Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Warriors against Bullets, 28mm
This week I was given the chance to participate in a colonial game, run by fellow Edinburgh gamer Dave O’Brien. It was set in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882, and revolved around a British attack on an Egyptian outpost and oasis, somewhere on a spur of the Sweetwater Canal, and somewhere off to the side of Tel-el-Kebir.As the Egyptian player my objective was to hold the oasis and slave-trading depot, and to cause casualties on the British. I was given three units of Egyptian regulars, a handful of cavalry, a gun and two units of irregular troops (one of which was a unit of “Fuzzy Wuzzies”, as there weren’t enough Arab figures to go round). No problem…Actually, it all went horribly wrong from the start. I opened up on the advancing British with fire from my cavalry and a unit of Egyptian regulars, who held a couple of hills. I caused a few casualties, but a combination of British rifles and fire from a Royal Naval Nordenfeldt machine gun cut my troops down, and sent the rest into flight. The British shook out into line – a seemingly irresistible force. The only bright spot was that my artillerymen were causing casualties as they advanced. Another Egyptian unit hiding in the date grove in the middle of the table was wiped out, and the British hardly broke step as they mowed the Egyptians down.Then it all changed. There was one patch of cover on the table – a field of crops. As the Royal Marines approached they were surprised when my unit of “Fuzzy Wuzzies” sprang up from hiding and charged in. The Marines died to a man, and the “Fuzzies” continued across the table to overrun the British rocket troop and 9-pounder gun. Meanwhile on my right flank the British approached the outskirts of the village, and were immediately charged by a mob of River Arabs. The Naval Brigade were chopped up, and the British infantry behind them were left fighting for their lives. The British managed to capture the village and the fort, but it was something of a pyrrhic victory, as they managed to lose half their infantry and two thirds of their ordnance in the process. No doubt questions will be asked in the House…The rules we used were Warriors against Bullets, a home-grown variant of Warhammer Ancient Battles created by Dave O’Brian. I’m not a particularly big fan of the Warhammer system, but in this case it worked surprisingly well for such a clunky rules set. Even more importantly, we all enjoyed ourselves, and the game was something of a Hollywood spectacle, complete with camels, slave girls, plucky Brits and sword wielding “Fuzzies”. Its been a while since we last played a Colonial game, but after this I’m sure we’ll be playing another some time soon. Besides, it’s a splendid excuse to drink Gin & Tonics while you’re shuffling your lead around the table!