Saturday, 26 May 2012

The attack on Atmara

This battle was fought as the second play-test of the existing draft of my MEMOIR OF BATTLE (MOB) rules. Although there has been considerable discussion between myself, David Crook, and Kaptain Kobold about certain developments and improvements that the rules could incorporate, I planned this second play-test before the discussions began, and wanted to keep to my original intention of testing the extant rules with at least two play-tests. I suspected that doing this would confirm that some of the developments and improvements were necessary and it would help prepare me to make the required changes.

As a result of the massacre of Bimbashi Bumble's Punitive Expeditionary Force there was a general upsurge of discontent and violence in Southern Zubia, particularly along the border with Sadun. The Khedive seemed unable to respond, and as a result the commander of the Zubian Army sent one of his best young officers – Miralai Ahmed Kurti – to the nearest provincial capital – Atmara – to ensure that it was properly fortified and able to resist an attack. The commander also sent a consignment of new magazine rifles to arm the town's garrison.

The garrison comprised:
  • Four Infantry Battalions
  • An Artillery Battery
  • A Machine Gun Battery
(N.B. Each of the units that made up the garrison had supernumerary figures that were included so that they could be removed to show casualties. It also allowed the units to fit into the Hexon II trenches, which would otherwise have been impossible. The garrison's Exhaustion Point was 11.)

This proved to be a very sensible course of action and when Miralai Kurti arrived in Atmara he found it to be almost devoid of proper fortifications. Within days he had ensured that the town's defences were repaired and improved, and that the garrison were trained how to use their new rifles and were ready to resist an attack.

The attack was not long in coming.

Turn 1

Atmara's defences.

A large Native army advanced out of the desert to attack Atmara. Thanks to the successful destruction of Bimbashi Bumble's Punitive Expeditionary Force, the numbers of insurgents had greatly increased, and besides Infantry (two bands of rifle-armed Native Infantry and six bands of spear-armed Native Infantry) and Cavalry (two bands each of Native Cavalry and Camelry), it now had a battery of ancient smooth-bore field guns. (N.B. The Native army's Exhaustion Pint was 23.)

The Native army on the march.

Turn 2
The Native army's advance brought them within range of the Zubian Field Artillery ...

... who selected as their target a leading band of spear-armed Native Infantry ...

... who suffered 25% casualties from the effects of the artillery shells that were fired at them.

The Zubian Machine Gun battery then joined in, and fired at another band of spear-armed Native Infantry ...

... whom they almost wiped out!

Turn 3
Before the Native Army could move, the Zubian Field Artillery was able to fire at them for a second time at its previous target ...

... and inflicted a further 50% casualties upon it!

As the Natives had the initiative, they surged forward undaunted by the casualties they had already suffered.

The Cavalry and Camelry advanced unhindered towards the flanks of Atmara's defences whilst the much-depleted band of spear-armed Native Infantry assaulted the position held by the Zubian Machine Gun Battery. Their attack was unsuccessful ...

... as was a second that was conducted by another band of spear-armed Native Infantry ...

... but a third assault did manage to inflict a casualty on the Zubian Machine Gun Battery.

An assault by the other much-depleted band of spear-armed Native Infantry of the Zubian trenches also proved futile ...

... and the rifle fire from one of the two bands of rifle-armed Native Infantry cause no casualties on the entrenched Zubian Field Artillery Battery.

The Native Army closes upon the Zubian defences.

The Zubian Machine Gun Battery opened fire on the large band of spear-armed Native Infantry to its right ...

... which it almost destroyed, the survivors falling back to avoid further casualties.

The Zubian Infantry Battalion in the trenches to the left of the Zubian Artillery Battery fired at one of the on-coming bands of Native Camelry ...

... inflicting 66% casualties on them.

The Zubian Infantry Battalion in the trenches just behind the Zubian Machine Gun Battery fired at remains of the band of spear-armed Native Infantry in front of them ...

... whom they wiped out.

On the right-hand side of Atmara's defences, the Zubian Infantry Battalion stationed in the trenches fired at one of the advancing bands of Native Cavalry ...

... whom the forced to retreat after suffering 33% losses.

(N.B. At this point it is worth noting that the Native army is already over halfway to reaching its Exhaustion Point.)

Turn 4
As the Zubian Artillery battery was the only Artillery Unit on the battlefield able to fire, it engaged the closest Native Unit, a band of rifle-armed Infantry ...

... which it forced back out of single-shot rifle range after causing it 25% casualties.

At this point the battle could have gone either way, and whichever side had the initiative during this move might have been able to assure themselves of victory.

The D6 dice were thrown ... and the Zubians gained the initiative!

They began to exploit their advantage by firing their Machine Gun Battery at the nearest full-strength band of Native Infantry ...

... which it forced to withdraw after it had suffered 50% casualties.

The Zubian Infantry Regiment in the trenches to the left of the Zubian Field Artillery Battery engaged the sole remaining members of a nearby band of Native Camelry ...

... which they destroyed with the rifle fire.

The Zubian Infantry Regiment in the trenches immediately behind the Zubian Machine Gun Battery then fired on the nearest band of spear-armed Native Infantry ...

... who were forced to withdraw after almost being wiped out!

On the right-hand side of Atmara's defences the Zubian Infantry Regiment positioned there chose as its target the nearby band of Native Cavalry ...

... which fell back after suffering 33% casualties.

The Native army had now reached their Exhaustion Point, and were forced onto the defensive.

