Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Remarks About Colonial Games

Jack Scruby's commentaries about planning and playing Colonial historical miniatures games were bedrock foundational for me. Some of this is synthesized below.


Determining the proper ratio of Natives to Imperials is not easy. I don't think there is a specific formula unless TSATF with its twenty plus years of experience has one. Still such a formula will depend on rules weapons and morale, the amount of firearms on both sides and scenario dynamics too. Interesting variables.

It is not as easy as a SYW game where we might simply ask. Jim, please bring 500 Prussian musketeers and 100 heavy cavalry and Randy please bring the same. In a Colonial game the native side usually will have fewer firearms and different morale dynamics. It is at this point we try to fathom how much of each type of combatant to bring onto the tabletop.

In general:

A mostly melee armed native force could outnumber Imperials by 1.5:1, 2:1, 2.5:1 or even - gulp - 3:1.

A mostly musket/rifle armed native force could outnumber Imperials by 1.25:1 or 1.5:1, or a little more.

The bottom line is: All we can do is ponder the above and guess. I don't think there is a bull's eye to hit the perfect ratio. I'm happy with that.


Players are usually, logically and hopefully (?) more nervous in Colonial games. This is a different and necessary form of fun game tension. It is unique and properly so. Indeed this is a singular difference offered by Colonial gaming. It needs to be there.

It boils down to players on both sides thinking the other Army is way too numerous or powerful. This happened in August 2011. Readers may want to revisit that game here:

For a couple of turns several players of both sides understandably thought the opposing force was too powerful or too numerous. As I listened, I politely said something like - carry on - no changes - hang in there - wait and see. As the scenario designer I silently thought - good!

Some will complain. Some will lobby for changes. Some on both sides genuinely believe they will be utterly defeated. Not usually though. I take the position they ought to be nervous this way. Typically I usually stick to my guns and don't change a thing and at the end players happily chat about beating long odds and what might have happened - on both sides - if only....

Lest readers think I have this figured out perfectly, no I do not but the above may prove helpful for some.

Another topic is how to command Imperial and native forces. It's trickier than in a horse and musket game. Plus the native force must be able to move great distances quickly.

"Colonel, they're com'n. Thousands of 'em."
"Aye. Stand to and load."

There's nowhere to go and nothing to do but stand your ground and enjoy this different and exiting type of historical miniatures game experience. Your remarks are entirely welcome below.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chapter 54: Crossing The Amla River

Date: 4-8 July 1900
Location: Main Army At The Amla River
Situation: Battle Aftermath And Crossing The Amla
Recommendation: See Chapter 53
Right Click Images To See More

Trooper Corey: "Haloo there Trooper Ham. Oh -- excuse me please -- Doctor."

Doctor Watson: "Trooper Ham your wound will allow you to return to duty in three to four days I should think.

Trooper Ham: "Thank you Doctor, Sir. Back to the regiment then?"

Watson: "Yes unless a complication arises - which I doubt."

Corey: "Well now, Trooper Ham, enjoying your 'oliday?"

Ham: "Yes surely mate. Excused duty, reclining about all day, naps, tolerable food. You?"

Corey: "Oh just swanning about the camp since those Thugee chaps ran for the hills. Picknicking later with the General. A regular holiday for me too, ya know." 

Watson: "Trooper Ham needs some rest now. In the tent, if you please."

One week after the 2nd. Battle of The Amla, Brigadier Blackiston reviewed the Light Cavalry Brigade. Though reduced to three weakened squadrons, several wounded soldiers including Trooper Ham (10th Hussars) have been able to return to duty. In the foreground are two squadrons of 9th Bengal Lancers. On their right are the 10th Hussars.

The Berkshires benefited similarly from lightly wounded men returning to duty.

Colonel Sinclair and his 72nd Seaforth Highlanders are observed by General Pettygree. The 1st Sikhs are on watch in the breastworks looking across The Amla for signs of the vanished foe.

On the east side of the buildings the 2nd. Sikhs are formed up to protect the right flank of the camp. Ammunition boxes have been positioned nearby in case of need. 

Three officers observe the 2nd Sikhs formation. Left to right: Major Mitchell {ADC to the General}, Political Officer Major David Faraday and Lieutenant Caddy RE.

Village buildings showing the left flank of the 2nd. Sikhs, 1st Sikhs with rifles at high port, the Naval Contingent's Gatling Gun Section and the Seaforth Highlanders in column of march. General Headquarters tents are in the upper left of the image.

Close-up view of General Headquarters. General Pettygree (left) is speaking with Lieutenant Caddy RE while other officers relax.

General Pettygree: "Tomorrow morning we cross The Amla. The first to cross will be the 27th Bombay Miners and Sappers. Lieutenant, I want you to accompany them to breach the Canyon Gate and proceed further into the interior. Take your explosives along. Scouts report the foe is nowhere in these parts but be ever vigilant for them and mischief. 

Lieutenant Caddy RE: "Yes General."

Pettygree: The rest of the Army will follow closely behind in support. Don't hesitate to blow up any difficult obstacles. Questions?"

Caddy: "None Sir. Thank you for the job Sir."

Early in the morning some 1st Sikhs have crossed The Amla River whilst....

Behind them the rest of the battalion waits to cross in road column of march.

Ahead of them all are the 27th Bombay Miners and Sappers. They and Lieutenant Caddy RE {riding} approach several unoccupied buildings.

 And the Canyon Gate. Access into the interior is beyond it.

The men from Bombay easily opened the gate without incident and carefully entered the canyon. Lt. Caddy properly awaited events with his supplies outside.

He started riding forward when...."

A surprise was brought to the rear; a Romanov officer.

 Lt. Caddy: "Who the deuce are you?"

Return next time for the answer.


1. Ridge Tents:

2. Buildings, campfire and GHQ Tents:

8. Berkshire Flags: British Napoleonic from:

9. Indian flags: Fictional flags made at my direction.

10. Romanov is actually a Bulgarian from:

11. Comments are welcome as always below.