Sunday, 24 March 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Nischay Kar Apni Jeet Karon...

After the previous debacle against the rebellious Afghans under the command of Amir George Khan, the Imperial forces of the Queen returned to give the natives a damned good thrashing.

Unfortunately nobody told the natives, or my dice...

We decided to play the Take the High Road scenario from The Men Who Would Be Kings, George having 36 points of Afghans, me 27 points of British regulars, Sikh regulars and Tajik Irregulars. I had to deploy in the centre of the table and stop the Afghans from capturing the objective (the building).


My cunning plan was to fall back towards my table edge and put a couple of units in the hills to make use of the soft cover against the advancing horde.

Unfortunately from turn one things started to unravel as the 3/66th and the Tajiks refused orders to fall back!


The 3/66th soon found themselves taking casualties from the Afghan Irregular Infantry rifles but despite this refused once again to retire. The Tajiks woke up to the threat and retreated At The Double to the safety of the building!


The 1/66th and 15th Sikhs fell back in good order, taking position in the Soft Cover of the hills (this would mean George has to roll an additional hit to cause a casualty) whilst the Tajiks retired to the building to occupy it (and secure 5 VP).


The 3/66th were soon to pay for their stubborn refusal to retreat when faced with a horde of screaming Afghans as a unit of Ghazis charged them...


...and almost wiped them out in one turn of hand to hand combat!


The 1/66th in the hills soon came under fire from three units of Irregular Infantry and despite needing three hits to inflict a casualty they soon started to lose numbers and failed a Pin test!


Soon they were down to half strength and although their Sikh allies were still at 100% there were a LOT of Afghans advancing towards them!


The 2/66th  made an elementary error of getting in range of another unit of Irregular rifles and taking two casualties failed a Pin test.


This was to prove critical as they kept successfully Rallying in my turn, only to lose another man or two nd get Pinned again in George's turn (my dice rolling was atrocious on Pinning tests, the irony being if I had failed a Rally test I would have moved back 3 inches out of range!). George thought it was funny...

With the 1/66th now down to 1/3 strength I decided to pull them back to the building and use the full strength Tajik Irregular Infantry to try and help stem the Afghan tide...


This met with some initial success as the Tajik's pinned one unit of Irregular Afghans who attempted to outflank the 15th Sikhs...


Elsewhere the 2/66th had a stroke of 'luck' as their officer was killed and they failed a Rally test, moving back out of range of the Afghan rifles. Unfortunately they were down to 1/4 strength now.


Amir George Khan decided the time was right to finish things off and launched a unit of Ghazis at the 15th Sikhs.


A flurry of steel saw one Afghan fall and two Sikhs! The 15th were forced back and then.... failed a Pin test! :-(


Amir George Khan licked his lips as Pinned units can only fight at half strength. He launched another unit of Ghazis in on the Sikhs, expecting a bloodbath!


However with a cry of "Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal!" the Pinned Sikhs beat the Ghazis back and Pinned the Afghan fanatics!


However they lost half their strength in the process...

Another unit of Ghazis changed in...


And they were beaten back and Pinned! However the 15th were down to two men now...


The three rifles of the 2/66th, who had been making a pest of themselves shooting Ghazis on their flank, fell to repeated Afghan rifle fire and with Afghans closing in on the building I decided to concede the field to the enemy...



My cunning plan fell to pieces at the start with 1/4 of my army refusing to fall back in an orderly fashion and thus surrendering a lot of useful firepower. My error in getting the 2/66th too close to the cover that allowed the Afghans to snipe me from the tall grass didn't help either. 

On the plus side the 15th Sikhs kicked ass in hand to hand combat!

Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: The Piper's Lament

Apologies for the tardiness of these reports from recent battles in Afghanistan but real world stuff keeps getting in the way, but some interesting battles have been fought and lost so I will do my best to report back over the next day or so...

Having decided to decamp from the Sudan to Afghanistan for a few games of The Men Who Would Be Kings, I dug out some near twenty year old mountainous terrain (originally used at Salute for an Aeronef game in, IIRC, 2001) and decided to use it all to give the game a different feel to the games we'd been fighting in the deserts of the Sudan.

I didn't really think the implications of giving the Afghans all that cover through did I? :-)

We decided to try the It's Awfully Quiet Out Here scenario with 27 points of Brits and Tajik mercenary allies are ambushed by 36 points of gun totting Afghans.


