Colonials Revisited

I like playing Colonials. There, I’ve said it. Oh, that does feel better, they say that confession is good for the soul. I’ve been an avid colonial player for a long time, my first units were a bunch of Redoubt French Foreign Legion chaps from the Beau Geste period (about 1910 ish). I’ve been fascinated by the French Foreign Legion ever since I read about the stand at Cameroon. The idea that the Legion may die but it never surrenders is the stuff of legend and makes for great scenarios.

The thing that really amazes me about the period is the odd stories that constantly arise. Like the fact that Sydney, without being requested to, decided to send a bunch of lancers to help General Woolsey during the relief of Khartoum but didn’t send any horses with them. When they arrived unannounced without horses you could imagine what was said behind closed doors. I wonder if they supplied their own lances?

There is a point to this. For most of this time I have been playing “The Sword and the Flame” by the late Larry Brom and it is a most excellent set of rules that always gave a very cinematic game with lots of flavour.

Recently I had been thinking about using “Sharp Practice” by the Too Fat Lardies to play colonials and finally got around to writing some lists for the Foreign Legion and their mortal enemies the cunning Tuareg of the Sahara. John and I played our first game of Sharp Practice and my initial impressions are very positive. Actually, it is an amazing game. The game flows very well and we had a fantastic time. I do think that I have finally found the spiritual successor to the Sword and the Flame in Sharp Practice.

What really impressed me was that with a few basic characteristics we were able to get the essence of each of the protagonists. The Foreign Legion was very different from the Tuareg. I still need to tweak the lists a bit but on first blush, I think I am on the right track. if anyone wants them please let me know and I will forward them on.

The role of leaders is pivotal to the success of the game and this is handled rather well by the card activation system. I don’t intend to give an in-depth review of the game system as there is already lots of reviews and gameplay content online. A lot of the leadership concepts had been taken from Chain of Command and these worked very well. The main thing that we struggled with was actually the deployment, this is rather different from Chain of Command as the leaders actually bring on their troops when they deploy rather than send them onto the table from an off-table reserve whilst still staying off the table until needed or the last of the units had been deployed

Before the Legion Arrives

After we sorted out the deployment confusion it was full steam ahead. The Tuareg got the early initiative, deployed and pushed forward looking for the Legion. I deployed my Legion Tirailleurs and pushed forward, we were soon met with a ferocious volley of musket fire

Tuareg deploying onto the table looking for trouble
And the Legion does the same!
Tuareg tribesmen getting ready to meet the Legion
Legion Tirailleurs pushing forward
Lieutenant Pizzwah organising a firing line
Skulking Tuaregs gain the higher ground and lay down covering fire
Pizzwah thinks he has the situation in hand, unfortunately, he is wrong.
The Tuareg dominate the road
After a few volleys from the Tuareg, the Legion is in disarray.

We finished up soon after this as we were running out of time, it was past midnight! what we learnt, however, was that command and control is key to success with this particular game. Both units of my Tirailleurs were pushed back by superior rifle fire and I didn’t have enough leaders to pull the shock from the units and that then made them unusable. I still need to tweak the Legion lists a bit more to reflect their credo more accurately, in particular, article seven that states: You never abandon your dead or you wounded. Not entirely sure how to do that. In The Sword and the Flame Legion units had to carry their dead and wounded, this meant that for each incapacitated figure an unwounded figure had to be allocated to it to carry it if there was more wounded and dead than unwounded the unit could not move unless a way was found to move the incapacitated.

Anyway, I think this will do nicely, the overall flexibility of the system is truly amazing, with the same set of rules I can play Napoleonics and the American Civil War. I also have read that there is an English Civil war adaption in the works, however, that could be just speculation. The Lardies strike again.

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