Sunday, 31 October 2010

Memoir of Battle: Play-test 1

The Maharajah of Kanatuna had been allowing – and possibly even leading – raiding parties that had been attacking native villages across the border in British Chindia. The local British District Commissioner ordered the commander of the British garrison in the area – Colonel Sir Johnny Come-Lately – to mount a punitive expedition against Kanatuna to teach the Maharajah a lesson and to deter future raids.

Colonel Sir Johnny Come-Lately assembled his expeditionary force along the border with Kanatuna. It comprised:
  • An infantry unit each from the Border Guide, the McBean Highlander, and the Cambridgeshire Light Infantry Regiments,
  • A machine gun unit from the Queen’s Own Hertfordshire Regiment (armed with a Gatling Gun), and
  • An artillery unit from the Royal Artillery (armed with rifled artillery).
The Maharajah heard about the punitive expedition from his network of spies and informers inside British Chindia, and also assembled his troops just inside the Chindian-Kanatunan border. His troops comprised:
  • An infantry unit each from the Red, White and Cream Turban Regiments, and
  • Two artillery units (each armed with smooth-bore artillery).
The Maharajah drew his force up so that they commanded the main route into Kanatuna … and then he waited for the British to advance.

Turn 1
Knowing that the Maharajah was likely to set up his main defence line across the obvious line of advance, Colonel Come-Lately deployed his troops in an extended line they moved forward. The Maharajah was wary of the British advantage in firepower – he had heard about the devastating effect of machine gun fire and shells from the newly introduced rifled artillery – and posted most of his units on low hills so that they would gain some advantage from the terrain.

As both sides had artillery that could fire at enemy units, the turn began with an inconclusive artillery duel, where neither side managed to hit an enemy unit.

Both sides then threw a D6 die to see who would move first. The British threw a 2 and the Kanatunans threw a 6; therefore the British moved first.

Colonel Come-Lately decided that the best course of action was to move his artillery up so that they could begin to soften up the enemy at shorter range, prior to an all-out infantry assault. He therefore ordered a general advance toward the Kanatunan positions.

The Maharajah, who felt that the much-feared British artillery was not as good as its reputation had implied, did nothing, and left his troops where they were.

Turn 2
Both sides engaged the other with their artillery, but again it had no effect.

Both sides then threw a D6 die to see who would move first. The British threw a 1 and the Kanatunans threw a 4; therefore the British moved first again.

All the British units advanced, including the artillery (which would now not be able to fire at the beginning of the next turn), and the infantry and machine guns opened fire. Even though the range had been reduced, the British were unable to inflict many casualties on the Kanatunans; however, the rifle fire of the McBean Highlanders did drive one of the Kanatunan artillery units out of its position, thus rendering it unable to fire as it no longer had direct line-of-sight to a British unit.

With the exception of the artillery unit that had been driven back and that used the opportunity to regain their previous position, the Kanatunans remained where they were, and returned fire. Their fire was twice as effective as that of the British, and they inflicted one casualty on each on the Border Guides and the Highlanders, and two on the Cambridgeshire Light Infantry.

Turn 3
Only one artillery unit could fire – one of the two Kanatunan artillery units – as both the others had moved during the previous turn. It fired at the British machine gun unit … which it hit, causing a single casualty.

Both sides then threw a D6 die to see who would move first. The British threw a 6 and the Kanatunans threw a 2; therefore the Kanatunans moved first.

The Maharajah decided that rather than attack the British – which would justify their claims that he was an aggressor – he would keep his units where they were, and rely upon their rifle fire to defeat the British. All the Kanatunan infantry units fired at the nearest enemy infantry unit … with varying effect. The Border Guides lost a further two men, whereas the McBean Highlanders and Cambridgeshire Light Infantry suffered no casualties at all.

At this point Colonel Come-Lately realised that he had underestimated strength – and effectiveness – of the Maharajah’s army. He therefore decided to withdraw his punitive expeditionary force for the moment, and return at some future date with a much stronger force. The British did not, however, depart with their tails between their legs; theirs was a fighting withdrawal, and any unit that could fire as it moved back, did so. The Cambridgeshire Light Infantry was the only British unit to inflict any casualties on the Katatunans, who’s Cream Turban Infantry suffered the loss of two men.

The rules certainly worked without a hitch, but I realised that I need to make it clear that an artillery unit that has moved – even if it is a result of being forced to withdraw – cannot fire during the next turn. It is also apparent that the 15mm figures I used in the play-test have bases that are just a bit too large for the Heroscape hexed terrain. This leaves me with several choices:
  • Use my Hexon II hexed terrain. This has possibilities but would take up much more space than the Heroscape terrain and the 15mm figures might look a bit ‘lost’ in the larger hexes.
  • Remount my 15mm figures onto smaller bases. This also has possibilities, but would require time that I currently don’t have and effort that I am unwilling to make.
  • Leave things as they are for the moment, and live with the discrepancy whilst I am play-testing the rules. This is the option that I currently favour … although my next play-test may be set in a slightly later era than this one.


