The rules certainly do not require officer characteristics and these smack a bit of role-playing. There are more generalized charts to establish command qualities; rolling a 1 will give you a fairly poor leadership, a 6 very good; and this varies being regular or tribal.
In this case I gave the French Foreign Legion units very good commanders and reduced the firepower of the Arabs giving them 'tribal' status which gives them more units and better fighting characteristics.
With the forces set, the battle plans were made. The Arabs would again wait in ambush withholding fire...what worked once will work again. The legionaries with knowledge of the ambush would attack the southern flank of the wadi and roll up the line. The machine gun on the left would cover any attack over the open ground and the middle rifle unit would be a fire reserve. Thusly the Legion's right flank rifle unit, the 1st company, advanced in skirmish formation and started firing into the wadi full of the waiting desert men. The close range shooting did significant casualties prompting that unit to lose heart and vanish into the desert. The tribe beside it seemed unaffected by such self-preservation and were not pinned. Indeed that unit fired at the 2nd company who were at long range for the Arab's obsolete weapons causing no hits among the riflemen.
|The 1st company in firing position.|
While the firefight was going on at the wadi, to the north-west, the two units of Arabs emerged from behind the hill and advanced upon the FFL left held by the machine gun. Despite the 'free action' which allows the tribal forces to move without an leadership/activation test, they had a lot of flat desert to cross and the machine gun opened up at long range causing casualties and with pinning tests and subsequent failed rally tests, very quickly both Arab units were swept away by the effective (read: lower dice roll required for hits) of the well-manned legionnaire gun.
|Arab units in the wadi with casualties markers and pinned indicators. Masters of concealment aren't they!|
The second company having briefly helped the machine gun deal with the western attack, they now moved to the right and with the combined firepower of the formed up 1st company, quickly dissipated further Arab resolve.
The path to the fort now lay open.
Due to having only two units of rifles and only one machine gun, I was 'forced' to upgrade them significantly to obtain the prescribed 24 points of a field force. As I have no intention of increasing the legionary numbers and think the upgrades suit the perceived quality of the FFL in any event, I am very pleased the numbers which happened to be in the purchase do work for the game.
Of obtaining and painting the Arabs? I actually think the use of the sisal mats quite interesting as I can place the markers directly on them and think they play the part well. Could use dust storms with coloured cotton batting, but I have more of the sisal and will, I think, cut appropriately sized circular patches.