Sunday, 11 February 2018

Russian Dragoons for GNW

Here is the start of my Russian Dragoons for the army of Peter the Great.  I have no particular plans for them as yet; just a vague idea that they could be used for Pikeman's Lament or similar skirmish level gaming.

I took advantage of a rare sunny winter morning to take a few shots with natural light.  I particularly like the horse holder - definitely adds some character to the dragoons to emphasise their ability to deploy mounted or on foot!

Action on the North West Frontier

On Saturday, we managed to get in a game of The Men Who Would Be Kings set in 1880-ish North West Frontier.  A small village near the border between Afghanistan and British India.  The British government in Peshawar heard reports that the Afghan government had occupied a village in territory claimed by Her Majesty, and sent out two small expeditionary forces to investigate.  Their orders were to inspect a number of map locations and report back with the strength of the Afghan presence.

The Afghan commander of course had moved his unit of the Afghan army into the small village that had been part of Afghanistan since time immemorial.  He had summoned the local chiefs to attend him in the village, and they were on their way when the British forces intruded onto the scene!

Jim and Doug each commanded a British brigade consisting of one unit of British regular infantry (66th Foot for Doug and Gordon Highlanders for Jim), plus two Indian army infantry units (Guides and Gurkhas for Doug and Sikhs and Guides for Jim).  Each British force also had a field gun - RA for Doug and an Indian mountain gun for Jim.  Peter took the Afghan Army detachment of two regular infantry, one militia infantry, one militia cavalry and one artillery piece.  I brought a collection of tribesmen including two units of Ghazis, three groups of tribesmen with firearms and a single mountain gun.

Here is a shot of the village, with the hinterland to the rear.  Doug's force is mustering in the foreground.  The row of low bush to the rear represents a shallow waterway.

The British forces were to inspect 6 different locations:
1.  Collection of fish and other foodstuffs inside the compound

2.  Herd of goats adjacent to the village

3.  Mule caravan on route to the village

4.  Herd of sheep in the hills outside the village
Not shown are 5.  the cart or 6. The Queen and the cotton bales.

Jim's field force - all Foundry figures

Doug's field force.  The casualty figures were used as pinned markers.

My Afghan tribesmen
Peter's Afghan Army
Initial deployment for the Afghan tribes.  Ghazis had hidden deployment.

My lovely Afghan mountain gun.  It won't feature again in this report - Jim's mountain gun blew it away in the first turn of the game!

Afghan regulars in the village.

If you look carefully you might see a couple of anachronistic AK-47s.  Didn't help their shooting, however!

Doug's field force deploys...

As does Jim's.
Forces advance to contact in the village.

Here's what's left of the Ghazis after they charged the Gordons.  It was a classic ambush followed by a fierce charge, but the Gordons were ferocious fighters and saw off the Ghazis in savage hand to hand combat!
More battling between tribesmen and Indian Army.
While Jim's forces were making steady progress against the tribesmen outside of town, the Afghan Army in the village were holding off Doug's force rather effectively.

Gurkhas failed to live up to their reputation...
But at least one objective was achieved!  Number 5, the cart.

Cannon's eye view of the action, shortly before the crew were all killed.

Afghan regulars occupy the market.
Guides pushed back from the market.
But things going better for the British outside of town where the tribesmen were steadily suppressed and pushed back.
Sikh firing line
Afghan militia cavalry in the orchard.

In the end we called it off.  Jim's force cleared away the tribesmen in the hills outside of town but Doug's force wasn't able to occupy the village.  Our plan is to revisit the action when we get another chance.  Jim will lead the attack on the village, hopefully with reinforcements.  Meanwhile Peter's Afghan commander will summon the clans to see off the invaders!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

TMWWBK: Interwar KAR vs FFL

1927 - January 12.  Khartoum.

My lord,

It is my duty to inform you that there has been an incursion into Anglo-Egyptian Sudan by French forces.  Rogue elements of the French Foreign Legion, apparently seeking the lost city of Hamunaptra, were intercepted by a battalion of the King's African Rifles near the frontier.

Our forces caught up to the French near the village of El-Nowhere-a.

Legionnaires deploying

King's African Rifles, led by a "hero of the empire" form skirmish line.  Just after this photo, they took fire from the Legion, and the officer determined the importance of reporting back immediately to British command in Khartoum.  He decided he needed to carry the new himself, and he needed his company as an escort in case there were any other French troops around...  (despite having a terrific leadership of 4+, he failed the pin test from the fire, then failed again on the rally and the whole company dispersed...).

Remaining elements of the KAR advance toward the village.

One of the KAR companies occupies the village market.

FFL advance.

FFL Hotchkiss machine gun team deploys

Legion company with reduced numbers and pin marker after being on the receiving end of KAR rifle fire.

KAR company, led by their jolly sporting officer, moves out past the two tents.

Last KAR company, led by an officer with a fine moustache, finally comes down from the hill from which they'd been observing the battle.  (Incidentally, British Jim himself has a very fine moustache!)

The first game ended quickly, in about an hour.  Each side had a 24-point field force.  Doug brought the Foreign Legion, two companies of elite, sharpshooting regular infantry plus a machine gun. I brought four companies of regulars (there were a few Lewis guns mixed in with the KAR troops, which we ruled would count as rifles - easier than making up rules for LMGs on the fly!).  We had two players ask to join in the game, both called Jim.  We figured the easiest solution was to call them French Jim and British Jim.

As the game ended nice and early, we decided to have another go.  For the second game, we did away with the officer characteristics, and simply gave each unit a leadership of 6+.  In the first game, the FFL had the misfortune of rolling for some rather desperate ratings, including an absolute liability with a leadership of 10+, while the KAR scored nicely with a jolly sporting leader (+2" on movement), a hero of the empire (leadership 4+) and a highly motivated leader who was allowed one free action and a chance to test for a second action.  

For the second game, we deployed on the long edges (vs the short edges for the first game) - this had the advantage of getting us into the action sooner!

The FFL MG team, with their determined-looking commander.  He would later make a deployment error that would cost him dearly...

KAR company with a pin marker.  They were pinned and forced to fall back, but managed to stay on the table, and recover in time to destroy the Legion MG team!

Shooting was definitely in the favour of the KAR.  They hit on 5+ compared to 4+ for the FFL, but had more rifles and thus more dice to roll.

Doug thought that these troops were going to go around the hill, but instead they climbed up on top and were able to pour some rifle fire down onto his FFL, thus making up for running away in the first encounter!

In the end, the KAR again won the day.  Some observations:

  • Regulars are pretty darn good, so paying extra to upgrade them runs into a problem of diminishing returns.  For 6 points, I got a dozen rifles.  Doug paid 9 points for a dozen rifles with improved discipline and shooting.  Over the 24-pt force, however, I had 48 rifles, to Doug's 12 plus an MG.  
  • Discipline bonus is really helpful.  There were many pinning or rally tests that would have failed if not for the +1 or +2 bonus for discipline (even the KAR troops that broke and ran in the first game should have stayed, if I'd taken advantage of my discipline bonus).
  • Machine guns are worth taking only if you like the model.  I'll admit, it's fun to put a Gatling gun or similar model on the table, each is like a mini-vignette!  But all you really get is the same firepower as a unit of regular rifles, with less flexibility (limited arc of fire), slower movement rate, no automatic fire (ironic, isn't it! I mean you need to test to see if you can take a fire action, unlike regular infantry), and more delicate (each hit costs three attack dice).
Still, TMWWBK is my favourite ruleset for now.  It even has little quirks to make it better (in my mind) than the other Dragon Rampant sets! 

Doug's write up of the event from the French perspective is here.