Monday, April 27, 2015

2nd Battle of El Teb: For Queen and Planet AAR

British players, Allen and Keith, deploy their troops to attack the Mahdist hilltop entrenchments guarding El Teb
Steve had stepped forward to run a couple games of our Victorian Sci-Fi rules, For Queen and Planet, at the upcoming Cincycon this next weekend. He wanted some practice GMing it, so we set up the battle for a Sunday evening's gaming. We are hitting up a lot of conventions running our game company's two rules sets this year. Fortunately, everyone is pitching in running or attending conventions, so it hasn't been too much of a workload.
Close up of the hillside Ansar entrenchments, with the sneakily disguised water tower-cum-Martian walker
The 2nd Battle of El Teb features the Ansar and Beja forces for the Mahdi dug in on a hillside overlooking a town. As Ansar commander, I had two units of rifles, one of warband, and an artillery piece. My fellow commander Mike S had the more wild and wooly Beja, who had two warband and only one rifle to go with their artillery. Our secret weapon was the Martian walker disguised as a water tower in the town. Although Joel, Allen, and Keith knew about the surprise, the players in the convention game will not necessarily know it!
A common sight in this game, "Artillery Malfunction" counter on my Ansar artillery battery
We were basically in a static defense, and the British had to attack and take the town. I kept my warband unit on the reverse slope of the hill to charge the enemy if they got too close. The battle opened amidst a raging sandstorm -- or so we theorized, because the artillery on both sides kept malfunctioning. In the For Queen and Planet rules, artillery rolling a "11-12" (Colonial) or "10-12" (Native) on 2d6 malfunctions. A further roll at the end of the turn determines if it is fixed or out of the game. Virtually every piece on the board malfunctioned at one point, with both native pieces going out of order on our third turn of firing.

At first, our gunnery kept the British from getting too close, but once our artillery was out of action, they came double-timing forward. My Ansar rifle fire was ineffective for most of the game, though their return fire drove us out of our rifle pits several times. Each time, though, we were able to shepherd the Ansar back into the trenches and to keep firing. Fortunately for me, the Martian walker decided to step forward into action. His death ray tore holes in the British lines and sent them recoiling backwards in horror. Soon, all of Keith's and Allen's forces opposed to my end of the line were keeping their distance.
The Martian walker rears up and begins blasting away at the British, tearing huge chunks in their battleline
Meanwhile, in the Beja sector, Joel drove his camel corps and highlanders forward aggressively. The Beja warband, never one to back down from a fight, charged forward howling and screaming. They drove first the camel corps, then the highlanders back. Joel brought his other British unit forward, though, and flanked the overextended warband. The Beja rifle tried to protect their brethren with rifle fire, but it proved ineffective. First one, then the other of the Beja warband units were cut to pieces by fierce British counter-attacks.
Mike's Beja warband charges out and drives off the Egyptian camel corps

The British close in on Mike's Beja warband, cut down to one stand, with no help from the ineffective shooting of the tribal riflemen
From its elevated position, the Martian walker saw this and lumbered over to help this sector of the battlefield. Without its covering fire, my Ansar were soon threatened by a British advance. When their shooting drove my rifles from the trenches again, I sprung my warband's charge. Naturally, we fell a few inches short on closing with the enemy. And just as naturally, the British "Ace" card showed up immediately after that, which allowed them to pour an extra turn's fire into my exposed warband. Keith chose that moment to roll a typically "Keith-esque" roll which he tends to do more often than not when we are gaming in his basement. He rolled a "snake-eyes" -- a "2" on 2d6 -- the best he could do. It shattered my warband and sent them reeling backwards.

With the Beja crumbling, and my Ansar broken, our only effective unit was the walker. We failed our next army morale roll and the Mahdi's forces gave ground, surrendering El Teb to the determined British advance. Through most of the game, both sides were neck and neck in losses. So, it was another close, gripping game of Victorian Sci-Fi flavored Colonials. Hopefully, the players in Cincycon have a similarly good time (I just hope they roll better than me...!).

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