We started with a Sudan Game, based on El Teb. I had all the players as British and ran the Mahdists. There was some discussion about who should be in charge of what.
There was some nervousness as there as a lot of terrain, including acacia scrub, so they couldn't see everything, and suspected I might be trying to sucker them in.
The mistrust was such that they did not come on in column (which really slowed them down) and immediately deployed into line
They spotted some Mahdists skulking behind some hastily built field fortification.
The British Cavalry skirmished a bit too far forward, and one company was rushed by the Mahdists and destroyed. The infantry on the edge of the scrub presented arms and volleyed into the Dervishes, removing a base and disordering them.
They then deployed a screw gun and fired some shells as well, finishing off the remainder, pretty much.
Perched on the hill tops, the Mahdists awaited the British approach.
On the left you can see my camels being chased off, while in the distance the infantry mass for an assault on the far end of the position. Historically the British formed square and marched round to attack from the end nearest the camera.
Phil reformed his cavalry, and charged my unfortunate Mahdists out in the open. They turned and fled.
Crying "Tally-Ho!" they jumped the field defences like they were on a steeple chase.
As they sabre their way through the village, more Mahdists emerge.
The cavalry are given a shock and flee away from the Dervishes, mixing themselves in with routing Dervish infantry.
To the left of the main hill line, the Dervishes get a decent number of action points and close the range. They only need to get a lower playing card than the Brits then they're in. Oh dear....
Sustained volley fire, supported by a Screw Gun start to clear the hill side.
The Mahdists who lost the card draw are shot to death and destroyed.
A few more rounds of firing elsewhere and the British are masters of the field. The four of them felt pretty pleased with themselves at this point.
In practice it turned out to be a fairly easy problem for them to solve, and although a couple of errors were made that opened them up to embarrassment they were luckily saved by the card activation sequence.
It's a good looking scenario, and I think I might like to run it again, some time. I will increase the Mahdists if I do (I used about the same number of infantry bases, and less cavalry and artillery) as it was a bit of pushover really. I probably need to go fully Science v Pluck, too, as that gives the players more chance of making mistakes. In practice the British forces are so strong and also numerous that they should win unless they do something foolish.
Next up we had a full on game of SPI's "Fighting Sail", with Gary's wooden ships. Chris & I took a combined US/French fleet (I had the four French ships), whilst Phil & Richard took the Royal Navy. My ships are the four on the left. The plan was for Chris to head their fleet off, and for me to attack the rear. The RN had two supply vessels they needed to evacuate off the far edge of the table.
The fleets approach each other. My strongest ship is also my slowest. It's the one at the bottom of the picture. The important thing here is to ensure we get the weather gauge to control the game.
The fleets close whilst the British commanders confer. My first rater is lagging further behind.
The first engagements take place. Brother Jonathan appears to be avoiding the fight. Surely not? After all, they have the USS Constitution "Old Ironsides".
As you can see one of my ships on the right has lost a mast. As the French player I am learning that shooting out your opponent's rigging is a rubbish tactic.
It's really confusing, but the French are doing a fine job of fighting the British all on their own. To the left you can see some ships are involved in a boarding sequence, my vessel having been pounded into submission.
In another boarding action, however, I manage to capture a British ship.
The British then take on the Constitution, which is duly captured by the Shannon, before the Lydia sailed in to help out.
My First Rater finally catches up and puts two broadsides down the table, destroying one of the British supply ships, and I then do the same to the other one as well. Game to the French. I can't recall the Americans doing anything useful, except lose their flagship.
Everyone really enjoyed this game, - the ships are fun, and the system works really well. Excellent.
Finally we did some Dux Bellorum. By this stage Gary & Chris had left us, so it was me v Phil, with Richard umpiring. He's playtesting this scenario for the SOA conference. The scenario is that the Irish, on the right, have been raiding, and laden with loot, are currently bedding down for the night. The Saxons, on the left, are hoping to surprise them. The Saxons have a smaller army, but start with 6 LPs. The Irish start with 1, but get an extra one each turn as they get more active.
I concentrated all my nobles in the middle, with ordinary shieldwall units to watch their flanks. Archers in the bog to provide extra cover.
Several turns in. My nobles have gone off like a train, the left hand flank guard is tied up with warriors in the woods, and my right hand flank guard won't move. In fact, they never, ever, move. I gave up giving them LPs in the end, as their heart clearly wasn't in it.
Here I am, gearing up for Phil's compulsory charge.
And in they came! A tough fight, but I won out in the end, due to (a) Phil's poor dice rolling and (b) my extra LPs.
The big punch up starts in the middle. Not going as well for me as I hoped. I needed to hit big, early on, before the extra Irish units envelope me.
As you can see, there were "Fahsands of 'em"
After another turn, however, thinks start looking up. The LPs can help keep my shieldwall units fighting, and if I can do that they'll grind the warriors down. Phil started a terrible run of dice rolling here (49 without a 6, - which meant I wasted a lot of LPs on blocking hits that never came). Out of shot to the right, however, you also can't see that I've shot and killed that slinger unit, which cuts Phil's LPs back by one. Good news.
Another round of combat bounces a lot of the Irish, but that simply means they can charge back in next turn with a bonus.
On my left I drive they warriors back into the woods.
Next turn I am able to kill them off, at the cost of a hit.
The centre is looking a bit raggedy, but I have a couple of Phil's units down to single hits remaining, so that's good. Alas, so do I.
Well, if your unit won't go to the enemy, perhaps they'll come to you. Phil finishes a massive encirclement move with his chariots, and my remaining shieldwall just sits there doing nothing. I fought this battle with a quarter on my army sat on its posterior.
The battle is reaching a crescendo. I'm pinned in place, and Phil has a free unit on my right. My free units on the left are moving up slowly.
Sure enough Phil gets round the back, but I get lucky (er..demonstrate superior skill) elsewhere, and break two units, handing me the game. First game of DB I've won at the third or fourth attempt. I like it, - it has charm - but it is better with more cavalry.