Saturday, February 26, 2011

Raid on Tantoone Station – Great War East Africa

Last night marked the Seventh Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash. In attendance were John, Christian, Dave, Patrick, Rick, Jackson, and Gary.

SEVEN players…!? I had originally thought I’d have eight, but the other John didn’t show up… Before people committed, I thought I’d run a game set in East Africa, but when I found out I might have eight players coming I was worried I wouldn’t be able to come up with a scenario to involve them all!? I abandoned the Zulus I’d been painting and tried to finish up rebasing my Bolsheviks… Which I did finish, but then decided not to run an RCW scenario… then I considered a 1939 battle between Russian and Japanese in the Far East… but eventually gave up on that plan and wandered back to The Great War in East Africa…

It worked out that the other John didn’t show as I had seven German units, which each of the other participants controlled, and I played the British!

I made a few adjustments to the rules since our last play and am now calling them Ever Black Contemptible Victorious Little Powder Armies…. (John suggested it should be Black Contemptible Victorious Little Powder Armies of Doom…) either way.. a bit of a mouthful… I may need to think of something else.

German East Africa, 1915


After the allied debacle at Boongobe, the German Field Force decided to press it’s advantage and carry on into British East Africa and raid the Uganda Railway station at Tantoone.


All the players command a single German unit. The player of the first German unit to contact the train is the winner!

The Train won’t be staying there forever. After turn eight 2d6/d12? will be rolled if the dice score + Turn # = 20+ then the train has, finished loading, got up steam and rolled out of town.



C-in-C Hauptman Patrice von Hun

4 Zug Shutztruppe Askaris (15 ea) M4 (Patrick, Jackson, Rick, Dave)

1 group Settler Volunteers (8) M5 Marksmen (Crhistian)

1 unit of Ruga Ruga (9) Irr M3 Single Shot Rifles (Gary)

1 unit of Watusi Tribesmen (15) Irr M4 Ferocious, Spears only (John)


C-in-C Major Percival Smythe-Brown

2 Platoons Kings African Rifles (15 ea) M4

1 British Army MG detachement M4


(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

It was a frosty day in Saskatoon

Looking at the weather on Environment Canada's Weather Office in the morning I wondered if anyone might show up…

Made some cup cakes…

Anyway... the game...

The British preparing to defend Tantoone Station

More of the same – with the British MG detachment and some local kids out to encourage them.

The players setting up their forces.

Patrick, playing the commandant (in the white helmet, of course), giving Jackson some sound tactical advise…

… and they’re off.. On the far edge of the table from left to right are John’s Watusi tribesmen (top left, barely visible amongst the bush), Jackson’s Schutztruppe Askaris (in column behind the scrub), Patrick’s Schutztruppe Askaris (also in colum in the center), Christian’s German settler volunteers (in the tall grass behind Patricks Askaris), and Dave’s Schutztruppe Askaris (over on the right).

Gary and Ricks units were off to the right hugging the table edge as is their regular M.O. - I had actually placed a few bad going pieces right along the edge originally, to twart such shenanigans, but then moved them away because trees and such right at the edge always seem to get caught on shirts and sleeves and ultimately end up distributed about the table and floor…

There… you can almost make out Gary and Ricks forces – in the far corner behind the stand of trees…

Over on The British left I had the Watusi and Jackson’s Schutztruppe Askaris advancing…

On the right were Dave and Rick’s Schutztruppe Askaris as well as Gary’s Ruga Ruga. It was over on the right that I first had to redeploy some of my KAR Askaris to counter the table-edge-huggers…

In the center Patrick and Jackson had advanced their Schutztruppe Askaris into some tall grass and then sat there trying to engage the KAR Askaris in a long-range firefight. Not something to do when the clock is ticking and you have a train to catch!

My KAR and MGs seemed to be having better luck than they and whittled them down over a number of turns.

Christian also deployed his German big game hunters in the center and started sniping at the MG – which WAS a little more worrisome… but the Stalwart British hung on for some time plinking away at Patrick’s askaris.

Getting closer…. At this point I started exchanging shots with Dave’s Askaris.

John’s Watusi Tribesmen slowly making their way through the bush.

The KAR getting a little anxious with three units breathing down their neck…

In the top left you can see Patrick’s askaris – now whittled down to half their original strength - at the furthest point their would advance in the game… for the remaining turns they sat at the edge of the tall grass exchanging fire with the British MG.

