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Mahratta Mini Campaign

Posted by Adam on July 30, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Our game at the weekend was a test drive of a mini campaign system devised by Mr. Langford (if Nick "borrowed" it from elsewhere he didn't let on to me!) We had an invasion by a Mahratta Indian army across difficult terrain (jungle infested mountain passes?) with the intention of arriving at an enemy town with a large siege gun and knocking the gates down. The invaders would have to find their way to the enemy town and disperse the forces sent to slow / stop them. The way to the town was via a 3 x 3 grid of small tables representing possible route. (The original scheme was for a 4 x 4 grid but with fewer than the 4 players originally expected the grid was reduced.)



I chose to spread my 3 army commands across tables G, H and I, with the cavalry commands scouting either side of my main force in H. What I discovered was that G and H only had lateral exits from the tables and no enemy presence. Table I also had an exit into table F. So that is where I sent (what was now) my vanguard.




The Vanguard discovered an enemy force of matchlockmen and cavalry holding the pass ahead of them. This looked like causing some difficulty to my light Pindari cavalry despite their (or probably because of) support from a battery of camel borne rocket artillery. Despite the overwhelming firepower disparity, my brave Pindari cavalry pressed forward and peppered arrows at the enemy cavalry. The enemy shrugged off the hits and charged the skirmishing Pindaris but initially the combat was tied (only the impetus of the charge giving them some advantage.) A second round of melee was fought and the Pindaris were thrown back in disorder. Luckily for them the enemy cavalry commander was quite nervous of the remaining Mahratta Pindari regiment (which had, to be fair, formed up into a solid clump and wheeled to try to catch them in the flank) and he slowly retired the victorious cavalry to reorder their ranks.



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Now the main force of my Mahratta army entered the battle – the enemy didn’t look so clever now! Behind the screen of Pindaris and Pathan mercenaries the Mahratta Matclockmen and new-fangled, European-trained Sepoys advanced rapidly in march columns. The Pathan jezzaillichis soaked up the first volley of the enemy matchlocks and then nimbly moved aside to allow the Sepoys to attack.



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The controlled(ish) volleys of the Mahratta Sepoys reduced the enemy matchlocks to ruins and the remnants didn’t hang around to receive a bayonet charge. The next enemy infantry units now looked in imminent danger of being flanked and similarly dealt with, but their commander had seen the way the wind was blowing and retreated his survivors off the table so they could fight again another day.



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There turned out to be only one route off table, F, so the battered retreating command was immediately followed up by my Mahrattas when they chose to stand and fight again.

 



They were down a unit from the previous fight and I should have been up one unit of sepoys but forgot to deploy them… Keen to cause more losses to the enemy units I acted more aggressively with my Pindari cavalry than previously. This had two unfortunate repercussions: the first was that by attacking the enemy infantry with my Pindari cavalry I left the Camel mounted rocketmen unsupported (where those extra sepoys would have been handy!) The rocketmen were chased off the table by enemy cavalry before they had even got off their camels or lit one blue touchpaper. I blame "newly painted unit syndrome" for this poor showing. Oh well they looked quite pretty which is the most you can hope for with a lot of Indian units!



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The second repercussion was my Pindari cavalry getting shot to pieces by the infantry they were trying to pick on.



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The enemy Sepoys blasted my skirmishing screen out of their saddles and then just by the skin of their teeth managed to form square before the second unit of Pindaris could fall on their flank and avenge their colleagues. Thwarted, the Pindaris carried on into the rear of the enemy line to find an easier target. They did spook the enemy cavalry into running away but once again a charge into the rear of matchlock armed infantry was scuppered when the infantry pulled out a manoeuvre card just before the cavalry could attack. To add insult to injury the matcklockmen also delivered a withering fire that soon had the Pindari unit much reduced.



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The enemy holding force did not wait around for the main body of my army this time and slipped away, leaving two possible exits from the table.




Lessons learned there (or re-learned for the umpteenth time more likely); use the right soldiers for the right job. The Pindari cavalry is fine for scouting and getting into the rear of enemy horsemen but should steer well clear of infantry, even the modestly dangerous matchlockmen. Mobile close fire support is not the forte of rocketeers they should be dismounting and getting their missiles ready as soon as they arrive on table.

The strategic choice for me was to either press on after the retreating enemy force or head into table B on the chance it was my objective location (enemy town.) With my vanguard all but destroyed I had to decide if I would pursue with my main infantry command or ignore the enemy force and gamble that my rearguard, of mostly cavalry, could handle them if they came back into the rear as I advanced. Obviously, it being me, I took the dicey option and pushed the army into table B. This was indeed where the enemy town was located and would be the showdown of remaining armies (and more importantly the remaining Morale Chips that either side still had.)

 


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Unfortunately we did not have time to fight this final game, as I had a prior appointment with my wife’s choir recital. The concept had been shown to be a good one anyway and should be improved with the addition of more players, so less control over the decision making when it comes to supporting a command that is in combat or sacrificing a screen to stop reinforcements getting to a battle. The small table encounters still had all the Piquet edge of the seat character and plenty of difficult decisions about where to spend initiative and when to husband resources for the future.



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Categories: Battle Reports, Campaign News

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