Thursday, December 10, 2009

17. Death in the Jungle: Part 3

[Turn Three Begins]

It was obvious to Capitaine Woolfe that he had walked into Chief Otanga's trap.  Another group of Black Shields, thirteen strong, had emerged from the trees to their left; as well as a second mob of ten Black Shield to their right.  Otanga apparently planned to swamp them in vicious Pygmy warriors!

Woolfe calmly considered his position and gave his orders in a clear voice.  After the wreckage caused by the routing of the Tirailleurs, the Natives closest to him were in a state of indecision as they considered their position.  He grabbed the initiative.  He had the legionnaires on his left under Sergent Cur wheel 90 degrees in supported line to face the attack from the left flank.  Then he wheeled the Marines to face forward also, giving the order to fire at the leaderless Black Shields.

The volley caused one casualty, although Woolfe's and Frye's pistol shots missed.  The Natives' reaction warmed Woolfe's heart:  without their leader to guide them, they lost their nerve when under fire at such close range.  Shaken, they retreated toward their religious totem.

With smooth efficiency, Woolfe then ordered his Marines to fire at the White Shields closest to them.  The volley crashed out, and two Pygmies dropped.  Their reaction mirrored the Black Shields':  they retreated up-jungle, visibly shaken, hooting their displeasure at the White Man's fire-sticks.  As Woolfe watched, they practically "melted into the bush" as they retreated right through some of the densest jungle around.

Sergent Cur of legionnaire squad A could see the new Black Shields on the left creeping towards him, but they cleverly remained well hidden in the foliage.

A legionnaire keeps careful watch on the approaching enemy.

The Black Shields on the right flank advanced to blowgun range.  Their hatred of the French was thrown over in favor of their hatred of their taller cousins, the Native Bearers under command of Seejee and Sawjaw, two able Tirailleurs.  The squad B legionnaires of Sergent Coyote were closer but hidden behind thick jungle, so the Black Shields blew their poison darts at the Bearers.  Two of the deadly barbs struck home.  In response, Seejee wished to fire back but Sawjaw convinced him instead to change their formation to an open one, thereby providing a little protection against the missiles.

It appeared that l'indigènes were preparing to charge, so Caporal Chien urged his Tirailleurs to advance, hoping to get behind the Pgymies.

Before he could get very far -- especially in light of his men's still jittery nerves -- the cannibals screamed into close combat, heading straight for the Native Bearers.  Capt Woolfe hurriedly ordered his Marines to counter-charge, but the Pygmies were already in motion.

They swept into contact with the Bearers, where Tirailleurs Seejee and Sawjaw met them with ready steel.  The next moment, the Marines crashed into the cannibals' flank, trampling at least one native underfoot.

The Pygmies held an advantage in the combat that followed:  their fierceness, coupled with their shields and spears, were potent indeed.  They quickly cut down three Bearers, who were essentially unarmed and prone to panic.  Seejee saw off two Pygmies, then Sawjaw accounted for three more.  A Bearer disappeared into the tall grass at the same time he savagely kicked a Pygmy away.  The impetus shifted back and forth:  a Bearer, a Pgymy.  Then Seejee and Sawjaw, with a last ditch effort, forced the remaining Pygmies back onto their heels.  The Black Shields retreated in open formation, shaken by their defeat.

All that was left of the Native Bearers unit was Seejee, Sawjaw and Toopee, a shivering wreck -- but alive.

The mêlée was over before the Marines could do more than stand and stare.  They shouted jeers and taunts at the fleeing Pygmy warriors, some of them in an outrageous French accent.  "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!"

Once again there was a moment of quiet in the jungle, punctuated only by the soft sounds of booted footsteps.  Boochoo the Tirailleur came skulking out of the brush, having been knocked on the head earlier.  Of the near-defenseless Bearers, three miraculously reappeared unhurt, but two more -- Doopee and Loopee -- were missing, and Poopee and Zoopee would never bear a load again.

