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The Umbongo River, 1892


Darkest Africa, In the Heart of Africa, 28mm

Next came a “Darkest Africa” colonial game, using Chris Peers’ Heart of Africa rules. It pitted my German East Africa Company (an expanded version of my WW1 East German Schutztruppe) against the He He (played by Adrian Rennie). This was the first outing for both forcers, although over half of my Germans were figures looted directly from my WW1 East Africa collection. For the record the He He had five main bodies – 2 units of Warriors, 1 unit of Spearmen, and 2 small units of musketeers – 88 figures in all. They were also backed up their Chief and his entourage, a standard bearer (carrying the severed head of a German officer), and of course a witchdoctor. They even had the use of a captured machine gun. For their part the Germans could draw on just two units of East Africas Company askaris, one of German marines, and a maxim gun – 25 figures in all.Battle%20of%20the%20River%2It was a game containing a few surprises. The game was set up as a straightforward encounter battle, with both forces seperated by a river. Straight away the Germans went onto the defensive to make the most of their firepower, while the He He launched an all-out charge. On the African left flank a unit of 24 Bene spearmen took on the German machine gun, which had the misfortune to jam completely on the first turn. Somehow the attackers were kept at bay by a unit of supporting askaris, who slaughtered the Bene to a man.King%20Mkwawa%20surveys%20tMeanwhile the He He machine gun was proving more effective than its German counterpart. Although it too jammed on its first turn of firing, it managed to kill four figures – three of them being the priceless German marines. Suddenly the game was less one-sided than it first appeared. Next came the scrap on the African’s right flank. First a unit of musketeers crossed the river and took up position in a small patch of jungle on the German side of the river and began sniping at the Marines, who started taking even more casualties.Clearing%20the%20HillGerman firepower drove off the first unit of He He warriors who tried to cross the river at the ford, along with a unit of rather timid He He musketeers.Things were looking pretty good for the Germans, until those other pesky musketeers emerged from the jungle. They caused three casualties on the German askari unit, which was enough to break them. By this stage the Marine detachment was down to one man, so all the Germans had left was a second unit of askaris and a useless machine gun! That was when the He He warriors charged out of the jungle and elephant grass…DSC_9836_editedThe askaris couldn’t down enough warriors to stop the charge, and once the He He got within stabbing spear range it was all over. The poor askaris were chopped up, leaving the Germans with nothing but their commander, one marine and a retreating machine gun team! At that point I decided to draw a veil over the whole sorry affair and conceded. It was a fun game, and Adrian handled his He He with skill and flair. As with any Chris Peers set the casualties were horrendous, but in the end German Mausers were no match for He He courage!

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