Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Muskets & Tomahawks, 28mm
In a few weeks time I’ll be running a weekend-long Indian Mutiny. While the second day involves a big battle, with suitable rules, the Saturday will centre round skirmish-level games, with four or five different scenarios. We thought my Mutiny rules set of choice Sharp Practice offered too steep a learning curve for a bunch of people who’ve never played it before, so instead Bill Gilchrist offered to adapt Muskets & Tomahawks instead. The group have played French & Indian Wars games with them before, so that seemed an excellent idea, as everyone knew the system. This evening was all about testing Bill’s adaptions. One of the scenarios is a rescue mission, involving saving the Brigadier’s wife from “a fate worse than death”. to this end the Colonel was sent out with a scratch force of British regulars, Sikhs, Gurkhas and Bengal Lancers. Defending the village of Maharajpur where the lady was held was a motley collection of Sepoy Mutineers of varying quality, some Sepoy riflemen, a unit of Badmash irregulars, a unit of Mutineer Cavalry and a gun, all commanded by the local Nizam.We weren’t sure what would work by way of force sizes, but in the end we opted for five units of British, and seven of Mutineers. Most units were twelve figures strong, but the Gurkas, Rifles and Cavalry were all in eights, while the gun had a crew of four. We played the game on a 6×4 foot table. The game began with a general advance by the British. the Mutineers stayed put, until an Artillery card appeared. They fired a shot and missed, while on the Indian right flank the small unit of Sepoy rifles moved into a small wood, and began firing at the British regulars. the British fired back, forcing the gun crew to recoil (run away for a turn), and the rifles to do the same. The advance continued. next turn though the gunners ran back to their piece, and when a Leader card came up he gave orders for them to fire. They sent a ball smack through one of the two units of British regulars, killing four figures and sending it recoiling back. The rifles tried mixing it again, but they were shot up badly by the second unit of British regulars, and the survivors fled to the rear. In the British centre the unit of Punjabi infantry and the Gurkas blazed away at long range at their Mutineer opponents, and both sides traded casualties. Then though, the gun fired again, killing more British regulars, and forcing Michael who commanded on that flank to check his advance, until his lines could be redressed. Meanwhile Bill commanding on the British left sent his Bengal lancers forward. Here it all came down to whose card would turn up first – the Mutineers or the Bengal cavalry. The sepoys got the drop, and fired a close-range volley, causing enough casualties for the cavalry to retire a little. Thanks to a good run of cards they reloaded and fired again, and this time the last of the lancers were shot down. that pretty much ended the threat on the Indian left. At that point I rashly sent my own cavalry forward, hoping to stop the newly resumed advance of the British regulars. Instead the same thing happened to them – they were shot from their saddles by a couple of well-placed volleys, and the survivors fled the field. Sensing blood the Colonel urged his men forward, and they charged into a unit of sepoys, standing in front of the little Hindu shrine on the edge of the village. In the melee that followed both sides took casualties, but it was the Mutineers who were wiped out. That meant that there was nothing left between the remaining British and my gun, whose crew were now down to half strength. Michael decided to charge with his Colonel and five regulars. it would have worked too, were it not for another lucky Indian break. the Artillery card came up, which meant the gunners had a chance to manhandle their gun round and fire a canister round into the British ranks – at point=-blank range. When the smoke cleared there was nobody left – the Colonel was dead, as were the rest of his men. That pretty much ended the game., I still had my gun and two units of Sepoys, plus the badmash who had sort of been lurking in the background throughout the game. I’d lost the of my seven units. The two British players still had three units – two of which though, were down to just a few figures, and were clearly a spent force. So, with just the Sikhs left in play they decided to leave Mrs. Brigadier to her fate, and abandoned the attack. What did we learn from the game? Well, the rules worked very nicely indeed. Bill plans a few tweaks though, to improve the firepower of troops armed with Enfield rifles, and to make cavalry a little more effective. Otherwise it worked a treat. We’ll certainly adapt the scenario for our weekend game too, reducing the forces a bit, and starting the sides closer together. However, we now know we’re on to a winner with the rules, and the rest is just a matter of tweaking – and a little more playtesting.