Thursday, 16 April 2020

Sikh Wars Black Powder Battle Report AAR

OK so I saved a couple of battle reports from just before the lockdown to share with you, here is the first.

Having finished a fair few units for the Sikh Wars project I wanted to keep my enthusiasm by getting them on table. Steve agreed to put on a game, initially billed to be Field of Battle but changed last minute to Black Powder as we realised we didnt know the rules well enough.

Four of us playing each with 2 or more Brigades. All the troops available were used with the exception of a couple of the guns.
The Sikhs were holding a small village with an earthwork to one side and the Bitish needed to turf them out.

The Sikh Forces were led by Mark and Steve:

1st Brigade 3 x Regular Sikh Foot and 1 x Field Gun
2nd Brigade 3 x irregular Sikh Foot and 1 x Field Gun
3rd Brigade 3 x irregular foot, one sword and spear armed only
4th Brigade 2 x Regular Sikh Cavalry (one small) and 1 x horse gun
5th Brigade 1 x armoured irregular cavalry and 2 x unarmoured
6th Brigade 2 x armoured and 2 x unarmoured cavalry

9 Foot
9 Horse
3 Guns

Chris and I commanded the British and Indian Troops:

1st Brigade 2 x British Cavalry (one lance armed) and 1 x horse gun
2nd Brigade 3 x Native Cavalry and 1 x horse gun
3rd Brigade 2 x British Foot 1 x Native Foot and 1 x foot gun
4th Brigade 1 x British foot and 2 x Native Foot

5 Horse
6 Foot
3 Guns
The British were attacking and significantly outnumbered (nothing unusual there) but the Queens regiments (European British troops) were much better than the Sikhs as their historical counterparts performed so well, in turn the Sikh regulars were better than the Sepoys and the Native horse better than the Sikh irregular horse.

Steve used special rules such as ferocious charge and steady for the British plus better morale saves and firing abilities, the Sikh regluars again were given more fighting dice than the Sepoys and the matchlock armed irregulars only 2 firing dice. This helped balance the difference in numbers to some extent.
The Sikhs deployed on table with the regulars holding the villages and earthwork, a brigade of irregular foot either side and the cavalry massed in the open ground to the Sikh left.

The British would deploy on over seperate turns with the Cavalry arriving move one.
It was a nice chance to get my little unit of Gurkha skirmishers on table too.
Move one the Queens British European horse marched on and press towards the Sikh cavalry, I rolled for the Native horse and got double six, a blunder, just as well they were off table. I would roll double six a disproportionate number of times in this game alternately saving me or kicking me.
The Sikh Cavalry also began to press forward keen to take advantage of their superior numbers.
Move 2 and the 16th Lancers are out of the blocks and charging the Sikh irregulars, the Sikh are quickly sent packing but the British have taken casualties too and there are a lot more of the Sikhs.
Move 3 the First British infantry get on and get going as do the Native cavalry at last, the second British foot brigade get on but dont go very far.

More Sikh Cavalry advance to join the fray. The Bengal Native horse charge but are hit by traversing fire as they cross the front of the irregular foot.

The cavalry scrum expands as both sides throw more troops in, the Sikhs are having the worst of it to start with but with 9 to 5 odds we need them to.
The British first brigade get almost within range of the enemy and then roll another blunder, good grief, the result is a move to the left so no big shakes but is slowing us down.
I love these giant Sikh irregular guns, unfortunately we only had 2 thirds of the artillery on table tonight so they never made it on, the Sikhs were doing well enough without them anyway.
I finally get into musketry range of the vllage only to be disordered by the Sikh musketry, the concenrtrated fire of 4 battalions and 2 guns is hard to push through.
My return fire is negligable, in black powder houses and earthworks give a +2 to saves meaning you save on anything but a 1. the best I can do is concentrate my fire on the one unit in the open.

To the right the numbers of irregular Sikh cavalry are starting to tell, the Lancers have smashed a number of units with the first one broken, but most having reached their stamina are withdrawn to rally with Mark throwing some great break test dice, the Govorner Generals Bodyguard have also been forced back with casualties.

A large force of badly mauled Sikh cavalry are now mooching behind the lines of untouched horse.
My left hand brigade is finally moving but a hit form the Sikh artillery dis-orders the front unit slowing them back down again.

