Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kas'trum Campaign Pre-Season Game Two - Into the Valley of Death?

The Hereford's adjutant was back at his desk. This time it was the reconciliation of the Mess accounts. No matter how he worked the figures he always came up two bottles of claret short - and then there was that troublesome rumour that porter had been seen at table. Most distressing...

A loud cough came from the door behind him - the the endless knocking of junior officers and senior NCOs who needed his help to sort out one minor problem or another had threatened to bring down the whole structure thus a change to a less violent announcement was required.

"Enter  - What is it?" the major snapped, his eyes still focused on the mess accounts - where were those d---ed bottles of claret?
"Burning party ready to depart sir!" replied the Sergeant Major pushing aside the tattered "door" as he entered.
"What's going out Sar'n't Major?"
"One company of regulars, a section of Trucial Scouts and a Gatling gun..."
"A what!?"
"A Gatling gun sir, a type of small bore revolving cannon from America. It's said to have firepower the equivalent to a company of rifles. The Royal Navy swears by them, sir and we 've been ordered to field test one and report back on the results.  Begging your pardon sir, I see the written order from Battalion there on your desk, just under those two bottles of claret..."
"Yes, yes, very good..." was the waspish reply as the Major tucked the offending bottles out of sight beneath the desk,  "Who's leading this little scientific gun testing party then?"
 "Captain Cybbel sir, late of India I believe. Fancies himself a bit of a writer."
"Ah yes him. Do you know if he fancies porter?  No never mind that, he has his orders, tell him to get on with it, I have to get back to more pressing matters."
The Major turned back to his accounts, oblivious to the smart salute rendered by his most senior NCO who depart with all the briskness appropriate to his rank.

The Sergeant Major strode over to the waiting column ending his march with a crashed of highly polished black leather on dusty Martian sand next to a ragged looking horse and a rather less ragged looking rider. He followed with a mathematically precise salute.
"Begging your pardon Captain Cybbel, the Major says you're to head out sir."
The rider  was staring fixedly at the two reptilian gashants packing the mechanical gun,
"What rhymes with 'dinosauria,'" he thought to himself, "Sorry Sergeant Major, what was that?"
"The Major says you are to head out now"
"No words of encouragement to the men from him then?"
"No sir, he just made reference to your written orders...."
"Hrrmm," Cybbel replied looking concerned, "that's a touch cold given what happened to Puller's lot. I'll have to come up with something myself then. Thank you Sergeant Major, you are dismissed."
The NCO saluted smartly, the Captain returned the salute equally smartly and returned briefly to his previous thoughts.
"'In memoria', yes that might work it wasn't perfect - but then it didn't really have the tone he needed to elevate the men's spirits."
Cybbel shook way that particular remembrance  and turned to the men and Martians of the little column arrayed before him.
"Now listen up men, we have a job to do and I know you are the right men for it...." his voice was swallowed by the morning mist as he he did his best to instil some pride and honour in these men, no his men that he was about to lead into battle.

The Valley of Death

Once more unto the breech
On the Earth side we have:
Captain Cybbel commanding
Second Company,  Earl of Hereford's Regiment of Foot Regular V1, Single Shot Breech Loaders
Special Detachment 1st Askari Rifles Regular X3S Muzzle Loader Rifles
No. 7 Experimental Battery Regular V0 Gatling Gun.

The Martian forces are:Har'd'tak commanding
Har'd'tak's Hellions (Num'da's Raiders) Irregular V2, ½ Musket, ½ Bow armed
First Band Kas'trum Marines Regular V2S Rifled Musket

Har'd'tak looked down the narrow valley.  Loyalists in the Earther occupied village off the main canal had sent word that a column was on the move, undoubtedly to seek revenge for the massacre at the temple ruins. The prizes, both in loot and hostages were significant, but some of the tribe felt that they were not worth attracting the attention of the invader. The riders had long since passed through carrying with them the booty of rifles, loot and, it was said, a prisoner or two.

The decoy.
Har'd'tak's job was to slow down any incursions by the red men. His band was split between those armed with bows and those with muskets.  Given the reports of the blundering nature of the Earthers, he put his bows behind a protective row of thorn tress felled for just this purpose. With any luck, the red men would stumble into the bows, allowing these short ranged weapons to have some effect on the battle.

The ambush.
He placed his musket armed troops along one of the ridges defining the valley. They were to hold in place and in cover until the Earthers were occupied with the bows and then sweep in from the flank.

The reserve.
On it's way was platoon of Kas'trum Marines whether or not they would arrive in time to be useful was the question.

