Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fire & Maneuver on the Frontier... Etc, Etc.

Whew.

I started writing this post back on December 9th, 2017, about a game I'd set up and played with my buddy JG Randall from down in Orange County who visited LA and as a favor to me brought along his own set of rules -- FIRE & MANEUVER -- which I have found do a great job with Horse & Musket period games such as ACW, and which both of us had been wanting to try out for a Second Afghan War game for some time (JG has used them in the past with great success for epic size Sudan games).

We used his rules to play the game, I took my usual ton of pics, and then... "Real Life" spent several months interfering with this Blog Post, thus the "ETC, ETC," added to the title above.  First, my work became even more insanely busy than usual.  Not in a particularly good way, just an extremely time-consuming way.

Then the Christmas/New Year holiday break arrived and our family visited Austin, Texas to attend a memorial concert for my cousin, George Reiff, who passed away from brain cancer in May 2017 at the tragically young age of 56, but managed to fill those 56 years with enough cool activities, experiences, and contributions to fill at least half-a-dozen lifetimes...





George was a vastly talented and accomplished musician and music producer, and an incredibly charismatic, kind and thoughtful human being, and his friends from the Austin music scene poured their hearts into the event, which turned out to be a Rock/Country/Americana concert for the ages...


My brother Myles and my family and I stayed in Austin to spend some a little more time with George's family, then we said goodbye to my brother and drove to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, where we'd never been before...

REMEMBER THE ALAMO -- by day...


...and by night:



And lets not forget its defenders:


The Alamo was definitely cool. It could benefit from more historical renovation of the battlefield grounds, but some of that seems to be underway, and of course cost is a major challenge. One happy surprise was when I texted my buddy "Last Stand" Dan Gurule (CLICK HERE to visit Dan's excellent website, especially if you are interested in beautiful custom-made 28mm or 15mm Colonial or ACW GUNBOATS!) and Dan informed me there was a Toy Soldier shop across the street  in the ground floor of the legendary "haunted" Menger Hotel (on land that was part of the Alamo Mission during the siege and assault).  The shop only carries King & Country figures (not too surprising considering the name of the shop is "KINGS X" -- CLICK HERE to visit their website), but they have a ton of figures from just about every period the company makes on hand and lots of King & Country model buildings and diorama accessories as well.  Despite not collecting 60mm figures I had to buy something, so I spotted Osprey's "French Foreign Legion 1890-1914" -- which somehow I didn't own -- and rectified that situation...


After San Antonio we drove East to New Orleans...


It was the first time in the Big Easy for my two daughters, and along with their older brother, my wife and myself, we all had a great time enjoying the food, the people, the history, the architecture, the French Quarter and -- most of all -- the food! In addition to being an amazing musician my cousin George was also an incredible cook and worked for some time as a professional pastry chef, and I dedicate the food pics below -- which I know he would appreciate -- to his Beloved Memory:






Sarah (15), Skylar (21) and Izzy (17) with Mississippi River,
 paddle-steamer, and corner of Cafe Du Monde in background...


Christmas in n'awlins...


Public transportation NOLA style...


World famous beignets at the always jam-packed Cafe Du Monde...




The 3 women in my life: my wife Xinhua, Isabella & Sarah...


A great place to visit in New Orleans -- especially for those of us interested in history -- is the National World War II Museum...



While there we paid particular attention to the exhibits dedicated to the 2 Theaters of Operations were my dad served with the US Army Signal Corps: China-India-Burma, and the Pacific Ocean Theater...

(To learn just a little bit more about my dad and his WWII service,
CLICK HERE to read my blog post from after his death in December 2013)



Our visit to the WWII Museum was more special because we were able to meet up there with Isabella's friend Tommy, who lives just outside the City of New Orleans. 


Izzy and Tommy met this past Summer when they were both assigned to the same Company at West Point SLE -- "Summer Leadership Experience" -- a week-long program for aspiring cadets that provides them with some firsthand experience of what life would be like as a cadet, and also allows the Army a chance to see potential appointees up close and personal, so to speak. In the half-day we were lucky enough to spend with him, Tommy left a great impression on our entire family. It was easy for us to see why he and Izzy became friends during their week at West Point. Hopefully he left a similar impression with West Point!


Night overlooking the Mississippi...


While walking in the French Quarter late one night we passed an artist working on a painting on the street outside his studio alongside his adorable little dog, and struck up a conversation.