To Capt Woolfe's unbelieving eye, of all the Pygmies his men had dropped either through gunfire or bayonet work, nearly all found their way back to their units, slinking silently through the dense foliage.  As he watched, the disarray of the retreating Shields gradually vanished as their leaders asserted themselves.  Every Native squad returned to normal, ready to renew their attacks.

Shaking off the effects of the raw hatred of the vicious short ones, Woolfe surveyed his forces.  There, behind that screen of giant plants, Cpl Chien was still attempting to rally his Tirailleurs; they had witnessed the butchery of the Native Bearers and had not liked what they had seen.  The rest of his men were ready, if a little preoccupied.  Woolfe realized he needed to protect those Native Bearers if he were to complete his mission.

[Turn Three Ends]

Saturday, November 28, 2009

16. Death in the Jungle: Part 2

[Turn Two Begins]

Capitaine Woolfe was preoccupied in his thoughts.  His men had sent Chief Otanga packing far more quickly than he had expected.  Maybe this would be as easy as Lt Frye said.

Naturellement, the Natives' next attack caught him completely unawares.

In order to take advantage of what time remained to him, Woolfe gave hasty orders; there was no time to tell his troops what he wanted from them in any kind of detail.  The Tirailleurs Sénégalais changed to open formation, then advanced to scout ahead.  Suddenly from out of the bush came the distinctive war cries of many Pygmy throats, both to the left and to the right!

Before any of Woolfe's troopers could react the savages had rushed closer, beating their shields with their spears and clubs.  It was obvious they were on the charge!

With the moment of surprise past, Sergent Cur formed his men back into a supported firing line, facing the furious rush of Natives from the left.

With deliberate calm, caporal Chien ordered his Tirailleurs to shoot at the oncoming ten to their left, those carrying black shields.  It was said of the Pygmies that Black was their color for death.  Bien, then Chien would teach them the meaning of death!  With a crash the shots rang out.  Brightly plumed jungle birds took to the air in startled terror.  Alas, that was all that was accomplished.  For all of Chien's bravado to his men, they were more spooked by the unnerving screaming than they realized as all shots missed.  What's more, the Black Shields were not deterred from their attack.

Too quickly for any other squads to fire, the whirling dervishes of half-pint horror were upon the Tirailleurs, charging in to mêlée from both sides at once.  Chien's men, natives themselves of the region and well aware of the singular animosity the Pygmies held for their taller cousins, not only stood their ground but fired twice, redeeming themselves for their previous effort.  Their volleys caused two casualties in the Black Shields, one of them a Pygmy with a brown-colored shield, possibly denoting leadership status amongst the savages; and one casualty in the White Shields attacking from the right, leaving eleven remaining.

And then the world dissolved into a swirling muddle of close combat, as diminutive monsters swarmed over and around the Tirailleurs.

Spears stabbed, clubs whirled, and bayonets flashed as the human horde churned up the jungle floor.

The Pygmies had the upper hand; having charged from both sides they were effectively attacking from the front and the rear, at least until the confusion of combat equalized out.  Back and forth the fight raged:  first one Native dropped, then three Tirailleurs fell back, then three more fell, possibly for good.  Suddenly the advantage shifted and eight Natives fell before the bayonets, then five more; two Tirailleurs fell; one Pygmy, and yet another.  With a frightening surge, with the cannibals prepared to completely overwhelm them, Cpl Chien played his last chance card, attempting to steal the initiative away from the savages; but his draw was lacking in the proper heroism, and he and his remaining men fell beneath the clubs and spears.

In the confusion of mêlée it was impossible to know who was dead, who was unconscious or wounded, and who was simply hiding in fear.  As it became apparent the Pygmies had won the contest, Chien and those of his men who were able, fled back towards the French lines, not realizing how devastated the Natives were as well.  Even had they known, it would not have soothed their shaken morale; they'd been beaten, and that, badly.

