Friday, June 23, 2017

Death in the Dark Continent: Force Publique

During the last month I have been busy painting up a Force Publique army for Death in the Dark Continent. The minis are all from the famous Darkest Africa range from Foundry, and they are indeed lovely models to paint. Being older sculpts there is a fair amount of flash to clean up beforehand though.

I am very happy about the final painting job, even though it is not to the standard of Paul Baker's Force Publique, which is top top quality.

The army is a based on the one found in the rulebook. 5 units of Soldiers, two of them Volunteers and 3 Consripts, a chief base and of course baggage. My baggage is smaller though and consists of a group of bearers with both ivory and crates.

I have previously had major reservations about playing an army that was so infamous and cruel. But have come to the conclusion that while the game is historical, it is still just a game, and someone has to play the bad guys. Researching the Force Publique and King Leopold II is not for the faint hearted though.

Anyway here are some pictures I took yesterday evening. Not the best quality though.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Death in the Dark Continent: First game

Ever since finishing the British forces for The Mahdist Revolt I have been building terrain pieces and a board. Yesterday everything was put in place for my first game of Death in the Dark Continent. My opponent was my friend Frank, who had agreed to give the game a try despite not being to keen on unit based games.

Frank would take control of the British, while I would be trying to put the Mahdi's men to good use. We decided that in order to keep things simple and therefore played the Pitched Battle scenario.

Once the forces had been lined up next to the board, it felt like I already had the advantage having triple the amount of units that Frank did.

Here are the forces we played with:

Chief (Elite Soldiers with breech-loaders) 1 base
British infantry (Elite Soldiers with breech-loaders) 3 bases
British infantry (Elite Soldiers with breech-loaders) 3 bases
British infantry (Elite Soldiers with breech-loaders) 3 bases

Chief (Ansar Skirmisher untrained with muskets) 1 base
Ansar (Skirmishers untrained with muskets) 4 bases
Ansar (Skirmishers with spears) 4 bases
Ansar (Skirmishers with spears) 4 bases
Jihadiyya (Soldiers with muskets) 4 bases
Jihadiyya (Soldiers with breech-loaders) 4 bases
Beja (Elite Warriors with spears) 4 bases
Beja (Elite Warriors with spears) 4 bases
Beja (Elite Warriors with spears) 4 bases

The Game
After deployment it became clear that the British's only chance of success was to play a defensive game. For the Mahdists the aim was to get within musket range and then to attack with the Beja in melee.

In the first couple of turns the Mahdist horde swarmed in from all side towards the British, and the visual effect of almost a 100 minis moving towards 30 British was stunning.

The British moved into positions, so that they created three firing lanes, which would limit the amount of Mahdists who could move close at the same time.

As the Mahdists got closer the British started to open fire, but being outside the rifles effective range meant that damage was limited. Just as the Mahdists thought they would be able to get close enough to start returning the fire their movement rolls failed and most of the units seems to crawl forward.

In the center the many units were having problems getting into position as the space was simply not there. Slowly the Mahdists came into the effective range of the British rifles and this was telling. Suddenly Disorder markers started to take their toll on the units and they were being kept away from the British. When the Beja finally got into close combat and the Jihadiyya and Ansar musket into range they were severely hampered by the Disorder markers and bad dice rolling.

After loosing two Beja units, one Ansar musket unit, and both Jihadiyya units the remainder of the Mahdist decided to flee.

Wow! Just wow! This was an incredible game in all sorts of ways - visually it was stunning to see the hordes closing in on the British. The rules just flowed and the Disorder mechanic in particular was excellent - perhaps the best implementation of disorder I have tried in a game.

Frank knew nothing of the game rules beforehand, but we quickly got the hang of it. The game took around 2½ hours and until the last two rounds both of us felt that the game could have swung both ways. For me this is always a good indicator of a well balanced game.

Nothing in the rules is complicated, but this does not mean that the rules are stupid, they just feel incredibly fine tuned. Shooting works very well and Close Combat even better. The clear winner is however the Morale and Disorder rules which while effective and cruel just fit the game.

Despite not being a fan of neither the setting or unit games Frank was impressed. And we both agreed that a rematch should be played before long.

I finish this post with a lot of pictures that I took - I hope you enjoy.