Friday, June 1, 2007

Tashaklabad Redux

If you host it they will come… or maybe not…

This was to be the first of my revived Friday Night Wargames. Once a month, on the first Friday, I vowed I would run an historical miniatures war game… I find ritual is important in life. If things don’t become ritual, it’s so much work to organize new different irregular activities that they almost never happen. Months slip by before you get together for that game you said you should do sometime…

So I’m running a game on the first Friday of every month in the War Room (my basement hobby bunker), whether anyone shows up or not… this, the first of those, was an “or not…” kind of evening and thus my first foray into solo wargaming in a very, very long time. It was kind of fun.

The game I ran was more or less a re-run of a scenario I ran a couple weeks ago on Savage Sunday; Flight from Tashaklabad , (except without the special characters). I thought John or Gary, who I thought might possibly show up, would get a kick out of it, if they did. Otherwise I was interested to see how it might turn out if it were played differently – i.e. if the Russian player retired his forces immediately instead of waiting for the Chinese and trying to fight it out with them…

You can see the background and notes/special rules for the scenario at the previous post.

Here are the initial positions of the Russians:

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

There are the two Russian companies deployed ot in the desert with their commander; Captain Dmitri Yakovski. On the rocky outcropping is the sniper I added to the force for this game. Behind the rock the sniper is positioned on is the MG detachment.

A close up of said sniper.

An overhead shot of the initial positions.


The Chinese march on to the table. All the Russians begin to retire to the train, even the Machine-gun detachment. The Russian infantry manages to go as fast (with 2d6” movement) as the Chinese close-order infantry (with 3d6” movement).

The Chinese march on to the table.

The Russians retiring.


The Chinese choke on the movement rolls; 6”, 7”, and 8”. The Russians tear off with 10” and 11”. They’re practically on the outskirts of town. I’m starting to think the game is over already; the Chinese will never close the gap. The Russians will be in the town and boarding the train in an orderly, proficient, military manner before the Cavalry even arrives!

The Russian MG stops this turn to set up and fire next turn covering the retreat of the infantry companies. It’s far enough off to the side that they hope no one will veer off to deal with them.


The Chinese remember how to march and the lead company surges forward 15”. One Russian company holds for this turn while the other, which started furthest from the town passes through them. This is me trying fancy maneuvering; leapfrogging the units in an orderly retreat… I should have just run them both at top speed…!

At this point I realize the Chinese specialist assault unit will not see any action this game… they’ll just never catch up. There’s still a huge gap between the regular Chinese infantry and the Russians, but they’re starting to look like they’ve got hope…

The Russian MG cuts a swath out of the leading Chinese infantry. 5 of 6 dice hit! Maybe not so much hop… The Russian sniper also takes his first (and last) victim of the game.

The Second bunch of Chinese arrive; the MG, field gun, armoured car, executioner and General Wu Fang himself.

The Russian MG cutting down Chinese infantry. the sniper and his victim can also just be made out if you look carefully...


Start rolling for Cavalry. No cavalry. Though they’re starting to close the gap things are still not looking great for the Chinese, considering in the next turn or two the first company will be wiped out by the Russian MG… or not…

It must have jammed or something. Needing 3+, on six dice, they managed only one casualty… yikes!


The Cavlary arrives. Both Russian companies retire, but they’re going a bit slower now. It’s obvious that one will be contacted next turn and will have to make a stand to try and hold off the tide of Chinese while the other company loads up on the train.

The Russian MG manages to clip three Chinese from the trailing company and that will be all it will do this game as they’ve all gone past and are out of the MG’s firing arc. The Sniper begins to fall back toward the exit corner, as there is no chance he will actually get on the train at this point.

The Armoured car is in range at this point and takes down 3 Russians. They then fail a morale test.. bad, bad news.

The scene at the end of the movement phase. In the top left of the picture are the Chinese artillery and MG setting up…. with nothing really to shoot at…


Contact! The Chinese cavalry and leading infantry company charge in to contact with the Russian company trying to hold the line on the outskirts of town. The other Russian infantry company is apparently tripping over themselves trying to get on the train. This turn they rolled 5” for movement.

Captain Yakovski sticks around to try and steady his troops but fails to rally them and remove the morale failure token – which will prove to be disastrous by the end of the turn.

Shaking with fear, the Russians can’t shoot straight they take down only one infantryman and one cavalryman as they charge in. The Chinese armoured car, in return kills two more Russians.

The Chinese infantry must know kung fu, or something, because they take down four Russians, each was with the first attempt (most were ganged up upon, but it was completely unnecessary!), and lose only one of their own. Another Russian is taken down by the cavalry, for a total of seven Russian dead this turn. A few of the unengaged Russians did manage to shoot four of the infantry in the second company that was following close on the heels of the first.

The Russian company then fails a morale test…

Russians dashing for the train.

The melee begins!

Now here’s one of the little hiccups in Contemptible Little Armies… if a unit receives it’s second morale failure token will immediately rout if “any of it’s figures are contacted in close combat by an enemy figure of model”. It doesn’t say what happens if it is already IN contact with any enemy figures/models…?

Originally I would have just removed the unit at the end of last turn… it’s failed a second morale test and is IN CONTACT with enemy models... But more recently I thought the unit should be given the opportunity to retire, and if the unit it is in contact with can pursue, and the unit with the shaken morale will then only be removed if there are any “fresh contacts”.

