Wednesday 28 June 2023

Mad Dogs and Englishmen playtest for Sikh Wars

I picked up these rules hoping for a good fit for my large Sikh Wars collections.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen are large scale skirmish rules so my instinct was they may not be the best fit for Divisional size Sikh Wars actions , however the author has played the rules with as many as 2,000 figures on table and has produced army lists and scenarios for the Sikh Wars so seemed worth a go.

The key thing missing were the chance cards, printed in the rule book, I don't have a photocopier to be able to print these off so unfortunately couldn't use them for this game. I feel these would add a lot to the game, next time hopefully.

Steve set up a game with 3 brigades of Sikh Foot and 2 Brigades of cavalry defending against 3 Brigades of Company troops and one Brigade of cavalry.

In total the Sikhs has 7 regular foot and 4 irregular with 2 guns and 4 regiments of cavalry. 1 Regiment of regulars occupied a village.

The Company had 3 battalions of Queens foot and 7 of Sepoys supported by 2 guns and one regiment of British Horse and one of Company native horse.
Steve had read through the rules and had a reasonable idea of how they worked but we took our time over the game to be sure we had a reasonable grasp.

Each brigade had a commander with command points dependant on his quality. Commanders can use these to order their units and to remove terror from units (A bit like shock in Sharp Practice) so far so good I like this. Poor commanders, or those without a European style staff to issue their orders might not be able to give each unit an order, for those that cant you can dice to see if they do what you want.

Again I quite like this mechanism.
Movement is randomised, native foot get 2 d6 of movement, we assumed you have to move all you get so brigades can become disjointed, European troops get three, assuming they are more eager to get to grips with their enemy. This is reflective of how the British Troops performed in the Sikh Wars so again so far so good. I did wonder though if tribal irregulars might move a bit faster.
Each commander has a card and activation is on the turn of the commanders card so again you dont really get control of who goes when as you might in other rules. Again I like this.
Moving comes before firing, so we get going and 2 British brigade commanders come out first. Each has 4 command points so can order every unit they have. They advance and one gun is unlimbered and fires, one casualty caused. On my right the British are already in range so we unleash a long range volley which is surprisingly effective

Firing is a D10 for every figure. Once hits are calculated we can then roll a further D10 to decide if these are kills or terror. Terror can potential be removed where kills cannot. The lower you roll the more of your hits are kills, on a 1 or 2 all hits are kills.
Steves cavalry are next and he declines to use them yet, they have no where to go.
Steve is largely content to wait for the British to come to him. A wise choice given the low command ratings and historically accurate too. Probably for the same reason.
My cavalry are next, I decide to charge and take the extra D6 charge bonus, unfortunately I get the worst of all rolls, I am 25 inches from the Sikh foot and roll 23. This is going to be painful.

As I dont reach him Steve does not need to do his compulsory morale test and doesn't get his closing fire.
The rest of Steve's foot are out and content to wait for the British with a couple of counter volleys that do small ammounts of damage.

My centre brigade then comes out, the British get a great move and bound forward, the Sepoys roll poorly and are left behind, the gun moves and fires with little effect. The British pour in a volley against the village but the hard cover means little in the way of casualties.
So far so good, a few things we cant find in the rules, can we interpenetrate? We assume we can and press on regardless. 

Next go and the Sikhs facing the cavalry come out first. One volley and they completely wipe out the cavalry regiment to a man.

We stand back and consider this for a  few minutes, Steve has rolled well but that seems really extreme.
I take a quick photo before putting them back in the box.
Last card is Steves left hand brigade, Sikh foot and gun fire on my British battalion poor dice rolling leaves no casualties and 4 terror.

With the exception of the cavalry action this all seems very positive and the rules flow reasonably well with some nice mechanics.
Next move and my cavalry are out first, the remaining regiment charges the Sikh Foot. Closing fire requires a roll to determine range, Steve gets long range but still kills half of my cavalry, we then fail a morale and flee. However as we want to see how melee works we assume they passed and go through the phase. As the foot get a dice per figure for both ranks and with bonuses for being Sikh fight as well as the horse, the horse are wiped out to a man inflicting no casualties on the Sikhs.

