Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Till the Watchful Bugles Play...

A belated report from the Sudan and another The Men Who Would Be Kings battle fought against George and his Mahdists down at BIG on Wednesday. We decided to try the first scenario we played in August, 'It's Awfully Quiet Out There...', now we had a better grasp of the rules.

As we both have bigger Field Forces we increased the scenario points values from 24 Native and 18 Imperial to 36 and 27, this allowed me to pick three units of British Regulars, one of Fierce Sikhs and  one of Unenthusiastic Bazingers. We also decided to use the terrain rules from Saga as TMWWBK is somewhat vague on this score and George placed a couple of hills on the table that broke line of sight. Wanting clear fields of fire I decided not to place any terrain.

The scenario required me to deploy my Field Force out in column in the centre of the board first before George deploys his natives...


The Mahdists then had the first move and used the cover provided by the hills to get close in...


I decided my best course of action was to get my troops into the open desert, form Close Order and try and blow the Fierce Tribesmen with the sharp pointy sticks away before they got too close. My Bazingers would engage one of the two Irregular Infantry units George had deployed along the flanks.

No plan survives contact with the enemy, this plan didn't survive not getting contacted by the enemy!


Whilst three units moved, the Regular Infantry nearest the enemy refused to budge, as did the Bazingers meaning the Regulars on the far side exposed to the Mahdist rifles resulting with them being Pinned next turn.

The Beja then charged into the Regulars who had refused to move killing 3/4 of them in a frenzy of stabby sticks and then Pinning them.


Next turn they finished the Regulars off and the Irregular Rifles started picking off Sikhs and other Regulars. The Sikhs did manage to form Close Order and avoid being Pinned. The Unenthusiastic Bazingers decided to get involved and engaged the Rifles but did not manage to Pin them.


The Beja on the far side began to close in and whilst I managed to unpin the Regulars, the close proximity of the sharp stabby sticks meant I was faced with a choice of Firing or trying to form Close Order (which would have restricted the arc of fire for the unit in the middle).

The Regulars opened fire killing a number of Beja and pinning one unit who were just an inch from charging into contact...


On the nearside the Beja charged the Close Order Sikhs. In a brutal round of hand to hand combat the Sikhs almost wiped out the Beja but suffered several casualties themselves reducing them below the number required for Close Order. Something of a Phyrric victory given the number of casualties and the proximity of the surviving Sikhs to the remaining Beja....


George decided to give them a stay of execution charging his other Beja into the two remaining Regular units, wiping one out and inflicting a number of casualties on the other.


He then polished off the Sikhs before the Bazingers had their moment of glory almost wiping out one of the Beja units with their rifle fire...


...but their position was not good with the remaining Beja advancing on them and the sole surviving British soldier.


The Beja charged the Bazingers killing 2/3 and Pinning the survivors...


...before finishing off the last British soldier.


Another charge saw the Bazinger leader end as the sole remaining soldier from the Imperial Field Force before the Mahdists took him out with a final flurry of stabby pointy sticks.


All in all a pretty disastrous evening with little, if any, plus points. The scenario is pretty unforgiving and the failure of a number of units to obey Orders or survive Pinning tests made the situation pretty dire from the beginning. That said as a classic Ambush game it was pretty much spot on with the Imperials being surprised and unable to react effectively.

We do need to sort out the terrain issue. The rules are deliberately vague but given the importance to both sides we need to come up with some solution as terrain, or the lack of it, can offer major advantages to either side (like the hills blocking firing lines in this game). Whilst I suggested it I don't think the Saga terrain generation rules are necessarily the answer and George has dug out a copy of Principles of War that has rules we can look at using next time.


Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Go To Your Gawd Like a Soldier...

Due to prior commitments George and I scheduled a Tuesday night game of The Men Who Would Be Kings at BIG and I suggested we play the Get Off My Land scenario in which the British have to temporarily occupy six sites on table. As we were playing with 36 point forces we increased the number of sites to eight.

I had read on the The Men Who Would Be Kings Forum that this was a hard battle to win and so it proved...

Initial set-up was as below, the British entering from one table edge and the Mahdists deploying any non-Tribal units, in this case George's two units of Irregular Infantry (the dreaded "snipers").


My cunning plan was to have two units of Regulars fire at the Mahdist riflemen, Pin them and have the remaining units move swiftly on the objectives. Unfortunately my bad dice rolling returned and I only killed two natives in each unit and failed to Pin either.


They returned fire killing two Bazingers and a Bengal Lancer. Both these units survived a Pin test.

Turn two saw George deploy his hidden Beja Tribal units. In the scenario they could appear in pre-noted areas of the table but not within a speed value of an enemy unit (for Tribal Infantry this is eight inches).


