April 20, 2024

#UnboxingDay ~ Riding with Blackhorse from Tiny Battle Publishing

RockyMountainNavy, 21 December 2023

Blackhorse is the latest boxed wargame to drop from American publisher Tiny Battle Publishing. The title refers to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (Blackhorse) that was stationed in the Fulda Gap during the Cold War. Blackhorse is “grand tactical game” depicting the battle for the Gap at the company level.

Blackhorse ships in a 9.25″ x 12.25″ x 1.5″ box that for once uses a portrait orientation for the box layout. As others have commented, I too find the cover art selection of Soviet equipment a bit curious for a game named after the U.S. 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

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Where’s the cavalry? (photo by RMN) (click image to enlarge)


Blackhorse was not a game on my radar before it popped up for sale, so I was forced to rely on the ad copy to understand what the game is about. The back of the box blurb was helpful but I also discovered I really miss the small graphics many game companies use for scale or complexity or solitaire suitability and the like.


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Game info is there you just have to read it… (photo by RMN)


When I think Tiny Battle Publishing I think folio games (and even print-n-play) and the overall contents of Blackhorse seems highly suited for that packaging approach. The only part that doesn’t fit in a sleeve would be the d10. Still, I appreciate the box because I plan on using my Dollar Tree containers to organize the counters and the 1.5″ deep box should still close cleanly. I also was happy to see the box wrap clinging well, unlike my copy of Hill of Death: Champion Hill (2022) that barely hangs on.


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Good box wrap and d10 is welcome (photo by RMN)


The contents of Blackhorse are, frankly, less than I expected. Designer Arrigo Velicogna in the Designer’s Notes says he wanted to design a small game. Well, the map is a half-sheet laying out at 22″ x 17″ with four player aids and three countersheets with 264 counters total. Success?


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Smaller on the inside… (photo by RMN)


The rule book for Blackhorse is 40 pages of which about 25 are rules and the balance scenarios and Designer’s Notes. Alas, the rule book really needs a consistent style guide and another pass by disciplined proofreaders. It’s not unusable but the technical editor in me is simply annoyed by some of the issues. A few are shown below.


The text on the counters for Blackhorse can also go right up to the edges. I am not going to round my counter corners because I am concerned about cutting off data. Fortunately, the counters do not attach to the sprue at the corners but along the edges; to avoid “edge tufts” I used my circular cutter to make cleaner edges.


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Soviets are quite edgy… (photo by RMN)


Overall, I consider the component quality of Blackhorse as “Good” but in some ways “underwhelming.” That said, my early read of the rules and first exploratory plays are exciting me as I learn more about the “innovative system emphasizing friction and the importance of command and control.”


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