The artist's name was Adrian Fulton, and turned out he had served in the Air Force and worked as an engineer before deciding to change careers and become a full-time professional artist (click this LINK to visit Adrian Fulton's website)...



We said goodnight to Adrian and started walking back to our hotel when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by one of his works of art, installed in a recessed ground floor window of studio...


I'm not a Bonapartist but nor am I one who equates Napoleon with Satan or Hitler. My wife and I only own a couple of pieces of original art, but this painting really grabbed me -- and I had an idea of where it might fit to be displayed in our house. I made some quick measurements and then a quick call and asked our friend who was house-sitting to take some measurements in our house just to be safe, then spoke again with Adrian, the artist. The next day, with my wife and kids' support, I went back and bought "Napoleon on a big White Horse" (my name for it, not Adrian's!) and handed gave him our address for slightly nerve-wracking shipping purposes (as it is a heavy piece, painted onto a rough chipboard panel. We flew home and a week later the Emperor was installed at our place...



Back home work stayed crazy busy and I was still unable to find time to finish the AAR for this blog post. Then out of the blue a new job opportunity was presented and my partner and I were spending a month in Mumbai, India, working on a TV project for Netflix.  It turned out to be a whirlwind experience, with the two of us literally having 2 days off over the course of our month in Mumbai -- but we were there to work, so no complaints.  Our Indian colleagues were awesome and I'm very proud of the work we did together with them, and look forward to seeing it come to fruition on small screens across India and around the world some time in the not-too-distant future -- and the Indian food was incredible!

SOME PICS FROM THE SUB-CONTINENT:

Sci-fi-esque view of smokey Mumbai (smog + ash from fires = "smokey" weather conditions)...



Rooftop view from the office where we worked...


More dramatic lighting conditions at night...


One last wider view... 

Our team in Mumbai: my partner, myself, 3 top-notch screenwriters (Bhavani Iyer; Mayank Tewari [big beard] & Siraj Ahmed [trimmed beard]), 1 top-notch production executive (Gaurav Verma in glasses), 1 boy-wonder novelist (Bilal Siddiqui - young enough to be anyone else in the picture's son!) and -- in sunglasses at the center -- Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan AKA: SRK...



A good day at the office...



Our office had no wargame table but this was a close second...



Two of many impressive pieces of fan artwork on display...




Amongst the youth of Bollywood's film & TV industry, it seems Walter White has joined the ranks of the lesser Hindu deities...


Line producer, production executive, myself, boy-wunderkind author, & my long-time writing & producing partner, Cyrus Voris...

 

Helpful sign at the office...



At night in my hotel room, I watched a lot of English language local news, including this BEARD VS. BALD debate...


The intensity of bitterness on display put even the 2016-to-present ultra-partisan American political divide to shame, with accusations of treason and calls for execution (though I suppose it can be said we've had a few of those recently in the USA as well).

Despite my interest in the topic being debated and a certain inherent level of visceral entertainment, I  had to change channels on the show below -- I simply couldn't keep track of the moderator and all 9 guests attacking each other with mutual contempt. Two or three people is one thing, but TEN?!?!



Happily not everyone was fanning the flames of discord, as seen on this tissue box with a laudable civil society marketing strategy...



Regarding paper products, I came across this somewhat perplexing notice at a public restroom...


View out the Uber window during our morning commute to the office...


Another view of the same commute...


This pic may give you a slight sense of the nature of Mumbai traffic - there really are no "lanes" as such, it's more like the constant flow of a school of fish -- and no one stops at intersections, there it's like the intermingling of multiple schools of fish heading in different directions. But the overall speed is a bit slow and the drivers all know what they're doing and for the most part manage to make it work...


Mumbai senior shops by day...


Mumbai couple travels by night...


Even in Mumbai, American superheroes reign supreme -- or at least walk to school...


Learned "Bira" is Hindi for beer - well, really just one brand, but ubiquitous, at least in Mumbai...



Hoegaarden -- a nice Belgian beer I didn't know before discovering it in Mumbai...



Mumbai Indigo Delicatessen menu detail which caught my eye...



The best garlic nan bread I've ever eaten, from dinner at the "Mahesh Lunch Home Juhu"...


The Golden Arches stretch across even the land where cows are holy and eating beef is barely tolerated, and I can honestly report the Filet-O-Fish and fries (as well as the not pictured below chicken-wrap) are quite delectable...