Suddenly the thin khaki line was faced with six units of Fierce Tribal Infantry with stabby pointy sticks! Gulp...


For the first turn of their arrival the Tribal Infantry could not take any addition actions so I had the chance to riddle them with rifle fire and hopefully Pin them.

All my units opened fire on the Beja with very limited effectiveness. One Regular Infantry unit looking for 5's or 6's for kills rolled six 1's three 2's, one 3 and just two 5's!


Out of the six Beja units (all of whom were within potential Charge range next turn) I only managed to Pin one.

The next turn George's Beja charged in forcing one unit of Regular infantry to retreat off the table...


...before destroying the Bazingers and then the Bengal Lancers!

Rifle fire from the Mahdist Irregular Infantry then Pinned the remaining two British Regular units leaving the Sikhs as the only Imperial unit able to fire.


I managed to Rally one unit of Regulars but they had two units of Beja bearing down on them...


One of which Charged into contact and forced them off the table. The other Regular unit failed its Pin test for seeing a friendly unit within 12 inches destroyed and was now on -2 (the Pin markers looked nice I thought!)


Elsewhere the Fierce Sikhs formed Close Order and despite taking some casualties to rifle fire managed to destroy a unit of Beja who charged them. Unfortunately though the stabby sticks killed enough Sikhs to take the unit strength under six and force them out of Close Order.


The Pinned Regulars were charged by another unit of Beja...



...and suffered seven casualties. Surprisingly they Rallied next turn despite being on -3. Not that it was going to do them any good with lots of Fierce Beja with stabby pointy sticks bearing down on them!



Next turn they were wiped out and the Sikhs failed their Pin test after seeing this. The Beja charged in on them...


...and wiped them out to a man!

Disaster in the desert! To be honest I can't see there is a lot that I could have done to win the scenario given the fact that the Tribal Infantry can deploy within Charge range on Turn two. You'd have to be very fortunate with your dice rolling to pin them all.

Possibly I could have put the Regulars into Close Order on turn one but that would have meant them only being able to move just four inches a turn in  game I needed to get to the objectives all over the board and in other games I'd seen the Mahdist rifles quite capable of breaking a Close Order unit through Pinning, so I am not sure that would have worked.

We both agreed that the scenario was weighed heavily towards the Tribal units (to the extent Geogre did ask me several times did I really want to play this particular scenario!) and this reinforced what I had read on the Forum. Thinking about it the scenario might work better of the Tribal infantry appeared from a table edge on a Command roll like in the A Sigh of Relief scenario, all the Tribal units appearing so close to their opponent on turn two seems to unbalance the game.

In the scenario description the placing of the objectives is a bit vague and I could have placed half on my baseline right next to a unit with they could have temporarily occupied on turn one. I didn't think that was what the author intended so didn't do that.

This all said, despite the fact it was clearly only going to end one way (especially given the way my dice were performing), it was still a fun game and George and I are now hunting down old colonial wargame scenarios on the internet to use in addition to those in the rulebook.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Who Would Not Sleep with the Brave?

Last night at BIG we had another crack at the Run to the Hills! scenario from The Men Who Would Be Kings. Once again we employed 36 point Field Forces, but flipped the attacker and defender so this time it was the brave Sons of Empire trying to retreat across the board, faced by the hordes of Madhi George...  As Matt Houghton had expressed an interest in the game I split the Imperial force into two, Matt taking command of the three British Regular Infantry with me taking the Sikhs, Lancers and Bazingers...

The scenario dictates that the defender (the Imperial forces in this scenario) deploy first along the short table edge. It was then with much trepidation we watched the Mahdist horde appear en masse on one flank!


With the weaker elements of the Imperial force (the Bazingers and Lancers) closest to the Mahdists I thought some prompt At The Double actions to get away were the order of the day. Unfortunately on turn two, the Lancers decided not to move, presenting their flank to a unit of Beja armed with stabby pointy sticks... Gulp!


Fortunately for the lackadaisical lancers, the Beja refused orders to attack!

Elsewhere though George's (nicely painted) natives moved across the desert with worrying speeds towards the badly deployed Imperial force!



Turn three saw the Lancers and Bazingers get their act into gear and into relative safety behind the lines of brave Khaki clad Englishmen and Sikhs...



With the Madhists getting closer, Matt ordered two of his Regular Infantry units into Close Order... 


A crashing round of Volley Fire took out almost half of one of the advancing Beja units with their pointy stabby sticks and pinned them...


Further up the table, another unit of Beja were blasted by British Regulars and the Bengal Lancers then swooped into the finish off the remnants! This saw a neighbouring unit of Beja, under fire from the Sikhs, become pinned as well. However two nearby units of Mahdists shrugged off the sight of their comrades being skewered...



