Having painted up my Afghan horse and completed the conversion of a WWI RHA limber, I invited a few gamers to join me at Peter's house to try a game. The scenario was based on the Richard Woodville 'Saving the Guns at Maiwand' painting and Scenario H, 'Sigh of Relief' from the Men Who Would Be Kings rulebook.
The British/Indian force had a field gun and 12 English infantry from the 66th Berkshire Regiment deployed in the centre of the table.
Two units of Indian Lancers and the limber were tasked to rescue the gun and remove it to safety.
Eager to capture the gun for their own use, the Afghans sent three units of horse, two mobs of swordsmen and three groups of riflemen.
Afghan horse and swordsmen set out for a sneak flank approach to the gun.
Meanwhile, the gun crew is distracted by the approach of more horse and infantry to their front.
Initially, British musketry and gunnery is frighteningly effective, wiping out two groups of horsemen and stalling the advance of the Afghan shooters.
Afghan horse fleeing the table.
Meanwhile the lancers and limber are moving up to rescue the gun.
But wait, what's this? Black banners climbing over the rocks, and horsemen coming up on the flank!
The gunners try, and fail, to fire once more at the Afghan horse.
Then the brave Berkshire men face the Ghazis,
and fight them to a standstill!
Finally the Afghan horse push back the two remaining soldiers of the 66th. Meanwhile, the Indian Lancers have been halted, first by fire from the Pathan shooters,
And they then fall back in the face of the ferocious swordsmen! The field belongs to the forces of Ayub Khan!
Many thanks to Peter for hosting, and to Jim and Doug for their excellent command of the Afghan forces!
The game was a nail-biter, with the advantage shifting back and forth. Initially, I was concerned that the Brits in the middle were too powerful, as their gunnery and musketry successfully saw off two of the three groups of horse, and had pinned the Afghan shooters. But the Indian lancers failed too many activations, and while the gunners were focussed to their front, Jim's swordsmen and horsemen came up on their right unchallenged. Crucially, the gunners failed their activation just as the Pathan warriors were within charge range. Despite seeing the gunners butchered where they stood, the 66th showed up amazingly well, facing off two charges by the skin of their teeth (outnumbered 16 to 12, they tied and pushed back on the first charge, and then outnumbered 12 to 8, they tied again! But then the horse did them in).
I think the scenario is well balanced, and that showed as the advantage seemed to pass back and forth from side to side. I'll try it again at the next Trumpeter Club Night. Minor changes will be:
- No more testing for leader casualties. It's fine when there's only one officer for the whole army, but tedious when you check for every unit, every time, and really only fail when rolling snake eyes.
- No testing for leader characteristics. The Lancers were saddled with a couple of duds, which turned out to be pretty limiting on their ability to act (especially the yellow-bellied cavalry commander who could only shoot and never charge into melee). Each unit will still test for leadership value individually.