Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chapter 35: Pettygree In Extremis

Date: 16 October 1899
Location: Two Miles From The Escarpment Camp
Situation: Imperial Battle Line Ten Hours After The Sunrise Battle Of The 16th
In Extremis: Grave circumstances
Sir!: Images expand amazingly if clicked once or even twice.
Ferocious Tug counterattacks were described in Chapter 34. The Imperial left held, the foe dispatched. On a side table, the Imperial right, Blackiston's wing was forced backwards. Shocking numbers of his foe thereafter wheeled to cross to the main table to attack the flank of....

The Imperial Center

Before this we return to less turbulent moments there.

Imperial Center: 1st. Sikhs on the left. Berkshires on the right. The foe lightly holds the far bank. One might entertain thoughts of an easy crossing if not for the unknown of what might be hidden beyond the ridge at the top of the image. And so....

The square forms line with the Sikhs conforming. Berkshires look half right. A new foe approaches.

Berkshires! MAKE READY --- AIM --- FIRE!      

At the image top is the side table and the attack approaching Blackiston's Right Wing described in the previous chapter. Blackiston was tumbled backwards by overwhelming numbers. In next minutes that foe wheeled directly toward you dear reader forcing the Berkshires....

Into the L-shaped line here. Unfortunately for the Berkshires this reduced frontal firepower. The foe to their front along the stream seeing an opportunity, charged home. The time of close action was upon them and the adjacent Sikhs. Will they hold? And what about the Berkshires firing in the lower right of the image. Pressure mounts. We turn around....

Viewing things from KHAN's perspective and see why. The Berkshires and Sikhs are engaged in hand-to-hand close action to their front; (image middle right). The portion of the Berkshires forming the L atop a ridge are blazing away in rapid fire mode trying to stop an oncoming mass, the mass that pushed back Blackiston's  Right Wing. However,  we see his 15 Pdrs. and Bombay Miners and Sappers giving fire into their aggressive opponents rushing onwards - unstoppable. Blackiston's 9th Bengal Lancers (top left) arrive onto the main table.   

The climax of the battle is near.

As KHAN and the traitorous Rajah of Beberra watch it all unfold. And now....

Correspondent Mr. H. Pearson calmly takes notes behind the Berkshire firing line. Coming toward him through the smoke of Martini Henry rapid fire volleys, he observes....

The victors over Blackiston's command charging straight for him. A ferocious melee will occur atop the ridge. From there the Berskshires poured out a last volley and then engaged the foe in melee. It was touch and go with the foe charging uphill through a brush line. And....

KHAN's allies have finally had enough. Unable to break the Berkshires they routed away to the side table. Count them if you wish. The original number was 126. Meanwhile we return to the front of the Berkshire line where....

We see the Berskshires have been pushed back! (They lost the first round of melee and are forced back 6")
Losses are rising as....

General Pettygree rides forward to encourage the fighting Berkshires. The melee round just lost required a morale test with a modified result of 6 to continue. A failure will mean rout with a likely pursuit by the foe. If a pursuing foe touches routers, the routers are all cut down. Let's throw for morale.

Two dice are cast into the air, spinning, descending and finally crashing onto the tabletop. After modifiers are applied the result = 5.                    ROUT!

My heart sinks. My eyes close. I can't look. This means utter disaster. Pettygree is in extremis. He might even be lost. Chuck is politely expectant and kindly sympathetic. There is one last desperate measure to apply. We do not yet know what the general's charisma value is. Throwing a 1D6 will determine this. 1 = -1 (no good!), 2-3-4 = 0 (unhelpful), 5 = +1 (oh pah lees!) and 6 = +2 (yes!)

Searching for the right die, I hold it, look at it silently telling it what to do, pausing twice to throw it. I breathe deeply and cast. It soars into the air several feet. The familiar arching apogee is attained and it begins a tumbling descent to the ground. It hits, bounces and comes to a stop. A 6 shows for a +2!

I'm saved. Chuck groans.The Berkshires can continue where they are. Huzzah!
However, given losses to both sides Chuck and I decided this third game session should end. Another round of melee would prove nothing and with KHAN's allies in flight there seemed no point to continue. The game was stopped with the Imperials holding the field whilst KHAN withdrew with the satisfaction he has probably ended the campaign of 1899. Imperial losses are severe.

