Sunday, 23 April 2017

CoC Game Aids and more for Jhamjar

As part of getting ready for my first attempt at playing Too Fat Lardies' Chain of Command, I have prepared a few game aids.  Apologies for the poor quality photos, I had to wait until late at night to set up an impromptu photo shoot!

CoC requires markers to track 'shock' on a unit.  I'd prefer not to have plastic or paper chits scattered around my tabletop battlefields, so I am going to use a substitution.  Years ago, when I played Contemptible Little Armies, I used bases of rats to represent pinned units (which at the time seemed quite fitting for trench warfare on the Western Front).  I'd roll out the rats again but since there likely won't be enough bases to meet game needs, I'll start instead with sheep and goats.  Shocked units will be followed around by small herds of ungulates that will gradually increase as their fighting ability diminishes!  A single animal will represent a single point of shock, and bases with multiple animals will represent multiple shock points. I'm looking forward to innuendo about the affinity of certain units to large numbers of livestock.

CoC provides a sheet to be printed out for tracking 'Force Morale' and 'Chain of Command' points.  The problem with putting markers on a sheet is that it can easily be bumped during play, leading to discussions about whether that marker was on 10 or 5.  Based on an idea from another blog, I've cobbled together these boards from foamcore and cork.  Force morale can be tracked by push pins, which (in theory at least) won't be accidentally moved.  Chain of Command points will accumulate on the top track, with a CoC die or token being earned each time the points reach the magic number (6).

Another CoC marker is needed to show when a unit is on overwatch.  I'd considered using figures like these to show that the unit has been instructed to keep watch over a particular arc, but I think they'd be too easily confused with squaddies.  

So instead I've made these ones.  They look like game tokens, they'll certainly do the job (at least for the first game), but I hope that eventually I'll be able to substitute something else.  I also considered using something like a pair of binoculars or a rifle, but that all seemed too fussy compared to the end result.

Tactical markers show units that are taking full use of terrain to provide any possible cover.  I have an idea that these units are carrying around little bushes and hiding behind them (a bit like Birnham Wood coming to Dunsinane).  Anyway, each unit that is 'tactical' will carry around one of these little bits of bush with them.

TFL encourages the use of creative modelling for 'jump off points', or JOP.  For my first game, the Brits will get to use the truck and the Jhamjars will use Jumbo.  I've also got a donkey cart for the Jhamjars and a stack of supplies for the Brits.  If a third JOP is needed I'll come up with something.

Another status to display is pinned.  I had a couple of ideas but they were too fussy, so I've gone with relatively simple smoke clouds.  Any unit that is broked will simply have two pinned markers.  If I run out of these markers, I'll use more balls of cotton.

And now the actual forces!  First up, the Jhamjar Rifles.  Here is the command group:  subedar (equivalent to lieutenant), havildar (sergeant) plus a medic and the subedar's batman (with bugle).

And here is the whole platoon.  Two sections of sikhs, and two of musselmen.  Each section is led by a naik (corporal).

The platoon can count on a Vickers medium machine gun for support.

Just one shot of 'Ockerforce' for now.  Two sections have a Lewis gun (plus support), and two sections exclusively of riflemen.  The sections are sorted by headgear (sun helmets, slouch hats or peaked caps) and the two sections with slouch hats are distinguished by either shorts or trousers.

I'm going to play around a bit with force composition before the game.  Both platoons are inspired by the lists for Chain of Command Abyssinia - the Brits follow the British list (natch!) while the Jhamjars are based on the Askari list.  Tactical choices will be interesting, as the Brits get two LMGs and the Jhamjars only get rifles, with a possible MMG.  Nominal sections are 8 strong for Ockerforce and 10 strong for Jhamjar, but I'm considering reducing these as no army ever takes to the field at paper strength.  Units will be reduced by a deliberate Left out of Battle choice, as well as sick parade (malingering ne'er-do-wells!), casualties and other detachments.  But the basics are now covered!

Plan is to play the game on May 5th.  Inshallah!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Preparing for gaming Jhamjar

As described in my previous post, I'm getting ready to attempt TFL's Chain of Command using my British Empire in the Great War armies to represent an interwar conflict between the British Raj and the Princely State of Jhamjar.  I've counted up the forces available and come up with the following numbers.