Sidewalk bookshop in "Town" -- how locals refer to the old downtown part of Mumbai -- this place was the Barnes & Noble of street vendors...


The legendary -- and still thriving -- Taj Mahal Palace hotel overlooking the Arabian Sea...


Local tourists taking in the view of the Arabian Sea...


 Taj Mahal Palace with an art instalation Moon in orbit...


The Gateway of India late in the day from a heroic low angle...


And again at dusk...
(There's a reason Hollywood calls it "Magic Hour"!)


Orbited by the same moon...


A note of explanation Re: the moon in Mumbai -- CLICK THIS LINK to visit a page about this British Council touring artwork created by UK artist Luke Jerram, which I thought was very cool...



Now I will return from the moon back down to earth but in an amazing moonshot kind of way...

While I was away in India, Izzy received her Appointment to
the United States Military Academy at West Point (!!!!!!!!!!)




Thanks to 21st Century smart-phone technology and happy timing I got this momentous news straight from her simultaneously with the rest of our family. It's possible Izzy heard my celebratory cheer -- similar in volume to those pictured below -- back in Los Angeles, all the way from Mumbai...




We will drop Izzy off at the Academy at the end of June, and when the first week of July arrives she will be being screamed at while crawling through the mud, undergoing 7 weeks of Cadet Basic Training (aka: "Beast Barracks") before settling into the daily rigors of the path she has chosen for herself. Our whole family is proud of Isabella, and her mom is understandably a little nervous, but most of all we are very happy for her, because this is what she wanted, pursued, and earned, for herself. And also for our country.

CONGRATULATIONS ISABELLA!!!



A few weeks later we were all happy to hear that Izzy's SLE friend Tommy from Louisiana also earned an Appointment, so looks like they will be classmates. Congratulations Tommy!

In addition to her various other interests, Izzy is a a bit of a gamer (see the AAR on her victory over me this past Summer, here: Lights Out in the Valley AAR; also this AAR of last Summer's Eidhoven game, when she led US Airborne forces to victory) and it turns out West Point holds a wargaming convention every Spring called, "PONT CON," so... my tentative notion is to forgo attendance during her Plebe/Freshman year (I figure she'll have more than enough to worry about that first year without her father showing up with a truck full of terrain and figures one weekend) and then -- pending her approval/acquiescence -- bring either Maiwand Day, Charasiab, or some other First or Second Afghan War game to run at Point Con (if they'll have me, of course).  West Point is a bit further from Los Angeles than New Orleans, which up until now has been the farthest I've ever transported a game for a con, but if Izzy agrees I think I will manage to make the trip.  Maybe I'll even convince my wife to ride shotgun cross-country... but I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

ACTUAL WARGAME AAR STARTS HERE...

Musing over my theoretical future GM trip to West Point leads me -- finally -- back to the original point of this blog post: the game of "Fire & Maneuver" I played this past December with author of those same rules JG Randall...

As I have previously posted on this blog, for anyone interested in learning more about the rules, here's a handy LINK to the online FIRE & MANEUVER PRIMER.

I made some adjustments to the layout I'd used for the previous 2 games, removing the hillfort and adding pine trees to some of the rocky heights.

The Anglo-Indians had 2 MIXED BRIGADES (1 cavalry unit each, 4 Infantry units each, 1 or 2 artillery batteries each) would enter from the South and South-East (via connecting "dogleg"road) table edges, their objective to secure the bridge over the Logar River at the North-West corner of the table.

The main road stretched 8' (about 2.7 miles using my ground scale of 1"=50 yds) up the table from a small village at the South edge of the table to the bridge at the North, but the ground between the British entry-points and that objective was filled with 2 low hills, several areas of rough terrain and 7 rocky pine-covered hills...




Approximately one-third to one-half of the table was covered with difficult terrain -- enough to make the British advance a challenge... 



The Anglo-Indians began by dispatching several Gurkha scouts...




Punjab Cavalry advance in road column down the road...



British 1st Brigade enters on the MAIN ROAD, Gurkhas and 72nd Highlanders following the Punjab Cavalry North in road column under the eyes of their brigade commander (note "COMMAND CURRENCY" coins set beside the CO, used in the rules to supplement standard supply of RED & GREEN CHIPS required for FIRE & MOVEMENT...



The British column heads North, Gurkha scouts in the lead on both sides of road and atop the heights...



Battery of Afghan regular artillery field guns ensconced atop low sandy hill towards the far North-West corner of the table...