I decided the hill in front of the 1/66th was going to cause me a problem in restricting my field of fire and potentially providing cover for the Afghans so I quickly occupied it. Unfortunately elsewhere attempts to be proactive and aggressive with the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) came to naught as they refused to move.


With Afghans to the sides and front I opened fire on two units of Irregular Infantry and despite needing three hits to cause a casualty on 5 or 6 (as long range and in soft cover) I managed to cause a casualty to each a Pin one.


Meanwhile the Tajik mercenary guides (Poor Irregular Infantry) started exchanging pot shots with some Afghan Irregulars in the hills...


With his Irregular Infantry sniping from the ridges in the flanks, Amir George Khan decided to launch his Ghazis at the 66th clearly confident based on his experiences with the stabby Mahdist guys in earlier games...

The 3/66th started firing at the advancing Tribal Infantry causing a couple of casualties at long range.


Whilst on the other flank George decided to bring two units in on the 1/66th defending the hill.


On unit of Ghazis charged in...


But where beaten back by the sharp bayonets of the 1/66th. Unlike the Mahdists these guys were not Fanatics so not quite as stabby in hand to hand combat!

George then resorted to his time honoured tactic of trying to Pin a unit with missile fire before charging in and his snipers in the hills (and my failed Pin test) saw the 1/66th Pinned and at the mercy of another charging unit of Ghazis...



The Afghans took the hill forcing the 1/66th back but...



...came under fire from the 2/66th and were Pinned and then Routed after failing a Rally test.

British success here was not mirrored at the top of the board with the Tajiki having lost their hill and the 92nd getting themselves Pinned by rifle fire.



The Routing of the Ghazi unit did offer some respite as two Irregular Infantry units managed to Pin themselves having seen their brothers flee the battlefield, but this respite was short lived.



Amir George Khan realised that whilst his Ghazis had been largely ineffective, his rifles in the hills were gradually eroding the British strength and suffering few casualties themselves as they had the benefit of being in long range and soft cover.



Soon the rifle fire began to tell with the 92nd reduced to just the piper and all the other units down to under half strength. Could they last out to the end of the game and possibly secure a narrow points victory?



The short answer was no, with two turns left this was all that remained of the ambush British force, two well understrength Pinned units....



The final turn seeing the lone piper Pinned in the Afghan hills playing a lament as the natives closed in around...



Despite losing this was quite a fun game and at one point (as the Ghazis bounced off in a way the Mahdists don't) I thought I might be able to secure an Imperial victory, but the persistent rifle fire from the hills was the killer.

In retrospect I should have persisted with my original plan which was to advance on one of the enemy flanks, clear it and then force the remainder of the enemy into the open to engage my troops with my longer rifle range hopefully causing them a headache. The 92nd refusing to obey orders on turn one and the tempting hill on the other flank caused me to forget by turn two!

The Afghans are an interesting foe compared to the Mahdists, not as hard in hand to hand combat (George has not upgraded them to Fanatic) but having a lot of rifles, even if not as good as the ones Regulars have, does have distinct benefits if you can use them from cover.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Cruel Seas: Heroics and Ros Fairmile D's

With plans to give Cruel Seas another spin on Wednesday I spent this morning sticking my two Heroics and Ros Fairmile D's together (and my fingers!).


Whilst they are not quite as detailed as the Warlord model they are a fraction of the price and look like they'll provide some useful firepower to support the smaller Vospers (Warlord Vosper model for comparison).

In the rulebook it states that they chose 1/300th so the boats could have visible crews and then the plastic models come without them. Whilst Warlord have now released separate crew figures I picked up a few Heroics British infantry command and artillery figure strips to crew my boats. The Fairmile's above are crewed (honest) and hopefully the sailors will provide a splash of colour and life to the boats when I get around to painting them...

Saturday, 23 February 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: The Khandahar Field Force Exercises

A couple of weeks back George managed to arrived at BIG sans his natives. Fortunately I have amassed over 48 points of Imperial troops for The Men Who Would Be Kings, so as a bit of fun we decided to try out the game with two 24 point forces just to see how Regulars would fare against Regulars (with half an eye on Rebels and Patriots). For onlookers the sight of Brits v Brits was passed off as the Khandahar Field Force undertaking exercises!

First off we decided to run the Take The High Road scenario. We've played this previously with the defenders winning in two occasions and the attacker once. This time George was the attacker and I have to confess I had a wry smile as he found ordering his Regulars to move to be as much a chore as I have (especially those pesky Highlanders!).


