Thursday, April 16, 2009

PITS Suitability

Just as a follow up to my earlier post about Patrols in the Sudan. I finished reading (and rereading) these rules and am still just as impressed as before. But I wanted to clarify a few points. These rules are designed for (for lack of a better word) guerrilla attacks on patrols of regulars and thus would not be suitable (in their pure form) for larger set-piece battles. Now that's not a weakness in my book since most Colonial Rules are (i.m.h.o.) completely unable to deal with this very type of warfare.
  • First of all, no one wants to paint figures and then only put them on the table for a round of melee. Through it's split placement, terrain removal and scouting mechanisms PITS allows figures to be on the table even when "hidden".
  • Secondly, those same mechanisms allow a better simulation of the uncertainties faced by regular European troops in an environment where the enemy's situation is unknown.Though it might feel weird for some terrain to disappear or appear out of nowhere it does integrate the uncertainties of Patrolling and the fact that seemingly innocuous landscape features may harbor unknown danger.
  • Thirdly one is not hampered by overly large units. If you want you can use a large 21 figure TSATF sized unit, but(more typically)you will be using a company broken into smaller detachments.
  • How one would deal with savvy colonial Auxiliaries (such as the Armed Constabulary of New Zealand, Sikhali Horse of Natal, Punjab Frontier Force, etc.) in PITS I'm not sure, but I would guess that a simple bonus to Scouting rolls would suffice.
So, for example, these rules wouldn't be made for the assault on Gate Pa but would be suitable for most of the Campaigns against Titokowaru or Te Kooti.

Which campaigns would PITS be suitable for?
  • Any Eastern American warfare pitting Europeans against various Indian nations (Pontiac's War, for example).
  • Campaigns against the Maroons of the Caribbean and South America (for example, Jamaica mid 18th century)
  • NW Frontier
  • Apache Wars
  • Maori Wars of the late 1860s
  • Ashante Campaign
  • As well as all the other campaigns I mentioned in my earlier post.

(The photo shows Gilbert Mair, of the NZ Armed Constabulary, one of Te Kooti's primary opponents.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Toys for Young Uns (& for me)

Well, I went and ordered some Paper soldiers from Walkerloo. I'm always thinking of what "toy soldiers" will have around for my kids when they get old enough. I had been thinking Armies in Plastic (and probably still will get those someday). Right now we have Schleich & Papo knights and fairy tale creatures scattered about. When I was 9 & 10 I used to trace medieval soldiers out of library books and onto tracing paper. I then mounted them onto card stock and played with them. That led to being given Britains plastic Knights and Saracens and you know the rest... but anyway there's a sort of circularity in buying these. Plus they're beautiful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Patrols in the Sudan by RFCM

I sent off for the Patrols in the Sudan ruleset from RFCM / Peter Pig. Though they are designed for 15mm it would only take about two seconds to adapt them for 28mm (or any other scale, for that matter). They are a 1:1 scale rule-set but play is by section-platoon sized units (2-7 stands). I know I have gotten enthusiastic before, but these rules are great! They are designed for (as the title says) Patrol actions in the Sudan but I will guarantee you that I will use them for Mesopotamia 1915-1920. Frankly they would be perfect for any of the major Colonial Wars and most smaller ones, I will almost certainly re-base my Zulu Wars figures for this game and maybe my Maori Wars figures. I'm not completely done reading the rules but so far I like everything. RFCM as always, comes through, simple workable mechanics combined with a scenario generation system that is amazing.
It's the force building and scenario generation systems that are the gems in RFCM games and what make them stand out to me. Players use points values to buy a "force" using several lists (British Infantry, Egyptian Cavalry, Gunboat, etc.) then choose a scenario. The Scenario lets you know what kind of Patrol you are on (one way or two way) any mandatory extra scenery (say, a village), any extra forces involved (a color bearer or heliograph team) and victory conditions. Then the Dervish player begins to set up terrain splitting his hidden units between two terrain pieces. These may appear later in either piece either when he activates them or when they are scouted. During each turn the dervish player will choose to roll on an event table that may remove one of his units, remove a scenery piece, place a new unit or piece of scenery or return a scenery to unscouted status. So one is never sure where the beggars might pop up. The scenarios would seem to replay really different each game due to all the pick-up game aspects of PITS.
In Great War terms you could easily adapt these scenarios to the Sanusi Uprising, Actions against the Aabs and Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia 1915-1920, the Eastern Cordon in Persia, Dyer's campaign in Eastern Persia, Turks patrolling the Hijaz, many of the actions in the Sinai in 1916 & 1917 by the ALH and Camel Corps, Sudan & Darfur during this time.

Any how, this is how I imagined Colonial Gaming would be when I first got into it. Each side fields no more than 100 figures, the game is supposedly 1.5 hours or so in length, lots of color while being quick and elegant in execution. Probably this will be a solo effort, not sure how it would lend itself to a club game. I'll let y'all know how it goes when I play it.

Here is a game report by Matakishi:
Here is Peter Pig's page:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Possible future Maori Game

Osprey is right on the cusp of releasing the book pictured to the right. This, plus the fact that my local clubs theme for the year is dusting of games that haven't been run for awhile, has motivated me to consider running Maori Wars again. I probably won't use Brother Against Brother since card driven games don't work well at our club . I'll either use Iron Ivan's This Very Ground or... something else... maybe Patrols in the Sudan (I like RFCM rule sets, though I don't have this one yet.) Maybe even Jim's Old West rules, since the period I run could definitely be run at a low level skirmish scale. Anyway, it's going to be a ways off so we'll see...
A great Period and hopefully this book will stimulate interest.