Afghan mountain guns positioned closer to the British atop highest ground of all...


British 2nd Brigade -- Yorkshire & Lancaster Regt, Guides Infantry, Sikhs, company of Bombay Sappers & Miners (w/field engineering abilities), 9th Lancers, and a battery of 3 RHA Field Guns -- await their chance to arrive on the table...




British advance seen from the West, Gurkha scouts reconnoitering the rough terrain, 2 stacks of GREEN MOVEMENT CHIP & COMMAND COIN = DOUBLE MOVES for Scouts and Punjab Cavalry...



General Officer Commanding watches 72nd Highlanders pass by from up on the roof...



The General has Gurkha and Sikh orderlies/bodyguards...



And a pair of Drummer Boys from the 'Fore & Fit' (named Jakin & Lew)...







Afghan field guns commence fire...





Smaller caliber Afghan mountain guns do the same from on high..



FIRST BLOOD: Punjab Cavalry KIA courtesy of the Afghan guns...



But the remaining three-fourths of the Troop keep advancing...





84th York and Lancaster Regt. (with greatcoats en banderole), Guides Infantry (with poshteens & red kullahs) and Bombay Sappers & Miners (with trademark entrenching tools)...



Atop the highest mountain the Afghan mountain guns keep lobbing shells...



At front of the advance Gurkhas deploy into skirmish line...



Punjai Cav skirt the road and use screen themselves from continuing artillery fire behind a rocky hill -- from which they are ambushed by hidden Tribesmen...





Yorks & Lancs earn the coveted "GOLDEN CHIP" -- by rolling boxcars (double sixes) on a morale test the unit's morale becomes unshakeable for the rest of the game, they will fight to the death no matter what the odds may be...



Anglo-Indian casualties begin to pile up...



The Gurkas are getting the worst of it..



Hidden Pathan Tribesmen open fire on road column of British & Indian infantry...



The column deploys off the road in response...



Gurkhas break East and go into skirmish order...



...in front of the center rocky hill...



Tribesmen keep firing on the Guides and Sappers still stuck on the road...





Suddenly a swarm of Ghazis clothed in pure white charges out of the rocky terrain at the Gurkhas who are strung out in open order - not the best formation for receiving fanatics in melee...
















After defeated the Gurkhas in melee, Ghazi unit is marked with BLUE CHIP denoting their temporary status as "Blue in the Face"/winded...







Meanwhile to the South, Jacob's Rifles deploy into line, blocking the road North for a RA Field Gun and the Punjabis...



72nd close with the remaining Ghazis for a second melee atop the same patch of bloody ground...



One unit of Tribesmen force a veritable full brigade of Anglo-Indians to turn and halt their advance, turn and engage them along the road...







The 9th Lancers gallop down the East road to support their infantry comrades up ahead...



72nd Highlanders close with the Ghazis...



This time the Baraka is not with them...



Just the dude with the flag left, and he -- somewhat understandably under the circumstances even for a Ghazi -- breaks and routes away...



The Ghazis are gone.

However, on the other side of the road and the other side of the fight, the Punjab Cavalry follow suit, turning horse tail and retreating South, away from the Tribal small arms fire coming from the narrow rocky hill...





To recap results of big hand-to-hand fight in middle of the table: the Ghazis are gone...



Upon further review they left casualties and an array of ragged banners planted in the bloody earth...





Dhoolie bearers and the Army Hospital Corps arrive to treat the wounded...



Jacob's Rifles astride the road with the Punjabis in column behind them...



View a little farther South, with the C-in-C visible on a village rooftop...



Panning East to take in Guides Infantry, Yorks & Lancs and 9th Lancers on the East dogleg road...



Cribbage board customized for use with "Fire & Maneuver" rules: the Arabic numerals marked on RED & BLUE sides denote INITIATIVE BONUS added to that side's INITIATIVE ROLL that turn, based on that side having achieved meaningful objectives, such as BREAKING AN ENEMY UNIT or TAKING POSSESSION OF A KEY TERRAIN FEATURE. This device/mechanic encourages success in battle to lead to more success, but still does not guarantee of victory, since the tables can quickly turn...











View farther North, showing 2 Tribal units on the Narrow Rocky Hill delaying the Anglo-Indian advance up the road...





Sneaky/clever Afghans take advantage of opportunity for hidden movement, bring fresh Tribesmen up into the smal rocky hill North of the dogleg road and OPEN FIRE on the Guides Infantry on the road below...