British soldiers in sun helmets (pith helmets):  16 riflemen, 1 Lewis gunner, 4 officers
ANZACs:  23 riflemen in slouch hat, 14 riflemen in peaked cap with improvised Havelock style neck covers (37 total riflemen), 1 Lewis gunner, 3 officers, plus 12 mounted riflemen (including officer)
Gurkhas: 33 riflemen
Sikhs:  21 riflemen, 2 officers, 1 medic, 1 Vickers MMG and crew
Mussulmen: 27 riflemen, 1 Vickers MMG and crew (Copplestone Castings, painted in Khaki uniforms) plus an additional 16 riflemen and 1 fieldgun (Battle Honours, painted in brown uniforms)
Indian Lancers:  21 mounted lancers and 1 officer
King's African Rifles:  34 riflemen, 1 standard bearer, 2 Lewis gunners, 3 officers
And 1 Vickers Medium Mk II tank.

Now for CoC, I need two platoon-sized forces.  A platoon is theoretically around 36-40 men, although in reality it would never have its full paper strength. But I don't want to cut things back too far, so I'd like to get at least 80% strength.  This means that some of the forces don't cut it as is.  In fact, and somewhat surprisingly, pretty much only the KAR can field a full strength platoon.  An even greater surprise is that only the KAR have the two Lewis guns that an interwar platoon is supposed to have on strength!

So, looking at the numbers, I figure the Djelli of Jhamjar will have a composite platoon made up of half Mussulmen and half Sikhs.  Support options will include a medic and a Vickers MMG.  

I might choose different opposition than British riflemen, though.  Possibilities include:
1. King's African Rifles, as they can field a full-strength platoon.  Need to work on the backstory as to why the KAR are deployed to suppress a rebellion in NW India, though!
2. OckerForce, made up of a mob of displaced Ozzies who are somehow still wandering around India years after the end of the Great War.  Alternatively, just make a platoon of half sun helmets and half slouch hats, as slouch hats were popular enough in the British Army.  ANZACs didn't invent the bloody things, no matter what they'd have you believe!
3. Gurkhas.  Somewhat lacking in support options, as they only have rifles and kukris!

I'll probably go with option 2, but will keep the KAR option if I ever make this into a campaign.  The cavalry and tank will stay off the table for now but could enter into future games.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Princely State of Jhamjar

The Princely State of Jhamjar is a Salute State under the British Raj, located between Rajputana and Balochistan near Afghanistan and the North West Frontier.

In actuality, Jhamjar is my new little Imagi-Nation!  Many months ago, I picked up a copy of Too Fat Lardies Chain of Command (CoC), and I've been looking for an opportunity to fit in a test game ever since.  CoC is a World War II miniatures game, and I have no WWII miniatures.  TFL was working on a modern variant on the game for Afghanistan, but it seems to have been placed on the back burner at Lard Island.  In the meantime, I'm hoping to get a chance to see if the system feels right for me.

As I mentioned, I have no WWII miniatures. I do, however, have a surprising number of WWI or Interwar-era British Empire forces, including British troops in sun helmets, Gurkhas, Indian (Muslim) infantry, Sikhs, King's African Rifles, NZ Mounted Rifles, Indian Lancers and a small horde of ANZACs.  I don't have any suitable opponents for them.  So, enter the Jhelli of Jhamjar.

Theoretically, the Princely States never had need for any armed forces more elaborate than a ceremonial guard for their prince.  But then along came the Great War, and a call for all subjects of the Empire to contribute to the war effort.  The Martial Races of Jhamjar enthusiastically answered the call, and at the end of hostilities, the Jhelli of Jhamjar found himself with a core of veterans of France, East Africa, Gallipoli, the Levant and Mesopotamia.  A wise man, he also could see the way the wind was blowing as nations began to seek true independence from the rule of the colonial empires.  After a secret visit from M.N. Roy, the Jhelli began his plans to foment a revolution to drive the British out of India, or at least out of Jhamjar!

I'm going to try to get a small scenario set up for Trumpeter's next Bonsor night.  No guarantees, but we'll see how it goes.  I'll be able to use my Afghanistan terrain.  The troops will be somewhat vanilla, as almost all of the available forces will be infantry armed with bolt-action rifles.  I do have a couple of Vickers guns and a few Lewis guns to throw into the mix.  If the first game goes well, I can consider finding room for the cavalry and/or my Vickers Medium Mark II* in a future scenario!

In the meantime, I may see if I can develop the history, culture and geography of Jhamjar!