George's Irregular Infantry started to make their presence felt at this point, killing half the remaining lancers and a number of the Regulars, pinning them and forcing them out of Close Order! The Beja Tribal Infantry then swooped in for the kill!!! 

Advancing At the Double they had a move of 8 plus 1d6 inches. The pinned Regulars were just 10 inches away.... Gulp!



George rolled a 1 and the Beja failed to make contact! Phew...

Further up the boards another Beja unit was in Attack distance of four Imperial units, the Close Order Regulars, the Sikhs, the Bazingers and the remaining Lancers. George decided to get his pointy stabby stick armed killing machines in on the greatest threat, the Regulars and the Beja charged into contact!

Unfortunately George had forgotten that being in Close Combat restricts the number of his unit that can attack, so instead of being 16 v 12, it became a straight roll off of 12 v 12, both sides needing 4 or higher for kills!.

George's dice then betrayed him giving him only 2 kills, whilst Matt killed 6 of the Beja, pushing them back...

This, and the failure of the other Beja to charge in to the pinned Regulars, was the key point of the game and from then on it was pretty much downhill for Madhi George...



The Sikhs and Bazingers then opened fire on the survivors wiping the remainder of the Beja out...



The last of the Bengal Lancers fell to "sniper" fire from the Irregular Infantry on the hill but elsewhere the unit of Beja who had failed to charge into contact found themselves decimated by the rifles of the Skihs and Regulars,



Another unlucky dice roll by George saw his pinned Irregular Infantry on the hill flee after a badly failed Rally test and the Sikhs and Regulars took down one of the last two Beja groups.



The Bazingers then got involved with the last unit of Beja Tribal Infantry shooting down a few before being engaged in hand to hand combat. Whilst they lost this and suffered seven casualties, they had over two turns managed to reduce the Beja to 50%...



Elsewhere on the board the Sikhs and Regulars rolled up the few remaining Mahdists they faced, the last Irregulars eventually failing a Rally test and routing...


Finally the other Close Order Regulars took out six of the last Beja, leaving the honour of the coup de grace to the Bazingers who shot down the last two Mahdists!


Another crushing victory for the Imperial forces in the Sudan, but a much closer battle than the previous one and one that could have easily gone very differently if George had been blessed with a couple of slightly better dice rolls and not charged to Close Order infantry at a key point of the battle (taking out the final two Lancers would have made three Imperial units take pinning tests and opened them up to the possibility of being massacred with pointy stabby sticks in the next turn).

Once again much fun was had and I think George might be buying some new dice for next week...


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

North-West Frontier: 15th Ludhiana Sikhs (or Punjab Frontier Force)

To add a bit of variety to my The Men Who Would Be Kings British Field Force I bought a couple of packs of Sikhs from the Perry Miniatures Sudan range, useful in that they are wearing uniforms that do for both the North-West Frontier and Sudan.


The initial plan was that I would paint them up as the 15th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry (Ludhiana Sikhs) who fought in both the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War and Sudan. However it appears that for the former they still wore their red/yellow coloured turban and blue trousers, well at least for the early part of the war.

After a few minutes pondering the kind of issues that send wargamers mad I decided in the end that I would paint them in the full drab (khaki) uniform worn in the Sudan and if anyone has a problem with them being the 15th on the NWF then they will become one of the all drab uniformed Sikh regiments of the Punjab Field Force instead!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: British Pinned Markers

In our games of The Men Who Would Be Kings George and I have been using dice as 'Pinned' markers, but with numbers of dice being thrown it is a concern they might get knocked over, so I decided to make up some Pinned markers using Old Glory British infantry dead and MDF dials from BSD Hobbies.


Quite pleased with how these turned out... Hopefully they won't get much use! :-)

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Middle-Earth: Orc Kit-bashing

The newly revamped Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game has caused a flurry of activity down BIG, with people dusting off armies, or in one case unearthing more troops than Sauron had at the Black Gate!!

I have a pile of plastic, largely still on the sprues, collected over the years so decided time has come to stick some of it together and slap some paint on. Of course I like to tinker and disappointed with the limited one piece poses for the GW Mordor Orcs, decided to see if I could do some kit-bashing by combining them with the Oathmark Goblins which are a pretty good size fit.

The guys have started with Battle Companies, so for Mordor this meant I only need three with shield, two with spear, two with two-handed weapon and two with bows to start, but I was having such fun I chopping them up and gluing them up, that I made up a few more.


Orc Captain with axe & shield and Orc Standard Bearer...


Orcs with sword and shield...


Orcs with spear and shield...


Orcs with two-handed weapons...


Orcs with bows...


Uruk-hai with hand weapons