Sudden appearance of Tribal Cavalry galloping South along the East edge of the battlefield...







Meanwhile back in the middle of the table, a fresh Tribal unit charges out at the 72nd Highlanders occupying ground that's already been fought over twice. First the Ghazis were victorious, then the 72nd Highlanders. Who will take the rubber set and match...?


In the aftermath of their hand-to-hand victory over the Ghazis, the 72nd were issued a BLUE CHIP to mark them as "Blue In The Face" aka: winded. They also went into OPEN ORDER -- like the ill-fated Gurkhas before them -- to make themselves a harder target for rifle and artillery fire. But the Tribesmen forgo sniping and choose cold steel instead...

The Afghan attack dice are cast and against all odds it comes up Afghan aces and aces of spades for the poor bloody 72nd Highlanders...


In the aftermath of the melee, the victorious Tribesmen are issued a BLUE CHIP of their own...



Action continues back at the East dogleg road...







Turn 6 is reached, with +2 Initiative Bonus for the Afghan side...

















Punjabi Cavalry fail their rally morale check and continue to route Southwards...











Atop the pine-covered small rocky hill overlooking East dogleg road the few surviving Tribesmen come under renewed heavy fire from Yorks & Lancs, Guides Infantry & Sappers...







Are about to come under another round of heavy fire...



Morale breaks and route begins...



Tribal Cavalry reach the Three Corner Pass...







THE MOVEMENT DUST CLOUD marks emergence
of the Tribal Cavalry from the Three Corner Pass...





Meanwhile at the far North-West corner of the table...



The Afghan Regular Infantry finally manage to find their way to the bridge over the Logar River (finally made the die-roll required to appear) and march South to the sound of the guns...



At the East dogled road, the last remaining off-table British unit -- a battery of 2 RHA Field Guns -- finally has room on the road for the caissons to go rolling along...



North of the road the Guides Infantry "crown the heights" while Yorks & Lancs prepare for the approaching Tribal Cavalry and Sappers hold in reserve...



Back in the middle of the battlefield Jacob's Rifles remain astride the road firing at the Tribesmen on the narrow rocky hill to their front while the Punjabis advance across the ridge to their left...







Afghan Regulars keep coming from the North...





RHA rolls on from the South-East as Sikhs, Yorks & Lancs and Guides Inf. prepare for the Tribal Cavalry with Sappers & Miners in reserve...





...and 9th Cavalry riding back from main road to help contain the mounted threat...





Yorks & Lancs now ensconced on the small rocky hill open fire on the Tribal cavalry...



Up North the Afghan Regulars keep coming...





Blessed and exhorted by the local clergy...



Down South the Sikhs fire at approaching Tribal Cavalry...





























TURN 11 and aided by destruction of Tribal Cav unit the British have turned the tide and now up by +3 Initiative Bonus...



Hazara Mountain Battery deploys atop the ridge...













...and proceed to open fire on the Tribesmen still occupying the narow rocky hill to the North...





Across the table on the Eastern edge of the battlefield, Gurkha scouts proceed North to check the next rocky hill...



Along the Western edge of the battlefield the last 4 Punjabi Cavalry keep routing South ...



Afghan Field Gun on North side of Logar River takes a shot at fleeing remnants of the Punjabi Cav...



Make that a DOUBLE SHOT thanks to a well-spent Afghan COMMAND COIN...



On far side of the ridge, Punjabis form line & prep to face Tribesmen occupying narrow rocky hill...



Further North, having crossed the Logar River, 2 regiments of Afghan Regular Infantry head South, one continues on the road South, the other breaks right, gaining cover behind the narrow rocky hill...




To the South-East Gurkha scouts reach North end of Elbow Rocky Hill having swept it for further hidden Tribal units, while behind them the Yorks & Lancs and Guides Infantry finally make some progress Northwards...











TURN XII (!?!?!?) - and the Brits are up by +1 Initiative Bonus...



Remnants of both Tribal units from the narrow rocky hill fail morale
checks and RETREAT towards approaching Afghan regulars...



Guides Infantry followed by Yorks & Lancs (with their "Golden Ticket") and Sikhs head North through the three-cornered pass...









Tribal retreat off narrow rocky hill...



The "RETREAT" markers show the path of the routing Tribesmen is about
to collide with their advancing cousins in the Afghan Regular Infantry...

Not sure how that will be handled by the Fire & Maneuver Morale
system, and bracing myself (as Afghan player) for the worst...



