Thursday, 22 September 2016

First game of The Men Who Would Be Kings

In the far flung reaches of the province of Ilkestaan the wily and unpredictable Mukhtar al Babbij has been stirring up the natives. The 99th Humberside regiment, together with elements of the Royal Dilshad Rifles has been dispatched to the province with orders to bring Babbij to justice...

I've been excited about The Men Who Would Be Kings since Dan Mersey first announced it. It gave me an excuse to buy the rather lovely Artizan 2nd Afghan War range, and probably to indulge in some Carry on Up the Khyber nonsense.

I've been dutifully cranking out the models on and off all year, and on Friday I'd finished enough to be able to play a game, so I popped down to Northstar and returned with a copy of the game.

After a bit of reading over the weekend, and some terrain fettling this week I finally had some time this evening to set up a game.

I persuaded the smallest child to give me a hand, but as the rules include "Mr Babbage", a programmed set of instructions for solo play I decided to give them a try so that the child could go to bed/wander off when bored as the mood took him.

I picked an 18 point force of 3 regular infantry units for the British.
The Afghans had three units of rifle armed troops (irregular infantry) and two of sword toting Tribal Infantry. Although the Babbage rules suggest not using a scenario I decided to give the British an objective of getting half or more of their force into the village at the other end of the table to win.

And so we began with the small boy ordering the British about and me interpreting Babbage until he was summoned off to bed, when I took over the forces of Her Majesty and Babbage did the rest.

 The 99th Humberside Regiment enter the Hookinal valley

 The peacful native settlement of Shaarwyd

 Pathans pour down into the valley

 The Humbersiders stand firm...

 ...before unleashing a volley

 The Royal Dilshad Rifles are surprised!

 More natives break cover

 The Royal Dilshads make it safe to the village

 The Humbersiders give fire to the onrushing horde

 Too late the Pathan rfiles arrive

 The British line the walls of Shaarwyd

...and the Pathans fade back into the hillside

The game played very smoothly - I'm familiar with both Lion and Dragon Rampant and this uses a lot of the same engine (though with tweaks that add considerably to the game).
I only used the basic rules, so ignored the character traits, which will add considerably to future games and didn't use any special rules or theatre specific stuff. It all played very quickly and felt familiar. The pinning rules gave me a bit of pause, but I think I wrapped my head around them.

Mr Babbage I think needs a bit of work for the forces I have. It seemed weighted towards Tribal Infantry, when my force was predominantly shooters. As a result I wasn't able to get most of my force onto the table, and we never experienced hand to hand. I think next time I'll probably replace the dice roll with cards - one for each unit and a couple of blanks. Though I suppose I could have just swapped the order of shooters and irregulars around. Not really a criticism of the rules, its great there's a solo option in there and Dan's clear the whole thing is a toolkit - so I shall just tweak Babbage until I get it the way I want it.

Really looking forward to playing this with the Sherwood Hucknall and Ilkeston Team.

Great work Dan!


  1. Great to see a solo encounter, must try this myself.

    1. Thanks Michael, yes, you must give it a try!

  2. Great to see the project coming together......very tempted and may gradually develop my IHMN and Congo forces to a size where this is an option.

    1. *hypnotic voice*
      Give in...give in....

      There's a "half-sized unit" variation in the rules (essentially the suggestion is "play with half sized units") so you don't even need the relatively small numbers I've got.

  3. Cheers Tom, glad the rules of of some use as you've spent so long putting together the forces for it :) You're right that Babbage mostly prefers a 'charger' army... I think if you change the dice results to reflect the greater number of shooters in your force, that'd work. Interested to hear how it goes...

  4. Nice report and pictures, I was curious how Mr. Babbage would work out in real life.

  5. Great stuff. Unfortunately, I have been less focused and still need loads more figs before I'll be able to get a game in!

  6. Lovely report and can't wait for my copy to arrive. Then just the small matter of getting some figures sorted...

  7. nice report and great figures...

    1. Thanks Eric, hoping for another run at the rules this weekend.

  8. Been trying to work out the difference between tribal and irregular infantry for the Pathans. Hadn't thought of splitting them into melee and shooting, so thanks for that!