Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Engagement at Bombuko Mission House

The Engagement at Bombuko Mission House Feb 2, 1917

JimF offered to host at the Trumpeter’s club’s monthly GameNight to have his nicely painted Belgian Force Publique vs my French Foreign Legion….

Dear Mere,

It is your son, the legionnaire ,  writing again about my latest action. Of the preamble, mine is not to reason why, but to do or die; and so we of the Legion are to advance a great distance to a place to gather some gold but it is that our elite but small force must engage a larger for of Force Publique in dense terrain somewhere in Africa.
somewhere in Africa....

As we must advance, we brought our new artillery.  The colonel did some “horse trading” and sold the original 75 gun gained with the crew and now is using other model.  The colonel says “it looks better the part”.  Whatever.  It was useful in causing many casualties on the nearest blue clad Belgian askari unit.  But throughout the battle it would be slow to move into position.
the new artillery piece (a Reveresco British Howitzer)

To the right, the second company came under long range rifle plus machine gun fire and rapidly were decimated and soon were hor-de-combat. For our part, we also had too many bullets coming our way and loses building.  Only our superior discipline had us still in the fight.

Editor’s Note:  the plus 2 really helps on the dice rolls!
Jim's rather nice FP (Foundry Figures)

But nevertheless we needed to move into a thicket to offer some protection. All thought of advance quickly forgotten.  Captain Premiermont was extorting us with “Think of France! Think of France! when a bullet struck him down.
Pressure from the right

from early in the battle, Captain Premiermort in on the right.  

Editor’s Note: Yes, once again I rolled double ones for Leader Killed.  But heck with six different rolls of a total of only three on two dice rolled at various times during the game as an indication it was enviable. 

The Artillery having ever so slowly moving at only 4 inches a turn, finally engaged far targets and doing some good but the askari to our right were now putting us under heavy fire.  Again, our discipline kept us together, however, with only three of us remaining we were pinned and finally forced to retreat into the open.  The end was nigh.  As I write this last passage I hope tha…….
The end of the Legion.


Jim’s use of rubber terrain pieces and plastic aquarium plants was fairly effective.  The heavy vegetation did not help either side as the dominance of rifles and modern firepower.  The The Men Who Would Be Kings rules are as we came to understand are not designed for two equally modern armed to have a good game.  Well, OK, maybe good for August 1914 in northern France at the start of WW1 when such conditions helped establish the building of trenches.  In that case, as our game demonstrated in the choices during the game made by Jim and myself, advancing is impossible thus doomed and defensive cover required to survive. Long range artillery is needed and more troops required for any attack.  So in many ways this game was very much like the early battles of WW1 when 200,000 casualties occurred in the first month; but a “classical colonial” game is was not.


  1. Casualties are indeed heavy in TMWWBK. Especially when combined with the activation system that allows additional units on the same side to move and fire after a previous unit failed to activate.

    Two equal "modern" sides will not last long indeed. An attacker must have some advantage, say a MG, a turn or two of artillery bombardment, additional units or a flanking column to have any chance to make headway.

    A nice looking game though. I'm still trying to figure out how to use TMWWBK for gaming in Tanganyika during WWI.

    1. The attacker, as you suggest, MUST have more points to make any attack viable. Perhaps up to 2x or more. Machine guns are a great defensive tool but move much too slow to keep up to any advance which is why I took the artillery and while as slow, it has at least a longer reach. I will also say that our experience suggests quantity will over come quality. My elite, sharpshooting legionnaires still got killed quickly from the poorer quality stuff as they had twice the numbers shooting (as the result of the rules point system)

      I have studied the Battle of Tanga a bit and it would be interesting to game. Note that the wild African bees attacked both the Indian/British troops as well as some of the German forces so could be an interesting addition. Later battles might including a pissed-off rhino or such!

      While I was frustrated with this scenario, the rules had everyone ducking their heads and unable to advance against such withering fire. Kinda realistic using such a simple rules system.

  2. I've yet to pick up thsee rules or even try them out. Thanks for your insight into some of its nuances.

    1. Dean, I added a bit more to the analysis responding to Bill's comment.

  3. I played unaltered TMWWBK for the first time on Saturday. (I played Kevin's America Rampant variant in September.) Writing up the blog post this week. It was more of a meeting engagement and we didn't really have a problem with a smaller force of mostly regulars attacking a larger force of all irregulars. I had one unit with nearly 50% losses, the other was nearly untouched. I did notice that all the quality in the world will help you shoot, pass activation, pass pin tests, rally, etc. It will not keep you from getting shot to bits.