Tales from Duffer's Drift

Some wordy descriptions of Colonial war-games

Intermezzo

It has taken much longer than it should have for me to get back to this, but all things come to those who wait, I suppose. The Russians need to return to the Inn of the four winds, and the locals need another shot at them.

To ensure this happens, I need to do some paperwork. The plan will be for one platoon to be garrisoning the inn, and the other three, with reinforcements, will come and save the garrison from the aggrieved locals. After some painting, I think I have enough of everything. 

Captain-Poruchiks Smirnoff and Absolut will have to choose what platoon of the 1st/54th will be in garrison, and for them to do that I will have to figure out the current strength of the formation. 

Before I began, I completely arbitrarily decided that each platoon would have 2 men (10% strength) available to it between games to fill in losses. 

So the current strength of the battalion is :

After 1st action Present Wounded K/MIA
1st Platoon 10 9 1
2nd Platoon 20
3rd Platoon 17 4
4th Platoon 20

 

Possibly doing a complete injustice to (or wildly overestimating the efficiency of) the tsarist military medical service, I had also decided how to treat wounds. On 1 or a 2 on a d6 the patient would improve one grade, on a 3 or 4 they would stay the same, and on a 5 or 6 their condition would worsen.

1st platoon has 6 severely wounded, and 3 lightly wounded. The medical service err performs poorly for the severely wounded, rolling 3,4,4,5,5,6. This means 3 unfortunates die of their wounds, and the others remain severely wounded. the lightly wounded roll 3,4,4 and their condition remains the same.

1st platoon remains at 50% strength, and therefore receives 2 depot replacements, bringing its effective strength to 12. None of the riflemen have been in two battles, so no-one is available to replace Sub-Praporshchik Putinka (the sub leader) who lies in hospital, gravely injured.

3rd platoon is rather better off. It only suffered 1 severely wounded rifleman, and 3 lightly wounded, one of whom was Captain-Poruchik Smirnoff. The medical service Rolls a 2 for the severely wounded man, recovering him to lightly wounded, and a 1, 4, 4 for the lightly wounded men, returning one to service. 3rd platoon now has an active strength of 17, so receives 2 replacements. In a clear act of class favoritism, the man returned to service is Captain-Poruchik Smirnoff.

As one of the platoons of the battalion will be tied up in the inn, there will be available a sonia of the Orenburg Cossacks, under Sotnik Bocharev (10 troopers, 2 leaders)

As soon as the russian command staff gets itself together, we will proceed with the next installment.

The Inn of the Four Winds

It had come to the attention of the Imperial tax collection Bureau that an alarming amount of unregulated hookah-smoking and trading in goat futures was occurring at the infamous Inn of the Four Winds (called by one traveller “the most uncomfortable cesspit I have ever had the misfortune to attempt to enter” and proud recipient of minus 1 1/2 michelin stars) in the Caucasus Viceroyalty. This was a problem mostly because the Imperial bureaucrats were not getting their accustomed payoff for such profitable activities, but also because there was going to be a change in Viceroy unless more of a profit was generated to the imperial coffers as a matter of some urgency (that is beaucratese for real soon now).

As the Viceroy was quite fond of his digs in Tiflis,

The Viceroy's digs. significantly more marble than brains

The Viceroy’s digs. significantly more marble than brains

it being the Tsarist equivalent to “handy for the schools” and “close to the shops” [Apologies Douglas Adams] and also significantly far away from his in-laws, he instructed his military commander to reassert control over the rogue marketplace (there was some digression over this, and a number of memoranda were generated on the topic of “Had it ever been controlled, and if not should an ukase be generated for the initial exercise of control, and therefore the word reassert should not be used” &c, &c, but this was rapidly quashed by the Viceroy with not very subtle hints about postings supervising the creation of the Trans siberian railroad as he disliked paperwork as much as  he disliked exercise).

As is the nature of military commands, it rolled downhill from the superbly appointed Palace in Tiflis to the much more utilitarian and much more dusty barracks of the colonial town of Goris where 1st Battalion of the 54th Siberian Rifles resided in somewhat arid, and not very splendid, isolation, under the amiable and rather distracted leadership of their rather indolent Colonel, Stolichnaya.

