9)•    1 Small Regt
•    2 Normal Regt’s

Brigade Four (Command: 8)•    1 Small Regt
•    2 Normal Regt’s

Brigade Five (Command: 8)•    1 Small Regt
•    2 Normal Regt’s

4 Gun Batteries – 12# Smoothbores (use range for Light Smoothbore Artillery)

So, next up are some images of the battle. It was a declared a “marginal Union victory” as they held the lead in victory points, 4 to 3. The battle really had two personalities, the forces that were north of Baker’s Run seemed only to spar and engage in firefights. The Yankees in this area were ordered to hold the rebels down while a larger force struck in the south half of the field and rolled up. That lead to intense fighting in the southern half of the field, where although the rebel lines were holding, the Yankees would soon have a greater advantage in numbers.

What was weird, and this is the first Black Powder game I have played where this occurred, but there were zero blunders in the game! Usually, in a game this size, we see at least one blunder, but not that night!

Fun evening was had...with an interesting game. Hey, that's the point!


  1. Good looking and big game for a club evening.
    I agree that you can happily change the size of units in BP to suite your figure collections - my norms are very similiar to yours,

    How did you do the txet inserts in your photos? They look great....

  2. Bill, what I do is drag the picture into PowerPoint and then create a text box with a white background that has 50% transparency. Just enough to show the black font color and make it stand out on the picture.

    Yes, the game was big - especially for a club evening as you mention. But we had some folks that had been wanting to learn to the price to get them taught and you'll have many enjoyable gaming partners going forward!

    Thanks for the comments!

    - Tony

  3. That was a fun read - the story in the pictures was awesome. Thanks.