Saturday, June 30, 2012

 The Battle of Goojerat. 

The British left flank by Neil Thomas' rules.

Having tried Goojerat with the Portable Wargame rules back in 2011 I thought I'd try the same battle, different flank, with Neil Thomas' rules for Nineteenth Century European Warfare.                                               

I liked the five levels of training they offer, and immediately set about to modify them to suit a European trained tribal army, the Sikhs.  Mr. Thomas already had listed choices for an early Victorian British army.

After the first turn the Army of the Sutlej is seen advancing along a wide front. There is a dry nulla to the far right.  A smattering of three fortified villages run across the army's front. The objective is for the British army to place artillery on the nulla and enfilade the Sikh infantry lines. These lines are just off the far side of the board,  towards the distant hills. To do this Brigadiers; Dundas, McLeod and Carnegy led their infantry brigades forward with cavalry support from Brigadier Whites 3rd Brigade.

Brigadier Carnagy's artillery begins reducing the center village. The 60th Rifles can just be seen approaching the furthest left village. They are part of Brig. Dundas' brigade.

At the end of turn three the Afghan line begins their attack; multiple batteries of camel guns support the mounted warriors.  White's 3rd brigade comes up smartly, led by the 3rd Dragoons and Bombay H.A.

The Dragoons and the Scinde Horse mix it up with the enemy as the BHA fires in support.

Brig. McLeod advances his lines his artillery coming into action as well. Further down the right side of the line line, Maj. Gen. Colin Campbell leads the 25th BNI towards the nulla to threaten the last village.

The organized cavalry of the 3rd Brigade begins to make short work of the Afghan cavalry. The 9th Lancers and 8th BLC come on in support. The 60th has taken the village.

As the rifles move through the village, McLeod orders his brigade to push in among the horsemen.  The rules have a built in loss of combat effectiveness for cavalry vs. close order infantry.

The Afghans are not able to stop the turning of their lines. They pull a few units from the attacking front to form a new line to protect their exposed flank. 

The Rifles swing right from the cleared village to support the cavalry's attack. Both Dundas and McLeod begin to turn towards the nulla as well. At the top of the shot, Carnagy's troops begin to occupy the second village.

Alarmed by Maj. Gen. Campbell's troop movements towards the nulla, the Afghan cavalry comes around the center village to stop the threat to the last village.  The larger view shows the devastation the british volley's have had on the Afghan's after repeated charges against the British/Sepoy lines.

The 25th BNI has repelled one charge and lost their artillery support as well. Two other battery's sent up by Brigadier Hoggan begin to deploy. Maj. Gen. Campbell stays near to steady the Sepoys.

Meanwhile, Brig. Whites cavalry prosecute the action against the Afghan cavalry.

The Afghan leader was unable to order any more charges, the unit size doesn't allow this in the rules. Not a problem for the British commander and very quickly the Afghans were swept away.

The British and Sepoy infantry battalions found the range on their mounted adversaries and began to clear their fronts of any enemy horse.

At this point, turn 13, the game was effectively over. The Sikh regulars and tribal skirmishers were ineffective.

A final look towards the advancing british lines showed the Afghan commanders VERY short of troopers.

How do the rules play?

In the past I've used Lasalle, by Sam Mustafa, as my goto rules. I consider the Sikh War armies to be Napoleonic armies in organization and fighting styles. The fact that the armies training on both sides was done by veterans of that conflict, just reinforces this opinion.

Neil Thomas' "Wargaming 19th Century Europe" gave me a chance to try a more "old-time" rules system that felt immediately comfortable. I adapted the British army from the Crimean list, removing rifled muskets and replacing them with muskets. I read through the Crimean Turkish list, and adapted some of its features for my Sikhs and their irregular allies. I treated the Afghan cavalry as A-3 cavalry for taking fire,but as Dragoons during melee. I copied the rules section onto four letter-sized cards to save abusing my book.

Both Lasalle and W19th C. use units, the losses are tracked and four losses seems to be common to both. In the case of Lasalle when four losses (disruptions) are reached it removes the unit. Their more complex morale system allows you to remove disruptions during the game, if your luck with the dice holds! In W 19th C. four losses removes a base and then triggers a morale check to see if one more base runs as well.
I like the ease of Neil's system because the chart work is minimal. Sam's rules have you keeping track of unit health and working many times to restore balance, otherwise the unit is removed.

Neil doesn't allow interpenetrations, Sam does but with a discipline test.

Neil limits formations but allows free formation changes for those that can change. Sam has different formations, with different fighting abilities but you need discipline tests for forming, and some maneuvers.

In W 19th C. the charge resolution and fire tables are simple and straight forward. In Lasalle the tables are straight forward but require attention to their higher level of details.

If I'm time constrained or want an easy to run game for new/ casual players,  I'd use "Wargaming 19th Century Europe". If I'm with friends, and have more time, the detail of Lasalle can be worth the extra strain on the brain cells.