Thursday, August 6, 2015

Desperate action in Darkest Africa

Africa circa 1880 - The warlike natives of the interior were at it again, running cattle raids against the friendly tribes of the coast. The Colonial Governor decided to send an expedition up country to burn a few villages, take hostages and restore order. As the main column moved inland, a supply depot was established at a trading post on the border of the hostile territory. The post consisted of the trader's house, stables and a storehouse. The army linked those buildings together with sandbag walls forming a compound, and left a company of 50 marines commanded by Lt Covell to defend it.

The Chief of the hostile tribesmen observed all of this with interest and then, when the main force of the enemy was a day's march inland, descended with all his warriors on the supply depot. The warriors surrounded the post and comenced a series of uncoordinated attacks from all directions.
A native wave strikes the wall near the store house
The tribesmen lacked nothing in courage, but had not the tactical coordination to strike from all directions simultaneously. Deployed in the jungle in a loose ring around the post, parties of a few score warriors would break cover and charge one or another face of the position only to be met by a withering fire and a thin but determined line of bayonets.
Two waves of natives cross the open ground under fire near the main house
While each thrust was driven back with stinging losses, the marines lost a few to the native spears in each clash. As the day wore on it became more difficult to secure the perimeter with the dwindling number of men. Finally, the decision was made to withdraw the remaining defenders to the main house.
Defenders hold 2 walls under assault while withdrawing others to the main house
The tempo of the native attacks increased as the defenders started to pull back. Most of  the marines succeeded in reaching the house, but some were caught in the yard and forced back toward the stable, where they barricaded themselves.
Native warriors pour into the compound
Alerted by the sound of repeated volleys of rifle fire, the main column had doubled back and was making its way through the rough terrain toward the besieged outpost. The native Chief's scouts had kept him aware of their progress. At last, he was forced to withdraw from the field.

Notes: The inspiration for the game was, of course, Rourke's Drift. The rules were a homemade 1 page deal that worked quite well. The native manpower was, for practical purposes, unlimited. The number of warriors in each attack and the direction was random. It was very difficult for the natives to get over the sandbag wall, but as each wave receded a few marines were left among the slain. The arrival of the relief force was determined by a cumulative die roll at the end of each turn, with a total of 50 representing the rescue of the garrison. In the event, it was a close run thing, with the 21 surviving defenders holed up in the house and the stable nearing the point of a morale downgrade due to heavy casualties.

If anyone wants a copy of the homegrown rules, send me your email and I'll send the Word file along.


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