I'm back from Metarie, LA (Louisiana) to Studio City, LA (Los Angeles), having attended the Colonial Barracks V convention. It was quite a trip and the con itself was unforgettable, in large part because it came just days after the death of Larry Brom, author of the The Sword And The Flame and its associated rule books, and a longtime patriarch of Colonial Wargamers here in the USA and to a lesser extent around the rest of the world.
As has been discussed over the past days on The Miniatures Page, the convention went from a celebration of Larry Brom's rules to a combination celebration of his rules and memorial to his life. His daughters Lori and Christy struck me as very happy to reconnect with friends and fellow gamers from near and far who travelled to join them for the event, all of whom shared a deep-seated respect, admiration, and even love for their dearly departed dad, may he Rest In Peace. Stories were told, laughs were had, and tears were shed.
Meanwhile, the gaming went on, and it was impressive, and I believe much enjoyment was had by all, Lori and Christy Brom included.
I spent Friday morning setting up the 12'x6' table for my game, which went very smoothly thanks to a ton of Air Force logistics assistance from my friend "Last Stand" Dan Gurule -- you can visit his blog over at LAST STAND DAN BLOG and see an amazing AAR on his "Gunboats & Dhows" Sudan riverine warfare game at the con.
I apologize in advance for the lack of hi-quality pics of the game's progression, as I was so busy serving as GM for the game that I didn't have a chance to move around much and document the British advance and Afghan defense from all points of the compass, and I took most of the pics from my GM post at the West end of the table.
The game went smoothly and I think it benefited from the adjustments made in the aftermath of the two play-tests. The British did better than they had before and when time ran out had succeeded in reaching the Western Road exit point with the 5th Punjab Cavalry, while at the other end of the table the 9th Lancers were one more movement phase away from doing the same to the Eastern Road exit point in the Sang-i-Nawishta Gorge. However, there were still strong Afghan forces in place around the exit points of both roads, so even though the Brits had possession of one of their two objective points, I had to call it a narrow Afghan victory. If we'd managed to play one or two more turns, the Brits might have succeeded in gaining undisputed control over the Western Road exit point, but I'm not sure they could have gained undisputed control of the exit point on the Eastern Road.
Some particularly memorable moments of the game included:
-- John rolling the pre-fire die for his Gatling Gun on the very first turn and rolling a 6 -- resulting in his Gatling JAMMING, just as both Gatling Guns jammed early in the real battle of Charasiab, which was the first time British forces had ever employed the new technology in action;
-- John launching his 8 remaining 5th Gurkhas to CHARGE the Afghan Regulars atop the "Red Ridge," only to have them all hit by Afghan fire;
-- British troops closing into combat several times with Afghan Tribesmen in the low hills between the Red Ridge and the mountains lining the North table edge, only to have the Tribesmen FAIL their Stand & Fight die rolls, RUN and then RALLY (with morale assistance from their Mounted Leader);
-- "Unlucky" Mike, commander of the Afghan left flank on the Eastern side of the table, inflicting fire casualties on the 92nd Highlanders and then, because Major White's HELIOGRAPH TEAM was located within 3" of the 92nd, getting a chance to eliminate the Heliograph by rolling a 6 on a six-sided die... WHICH HE ACTUALLY DID!!! It was the first GOOD luck moment of Mike's gaming at the entire convention and caused a raucous cheer from his fellow Afghan players, though understandably was not celebrated by his British opponents;
-- John's Army Hospital Corps bungling the treatment of his WOUNDED figures one turn and, thanks to very poor die rolling, turning 6 of his wounded figures into "Died From Wounds" figures.
Before we get to the 150 or so pics of the game, I want to take this opportunity to thank two people for providing indespensible help without which it would not have been as good: my friends Michael "Reggie" Davis of Laguna Niguel, California, who provided the 92nd Highlanders, the 9th Lancers, and half the 12th Bengal Cavalry, as well as one of the three 61 figure Manuever Elements of Afghan Tribesmen, and my friend Jeff "Sgt. Guiness" Baumal, of Coral Springs, Florida, who contributed one 20-figure Wing of the 72nd Highlanders which perfectly matched the 20-figure Wing I myself own. Thanks again, guys!
Here's a pair of LINKS to Michael HORSE-&-MUSKET blog and Jeff's SGT. GUINESS blog:
The game kicked off with a briefing for all players, both British and Afghan, and then a brief Q&A session with each team. I shoed the Brits away and allowed the Afghans to confer amongst themselves and mark down on a scratch map where their three 61-figure Tribal Manuever Elements were hidden, in either rough terrain areas or on the reverse slopes of the large rocky hills.
Then turn one commenced, with the British players all allowed to make unopposed moves bringing all their units onto the table and setting them up anywhere up to 12" in from the South table edge and between the East bank of the Kabul River on their left and the West edge of the Khairabad Swamp on their right...