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

Thursday 13 September 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: The Sand of the Desert is Sodden Red

Our correspondent is happy to report the wondrous news that the Dervish has been defeated and the British Army stands proud victor in the deserts of the Sudan!

Tonight at BIG George and I decided to try the Run to the Hills! scenario from The Men Who Would Be Kings with 36 point Field Forces. Set after a big battle, the defeated defender must retreat across the table length, with the attacker trying to stop them. George and his Mahdists were the defender in this game and had to set up along the short length of the board. I then had to deploy half my force in one half of the board, the remainder in the other half. As you can see I set up my machine gun, Bengal Lancers and Bazingers in the half nearest the Mahdists with three units of Regular Infantry behind them.

Given my previous experiences of Bengal Lancers versus Beja Veteran Tribal Infantry with sharp pointy sticks, I quickly pulled them back to use as a reserve later in the game. The Bazingers, led by a leader with a Destined For Greatness trait, took aim at the advancing enemy!

The Bazingers opened fire killing three of the advancing Beja and pinning them. The Bazingers were then able, due to their leader, try and move, and having successfully rolled fell back six inches in good order!

Elsewhere the Regulars started to move into position. The 1/66th formed into Close Order behind the Bazingers (the d4 is used to indicate they are in Close Order), whilst the 3/66th moved up on the right. The 2/66th decided not to move, which was a pain as their leader had rolled up a Short Sighted trait and so the unit would only fire at short range!

The Bazingers were having a great time firing and falling back, managing to rout a unit of pinned Beja who failed a rally test rolling 2 on 2D6.

The Bazingers then retired behind the 1/66th, who stood in Close Order poised to unleash volleys of disciplined rifle fire on the advancing Mahdists!

Elsewhere the 2/66th decided to move up and with the 3/66th opened fire on the flank of the Beja, causing a number of casualties...

Once again the pesky Mahdist Irregular Riflemen caused me problems! Two units needing sixes to hit killed five of the 3/66th, pinning them. The Bengal Lancers then began to launch a flanking move to strike the enemy from behind.

The 3/66th rallied next turn but the a unit of Beja Tribal Infantry charged them killing five more, forcing them back and pinning them again.

However this left the Beja exposed to the machine gun which had been painfully dragged into the centre of the table and between it and the 2/66th, the Tribal Infantry unit was destroyed.

Meanwhile the 1/66th were standing firm in Close Order, unleashing volleys at the enemy as they attempted to charge them. 

The Gods of Dice did not favour George tonight, he failed a lot of order rolls and lost another Beja unit with a rally test scoring 2 or less. His Irregular Rifles continued to be a pest, killing five of the 2/66th but failing to pin them. The Bazingers then decided to rejoin the fray, climbing up the steep hill in the middle of the battlefield.

Their fire, combined with that from the 2/66th inflicted a number of casualties on the Madhist Rifles, pinning them. The next turn they rolled 2 on their rally test and routed. Elsewhere the machine-gun started inflicting casualties on the other rifle unit, pinning them, but not before they had killed two of the Bengal Lancers as they foolishly rode within range of the Mahdist rifles.

On the left flank the 1/66th continued to fire volleys at the enemy, pinning them and then advancing before launching another round of withering fire wiping them out.

Finally the Bengal Lancers charged in on the two remaining Mahdist Riflemen, killing them and securing an important victory in the desert of the Sudan for Her Majesty!

Another fun game and one that was probably more difficult for the defender, especially if they were a Tribal force (it would be interesting to play this with the Imperial force attempting to retreat across the table). 

George was desperately unlucky with his dice rolling tonight, units refusing to move At The Double at crucial times preventing him getting into melee and three units failing Rally tests so badly they routed. My Bazingers benefitted with their leader having the Destined For Greatness trait, without it I could not have had them fire and fall back, which they managed to do three out of four times. The bad leadership traits I rolled up for the Leaders of the Regulars and the machine-gun (Cad, Short Sighted, Inexperienced and Brutal), did not really come into play so I wasn't majorly disadvantaged by them this week.