This worthy, on being ordered to prepare a punitive expedition into the foothills, did reply to his commanders that the area in question was more-or-less under the control of the well known local chieftain Orkramol the Portly, who was known as a decent chap, and did not cause much trouble, and did they really want to stir the pot in this manner?

To this came a politely phrased message that if  Stolichnaya did not get his finger out, the Viceroy would find someone who would, leading the Colonel to summon his two senior officers to consult on the task at hand.

Captain-Poruchiks Absolut and Smirnoff

Captins Absolute and Smirnoff. In the best tradition of Colonial Wargaming, they are wearing silly hats. the Silly faces are all their own

Captins Absolute and Smirnoff. In the best tradition of Colonial Wargaming, they are wearing silly hats. The silly faces are all their own

were completely in agreement that a company strong force would be needed to assure success, and in any case, the opportunity for field experience should be taken advantage of as much as possible. Regarding the two recently promoted fire eaters under his command, Stolichnaya quickly realized that if he chose one company over the other he would never hear the end of it from the one left behind.  Therefore, in the interests of peace and quiet, he decide that one platoon from each company should be sent, and the respective captains of the companies should lead the expedition jointly. This would expose both the young men to action, and, the colonel quietly thought to himself, if it all went horribly wrong one of the young firebrands would suitably scapegoat the other, avoiding him finding himself in difficulties with either of their important families. Not the best military solution (divided commands and command committees and so forth) but the Tsarist army had a long tradition of politics causing poor military solutions to problems, and Stolichnaya was entirely a traditionalist.

Therefore the 1st and 3rd platoons set off on their mission to impose (or re-impose or whatever) the imperial remit.

On approaching the foothills it became apparent that the locals were not going to take this interference supinely, and 3 groups of warriors had been assembled. As the Russians moved slowly into the area surrounding the inn, clearly exhausted by the effort of getting this far [some stunningly bad rolls for movement from the Russians]

The russian plan was that 3rd platoon would move down the right side, and 1st platoon would move left, so that both platoons could come at the inn simultaneously.

The Russians creep onto the board, the dice are not their friends

The Russians creep onto the board, the dice are not their friends

The slow movement of the Russians convinced Orkramol that they were unenthusiastic and to send 2 of his bands at the enemy, holding the third (and himself) by the inn to await developments.

Captain-Poruchik Smirnoff noticed a dust cloud in the woods in front of him; consulting briefly with Poruchik Shustov and sub-Praporshchik Rodnik he sensibly ordered his men into line facing the woods, where a stream of fauna exiting indicated something large following.

Some appalling shooting from 3rd platoon while 1st platoon seems to be spreading itself all over the landscape

Some appalling shooting from 3rd platoon while 1st platoon seems to be spreading itself all over the landscape

Captain-Poruchik Absolut continued to move 1st platoon to take control of the large hill  to his front, unfortunately at a pace best described as glacial [couldn’t roll more than a 4 inch move, poor guy]. His dilatoriness meant that the opposing war band gained the heights before his forces even reached the base of the hill.

On the Russian right, the war band surged out of the woods, charging 3rd platoon…. and promptly stopped for a breather and quick lunch of roasted goat, in the open, right in front of the russian line [apparently poor rolling is a family trait, the charge fell 5 inches short. If I had even rolled average, they would have reached…]. Captain-Poruchik Smirnoff was quite gleeful as he ordered his platoon to take aim and fire… and Russians promptly missed. What had happened? rifles set to wrong number of versts range? Still using exercise ammunition? Tired from their long march? Who knows. [18 shots, and 1 hit. A look of horrid reproach from my son, now deprived of his glorious victory]. The other Russian platoon was finding out why standing in close order in the open was not recommended when fighting tribesmen on a hill, taking a solid number of casualties, while not inflicting many. All in all, not looking great for the Tsar’s forces.

1st platoon beaten back into line about to give an object lesson on how not to fight tribesmen on hills, while 3rd platoon reloads.

