Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Sharp Practice, 28mm
For me the main event at Deep Fried Lard was to take part in the Indian Mutiny game. Richard Clark of Too Fat Lardies was running it as a Sharp Practice battle, and while I supplied the terrain and the figures, Rich concocted the scenario. While I’ve got a few Sharp Practice games under my belt now, this was a chance to play them in a game run by the guy who wrote the rules. The result was an enjoyable and well-paced game, and thanks to Richard it ran smoothly, despite a crippling hangover. The scenario went a bit like this. A small but well-armed British surveying party was working in the province of Keemanistan when the mutiny first erupted. While the party were taken unawares, they sent a message to the local British garrison, barricaded themselves in a village, and waited for rescue. While there they were joined by Sir Richard Fondler, a Flashmanesque figure on a diplomatic mission to the Khazi of Keemanistan, and by a motley assortment of civilians. Word eventually came that Major Piles’ relief column was on its way, but before it appeared the mutineers arrived on the scene, led by the revolting Khazi himself. What can I say – Mr. Clarke has a great love for cheap gags and double-entendres…So, the garrison of 30 East India Company European regulars, a gun crew and half a dozen civilians were in the village marked by a red dot. Major Piles was due to appear along the North Trunk Road at the second dot, while the Khazi and his mutineers arrived at the blue dot. Each dot, in Sharp Practice terms, was a “deployment point”. The Khazi had two groups of 24 good quality mutineers under his command, plus another 60 sepoys who weren’t so hot. They were accompanied by the Khazi’s bodyguard of 30 musketmen, 12 of the Khazi’s ghazis (fanatical swordsmen), and about 24 badmash hangers-on. Oh, and they also had a field gun. So, battle was duly joined. As one of the two mutineer players my guys – the musjketeers, the badmash and the ghazis – formed the blocking force, charged with keeping Major Piles at bay. the rest – all the sepoys led by the Khazi – headed towards the village, covered by the fire of the gun. Over on my right was a dried-up nullah, which in theory should have provided cover for my troops. In fact Piles’ advance was rapid, and he threw his Gurkha skirmishers into it, supported by a small unit of 8 volunteer horse. Meanwhile the Nabob of Banagaraja led his musketeers and the ghazis towards the temple, blocking the road towards the village. Meanwhile the main assault on the village had run into difficulties. The fire of the EIC foot proved quite deadly, and as casualties mounted the Khazi found it increasingly difficult to maintain the momentum of the attack. The field gun proved equally effective – more so than the mutineer’s gun, which popped away against the British gunners. The only real advantage the Khazi had was in numbers. While some of his sepoys kept the EIC troops busy, half his force swung round the flank of their companions and raced towards the western edge of the village. It suddenly looked like it was going to come down to fisticuffs after all.That bit of the defence was held by Fondler and the civilians, standing behind a makeshift barricade. They did their best, but there were simply too many sepoys heading their way, and eventually the attackers reached the barricade. the civilians withdrew, and the mutineers lept over the barricade and gave chase. What followed was a scrappy melee in the north side of the village which ended with the civilians getting chopped up, and Fondler going missing, presumed hiding somewhere. Meanwhile, on my bit of the table things weren’t going well at all. My badmash were driven out of the nullah by the fire of the Gurkhas, and once out in the open they were fair game for the Volunteer Cavalry. One good charge and they were dispersed, the survivors running for their lives back across the nullah towards the Mutineers’ deployment point. Meanwhile Major Piles continued his advance up the North Trunk Road, with 40 troops – loyal Sikhs and EIC European regulars. The Banangaraja musketeers did what they could, but ultimately they were outshot by their more professional opponents, and after a few turns they began slinking away, past the temple and back towasrds their deployment point. That meant that apart from ther Khazi’s ghazis, the road to the village lay open. Strangely, the game was over anyway. While half of the mutineers had got around the back of the village, and were poised to pour through the defences, the casualties suffered by the rest of them led to the loss of a couple of 8-figure “groups”, and the collapse of the forces’ morale. The riding down of my badmash didn’t count – after all they were just scum – but the loss of decent troops was another story. So, as our Morale Tracker reached “0” we lost the game, the village was relieved by Major Piles, and British pluck won through. All in all it was a great little game – or rather quite a big one for Sharp Practice – and Richard ran it with surprising skill and enthusiasm, despite his hangover. He actually resorted to “hair of the dog” halfway through, and things began moving more smoothly after that!