Thursday 18 January 2018


For some time I have been keen to try out the WW1 rules for the middle east that Ken the "Yarkshire Gamer" has been using for his ongoing Mesopotamian campaign, so when he invited me to game in the next instalment of the campaign, the battle of Tubul, I jumped at the chance.

This is based on a real battle, as the British pulled back as there communications were over extended the Turks followed up. The game starts with the British dug in against the Tigris with 2 battalions up front and a single company outside the lines holding a village as a forward picket. A second 3 battalions are in reserve. The British have a 3 gun battery within the defences.
 Ken had left a troop of matildas on the table  from an earler photo session. Unfortunately he was deaf to my request to add these to my forces.

The Turks come on the opposite edge of the table, initially with three battalions and three small comapnies of irregular marsh arabs on camel back.

The game starts with tHe British standing to arms in their trenches in case of a dawn attack, meanwhile the high command in true British style and preparing for a nice cup of tea, "Yarkshire tea" of course.
The steamer must build up enough steam before it can advance past the trenches and so throws 2 d6 each turn and keeps rolling until it reaches 36 iat which point it can start to move.
The action opens with the Turks advancing using the cover of the woods, hills and rough ground.

The Marsh Arabs take a wide sweep around the British right flank but attract some fire from the Royal Navy picket in the village who inflict some disruption markers.

In the centre one battalion of Turks really gets going and starts to close with the Imperial forces, they are directly opposed by the Punjabi battalion and on their flank the rest of the Royal Navy battalion.
The first battalion take a fair number of hits and go to ground just in long rifle range of the trenches.

A fierce fight now erupts between the two Turkish battalions to the front of the Trenches and the Punjabis and Royal Navy with the Imperial troops very slowly starting to get the advantage due to their better cover. 

Meanwhile the third battalion of Turks slowly advances on the picket in the village and the arabs dismount their camels and start to work their way down the wadi to the rear of the village.

As soon as he got them in place and supported by some well aimed machine gun fire from the Turkish regulars to their front the Arabs stormed into the village from the rear. Now being poorly armed irregulars this should have been a bad move by Ken. However with some cracking dice and some pretty awful rolls in return from Steve the British were beaten and driven out of the village which the arabs promptly began to loot.
Meanwhile, too late to help, the first British reinforcements had arrived in the shape of the daughty Gurkhas. These slowly began to infiltrate forward, although in three successive turns their card failed to come out.
The arabs now opened fire on the remaining 5 men of the Royal navy company and quickly inflicted even more casuallties until the jolly jack tars could retreat out of short range. Too late though the company had ceased to be a useful fighting force.
Ever so slowly the Gurkhas made their way up the wadi and the gun boat continued to build up steam whilst the firefight in the centre continued to rage.

Finally reaching enough steam the gun boat pushed past the trenchworks and began to bombard the Turkish positions inflicting numerous disruption points on the Turks.

Things were looking up for the British, the Gurkhas were finally moving forward to re-take the village, the gun boat was in action and the next reinforcements, the Cheshire's had arrived (Kens favourite), the Turks had also received two battalion of reinforcements which were making their way forward to support the arabs in the village.
At this point Ken, commanding the marsh arabs had a brain wave. His arabs had done so well they should charge the Gurkhas who outnumbered them and were in hard cover. The result was fairly inevitable, the Gurkhas took one casualty and the arabs took 6 and promptly fled. However the wisdom of Kens decision soon became apparant, as the Gurkha card was drawn they could not charge and re-take the village as they had already fought a melee, this gave the Turks enough time to get more troops into the village.

At this point day one of gaming ended, the British had lost one company of Royal Navy battalion troops and the Turks had lost one and half companies of regulars and 2 companies of Arabs. The British Imperial force still had one more battalion to arrive whilst the Turks had several more waiting to come on including some cavalry. A fun and hard fought first day.
Week 2 and we are on for a Tuesday evening game with about 2 and a bit hours gaming. The fire fights have been fierce but now the Gurkhas have got themselves in charge range of the village. As Steve cant make it and most of Kens marsh Arabs are Hors de combat Ken takes over the Gurkhas and his beloved Cheshires.

Lonnies attack with the better quality Turks has been stopped bloodily in the centre left, the village has three machine guns and the 18 pounder trained on it and the Cheshires can lend fire support. Ken decicdes one more turn of fire from all of this before he charges, the heavy cover means relatively few casualties but a lot of suppression markers that will cost the Turks in hand to hand next turn. Ian has brought another battalion up to the rear of the village in support. Meanwhile I have been concentrating fire on the Turks to my front right, destroying 2 companies entirely and mauling another, a couple of good command rolls removes the suppression from all of my troops and we drag the jam jar thrower nearer to the village along with the Punjabi machine gun.

One last shot from Lonnies Turkish machine guns and he is then pulling them back to await reinforcements.

Next turn and the Gurkhas storm forward. The first company of Turks they hit are badly beaten and driven back but a surprise di roll from Ian and no sixes at all from 9 dice by Ken sees the second companny of Gurkhas thrown back and left exposed between the village and wadi in no cover. Both Ina and Lonnie take advantage of this to shoot them up until only 3 of them remain.

