Saturday 10 December 2022

6mm Black Powder Napoleonics - Big battalions of tiny people

This week, Andrew and I settled down for a learning game of Black Powder (2nd ed.) with our 6mm Napoleonic forces. It was a long time coming - I've just looked back and seen that it was January 2020 that we decided on 6mm Naps as a project and this is the first time they have seen the tabletop.

We only ran two brigades each - Andrew running a French line infantry brigade supported by a brigade of dragoons, while I ran my large Austrian line infantry brigade supported by a small vanguard brigade - 1809ish. We also only used basic formations and just tried to get a handle on the rules. Andrew has played a couple of group games in the past, but the closest I have come was playing loads of Hail Caesar many years ago.

Playing in 6mm, with 80mm as a standard battalion width in line formation, we used cm rather than inches. We also tried halving movement and musketry ranges.

Deployment was a bit throw-down. The French (on the left) had the infantry on their left and dragoons on the right. The Austrians (right) had the line brigade facing the French infantry, and the vanguard to their right facing the French 'goons.

The French cavalry were very aggressive from the offset which made the Austrian commanders a bit nervous. The infantry in the vanguard - jagers and the Archduke Charles Legion - advanced and formed into squares, as did the two conscript infantry battalions of the line brigade. The French artillery focused fire on one of the conscript squares. Both Austrian batteries fired on the advancing dragoons.

Being especially bold, the dragoons charged into the centre square - the Archduke Charles Legion - repeatedly. Even though the Austrians failed to cause much distress to the cavalry, neither shooting now in melee, the French could not quite manage to break through. Behind the squares, the single regiment of Austrian chevau-legers stood nervously on their light horses, adding moral support...

Over on the other flank, the French infantry were greatly slowed by the ploughed fields except for one battalion in the centre of the table which sped on ahead to fire away at my Bohemian landwehr at close range. In return they received fire from the landwehr and a battalion of Austrian veterans while the single battalion of Hungarian line charged forward into a vicious melee with the leading French infantry emerging from the fields.

Disgracefully, the Hungarians were put to flight and the landwehr were disordered from close range shooting. Over on the far flank, the Archduke Charles Legion in square were also broken on the fourth dragoon charge. Two dragoon regiments were shaken in the process, but it was all looking very grim for the Austrians.

The victorious French 'goons then pushed their luck too far. They decided to charge through the new gap between the squares to overrun the Austrian chevau-legers. The Austrians counter-charged and showing great pluck, defeated their heavier equipped opponent and left them shaken. The Austrian light cavalry then advanced with a sweeping charge into the supporting dragoons and, while the last melee left them spent, they again won and their opponents retired shattered.

All dragoon units were now shattered and the French cavalry brigade was forced to withdraw. With such small forces, that was then half the French army gone so we called it an Austrian win, even if it was far from one sided.

It was a great game, though unfamiliarity led to much page flicking. In retrospect, halving movement and musketry did not add anything to this game - infantry units in line had a depth of 40mm, and close-range shooting was just 30mm, so it was all very fiddly. Next time we will play all measurements as standard, simply using cm rather than inches.


  1. We halve ranges and movement at 28mm due to the lack of depth on a four foot table, but keeping command the same due to the unit width. 80mm unit widths and cms alone probably was enough.
    Did you use any of the "flavour" rules?

    1. None of the Clash of Eagles rules. Just keeping it light to learn the basics.

  2. Thanks for sharing that. We normally play Naps in 25mm. But as it happens, I'd been thinking of trying Naps in 6mm. It does look rather grand. Must push on with it!

  3. I play these rules in 6mm. 16cm unit frontage like you.
    I've found that halving the measurements in inches works really well.
    Of course your table size will be significant in what sizes make sense.

    The rules do promote an active battle, but it takes a bit of experience to avoid going too impetuous when attacking.

    The flipping back for rules details has never stopped with my group. The rules aren't laid out optimally, and many little details are tucked away in sections where you wouldn't expect to find them.

    Despite this, I feel they are worth persevering with.
    A major step forward form the generation of rules obsessed with formations, interpenetration and terrain penalties combining to delay your armies from meeting in combat.