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.
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.
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.
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.