Monday 25 March 2019

The Men Who Would Be Kings Playtest 1919

Chris Charlton has been collecting figures for the Third Afghan War 1919 for some time, I have a bunch of suitable WW1 figures myself mainly for East Africa and Palestine, Chris having recently bought the Men Who Would be Kings from Osprey decided we would have a game to playtest the rules at the local East Leeds club.

After a quick look I realised I had a stack of Tribesmen in my Sikh Wars collection who would also be suitable so brought these along to the game.

Chris had designed a game where a motorised column was ambushed in some very rocky ground. There were four Commands with Mark taking the Imperial advance guard and me taking the rearguard. Chris Flowers had the troops shooting up Mark and Chris Charlton was busy doing the same to me.

Game points would be simple with the Afghans getting 3 points for every Imprial unit they destroyed and the Imperial forces gettting 2 points for every unit.
The rules have quite  a Hollywood style and concentrate on the leaders of the troops whose qualities are randomly generated, this can mean you get anything from awful to brilliant leaders. It also means a fair bit of dice rolling and cross checking for every unit to figure out the quality of their leader. This seemed to take quite a while but that was probably because it was everyones first game.
Mark had two units of Sikhs and an armoured car at the front of the column whilst I had a further two units a machine gun and a baggage train. My unit of Gurkhas had a bonus in hand to hand combat.
Chris flowers had 2 Tribal units of foot, one of horse, two of Afghan Regular (not as good as the tribesmen) and stolen mortar.

Chris Charlton had three units of tribal foot, one of horse and two of Afghan regulars supported by a maxim mg no doubt provided by the meddling Russkies!

Apologies this is a poor shot of the mortar which is ironic really as the mortar was in fact a very poor shot too.
A fair mix of figures and manufacturers on table, Chris's Imperial troops include Sikhs from Foundry's Darkest Africa Range and British regulars from Woodbine Miniatures and my MG was from Copplestone castings. The Afghan Regulars are Woodbine Turks with little fur hats  and the Tribal Irregulars are a mixture for both of us of Empress and the old Foundry range of figures which are still lovely. Most of the trucks are die cast models re-painted for our use.
Above are Afghan regulars from Woodbine Turks and below are the lovely sculpts from Empress Miniatures Jazz Age Imperialism range.

Above are mainly Foundry Afghan tribesmen based for my Sikh Wars range but fit in perfectly well for this conflict, below more Foundry Afghans support the Empress Maxim MG as it opens up on my rearguard.
Both units of cavalry are again Foundry Afghans with two of my Empress figures at the back tagging along.
As its an ambush by the Afghan forces they go first. The MG opens up and I have two dead troopers straight away. The MG gets 3 dice per operator, with 4 crew thats 12 dice needing 5s and 6s. No saving throws, cover means needing two dice to hit as does long range, these become cumalative, so long range and light cover means three dice, long range and hard cover 4 dice to cause a casualty. As mine are at long range two casualties is pretty much average dice.

The Afghan Tribesmen move forward as their firing is a much reduced number and only applies at short range. Whilst this clearly works for tribesmen for the 1840s or 1860s for 1919 with most tribesment armed with modern rifles we may need to re-consider this for our next game. A small number of untis with the short range is fine to represent the Pathan Knife Parties. Both units of Afghan regulars refuse to move as this is run on initiative which is based on your leaders values.

At the other side Chris Flowers Afghan regulars open up on Mark and inflict two casualties also whilst his tribesment use cover to creep closer and the mortar fails to do anything at all.
Its now our turn, my machine gun hits the Afghan maxim causing one casualty and a pin marker, my infantry also hit two out of three tribal units and pin both of them, lucky for me they were advancing in the open.
Mark had a similar experience pinning both tribal units attacking him and using the armoured car to rip into the Afghan regulars sniping from the hill. The first unit tried to close but as it s leader had rolled poorly and was a "Coward" he was unable to close with the Sikhs and had to stand off and fire.
Chris's regulars now get going and close in on the front and rear of my part of the column whilst the tribal cavalry close with Mark but keeps the mud house between them and the Sikhs to avoid being cut down. Failed rolls to remove pins see two tribal foot units at either end break.
Its looking rather good for us at this stage with relatively few casualties and the Tribal forces melting away in the face of our superior fire power, the Maxim keeps failing to rally off its pin and being driven back too.
So at this point Chris Flowers launches is cavalry into the Sikhs and Chris Charltons regulars erupt from the rocks to skirmish with me. Mark is able to drive off and route the Cavalry but now only has 4 of his first unit left. I see off one unit of Afghan regulars but the other inflicts some serious damage on my machine gun crew and they route.
I painted these two mounted figures on the day of the game, hence their basing is not complete, they were not needed as it happens. Both Perry miniatures Yeomanry for WW2 Syria one with a head swap. The really wide brim on the Wolsley Helmet is a sun shade.

I continue to fire into the Afghans and inflict casualties here and there as does Mark but next move the tribal horse charge into my Muslim troopers and Chris Flowers Mortar finally finds the range. My Muslims are wiped out and so is Marks first units of Sikhs. However the cavalry only have 6 men left. The Afghans have 2 units of regulars and the mortar at the front agaisnt the armoured car and one unit of Sikhs. At the back the maxim has left the table and its one unit of Afghan regulars and half a unit of tribal horse against the Gurkhas.

The mortar fires into Mark again and he is down to one Unit as his first is destroyed, the Cavalry charge my Gurkhas but are in turn destroyed although they add a pin marker as my Gurkhas are very badly led. Its now three units of Afghan regulars against two units of Imperial troops. If Chris can motivate his last unit to move forward and inflict some casualties he can still win. Unfortunately that doesnt happen, Marks remaining unit is hit by both Afghan regulars and the mortar reducing it to just the officer but it holds its ground supported by the armoured car.

We have reached move 10 the designated end of the game, I have inflicted 10 points of damage on Chris, who has inflicted 6 points on me. Mark has inflicted 6 points whiilst Chris Flowers inflicted just 3 as the remaining single officer means the last unit is not destroyed. Thats a win to me, hurrah!
A lovely little action and great to get my Afghans on table for the first time. The rules are extremely bloody and perhaps more reflective of the earlier periods but play well and importantly are fun. Chris plans to play an 1880s Abysinnia game with Italians vs Abysinnian tribes, that may give us a better feel of what the rules play like. Thank you gentlemen for a nice evenings game.

See you all soon.


  1. A great little report - I have the Woodbine British, Sikhs and Gurkhas with a view to gaming this period and have looked at Empress Afghans and Woodbine Turks as their oppos. Thanks for posting - now I know they work together. Cheers

    1. They certainly do, I will be picking some more up in the near future, British Cavalry first though I think.

  2. That looked like a lot of fun...

    All the best. Aly

  3. Excellent game. Roger With return to the XX century.

  4. A great looking and sounding game! A very interesting period and great to see so many figure options. The rules sound worth investigating too.

    1. I wonder how they will cope with airoplanes? Hope to find out and let you know.

    2. Aircraft are beyond the scope of the rules, but then so are vehicles and the armoured car worked just fine. I certainly want to use aircraft and would write some rules to bolt on. Probably have the risk increasing the longer the aircraft stays over the table

    3. If the aircraft comes down it can still feature as I have the Copplestone downed airmen