Sunday 10 September 2023

18thC India List for Honours of War

As mentioned recently, Dave and I have been working on a list for use in 18thC India for our forthcoming Honours of War game at the Cotswold Wargames Day. This is based upon admittedly limited reading on the mid-18thC in India period, but I feel enough has been read to make some informed decisions, at least for what we have planned. As always our games are to have fun, have a feel of the period and hopefully learn something along the way too!

Now please feel free to comment, belittle our ideas (not too much😉) or make suggestions to improve things. Afterall this is very much a work in progress and by no means set in stone. Things might change if and when I get chance to run a few trial games, or during the game itself on the day. We are flexible in our approach as it's only a game afterall!

Background Info
The early days of the Honourable East India Company and the conflicts it was involved in have little info with regards to the battles fought. There appears to have been lots of bribes prior to battles to get one side to defect, no intervene or simply ride away, with the battles not being battles in say a mid-18thC European sense, as there was little action, despite large numbers involved. So there is some artistic licence that can be taken in how to replicate these actions and it is up to you how you want to reflect this. These then are our take on things:

The French and British sent some European troops to support their respective trading concerns in India. These were the best troops there and so it is appropriate to class them as Superior. Each of the Companies had their own troops or militia that were trained, but no especially to any high standard. So these have been classed as Standard. Given both sides used lots of Sepoys due to the limited number of Europeans there, they were relatively well trained to support the Europeans in military actions, yet could be fragile, hence classing them Standard for shooting and melee but Inferior Class for rallying. 

For our game and for fun, we have included European ships crew as well as some nominal Jacobite forces after the failure of the '45. Whilst not good for shooting that are pretty good at getting stuck in, hence the Onferior shooting but Superior melee.

Both sides Light Infantry, of which there were large numbers of, they were more used to raiding rather than pitched battles, so these are classed as Inferior Light Infantry. The same is broadly true of the Indian and Afghan Light Cavalry, that are also classed as Inferior. The limited numbers of Heavy Cavalry with armour as classed as Standard only.

The French had the edge on the British in terms of how they used their artillery, so these have been class as Superior, whilst the British is Standard only. The Indian States had heavy artillery that was more of a status symbol rather than being especially effective. Their rate of fire was low and they were pretty much immmobile once deployed, hence being rated Inferior but Heavy guns and immobile.

Both sides had plenty of fun and exotic troops, such as Elephants, Zumburak Camels and Rockets. The Elephants were certainly at the end of their useful period but are too fun to leave out, ditto the Zumburak Camels. All of these were largely used to break up the very large Light Infantry and Light Cavalry units that were found on the flanks of all armies of the period. So whilst not being especially devastating (famous last words!), their main use to attrit units on the flanks to limit their offensive abilities and to make them less able to resist attacks.

In terms of C&C, the British had the edge (think Clive of India) but the French did have good commanders too. So here the British have the slight edge. In contrast the Indian and Afghan commanders are much less able in comparison, to reflect their tendency to switch sides, to go raiding after the baggage etc. Again they did have the odd excellent commander, but rarely so.

The List

French & British Infantry – Superior Infantry.

European Infantry – Standard Infantry.

Scottish & Ships Crew - Inferior Infantry for Shooting but Superior Infantry for Melee.

Sepoys & State Troops - Standard Infantry but Inferior Class for Rally.

Light Infantry – Inferior Light Infantry.

French Artillery - Superior Medium.

British Artillery - Standard Medium.

Indian Siege Artillery - Inferior, Heavy, Immobile (possibly shoot every other Turn to reflect long reload times).

Elephants - Inferior Light Artillery, Infantry Move Rate, No -1 for Moving, Large Target, Ignore Terrain penalties.

Camel Zumburaks - Inferior Light Artillery, Light Infantry Move.

Rockets - Inferior Light Artillery (range of Medium Artillery). Deviate on D6. 1 – Miss, 2 – 3 Deviate and hit next nearest unit, 4 – 6 Hit target.

Indian Light Cavalry – Inferior Cavalry.

Indian Heavy Cavalry – Standard Cavalry.

French Commands - 1-2 Dithering, 3-5 Dependable, 6 Dashing.

British Commands - 1- Dithering, 2 -5 Dependable, 6 Dashing.

Indian Commands (Light Infantry & Light Cavalry) - 1-3 Dithering, 4-5 Standard, 6 Dashing.

So there we have it. I hope you found this interesting and possibly informative too. As mentioned at the start, this is very much our take on things and the above has been done to try and balance things to make for a fun game. Please feel free to change, tweak or amend things to your hearts content. As always any suggestions to improve things would be grealty appreciated.


Colours 2023 - A Test Of Endurance & Stamina

Yesterday I took my annual trip to the Colours wargames show at Newbury racecourse, which I always see as the start of the wargames season for me. It was forecast to be the hottest day of the year and so it proved to be! Normally it is a question of do I need a light fleece or something a tad more substantial on the clothing front? This time it was how little can I wear whilst maintaining decency and not being confronted by the police;)! So read on for an overview of the show etc.

