The previous encounters (the Ukrazi Village, Pond's Trading Post) were virtual walkovers for the British column. Heavy rifle fire reduced the warbands to impotence within fairly short order, and afterward it was just a case of mopping-up. Not very satisfying!
The change I made to the rules turned out to be the most significant I've done so far. Under the rules Groups can number up to a dozen or so figures, with a Big Man of sufficient Initiative able to combine three-four Groups to make a Formation.
The British and Askari have the typical ten-man section, and are rated as Good for the British, Poor for the Askari. Before this game, the natives had operated in Groups of a dozen, and are rated as Regular. I decided to keep their rating the same, but to double them up into permanent Formations of twenty-four or so. This had the immediate effect of increasing their survivability and fighting power.
Now native warbands can survive rifle-fire without gaining so many Shock points they become totally immobile instead of charging home. With two Big Men in the Formation, the junior in rank can get on with the job of removing Shock (steadying the men). As I count natives as Wallahs, they gain the advantage under the rules of another die per three men fighting when in Fisticuffs. This means another eight dice maximum for a warband, on top of what they already gain for melee. Suddenly, the warband becomes a serious threat to the Red Soldier, especially when he's caught by surprise.
The latest game demonstrated this. Capt. Pike's Barsetshire platoon lost five men in melee, the Ukraziland Rifles section seven. Post-game, I rolled a die, with 1-3 indicating death, 4-6 a bad wound. Of the five Barsetshire lads, three were killed outright, one was badly wounded and died of fever associated with his wounds (this was down to the latest Campaign Event card, which showed a death from fever among the British troops. I reasoned it would more likely affect a badly wounded man than one who was hale and hearty). One man was KO'd but otherwise lightly wounded, and returned to the ranks.
Of the Askari, the dice were truly unkind: All but one of them were killed in action. Oddly enough, although the odds of a Big Man being killed in the game were quite significant, none on either side suffered so much as a scratch. Such is war...
And so we have the muster.
Lightly Wounded –Pvt. King, Albert.
Died of fever related to wounds – Pvt. Yeats, Richard.
KIA – Pvt. Chapman, Oliver; Pvt. Ward, Jack; Pvt. Monk, Lionel.
KIA - Askari Anan, Yaw, Otieno, Unathi, Tinashe, Tau.
Although the surviving men of the Ukraziland Rifles were recovered from their rout, the section has ceased to exist as a fighting unit. The slavers' tembe lies ahead, and is likely to prove a tough nut to crack.
Captain Pike has decided to bring the Barsetshire 3rd Section under Cpl. Powell ashore from the steamboat, and place the surviving askari aboard to guard the vessel. After careful thought, Pike has recalled Pvt. Hare to the platoon, and attached him to the war-battered 2nd Section. Hare has been doing Kitchen Patrol following his flight from the barracoon action some weeks ago, and was serving as such with other supernumeraries aboard the steamboat Lady Cynthia. Pike feels this will give him a chance at redemption.
With luck and a following wind, I'll play out the last action of the mini-campaign this coming week.