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...

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.