Cybbel looked down again at his printed orders. Yhey read in summary and decreasing order of importance:
  1. Locate and recover any breech loading weapons and if possible ammunition.
  2. Locate and recover any officers or gentlemen held by the enemy.
  3. Regardless of the outcomes of items 1 and 2, burn any buildings and confiscate any live-stock or portable goods. 
  4. Locate and recover any other imperial property such as uniforms, helmets, belting etc and liberate any enlisted men.
  5. (in a different hand that looked suspiciously like that of a certain senior NCO) Assess the utility of the attached Gatling Gun in field operations, compile a report of strengths and weaknesses, and include a list of recommendations in favour or against.
At the bottom inked in large letters was the admonition:
Under no circumstances are wells or other water sources to be interfered with!  

The army had its priorities one supposed but at least that last bit made some sort of sense.

Scouts out and into battle!

An odd array of thorns trees blocks blocks progress.
The glass beads mark the limits at which the Trucial Scouts will uncover the two ambush parties. 

The Scouts press forward - Alert to danger.

Back out of sight behind the ridge line
Concerned that the Scouts were getting too close, Har'd'tak pulled his men back off the ridge.

The Martian view
Looking up the valley as the red tide approaches.
The orange bead shows the limit of bow range.

The Redmen pull up behind the scouts

Skirmishers to the ridge!

The Trucial Scouts open fire!

One hit!
A quick note: In the Soldier's Companion rules, the base number to hit is a 6 on a d6. This base number can be modified up or down by various factors - usually up. For hit numbers greater than 6, a 6 still counts as a hit but the defending player has a chance to "save" the hit by rolling under the difference.  However, saved hits still count towards the morale check. See below.

But it's saved.

Open order skirmishers behind cover get a healthy defensive bonus.

The morale roll...
The bowmen hold.

The ambush team fires....
Only half of the figures count as firing because they are using muzzle loaders then factor in long range and nothing much happens.  Afghanis with jezzails these are not.

What's that odd machine?  The Gatling deploys.

Fancy Footwork
All those years in the grammar school marching band finally pay off as the second rank pivots to face the new threat.

"Give me an L!"
Though not in the letter of the rules, what's the point of having two rank regulars if you can't do fancy marching about things with them?

Hellions Fire!

No hits on the red men.

One hit on the traitorous Scouts!

Easily saved

Gatling test script Item 2: Open fire at the enemy

Har'd'tak watched a small red coated figure as it did something at the side of the odd looking gun. little flashes of light flickered from it and for a moment the Hellions watched unconcerned. Then a sandstorm of bullets kicked up the sand up and down their position. Khaki clad figures could be seen  running between the gashants and the gun, bringing ammunition to feed this terrifying beast.

Two hits!

Doubled thanks to Yankee technological know how 
MGs double all hits. This didn't help here and both were saved.

Morale Failure!
However as noted above, all four hits still modify the morale roll and the skirmishers run away in terror - but still intact.

Run Away!

Har'd'tak's men squatted nervously on the other side of the ridge. They would not face this new terror for treasure or glory and wishing to live another day, they quietly withdrew.

The Scouts Make another ineffectual effort
Under less than withering fire, the bows continue to hold.

Scouts Withdraw!
Time for the regulars to have a go!

The Red Tide approaches!

Martinis Thunder!

Begging your pardon sir....
No hits?!

There seems to be something wrong with our bloody Martinis today
No hits again?!

The bows execute a tactical retreat

The Earthers advance

The bows keep running

Another shot
No hits?! What madness is this?

The Bows saunter away

Fer C___t's sake - Hit something, anything - even the bl__dy dirt!

And the game ends as the last bowman walks calmly out of sight.

Cybbel looked down from his mount.
"So what was the problem Sergeant?"
The NCO held out a handful of shiny gold metal fragments.
"Old ammunition sir - the wound brass type case. It's been in storage so long it's starting to fall apart.  The men are cleaning their rifles now and I have the platoon NCOs taking stock of the drawn case ammunition and redistributing that. We should have enough for another engagement without haveing to draw on the old stuff"
"Thank you Sergeant, carry on."

With things well in hand, Cybbel turned back to his poetry.
"When you lie bleeding on the red Martian Plain...."
No that wasn't right...

In a simple mud hut, in a simple mud village, two dishevelled figures listened expectantly to the sounds of battle in the nearby valley. One sat listlessly, the other searched the ground behind him with his finger tips and having found a not quite blunt bit of rock, began sawing at the thongs that bound his wrists.  Help was coming.  

1 comment:

Victoria Dickson said...

Brilliant. :)

You write a most entertaining report, and I am seriously jealous of your terrain and figures.