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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Charasiab play-test 1.5

After a very hectic few weeks on the work front, I managed to coral one other player for another go-round of my Charasiab scenario.  Actually I coralled two other players, who were supposed to both serve as British Commanders, but one of them unfortunatley got sick the night before, which left us with just myself as Game Master AND Afghan Commander, and Daryl Haselton -- whom I met online over at the Lead Adventure Forum a few months back.  The good thing was this gave Daryl and I, who had never before met in person, a chance to really get acquainted.  It turned out we share not only an interest in British Colonial miniature wargaming, but a bunch of other stuff as well.  He's also loves Medieval history, especially the Hundred Years War -- just like me -- his wife got her Bachelor's degree at Cornell University, where my son is now a Freshman, and -- unlikeliest of all, he taught English for two Summers at the Shanghai Middle School... where my wife went to school!  That last one is a somewhat incredible coincidence.  Being a few years younger than my wife and I, Daryl was there after she graduated -- in fact, he first arrived the year after we were married, so of course she had by then (very luckily for me) left Middle School behind for a number of years!

Anyway, the point is, we discovered we have a lot in common!

The only down-side of this was that it took a while before we actually started playing!

But once we did, things went rather well, if I don't say so myself.  All the various changes I had made since play-test 1.0 seemed to improve the balance of the game as well as speed it up.  Daryl was only supposed to say until 4:00pm, but stayed a little bit longer.  We didn't really get started until about 2:00pm, so considering how little time we'd spent "pushing lead" across the table, we made good progress...


Battle was RECONVENED -- and yet, due to the seemingly omnipresent shortage of time, which I have now dubbed "Wargamus Interuptus," yet again cut short before reaching its conclusion!  Still, we used the new Game Cards, which worked very well, and saw one of the most dramatic turns-of-fortune ever recorded in the history of miniature wargaming -- at least around these parts -- when my 3 fresh and barely touched units of GHAZI FANATICS charged out of hiding on the reverse slope of the "Red Ridge" hill and into the 2 figure wide Road Column of 5th Punjab Infantry, who were headed North on the Road to Kabul and about to emerge out of the short, narrow gorge between the Red Ridge and its Western Spur.  Just behind the 5th Punjabis on the same road were 2 LIMBERED MOUNTAIN GUNS, unable to fire as they were packed up on the backs of their mules.

Oh, man, it makes an Afghan player salivate just thinking of the mayhem and heavy casualties which should have ensued...

And yet, did not.  My dedicated Holy Warriors needed only to roll 16 or below on a D20 to Close into Combat.

All three units rolled an 18.  Actually, one of them might have rolled a 19.

Anyway, for whatever reason, they all turned tail and ran up the road towards Kabul.

Meanwhile I inflicted some casualties in the center and on the Eastern flank as the battle proceeded -- but then was cut short once again by the demands of the outside/"real" world.

At the time play was suspended, I would say things were going the way of the British, though the final result was still far from decided.

I'm in the midst of more real-world work and also prepping some easy-access Game Charts for the players at Colonial Barracks V, which combine all the necessary info for any one player to use for all the troops under his/her command throughout the game onto a single 8-1/2"x11sheet of card stock (same as I used for the custom game cards), with the ROSTER of all their units listed on the reverse side, along with a period image of their historical antecedent (you can see pics of both sides of one  of these at the bottom of this post).

But before getting to that, here's a bunch of pics showing the recent two-part play-test...


Imagine a couple weeks of postponment -- which happily included my 15 year-old Daughter making time to help me out with the custom game cards to replace the standard deck -- and then Daryl from LAF was good enough to return, joined about one hour into the proceedings by my old buddy Matthew, and tabletop battle rolled on...


Finally, here's one of the first two "PLAYER ROSTERS" I'm prepping for COLONIAL BARRACKS.  My hope/plan is to have 9 of them (?!?!?!) done before I hit the road, one for each player, of which there will be room for 3 BRITISH and up to 6 AFGHAN.  As I said above, each card will contain a ROSTER listing all units under that player's command on one side, and all the charts those troop types will need to use during each Phase of the game...

Last but not least, once again I learned a few things that I think will help when the game hits the "Public Square" in Metarie.  Two big ones:

(1) I'm going to lay out the UNIT CARDS beside their respective units as they're pulled for MOVEMENT and then FIRE.  With a 12'x6' table it will help to keep the state of play clarified as a turn proceeds, and the cards themselves look pretty good, if I don't say so myself!

(2) I am going to subsitute a 61-figure "Maneuver Element" of Pathan Tribesmen for the 61 Ghazis I've included in the Afghan army list up until now.  Though there probably were a handful of fanatic Holy Warrior types present at Charasiab, there was no large assemblage of Ghazis, that didn't come until later in the Winter of 1879-1880, when they gathered to attack Roberts' Army in the Sherpur Cantonment, and still later the following Summer at Maiwand and Kandahar.  Though my own Ghazis -- inexplicably -- failed to close into combat with the enemy in this play-test, if they had, the effects would have been devastating.  It's true, my honorable opponent laid himself open to such damage, but it brought home to my mind that if at all possible I should stick more closely to the historical record rather than just, as the saying sometimes goes, trying to use "All my Toys" at once.  Part of me will mourn over not having any Ghazis on the table, but you never know -- maybe a unit or two of run-of-the-mill Pathan Tribesmen will leap out of hiding and launch a devestating charge on some unsuspecting Indian or British troops on their own... and maybe they'll manage to close into combat and inflict some casualties as well!