Sunday, 10 January 2021

Ambush in the Ooknall Valley - a TMWWBK solo game

I'm missing gaming a lot. Mostly I'm missing the social aspect of it, but I'm also very definitely missing the tactile element of pushing plastic, rolling dice and shouting Hurrah!.

So I decided it was time once more to get the NWF collection out, the Babbage solo rules from The Men Who Would Be Kings, and have a game.

I went with just eighteen point forces and concocted an Ambush scenario - with the British in column unprepared for the wily Pathans. One of the challenges with the solo version of TMWWBK I find is that it can be something of a turkey shoot for the Imperial forces as written, so I'm tweaking to give the natives a better chance of making it in to combat.

I rolled traits and leadership for the British and rolled disastrously. A Co. of the Humbersiders were led by Captain Ransome - a man suffering from poor eyesight (no firing over short range) B. Company were led by Lieutenant Edwards - fine Moustache, but command 9+ and finally Sergeant Kamiz commanding the Dilshad rifles was so inexperienced his troops could make no automatic actions.

To minimise paperwork I decided rolled just command for the Pathans - no traits. All shooters were command 7+ and all chargers 6+

The British were deployed in column of march and the game began with a unit of Ghazi appearing from the woods to the left.

As the British struggled to respond to the ambush the Ghazi surged forward. The Dilshads were able to form close order.

Ransome ordered A. Company to move to bring fire on the onrushing Ghazi.

The white clad fanatics crashed home.

Butchery was done on both sides but the Dilshads were forced back and pinned.

However return fire from the two units of British regulars wiped out the remaining fanatics.

With that Ransome ordered the column to resume march, but as he did so more tribesemn appeared on both sides of the road.

Fanatical foot soldiers to the left, musket armed tribesmen on the hill to the right.

The guns of the Pathans pinned the Humbersiders in place as the Ghazi closed in.

Things did not go well for Ransome's men.

As the other companies moved up in support more gun armed natives appeared.

The British column could only look on in dismay.

Ransome fell beneath the shining blades of the fanatics - a fine education being no substitute for buying a pair of spectacles...

Emboldened one of the rifle armed units decided to emulate the Ghazi charge.

This proved unwise...

British gunfire (and some slinking away) cleared the pathway to continue the patrol, but more gun armed tribesmen soon blocked the way.

The British drove off the shooters with repeated volleys, but a final Ghazi unit burst from the rear.

Astonishingly Edwards, his moustache all aquiver, held the line and rained fire on the fanatical Pathans.

Faith and fanaticism proved no match for repeated volleys and in the end Al Babbij was forced to admit defeat.

But no doubt he will return..!

This was good fun and scratched a bit of an itch.
However the rules as they are seem very much to favour the player over the AI. It's all too easy for the regulars to not move and just concentrate fire on piecemeal attacks - pinning and then wiping out single units. Being able to fire automatically and with no need to move means that unless the charges hit home they're very likely to be pinned and ultimately wiped out.
Whilst I wouldn't want to be overrun every time at the moment without a great deal of bad luck (multiple units deploying in charge range) I'm not sure how likely the native forces are to ever win...

Might be time to finish off the campaign rules I began.


  1. That certainly looked fun Tom...
    And it gets the toys on the table...

    All the best. Aly

  2. Tom,
    Great game and battle report. I love Mr. Babbage from TMWWBK.

  3. Sounds like fun. I may have to get my Boxers out and try using Mr. Babbage.

  4. Good to see some action, hard for the Afghans with such open terrain as well ?

  5. Great looking game Tom, if only more Etonians could meet such a fate.