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Monday, 23 July 2018

More Boer War: Modder Spruit (Ladysmith)

It's been almost a year since Anton and I last got together for a game. Our last one was Magersfontein The planets aligned recently, miraculously we both had a free Sunday, as did a couple more of the guys, and we finally got to try the next in his series of Boer War scenarios: Modder Spruit. This sees Sir George White undertake a reconnaissance in force from Ladysmith against Boers on the hills surrounding the town, which they have been shelling with an annoying Long Tom gun. Historically the British suffered a bloody repulse. Could we change history?

The Battle of Modder Spruit and Tchrengula
You've played the game, now read the book: 
available from Casemate Publishing

Anton's scenarios are clean and quick, and the four of us managed to play this twice in five leisurely hours. He may only write one scenario a year, but my word they are good ones! We Brits tried two quite different plans, first an ahistorical left hook, then a more historical advance with our main weight on the right. Both produced the traditional BBB last-turn nailbiter.

In game 1, thanks in part to an early fortunate success against the Boers' forward unit on Surprise Hill, we were able to steamroller pretty solidly onto our first objective, Tchrengula. From there we had no fewer than three units attempt a last-turn surge to claim Pepworth Hill, and with it victory - but all were repelled by Boer fire, making it a draw.

The second game went less well for us. An aggressive Boer raid in the centre disrupted our gun line as it was deploying, and obliged us to divert some troops there. This weakened our right hook enough that, although we cleared the Boers off the steep Lombard's Kop objective, we got enveloped by advancing Boers and whittled down by their deadly fire. A thrust towards Long Hill ended in the destruction of the Rifle Brigade. Had the last dice of the game been 9+ rather than 7, our last unit on Lombard's Kop would have been wiped out and left the Boers victorious. As it was, we hung on by the skin of our teeth for another draw.

Anton's Boer War games have been excellent without exception. His scenarios really bring out the very different characters of the opposing forces. The radical asymmetry between the two sides makes for fascinating tactical match-ups and invariably interesting games. I can't wait for his next one - roll on 2019!

Anton's scenario is available from the BBB Yahoo group files as usual.