Again this feel really odd, once horse are in amongst infantry in line we would expect them to do a lot of damage but the foot are able to see them off very easily.

The native horse join the British horse in their box. 
My right hand brigade are next, my commander using 2 command poitns to remove all of the terror on the British and we charge the Sikh foot, a quick melee sees 14 out of the Sikh 20 killed, again very, very bloody, the Sikhs fail their morale test and retreat behind their next unit.

The first sepoy unit advances in support, fairly slowly. The second I am unable to order as I have spent my command points, I roll to see if they will advance, they wont, so I loose a long range volley at the gun and inflict one casualty. Pretty happy with how the rules handle this move other than how bloody the combat seemed.
On my left the British advance to point blank range and volley the first unit of tribesmen who not unnaturally run away. The three sepoy units advance cautiously and unleash two ineffective volleys at the other units of tribesmen.
In the cnetre the gun and two Sikh battalions make a proper mess of my British unit with far more terror than figures I take a morale test but pass.
On the left the tribesmen fire a volley into a Sepoy unit, a good roll sees 9 kills and whilst the sepoys pass their morale they are in proper trouble. Again this feel a little too bloody.

At this point we run out of time with everything still to play for, only three moves but that's ok we took our time to get a feel for the rules and checked things as we went along.

Some really interesting mechanics which we liked. The cards no doubt will add a significant element to the game.

A bit concerned about how poorly the cavalry performed and how effective some of the musketry can be. Tempted to try a much smaller game with the cards next time and play it through see how we get on.

Lots of food for thought.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

More painted for Elizabethan Ireland

This project is the flavour of the moment and hoping for another game soon. Colours on the photos a bit washed out sorry. 

The little farm is from Hudson and Allen and I think fits really well.

First we have the English.

This Demi-lancer is from Hoka Hey but is riding a plastic Perry horse, good fit I think. This gives me 7 so two companies of 3 and a leader. I am tempted to get another 3 from Casting Room miniatures.
These musketeers carry the heavy English muskets with rests that had a longer range than the lighter weapons the Irish and some other units used. The rules dont differentiate but I may consider adding to the range for these weapons as they had a marked advantage over the Calivers of the Irish. I am also tempted to add ammo rules for Shotte. The Irish would often skirmish with the English until they ran out of powder and then attack the vulnerable pike formations in their flanks.
Talking of calivers heres two more for the English. The ten gallon hat isnt out of place, this is the original wild west.
Lastly a fourth Billman, more of these to come, ideally 2 units of 8 or so, possibly 3.
The Irish are deliberately a real mix of manufacturers. 3 from 3 in this shot.
This first one is a Gripping Beast Pict, the targe is Irish and the double handed axe fits him in to theatre.
This Kern with leggings and long tunic is from Antideluvian miniatures, one of the Islemen figures and a perfect fit for Ireland.
This last one is a plastic Wargames Atlantic Dark Age Irishman with additional Morion Helmet again to place him in theatre. All three have brighter saffron tunics which look better than I thought they might. They will be mixed in with existing Kern who have more subdued colours so there will be some contrast.

These will be on table very soon indeed so keep an eye out.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Great Northern War Breaking the Siege AAR

One of three Bank Holidays in May and Dave had invited me around to his for a Great Northern War game with him and Si.
I wasnt sure what Dave had in mind so was surprised by this lovely set up, the siege works I have not seen before.

Our game would have an allied army besieging a mixed force of Swedes and rebel Cossacks, the church and yard being an out work of the Swedish held town and held by a battalion of Cossack foot.

