Tuesday 31 March 2015

Indian colonial BBB game: Maharajapore 1843, Gwalior Campaign

Mark ran the second of his two Gwalior Campaign battles yesterday: Maharajapore. Sir Hugh Gough's column of East India Company troops was "surprised to come under fire from Mahratta artillery around the village of Maharajapore [...] compounded by the fact that the army was being led by Gough’s wife and daughter, and the wives of other senior officers riding ahead of the column on elephants to avoid the dust".

The battle revolves around the EIC trying to capture some key villages and destroy the precious Mahratta artillery. I wasn't playing in this game, but evidently it produced a tough fight and a close one - a narrow Mahratta victory - and the boys enjoyed it.

Meanwhile I was being a guinea-pig playtester for a new set of Napoleonic skirmish rules Garry is developing, "Firelocks". We got two games in. The situation was that some French infantry and dismounted dragoons had caught up with a British supply wagon, somewhere in Portugal. The wagon had broken a wheel, so one party of redcoats was looking for a spare at a nearby farm, while the main body guarded the supplies.

The rules use dice and cards to determine who moves when and to generate bonus actions and random events. Movement, firing and fighting are all swift and simple. The way the effect of fire is determined is a bit funky and counter-intuitive, but actually seems to work well: a 'hit' knocks a figure over, but you don't discover until the end of the turn whether the hit has actually caused any damage.

In the first game, because we were trying to get to grips with the rule mechanisms, Colin and I really had no clue what we were doing. My French managed to overrun his wagon party, but more by luck than judgement.

By the second game, I was getting the hang of it. Dice favoured me, and I was able to get a dozen of my mine to form a line, deliver a volley to pin six careless French infantrymen, then pile on and bayonet them all. The dragoons put up a fight - especially when I made the mistake of charging two units into sabre range - but a crucial initiative dice let my other troops deliver a game-winning volley before they could carve up anyone else.

There does seem to be a lot of firing, given that the very best soldiers could only manage 4 or 5 rounds a minute, but the overall effect seems OK (not that I know a whole lot about how Napoleonic skirmishes worked). There's some tweaking and polishing to do, but the basic mechanisms work. Watch this space.

Taking the credit for two Firelocks victories in games in which neither of us knew what we were doing, my running total for 2015 is now:
Games played to conclusion - 13. (not counting ones I referee)
Won - 6.
Drawn - 2.
Lost - 5.

So I am ahead on wins vs losses!

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