Contributing to the decision for KHAN to withdraw was the sudden appearance of an Imperial Relief Column on his left rear flank. You may remember seeing them in the previous chapter. 

Here they are again; 2nd Sikhs in square, 3/9th Bengal Lancers and a 7" Mountain Howitzer.

KHAN committed his reserve to oppose them. The Imperials formed line to fire. Your view is from the main table looking onto the side table. The gap between the two means nothing. It is solely a convenience so Chuck and I can walk around without needing to climb onto tables to move miniatures.

Had the Imperial flanking force not arrived, KHAN's reserve of Red Sash Horsemen (48) and Household Rifles (36) and Swordsmen (36) would have been used against Pettygree in the center most likely with very unhappy consequences for the General.

No serious fighting happened here because the end of the battle was near and KHAN needed his reserve to cover the orderly withdrawal General Pettygree was content not to dispute.
1. While all the above was going on, a last stand was being formed around the baggage way back in the rear of the Imperial Center. A company of 1st Sikhs was already there. Soon to arrive would have been:
Seaforth Highlanders, Lt. Gill's 9th Bengal Lancer Troop, the 10th Hussars already nearby guarding the rear and the 9th Bengal Lancer remnant retreated from the side table. You can see this eight and ten photos back.

2. There were three random events enclosed in as many envelopes given to Chuck. He only knew one was good for him, one was good for me and one was neutral. He had the option to fully determine when to use them. His method was to pick an envelope one at a time and dice for when to open each envelope. Luckily for him the first was the arrival of KHAN's Allied Host of 126 warriors, the ones who tumbled Blackiston's Right Flank. These arrived in Session #1. The second envelope message selected said "Nothing" early in Session #2. The third allowed the Imperial Flanking Force to arrive late in the game mid-point in Session #2.

3. From a design perspective, this turned out perfectly for the scenario though other results might have been almost as good. Imagine the above in reverse order. What might have happened?

4. Chuck plays his KHAN aggressively making for fun and unexpected tension and surprises, the kind so vital in Colonial tabletop gaming! He runs rings around me!

5. In a way, one die throw, the one for General Pettygree's charisma, decided the game. Well done General. Lucky fellow! 

6. Post battle topics will appear soon; casualty reports, what nots and a few more photos. Your comments are welcome below. Thank you for looking in. 


Der Alte Fritz said...

Bill, this was probably the most exciting, heart pounding report that you have ever done. Well done sir! I was almost afraid to scroll down and see what the result of the charisma roll for Pettygree would be.

Anonymous said...

What a great battle. Both sides with chances and I might say that Chuck certainly had to deal with a unlucky, for him, die roll at the end. Look forward to the continuing campaign and possibly seeing you both this weekend.


Howard Shirley said...

Pettygree lives! Huzzah!

Wonderful, and shows how exciting and up-in-the-air a well done campaign can be. I look forward to the year 1900...

Gallia said...

Thank you,
Jim, Earl and Howard!
This was a fun and exciting three session game not to mention the build-up prior to. There were many times I thought The Khyber Field Force would be wiped out or so stricken that...well...the whole thing might end in a Maiwand or Isandlwana result.
The thing is to give the indigenous player a lot more miniatures so it is really tough for the colonials. The latter have to be careful and think ahead.

Fitz-Badger said...

Another excellent, exciting and cinematic report!

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Whew!!!! I can draw breath again...

Egad!! Dervish on the NW Frontier - what can this mean??!

ColCampbell50 said...


Excellent game report! Sure looks like y'all had a blast with the all the action and suspense.

"Egad!! Dervish on the NW Frontier - what can this mean??!"

My thoughts exactly. Lokos like some of the imaginary Green Nile campaign games we did a long number of years ago.

Thanks for the pleasure of sharing your gaming,


Larry Stehle said...

"Curse your Charisma Pettygree! We shall yet run you foreign Dogs out of the country!"

A great report! I look forward to the next one! The close games are the best ones!

My next painting project for the September game Con here in SoCal is NW frontier and your reports are a great inspiration!

Many Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Give me a lucky General and I will rule the world! Or at least my part of it.

Thanks for a great campaign blog.