In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Black Powder in Haributistan

For the mountains of Haributistan, it was a decently nice morning. The bugles from the Native Infantry were tootling away, the sun was shining and we hadn't been sniped at all night. I was doing my best to get on the outside of my tiffin while listening to Padre Peterson prosing on about some philosopical work he'd just read about in the Times. Dam'd decent chap the padre and useful to have about; saved the whole column a few years back, so I make polite noises and try to look like I understand what he's saying. I was just wondering where Radu was with some more tea when my Chief of Staff, Maj. Jeeves, bustled in trailing ammunition returns and camel inventories, saving me from having to make some intelligent comment on the transubstantiation of field mice or somesuch.

Gen. Wooster encourages the troops

"Excuse me sir, but the enemy has been sighted in strength blocking the pass. I've given orders to deploy as we discussed last evening, sir."
"Ah well, Jeeves. Jolly good! Let's go give that Wazir chap a sound thrashing!"
The Wazir of Pakora had been entertaining Russkie envoys, disguising themselves as fig merchants. But Calcutta got their wind up about Cossacks in the Khyber Pass so off we were sent to thrash the Native Johnnies, show the flag and levy a fine of rifles and sheep from the mountain tribes who'd been getting uppity of late.
This morning's objective was to force the Gates of Pakora; a nasty collection of rocks set in between even bigger and nastier rocks. But about the only place you can get through with a camel caravan. The Wazir had deployed his small army of medieval equipped troops around the Caravanserai where the camel wallahs stop for bhang and bints. On the mountains to either side he had Usman Khan the Hawk of Haributistan with his bands of Pathans occupying sangars.

Usman Khan, the Hawk of haributistan

view of Pathan lines

Pathans in sangars

the caravanserai

As I rode out on my horse waving my topi to encourage the lads I could see Jeeves had things well in hand. The Gordons and Gurkhas were on the left. In the center was my old regiment, the Blandingshire Fusiliers and the Madras Sappers. On the right we had the 21st Lancers and Hodson's Horse.

view of Anglo-Indian deployment

"Where'd those Guides chappies get off too, Jeeves?"
"The Guides are moving through the mountains to the north to try and turn the position, sir."
"Ah yes. Good show. Smart chaps those Guides."
A battery of heavy guns packed on elephants moved past, trumpeting away noisly.
"Right. Put those guns over on the right where they can shoot and move the 21st to cover them. In the meantime get the screw guns banging away and order a general adavance."

elephant battery advances

Jeeves gave the orders and sent gallopers flying hither and yon. Bugles sounded. Bagpipes squeeled and everybody started adavancing. From the rocks the pathans started banging away in fine style too.
In the center the Madras Pioneers were advancing on the caravanserai, one company out skirmishing. But a small cannon in the compound and some Pathan marksmen kept pinning them down and even made one company retire.

advance in the center

I galloped up waving my topi enthusiastically. "C'mon you lads! Don't let the side down, eh? Remeber the regiment and the Queen and there'll be extra chappattis for all." After a few minutes of this they got sorted and moved off again.
Meanwhile the Wazir had been pushing forward with his spearmen and Col. Bearsham brought up the Blandingshires to form a firing line. Arrows met Martini Henry fire. The spear chaps gave a jolly spirited charge but the good old Blandingshires held them and they broke.

Over on the right the 21st took a lot of stick fro the Pathan snipers and retired in complete disarray. I'm going to have to give them a sharp talking to tomorrow I'm sure. The elephant battery got fired on too and the padre had to bustle over and give them an encouraging sermon to buck them up.

Maj. Wentworth the cavalry commander noticed some tribal cavalry moving out from behind the mountain to turn our right and he quickly sent Hodson's Horse to block them. The Bengal Lancers charged in fine style but with disappointing results only managing to stop the pathan riders but not breaking them.

On the left there were mixed results. The Gordons kept tripping over their kilts and one company never advanced at all. I'll have to take away their beer ration for a while I think. The Gurkhas got stuck in though and charged up the mountain like a bunch of vicious goats driving off the tribesmen and exposing the Wazir's flank.

Gurkhas turn the flank

Highlanders don't do much except look pretty

After this the defender's spirits seem to flag and the pathans faded into the hills to send down a fine of rusting old fowling pieces and some scraggly sheep. The Wazir sent envoys to negotiate having a British resident in Pakora.

the Wazir

The above was a 28mm Colonial game we played using Black Powder. Since number of figures don't matter we went with 10-12 figure companies or 5-6 figure squadrons for the 'standard' sized units. A good time was had by all and three of the four players had no experience with the rules at all but we still managed to do a lot of gaming in about three hours. Plus I was able to put alot of my toys on the table. If we'd gotten started earlier then the Guides, Guide Cavalry and Sikhs would have been on the right flank, plus a few dozen more Pathans.
The Wazir of Pakora's troops started life as my Medieval Saracen/Moorish army but they've seen more action in Colonial wars than Medieval.
All in all, I'm quite pleased with the rules. They move quickly and allow for a lot of toys on the table. As you can see, I have a lot of toys and it's a shame to leave most of them in the box.


  1. A very nice little action and a good report. I particularly enjoyed the use of "terms from the Raj".

    I found this blog from a comment on the "ColonialWars" Yahoo Group.

    -- Jeff

  2. Hi
    Very inspiring and nice AAR.
    Thanks !
    Best regards Dalauppror

  3. Great stuff all round.
    I must say, I love the mountainsides! Good work

  4. I have a set of The Life and Deeds of Earl Roberts and have to say that your games are straight out of the pages of these volumes.

    Magnificent, inspiring and I am intensely jealous!


  5. A great looking game with heaps of character. The mix of miniatures looks very natural.

  6. Good show, old chap. I love the first-person story telling.

  7. Well done Sir,

  8. But Calcutta got their wind up about Cossacks in the Khyber

    This line could almost be from a period version of "Over the Hills and far Away."

    Great story about the battle and some very fine looking troops. I spotted some of the Foundry figures that I have in my collection.



  9. A fine battle report, sir! Lovely figures and terrain.

  10. Thank you all. I've read a lot in and around the period and was trying to channel P.G. Wodehouse (I figure his character Bertie Wooster would probably have had a slightly brighter relative who served in the army in the 90s).
    I was also inspired by some of the game write ups the Mad Padre ( did before me.

  11. James, Thanks for the entertainment, identify all too well with the situation, sometimes it gets tricky to tell real life from work.
    Keep well, Douglas

  12. Well it took me 3 months to get here, so please pardon my delay but I must say: great Battle Report, excellent figures and nice terrain -- and fantastic character-channeling narration! Really, really enjoyed this. Thanks very much for posting it!

    Best wishes,


  13. Great collection of Colonial figures you have there. I have been thinking about moving into the NWF myself soon. Great painting as well..

  14. Thanks! I've always loved the Romance of the Frontier ever since watching "Gunga Din" and "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" as a boy. It can be hard to 'simulate' (asymmetrical counter-insurgency operations always are) but if one just concentrates on the gaming fun it is a great period.