Punjabis in line with Field Guns & Jacob's Rifles to the East astride the road...



The Regimental Bhisti (something tells me you know his name) races to catch up with his Punjabi brethren (they scoff at him most of the time but deployed under fire and the blazing sun, they thank Allah or Krishna for his presence (depending on which of the regiment's companies they're in)...



Remnants of Punjabi Cavalry retreat past regimental bhisti...

(You're a better man than they are, Gunga Din!)





C-in-C on the rooftop looks North towards the fight -- things started
out pretty rough but tide seems to have turned, at least in regards to the
Tribal forces he's already engaged and laregly cleared off the battlefield...



He has also dispatched Jakin & Lew off the roof to inspire the
Brigadier and his advancing troops with their martial tunes...



Play on bhoys...

(Click PLAY below for fife & drum "The British Grenadier")





To the East the Guides Inf., Yorks & Lancs and Sikhs push on through the Tree Corner Pass...



Once through the way North on the East side of the battlefield
will be wide open and already cleared of any/all hostile forces...



Atop the West Ridge, Hazara Mountain guns range in on approaching Afghan Regular Infantry...





Sikhs advance through the three-cornered pass towards bloody spot where
Ghazis routed Gurkhas and were then wiped out by 72nd Highlanders...


That ground remains strewn with ugly remains of 2 ferocious fights...


Afghan mountain guns marked with multiple RED CHIPS
and COMMAND COIN for double-fire on the British
advance which seems to be making headway...


Guides Infantry and Yorks & Lancs head North along
the aforementioned wide open Eastern edge of the battlefield...


On North side of the dogleg road the RHA battery impatiently waits for the company of Bombay Sappers & Miners to complete CLEARANCE of the rough terrain which will allow them to avoid the long winding road and head due North towards the action...


The "1" pip on the marker die signals this is the last turn the RHA must wait, the rough terrain is CLEARED by Bombay Sappers & Miners and the limbered Field Gun battery can get going...


AND THEN... 

TIME. RAN. OUT.

Both JG and I were bummed we had to call the game when we did, since he had to head home and I had to get some work done, which sadly kept our after-action discussion very brief, but we both thought the game had been a success, and that we'd learned some things about how to better-tailor F&M for Second Afghan War gaming purposes -- namely to reduce Tribal Afghan firepower a bit and perhaps limit Afghan logistics a bit as well, making it just a little more difficult for the Afghans to coordinate fire and movement by multiple units, while still allowing them to react to local threats and targets with fire or melee attack.

Of course a big aspect of F&M that's very different from the way I normally game with TSATF (The Sword And The Flame) or even 800FE (800 Fighting Englishmen) is the use of multi-figure movement stands in place of single-based figures. Despite playing big unto epic scale games, in the colonial genre I've always stuck to single-base figure gaming, probably more out of nostalgia and familiarity than anything else. Most miniautre wargamers are familiar with the challenges that come with deciding how to base a figure collection and then balancing that basing scheme with active gaming. In some ways single-based figures are amongst the easiest to "rebase" in a variety of different ways, since they can be temporarily rebased using "Blu Tack" or double-sided tape or magnets, etc.  You may have noticed that I attached my figures -- which have thin metallic sheets on the underside of their vinyl tile bases to keep them safer during transport -- to magnetic movement stands for this trial game.  This approach was pretty successful.  Figures stayed in place the majority of the time, only falling off occassionally while negotiating the steep rocky hills.  This is another reason why I have always unsed single-basing for my NWF/Second Afghan War armies.  There can be no debating the labor-intense time-consuming nature of playing very big games with single-based figures. The question for me is how I will balance my dedication to the visual quality of my games, a big part of which comes in the basing of figures -- which IMHO when not done well seriously detracts from the visual appeal of a game -- with a desire to be able to play more and faster games.   One simple step would be repainting all those magnetic movement trays I have to more closely match my Afghan terrain board ground cover... but the trays themselves are not really perfect for the task at hand, so I'm not sure I want to permanently change them so they can provide an "interim" solution.

Anyway, JG and I both want to schedule another Second Afghan War F&M game, and this time hopefully we'll find the time to write down some specifics re: adjustments to game mechanics to better reflect the period.  The game itself was real seesaw, with advantage starting with the Afghans, then switching to the British, then switching back to the Afghans again, and then back to the British for a second time.  For the British it was a slow and grueling slog clearing their way past and through the terrain, but that's laregly how it should be.  One downside was the Afghan regular infantry didn't have a chance to get engaged in the fight -- due to awful die-rolling for the turn of their arrival on my part -- as I was interested to see how the second or third class version of British regulars, with appropriately brittle morale, would fair against the real thing in F&M.  We'll make sure to fix it so that plays out next time.

