Saturday, October 10, 2009

Death in the Dark Continent: First Look

I recently bought Chris Peers' new African colonial rules "Death in the Dark Continent". In the past I have loved his simple but evocative rules mechanisms, but have become frustrated by by the fact that the rules didn't know if they were a skirmish set or not.

As the "native player", the need to move and find firing positions for over a hundred individually based figures was exhausting; and as a keen painter, the "taking them off by handfuls" approach to casualties was heartbreaking.

Death in the Dark Continent however is a departure from his previous sets. The first two things that stood out were multiple figure bases, and the use of D20's for shooting (which allows for greater subtlety and a smaller body count.

The bases are 60mm wide, and since I had been using HoTT for colonial games, my figures were all ready to go. The rules suggest 30mm base depth for infantry, but I prefer 40mm, which gives skirmish lines a better look as well as protecting those bayonets.

For our first game we used that classic matchup of the despicable Force Publique versus the unsavoury Zanzibari Arabs. The photos were taken using a phone so are not the best.

The Force Publique, to the left in the picture below, fielded two units (companies of Albibi perhaps) of soldiers, and one of Forest Guards as raw soldiers. One gun and a unit of tribal auxiliaries.

The Albini are to the front, the Forest guards in reserve. The baggage to the rear.

The Force Publique start to move out.

An unusual part of the Arab army is a mercenary NGoni warband from Ujiji in the centre.

Arab and Wangwana columns advance on the right wing.

Manyema and Ngoni warriors advance using the wood on the centre as cover.

The Arab chieftain supervises the advance.

Captain De Witt's company crests a hill.

On the left wing of the Arab army 4 stands of Wangwana slave-soldiers advance cautiously.

Va Horn's company advancing.

Some confused looking Rugga-Rugga mercenaries in the Arab centre.

The Force Publique's baggage skulks in the rear hoping for the best. Some of the Arab allies are cannibals.

Both sides are advancing their right wings and refusing their left. I am hoping to create an open killing ground to cope with the inevitable rush in the centre. Note the cannon taking up position in the on the hill.

Arab Wangwana observe the advancing soldiers and auxiliaries with justified unease. It will be muskets versus breech loaders.

An Arab cannon struggles to get into a firing position through the woods.

Manyema warriors. Because these rules don't account for unit size in close combat, it seems like a good idea to have small 2-stand warbands.

The Force Publique open up with ineffective long range fire before the Arab charge hits home.

Some more Manyema warriors change the Force Publique's weakest link, the raw Forest Guards.

While the Ngoni change the cannon on the hill.

The artillery get ready with canister.

With a cry of "meat.. meat...meat" the Manyema crash into the Forest Guards.
And the Ngoni into the gun.

Arabs keep Van Horn's company busy by skirmishing in front of them.

The Manyema warriors kill a stand of Forest Guards and a morale test forced them to run in abject terror before they become lunch.
Elite Arabs in a shooting match with Van Horn's company. The small stones are disorder markers. In the background the gun's canister breaks the Ngoni, but only after they assegaied all the gunners.
The Manyema who beat up the forest guards return and hit the rear of Van horn's company.

With no reserves left, the Force Publique retire to the East before they are wiped out. Round one to the Arabs.

The verdict. By turn two we had memorised all the rules. The systems are easy enough to play while mildly drunk, while creating a game where skill and judgement counts. I am up for another game really soon.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool game report ! Thanks for posting it. I'm prepping to run my own first game March 14th.

    Didn't understand how the cannister could break the attackers but the gunners all get killed, as the firing takes place BEFORE close combat, iirc. I'll have to re-read the rules.