(As it happened, it was a dismal, rainy winter's night, and half the attendees funked out through sickness or apathy. Sickly apathetic swine...)
The scenario was set in 1863 and very loosely based on the events surrounding the Umbeyla Campaign. A British column has been damaged while traversing a supposedly friendly valley. Two companies fall back to an abandoned mission station, dig in to await reinforcements, while the Pathans hold the high ground and take potshots at any man daft enough to put his head up.
It was something of a Colonial Gaming trope, the Besieged Outpost and all that, but I make no apologies as I had to come up with something overnight. Come to think of it, the Brits could have done with the addition of Jack Hawkins and Ulla Jacobsen figures, as the Meddling Civvies.
There were two 10-man companies of Highland Light Infantry, each in two detachments, defending the mission, and commanded by Mike (aka "Dr. Goldwyrm" due to an unfortunate resemblance to a stock James Bond villain). There were four 18-man Pathan war-bands - each armed half with melee weapons and half with rifled muskets, commanded by Tonri Khan. The Pathans hid their melee tribesmen in the brush at the base of each hill.
Not being much of a whittler, Tonri Khan decided to charge his sword-wielding Pathans in on the second turn, after causing one of the detachments to fail morale and become "checked". Hmm...this should prove interesting, or at least amusing.
|The Initial Pashtun Charge|
(We had a slight confusion as to where the Pathans withdrew to - they had been "pushed back" but couldn't reform within two inches of the Brits. I decided to let them reform on the far side of the barricade, once they won initiative.)
On turn 3 the Relief Column arrived. Four companies of the 45th Sikhs, led by a company of Queen's Guides, accompanied by a mountain gun. Before they could move, the Pathan player stole the initiative by charging two more hidden units at the mission.
|The Relief Column|
|It's alright, lads! They're ours!|
Tonri-Khan decided to pack it in, and I agreed with him. Colonel Goldwyrm was sending columns up into the hills to chivvy off any remaining firearm-wielding Pathans. and the elite Guides were going to tear up any Pathans that got too close. We gave the day to the British.
Rather than surround the British, the Pathans should have set up with two firearm units able to hit a single rooftop. Instead, they deployed in a broad ring, which spread their sniping over the entire mission, and also left them vulnerable to the Relief Columns counter-attack. Having done that, the Pathan player could have relied upon firepower to cause the British to blink.
Pathans could have done with one more war-band to slow down the Relief Column, or at least make them work a bit for it.
The British player was dismayed by the lack of firepower the Crown's forces had at their disposal in 1863. The Enfield musket gave the HLI one shot per two men, and because they were scattered about the mission, could only put one or two dice (usually one) on the charging war-bands. It would have been better to form up and charge the hills with the bayonet, except that I had lumbered him with extra wounded at the start of the game. Such is the life in the Queen's service.