Sunday, August 5, 2012

Gaslight on the NNW Frontier

I had purchased a copy of the GASLIGHT Compendium when it came out and there it sat. Recently, while looking for some light wargaming reading in odd spare moments I pulled the book out and skimmed through it. And this weekend I decided to try a solo game with them. I used the "Battles" version for activation, unit firing and unit combat and morale, and the standard rules for main characters. I kept the forces small, both in numbers of units/characters and number of figures per unit, but I think I can increase that and still have a good game on a small table. I played this little encounter on my 40 inch square table.

Just a simple encounter between two units of European regulars, the Ballyfoole Musketeers and the Gunderland Highlanders. Both rated 8 for Shoot (used when firing) and Scuffle (used for combat). I decided their muskets had a range 18 inches (for long range and 12 for short) and required reloading. The arms used by the natives were rated the same. The overall commander of the force was Captain Wilfrid Hyde-Psmith on Grand Thidwick (Leader; scuffle 13, shoot 9, save 11). The Gunderland Highlanders had Sgt. MacDour (Veteran, scuffle 8, shoot 5, save 9) and 6 regular troops (Extras in Gaslight terminology, scuffle and shoot 8, no save). The Ballyfoole Musketeers had Sgt O'Flynn (Veteran, scuffle 7, shoot 11, save 8) and Cpl. McGillicuddy (Veteran, scuffle 8, shoot 10, save 11) and 5 regular troops (Extras, scuffle and shoot 8). All of the values for the main characters were rolled on tables in the rules.

The natives were lead by Mohammed Khan (Leader, scuffle 10, shoot 10, save 9), who took personal command of one group of 5 natives (Extras, scuffle 10, shoot 7). Jhames Khan (Veteran, scuffle 7, shoot 12, save 7) and Kubla Kai (Veteran, scuffle 10, shoot 6, save 9) each commanded another 5 natives.

On the first turn everyone moved closer to the enemy. The Pathans coming down out of the hills and the Europeans moving forward in open ground. (The dice are used for determining who gets to act when using the Battles version of the rules. It's a combination of dice and cards.)

Turn 2, the Europeans continue to move forward. Suddenly shots ring out from the band of Pathans on the right. These are the ones commanded by Mohammed Khan, the overall leader. They are at long range and the Ballyfoole Musketeers hold their ground. No one is hit. The other 2 bands of natives move forward. (Not having anything else handy I used some little round wood disks from some game to mark which units would need to reload before they could fire again.)

Turn 3, return fire on the same band of Pathans who had fired at them, striking 2 dead with their volley, while Cpl. McGillicuddy hits another one. The Gunderland Highlanders fire a volley at the middle band of Pathans and kill the leader of that group, Kubla Kai. Sgt. MacDour shoots one of the troop.
The band of Pathans on the right, bolstered by the presence of Mohammed Khan pass their morale test from casualties received and reload. The band of Pathans coming up from the left fire at the Gunderland Highlanders, killing one man. The leader of that band, Jhames Khan fires at and kills Sgt. MacDour (fired at the unit, random roll determined it was the Sgt. who was hit. The Sgt. didn't make his save roll.) And the middle band of Pathans recovered from the death of their leader, fired at the Highlanders, but no one was hit. (apologies for the poor picture quality in these next couple of shots especially.)

Turn 4, the band of Pathans on the right, lead by Mohammed Khan move forward so as to be within charge range. Everyone else reloads.

Turn 5, the Highlanders fire at the center band of Pathans, killing 2. A flurry of shots from the Ballyfoole Musketeers, Cpl. and Sgt., kills another Pathan. The center band of Pathans return fire on the Highlanders, killing one man. The left hand band of Pathans move forward. And the right hand band passes their morale check for casualties, but then fails to charge.

Turn 6, the right hand band of Pathans fails to charge again. The Highlanders, Ballyfoole Musketeers, and center band of Pathans all reload. The left hand band of Pathans fires at the Highlanders, killing 2 more.

Turn 7, the Highlanders fire at the laft hand band of Pathans, killing another man. The Ballyfoole Musketeers fire at the right hand band of Pathans, killing the last "extra" and hitting Mohammed Khan, who passes his save. Cpl. McGillicuddy also fire at Mohammed Khan, scoring a hit, but Mohammed  Khan again makes his save. But all of these close hits/misses give Mohammed Khan pause. (he fails his morale roll and freezes, no actions this turn - this was an error, an unattached main character doesn't have to roll for morale)
The center band of Pathans fires at the Highlanders, but score no hits. The left hand band of Pathans charges the  Highlanders, killing two, while the Highlanders kill one of the Pathans. Captain Hyde-Psmith fires his pistol at the Pathans as they charge in, killing one more.

Turn 8, with the Highlanders destroyed Captain Hyde-Psmith joins the Ballyfoole Musketeers. The Ballyfoole Musketeers reload. The left hand and right hand bands of Pathans fire at the Ballyfoole Musketeers, but score no hits. The two extras in the left hand band of Pathans fail their morale and the result is to run off the table.

At this point I figured there were too few Pathans left to do much, but I played one additional turn to see what might've happened. In the event the Ballyfoole Musketeers and Cpl. McGillicuddy fire off a volley and kill Mohammed Khan. The Captain and Sgt. O'Flynn fire at the center band of Pathans, but don't score any hits.

A fun little game. I think it took around 3 hours over 2 days, but that includes setup, taking notes and pictures, thumbing through the rule book, etc. The game took up little space, especially once everyone closed in. I could easily add more figures without overcrowding the tabletop or overtaxing my mind with numerous units and characters to keep track of. With more figures and/or units playing time would likely increase, but with practice that should drop down again, too. I like the simpler methods for units/groups of figures/extras from the Battle rules and the fact that I can use the standard rules (or even the role-play rules) for main characters. There were some things I couldn't find in the rules, such as stats for standard weapons, rules for determining if a main character receives casualties, especially when part of a unit that has been hit, rules or guidelines for anyone pulling back from combat, and probably other stuff. In those cases I made a judgement call or rolled the dice. With the combination of dice and cards used for activation I could through in a wildcard or two to add random events. (the way it works is you roll a die for each unit and each independent character, place the die next to them to mark them, then pull from a small deck of cards numbered one to six. I used regular playing cards for this, so it would be easy enough to add in a joker for random events. When the card matches the die that unit can act. In the case where more than one unit/character has the same number on the die you roll to see who goes first when the card comes up.)

This has potential for further games.


Bluebear Jeff said...


One of the things that I've discovered over the years is that once I've played a game with a rule set it is now time to RE-READ it and discover all of the things that I overlooked or did incorrectly.

So I urge you to re-read the rules now.

-- Jeff

Danjou's Hand said...


For the smaller units, did you roll a d20 and divide, use a die more in-line with the unit size, or some other mechanism?



Fitz-Badger said...

Hi John,
I went by the instructions in the Compendium (page 82) which says "If the unit did not start with 10 figures, such as a weapon crew, divided the die roll by twenty divided by the original size of the unit. For a five-man crew, for instance, divide the die roll by four." I rounded off fractions (up or down), but I don't think you have to be too fussy about it. Seems to me if you do it the same way for all units it evens out.