Thursday, 25 June 2015

Carry on Up the Khyber - 15mm Northwest Frontier

We used the rather excellent Battles for Empire rules again for this Colonial jaunt. Set in 1888 it was a factual scenario pitting a British force comprising of an Irish regiment and several Indian and Sikh ones, against Pathan tribesmen.

Three columns of British had ventured into the area and begun to destroy villages and crops in the hope of starving the rebellious tribes out. This focussed on one of these columns, advancing tentatively across an open plain and encountering woodland on their left, hills on the right and a dry river bed running across the front. Their aim was to exit the board directly opposite. The Pathans were initially hidden and required spotting by the Brits.

As a Pathan, I'd decided to wait to see how the British elements would arrange their progress before trying a few pot shots with some marksmen I had hidden in the trees. Unknown to the British we'd arranged our tribesmen in stone sangers both on the hills, and across the riverbank on the far side. The shock of the day would be around 2,000 Ghazi fanatics laying low on their left in the riverbed, ready to spring their trap once the time was right.

The initial Pathan rifle fire was pretty useless, but I was hoping it may confuse or distract the enemy as to where our real whereabouts. We had two smoothbore cannons in the woods in the same area, but they didn't have the correct range as the British were not taken in by the ruse and moved further across the plain.

I could still sense that the British were feeling tense, and as they neared the hills some units of Pathans opened up at long range. Paul who commanded this position was quite successful in inflicting some casualties and some Sikh units began to pull back slightly. The British tried to move a couple of Gatling guns up, but after an initial ineffective burst they both jammed!!

By this time the tribesmen across the river started firing and again revealed their position. Paul came up tops with the dice rolling and cut down an entire company of Indian troops. After this it was all brutal hand to hand fighting in front around the sangars and the British were forcing their way up the hills under constant fire.

About this time I decided to launch the howling war band from their hidden positions onto the enemy left flank. As the British stood astounded at this host appearing suddenly, I was required to roll the d6 to decide their movement factor.....and what do you know, a 1!!! This slowed me down to a meagre 6 inches movement when I should have been steaming along at 12 inches. Ok, so the Brits were still trying to form into a firing line hence I'd get another crack to get it right. So...roll again and another bloody 1!!!

Now the British had sorted themselves out and began a steady fire which resulted in some of my Ghazi units faltering. Nevertheless I still had at least four units bouncing forward and my next rolls resulted in sixes which meant "Fanatic Charge!". Thus began a furious melee, and the British showed fantastic mettle in forcing two more Pathan units into retreat despite high losses. The Pathans did ok with their dice rolling after this, but the minus caused by those early casualties had made it difficult and the remainder also began to leave the field. In conclusion those two bad dice rolls in the previous movement phases had been my downfall. Had it not been for them, I'd have swamped the British positions with sword wielding lunatics before they knew what to do. But hey, there you go :)

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