Saturday, August 16, 2014
Troop Ratings for the Frontier
With all the Victorian Romanticism informing our views it's all too easy to boost the plucky British and not give Johnny Pathan his dues. The tribes on the frontier did keep the Raj busy for a hundred years, and ironically they provided some of the best recruits for the Indian Army!
Now obviously Gurkhas and the Corps of Guides are elites. Both had the pick of the best and most intelligent officers and were made up of carefully selected men. Competition to get in to both corps was quite strong. I also tend to rate Gurkhas as 'aggressive' giving them an extra 2 dice in fisticuffs. I think the Guides should get a +1 to spot maybe, or an extra spotting roll on top of their regular actions?
I think for any other British or Indian unit it really depends on how long they've been on the Frontier. A British battalion fresh off the trooper from England or having spent most of it's tour doing garrison work in the interior isn't going to be as effective as a battalion of Bengal Native Infantry who have been stationed on the Frontier seeing regular active service for many years. By the late 19th century distinctions between different regiments, such as the Rifle Brigade had largely disappeared. All Imperial troops were now effectively 'rifles' so they can all skirmish. The Brigade of Guards never went to India so trying to decide how much their innate sense of superiority would overcome inexperience is a problem that can be left alone. Consequently experienced British or Indian units are "Good" and all of the others are "Regular".
Highlanders pose some issues though. Queen Victoria and the novels of Sir Walter Scott had combined to almost fetishize anything Scottish and so the Highland regiments felt a little better about themselves. They have also become rather iconic of the Victorian Army. But did it make them any better really? Perhaps giving Highlland units the 'aggressive' bonus in fisticuffs without any 'extra' morale boost is the way to go.
This has however, generated an idea for a new card! One per Bonus Deck and only if there are Highland units in play AND there is a piper figure on table.
The Piper- Playing this card removes 1d6 of shock from all Highland groups and they all charge into fisticuffs with the closest group of tribesmen.
This is inspired by Piper Findlater, who although shot through both feet, propped himself against a rock and kept playing to encourage the Gordon Highlanders as they stormed the Dargai Heights in 1897, thus earning himself the Victoria Cross.
Getting the tribesmen 'right' is giving me some problems. Last game to try and reflect the steady skirmishing fire I let the tribesmen fire half the figures in a group and not have to use an action to reload or they could fire everybody and need an action to reload. Now I am thinking giving them more, but smaller, groups (6 figures per group to the Imperial 10 or 12) and let them fire without a reload action. By the 1880s and 90s they had all mostly re-equipped with stolen breech loaders anyway. I rate them as 'regular' instead of 'good'. Although this has given me some pause I'm going to stick with it for now to reflect the lower command and control capabilities of the Pathan leadership.
Ghazis naturally get the 'aggressive' bonus in fisticuffs. I also think they should be classed as 'elites'. However there can only be one or two groups maximum.