1st platoon beaten back into line about to give an object lesson on how not to fight tribesmen on hills, while 3rd platoon reloads.

The next turn, and the tribesmen on the right surge forward confidently into the Russians. The tribesmen on the hill re-arrange themselves so they get more shots. The Russian 1st platoon desperately tried to get more rifles to bear on their uphill foes, and the 3rd platoons officers screamed at their men to “AIM THIS TIME”. The tribesmen were confident [a random event card giving huge benefits to morale had been drawn for the tribesmen, if they managed to inflict more casualties than they took. that was sure to happen, right? RIGHT?].

And then 3rd platoon fired at the tribesmen charging them. And caused 11 casualties, completely overshadowing the other war band’s efforts, even though 1st platoon was coming a definite second in that fight.

Good grief, they're all dead. The results of a ferocious volley

Good grief, they’re all dead. The results of a ferocious volley

Slightly to everyone’s surprise the 2 remaining non straggling tribesmen on the right charged into contact, where they were summarily disposed of by sub-Praporshchik Rodnik and a rifleman for no loss. the rightmost war band took to its heels, and was not rallied before it left the board. This also caused the entire native force to lose heart [and the younger son was heard to mutter “that’s more like it”] because of the random event card.

Both Russian platoons closed in on the war band on the hill, causing equivalent casualties, though 1st platoon was still suffering. And then a rumor ran though the war band’s  ranks that their village was being burned, and they headed home en masse [ANOTHER random event card. Yikes. there was going only to be one chance to rally them, and with the morale deficit from the first card it was going to be difficult.]

However 1st platoon had 10 men killed or wounded, and there was still a chance for a local victory. As the two russian platoons moved

The fleeing war band streams toward the inn while the Tsarists seem to have themselves sorted out

The fleeing war band streams toward the inn while the Tsarists seem to have themselves sorted out

cautiously toward the tribesmen holding the enclosure and the inn, Orkramol took his chance to rally the routing tribesmen … who promptly streamed past him, headed for the hills. Well, if the Russians messed up, he still had a chance.

The Russians demonstrably did not mess up. 3rd platoon moved onto the hill overlooking the inn and enclosure and began a very effective fire.  1st platoon was moving up to take a similar position when ill fortune stuck twice more. Orkramol himself suffered a light wound, and it

The Russians not messing up. It looks grim for the locals here

The Russians not messing up. It looks grim for the locals here

turns out that they had been sold dodgy gunpowder, halving the range of their weapons [Yet another Random event, and we were rolling 2 dice for 1s at this stage. I’m convinced they stacked the deck].

Orkramol decided that there was no way his men could hold out, and ordered a general retreat, with some regret for the lost hookahs and goats. He would get even next time.

As for the Russians,  Captain-Poruchiks Smirnoff and Absolut were quite embarrassingly smug about their victory, though Absolut was going to have to invest in some fancy prose to explain the 50% casualties in his unit. It is to be hoped that some of them are back in action when the battalion is next called on.

Total Tsarist losses were :

1st platoon advances toward the inn, burdened by it's wounded

1st platoon advances toward the inn, burdened by it’s wounded

1st platoon 1 Rifleman KIA, 6 Riflemen Severely wounded, 3 Riflemen lightly wounded

3rd platoon marches smugly to the inn for "refreshments"

3rd platoon marches smugly to the inn for “refreshments”

3rd platoon 1 Rifleman Severely wounded, 3 Riflemen lightly wounded

 

[all I have to do now is figure out what do do for the next game, as the punters involved all enjoyed it]

 

And here we begin

Welcome, you nice people, to a new blogging effort. Pop over to the about page to see what I am on about (pun there, geddit?). In the interim, In the best spirt of the internets, I should show you a picture of a kitten, but that would be too much effort, so here is one of a tribal chieftain instead

A tribal chieftain surrounded by his loyal men. Given this is a colonial wargaming page, the future looks less than bright for this poor chap

A tribal chieftain surrounded by his loyal men. Given this is a colonial wargaming page, the future looks less than bright for this poor chap