In the first quiet moments after the scuffle, as the wildlife sounds returned to the trees, other sounds made themselves known, too.  Specifically, the sounds of frantic men finding their way back to their unit.  Three Tirailleurs - Beechee, Gruunta, and Timaar - appeared out of the vegetation, bloody but whole.  One more, Boochoo, remained missing; and poor Lokky the unlucky would never rise again, the first casualty of the mission.

For their efforts, however, four of the eight missing Black Shields, including their leader, were dead.  The White Shields fared better:  seven of the ten missing, returned, as vicious as ever.

Seeing this, or perhaps still suffering from the after-effects of the fight, Cpl Chien was unable to properly motivate his men.  Terrified of the fury of l'indigènes, their nerve completely shot, the Tirailleurs retreated further, taking Chien with them, dazed and shaken.

[Turn Two Ends]

Monday, November 23, 2009

15. Death in the Jungle: Battle is Joined

[Turn One Begins]

Capitaine Woolfe of la Légion Étrangère paused to wipe the sweat from his brow.  Le jungle was hot today, hotter than usual.  The wild sounds buzzed and hooted from all sides, hemming in his little force of soldiers.  Fortunately for him, the claustrophobia one sometimes felt in the deep jungle was lessened here in the approaches to their objective.  The constant comings and goings of the natives had worn away some of the densest undergrowth and left them with a relatively clear path to the shrine.

They were closing in on the pagan ruins and had encountered no opposition on the way.  Le Capitaine was anxious to carry out his mission of punishment by defiling the natives' source of religious fervor.  He himself was ni ici ni là, neither here nor there in regard to religious fervor, except when that fervor manifested itself in vicious, cannibalistic attacks on French citizens.

The first mission, sent out under command of the incompetent Lieutenant Frye, had barely penetrated the jungle before scurrying home with its tail between its legs.  Woolfe blamed himself for sending the favor-currying buffoon out in the first place.  Now the attacks were worsened as l'indigènes sensed weakness in the French resolve.

Quickly rounding up all the troops at his disposal, Woolfe had set out with two full squads of Légionnaires with experienced sergents; a squad of Infanterie de Marine led by a caporal; and a squad of Tirailleurs Sénégalais with their French caporal.  In addition, he had pressed into service a group of Native Bearers, herded along by a couple of Tirailleurs Sénégalais, to break up and cart away the religious totem that was the object of the expedition.  He himself was leading the operation, and he had brought the pathetic Lt Frye along as well, with the hope that a little experience might sink in before Frye got more men killed.

These indigènes, these Natives, had a most disconcerting way of appearing suddenly out of the thickest growth, attacking, and disappearing the same way.  Oui, they might be Pygmies, half a man's height, but they were diables dans un tourbillon, devils in a whirlwind, in a fight.  They fought with the silent blowgun, followed by a bloodcurdling yell and a charge into combat where their vicious stabbing spears could do the most damage.  They rarely hesitated to take on the direst of odds, and they seemed to harbor an especial hatred for their larger Black cousins.  The Native Bearers had practically to be goaded along at bayonet point; even the Tirailleurs were not unaffected with dread.

The troupes had been advancing through the jungle in column formation for the sake of haste, but as the ruins poked into view through the foliage Woolfe called a halt to better position his men.  A sudden quieting of the tropical noises alerted them to the imminent danger.  The French force had walked into an ambush!

From ahead to their left, Chief Otanga himself led those of his warriors who carried muskets in the attack.  Smoke billowed out as they fired at the legionnaires under Sergent Cur.  Cur's men stood their ground, coolly surveying the results:  all shots missed.  Unfazed, the legionnaires formed a supported firing line.  Otanga screamed at his men to reload, and they fired again -- a legionnaire dropped -- and again -- miss!  Sgt Cur, awaiting further instructions from Capt Woolfe, kept his men in position and stilled their gut reaction to shoot back.

