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"WW1 Using Black Powder Rules?" Topic

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bigbake22 Sep 2018 2:18 p.m. PST

I'm a big fan of the Black Power rules and am taking a slight break from my Napoleonic's to delve into WW1. Would it be possible to adapt Black Powder rules for WW1 games? I've never played a WW1 game before and recently purchased several lots of figures off Ebay and would like some advice on getting started. Most of the lots are Early War with some Mid War sets as well. I would say probably 1914-1916 would be a fair range of what I can do now.

I only play 1/72 scale BTW. Here is what I've got so far:

2 Caesar Fr ww1 Infantry.
2 HAT French late-war WW1 artillery 75s
2 HAT ww1 French Cavalry
1 HAT early war Fr gunners
1 3-d printed 155mm DeBange gun
2 Strelets WW1 German Uhlans
1 Strelets German ww1 Hussars
3 Zvedza ww1 German Infantry
3 Strelets German 210mm Howitzers
1 HAT WW1 German artillery
1 Strelets WW1 Russian Hussars
3 HAT 8282 WW1 Brit Inf
1 Strelets ww1 8in Howitzer
1 Strelets UK ww1 9.2in howitzer
1 Strelets UK ww1 6in howitzer
2 HAT ww1 British Cavalry
1 Airfix British Infantry
1 Airfix British Royal Horse Artillery
2 Airfix French Infantry

Thanks for any advice or suggestions on battles I can do!

repaint22 Sep 2018 3:10 p.m. PST

There is avery good version of WW1 Bolt Action.

The system is not entirely the same as BP but it is quite well done and has a feel a bit similar to Black Powder without being BP.

Using BP for WW1 probably would not work too well, mostly the order phase, actually not many things. WW1 was probably a Battalion/company level war rather than a Division/Brigade war

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2018 7:17 p.m. PST

Wargames Illustrated 371 has an article about using Black Powder for WW1.

monk2002uk22 Sep 2018 11:25 p.m. PST

I would not recommend Black Powder for WW1. Even in the early weeks of the war, all sides were much more dispersed than in the Napoleonic era. Although many writers described massed attacks in dense columns, detailed analysis of the battles from the perspective of all sides involved, does not support this conclusion. Bolt Action gives a better feel.


monk2002uk22 Sep 2018 11:34 p.m. PST

Here is a map that shows the different scale of operations in Napoleonic, Franco-Prussian War, and Great War scenarios:



Big Red Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2018 5:03 a.m. PST


You are absolutely correct about the density of WW1 battles compared to earlier eras.

However, in an abstract set of rules such as Black Powder, a unit doesn't have to represent a battalion. It can represent a smaller unit such as a company. The scale of the table becomes much larger (representing a smaller geographical area) and the troop density is therefore much lower.

I'm not trying to say that BP would be a detailed and accurate representation of a 1914 battle but one wouldn't necessarily be maneuvering around the table in dense columns. As an example:


Bolt Action is another abstract game that can represent the Great War at slightly lower level with the entire force representing a company or so.

I have figures for both. I'm hoping for a recovery someday but until then I'm happily gaming away with both rule sets.

Pan Marek23 Sep 2018 8:21 a.m. PST

There are alot of rulesets that are WWI specific. Why try to adapt a set designed for the muzzleloader era?

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2018 8:48 a.m. PST

Yes, most BP games are indeed designed for the horse and musket era but there are rules for magazine rifles and machine guns too.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Sep 2018 9:58 a.m. PST

With a rule set as vanilla as BP a lot of clubs like the idea of adapting it just so they don't have to learn a completely new rule set…..

bigbake23 Sep 2018 2:56 p.m. PST

Oh, I forgot to mention that I play Solo so no need to worry about clubs or anything like that. Just me in my basement.

I agree with Big Red and I like that with Black Powder it is abstract and that a unit doesn't necessarily have to be a battalion or regiment. I was thinking of just calling each unit a 'company'.

Lion in the Stars23 Sep 2018 7:25 p.m. PST

If you like it, run with it.

But I have a kinda off-the-wall suggestion for your WW1 gaming: This Quar's War. Rules are free (click the bottom radio button and check out): link

Yes, it's some quirky-weird anteaters. Technology-wise, it's WW1. Crusaders are French or Americans, Royalists are Germans.

monk2002uk23 Sep 2018 11:10 p.m. PST


When you say each unit is a company, do you mean that 1 stand of figures is a company or is each 'unit' made up of several stands?

Big Red,

I have no problem with any ruleset not being a detailed and accurate representation. Every ruleset is an abstraction. At the end of the day, it is all about playability and enjoyment. As noted, re-using existing rulesets in other periods has the advantage that other players in a club will be familiar with them already.

Many adapted rulesets work in reverse, time-wise. This is the case with Bolt Action for example. Bolt Action works because the units are very small. Other higher-level rulesets don't work so well when carried over from WW2 to WW1. It is the frontages and densities that suffer, given that WW2 forces were typically an order of magnitude different. A platoon in WW2 would equate with a company in WW1 and so forth.

I will pick up a copy of Black Powder and check it out from a WW1 perspective.


10mm Wargaming24 Sep 2018 1:50 a.m. PST

Home Before The Leaves Fall Black Powder Rules Amendments For Early World War I by friends Of General Haig. go to the bottom of the page

As always, comments are appreciated.

Take care


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Sep 2018 1:16 p.m. PST

You might consider trying Crossfire? It is infantry focused so would work well with WW1 and is easy to pick up. Plus, it's "initiative" system makes solo gaming fun.

Summary of Crossfire:


Summary of Black Powder too:


monk2002uk24 Sep 2018 11:54 p.m. PST

Thanks, Andy. If I understand correctly then you have recommended that an infantry company is the BP Unit. Each infantry company will comprise 4 stands, which will mean that each stand represents a platoon or Zug in the case of the German forces.

Black Powder mentions that an artillery stand is normally a 'battery'. You have mentioned three stands for the respective batteries, British and German. In this case, is a stand representing an individual field gun?


Prince Lupus25 Sep 2018 9:19 a.m. PST

I use the company as the "unit" for colonials (Sudan) and works fine. I think BP would be okay for early war Europe and for Middle East.

Disorder perhaps should become "pinned"?

Vimy Ridge25 Sep 2018 9:02 p.m. PST

I have only played BP a couple of times and I think you are fine to play it at the Brigade/Division level, and home before the leaves fall seems to catch the nuance well enough to go with it if you already know how to play BP.


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