The situation on the battlefield at the point when the Native army reached its Exhaustion Point.

The Native army began to withdraw, suffering further casualties as they did so as a result of Artillery and Machine Gun fire. The uprising was suppressed – for the moment – and the Khedive could sit more easily on his throne ... although the commander of the Zubian Army had shown that he might be a potent rival in the months and years to come.

As in the previous play-test, one side achieved a decisive victory at a very low cost to themselves in terms of casualties. The rules regarding the ability of troops in trenches to resist unsupported Infantry assaults worked very well, and the idea of using supernumerary figures seems to make perfect sense when space is limited.

Although neither side fielded Elite Units, I am now coming round to the view that the rules must be redrafted to include such Units deal with Poorer quality Units in a more workable way.

One thing did strike me during today's play-test. When one is fielding quite large armies on a small tabletop, the move distances as they currently stand are a bit too long, and this is certainly something that I will need to look at again.

All-in-all this was a very enjoyable play-test, and I look forward to play-testing the next draft of the MEMOIR OF BATTLE (MOB) rules.


  1. Stunning use of miniatures, terrain and photography to document a battle.

    Well done!

  2. This is certainly a very attractive game and a very plausible result.

    Interesting that the size of the game should make the distance seem to long, I would almost have thought the opposite. Perhaps if morale were by componants of the army so that a reserve could be committed once front line forces crumbled. The longer moves being useful to bring them forward.

  3. Well: the natives didn't even dent the khedives defences. Not to be wondered at, I guess, they being so strong.

    One of the objectives of playtesting a new set of rules, it has just occurred to me may to find the point of play balance, close to which the action becomes a near-run thing.

    These opening battles strike me as the opening chapters of a potententially long-running smouldering campaign as the khedive seeks to expand his territories, perhaps to bring the marginal lands under cultivation (say), whilst the 'native' chieftain seeks to hold back the inroads of stultifying civilization.

    I'm enjoying these postings, and look forward to more. There's a romance to their presentation - narrative and pictures - that adds to its appeal.

  4. Once again the hex terrain looks great, and the use of individual figures for casualties is rather inspired; good call.

    Also a good call is playing more games with the rules as they are; it's very tempting to tweak sets after each individual game (I'm dreadful for that), and sometimes rules need multiple sessions without change in order to pin down what the problems really are.

  5. Scottsz,

    Many thanks for your kind words.

    I do my best to make my battle reports as easy to follow as possible, and this one seemed to work particularly well.

    All the best,


  6. Ross Mac,

    The battle was successful in that the result was not too ridiculous considering the circumstances.

    I suspect that my reaction to the distances that Units can move on such a relatively small tabletop was more one of surprise that both sides began to engage in combat so early in the battle. In retrospect - and after re-reading my own battle report - I think that they might need some minor changes to the Native Infantry and Cavalry movement distances (they do move rather too fast for my liking) but nothing else.

    I do have some other ideas about how the rules should develop, but I will be covering those in a blog entry later today or tomorrow.

    All the best,


  7. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

    I think that you are right about what you term 'the point of play balance'. This particular play-test could have gone either way had the circumstances been slightly different. Strong defences & weak garrison vs. strong attackers should make for an interesting battle, and in these circumstances it did. Had the Natives brought their otherwise useless Artillery forward and used it to pound the Zubian Machine Gun position, they might have created a breach in the defences that they could have exploited.

    I suspect that the Khedive will now have to face further problems - possibly with both the army and the natives in the south. The latter were rebuffed - but not destroyed - whilst the former are beginning to realise that they hold the power of the Khedive in their hands.

    I don't know how soon this situation will be re-visited (I have a few other things in the pipeline at the moment) but I hope to see how things go in Zubia in the not too distant future.

    All the best,


  8. Kaptain Kobold,

    Thanks for your kind words about the terrain that I have used. I think that my recent posts have shown that using hexed terrain does not mean that your battles end up looking like a boardgame ... but I know that I will never convince everyone of that fact!

    I had previously contemplated using single figures to represent casualties suffered by Units, but this was the first time I actually did it ... and I am very pleased with the way that it worked.

    As you write in your comments, it is very easy to give in to the 'just give it a minor tweak' syndrome when play-testing rules. These two play-tests produced reasonable results using the rules as they stand ... but they have raised a few points that I want to look at again. I think that the rules are about as close to finished as a set ever are but ...

    All the best,


  9. Hi Bob,

    This whole 'mini campaign/series of linked scenarios' certainly seems to be taking on a life of its own and is very inspiring!

    An interesting and authentic action as ever and with perhaps exactly the result one might have expected - that said if Dame Fortune had not been such a fickle mistress the result may have been very different!

    The game really looked the part and that Hexon fort is really effective.

    All the best,


  10. David Crook,

    The idea that one scenario leads on to the next (in other words, it creates a narrative) is one of the things that I enjoy most about wargaming. It is a means by which I can 'write' history ... even if it is a fictional history!

    Luck did play a part in the outcome of this battle ... but doesn't it in all battles? Again, this seems to make the whole thing seem more 'real'.

    The Hexon fortifications and trenches are ideal for 15mm-scale (I would not like to use them with anything larger than 20mm-scale), and I may well buy some more in due course.

    All the best,


  11. That looks a great terrain system you have there!

    Nice battle rep

  12. Geordie an exiled FoG,

    It is all Hexon Ii ... and shows how effective it can look.

    All the best,