He took the cannon in his 24 points and proceeded to blast away at my defending force on the hill line. However as his troops advanced across the dusty Khandahar plain my troops proceeded to punch huge holes in his force, quickly destroying it. The game was over rather quickly and to be honest and demonstrated when not outnumbered Regular troops firing were very potent.

As that scenario did not last very long we then decided to try the Seek and Destroy scenario again which has proven to provide a close run game and did once again.


With his cannon pounding away at the village buildings I was loathe to keep any troops in them for any length of time as once a building takes 10 hits in the rules, it collapses taking out any unit inside with it.

My reinforcements largely obeyed orders to get up the table and support their comrades in the village the game swung back and forth and following the allotted 12 turns we totalled up the Objective Points to find my defenders has won by 10 points to 9.

Whilst we will normally be playing Regulars versus Natives our Field Force games did go to show that the rule system can provide a fun game even with atypical forces like we played with here - though advancing into a line of Martini-Henry fire is not recommended...

Sunday, 10 February 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Isandhlwana - the Refight

So following our recreation of the heroic defence of Rorke's Drift on the 140th anniversary (plus one day) we rolled up at BIG the following Sunday for an all day refight of Isandhlwana!

Using The Men Who Would Be Kings again, we upped the force levels to 48 points and decided to use the Zulu regeneration rules that had worked well enough during the Rorke's Drift battle.

The 'Horns of the Buffalo' looked very intimidating to the thin red (and undercoat white) line...


I decided to try and get into stabby hand-to-hand combat as quickly as possible and advance At The Double, but some of my units were not too keen, notably on the left flank...


And those that advanced soon found themselves under fire by the 24th and George's Irregular Cavalry...


The attack on the left flank had turned into a bit of a mess with units getting Pinned.


Meanwhile the right flank was advancing more successfully...


...but the cannon fire and rifles of the 24th cut down many brave Zulu warriors!



On the left one unit managed to get in stabby assegai range...


...as did one on the right!


But both were repelled by the sharp bayonets of the 24th!


The Zulus drew breath and charged in again!


And managed to overrun the cannon which had been causing havoc in the Zulu ranks!


Whilst the left and right flanks of the Zulu attack had been badly whittled down by the accurate fire of the 24th (although the Zulu rifles Pinned the Natal Native Contingent after one round of fire), the "loins" in the centre were now in a position to bring numbers to bear...


...crashing into one of the units of the 24th in the centre...


...and pushing it back and Pinning it after inflicting six casualties!


Next turn more Zulus rushed in on the Pinned survivors...


...and wiped them out!

Suddenly the British line was split into two parts as the Zulus poured through the centre.


The battlefield was looking a lot emptier than when we started!


The Zulu rifles skirmished forward and managed to inflict two casualties on a unit of the 24th who then failed a Pin test (this made me smile as George's Mahdists do this to me all the time!)


This allowed a unit of Zulus to charge into the Pinned unit and inflict eight casualties!


On the left the Zulus charged in again...


...winning a round of hand to hand combat three to two!


The British defence was now badly compromised and the NNC kept failing Rally tests...


...before bottling it and running off completely without doing anything in the game!

Fortunately for George this didn't affect the remaining British who passed their Pinning tests...


...not that it made much difference for the two survivors of one unit who went down under a flurry of assegais!


As the battle entered its final phase, George had just two full units of the 24th left, the remnants of two others and his Irregular Cavalry....


The Zulus charged in on the right...


...and managed to kill nine of the British, Pinning the survivors, who went down next turn.


On the left the remaining full strength unit of the 24th faced another round of hand to hand combat against the Zulus...



... and forced them back following a drawn round of combat!

However by now it was just a numbers game and more Zulus charged in reducing the unit by another three...


Leaving just six brave soldiers facing the remaining Zulus...


...who killed another three and Pinned them.


Now it was just a case of mopping up the remnants of the British Army for the Zulus....


And one small group...


... after another fell to the might of the amaZulu!


George's Irregular Cavalry decided to retire from the battlefield, leaving it to the remnants of the Zulu army! (it is worth comparing this shot to the opening one of the game...)


So, as happened historically, Isandhlwana was a mighty Zulu victory, but not one without losing a lot of Zulu warriors.

This was the casualty table at the end of the game and doesn't show the units originally wiped out that were regenerated!


Overall this was a lot of fun to play and showed that despite being designed for smaller games, The Men Who Would Be Kings is a robust set of rules than can handle larger battles outside its remit with ease and, as both battles have shown, gives a decent historical result (and is just six quid currently in the Osprey sale!)