Woolfe realized his deployment was not conducive to surviving this battle.  Quickly he gave the order for he and his Marines to advance as far as possible, form a supported firing line facing Otanga's Pygmies, and fire.  Neither Woolfe nor Frye could shoot with their pistols as the range was too great, but the rifle-armed Marines caused one casualty in spite of the jungle in their way.  In response, Otanga shrilled at his men to reload and fire...and in other circumstances, perhaps he would have had his way, but his men's nerve failed when faced with massed rifle fire.  They backed away.  Otanga tried to rally them, but his screaming only spurred them on faster, and suddenly the jungle was quiet again as the Pygmies routed out of sight.

Lt Frye made some simpering comment about how easy it was going to be this time.  Woolfe glared daggers at him, and Frye's voice trailed away.  Privately, Woolfe shared the same thought, but as an experienced officer he would never say such a thing in front of his men.  Calling over his shoulder, le capitaine ordered the Native Bearers and the Tirailleurs to advance in column up to his current position.  Next he sent word for the legionnaires under Sergent Coyote to advance in column, then change into Open formation.  To Sgt Cur he ordered a change to Open formation, and then an advance.

For the moment, all was still.  As the sounds of the tramping feet faded into silence, Cur grunted a warning.  Bayonets turned to the troop's rear, only to meet the astonished stare of legionnaire Hund.  In broken French he explained, "A ricochet....  I fell into the underbrush....  See?"  He poked a finger through the bullet hole in his sun helmet, his casque de soleil.  Glaring, he dared any man to call him coward.  Cur motioned him back into place in line.

[Turn One Ends]

Friday, November 20, 2009

14. Death in the Jungle: The French Return

After the whipping the French got at the hands of the Natives in the last game, they were itching for a rematch. The Officer Commanding the African post demanded of me to let him lead a stronger force to enact punishment against the upstart aborigines. I assented.

I played on a 4'x6' table using essentially the same setup as before, only in an expanded scale. I used the same jungle terrain, but it was spread out a little more, which was fine since I was going to use a lot more troops. If you click on the pictures, they will enlarge to (possibly) fill your screen.

A relatively clear path through the the Native shrine of death.

The French were taking all available troops from the fort. Two full squads of Foreign Legion, a squad of Marines, a squad of Tirailleurs, and group of Native Bearers, under the overall command of le Capitaine. Their task was similar to the first outing: get the Bearers to the totem for one turn so they could break it up and carry it away; as a secondary objective, if the Bearers ran away then keep the French forces in control of the shrine for one turn in order to deface it. The Natives would win if they prevented the French from doing this.

The (hopefully) formidable French forces deployed for battle.

I classified the large jungle terrain pieces as Impenetrable to movement and Line of Sight (LoS); and the medium and small pieces as Rough to cross/enter. If any LoS crossed medium or small terrain, it would count as Light Cover for the target. 

French Troops:
  • 2x squads of FFL, 9 men + NCO (Sgt), rifles, bayonets. Acting "as British."
  • 1x squad of Infanterie de Marine, 9 men + NCO (Cpl), rifles, bayonets. Acting "as Other European."
Led by an Officer (Lt Frye), pistol, sword. Acting "as British."
Led by an Officer (Capt Woolfe), pistol, sword. Acting "as British."

  • 1x squad of Tirailleurs Sénégalais, 9 men + French NCO (Cpl), rifles, bayonets. Acting "as Sikhs."
  • 1x squad of Native Bearers, 8 men, no weapons. Acting "as Other Natives."
Led by 2 NCO's (Tirailleurs Sénégalais), rifles, bayonets. Acting "as Sikhs."
  • FFL 2, Tirailleurs Sénégalais, Infanterie de Marine led by le Capitaine, Native Bearers and FFL 1.