Lonnies Turks take more fire and start to retreat, eventually ending up with no less than 22 suppression markers. Meanwhile our last reinforcements arrive in the form of a Sikh battalion that wastes no time in folling the Cheshires and Gurkhas out of the Trenches and up the Wadi to the Village which is turning into a bit of  a meat grinder.
Ian throws another company at the Gurkhas and Ken removes the suppression from the badly mauled company of two and throws them back into the village, the company of two charges the Turks in their front who have 9 suppression and fail their nerve, running before the Gurkhas can use their fearsome Kukri knives, the other company puts up stiffer opposition but eventually is also driven off, the British now have a toe hold on the village.
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for the Turks as their next battalion of reinforcements arrive. Ken kindly lets me use my Turks for this and its their first time on table so in some respects I am glad they come on directly in front of my Punjabi's in their trenches, the usual rule of course being that new units are seen off quite quickly, lets see.

There is a very stiff firefight around the village now as both sides push reinforcements in to try and take the village. The fire of three machine guns, 2 guns and the remains 5 companies being offset by the hard cover so for the most part we are only inflicting suppression markers.

In front of me Lonnies badly damaged company has retreated off table and the rest of his troops have pulled back behind the hills where we cant fire at them.
He then starts to work the new battalion forward through the palm groves near the river.At this point week two is done and we agree to play again the following Thursday.
The third round of gaming arrived and I had forgotten my tablet, apologies everyone the photos are not quite as good as taken on my mobile. This is the sight that greeted me as entered Kens games room, couple of cheeky shots of the Turkish side of the table.
The arab regulars held the village in force but had been very badly mauled.

 The regular Turks had been driven back behind the hills where they had re-formed for another go, whilst the 3rd battalion of Arab regulars advanced on their flank near the river.

The British were safe and untouched inside their trenches and whilst the Gurkhas had taken casualties the rest of the force was also still pretty fresh.

 Ken and I swapped commands as he knew the triggers for certain things in the scenario and I took the Gurkhas, Sikhs and Cheshires to expand our right flank and see what I could do about that Turkish held village. We started by pouring fire into it and moving the 18 pounder so it was in effective range, putting a lot of suppression markers on the units, I then charged in my Gurkhas. Unfortunately for me Ian had swapped his badly damaged company out with an untouched unit. Despite my three Gurkhas having 9 dice against Ians 4 I only inflicted one casulaty and Ina rolled two sixes to take two of my Kukri weilding mountaineers. The last figure was removed and this took the Gurkhas down to half stregnth.
 With this in mind we decided to mass as much fire power on the village as possible, we ended up with all three guns, all 5 machines guns and 6 companies of infantry blazing away. Unfortunately the heavy cover meant that the vast majority of this only inflicted suppressions, although one unit took so many it was forced to retire.

I did mange to get a couple of particularly good dice throws much to Lonnie and Ians disgust.

 On our left Lonnie had started to move the Turks forward again, the arab regulars attempting to move into a close postion right next to the river. The next unit of Turkish foot came on table at last but the throw for reinforcements meant it would be at least another 4 turns before the next one arrived.
 At this point it became obvious that the Turks were not going to be able to damage the British in their entrenchments or outflank them and they threw in the towel.

Casualties on both sides had been fairly light, exactly 28 each on the regulars. A further dozen or so Marsh Arabs were also Ors de Combat The majority of the Turks were from the first battalion that closed with the trenches and 17 of the Imperial casualties being on the aggressive Gurkhas who had stormed the village twice at Kukri point. However the Imperial troops had no supressions at all whilst the Turks had 77 showing how bad things had become. 
On reflection the Turks had not pushed far enough around our flank to stretch us, this also meant that none of the triggers for the British to start an automatic retreat were hit, but the Turks were always going to be up against it due to how long their reinforcements had taken to come on. As the game ended they still had two more battalions and a battery of guns to come on.

The game had been really good and I enjoyed my first taest of the rules "If The Lord Spares Us" which gave a real flavour of the conflict and the difficulties of command and control.


  1. A neat looking game and sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    1. Thanks Paul, I am very slowly building forces for WW1 Palestine, using my East African stuff as a starting point for the Empire. I think these rules will work for both of those campaigns

  2. Great looking game, impressive terrain!

    1. Thanks a lot Phil, amazing what you can do with decent terrain matts

  3. Great looking game and excellent report. My buddy and I have assembled a large Turkish and British/Indian Force and have been trying various rules to fight what we think is a very interesting period. Last May I ran a game based on the Siege of Kut at a local convention using Chain of Command modified for WW1. I’d be interested in the rules you folks used if you’re willing to share.

    1. Thanks Tom we used "If The Lord Spares Us" by Too Fat Lardies, its designed specifically for WW1 Middle East. We find it works really well. Ken has been running a game every January around the Mesopotamia campaign, this game was the last engagement before Kut so we will be looking at something around that next year. In the meantime I ma exploring these rules for both Palestine and possibly East Africa Too.

    2. Roger,

      Thanks for the information. I actually have a copy of those rules floating around. I’ll have to dig them out. I love the period and the variety of troops. Keep up the good work!!

    3. Cheers Tom, watch this space, also considerign these rules for 3rd Afghan War, may hae a playtest for that period in a couple of months so keep an eye out.

  4. Probably the most comprehensive report ever, and the game looks as though it was a lot of fun also. Well done Roj.