The Swedish field army is marching to break the siege, meanwhile the Saxons have sent two brigades of foot and another of horse to re-enforce the Russian besiegers. Initially Si was planned to lead a sortie by the garrison when he arrived late in the day, as it happened he arrived before I did and Dave took the garrison himself.

The Swedes have 3 brigades of foot, one of three and two of four battalions plus 3 brigades of 4 regiments of horse. They only have 3 light guns.

Inside the besieged town are a brigade of Swedes and another of Cossacks each of four battalions but with one Cossack a battalion in the forward fortification around the church.

The Allies have three decent brigades of Russians and one poor brigade with two brigades of Saxons and two large six units brigades of horse. They have plenty of artillery with 4 siege guns and a further 5 field guns with the infantry brigades.

Dave rolls to see when he can sortie out of the town and gets a 6 on a D6, looks like he will have a quite first half of the game with just the Cossack battalion to play with.

As the game starts I march my Swedish foot from the end of the table towards the siege works with my horse hoping to cover my flank where the allies immediatly appear. I charge the Saxon horse who counter charge and we are into the first action of the game. The Saxons are forced back.
In the Russian move Si launches his Grenadier battalion at the Cossacks in the church, whilst its only the one battalion the Cossacks are already shaky from numerous artillery hits.

Whilst the horse are able to cover my flank fairly effectively it doesnt stop the artillery inflicting the first casualties on the Swedes.
The Swedish foot steadily tramp up table covered by the cavalry.
A volley from the Cossacks and the Grenadiers are unable to close, the return volley decimates the Cossacks but they hold on.
The Russians turn part of the brigade in the trenches along with one of their siege guns to take on the advancing Swedes.
The first two brigades of Swedish cavalry are now in position to cover the foot and start attempting to punch holes in the Allied lines.

With a whirling cavalry Melee in the centre the rear brigade decides to have a go at the Saxon infantry brigade. Suffice to say things dont go well for the unsupported cavalry and once the Saxons move a battllion to refuse the brigades flank the Swedish horse are not going to be able to break them.
The Swedish infantry are almost there and the Russians have deployed to give them a warm welcome, the climax is not far off.
The Saxon cavalry is practically destroyed in the centre and all the Russian horse has been forced back with nearly all of them shaken. The Swedes are worn out themselves but still have a bit of fight as they advance into the gap in the allied line.
The Guards foot brigade and horse brigade continue to meander behind everyone else, presumably planning to deliver the final hammer blow to the Allies whilst everyone else softens them up first. Variable movement being one of the things I both love and loath about Black Powder in equal measure.
Move six and the Swedish foot are finally in position to attack the Russians in the trenches, The town defenders now are able to sallie out at the perfect time. Finally Dave will get a game.
As soon as he gets going though Dave's Cossacks are hit by artillery and dis-ordered.
The Swedes are not quite so quick off the mark, but they are on and Dave is getting a game.
Three battalions of Russians remain in the trenches along with three siege guns to defend against the two brigades of of the garrison.
Dave's Swedish brigade has its first two battalions halted dis-ordered by Russian fire as he tries to storm the trenches.
My first Swedish foot finally hit the Russians defending the other side of the earthworks. Despite being dis-ordered by closing fire their GAPA sees the first Russian battalion destroyed.
The Swedish Guards now wheel in to close with the last two brigades of Russians.
With the Saxons halted and the Swedes closing on both sides of the earthworks things start to look desperate for the Allies. 

With the Swedes having a full Guards brigade of horse in reserve in the centre of the table ready to exploit the first gaps the Russians are forced to retire and the Swedes take a very hard fought victory.
The Saxons have successfully held off the Swedish horse, however the horse have done their job pinning the Saxons well out of the way so they cant support the main effort.

At this point we run out of time, its been hard fought but the Swedes look set to break through and the Allied army is looking much the worse for wear.

After not really feeling that Black Powder was giving enjoyable games recently I thoroughly enjoyed this, although I think Si may have felt a bit picked on, sorry Si!