 FFL2, Tirailleurs Sénégalais

 Infanterie de Marine, led by le Capitaine Woolfe


Native Bearers, FFL1

Native Pygmies:
  • Squad #1, 9 stands + NCO (brown shield), blowguns (as bows), melee weapon, shield. Black shields. Acting "as Other Natives."
  • Squad #2, 9 stands + NCO (brown shield), blowguns (as bows), melee weapon, shield. Black shields. Acting "as Other Natives."
  • Squad #3, 12 stands + NCO (brown shield), blowguns (as bows), melee weapon, shield. Black shields. Acting "as Other Natives."
  • Squad #4, 11 stands + NCO (brown shield), blowguns (as bows), melee weapon, shield. White shields. Acting "as Other Natives."
  • Squad #5, 12 stands + NCO (brown shield), blowguns (as bows), melee weapon, shield. White shields. Acting "as Other Natives."
  • Squad #6, 9 stands + Officer (Army Commander Otanga), rifles (muskets). Acting "as Other Natives."

Black shields

White shields

Rifles with Chief Otanga

As in the first game, I rolled a compass d6 to randomly place glass markers to indicate Native entry positions.

Each marker would activate when any French unit came within 25" (rifle range, no LoS needed). A d6 roll would determine which Native unit appeared, per their squad number. Each arriving Native unit would get 1 free Action Point (AP), occurring prior to the regular Action Phase.

Chief Otanga had given his warriors simple orders: "Stop the White man." As such, he did not have to be on the table in order to effect battle.

To Be Continued....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

13. Death in the Jungle

I played a game of the Battle of Rorke's Drift recently with my good friend Tom. We've been refining our partially home-brewed, heavily modified rules each time we play. I think we're finally finished with the editing (maybe). At any rate, having all my figures out and actually playing a game left me wanting more. Plus, building all that jungle terrain really got me wanting to play a game using it. I've been frustrated not having my Dahomey warriors painted. But inspiration strikes when it's least expected. As I was putting away my 15mm Zulu warriors from my Rorke's Drift set (someday I'll show pictures), I realized they would make great Pygmies for my 28mm Foreign Legionnaires! So I set myself up with a little impromptu solo game. More than three years ago I read Don Bailey's "Skirmish at Utla" article in Historical Miniature Gamer Magazine #5 (now sadly defunct). It absolutely fascinated me with it's careful mechanics for solo gaming. I emailed Don in February 2007 and he kindly forwarded me a pdf of his rules, Pith Helmet. It's a one-page (front and back) set of Colonial-era rules that greatly facilitates solo play, although they are not limited to that. I played nothing more than a squad of British versus a Zulu impi, twice through, just to feel out the rules. I was intrigued. I re-read the article, because that actually is a walk-through of a game, clarifying the rules even more. Finally it crystallized: the Foreign Legion would have to put down some troublesome Natives, who were altitudinally challenged! Chances are very few of you readers will have a familiarity with Pith Helmet, so I won’t be giving detailed descriptions of how the rules work. I will only tell enough to make things comprehensible. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

I took one ten-man squad of French Foreign Legion, led by an NCO, and one eleven-man squad of Infanterie de Marine, also led by an NCO, with overall command going to Lieutenant Frye. (Oldest joke in the book, I know: he's a French Frye. Anyhoo....) Their mission was to investigate some ancient ruins hidden deep in the African jungle. The ruins were rumored to be sacred to a tribe of trouble-causing Natives. In game terms, the French were to travel East to West across the table (the long table edge), spend one turn in contact with the totem, and return.

Likewise, I wanted the Natives to benefit from the deep, impenetrable jungle, and so they all began the game hidden, represented by glass beads for their general location. I used a compass d6 to randomly determine their starting location. I decided that hidden units would be revealed when either side caused a Reaction sequence, as defined in the rules. Each unit so revealed would get one free Action Point before the start of any Action Phase. The FFL were not allowed to shoot at a place marker until it was revealed. When it was time to reveal a marker, a d6 roll of 6 would be the one unit with rifles.

