Whenever I plan to go up to North Devon for our annual post Xmas pre New Year game at Chez Chas I am never really sure quite what to expect.
Last year we were battling in the American Civil War and recreating events surrounding Stoneman's Raid at the Danbury Iron Foundry in 1865. This year would prove to be quite something different.
ACW Skirmish Stoneman's Raid 1865
This year our game was set in late 19th century Colonial Africa, deep in the Congo jungle at a tributary of the River Uele.
At this crossroads of narrow trails crossing one of the many small rivers that wind their way through the thick jungle foliage an unholy alliance of Arab Slave Traders, River Pirates and a tribal group from the native Azande people that had been disturbing the peace in their own way had been driven by military columns sent into the forest from the various Colonial Powers that had been subjected to the depredations of these three groups in recent months.
The rules we were using for the day were the recently new set of skirmish rules by Barry Hilton and Clarence Hamilton "Donnybrook" which was my first play through, so I was keen to see how they worked.
The set up below with my annotations should help you picture the scene. The scenario simply had the three alliance players in the centre each with three units of different size and abilities, based on groups of four (excellent), eight (bulk standard regular) and twelve (cannon fodder) figures supported by two to three characters such as principle leaders and in my case as the River Pirate leader, a witch doctor and second warrior leader as well.
The basic idea is that combat from shooting and melee will cause hits on a 6 or more with the better quality, but fewer figured units rolling D10's per figure to hit, the regulars getting D8's and the cannon fodder on straight D6's. Saving throws are similarly structured and the leaders were generally fighting with a D12.
To make things interesting, we had some boxes of contraband and booty in the camp, next to the tent in the centre of the table which we all would have been happy to keep with fewer people to share with, thus an alliance of convenience rather than one of goodwill.
The four roads leading into our camp area were the approach routes of the separate but cooperating Colonial troop columns similarly structured with differing ability units but with much different weaponry, some including heavy machine-gun teams.
In preparation for the arrival of the regular troops we set up some road barricades and positioned some troops outside of the camp perimeter. I chose to put my four man mercenary section on the road barricade to slow the approach of the British-Indian army column, whilst my men manoeuvred for a better position to attack from.
|Will making some last minute adjustments to his slave traders set up prior to the arrival of the German column on his road|
|My four man mercenary team cover the road barricade with the pirate riflemen lining the hedgerow behind|
|Will's Arab slave trader riflemen together with a light cannon cover the road barricade on the route of the British Naval brigade|
The movement and combat is card driven so no Igo-Ugo here and the anticipation and often frustration experienced just willing the right card to come out at the right time just added to the fun of the game.
|View of the camp perimeter with the River Pirates nearest camera and their allied band of native club-men centre, by the tent|
|British -Indian army patrols covered by Vickers HMG placed on the road|
|German Askaris covered by an HMG team as they approach the camp|
As the Jack Tars moved into the camp the Pirate leader could only shout defiance as he leapt over the hedge to join his men as they retreated leaving their ill-gotten gains behind them.
|The British Naval brigade column, with Jolly Jack Tars top left|
|My Pirate Mercenary squad try to ambush the Indian HMG team but whilst getting badly shot up only kill one of the enemy|
|Arab slave traders and Azande tribesmen man the perimeter|
We were using characters like my witch doctor who had the ability to terrorise the enemy on first meeting him thus reducing their to hit potential as they were temporarily memorised by his carrying on.
|The Royal Navy in force move into the camp ready to seize the contraband|
|The German Askari HMG team cover the camp perimeter whilst the British Naval infantry move in to mop up|
|Not much left of the Congolese Republic troops as they go through the roll call for the third time|
We played from about 10.30 am to about 15.00 with a stop for lunch with, as you can see, plenty of figures on the table and got a clear result in the time, so these should make a very usable set for smaller games with less time to get a result, very useful for those of us who are often time poor and need a quick game system.
The rulebook is in full colour and like the "Republic to Empire" rules from Barry Hilton that I have are full of "eye candy" alongside a well structured layout.
|A deserted camp at the end of the days fighting. The River Pirate Chief is the last man to leave defiantly overseeing his surviving pirates away down the road to regroup and fight another day|
|The River Pirate Chief shouts defiance (top centre behind the native hut) as the Royal Navy move in from the right|