Laurania – My next wargames project

Now that the Summer is well and truly over, I have begun to have a big sort out of various wargame ‘project’ ideas that have been around for a time but which have not come to fruition.

Part of this has taken the form of a sort out in my wargames room (or toy room as my wife likes to call it). During this I found all sorts of bits and bobs that I had forgotten that I had … well not quite so much forgotten as mislaid in the rather confused storage ‘system’ that I use.

Amongst these bits and bobs were some ships that I built some years ago for my 15mm Colonial wargames as well as some pre-painted ‘toy’ biplanes. I began thinking about how I could use them in a game … and then remembered my ideas for a campaign set in Laurania during the 1920s/1930s. Laurania is an imagi-nation created by none other than Sir Winston Churchill. It was the setting for SAVROLA – A TALE OF REVOLUTION IN LAURANIA, his only novel.

Having read the book many times I was able to deduce some facts about the country, and I used these to create a map and a background history up until just after World War I.

I have therefore decided to resurrect this project as a background for more play-tests of my RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES (TARRED AND FEATHERSTONED) rules. They will need to be slightly modified to suit the period, but there will not need to be any substantial re-writes before the play-tests begin … just a few more bits and pieces to buy, build, and paint!

Long live Laurania!

Nugget 221

I posted the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N221) this morning, and it should be with members by early next week.

The PDF version is now available online via the Wargame Developments website. All members should now have received the password they need to read the PDF, but if they have lost it or cannot remember it they should contact me.

Nugget 221

I hope to get the printed version of THE NUGGET (N221) out in the post tomorrow, and it should be with members early next week.

In the meantime I have uploaded the PDF version of the latest issue to the Wargame Developments website so that members (including e-members) can read it before the printed version arrives in the post.

This issue contains the most recent version of the RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES rules as well as Richard Brooks’s latest rules (RUGA-RUGA or OUT OF RAPIER) for re-fighting actions in East Africa during World War I.

Redcoats and Natives (Tarred and Featherstoned) – Play-test 2

The second play-test of REDCOATS AND NATIVES followed on from the first. Sheik Mehmet Abdullah’s forces – reinforced by two newly recruited units of Jihadia infantry and an additional field artillery unit equipped with the recently captured Egyptian Krupp artillery (all rated as ‘Average’) – advanced on Mhedemi, a riverside village. Two Egyptian infantry units and an Egyptian machine gun unit garrison the village (all rated as ‘Below average’).

Knowing that the Mahdist forces are advancing, the local Egyptian commander – Asif Ali Bey – ordered the garrison of Mhedemi to evacuate the village, and sent a gunboat (rated as ‘Average’) to pick them up.

Note: The gunboat moved at the same speed as cavalry and carried the equivalent of a breech loading artillery unit. It could be sunk by the equivalent of four substantial hits on artillery by artillery (i.e. the artillery not only had to hit the gunboat but to also score 10, 11, or 12 when 2D6 were thrown to determine the effects of a hit). The gunboat came into sight of the village when it was dealt a red picture card.

Turn 1 began with the Mahdist forces lining the inland escarpment and the Egyptians occupying the defence line around the village of Mhedemi.

The Mahdist artillery fire was devastating. The Egyptian machine gun unit was repeatedly hit and despite being behind cover it was destroyed. In addition two of the Egyptian infantrymen were also killed. At the same time the Mahdist infantry advanced down the escarpment and began to move towards the Egyptian defences.

During turn 2 the Mahdist artillery barrage continued, and a further two Egyptian infantrymen were killed. However the advance of the Mahdist infantry units on the left flank was disrupted by the arrival of the Egyptian gunboat, which opened fire on them. Unfortunately its gunfire had little or no effect, but its arrival gave the Egyptian garrison some hope of rescue.

The next turn saw an assault on both the right and left of the Egyptian defences. Fierce hand-to-hand combat resulted in the destruction of one of the Egyptian infantry units, but at a heavy price for the two newly raised Mahdist Jihadia infantry units. The survivors of the other Egyptian infantry unit fired a volley at the Mahdist infantry that were almost upon them, and then fell back to the riverbank, where the Egyptian gunboat had come alongside. The newly equipped Mahdist artillery unit engaged the Egyptian gunboat, and scored a hit on her. The gunboat returned fire, but missed.

Turn 4 saw the remnants of the Egyptian garrison board the gunboat just before the Mahdists reached the landing stage. The gunboat then cast off – not a moment too soon – and set sail. The Mahdist artillery fired at the retreating Egyptians, but they were soon out of sight, leaving Sheik Mehmet Abdullah’s forces in control of Mhedemi … and with sufficient captured rifles to equip at least one more unit of infantry.

Lessons learned:

The minor change to the rule as to ‘who fires first’ in a combat worked without a problem, but will probably be changed back to its original form in the next draft. This is a result of the play-test as the revised rules allowed the Mahdists to charge the Egyptian positions without the Egyptians having the opportunity to fire at them as they did so.

The card activation system did produce some interesting results. For example one of the Egyptian infantry units was able to fire at the advancing Mahdists and then withdraw because it was activated by a lower card than that dealt to the Mahdist units. The other Egyptian infantry unit was not as fortunate, and was over-run.

Artillery can be devastating if used en masse, something the Mahdists did not do in reality.

The Close Combat rules produce very bloody results if neither side prevails during the first round. The hand-to-hand fighting during turn 3 resulted in both sides suffering very heavy casualties because the combat went through three rounds before it was resolved.

Gunboats can be used without a major re-write of the rules.

Redcoats and Natives (Tarred and Featherstoned) – Play-test 1

The first play-test of REDCOATS AND NATIVES was set in the Sudan during the period before the Siege of Khartoum, when the Egyptians were still trying to extort taxes from the population and the Mahdi’s power was still on the rise.

