Tally Ho!

Saturday 24 June 2023

North West Frontier practice game

As the weather gets hotter it seems apt to be doing some Colonial gaming. So for the next month or so well be gaming the North West Frontier using The Men Who Would Be Kings rules (TMWWBK) - they are very similar to the Rebels and Patriots we played recently so only a small learning curve.  We plan to play one of the punitive expeditions the British sent into Afghanistan in the 1880s to stop the cross border raids. 

In a twist on history, and to liven up the games, we'll be using Russian units to support the Afghan units as they seek to dabble in British affairs.

Our first game was a quick practice run before we start the main action and had both sides seeking to march across the table and scape of the opposite side.


The British forces attacked strongly on their left and quickly crested the large hills across the centre of the board to find themselves facing the Russians. On the right they moved slower, allowing the Pathans to take the high ground.

The Pathans attacked the British  on the right but were beaten back by concentrated fire. On the left the Russians fared better with the artillery proving quite deadly.  

The end result saw neither side get any units off but the British caused the larger number of casualties. For the campaign we'll allow a greater variety of troops and give the Pathan fighters more punch in combat.     

Saturday 10 June 2023

Take the high ground

 With the campaign concluded we did a one-off game this week using the C S Grant scenarios book. The one chosen was Reinforcements in defence (off table).  All players fielded and infantry brigade plus a light Cav regiment. The attacker had some additional heavy cavalry / guns and 1/3 of the defenders unties arrived down random roads. 

We drew randomly for sides and it worked out as Germans / Austrians / Russians vs Swedes and French. The attacking "ians" deployed in a wide arc with their heavy cavalry massed on their left.  


The defenders deployed along the crest with their cavalry opposite the attackers horse and some light infantry looking to grab a village to the front of their position. 


French and Swedish horse

The Austrians and Russians advanced on the hills while the Germans hung-back, looking to surround the village and pour fire into the Swedish unit there. This was successful in weakening them with the Austrians then assaulting to take the village. 

All this left the Russians unsupported as they attacked the hill alone with their cavalry in a column seeking to outflank the French right. The Russians came under heavy fire from the Swedes and French as they attacked up the hill unsupported. On their right the French attacked the Jagers and Carbineers pushed Russian Cuirassiers, disordering the supporting units.     

Russian attack

French counter

The Austrians were pushed from the village by attacking Swedes, who were themselves ejected by the advancing Germans.  This marked the last major action though as the Russians were spent and Austrians disordered. The victory went to the defenders.  


Friday 2 June 2023

Leipzig campaign reflections

So with the Coalition breaking through to Leipzig that concludes the campaign after 3 months and 8 games (including warm-ups).  I thought I’d do a few reflections on the campaign to stimulate debate.

Games move quickly.

We played games of 20-30 units a side, with 2 – 4 players per side. The decisive nature of combat meant that in most cases it was clear who would win within 4-6 turns (3 hours). Certainly, in attack vs defence once one side is exhausted its pretty much over.

Russian infantry

They have interesting split stats with Training Inferior or possibly Regular and Motivation Superior or possibly Regular. They are old Regime and have a 1/3 chance of an Inept officer. This makes them tough but inflexible so very line-up opposite the target and go for it.

In steamroller mode they are hard to stop and have a good chance to recover hits. Pulled out of position they accumulate hits quickly (Inferior training) and if saddled with an Inept officer they are likely to not move that turn.     

Depth matters

Our best games were ones where there was enough depth to pull back damaged units and regenerate them. We achieved this when we used 20mm figures on a 4’ table and 28mm on a 5’ table. So for the best results in 28mm use a 5’ or deeper table.  

The attacker often wins.

We played through 5 campaign games and in most of those the forces were even. In all games the person who adopted the offensive won the game. Not what the maths would suggest as attacking means moving / firing and longer range artillery.

So why was it the case? My only theory is that its about mindset; on the attack you are thinking positively and looking for opportunities. When defending its easy to let things drift. I see this as a good thing as it says that tactics not maths are winning games!

So to next time

For the next campaign some things are probably consider:

  • ·         We’ve tweaked the homebrew points system as we’ve gone but there is a little more to do on army-wide rules like Old Regime or Initiative pluses.
  • ·         We need a way for a defender to respond somewhat to an attacker’s deployment. We could do more encounter games too,
  • ·         It may be good to carry some damage from game to game but without making a single loss terminal. Maybe you start the game on 1 hit if you routed last time?
  • ·         An overall troop allocation with Divisions built from that for more variety.