This is around the 5th or 6th game of 'Black Powder' I've had now, all have been very enjoyable but I'm starting to get a feel for the system's strengths and weaknesses.
Nigel very selflessly referee'd as he wanted to get to grips with the system. As I'd been playing BP rules for three weeks in a row under Reece's umpireship, a few rules questions came up, which I found looking up for myself early the next day. Didn't find them all, but thought I'd share a few:
1) Nigel had a different interpretation of when a unit becomes 'Shaken' and how long it remains so to Reece. Reece rules that once a unit has taken hits EQUAL to its 'Stamina' value it is 'Shaken' and remains so until 'rallied' off by a general etc.. Nigel ruled a unit 'Shaken' only when it had taken casulaties GREATER than its 'Stamina'. This has a big impact on the game, as casualties greater than a units 'Stamina' are discarded at the end of the turn. So in Reece's games a 'Shaken' unit was pretty useless until you commit a general to it. In the game ref'd by Nigel 'Shaken' units bounced back quite quickly.
Checking the rules, I found a pretty clear reading on this one:
'Once a unit has taken casualties EQUAL (my emphasis) to its stamina value it is shaken. In most cases this value will be 3, meaning that once a unit has taken three casulaties it is shaken.' p.48. Similar ruling also p.66
So this one goes to Reece's interpretation, but as the rules on 'Shaken' units are explained in at least 3 different places in the rulebook, scattered across some 80 pages, I understand Nigel's difficulty in picking this up.
2. Steve questioned whether troops disordered by closing fire could still charge in. I'll need to look at the rules again to quote chapter & verse, but my rules check confirmed they could. Troops 'shaken' by closing fire are a different matter though, as they are subject to a break test etc.
Basically combining points 1. & 2. together, disordered is a minor condition, they recover automatically after a turn, can still charge in etc. 'Shaken' is a more serious business, it is permenent until a general arrives to try to rally them, cannot charge, and have to take break tests every time they take more casualties.
3. Some confusion arose when I elected to form square on being charged by cavalry. We were not sure if it could in this period (but Nige allowed it), we were then not sure if the cavalry could charge in. I threw it across to Phil on the other table, backed up by Ginge who said Cavalry could definitely cannot charge squares-although I got my come uppance for the ungentlemanly way I appealed before the ref had time to rule by having the unit slaughtered by infantry on the next turn!
Sorting this out after required a careful reading of the section on 'Advanced Rules' the next day.
The rules note in the section Units with the 'Form Square' Special Rule' reads as follows:
"'From the age of Marlborough, if not before, infantry units would typically form square only as a defensive measure during a retreat. They did NOT (my emphasis) do so as a tactical enemy cavalry as did infantry of Napoleonic times. From the end of the eighteenth century troops were trained to respond to cavalry threats by forming square. Troops trained to form square in this way have the special rule 'form square' p75.
The rules then go on to explain rules with this special rule MUST form square when charged by cavalry. It also says infantry forming square in response to a cavalry charge cannot deliver closing fire.
There is some vagueness in terms of 'end of the eighteenth century', but I take this to mean the Revolutionary/Napoleonic war era, not the earlier 7 years war period. In any case, the ref/scenario setter has control over this, as a unit needs to be designated as having this special rule.
So there we have it. Two different tactical reponses to cavalry charges. Earlier than Napoleonic stand and blast them, hoping to stop them with fire, Napoleonic period form square when charged (but lose on blasting them). Napoleonic players will doubtless use Napoleon' s trick of charging with cavalry to force them into squares which infantry/artillery can then attack, but earlier 18th century warfare is an altogether more gallant, and less devious, affair. My reading is that pre-Napoleonic troops can still put their troops into squares, but have to do so well ahead of being charged, using a regular move, but this is definitely the ref's call as he could rule they can only do this when they are also 'in retreat'.
Regarding Phil/Ginge's comments, the answer is yes they are broadly right but were wrong to be so definite, as there is an important exception (which might have applied in our case-I can't remember).
The rules can be found in the section on forming Battalion Squares p.74-5. The rules begin by stating 'The rules apply to all troops, including those of earlier period...'. It then goes on to say (note italics are in the rulebook not mine) 'Enemy cavalry are not permitted to charge a square unless it is disordered or shaken'. It goes on to note this applies also to Fanatic cavalry. It goes on to explain 'Cavalry ordered to do so will automatically halt 3" away and the player can use whatever remaining move remains to ride back, or around the side of the enemy, as he wishes.' p 73.
So was Phil/Ginge right? Well, yes to say cavalry cannot charge infantry, but the 'disordered' and 'shaken' exception immediately after is a pretty important on that i don't remember them pointing out.
Anyway, thanks again for the game. Hope this clarifies things a bit for next time.