The Heat
You could not escape the fact that it was unbearably hot in the venue. Even when the doors opened just after 10.00am, it was already hot and stuffy on the ground floor with no breeze at all. On the top floor it was even worse. Everyone was suffering and needing to take repeated breaks outdoors to try and cool down, rehydrate etc. It was actually giving me a headache on the top floor and I know how to cope with heat, having lived in Nigeria for 5 years, but even so, it was a test of endurance the whole time I was there. I had planned on spending a good 4 hours there, having a good browse and a good look at the games on display. As it was I managed 2 1/2 hours and sadly whizzed round the games due to the heat. How the poor souls putting on the games coped I'm not sure.

The show seemed well attended but not as busy as previous years. For once you could walk relatively easily along the ground floor where most of the traders are, without feeling like you are on the London underground during rush hour. The same on the top floor where the display games were. Even the B'n'B was busy but not three deep as is often the case.

I had a good chat with Leon and Adele from Pendraken Miniatures and to them lots of people seemed to be browsing, but not buying as much as before. We wondered whether the cost of living crisis, the recent jump in fuel prices and the hot weather put people off from coming. Certainly driving down, the M4 was busy West bound with families heading for the coast to enjoy the last of the Summer weather.

I always like to buy a few books at the show, but once again I was amazed at the difference in prices for the same books, depending upon the seller. Anita's Books is always my first stop as her and her husband are always very friendly and they have a good mix at very reasonable prices. Paul Meekins comes next with a very comprehensive range but it is hard to have a good browse as his stand is always busy. Helion & Co had another good display, but I can buy their books at Paul Meekins one floor below for £10 - £25 cheaper!

There was a good mix as always, with Warlord Games having a big stand for once, which I don't remember from previous years. As mentioned above, they seemed to be busy but how many sales were being made is another matter. I just wished I'd been able to browse more which was my plan, but the heat put pay to that:(. I did manage to check out Brigade models as I was contemplating buying some of the airships for my Xenos Rampant games and is was good to see a few of them in the flesh so to speak. They were bigger than I'd imagined, even with rough sizes given on their web pages. H&R, Newline Designs and Baccus were on my lists too but hopefully iy will be cooler next year and I can spend more time checking stuff out. Just don't tell SWMBO;)!

The Games
Well enough waffle from me and onto the photos. No surprise that I had to whizz round taking photos in batches and then having a break to recover, so they are a tad rushed but hopefully you will get an idea of what was on offer. There was only one no-show, which was the Delhi 1803 game that I was looking forward to seeing. Hopefully I've got the right games against the photos as the show guide doesn't quite match the games...

Op Caravan - Barce, Libya 1942.

Peter Pig - Macedon - Conquerors & Kings.

TFL - Cannae - Strength & Honour.

Peter Pig - PBI- Factory Fight WWII.

I loved this game and wished I could have spent more time taking it all in.

TFL - Bonsai Bonkers.

No prizes for guessing the rules;)!

2nd Mantinea 362 BC - DBMM rules.

Breakthrough to Leipzig 1813.

Vietnam Skirmish.

A stunning Vietnam game. So much time and effort has obviously gone into making this game.

Saga - Samurai Skirmish. Another game with lots of attention to detail and much to admire.

A Gladiator game.

A Star Trek game.

Rolica, Portugal 1808.

To the Strongest - another Mantinea game.

LRDG raid.

Nagashino 1579?

The bamboo fences were a nice touch.

Rapid Fire.

Game of Thrones.

A mix of Mortem et Glorium games, inclusing the Pacto variant.

Isandlwana in 28mm using Bloody Big Battles rules.

The Haul
I feel the heat limited what I might have bought, which is probably a good thing given SWMBO reaction to what I did buy!

A mix of pre-orders from Pendraken (Russian WWII) and so ACW packs for some core forces to expand my Imagi-Nations forces, but more on that another time.

A steal at only £6.00! I remember this as a kid and have been after if for a while, really just to read and get some ideas from it for possible future games.

As with the above, excellent value for £5.00, both from Anita's Books. Perfect for uniform ideas, obscure conflicts and forces, such as the Andean Liberation Army. Never heard of it before and I doubt many people have.

Final Thoughts
I was glad I went even if it was a test of endurance and stamina whilst there! I was happy with my purchases and it is nice to not only support the traders there but to treat oneself now and then. Normally I would get inspiration from many games, but I simply could not spend the time I would have liked to looking at them for rather obvious reasons. When I got back in the car it was a toasty 37C! 

At least the weather is due to cool down to near normal temperatures by tomorrow, so I can get back to painting my 18thC Indian force as it's about 5 weeks to the show. Progress is going well but I need to keep my nose to the grindstone!