No game next week as my son Saul is playing his first gig with his band at The Thunderbolt so I will be there, but we should be back in the Sudan in a fortnight by when I hope to have painted up some Highlanders (and maybe some tough bearded types in turbans...).

Wednesday 12 September 2018

The Sudan: Bazingers!

Having said I would not be raising specific Sudan theatre forces for The Men Who Would Be Kings, but instead would raise North-West Frontier units that could double up as Imperial units that fought in the Sudan (if you didn't look too closely), you might have noticed in last week's battle report my army contained a unit of undercoated Perry Miniatures Bazingers...

It was all eBay's fault! I'd been looking at various Sudan wargames on the net and was somewhat interested by the Egyptian army, then, lo and behold, there were two packs of irregular Bazingers going cheap on eBay and before I knew it I had won the auction.

They are now painted, and I must say a wonderful bunch of ne'er do well characters they are. For the time being they will be attached to the British army as local allies and I have no immediate plans to raise an Egyptian army for TMWWBK, and I'm staying well away from eBay!

Monday 10 September 2018

Zulu War: Resurrecting the Impi...

All these The Men That Would Be Kings games have led to both George and I looking at conflicts beyond the Sudan we may have figures for, hiding in Lead and Plastic Mountain... For me this means  the French in Dahomey, the Maximillian Affair and, of course, the Zulu War.

The latter is next on the agenda as George has a box of Perry Miniatures British Infantry and I have rather a lot of sprues of Warlord's Zulus bought a few years back for (stalled) project based around David Bickley's Washing The Spears rules.

Over the weekend I dug out my boxes of Zulus and put some thought to using them in TMWWBK but still keeping them useable for Washing The Spears. To this end I have decided that I will form them into 32 man regiments for Washing The Spears and then split the regiments in two to make 16 man Tribal Infantry units for TMWWBK. As the latter requires casualty removal I will mounting the models individually and using sabot bases (yes, the approach I discarded four years ago and now have 60 painted Zulus on 80x40mm bases!).

So, after a couple of evenings of snipping and gluing I have now stuck together three Washing The Spears regiments of Zulus, which gives me six TMWWBK Tribal Infantry units, a 24 point Field Force (or should we call that a 24 point Impi?)

Unlike my Sudan/NWF British infantry, I have mounted the Zulus on one pence pieces as, having seem George do this with his Mahdists, it gives the Tribal Infantry more of a massed effect. I just need to buy some sabot bases from Warbases now and dig out that can of brown spray paint...

Thursday 6 September 2018

The Men Who Would Be Kings: Walk Wide o’ the Widow at Windsor

Our correspondent is sad to report that the deserts of the Sudan have once again been
"salted with the bones" of our brave soldiers and the Dervish leader, the (so-called) Poor Benighted 'Eathen George continues to rule in those distant sandy lands.

After a couple of games with 24 point field forces, we decided to up the game size to 36 points allowing us both a couple more units (and for my Bengal Lancers to actually have lances!). With three units of Regular infantry, a Machine-gun, a unit of Bengal Lancers and a unit of allied Bazinger Irregular Infantry I was confident the time had come to put the Dervish in their place. Ha!

We rolled up the 'A Sigh of Relief' scenario which immediately split my force with 16 points in the centre of the table defending an immovable objective (Lady Faversham-Somethingorother, suffering from sunstroke), and my remaining 20 points hopefully turning up before the natives overrun our fair English maiden and her escort from turn three at the earliest.

The defenders had to set up first so I put the machine gun and one unit of Regular Infantry either side of the objective and the Irregular Infantry Bazingers behind to operate as some kind of mobile reserve...

The Attackers move first in the scenario and the Mahdists bounded across the desert, three units moving At The Double. Without taking a shot I could see this wasn't going to end well, I just didn't have enough units or firepower to stop the enemy reaching my troops and sticking them with their pointy sticks...

...and it didn't!

The Machine-gun did kill seven Beja in the first turn pinning one unit and the Bazingers caused a couple of casualties in the centre. The Regular Infantry fired at the Beja bounding in, but only managed to kill a paltry three and that unit passed its pinning test.