Rick’s Askaris were the first to take a run at the KAR defending that end of town. Dave’s had tried to get in there but just couldn’t make it. Due to some good shooting as they came in – combined with me rolling well on the combat and Rick rolling poorly – his askaris scarpered with their tails between their legs, short a few men and with a pair of moral failure tokens for their troubles.

Jackson’s Askaris making their move at the other end of town. Unfortunately at this point they were already at 2/3 their original strength and had a moral failure token and no one around to rally them.

Another shot of the action on the British right.

John’s Watusi Tribesmen hiding in the bush waiting to make their assault on the town.

Rick’s askaris having cleared away it was time for Dave’s Askaris to make their play. Unfortunately they lost four to withering fire from the KAR Askaris and lost another four in the close combat – they made their mark however causing four casualties among the KAR askaris. Both units failed two morale tests – unfortunately for Dave his unit had started the turn with one and so their fled the field…

The next turn (I think we were at about turn eleven or twelve and I was hoping for a high number on the Game End Roll – didn’t happen) – Gary’s Ruga Ruga made it in. Major Percival Smythe-Brown desperately trying to get to his troops to rally them… failed in doing so and the shaken KAR askaris fled before the Ruga Ruga.

Jackson’s Schutztruppe Askaris took a beating when they emerged from their cover lost four and failed another morale test – they would be doing nothing for the balance of the game. John’s Watusi Tribesmen emerged from their cover and, had there been another turn or two, would have caused the British much trouble over on their left!!

As it turned out the train did not leave the next turn (all I needed was an 8+ on d12…) and Gary’s Ruga Ruga rushed the train winning the game! Huzzah!! (can’t really blame him for cherry-picking – he had the WORST unit in the whole game…)

Anyway – good fun. Despite the number of players and units involved the game took only a little over an hour…? Definitely liking these rules with the current tweaks. We’ll have to try addind some artillery and cavalry… then some airplanes and tanks, etc.

I had actually meant to come up with some random events – some from the CLA East Africa book (mostly involving natural hazards – cloudbursts, wild animals, dysentery…) but also some random reinforcements (british armoured car shows up, pygmy archers hiding the bushes join one random side or the other…), but just didn’t end up having time to do so… Ah, well… next time…

Now I have to sit down and read the rules to Warrior Knights, which we are playing this afternoon!! And then figure out what we are doing for Savage Saturday Night (tonight!)

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Pics of the Warrior Knight game… then maybe some ZULUS!!


  1. Looks like a good "bash". Happy birthday!

  2. Sounds like you had a lot of fun on your birthday!

    Is there something in the rules that encourages this board-edge-hugging behaviour? If so, is there a rule tweak that can remove the incentive?


  3. The table edge had a clear, straight path blocked and out of range from my troops that allowed them to form up into column of march and VERY quickly sneak up behind my troops off to the flank.

    I HAD thought of, while setting up, placing a number of bad going bits to break it up and not make that possible. then I moved them because I've found trees (and other terrain) placed right at the edge of tables tends to get caught on loose clothing or otherwise bumped and ends up on the floor or being shifted about knocking over troops.

    Also I'm not fond of people hugging table edges, especially with MY toys, because stuff right at the table edge - just like terrain - can get caught on loose clothing and dumped on the floor.

    In other games I've set rules where anyone hugging a table edge could come under fire from from troops off the table or I often set up minefields there... didn't really work for this scenario as there were no other troops in the region and land mines weren't really in use at the time.

    As the objective was in the far opposite corner it didn't turn out to bad - it forced me to shift some of my forces to deal with the flanking forces and added some more excitement to the game which could have otherwise been a suicidal wave assault.

    As it was the players were rather slow in their attack - which had limited time - they were very lucky that the game didn't simply END before they got to the train.

    Of course perhaps they were all taking their time hoping the OTHER players would send their troops in FIRST to get slaughtered and provide a nice meat-shield for the following waves to advance behind.

    (which I DID purposely write into the scenario)

    I do like game where players are all on one side playing against ME the referee/game master. it tends to take a fair bit of cheesy gamesmanship out of the games. but at the same time I tried to include a little competition between them (first one to the objective is the winnah!)...

  4. The actual German camp for a number of the attacks on the railway was NORTH of the rail line & the Brits never thought of looking in that direction.

  5. Brilliant! Those clever Germans...