JG played the British and I play the Afghans, and his final comment on the game was: "Afghanistan... where dreams of glory go to die."  I'd like to think that was due to my brilliant generalship, and I do think I did a good job using the forces at my disposal, but I believe JG's comment was was mostly about the terrain.  I think all the colonial games he'd played before this were set in Sudan or Zululand, except for Maiwand, the battlefield of which has absolutely NO rocky terrain or hills or mountains at all, just several dry riverbeds and a ravine which enable the Afghans to advance under cover and present a challenge to the British player, but of a different fashion.  JG was frustrated by having to fight the terrain as well as my Afghans, but he stuck with it, and if we'd had more time the game could easily have gone either way.  The British had lost a couple of units -- including an entire Wing (half-battalion) of Gurkhas in my insanely successful first Ghazi charge -- but they still had a substantial force in good shape, while most of my Tribal units had been decimated or were routing.  It would have come down to the Afghan regular infantry and how well I could have positioned them to use the terrain to their defensive advantage facing the higher class opposition.  Also the Brits had finally cleared out my great blocking position near the dogleg road and were about to sweep down the East table edge with the better part of a brigade of infantry and the RHA Field Gun battery the Sappers finally cleared the way for.  Still, if I had managed some good die rolls when it came to morale checks for my low-quality regulars once push came to shove, I might have pulled out an Empire-shaking victory.  But of course we'll never know!

All in all a very enjoyable gaming/learning experience and one I hope JG and I can build on in the near future.  If we end up with something we think is useful, I'll team up with him to write it up and get on him to post it over on his rules page, and maybe post it here as well.  Of course none of this should be taken as me in any way, shape or form lessening my LOVE FOR AND DEDICATION TO TSATF!  Right now I have no plans to permanently rebase any of my troops on multiple-figure movement stands, and anyone who says different is spreading fake news!

A last toast to Bollywood...


And a Last Goodbye from Mumbai - with a nod to
award-winning screenwriter Mayank Tewari, who
looks so cool in this pic I had to put it here...






17 comments:

  1. Wow! Blog posts don't come any bigger that that but you kept me interested all the way through.
    Firstly, my condolences to your family with the sad news of George, 56 years young is no age but I am glad to hear he lead a full life.
    Secondly, congrats to Izzy and Tom with West Point, what a fantastic achievement for them both.
    Thirdly, thanks for sharing with your travels and work, there are a few things I think I will be adding to my bucket list.
    Last of all the game, EPIC in every sense of the word. Fantastic, scenery, figures and battle report, as always.
    As for your basing of figures, have you considered the sabot bases which come with magnets? www.warbases.co.uk sell them which may be a solution for you.
    Pat.

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    1. Whew! Thanks for letting me know it held your interest, Pat!

      And thanks for the Warbases link. We have a company here in the USA called LITKO that does similar stuff. In fact the Ghazis in this game were using "Horde" style bases with magnetic inserts, which worked pretty well. I may go down that road for all my Ghazi & Tribal "irregular" figures, since the changeover from single to mass basing is pretty easy and once I take the time to paint/terrain the trays to blend in with my groundcover they should look pretty good.

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  2. What a fantastic post, so many places that I'll never see.

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    1. Thank you Phil -- but you never know! BTW, very nice work on your Zomtober undead!

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  3. Epic post Ethan sorry to hear about you cousin he looks like a really cool guy in his photos.
    Congrats to your daughter and her friend a great achievement.
    India looks like an interesting place to visit also on my bucket list although I don't fancy driving other there.
    Great to see your collection getting another airing always a pleasure to view love your new addition Vive la Emperor

    Best
    Willie

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    1. Willie, great to hear from you! Thanks to you and also Pat above for your condolences and congratulations.

      Re: driving in India... I think you have the right idea!!! On the other hand, at least they drive on same side of the road as you folks in the UK, so if you're feeling adventurous you could give it a try... or not! Man, the traffic patterns in the city were kind of insane, but the one good thing was most of the time as I said above they weren't going that fast.

      Glad you like the Emperor! I'm happy to say he seems to fit in now that he's been exiled from his French-speaking homeland AKA: New Orleans!

