Since my last post, we have put in a fair few hours on The Men Who Would Be Kings play tests. We have tried another couple of scenarios, one involving the defence of a static object (we chose a waterhole) and the other a 'remnants of a defeated force retreating to safety' scenario (Maiwand, anyone?)
Once again, we found that the main rule mechanisms enabled us to have extremely enjoyable games. In both scenarios, we tweaked the abilities of the Ghazis to better suit their role on the NW Frontier - a great feature of the rules being that players are encouraged to use their 'theatre-specific' knowledge to help to customise their forces appropriately. In all games, we have found that rolling for unit leadership traits has added some good 'colour' to the games without completely b*ggering up the scenario or spoiling anyone's fun (even if the roll leads to dodgy traits, it all seems to add to the fun factor.)
Thus far, we are finding that the scenarios are balancing the forces quite well, although the Pathans are thus far ahead in their victories - the British have only won one of the play test games and that by virtue of the fact that they were actually able to deploy into a proper line and shoot the living daylights out of the enemy. Having said that, in most other games, the Pathans have suffered heavily in their victories, which feels about right!
Overall, we love these rules. They are good fun and give a lot of 'cinematic period feel'. A minor handful of folk following my progress on the Lead Adventure Forum (I have posted bat reps there) have muttered about a few things, but in general, they seem to be players who probably either moan about every set of rules and just enjoy being negative or are the sort of players who prefer a more 'historical simulation' type of rule set. I personally think that anyone who enjoys a fun evening's gaming with well thought-out scenarios, excellent 'feel' for the period and a hefty does of humour will love TMWWBK when it comes out next year. Players who approach things in an overly 'serious' manner or who like 'nit-picky' rule systems may wish to look elsewhere...
Here are a few pics from the recent games...
The 'Defend the Waterhole' scenario: (Full report here.) Essentially, the Sikhs held the waterhole for most of the game before being shot down by Pathan sharpshooters. The Pathan swordsmen shot their bolt too early and were cut down by massed gunnery from the Brits and Gurkhas. In the end, the Pathans were unable to achieve their objective ion the face of the British fire.
Retreat from Maiwand. (Full report here.) In this game, the Pathans out-generalled the Brits, by slowing them down with relentless sniping, finally over-running the remnants with swordsmen, although the Gurkhas stubbornly held out and inflicted heavy casualties.