Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Pathan Death March

Rules: TSATF
Scale 25mm
Figures: Old Glory, and others.
Game Master : Jim Ferich

On Friday the 13th our group assembled for a game of one TSATF, a favorite rules set of ours. The British had to advance through a valley somewhere in the Northwest frontier to burn a village and make an example of the local population. Hearing that the British were advancing in force the locals took to arms and ran to the hills. The mountains and hills were ripe with Pathans and the British formed their strategy as they entered the rocky wilderness. The two units of Guides from India (commanded by me) supported by a mountain gun were to be a blocking force on the left flank. A force of Ghurkas and Indian Infantry supported by a mountain gun (Leo) advanced in the center and was to be supporting the main attack while watching the flank. On the right flank the British infantry and Lancers (Jerry) were to advance and burn the village.

The Pathans (Jim C. Cliff and Chris) were to prevent the British from burning their village. The Pathans had also constructed a fort overlooking the valley which had a garrison of infantry and an artillery piece. Most of the sneaky cowardly heathen Pathans were deployed as hidden units and refused to present themselves for the slaughter, which is their nature. The cavalry and garrisons were positioned on the board at the start.

The village

The Hill fort...what a model!

The first British and Allied units began to deploy scouts in the first turn. This kept the chance of an ambush in check as the main units followed. In most of our games natives use ambush tactics to slow the British attack. I usually forget about the use of scouts and made a mental note this time.

The Guides advance..less a few poor souls

The Pathans in the hill fort drew first blood against the Guides who advanced in open order. The scout was killed as the dreaded King of Hearts was revealed for the casualty....oh well time to send out another poor bastard. The mountains gave cover to a majority of the British and their allies as the main Britsh column advanced.

The British move with scouts in the lead

The column snakes through the mountain pass
 The Pathans slowly revealed themselves to the advancing column as shots rang out from the village and the hills. Shots were exchanged and a few hits were scored on both sides. The jezails had a longer range but were less accurate. The British betteraccuracy which was countered by the use of cover by the Pathans.

Pathans emerge
 The Lancers made a valiant charge against the Pathan artillery. I use use the word valiant to temper the result which favored the Pathans who were able to shoot the Lancers from their saddles. This was a charge of legends as the unit of cavalry was lost. The British now know the resolve of their foe.

The Charge of the Lancers
 It was at about this time that we hear screaming natives advancing from behind us. The unit of Ghurka infantry had to about face and deal with the new threat in traditional fashion, first with rifle fire then in melee. The Pathans were cut down in the frenzied charge and died like men. With the flank secured the Ghurkas advanced in the following turn looking over their shoulders. Thank goodness we kept units in reserve.

Ghurkas deal with a new threat
 The Guides were in the process of advancing on the hill fort and suppressing the Pathans to eliminate any flanking fire during the assault on the village. It was bloody work but it had to be done. A unit of the Guides advanced to the base of the hill while the second unit climbed up on a nearby ridge to offer supporting fire. The artillery was firing in support. During the action the lead element of guides was reduced to half strength and the wounded was being carried which also reduced firepower. The 10 survivors exchanged fire and gave as good as they got. The Ghurkas (Leo) offered supporting fire as well which made the difference.

Advance to the fort

Guides and Ghurkas giving covering fire
 The Pathan artillery in the fort was suppressed and the supporting infantry took heavy casualties. The lod=ss of the pathan leader (thank you ace of clubs) was too much and the Apthans eventuall gave ground. By this time in the battle the British timetable for the assault was in shambles. The British were held up for 5 turns as they slowly advanced under withering Pathan fire. The Guides finally began advancing past the fort to hold the flank of the assault.

The Guides advance...finally

At this point we were near the end so the British had to make an assault. The British infantry were given orders to charge the village. The British infantry charged in with the support of the Lancers. The British were able to close the charge and the Pathans were able to stand. At this point the killing began.

The charge to the village

The fighting begins

The Pathans have the advantage of terrain

The British are repulsed and retreat behind the cavalry

The supporting troops are discouraged.
 During the melee the British lost almost every die roll. Upon investigation we discovered that the British had a 6 sided die that was numbered 1-3 twice making it a 3 sided die for results. So we had to re-roll the combat and although we fared better we still lost the melee. A morale check of the Pathans gave a retreat result. The village was now open. At this point we called the game. Jim, the GM, decided not to bring in the extra 120 figures of Pathans as he thought it would unbalance the game. The British did hold the field in the end but paid a high price. We finished the game in about 3 hours which is really good for having 6 players. The most memorable event of the night was the die numbered 1-3. This happened before as we had a player rolling a D20 that was numbered 1-10 twice giving him a high success rate during firing.

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