Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Wherever The Bugles Are Blown...

A bit of a delayed battle report for a The Men Who Would Be Kings game we played at BIG for which  I offered to come up with a scenario not drawn from the rulebook! Santa brought me a copy of Stuart Asquith's Warfare in Egypt and the Sudan for Xmas, so I loosely based the scenario on the Battle of Kirbekan from the Gordon Relief Expedition which is detailed in the book...


I confess it was done a bit on the fly so some things worked better than others... The original battle saw the General Earle split his force, pinning the Mahdists on the Kirkbean heights whilst sending troops to outflank and attack the enemy from the rear. Trying to replicate this was not that easy with a gamer like George who identified the battle from the set up! :-)



Opening attempts to distract the Mahdists with my Indian units and artillery did not start well with the Bengal Lancers getting shot up and Pinned...


...and the 15th Sikhs getting depleted by unerring Mahdist artillery fire!


The bulk of the Imperial force made a forced march off table and turned up on turn 3 on a D6 roll. In retrospect it would probably have been better to refight the battle lengthways down the table to allow the outflanking force to enter far enough away from the Mahdists to deploy together...


This battle saw George employ his Mahdist artillery for the first time, a lovely Perry's model with enslaved Egyptian army crew in chains!


With the appearance of the British behind their positions, the Beja turned to face the threat!


The 1/66th and 2/66th engage the Mahdists behind the heights, whilst the Sikhs seize the opportunity to advance on the remaining enemy in the hills under cover of their own artillery...


The 3/66th and 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders opened fire on their flank Pinning a unit of Beja and Mahdist rifles!


On the other flank though matters took a turn for the worse as the stabby stick guys crashed into the 1/66th and 2/66th...


A couple of turns of melee combat later it was all over...


Meanwhile on the heights the Sikhs, despite suffering 75% casualties, defeat a unit of Mahdist riflemen...


...and take out the enemy cannon! Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!


Having wiped out two units of the 66th, the Beja turn their attention to the Imperial forces in front of the heights, the British artillery protected by a solitary unit of Bazingers...


The Bazingers though surprise the Beja with an unerringly accurate blast of rifle fire! (6's needed to hit).


The nearest Beja unit was almost wiped out!


However there were two more units of fanatical stabby spear armed natives behind them...


By this stage the battlefield had a distinctly lop-sided look, with the Imperial force having secured control of the heights, but with their artillery dangerously exposed and unsupported...


Despite delaying the native hordes for a turn or two, the Bazingers were unable to hold the Beja off...


...and eventually they were defeated. The artillery desperately tried to stop the native advance...



But could not resist the spears of the Beja and were eventually Pinned and then overrun...


Given the lack of scenario preparation the game was quite enjoyable although I would do things differently if we played it again - I think having the table set up length ways would have made for a better game, allowing for the outflanking force to arrive as one and outside of Mahdist charge range. I would also want to replace the cavalry with another unit of infantry, as Bengal Lancers are not really the best troop type to take on native rifles in the hills! :-)

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Rebels and Patriots: North Carolina Militia

Finished my second Rebels & Patriots unit for service down BIG last night - they started well enough before rolling a double one on an activation and then rolling to retreat double move on the 'bad things' table which saw them bugger off from the field of play!


The unit are a Militia unit made of up Perry metals and plastics with a Maverick Models flag. With a  change (or removal) of standard they can be used as Militia for either side of the conflict.


As previously the miniatures were block painted, "dipped" and a few highlights picked out to give that grubby campaign unit that I am looking to achieve...



Thursday, 4 July 2019

Rebels and Patriots: 1st Maryland Continentals

Apologies for the lack of updates, gaming has been going on that I haven't had time to sit down and properly report back on, with the last month seeing us delve into the American Revolution using Rebels and Patriots, which is proving fun.

I'll try and get the reports written and uploaded as soon as I can, but as it is the 4th July I thought I better post a couple of photos of my first fully painted American unit, the 1st Maryland (who were victorious last night).


The miniatures are all Perry plastics and were block painted, dipped and then had some details picked out. You may recall I wanted them to look like they were on campaign not parade, so I have gone for quite a grubby look. I need to add a bit of grub to the flag which I picked up from Maverick Models (well worth checking out).


The unit is currently sixteen strong the idea being to use 12 for R&P and 16 for Sharp Practice (which is popular in Bristol). I have however slightly cocked up the 16 as the command figures should be separate for Sharp, so the plan now is to take them up to 24 (with an eye on Black Powder) so I can split in two for Rebels and have enough for other games.


Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Pikeman's Lament: The First Peninsular War

Well I lasted until the final week of the Warlord Games sprue sale before weakening, but yesterday an order for a pile of Marlburian Infantry sprues went in as each sprue has 12 figures on and costs just £2.50! Don't ask how many I ordered, but free postage is such a temptation! Unlike other ex-Wargames Factory plastics, these aren't as slim and fiddly, the main reason I resisted the AWI sprues...
Warlord Games Malburian Infantry (photo Warlord Games)
The uniforms are pretty generic, so can be painted up as a number of nations, the issue now is which ones... As interesting as Marlborough's campaign is, I have been intrigued by the operations in Portugal and Spain between 1701 and 1710, and there is a book by Nicholas Dorrell coming out at the end of the month (Marlborough’s Other Army: The British Army and the Campaigns of the First Peninsula War, 1702–1712). It looks like it will provide a good overview of all the participants, not just the British (one of the things that interests me is the wide variety of armies who operated in Spain during this campaign).



