Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Sharp Practice, 28mm
This week the Edinburgh club put on a participation game at Targe, a small wargame show held up in Kirriemuir, in north-east Scotland. Its about 90 minutes drive from Edinburgh, so at the unsociable hour of 7.15am Jack and Derek collected me and my figures, and whisked us northwards. The show is held in a local school, and our participation game was allocated a table in a side room, a fair way from the main hall. Still, we were in good company, next to games from Aberdeen, Glasgow and three different parts of Fife. The terrain for our 6×4 foot table came from Dave Imrie. While it was a little verdant for India, we pretended it was the start of the rainy season. In any case, it looked spectacular, with a lovely river and a rocky hill. The game was designed as a participation one, where people coming to the show turn up and have a go. the aim was to run four games throughout the day, each lasting about 40 minutes. After all, this was designed as a small taster of the rules, not a full-blown competitive game. Of course we didn’t take wargamers into account,k who, once they sat down and started rolling dice, were determined to see things through. As a result we landed running just two multi-player games, each lasting about two hours apiece! Fortunately Jack and Dere had the task of running the game – and a great job they did. My job was merely to talk to interested onlookers, to keep the players supplied with figures, smoke and markers, and to drum up candidates for the next game. The scenario was a rescue one. After the massacre at Cawnpore the daughter of a Colonel was taken away by a dacoit chief – a local badmash (bandit), and was being held in the village of Singhpur, a dozen miles to the north of Cawnpore. So, when word of this reached the Cawnpore relief force, a detachment led by Sir Harry Flashadder (accompanied by his loyal gin bearer) was sent to rescue her. However, as well as being a haven for bandits, Singpur was also close to an encampment of mutinous sepoys, who were therefore able to march to the sound of the guns. So, the stage was set. Would Abigail Colpoys be rescued, or was she have to resign herself to a fate worse than death?Strangely, both games played out in fairly similar ways. Both sides had two jump=-off points – one per player. In both games the British deployed their British regulars close to the village, and their Gurkha skirmishers and Sikh infantry further to the right, facing the hill. In both cases the Indian players deployed the bulk of their sepoys around the village, and left their musket-armed badmash to hold the hill, where they could snipe on their opponents with relative impunity .. or at least from the relative safety of the rocky heights. In the first game the British regulars had problems deploying in front of the village, largely because the steady fire from the buildings kept inflicting shock points on them. They spent most of the game rallying. Over on the right, the Gurkhas pinned down the badmash with accurate long-range rifle fire (they had Brunswick rifles), while the Sikhs moved up to support the British. The sepoys charged them – I think the final tally was four charges – but although whittled down the Sikhs held their ground. Sterling stuff! However, they were too badly battered to do anything else, and with the British infantry unable to storm the village, the game ended in a Sepoy victory. Poor Abigail…The second game began the same way, but this time the players did things a little differently. First, the Sepoys came under sustained fire from the start, and as casualties mounted their morale dropped. After a few turns of this it looked like the British were going to sweep to victory. that, of course, was when the game turned itself around. Over the next few turns the British suffered casualties, both from flanking fire from sepoys on the far side of the river, near the little Hindu shrine, and also from a powerful firing line holding the centre of the table. Unfortunately for the sepoy players it wasn’t enough. The British morale dropped to “4”, but after some bad die rolls on their part the sepoy players finally reached breaking point, and the game came to an end. Effectively though, the game ended in a draw, as the British had suffered quite a few casualties, and were only hanging on through pluck and lucky die rolling. All in all it was a good day out. While the show itself was enjoyable, it was also a real pleasure to use my figures on such a nice-looking table. So, a big thank you to Dave Imrie, and to the nine guys who took to the field throughout the day. Oh, and of course to Jack and Derek, the Statler and Waldorf of the Sourth-East Scotland Wargames Club. Without them this fun day out wouldn’t have happened.