Because I have a slight obsession with cavalry, I’ve tweaked the Blackpowder rules slightly to give them a bit more flavour and just because I like a little bit of book-keeping in my games.

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One of my tweaks is to try to better simulate larger bodies of cavalry. I noticed that when historic cavalry fielded more than 600 horses in a single regiment their weight of numbers wasn’t really transferred to the table, both in visual spectacle and in punching power. So, using the rules as a base I just extended the numbers slightly. I’m a sucker for punishment and love causing myself more work at the painting table so I couldn’t resist fielding a mind-blowing cavalry regiment featuring 36 figures. All figures I use are 1/72 in scale or 20mm in size.

Bases

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*When I first started, most of my cavalry were 40x40mm, but I found it difficult when I wanted to detach troops for vedettes or screening duties. Most of my cavalry is now in 40x20mm, 1 figure to a base representing 30 troops. This is far more flexible, especially if you use movement trays to keep them all together and then split as you need to. I still have 40x40mm bases and for heavy cavalry that’s fine.

Heavy Cavalry 40 x 40mm* square MDF in 2mm thickness – 2 figures to a base
Light Cavalry 40 x 20mm rectangle MDF in 2mm thickness – 1 figure per base
Regimental command 40mm round MDF in 2mm thickness – 1 figure per base

CinC – 60mm round base MDF in 2mm thickness – vignette if required.
Brigade Command – 50mm round base MDF in 2mm thickness – 1 figure to base.
Casualties – 40mm round MDF in 2mm thickness with dice inset included

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each miniature on table = 30 men/horses in the field. Therefore, 1 basic squadron of 120 sabres = 4 figures in whatever combination of bases to achieve this. Of course, if you’re recreating a historical battle then as part of your research check with historical records and simulate the number of squadrons with the number of troops using the table below. If however there are no records or the battle is hypothetical then go for the 4 figures = 1 basic squadron = 120 sabres rule. Of course when you get into the realms of large, very large or mind-blowing then your squadrons are going to much much bigger than 120.

 Size Troops Figures H2H Shooting Morale  Stamina
Tiny  <120  4 1 (-6) 4+ 0
Small 120-240  8 3 (-4)  4+  1
Medium  240-360 12 5 (-2)  4+  2
 Standard 360-480  16 7 (0)  –  4+  3
Large 480-600 20 9 (+2)  –  4+ 4
 Very Large 600-720  24 11 (+4)  –  4+  5
Huge  720-840  28 13 (+6)  –  4+  6
 Extreme  840-960  32 15 (+8)  –  4+ 7
Mind-blowing 960+ 36 17 (+10)  –  4+  8

Use the unit modifiers and special rules/ traits as detailed in the rulebook

Light Cavalry (Hussars) – as per table above

Medium Cavalry (Dragoons, Lancers) +1 to H2H table above

Heavy Cavalry (Cuirassiers etc…) +2 to H2H table above

Elite/ Guards/ Cuirassiers +3 to H2h, +1 to Stamina, +1 to Morale score

Lancers -1 Morale to enemy cavalry on charge (3+ to hit), -2 Morale to enemy infantry on charge (2+ to hit)

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Movement

My basic tweak to Blackpowder rules for 1/72 gaming is to swap the inches for centimetres, this works well for firing ranges too. One of the main reasons for me using 1/72 in the first place was that I didn’t have access to huge tables. Mine is pretty standard at 6x4ft, so using centimetres instead of inches makes the ground scale closer to the figure scale and keeps things fairly tight on the table.

As with real cavalry, miniature cavalry advance has four  speeds; but also consequences of using that speed… walk (50m per min), trot (100m per min), canter (200m per min) and gallop (300m a min)

walk – 6cm on table
trot – 12cm on table
canter – 24cm on table
gallop – 36cm on table

These distances tie in with and complements the Blackpowder orders/ command rules of 1, 2 or 3 move per turn depending on command score)

Movement Penalties

Horses are living creatures and will get tired after being worked hard. To simulate this I came up with a system of movement penalties. This avoids the unrealistic scenario of a unit charging again and again. It also makes running away after a failed charge difficult. It means a charge needs careful preparation too to make sure all the squadrons hit at the same time.

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Standing, walking, cantering and galloping

stand = stopped
slow = (walk) – unlimited moves
med = (trot) – 5 concurrent trot movements then walk for 2 before resuming
fast = (canter) – only 3 concurrent canter moves allowed then unit must move at med or slow for 3 moves
flat out (gallop/ charge) = after each charge order, the unit is not able to gallop again for 4 moves, this simulates the horse being worked hard and becoming blown (tired/ out of breath) it may follow the rules for canter and trot as above.

A unit cannot use its full allocation of concurrent speeds and then go up to its next speed (5 trot moves, 3 canter moves and 1 gallop) You can go down but not up.

If a charge is intended only 1 movement is allowed per previous speed category. If a unit has moved at canter for 2 moves to reach its rally point then it cannot charge the next turn.

Different coloured tokens are used to designate which units are standing still, which are moving and at what speed, some book-keeping is required but that is unavoidable if a little more realism is required.

CHARGE  WALK  CANTER GALLOP STAND
BLOWN 1 WALK 1 CANTER 1 BLOWN 4 BLOWN 7
BLOWN 2 WALK 2 CANTER 2 BLOWN 5  BLOWN 8
 BLOWN 3  WALK 3 CANTER 3 BLOWN 6 BLOWN 9
 BLOWN BLOWN 10 WALK CANTER GALLOP

When ordered, simply place a token next to the squadron to designate its move. In the case of gallop/ charge and canter the remaining moves/ moves to go are also shown: e.g. a unit with a BLOWN 4 token next to it means that it has charged and has 4 moves to go before it can charge again. A unit with a CANTER 2 token means that it is using its 2nd canter of 3. A WALK 1 token means that a unit has just cantered for 3 moves and has 1 walk left to go before it can canter again. A unit with a BLOWN 4 token and a WALK 3 token means that it has just charged and has 4 turns to go before it can charge again and has cantered for 3 move concurrently and must now walk for 3 turns.

At the start of each units game turn don’t forget to reset the token value, much the same as clearing smoke from the battlefield.

Momentum will also add a charge advantage to H2H score for the initial clash only as follows –

stand and face 0 to H2H
slow 1 to H2H
med +2 to H2H
fast +3 to H2H

Unit being charged does not accrue charge advantage (unless counter-charge is ordered)

When a charge is ordered, cavalry should aim to not fall short of it target or arrive at target blown otherwise H2H charge advantage will be lost. If this is the case then add a modifier of -3 to H2H for the initial confusion caused of horses being blown before reaching their target.

The ideal situation would be to charge and hit target with a good 3 or 4 centimetres to spare.

Follow the special rules for different units attributes.

I’ve only play-tested these tweaks a couple of times and they seem to work quite well. I’d love some feedback in case there are situations that I haven’t come across yet that requires attention. Hope you find them useful.

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