Rules wise I am looking at Dan Mersey's The Pikeman's Lamentas I have had a copy sat around for a little while now as I had not settled on what war to go for as a starter project (the sprue sale solved that!). Whilst the rules are mainly written with the C17th in mind, they do run through to 1720 so cover the Marlburian period. I also have Donnybrook which I have been re-reading and drawing up plans for...

Not quite sure when I'll start on this, I have to wait for the sprues to arrive, but I can start the planning now units now!

Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch...

Apologies for the delay in recent reports from the North-West Frontier but news of defeat moves much slower than that of victory!

A few weeks back we decided to try the Run to the Hills scenario from The Men Who Would Be Kings. George and I had played this twice previously in the Sudan with the Mahdists taking the role of attacker and defender - and losing on both occasions so I was reasonably confident the thin khaki line would be able to see off the hordes of white robed Pathans as they retreated from Maiwand...


Things started somewhat poorly as the 1/66th and 2/66th, clearly exhausted after the main battle, refused to advance. The Tajik irregulars, 15th Sikh came under fire from a group of Afghan Irregular Infantry, George had managed to get into the cover of the hill, whilst the 3/66th and 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) engaged some Afghans to their front.


Elsewhere on the battlefield the massed Ghazis were moving to take control of the main hill line.


The British advance was pitifully slow, the 92nd Highlanders, 15th Sikhs and Tajiks getting embroiled in a bitter firefight with the Afghans in the hills...


Whose unerringly accurate rifle fire (hitting on 6's) was whittling away the brave Imperials...


...the 2/66th suffering badly as they tried to cross the board.


Whilst one unit of Afghan rifles had been wiped out, the second one was proving to be a determined foe. The Sikhs advanced onto the ridge line and the remaining Highlanders charged in to finish off the pesky natives!


Only to be wiped out in a flurry of bayonet and tulwars!


Elsewhere the 66th were trying to exit the table, but came under fire from another Afghan rifle unit and ahead saw masses of Ghazis in the mountains!


Adopting the maxim of "slow and steady wins the race" the two (largely) full-strength units of the 66th formed Close Order and marched towards safety, keeping an eye fixed on the massed Ghazis!


Further back the Sikhs were still trading fire with the Afghans and gradually losing men. The Tajiks decided that they would not get involved...


Eventually the remaining Sikhs proved victorious, but the two Irregular Afghan units had pinned down and immobilised half the Imperial Army!


Back with the 66th, the Ghazis charged in...


Volley fire wiped out half a Ghazi unit and it failed its Pinning test!


Unfortunately a second unit charged into the flank of the 3/66th, forcing it from the field of combat!


The remaining troops of the 1/66th fought on, sending many a Pathan to Paradise, but the brave Brits were being whittled down...


...until eventually just two stood, standing proud, as the Ghazis charged in and finished what they started at Maiwand!


Another good game of TMWWBK, I have to confess I was possibly a little bit over confident at the start (having won this scenario twice against the Mahdists) and hadn't learned my lessons from previous games of just how effective the Afghan Irregular Infantry fire could be (especially with my unerring ability to fail Pin tests). With two units of them having tied up half my Field Force (and the 92nd Highlanders performed abysmally), I did not have enough firepower to blast through the Ghazis at the end.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Rebels and Patriots: On Afghanistan's Plains...

Last week down BIG George came up with a cunning idea of playing a NWF colonial game using Rebels and Patriots rather than The Men Who Would Be Kings, partly, as we had both concluded the latter was more suited to the 1870's to '90's colonial form of warfare and we both have a hankering to do the Indian Mutiny and First Afghan War, and also just to see how differently they played given their common heritage.

For the British I went with three units of Light Infantry, upgraded to Good Shooters and Aggressive and a unit of Light Cavalry upgraded to Veteran, Good Shooters and Aggressive. For his Afghans George split his force between Skirmishers and Natives beefed up into Large units (18 figures from 12).

We picked the It's Awfully Quiet Out There... scenario from Kings but both had 36 point forces.


As it was more a test of the rules than anything else I didn't take as many photos as normal. My battle plan was to try and get my force into the near right corner and then shoot the advancing Afghans down.

The first thing we noticed was that Rebels was not as bloody as Kings as you need to roll more hits to inflict a casualty.

In the picture below the British would need to roll one hit to kill an Afghan in Kings, whereas in Rebels it was three (standard two plus one as Skirmishers count Open Ground as Cover).


This made a huge difference to play as the British were less susceptible to losing one man and getting Pinned (effectively neutralising them for at least one turn) as with Kings. In Rebels Pinning is replaced with Disorder and whilst similar it does allow a unit with one Disorder maker to take action even if not as effectively as when not Disordered.

Having a unit of Light Cavalry I decided to be a bit reckless with them to see how cavalry work in the  game and how effective they were. Initially I tried to Charge a unit of Skirmishers but they used the Evade rule and moved out of range having managed to loose a round of gunfire at my Cavalry killing one.

George then charged them with a Large unit of Natives only to be beaten back with both units ending up as Disordered.


It took a little while to get used to the differences in the rules as we kept checking the rulebook to make sure we were playing the right game!


George quickly got a grip on some of the changes, concentrating his fire on one of my Light Infantry and reducing it below 50% and thus giving it a permanent Disorder marker.


We didn't have time to finish the game to its final and bloody conclusion but given the numbers of Afghans left on the table I think the outcome for the British was an inevitable defeat...


As a test I think we both found it to be an enjoyable game, very different from The Men Who Would Be Kings despite their common heritage, and for Colonial games prior to 1860 probably a better choice.

I'm looking forward to playing Rebels and Patriots again so must get on with painting my AWI Americans...