The Last Argument of King’s
Fighting the Black Powder Battles in the 18th Century
Written by Pete Brown
Black Powder, “The Last Argument of Kings”, is the latest supplement book available from warlord games for their Black Powder set of miniature rules. This softback book is highly illustrated and colorful. It is 112 pages in length and jam packed with information from cover to cover. Let me start off by saying right from the beginning that whether or not you play miniature wargames with the Black Powder rules, “The Last Argument of Kings makes for enjoyable reading. In this supplement you will get a concise, but thorough look at the background to this historical period and a look at the many battles that occurred in the 18th century, which was the beginning of the wide acceptance of the black powder period of warfare.
There are 14 sections in this supplement that really bring this period to life. The fourteen sections are;
- Warfare in the Age of Reason
- Dressed to Kill
- Special Rules for the Period
- The War of the Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714)
- The Great Northern War (1700 – 1721)
- Storm on the Danube
- The War of the Austrian Succession (1740 – 1748)
- The Wars of the English Succession (1690 – 1746)
- The Seven Years War (1756 – 1763)
- War in the Colonies
- Raids and Invasions
- The 18th Century Wargame
- Bibliography and Additional Reading
The first section, “Warfare in the Age of Reason”, sets the tone for the supplement. This is where you are provided with a brief historical background to warfare during this century. Generals and their command, how armies were raised, Infantry formations and tactics, the effect of Cavalry and of course, Artillery are all covered in this area of the book.
The next few pages are devoted to the Uniforms of the 18th Century. Here you are provided with an overview of the uniforms that were worn in this period and you get an idea of the wide selection there really is. You are also informed that this is an age that is well covered with excellent research material and there are many books available. A number of these books are mentioned in the bibliography at the end of the supplement.
The next section of this book provides “Special Rules for the Period” that can be used with Black Powder or in my opinion, with any set of rules for this period. Here you are provided with rules that cover special situations that are specific to this period of warfare. The items discussed here are;
- Moving and Firing
- Platoon Firing
- Pikes, Butts and Bayonets
- Capture the Colors (or Colours)
- Cavalry Charging Infantry
- Elephants (yes Elephants)
- Gun Batteries and Battalion Guns
These rule amendments presented are only suggestions. Players are encouraged to experiment and use what they want and discard what they don’t want. The rules are only suggestions and players should agree on what they will use before the game begins. As I mentioned before, with this open system these “Special Rules” can be adapted to any rules set with minor modifications as long as all players agree.
The last section of the Special Rules introduces “The Army Lists”. Here you are informed that in this book they only cover some of the more popular armies of the eighteenth century. You are also told that the aim of these army lists is to introduce wargamers who may be new to this period and to show them how a typical 18th Century army should look. However, having said that, it should not preclude serious wargamers of this period from picking up this book as they can use it to create balanced armies and play some excellent scenarios.
The next 7 sections of this supplement are devoted to some of the more popular armies of the 18th Century. The armies included here are;
- British Army
- Swedish Army
- Russian Army
- Ottoman Army
- Austrian Army
- French Army
- Highland Army
- Prussian Army
- Colonial European Armies in America
- Native American Armies
- Colonial European Armies in India
- Native Armies of India
As you can see, you are provided with quite a wide selection of armies from which to choose to build your miniature army.
But, this is not the only information in these sections of the supplement. Each of the sections also contains additional background information that compliments and brings to life that period of history. For example, in The War of the Spanish Succession we are given a short history of this historical period and a look at the background of one of the leaders who influenced this time who was John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough.
Following this, you are introduced to the army list you will use to build your miniature army. The information here also provides background information as to the morale and fighting ability of the troops in this period for that army.
After the army list is presented, you are provided with an entertaining account of a battle that was fought using the armies of this period of the 18th century. In this particular section, The Battle of Blenheim is presented and you are told that while it would be nice to fight the entire battle, that it would be difficult to do so due to size restrictions as the armies would require 160 battalions. So, only a section of the battle was selected and the players recreated the fighting that took place in that area. This is one of the most entertaining areas of the book in that you get to see the outcome of the battle and how it was fought by the players.
The battles presented in this supplement are;
- The Battle of Blenheim
- The Battle of Holowczyn
- The Battle of Petovaradin
- The Battle of Fontenoy
- The Battle of Hundorf
- The Battle of Ackia
The last item I want to talk about in this area is the section devoted to “45 Rebellion in Britain”. Here, the author does not present a battle but provides a Campaign for players to enjoy or to use as an outline so that they can create their own Campaigns. In this campaign one player or group of players will take on the role of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites while another player or group of players takes on the role of King George and the Hanoverian generals that fought in the war. There are a number of special tables included in this section to be used with the Campaign. These tables deal with the Royal Navy, Victory Conditions and a Recovery Table. The Campaign is divided into 6 different parts, each of which is its own scenario. The parts are
- Edinburgh and Prestonpans
- The Sieges of Edinburgh and Stirling Cross
- The Invasion of England
- The Decision at Derby
- The Invasion of Scotland
- The Road to Inverness and Culloden Moor
Each of these battles (scenarios) builds upon the preceding battle with its Victory Conditions. How troops perform on your battlefield and how you command them will have an effect on the next battle and the troops that you are able to deploy. The Campaign section expands upon the base game of recreating one battle at a time by making battles dependent upon previous outcomes. It can easily be modified to create other Campaigns that were fought in the 18th Century.
The next section of the supplement details Raids and Invasions. Here you are provided with some historical examples of these types of battles. The last area of this section is “The Expedition to Cherbourg”. Here is another sample game which you can read to see how the game plays. As with the other sample games presented in this book, it makes for excellent reading.
The final sections of the book complement the previous material. The 18th Century Wargame has some excellent photos of a game in progress from Charles S. Grant. Next is the bibliography. Here the wargamer is given a number of books which they can read to learn more on this period. Finally, there are the “Credits”. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is actually a very useful page of the supplement. Here the wargamer not only learns who did what in this supplement but there is a relatively detailed list of companies who produce figures for this period. You are provided with the name, address website url, and an email contact which is sometimes difficult to locate.
For those Black Powder gamers, they will be able to relate to this supplement with no problems at all since they may have already recreated battles with these rules. For wargamers who may be using other rule sets, they should have no problems adapting the suggestion presented in this book to their own rules. The casual reader or history buff who would like to learn more about 18th Century warfare will also find this supplement an excellent read. Black Powder, The Last Argument of King’s is a well written interesting look at the wars, warfare and personalities of this era. It is a supplement that can be highly recommended.
Available from Warlord Games
Amazon.com for $47.00