For the Natives, each stand contained two 15mm figures. For game purposes I proposed to allow one stand to equal one 28mm figure. Hey, they're Pygmies, fer cryin' out loud! They're little! It also simplified record-keeping. I had three ten-stand squads with Black Shields, each with an NCO; two ten-stand squads with White Shields, each with an NCO; and one ten-stand squad with rifles, led by an “officer.” All the non-rifle armed figures were assumed to be armed with clubs or spears, shields, and blowguns, to which I assigned a 10" range. To clarify the "NCO" thing, since one typically does not think of savage Pygmy warriors with non-commissioned officers running around, in the rules units are led either by an officer, an NCO, or they have no leader. I designated the NCOs by using figures holding Brown Shields. To “help out” the Natives, I allowed them to operate “as Zulu” for their Command values: a very high number. I fully expected it to be a cake-walk for the French. This was definitely a learning game for me. While the rules are not very long, they are quite concentrated. There’s a lot of stuff on those two pages! It took me a while to really wrap my head around the main convention of the rules: the Action Points. On Turn 1, in the Command Phase, I settled up all the Action Points for each unit. Then using an ordinary deck of cards, I determined that the French could activate only one unit, yet spend only one AP. The Lt. and his Marines advanced in column 9”. I thought I’d get the lesser quality unit out front earlier and see how they fared before sending in the tougher Legionnaires. There were no Reactions to test for, so the Natives had nothing to move. This ended up being a mistake on my part, as I should have continued turning cards until all my French units (at the least) had used up their APs. Instead I began Turn 2. I re-rolled APs for each unit, and moved straight into the Action Phase. Well, by now, the French were within Reaction sight of a marker, so Pygmies #3 and #6 appeared out of the bush, using their free AP to move 9” in Open formation, and to fire their rifles from Mass formation, respectively. This caused one casualty in the Marines, but thanks to the Lt.’s leadership they did not React further.

In Pith Helmet, casualties caused by shooting go to the “Rally Zone,” an off-table area which represents the uncertainty of combat. At the end of the turn, you roll for each figure’s possible return, or death. After the free AP by the Natives, I began the Action Phase proper. Again, due to the chance of the card draw the French were limited to one unit, one AP. The Natives were allowed to use half of their units and all of their AP. The Marines fired back (again a mistake, due to their formation), causing two casualties, including #3’s NCO, and forcing them to retreat 13”. Native #6 then fired again at the Marines, causing two casualties with no Reaction. Yet again I goofed, as I still had not moved the FFL squad at all, so I should have drawn more cards, but in my eagerness to see how the rules played out, I went straight on to the Melee Phase. Native #6 charged the Marines; in Reaction, the Marines fired, causing two casualties; #6 had no Reaction to that. They caught the Marines in column, giving them bonuses to their Melee. In Pith Helmet, during Melee, hits caused by card draws are “drop outs,” meaning they simply go to the back of their unit and take no more part in the melee; unless the winning card is a red card, in which case drop outs go to the Rally Zone as casualties.

After multiple card draws, with the initiative going back and forth, suddenly Otanga the Native officer draws a King versus a Two for the French, causing eight drop outs! Both the Corporal and the Lt. tried their special rule to win the contest, but couldn’t manage anything higher than a Five. The Pygmies won the melee, forcing the Marines to retreat 15” and go Shaken in Open formation.

Things were not looking good for France! I began the Morale Phase, attempting through card draws to return some of the missing Rally Zone figures to their units. Two returned to the Lt., two were killed and the Cpl. remained MIA. All of the Pygmies returned. For the French the actual Morale check was rather crucial: they were close to the table edge. And...they failed, so they retreated a further 6” and remained Shaken. Native #3 passed their check and so returned to normal.

That ended Turn 2.

With Turn 3, I changed my mind slightly, in that I brought all the Native units into play (“the trap was sprung”), and gave them their free AP before I rolled for the Command Phase. The four new Native units all moved 9” in Mass formation, heading for the French.