  1. Another very entertaining play test report, Bob. Just the thing to brighten up a gloomy Sunday afternoon!
    In the course of jotting down notes on my print out [which I then went and lost at Southside shopping centre when collecting my daughter from the cinema!] for my Napoleonic version, it occurred to me that, using Hexon bases {the appearance of which I much prefer to the Heroscape ones], one could simply reduce the ranges of all artillery and firearms in proportion, and rule that units had to be in the same hex to engage in hand to hand combat.

  2. Hi Bob,

    Maharajah of Kanatuna? Shades of the Khazi of Kalabar if you ask me! Great report as ever and once again, the rules seem to have the all important 'feel' factor. Another one of your rule sets that I will follow with extreme interest as they evolve.

    Hexon desert terrain will be next on my shopping list with no prizes for guessing what it may be used for!

    All the best,


  3. Arthur1815,

    I am glad that you enjoyed; I certainly had fun fighting the battle!

    The problem regarding the reduction of the weapon ranges is that it affects the number of dice thrown ... although I suppose that if the reductions were proportionate it would not affect the end result too much. I will certainly mull it over.

    As to your idea about units in the same hex engaging in hand-to-hand combat ... again, this is something that I will have to think about, especially as that would allow me to use a modified version of Joseph Morschauser’s combat resolution system for hand-to-hand combat.

    Thanks for the ideas; they will give me much food for thought.

    All the best,


  4. David Crook,

    Well I was in a hurry to find a name for the scenario, and I had just read a book that featured the Maharajah of Kanapore ... and the name Kanatuna sort of 'swam' into my head!

    The rules still need a bit of work ... but they are getting there. If I am going to use them with Hexon II, I might need to make a few minor changes to the weapon ranges. Other than that ... well I will see how much time I have over the next week or two to run another play-test (or two) to try out a few developments/changes/improvements.

    Hexon II desert terrain? I wonder where – geographically speaking – you are going next with your wargaming?

    All the best,


    PS. Have you considered the Hexon II transitional terrain? It is basically sand-coloured with patches of green; this makes it suitable for several different climatic environments that are not totally desert.

  5. Bob

    Had a look at your rules and some of the play-tests. Ignore the idiots who had a pop at your rules - I like them! Simple, easy and with some clever twists.

    Must find some hex boards and have a go myself. Might see if they can be adapted for ancients with a simple melee adaptation.

  6. Phil B,

    Luckily, the 'idiots' tend to be few and far between!

    I am pleased that you like the rules and are thinking of giving an Ancients version a try. Richard Borg has produced an Ancients version of the 'Battle Cry/Memoir '44' system, and that might be a good starting point (see Command and Colors Ancients).

    All the best,


  7. I definitely like the look of the hexes repainted. The sides look right too for those hills.

    The rule that artillery cannot fire the turn immediately following a retreat is your own, correct? I don't remember it being a part of Battle Cry and it isn't a part of Memoir '44. Due to the abstract time scale of these type games (they are more "event driven" than timed), I would throw out the rule. It is bad enough that their return fire is less effective because they are now farther away. Further, you have probably displaced them from their terrain.

    One idea is to use MORE figures and then switch to seven hexes equaling a single MOB hex. That would definitely increase the table size required, but would look better. You could use 8 figures per unit and when the fourth figure is removed, the entire unit goes.

  8. Dale,

    Thanks for your ideas.

    As you surmised, the rule regarding artillery is my own ... and although it was no included in the draft, it followed from the other rules that if the artillery was forced to move back during a turn, it could not fire during the next turn.

    It felt rather clumsy when I used it, and I was already thinking about not interpreting the existing rules in that way because I could see the rules being ignored during the cut and thrust of a battle. So it is now officially gone …

    I am seriously looking at using my Hexon II hexed terrain for my next play-test … and using larger units to keep the ‘look’ right. I understand that Richard Borg uses six figure infantry units; three individual figures that can be removed and three figures on one base which is removed as the fourth casualty. This makes a lot of sense – as does your suggestion – and I am giving such a change serious consideration.

    All the best,


  9. Interesting & enjoyable. I would definitely recommend not rebasing yet, (a bit of "Do as I say not as I do" there). The over hang doesn't look that bad for trials as long as the board doesn't get too full.

  10. Bob, for my Napoleonic version - which I'll send you when first draft is complete, I propose to use four bases per battalion, so the unit can form line, column of attack and square, plus four separate figures of officers, colour bearers, serjeants and musicians, which will be removed to show losses. Personally, I don't like removing units completely - unless they've routed off the battlefield of course! - because it's too 'gamey'; units usually became xhausted or demoralised and in no state to continue fighting long before they suffered even 50% losses, and then often remained somewhere on the battlefield, occupying space through which other friendly units would have had difficulty passing.

    Anyway, after going to all the trouble of painting and basing the troops, I want to see them on the table!

  11. Ross Mac,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I don't intend to rebase my figures ... well, not for the time being anyway, especially as I am likely to move towards using the larger Hexon II hexed terrain.

    All the best,


  12. Arthur1815,

    I am looking forward to reading you draft rules.

    Your ideas about the size of units is very sound, and I am thinking of doing something similar for my nineteenth century version of MOB, especially if I decide to move over to using my Hexon II hexed terrain.

    All the best,



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