Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tyler’s Knoll: Post-game thoughts.

A dramatic shift in fortunes for the Barsetshires this time, with no casualties suffered whatsoever. The same can’t be said for “Brickie” Tuck-Poynter’s poor Volunteers, who died to a man...

As I’ve said before, under the Sharp Practice rules when natives get into hand-to-hand combat it can be very nasty for their opponents. I automatically rate all tribal warbands as Aggressive, meaning +1 to every combat die. So it was all up with the Volunteers, although the dice goddess looked favorably upon their last moments. Three times in succession they managed to inflict equal casualties on the warband in spite of being rated as Poor troops, and by the rules the melee continued. In the end sheer numbers told against them, but Brickie Tuck-Poynter challenged and engaged the warband’s Big Man in fisticuffs. This is quite allowable under the rules, and is the only instance it’s happened in any of my games so far. As single combat between warriors is a tradition with many African tribes I thought his challenge would be accepted. A swift blow according to the Marquess of Queensbury’s rules saw the native Big Man sitting out the match for a while as Brickie scampered off through the undergrowth.

And so to the British firing line. If a warband is deadly in melee, the firing line is deadly in ranged combat. The campaign saw a change to British army organization, with sections reduced from ten to eight men, including an NCO. Up until then the sections operated individually quite well, being large enough to present a good volume of fire and usually large enough to fend for itself in melee. With the reorganization, however, things changed. The smaller sections lost a certain amount of firepower – two dice less for fewer men firing, and as “Good’ troops rate one extra die per five men firing, they lost another die here.

The Barsetshire’s first venture into G’Wundaland showed how dangerous it is for British units to operate in the old-fashioned way. Captain Pike decided the platoon should thenceforth operate as one body (In Sharp Practice terms as a Formation made up of three Groups). This lead to it being somewhat cumbersome, but the firepower increase proved considerable.

In the game, volley fire didn’t inflict a huge number of actual kills on the warbands, but they accumulated Shock at a terrific rate. The Barsetshires benefited from the Breechloader card coming up three or four times in succession, which helped enormously. Five Rounds Rapid indeed. As a solo gamer I try to fight according to what I believe the commanders on the ground would do. In this action I decided the native Big Men would see how things were going and withdraw to fight another day. 

What would happen if the two forces get into melee? No doubt it'll be revealed in another game.

And so to the set-up for the next game. The Barsetshire’s brief is to establish a fortified camp or zariba on the hill-top to act as a way-station and supply base for farther ventures into G’Wundaland. I think the G’Wunda tribe will have something to say about this. The Arab slavers also won’t be too happy with the presence of Law and Order backed by the Red Queen’s Soldiers coming to this part of Africa. The mysterious great lake is still to be found, and there’s also the disappearance of the Reverend Tyler and Fatima bint-Daud, the Al-Quadi’s daughter to solve...


Bluebear Jeff said...

Perhaps the Reverend and Fatima are off somewhere playing hide the salami in the bush . . . (I write dead-pannedly oblivious to the wordplay).

-- Jeff

sjwalker51 said...

Very interesting account and thoughts - I'm working on an SP colonial variant as well, including some ways of putting more natives on the table than the usual SP game would allow without unduly slowing things down - my last test game saw 60 Brits take on 240 Zulus, and it was a close run thing.

How many breech loader cards did you use (I used one for every three Groups, plus a Sharp Practice card)?

Any ideas for period specific bonus cards? We should compare notes!


A J said...

Thanks, SJ! I'm interested in any thoughts you have on SP. I have the same ratio of Breechloader cards and SP card per Group as you. Every time I think there may be a Breechloader card too many, the game proves otherwise, so I think it's right as-is.

The main period-specific bonus card I use is The Queen in place of Vive l'Empereur. The first player to say "Gawd bless 'er!" when it's drawn gets the bonus.

I've found the bonus firing cards don't come out that often. I've thought of drawing one every time the Blank card turns up in the draw.


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