Having decided this I would have removed a unit as soon as it was contacted in the movement phase but then Will (the Piper!) pointed out at mayday that it is possible that the unit being contacted, if it were sitting still, could conceivably kill all those moving into contact in the shooting phase and thus wouldn’t actually contact them in close combat… Fair enough…

But this situation is even stickier… the Chinese go first, the cavalry charges in and are in contact. It has no opportunity to retire from the unit/figures it is already in contact with. It can’t kill those figures in the shooting phase because they STARTED the turn in contact (nor can it kill enough of the enemy to prevent “fresh contacts” as just about everyone in the company is doubled – or TRIPPLED – up on as a wave of Chinese floods over them….

So when should they be removed…? If anyone has the answer to this please let me know. Here’s where I wish Mr. Peers and/or HLBS offered a bit more support for their game. An official forum or at least some official Addendum or FAQ’s on the HLBS webiste… I don’t even see any mention of any of their publications on their website… urrrrrr…

Here’s what I did – the situation was hopeless anyway so I let the Russians fire on anyone new coming in and then removed them. In that desperate last stand they took down 5 infantry and one cavalryman before being massacred while trying to surrender!

Things couldn’t have gone worse for the other Russian company, either. They rolled 3” for movement… Only two boarded the train this turn, only three more will be able to next turn… if they survive… as the Chinese cavalry not engaged with the Russians outside of town charged past and into the narrow streets of the town!

Captain Yakovski was also killed this turn in the melee on the outskirts of town.

There’s the Chinese support units all set up with nothing to shoot at…

The assault troops and executioner also slowly making their way forward. The armoured car is also now lacking any targets.


The Chinese cavalry contacts the fleeing Russians in the town. The Russians shoot down two cavalrymen as they move in, but then lose 4 of their own in close combat. Two more Russians board the train. They will be the last.

The second Chinese infantry company moves into contact with the engine to engage the engineers and crew within to try and prevent the train from leaving. The crew proves to be stubborn, killing three Chinese with no losses of their own!

Chinese cavalry fight with fleeing Russians on the platform while Chinese infantry attack the trains engineers!

Really I should have ended the game at this point – there was no way the Russians could achieve their victory conditions at this point… but I was having fun so I thought I’d play it out….


The Cavalry and infantry battle on the platform continues. Two more cavalry are shot as they make fresh contacts, one is killed in close combat. Three Russians are killed.

The engineers hang on and kill another Chinese infantryman!

(the Russian MG and sniper have all this while been slowly retiring towards the exit corner…)

The Sniper and MG trying to sneak off unnoticed…


The melee on the platform continues. The Russians now desperate start fighting like savages! The take down 3 cavalry in close combat with no losses of their own!?

The engineers are finally overpowered and the train will not be going anywhere…

Turn 11

The third Chinese infantry company moves into to clean up the mess on the platform. Again the Russians are fierce. They kill 5 Chinese infantry and another cavalry! Four of their own are also lost. At this point there are two Russians left on the platform (and four hiding in the coach with Baron Borrisov and his family…). The Chinese offer terms and the Russians accept.

The armoured car chases after the sniper and the MG all of whom promptly surrender, there being no real place to run to…

It occurs to me that I may have missed a morale test or two on turns 9 and 10… though none were failed this turn…

The situation at the end of the game. The three Chinese standing together in the bottom left are the shattered remains of the leading Chinese infantry company (of which there were 18 originally!). The second company, which took the locomotive, looks like it still has 10, as did the third company, on the platform.

It also occurred to me after the game that I completely forgot about the Chinese aircraft I had planned on using… not that they needed it – or that it was all that effective last game..

Tough scenario. Fun. Played it in about two and a half hours. Not sure how the Russians could have pulled it off….

Anyway the next official monthly game night will be July 6th. There will be more action in Central Asia - as I will hopefully have three more units of Chinese finished.. and maybe even some BOLSHEVIKS rolling off the line…! I’ll have to finish up a unit of White Russian mercenaries for the Chinese – they will be the survivors of Tashaklabad.

Gary and I will, however, be getting together on Friday the 15th to try out some Blitzkrieg Commander, and of course there is Savage Sundays (3rd and 17th of June)… This Sundays adventure will be called “In the Clutches of Wu Fang!” Our Savage Heroes will have to rescue Baron Borrisov and his family from the dastardly villain; General Wu Fang!

(the report probably won’t be up until Monday, however, as I will be playing bike polo Sunday evening…)

Hey if you made it this far why not leave me a comment below!


  1. WOW! Excellent figures and a great looking game! I have a mess of Coppelstones BoB's that I want to paint up and play in these style of games. Any chance that your figures are or will become commercially available?


  2. Thanks Donald,

    "Any chance that your figures are or will become commercially available?"

    Well you're probably not going to see them in your local game store any time soon... Someday I would, however, like to set up a small website and sell some figures - maybe when my sculpting and casting techniques get a bit better - and I have the time to keep it up to date and get orders out the door. I have sold a few "samples" to a some friends and others.

    If you're really keen to get your mitts on a few drop me a line, we can work something out....

    I'm timbrown (at) shaw (dot) ca