After finishing the Command Phase, I drew cards for the Action Phase. Again, Lt. Frye’s singularly uninspiring leadership prevented a competent defense: one unit, one AP, so the FFL squad under the Sgt. changed formation to a Supported Line. The Natives fared only slightly better: half their units could move, but could only use one AP each. #6 reformed facing the Legionnaires, #3 reformed to face the Lt., and #2 moved to within 10” of the FFL.

Finally I had the rules understood well enough, to continue with a second Action Phase: the card draw was an exact tie, Queen to Queen. Redraw! The inept Lt.’s poor command ability shone through yet again when they were limited to one unit, one point. Frye chose to fire at Native #3, causing two casualties; in Reaction, #3 fired back with their blowguns (they were that close), causing one casualty, which due to the particular die roll indicated it was the Lt.! I now entered a grey area: Pith Helmet does not include French Foreign Legion, or French Marines either in its list of Command ratings. I arbitrarily assigned the FFL to act “as British,” and the Marines “as Other European,” except when they were being led by FFL officers or NCOs, in which case they were “as British.” Now the Marines had lost both of their leaders to the Rally Zone, so their Reaction test was against a much lower number. So low, in fact, that they fell back 4”, which would take them off the table edge. This situation allows one last chance to rally, which they promptly failed by rolling a 37 when all they needed was a 32 or less; therefore they Routed off the table. Buh-bye! We were still in the Action Phase, and there were Natives yet to go. Native #6 fired at the FFL squad, missing them. Native #5 moved 9” closer. I began the fourth Action Phase. The Sgt. had learned some bad habits from the (possibly late) Lt. Frye: he drew the Queen, meaning only one unit could activate, but at least he was allowed to use up to half his APs. And truthfully, the Queen didn’t matter too much, since there was only one French unit left on the board! The Sgt. chose to shoot at #5, causing two casualties; in Reaction, #5 retired 6” Shaken. The Sgt. chose to spend a second (and his last) AP and shoot again, this time at #6 but they missed. In Reaction, #6 did nothing; however they chose to spend an AP and shoot back, but missed, yet this caused another Reaction from the FFL, where they did nothing anyway. Finally we entered the Melee Phase. Native #2 charged the FFL. Since the FFL was out of APs, one figure automatically went to the Rally Zone. The Pygmies attacked the flank with melee weapons and shields, versus the FFL’s Supported Line formation bonuses. After various card draws, with the undaunted Sgt. trying his special rule to no avail, the Pygmies won the melee, sending the entire squad to the Rally Zone due to Red cards.

There were now no French forces on the table!

For the Morale Phase, I had a quandary, but since I was tired I went with the easy route. With no leader on the table, and no parent unit on the table, the entire squad of Foreign Legionnaires routed completely. If I had allowed the card draw for the Sgt. to return first, then seven soldiers would have returned to the table. From the Marine squad, the Cpl. and the Lt. routed, for the same reason (ie, “parent unit not present.” It could be argued that the Leaders “create” the parent unit, but again, I was tired). Essentially, all the French forces decided it was the better part of valor to live to fight another day, and scarpered off into the jungle! Most of the Natives returned from the Rally Zone: 3 of 5. A resounding Native victory! Especially considering the French never even made it more than one move’s worth in, and that the FFL squad never moved at all! So much for the vaunted reputation of the Foreign Legion…. Nevertheless, I don’t consider the rules broken. If anything, I allowed the Natives too high a Command value. They also outnumbered their opponents 2:1, although this wasn’t as much a factor as it might have been. Plus, it was a learning game. I made a lot of mistakes. The real reason for the French loss is the incompetence of Lt. Frye. His not being able to give the necessary orders (“freezing in action”) severely hampered his troops ability to survive. I’m already readying a return mission. The Captain commanding the local French garrison is not happy with Lt. Frye at all, saying something to the effect of, “Si vous voulez quelque chose faite convenablement vous devez la faire vous-même.” (“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”) The French shall return! Meanwhile, the Natives party on.
Thanks for reading this long report. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of...Death in the Jungle! (Oh, and Emperor blah blah blah.)