Sunday, 18 June 2017

Major Pyles, Hero of Umbongo Gorge

Volunteering to run a couple of Colonial games, using the "Men who would be Kings" rules has left me with a larger painting task than I imagined.  Things are however well on track, although I have pressed some ancient Nubians into the role of Dervish.  Nuff said.  So much on track am I that I have turned to planning the game itself.

Before the main mission I will demonstrate Major Pyles action at Umbongo Gorge.  This was of course where the gallant Major won his VC, against the fruit and sharpened stick armed Wonga natives. This should reinforce the players natural superiority as Victorian gentlemen.  After this they will meet the Dervish, a somewhat different proposition.  

The main game is a multiplayer, with up to three British players against the Mad Mustapha Liek.  Force cards, mission cards and at least one white feather will be delivered in sealed envelopes before the game. One player will command the main column of the Indian Army Rajput Infantry, one Royal Dragoon cavalry Squadron, and a third player the Anglo Egyptians.

The background:

The Mad Mustapha, Liek, has been revolting again, burning villages across the British Red Sea Protectorate.  

Meanwhile some of the Suakin Anglo-Egyptian garrison, under that loose cannon the Pasha, has marched out, been surrounded, and needs rescuing.  

In response the Governor, Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond has dispatched a column under Major Pyles to "get it sorted."  Three companies of the Rajputs, a Squadron of the Royal Dragoons and a (rather unsporting) Gatling gun.  Among the Officers of these units are such worthies as Peachy Whitemoor, Uriah Farthingdale and Danny Quilp.  

The Terrain.

A Zariba 1/3 table from one short edge, filled with tents and uninspired Fellahs. The Relief Column starts at the opposite edge.  A wadi or dry river donga crosses the table a third in from that side.  Several patches of rocky terrain, and some soft sand. A small village on a long table edge half way across.

It is a hot day, a damned hot day... Difficult to see the Dervish when they go to ground.  There may be an ambush.

The Anglo Egyptians start in the Zariba.  Two thirds of the Dervish start on their base line to attack the Zariba, but the rest may be in ambush in the wadi, village or rocky terrain.  Only Uriah the Dervish knows!

The natives will recycle destroyed units up to the points of the Imperial troops.

If the Dervish conquer the Zariba the Egyptian Fellahs will change sides, but remain unenthusiastic.  Their field gun will be brought into use immediately.

The Relief Column, and a Squadron of Royal Dragoons march to relieve the Zariba.  The dragoons have an option to include a  mule dragged Gatling gun with an RA crew.  

Mission cards (Random)

Return a white feather.  Do an impossibly brave deed.  

Make sure your old mate Peachy stays alive to enjoy his retirement, even if it kills you.

Prove the worth of the new fangled Gattling gun, by wiping out an enemy unit.

Capture a Mahdist leader and torture him into revealing vital intelligence

Make a charge! The papers will love it, the Queen will love it and Miss Kitten loves it.

Discover the identity of a European spy reported as part of the Mustapha's forces.  

Force cards:

The Royal Dragoons squadron, two troops, a Captain and Lieutenant.

The Rajputs, three companies under Major Pyles.  Three Havildars are also available, Charu Ghaunt, Dilip Fauirbanks and Vikram Manauaglan.  

The Royal Marine Light Infantry in their colonial greys.
Supporting units:

A single company of the RMLI with an Officer,
A Gatling  gun
The QMs wagon.  
These will be divided amongst the other forces.

The Anglo Egyptians of The Pasha have two companies of unenthusiastic, poor shot, mutinous Fellahs and a poorly drilled field gun.

The Mustapha has exactly the same points as the Imperialists, although he will have to recycle units to actually get them on table.  Expect veteran and fierce Dervish tribesmen, Jihaya riflemen and Beja mounted tribesmen.  They are a tough proposition.

There is also the possibility of a German spy dressed as a tribesman pretending to be one of Mustapha Liek's Amirs.

Rumours also abound of the Mustapha's French advisor, Capitaine La Pisse of the Legion, as played by Charlie Hawtrey in this movie, and no, I`m not taking La Pisse.

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