It's all gone a bit Maiwand frankly...
Afghanistan 1878: Lieutenant MacKenzie of the 117th Infantry ("The Royal Mallows") has been dispatched with a patrol into the Chamla valley on the Northwest Frontier. In the valley there is a small abandoned outpost at the Multani crossroads. Orders are to investigate the outpost and ascertain whether or not it can be rebuilt and re-occupied.
Shall I have your uniform pressed and the usual Webley laid out Sir?
MacKenzie surveys the field of battle
I've been itching to give "The Sword and the Flame" a go and the opportunity presented itself the other day. We've played some games with these before but they've always been with the Sikh Wars variant, so this was the first time the rules were played straight. I sent my pal, the Unlikely Douglas MacKenzie, the above invitation and he responded that he would be delighted to come and play.
We had a very pleasent lunch laid on by Mrs Kinch and then set to business. I snapped a couple of pictures while we were at it.
Suddenly the wily Afghan appears from ambush
The Mallows objective was to get to the end of the valley within 24 turns and determine what state of repair the outpost was in. Lt. MacKenzie, whose biography is something of a mystery to me (a Scottish connection, I think?), had been given a patrol of 18 men to accomplish this. With his trusty Sergeant O'Savage at his side, what could possibly go wrong?
As it turned out - plenty. MacKenzie sent two scouts forward and split his patrol into two ten man sub-sections. The scouts spotted a group of tribesmen in ambush overlooking the road, but were immediately felled by jezail fire.
Fine beard acting on that man
This did not sit well with MacKenzie who maneuvred to bring fire to bear on the tribesmen as he was damned if he was going to leave those chaps to the kyber knives.
Egads - we've been over run
We resolved this by allowing them to rally automatically and they returned to rescue their wounded, but sadly not before O'Polemarch was put to death. Poor fellow. The Martini's of his friends took swift revenge and sent the surviving swordsmen running for the hills.
I wonder what's over there?
MacKenzie reformed his reduced command and made for the hill overlooking the outpost. Spotting the Afghans inside, he re-read the rules on going prone and ordered his men to get their heads down.
As this as this happened, a troop of spearmen lead by the tribal leader, moved to outflank them.
Riddle 'em Ted!
The Mallows slithered back below the crest of the ridge and MacKenzie ordered independent fire as they were charged by the tribesmen. This is an optional rule in the Anniversary Edition of TSATF that allows the player to expend two ammunition counters for a bonus to his shooting. This proved very wise. If the spearmen had made it to contact the isolated and prone Mallows would have been in for rough handling.
The torrent of fire downed half the spearmen and the tribal chieftain triggering a morale test for the whole force.
The Mallows take charge
With the last native charge broken, MacKenzie sent his men crawling forward on their bellies, while continuing to snipe at the demoralised men in the outpost. These took flight leaving the outpost and the field to MacKenzie and his men.
A group photo of the Royal Mallows
These are Italeri (ex-ESCI) figures that I picked up from eBay with some other painted Colonials. Not the nicest work in the world, but they'll serve. They came with some Gunners and Natal Native Horse - which I shall endeavour to work them into the mix somewhere. I shall have to pick up some more British infantry if Lt. MacKenzie's career to advance much further.
I enjoyed the game immensely, even if I did make a hash of the turn order, for which I feel quite guilty. Capability Savage showed up briefly for a glass, but was called away on urgent business. I hope that we'll be able to get a few more games in over the summer. A very welcome distraction from my studies.
Now that MacKenzie is in possession of the outpost, we shall have to see what comes.
Although at quite a cost. Five dead and three wounded - the tribesmen of the Chamla valley are not a gentry to be trifled with.