Last weekend several HAWKs joined me in a combined Colonial and Napoleonic play test day for Combat Patrol(TM) supplements. Dave has been working on a Boer and Zulu supplement for Combat Patrol(TM), but because of his busy schedule we had been unable to test some of his ideas. In particular, Dave has been concerned that there are no formal leaders at lower echelons during this time period. In the British Army, for instance, the lowest level corporal would be in control of 25 or 30 infantrymen. This span of control was probably sufficient when units fought in lines, but is not suited for small skirmishes. My feeling is that three or more soldiers is a formation and someone would be designated as being in charge. Anyway, Dave has developed an interesting concept for leader in the game that provided a different flavor. I think there are some ambiguities and second-order effects that have to be identified and resolved, but it worked fine.
The purpose of the day was more about the rules than the scenarios, but we were also looking to have some fun. In order to test as much as possible, we had Boers and Zulus against the British. The Boers were on the side of the creek in the foreground, and the Zulus were on the far side of the creek. The game very quickly turned into two separate games with little interaction. I commanded the British on the far side of the creek facing Chris’ and Dave’s Zulus. Duncan controlled the British on the near side of the creek, facing Mike’s Boers.
The situation for the British on both sides of the creek were in a difficult situation, with the enemy on both sides. Against the Zulus I was facing superior numbers with most of my men scattered and in the open. The scenario began with a single section of British infantry in a hasty defensive position, but the rest of my forces were strung out along the road.
Chris had a few riflemen, but he had his typical luck, and most of his rifles went out of ammunition early. In this scenario, Dave determined that an out of ammunition result would be permanent. Chris then quickly charged out of the scrub and toward my forces. I tried to seek cover behind the wall you see along the right. That helped a little, but there was nothing to stop three units of Zulus from circling around my flanks and overwhelming that section of British infantry.
I was busy on the Zulu side, so I didn’t get to see much of what was happening on the Boer side. I was very pleased with the way the rules seemed to work for the Zulus. When I had British in hasty positions, the Zulus had difficulty. Where my infantry was caught in the open, the Zulus were able to circle around my flanks and overwhelm me. This felt right.
At one point, Dave was throwing units at my British in the defensive positions. The section in the foreground is about half strength. They began in the open and had to fight their way to the defensive position. Once there, the Zulus were unable to dislodge them. Even when they had 2:1 odds in the hand to hand, the defensive position provide enough benefit that I was often able to push them back. You can see the white rubber bands on several of the Zulu figures. Each band represents a wound. When wounds are greater than or equal to the figure’s Endurance attribute (typically 3), the figure is killed. You can also see some black rubber bands. These indicate stuns. When a figure is wounded, it is also stunned. It is not allowed to take any actions until it takes an action to remove the stun marker.
Dave brought more Zulu units to bear, and threatened to destroy this section and my sergeant within the defensive position.
This shot is about mid game. You can see the British section in the foreground still trying to make it to cover. You can also see the British on the left beginning to circle around my British section at the wall while other Zulu units are advancing toward my Gatling gun at the top of the image. I never did get the Gatling gun into operation before the Zulus overran it.
It took several turns, and I was able to inflict some casualties, but this Section of infantry, caught in the open, died to the last man.
I quite enjoyed the game, and I felt the rules worked pretty well for the period with Dave’s tweaks. Some of us are still not convinced of the needed for the added complexity Dave has introduced for leaders and command, but it worked fine. It will be included in the supplement as an optional rule. This play test also gave us a chance to make sure that we were being completely consistent between Dave’s supplement and Duncan’s Napoleonic supplement. We need a couple more play tests, but in general I think the supplement is shaping up.