Next turn a unit of Mahdist Irregular Infantry rifles shot at the British Regulars, killing four and pinning them. The Beja then charged in...

With their sharp stabby sticks, the Fierce Veteran Beja killed another seven Regulars whilst losing five themselves, leaving the Infantry Officer standing forlornly alone and pinned!

Elsewhere another unit of Beja charged and wiped out the Machine-gun and my attempt to roll up some reinforcements failed (not that they would have been any use really).

Turn three saw the Beja attack the Bazingers and overrun the objective, winning the game for George in just three turns!

Despite some below average dice rolling by the British Regular Infantry, we both agreed it was hard to see how the Defender could hold off the Attacker, allowing time for reinforcements to arrive and get into a position to defeat the Attacker, given the Attacker starts just 24 inches from the objective.

As the game had last such a short period of time, we decided to run it again, but with the Mahdists attacking down the length of the table and reinforcements being rolled for from turn one not two.

The Mahdists swarmed down the table and the Machine-gun opened up, almost jamming in the first turn!

In turn one I managed to roll 6 so one unit of Regular Infantry would enter the fray next turn. The Bazingers shot up a Beja unit, causing several casualties but critically failed to pin it. Unfortunately the Machine-gun refused orders to Fire at the Beja and next turn they crashed into the Bazinger killing seven and forcing them to retreat and pinning them.

With a unit of Regular Infantry advancing up the table to relieve them and the Bengal Lancers now activated to enter on turn three the Regulars escorting Lady Faversham-Somethingorother formed Close Order so they could unleash volleys against the advancing native horde!

Unfortunately the Bazingers were wiped out and disastrously the Machine-gun failed the Pinning test caused by a unit being destroyed within 12 inches! The Regular Infantry shrugged off the destruction of the Bazingers and fired a volley at the nearest Beja unit, killing seven and pinning it!

Things however went from bad to worse, a unit of Irregular Mahdist Infantry firing at long range with their obsolete rifles, rolled two 6's and killed one of the Regular Infantry who then amazingly failed their Pinning test! :-(

This (along with the Machine-gun being pinned) was critical as it meant the Infantry were no longer in Close Order and when a unit of Beja charged in were fighting five against sixteen and 5+ to kill against 4+, rather than it being eleven versus eleven, both on 4+ to kill.

It was a bloodbath and eight brave khaki clad soldiers fell to the sharp pointy sticks. Elsewhere the pinned Machine-gun was overrun and destroyed!

However all was not quite lost, the final unit of Regular Infantry reinforcements had activated and the other unit was now in range of the Bejas who had destroyed the Bazingers. Would bold action yet save the day and Lady Faversham-Somethingorother's honour?!

The Regulars opened fire killing five of the Beja who failed their Pinning test. I then tried to save the day with the Bengal Lancers...

Looking at the deployment of the Dervish I decided to try and destroy the weakened and pinned Beja unit forcing the two nearby Beja to take Pinning tests. If they failed them, the Lancers could attack one the next turn and the Infantry shoot up the other. It was all or nothing!

The Lancers smashed into the Beja and destroyed the enemy unit! Hurrah!!

All that was needed now was for George to fail his Pinning tests and maybe, just maybe, victory could be snatched from the jaws of defeat!

He passed both! :-(

Next turn he launched his vicious Beja into the Lancers, killing three, forcing them back five inches and Pinning them. Elsewhere the rest of the Mahdist army overran the objective and captured Lady Faversham-Somethingorother...

Poor Benighted 'Eathen George was the victor again!

So, another disastrous adventure in the desert but things might have gone differently with a bit more luck in the dice rolling department... To have the Machine-gun refuse to fire one turn was bad enough, but to then get pinned meant two rounds of 12 dice gunning down the advancing hordes was lost. Also to see a unit of Regular Infantry in Close Order get Pinned after suffering just one casualty to Irregulars armed with Obsolete Rifles was galling. The resulting melee would no doubt have been bloody but would have been on equal terms and may have seen the Beja forced back.

Oh well, there is always next week, perhaps I need some Highlanders? The Mahdists surely won't be able to stand up against 'The Devils in Skirts'...