By Jack Scruby
From “The Soldier Factory news,” Volume 2, summer, 1974.
It is our intent in Soldier Factory News to set forth basic and simplified war game rules and to eliminate as much “bookkeeping” and complications as possible. Using the basic war game rules as published in Vol. 1 (“Basic War Game Rules“) of Soldier Factory News as the base, we offer you now rules for fighting war games of the AFRICAN COLONIAL PERIOD, 1880-1910.
These rules are designed for use with N-gauge troops, although of course they can be used for all scale models. The TABLE at the end of the rules is self-sufficient and is based on gluing model soldiers onto moving stands, and counting each such stand as “one” (unit, or company, or squad as you wish).
For African Colonial warfare we picture war games as Tactical, not Strategic, and most of them (except perhaps Omdurman) were small scale affairs as to numbers of men involved.
So, for our Table of Organization we mount 4 model infantry soldiers to a stand, and call this a SQUAD. Each model soldier represents 3 historic men (1:3 ratio). Thus a squad stand represents 12 men. We then come up with 8 stands equals ONE INFANTRY COMPANY (representing 96 men). And thus 6 stands could equal a Battalion amounting to 768 men.
As a result of this T/O Tactical African battles would be in a “Brigade level” action, rather than an Army Corp level such as our Basic War Game Rules for the Musket era were shown in Vol. 1 of Soldier Factory News.
With this T/O in mind then, and using the Basic War Game Rules published in Vol. 1 of Soldier Factory News, we now go into the details of rules for an African Colonial Tactical War Game. Any explanatory notes will be typed in Italics.
In African Colonial war games there are many specialized types of soldiers, and it is their variations of ability and combat power that make for interesting battles. But of equal importance is the RANGE of FIRE, which changes the complexion of battles as weapons became better and more accurate. Thus it is important to know:
TYPES OF SOLDIERS
REGULAR INFANTRY are trained infantrymen, such as White Regular Infantry, and Askari tyres (Turks, Kings African Rifles, German Askaris, Egyptians, Sudanese, etc.)
All REGULARS operate in 2 basic FIGHTING FORMATIONS. (as aside from Columns, Squares and Line)
Taking these rules above, examine the FIRE TABLES at the end of these Rules, and lets take the WHITE INFANTRY section as an example:
In Open Formation, it takes 8 stands of firepower to kill one enemy stand, while only 4 stands are required when in closed formation. At the same time, Morale power is low in Open, and good in Closed. Thus, it can easily be seen that if your Regulars happen to be caught in melee or by fire in Open order by troops in Closed Order, they are going to get slaughtered. Likewise, should Native Spearmen catch them in Open order; the Natives are going to rout them.
Thus, a good general will use Open Order to move his troops around fast- and to scout out what is over that hill- and will get into Closed Formation whenever danger threatens.
MOUNTED INFANTRY are considered elite infantry troops having special training to be good at moving and firing while mounted. They are not good in melee and will run if attacked by White cavalry (after suffering casualties as per the tables), but will fight with native cavalry without hesitation.
It is important at this point that we explain about the Morale Factors of this game.
Morale is always judged after every fire fight and every melee.
UNTRAINED NATIVE WARRIORS always have a morale problem after receiving rifle fire or artillery fire from Regulars.
The natives must dice to see if they stand under the Regulars’ fire or whether they run. Roll the die: On a 1 or 2 they will run. For each Regular stand of men who fired, one native must run. (Example: if you fired with 8 stands of Regulars, then 8 stands of natives must run off.) (-‘his is cut in half if Regulars fired on the natives from Open Formation)
This one rule – effect of fire on Natives – can change the complexion of the game fast. The table top general will find many uses for his Mounted Infantry and European Cavalry to keep native hordes away by firing into them and making them have to dice for their Morale! Now that we have explained the Morale Factor, let’s got back to the types of Troops in this game, and how they fight.
THE GATLING GUN
EUROPEAN CAVALRY (including Indian Lancers, etc.) are considered mainly as melee troops, but do have pistol or carbine fire with a range of 12 inches for them.
ASKARI SOLDIERS include all trained soldiers – Native Africans, Turks, Indian Sepoys, Egyptians, etc. They are considered excellent soldiers, acclimated to conditions in Africa, and are to be considered as Light Infantry in movement, since they can move at 6 inches in either Open or Closed formation at will; Closed formation giving them extra fire power, melee power and moral factors as with the white Regulars.
It is possible a player may want an “Askari” type cavalry force (for example, Spahi’s) and using the same idea, one can easily set up fighting tables for such troops. They would move faster than European cavalry, would kill less in melee, etc. Boer cavalry or Mounted Infantry, Colonial Scouts, etc. would be classed in this type of cavalry I believe.
ARTILLERY will play a very minor role in African Colonial games, since heavy guns were not dragged around much over the rough terrain encountered. If guns are used, we suggest a 36 inch range, very slow movement or no movement at all and use only to defend forts, headquarters and the like.
THE NATIVE SOLDIERS
These are the melee troops armed only with spear or sword, and they have some• special rules that apply only to them:
You may not suspect it, but this one rule makes Native spear men tough to contend with, and the wise general will study the rule and come up with some good ideas no doubt as to how to use them to his best advantage!
Contrary to opinion, these men were good shots, and with their movement of 10 inches, they can be dangerous to face. However, they will not fight in melee and they must always dice to see if they will stand under Regulars’ fire. They have a 50-50 chance of staying, but if they lose, all those men who fired will have to retire 2 moves and can not take any offensive action on the next game move.
The fastest moving men on the table, but not too effective at fire fighting or melee. They are more “skittish” than the Native Riflemen, and if fired upon by Regulars or Askari, will retire unless they dice a 4 or 5. Only those men will retire who fired, or, if they did riot fire, only the same number of cavalry retire as the number of enemy troops who fired upon them. They will exchange fire with enemy natives without any morale problems.
In order to have interesting war games in this period, we suggest an army consists roughly of 40% European regulars, Askaris and Mounted Infantry as the “hard core”. 10% of the army to be White cavalry; 15% to be Native cavalry, 15% to be Native Riflemen and 20% to be native warriors. Maxims and Cannons would be added in sparing numbers.
Game Chart (Movement, Fire and Morale)