On March 17th, I hosted a game of 'The Men Who Would Be Kings' (TMWWBK) at the annual Trumpeter Salute convention. Unfortunately, I managed to leave my camera at home so there will be no photos with this report.
The basic idea was to follow up on the last game I played with Doug, Peter and Jim. I was ready for 4 players but only two signed up, so I left two of the field forces in the box and we played a much faster game with only one field force per side. To be honest, and even though it pains my megalomaniacal mind to admit it, it was a much better game, much faster moving than those games with twice the numbers.
My intention was that this game would be a sort of sequel to my last game (read all about it here). In this game, the British have regrouped after being frustrated by the Pathan opposition to their scouting and have determined to push all armed enemies out of the village. I had prepared two British/Indian field forces with a force of Afghan regulars and a group of Pathan tribesmen to oppose them. With only two players, each selected a field force to take into action. Jim picked a British Field Force consisting of the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders), Sikhs, Gurkhas and a force of Indian Lancers, and Tim picked a selection of Pathan tribesmen (three groups of shooters, two mobs of Ghazi fanatics and a mountain gun). We played Scenario B from the TMWWBK rulebook, Seek and Destroy.
Half the Pathans started off the board. Tim deployed two groups of shooters along the walls at the end of the village and put the mountain gun on the roof of one of the village buildings. Jim had the first move, and advanced his infantry fearlessly to the edge of the fields east of the village. The Gurkhas and the Gordons got into firefights with the Pathan shooters, while the Sikhs attempted a flanking move.
Unfortunately for Jim, the mountain gun was rather effective. The gunners spotted the advancing Sikhs and laid down effective fire on them, causing one casualty. The Sikhs were dismayed by the accuracy of the mountain gun, and paused in their advance (Jim failed the roll for pinning). Even worse for Jim, when he tried to rally the Sikhs, he rolled snake eyes. Whatever their officer said, it was the wrong thing and the Sikhs decided that it was time to go home. The Sikh unit evaporated.
The rest of the game progressed less dramatically. Tim brought on his reinforcements, with a mob of Ghazis proceeding down each flank, while the firefight continued between the Pathan shooters and the remaining Gurkhas and Gordons. Jim's Lancers tried to cross the bridge into the village but were rather badly shot up, ultimately losing half their numbers to the mountain gun. They still managed to maneuver up alongside the Gordons just as the Ghazis arrived on the flank. The firefight was a mixed event - the Gurkhas fared poorly, getting rather badly shot up by the Pathan shooters before the one group of Ghazis finished them off, while the Gordons did better, driving off the group of Pathans facing them. In the end, however, the Pathans managed to hold on to their village, killing every Highlander, Sowar, Sepoy and Gurkha that faced them (with the sorry exception of the Sikhs who had decamped right at the start of the game).
Both players told me they enjoyed the game. Jim was philosophical about his loss, noting that losing the Sikhs at the start tipped the balance against him, and realising that the Lancers were more glamorous but less effective than the field gun would have been. (as it was, the Lancers were rather spectacular, wreaking havoc on the Ghazis before getting wiped out to a man...).
Thanks to Tim and Jim for an enjoyable game!