The one sided firefight in the centre continues and all three British and Indian battalions are now disordered, concentrating our fire on the only unit in the open is helping but I cant see that we can break through here and my hopes now switch to the left flank where our second brigade of foot will be taking on an irregular brigade in the open, if we can take them out perhaps the brigade can hook around the Sikh lines whilst the rest of the Sikhs are busy.  
We finally reach the Sikh left and a quick firefight is followed by a charge from the leading Sepoys, the first round is a draw but the subsequent fight sees the Matchlock troops retire disordered. However having advanced with the Sepoys to the front and in column of battalions I now struggle to pass the good troops through to the front and replace the badly damaged Sepoys, I also have another matchlock unit firing into my flank with only skirmishers to keep them busy.

In the centre I charge the Sikhs in the open and despite a tough fight finally win and break the unit, at last we are making a little progress.
However my attempt at the village is far less sucessful and the 1st Brigade are taking terrible casualties. Paddy Gough would be proud of our "Tipperary tactics" but its certainly not scientific, or even working terribly well.
To our right the Light Dragons have now taken over the front from the lancers and manage to break another unit of Sikhs, this time my newly painted armoured Gorchurra. Again however they take too many casualties in return and Mark can see the light at the end of the tunnel and starts to push his regular cavalry forward.

The lancers now step forward to replace the exhausted light dragoons and are charged by the Sikh regular cavalry, finally the British lancers are beaten and break, fleeing the table. unluckily on their left the Bengal irregular horse are also charged and broken and the cavalry fight has decidedly swung towards to the Sikhs.
Steve pulls one unit of Sikh regulars back in the centre and turns his gun to fire straight down the legnth of my Sepoys with double dice. Mirraculousley he misses! However a single hit by the foot forces a test and the Sepoys break.

On the left I order my British battalion to pass through the Sepoys and charge the irregulars but yet again they blunder and march off table to their left. Given enough time I could re-organise this flank and perhaps push the Sikhs back but the game is being decided elsewhere.

In the cnetre my gun manages to destroy one of the Sikh guns but my remaining British foot are in a bad way so I pull them back to start reforming.
Two of our 5 Horse are broken and the other three are in a really bad way. The game it seems has been comprehensively lost. In some ways it did feel like elements of Ferozeshah with the British taking terrible casualties and struggling to break into the fortified area, pulling back, reforming and trying again.
Chris did manage a consolotion prize charging the Govorner Generals Bodyguard into a unit of irregulars that had caused him all sorts of pain all night and finally breaking them.
Black Powder handled the Sikh Wars really well and allowed us to differentiate between the many different troops types and qualities on table. Having used them for a number of periods they do perhaps feel a little vanilla so we will have to consider how to add period flavour but the outcome felt right.
The Sikh wars does feel like a much more itneresting period than some other Colonial conflicts with the Sikh regulars really giving the British player a tough opponent and both sides feelind they have a reasonable chance of victory.

Thanks Steve for organising the game and well done to the Sikh players for a hard fought battle. We will be seeing more of this collection soon I feel.

(I wrote that last bit before the virus, soon is probably no longer the correct word)

Hoe you enjoyed it.


  1. An enjoyable and great looking game. Look forward to some more when all this calms down. Take care.

  2. I did indeed enjoy it. So much so that I think I'll try out your scenario. Thanks Roger.

    1. thanks very much, credit to Steve his scenario hope you enjoy trying it let us know.

  3. Wonderful units and terrain, what a beautiful game! I'm in love with your Sikh units!

  4. I was over confident with the cavalry! A quick head count should have made me realise I needed to reign it in. A marvellous collection and a pleasure to play. Cheers, Chris :-)

    1. Thanks Chris, honestly I thinto crack on to stand a chance of winning, the arrival on table hampered us being joined up.

  5. Fabulous stuff Roger! The game looks superb and the standard of the painting is a delight.

  6. Great report as usual Roger. Go at you have a few reports up your sleeve to keep us entertained during our forced lockdown.

    1. Just one more game report to come, saving it for a week or two in but can keep you up to date with project progress Andy.

  7. Superb. I see you're still making good progress. More Khalsa required I think.

    1. Thanks Colin, I know just the place to get them!!!

  8. Great game. I hope you are wrong in the last sentence and we will soon be able to return to our games. I hope you have more outstanding reports.

    1. Cheers Bartek, one more game report but a couple of finished units and project progress reports still to share.

  9. A splendid looking and sounding game Roger...
    It is indeed a very colourful period and certainly no colonial walkover...

    All the best. Aly

  10. Fantastic effort gents both with the figures and the table.A long term dream of mine to get my collection painted and played with.More when you get a chance..pretty please

    1. Cheers Kevin, I have a couple more battalions finished to sharee with you, the next game will have to wait for lockdown to ease but I might just do a review of the finished units so far at some point.

  11. I'm assembling a 20mm I army with prepping and priming underway, your game has inspired me.