On Saturday August 2nd 2014, the Jackson Gamers played a 20mm game set in German East Africa during the Great War. The British forces were advancing to seize supplies in three villages. The Germans needed to stop them.
Jay Stribling created the scenario and was the “Gamemaster”. All the photos shown are by him unless otherwise credited.
The British players shown are Ed Sansing (standing) and Russel Schnieder (in Day-Glo shirt!) A third British player, Phil Young, is out of the image to the right.
The German players are Sean Pitts (left) and Jim Pitts (right). They await the British onslaught with seeming insouciance.
British forces advance towards the German occupied area. All German forces began the game hidden, while the British troops had to march on from the table edge. The British were given the option to send up to two platoons (20 men each) and two machine guns on a flanking march to either the left or right, arriving on the appropriate table edge at the start of the third turn, but they decided not to risk it.
This shows the central village where German bearers are assembling the supplies for removal to the rear. A thorn bush zariba encloses part of the village.
The third “village” is actually a German radio station, worth 15 victory points. The British did not know this, but the village was visibly different from the other two with no groups of bearers and the mast of the radio station was visible to the British if they bothered to look.
The 15-point value of this radio station eventually won the game for the Germans.
The “long ridge” on the British right (German left) was occupied by Herr J. Pitts’ infantry and he used it to some effect against Ed Sansing’s British troops. Eventually Ed flanked this position and drove Jim Pitts off the ridge, enabling the British forces to see the “first village.’ By that time, the bearers were departing with the supplies that had been stored there.
Note that while your humble correspondent refers to the opposing forces as “British” or “German” almost all of the miniature soldiers represent African troops in service to the Kaiser or the King-Emperor George V.
“Machine gun hill” was a small knob near the second (central) village. Sean Pitts garrisoned it with two water cooled machine guns. A careful look at the side of the hill reveals the webs of giant (!) African (?) spiders.
These machine guns were curiously ineffective and a close inspection of the photograph reveals the reason. One was set up facing the wrong way!
South African troops move to support the assault on “machine gun” hill. The officers in the background wearing the yellow rings are the overall British command party.
This is an overall view of machine gun” hill. Photo by Jim Pitts.
The Kings African Rifles lead the assault on “machine gun hill”. These troops suffered terribly in the assault and the lead unit was wrecked. Maddeningly for the British, the Germans are allowed to re-crew machine guns with drafted infantrymen, but British machine guns which suffer heavy crew losses are out of action for the game.
Ed Sansing is rolling fire dice as he attempts to drive the German troops off the long ridge.
A view of the British command in action, viewed from the German lines, with Russ Schneider (on left) and with Phil Young both watching closely as Sean Pitts adjusts the extreme right-flank German unit. Photo by Jim Pitts.
The assault on “machine gun hill”. While the feverish rolling of the dice by Sean Pitts and Russ Schneider is just off-camera, you can see a few men have been wounded already. In “close combats” using The Sword and the Flame rules, pairs of figures are matched against each other and a D6 is rolled. The high die wins the combat between that pair and the losing die roll decides the fate of the losing figure. If the losing D6 roll is “1” then the figure is killed, if a “2” then he is wounded, and if 3 or more, he falls back out of the fight, to join his unit at the end of the melee.
Another British unit moves forward to assault the “Wireless Station hill.” We are looking over the shoulders of the German unit on the extreme right of their line – and the extreme edge of the battlefield. Your correspondent has a game table eight feet long and five feet wide. Many is the time that I have wished for another foot or two in one or the other direction, but if the table was larger, there would be no room for gamers around it!
“Wireless Station hill” was a very strong position containing an infantry unit and a machine gun section behind a thorn bush hedge. It was not seriously threatened by the one attacking unit.
A brightly backlit image shows that Ed Sansing’s troops have cleared the Germans off the “long ridge” and are advancing, pushing the German askari troops before them. The men who look like they have lampshades on their heads are a British unit from the Gold Coast. They wore strangely shaped pith helmets.
A column of native bearers moves supplies out of the central village. Three native riflemen provide a meager escort, but the defending German troops (in background) never allowed the British to come near them.
A similar column of bearers moves out of the other village. Jim Pitts has a few infantrymen as a rear guard. The Gold Coast troops can be seen in the background descending the long ridge. Note the crocodile in the stream in the right foreground. Neither player attempted to ford the stream but the game-master would have had the crocodiles pounce on them if they had!
We played four turns in about three hours. We did not push the game, and gossiped and joked during it, so we possibly could have played one or two more turns. However, it was clear that the Game-master had seriously underestimated the time required for the British players to reach the villages in the center of the gaming area, and that the German Players had conducted an effective defense. They used firepower and defendsible positions to delay Ed Sandsing’s advance on the British right flank and to stonewall the other British players – Russ Schneider and Phil Young – in the British center and left.
The Germans had six units of infantry and three sections (2 guns per section) of machine guns. The British had eight units of infantry and two sections of machine guns. Neither side had any artillery. If we play this scenario again either the German defenders must be reduced in strength or the British attackers must have more power.
The above is a photo of the British left flank and in the distance much of the game table. The assault on “wireless hill” is in progress. Photo by Jim Pitts.
Three comments from the senior German commander, Major Yakov von Pitzfeld, Baron Potzdorf (Jim Pitts).
1. I deliberately gave up the “long ridge” as soon as the bearers had left the smaller village with the supplies and slowly withdrew in front of the Anglanders to delay their advance.
2. “Machinegun Hill” was also under my command. The ineffective Anglander assault on it was repulsed due to the heroic efforts of the machinegun section commander, Oberfeldwebel Puttkammer. He will be awarded the Eisenkreuz, Erste Klasse for his gallant defense.
3. My son, Rittmeister Johannes Pitzfeld, defending Radio Hill staunchly, easily defeating the uninspired leadership Anglander leadership.
All joking aside, it was a good test of both the “new” rules (a new variant of “The Sword and the Flame”) and of the scenario. – Jim Pitts