Sunday, March 4, 2012

Daftrica gets a visit from Black Powder, The (almost) Rescue of Miss Fanny Farnsworth

     A number of years ago I created a mythical continent of Daftrica to run a VSF campaign. We had jolly fun for many years but it went the way of all open-ended campaigns and interest just petered out so we folded it. I still use the continent as the background for colonial and RPG games. Today we have to consider the efforts of the German Colonial forces to rescue Miss Fanny Farnsworth (a noted historian) and her survey crew from the depredations of unruly locals and perfidious Sepoys.

     Miss Farnsworth, or Dr. Farnsworth as she prefers to be called, has been surveying the ancient burial rites of the Malagassian tribes. She has collected a large number of important artifacts and was preparing them for shipment back to the Smithsonian for cataloging when a local troublemaker decided to start telling the tribesmen that she had been grave-robbing. As this sort of behavior is considered the foulest of crimes on Malagassia this has caused quite a stir, perhaps a flap even, bordering on unpleasantness!

      Dr. Farnsworth tried calming the locals by showing them the tender care that she was taking with their dead ancestors, but this just seemed to upset them even more. A message was sent to the Federal States embassy requesting assistance but there were no Federal troops nearby. As a result of the friendly and close relations between the German Empire and the Federal States a discreet offer of assistance was made to Washington by Berlin and resulted in a troopship stopping long enough to drop an Expeditionary Force off in a small harbor on the coast.

    Meanwhile rumors have spread that the Sepoys sent to quell the rioters have been so outraged by the high-handed behavior of the whites and have mutinied against the will of the Malagassian Emperor and are marching, even now, to lay siege to the  estate that Dr. Farnsworth is hiding in. Here we are at the beginning of the game with the Germans marching from the village while the rebels marshall their forces and Dr, Farnsworth holds on for dear life.

the table, Dr. Farnsworth is in the estate in the upper left,
the German troops are in the village on the lower right, the Ghazis surround the estate

in the first turn the German cavalry rolled well and swept forward

while the German infantry moved along on the right

having found the enemy the cavalry rallied back ;
actually Gary was having great luck with his Blunders all night,
the troops kept doing exactly what was needed

the Ghazis take fire from the estate,
the blue and white markers are "hits" and the red ones are "disordered"

the German Askaris swung wide to cross the river to outflank the Sepoys exchanging shots with the line troops only to be surprised by a flank attack from troops arriving from off-board, rather remarkably they shook off this attack (very lucky dice rolling!)

on the native right a series of unfortunate Command rolls reduced their formations to chaos...

....but the next couple of turns they were able to sort things out and establish a firing line

having thrown back the flank attack the Askaris were permitted a Breakthrough Move...
...which they executed in fine style by forming attack column
and the next turn they charged and cleared the hilltop

they then about-faced and took the Sepoys under fire from behind,
you can see the hits and disorder building on both sides

a unit of Sepoys misunderstood an order (another failed Command roll) and charged across the river toward the Jagers, this prompted the cavalry to charge again and put them to flight

meanwhile back at the estate the cannon is taking a toll on the gate
and the firepower of the Sepoys and Ghazis is wearing down the defenders

on the German right the Sepoy unit routed by the Askaris
(off screen to the lower left) had rallied and was pouring fire into the flank of the stalwart Askaris,
eventually they broke under the strain of the fire and fled
 (their officer was unable to get to them to lift morale hits)

but their sacrifice was not in vain as the Sepoy unit they had been shooting at broke the next turn

but it was quickly replaced by the off-screen unit, restoring the balance to the fight

then the gunners finally breached the gate

they rejoiced and began to look about for a new target

back at the river another Sepoy unit collapsed under he fire of the Germans
 taking their brigade officer with them

the Pasha was thrilled that the gate was finally open

the Ghazis were as well, they streamed in to exact vengeance upon their tormentors

"Pillage my Grandfathers grave will you! Take this!"

in a hilarious turn of events the gunners Blundered another Command roll,
this resulted in them advancing as far and as fast as possible and then firing grapeshot into the
long-suffering Askari unit in the German center, as a result,
this unit broke and thus so did the German force

     With the German force retreating and the good Doctor and her staff the (however unwilling) participants in a "Massacre" I am sure there will be consequences, a brouhaha even. Perhaps, Heaven Forbid, an Incident

      Jolly fun was had by all and the game neck-and-neck to the last turn. Black Powder, despite its sometimes (often?) obscure language is an eminently playable and fun set of rules. The ease with which units can be "tweaked" to create the troop-types needed is very satisfying. I particularly like the fact the the figures remain on the table until the unit is removed, after all I spent a lot of time painting them I want to enjoy the spectacle as much as possible.

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