A column of Egyptian troops (two infantry units, an artillery unit, and a machine gun unit, all rated as ‘Average’) led by Mustafa Pasha was advancing on the small town of El Mhet. The local sheik had recently received representatives from the Mahdi. They had persuaded him to support the Mahdi, and had sent three units of Jihadia infantry and two artillery units (all rated as ‘Average’) – led by Sheik Mehmet Abdullah – to garrison the town. The sheik had no doubts that when the Egyptians (or ‘Turks’ as he preferred to call them) came to collect more taxes – as come they would – he would ambush them and put them all to the sword.

When news of the Egyptian column’s approach reached El Mhet, Sheik Mehmet Abdullah positioned one of his artillery units in a valley to the left of the Egyptian line of advance. From that location it should be able to enfilade the Egyptian column and prevent it from deploying to its left. He positioned the other artillery unit by the town’s fort, which he had garrisoned with one of his infantry units..

The other two infantry units were hidden from view; one was behind a small range of hills on the left of the approach to the Sudanese town and the other behind the large hill to the right.

The Egyptian column was led by one of the infantry units. Behind the infantry came the artillery unit and the machine gun unit, with the second infantry unit taking up the rear. Because they were not expecting to encounter any Mahdist forces in the area the Egyptians did not deploy any scouts.

During the first two turns the Egyptians advanced unhindered towards the town in column. However, during turn 3 the Egyptian machine gun unit had problems moving forward, and this caused the rearmost infantry unit to move slightly to the right, thus breaking the column. This was compounded at the start of turn 4 when the machine gun unit moved forward so quickly that it ended alongside the artillery unit. Before Mustafa Pasha could sort out the resultant confusion, the hidden Mahdist artillery unit opened fire. The concentration of so many Egyptian troops in so small an area was too tempting a target to ignore … and the effect of the Mahdist artillery fire was devastating. Two infantrymen and one of the machine gun crew were killed and the artillery unit was destroyed. The only bright point for the Egyptians was that their morale was seemingly unaffected.

In reply to this artillery barrage the leading Egyptian infantry unit attempted to deploy to its left, but this then exposed it to cannon fire from the Mahdist artillery unit in the town. Its gunfire was less effective as it only killed a single Egyptian infantryman, but the Egyptian unit’s morale was severely tested by this further loss.

Turn 4 saw the Egyptian machine gun unit unlimber so that it could be deployed to engage the closer of the two Mahdist artillery units whilst the second Egyptian infantry unit changed formation into line and continued its advance. At the same time the other Egyptian infantry unit began firing at the crew of the Mahdist artillery unit, which returned fire, neither unit managing to cause casualties to the other. Seeing the confusion in the Egyptian ranks, the Mahdist infantry unit that has been positioned behind the large hill to the right broke cover and charged towards the full-strength Egyptian infantry unit.

The next turn was crucial for the Egyptians. By the beginning of turn 5 they were already down to 65% of their original strength, and had caused no casualties on the Mahdists. If they suffered another 3 casualties they would be forced to retire. The fall of cards did little to help the situation, as the majority of the lower value cards were dealt to the Mahdists. This allowed them to activate most of their units before the Egyptians could respond.

The Mahdist artillery units both fired at the depleted Egyptian infantry unit, but caused no casualties. The Egyptians returned fire on the nearest enemy artillery unit but was equally unsuccessful. Both the previously concealed Mahdist infantry units were dealt black playing cards, and this enabled them to rush forward and engage both the Egyptian infantry units. The already depleted unit suffered another casualty – and turned and fled, its morale having collapsed. The other Egyptian infantry unit was far steadier, and caused a casualty on its attackers at no cost to themselves. Finally the Egyptian machine gun was brought into action against the nearby Mahdist artillery unit … and killed the Mahdist gun crew.

At this point the Egyptians had lost over 50% of their initial strength either dead or fleeing from the battlefield. The Mahdists had also begun to suffer casualties, and despite their desire to pursue the Egyptians Sheik Mehmet Abdullah prevailed upon his troops to allow the ‘Turks’ to retreat. After all, they had left behind enough modern artillery to equip a new Mahdist artillery unit, and the dead Egyptians’ rifles could be used to rearm all or part of one of the Jihadia infantry units. Furthermore news of the growing power of the forces of the Mahdi would spread throughout the area, and would bring in more recruits.

Lessons learned:

Because the rules are based on RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES (TARRED AND FEATHERSTONED) it was to be expected that they would work. As it was, they worked even better than I had hoped, and although I will have more play-tests I doubt that there will be much need to change the basic mechanisms used in the rules.

Redcoats and Natives (Tarred and Featherstoned) – First draft

The first draft of these rules has now been written and await play-testing.

They are very similar to RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES, but because they deal with an era when there were fewer weapon types, they are shorter and simpler.

I hope to play-test them later this week. In the meantime, to access a copy, go to RED HEX WARGAMES and follow the simple instructions.

Redcoats and Natives (Tarred and Featherstoned) – First draft

Having developed RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES (TARRED AND FEATHERSTONED) to a state where I am happy playing wargames with them, and, being in need of a bit of a break for World War 2, I have now turned my attention to REDCOATS AND NATIVES – my colonial wargames rules – and given them the same Tarr and Featherstone treatment.

This should not present me with too many problems as REDCOATS AND NATIVES shares a similar ‘architecture’ (i.e. it uses very similar mechanisms) the RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES, and I have learned a lot from developing RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES (TARRED AND FEATHERSTONED).

I hope to get a working draft written today, and be able to begin play-testing sometime next week.