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  4. Good heavens! You haven't been around for a while, but when you return to the Blogosphere it's with a vengeance. Condolences on the loss of your cousin George. It was a nice turn-out of musicians to help celebrate his life. Congratulations to Izzy and Tom for achieving their dream of going to West Point. Kudos to you for going to India, a country I've long wished to visit. And thanks for a terrific write-up of an action-packed game.

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    1. Good to be back, AJ, and thanks for taking time to comment! It was an impressive lineup of musical talent indeed and I’m so happy my family and I were able to be there. India was incredible but I do wish I’d had a chance to do some travelling and sightseeing in addition to my daily commute! Maybe next time, if there is one!

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  5. That's a post and a half! Sorry for your loss, although he seemed to live a full life and congratulations to your daughter. The AAR is great and looks wonderful, I look forward to another colonial post in what? Six months? !
    Best Iain

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    1. Many thanks, Iain. Yes, despite leaving us much too soon, my cousin George led a full life and spent much of his time doing things he truly loved to do, which is a blessing.

      And I do hope to be back with another post in less than 6 months!!!

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  6. Congratulations on Izzy's appointment to West Point. I retired from 33 years at the Air Force Academy last year. She has a wonderful future ahead of her. Also, great game and scenery as usual.
    John S. Beardsley

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    1. Thanks so much, John -- and thank you for your 33 years of service in the USAF. Izzy seriously considered the Air Force Academy and was very impressed when she spent a day at Los Angeles Air Force Base last Summer with other prospective cadets. Also glad to hear you enjoyed the AAR!

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  7. Ethan,

    That’s an epic post indeed my friend. It took me a few sittings to read it all, and it was worth it.

    It’s always tragic to lose someone, especially when it’s well before their time. Your memorial to your cousin is touching. It’s great to see that he got so much out of life and brought happiness to so many with his music.

    The family trip looks like big fun. You’re making lifelong memories. That painting is HUGE! Cool, but huge...lol

    The pics remind me of our trips to the Colonial Barracks cons in NO.
    How about some Jambalaya with a side of Jambalaya.....?

    Big congrats on Izzy’s acceptance and appointment to West Point!!! Congrats to her friend as well. I know how proud you and Xinhua are of her. Go Army!

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your foreign adventure!

    Great AAR! Your table and figs are simply stunning. Any game you set up always looks amazing. Every time I see your collection in person or online I tell myself I gotta upgrade my hills. Your hills / mountains rock brother (pun intended)!

    The rules sound interesting. It’s fun to try different rules sets and different levels of command. I too am still in love with TSATF with single fig bases but dabble in other things as well.

    The single fig bases are much more versatile as you can put them on the movement trays like you did then just pull them off for TSATF.

    Cheers,
    JB

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  8. I too have decided to "Ride with the column, Sir." I'd like to build a mountainous backdrop that would fit on my game table, along with other scenery pieces. However my table is only 4X4 at this point in my life. I love your scenery and would like a backdrop using your techniques, however I have no real idea of how to start it. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.
    Sincerely
    John S.Beardsley

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  9. Jeff, thank you my friend! One thing I have to say, you are absolutely right -- that painting is HUGE!!!

    John, if you want to build some rocky hills like mine, no problem, there are MANY tutorials on this blog giving blow-by-blow instructions in how to do it. Here's the URL for the very first one, back in 2012:

    http://maiwandday.blogspot.com/2012/01/afghannwf-rocky-hill-goes-vertical-back.html

    It's not a real "LINK" because I am sadly unable to embed working links into these blogger comments, but if you copy-&-paste it into your address bar it should work.

    Here's another one on building another hill:

    http://maiwandday.blogspot.com/2014/04/building-last-rocky-wood-chip-hill-blow.html

    ...and another on PAINTING a hill:

    http://maiwandday.blogspot.com/2012/08/another-rocky-hill.html

    Hope the above is of some use to you, John, and would love to hear and see what comes of your own project. Small tables can hold amazing looking and fun to play games!

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  10. Mad Guru,
    A thousand thank yous for your assistance! I found the scenery tutorials you referred me to and are exactly what I was looking for, and I'll begin work tomorrow after I get to Home Depot. I will keep you posted as to my progress hopefully with photographs to follow.
    Sincerely
    John S. Beardsley

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  11. Glad to hear it, John, and very much looking forward to seeing your results!

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