As development of the rules continues, the difficult process of balancing tactical mechanics and streamlining has to be worked out through actual play. There's just no other way to do it! I do like working within a scenario and context, so here we go again, back to the Swat Valley, as two patrols clash at a river ford.
Below, the central portion of the table and the forces: 20 Pathans, 10 Brits. Both forces are almost 100 points as I presently have them figured - balancing the weapons is tough.
Seven warriors with talwar and dahl [sword and shield], Leader Gobi with pistol. They need a designated Leader to get in there and close with the enemy.
Eleven jezaileers [a suprisingly accurate flint or matchlock musket], four upgraded with Rifles [breechloading]. Leader Chapati with pistol. Plan is to snipe at a distance with Rifles, keep the jezails close to the dahl men to shoot or charge in support. All the Afghans are seasoned warriors, with a Quality of 4+ [represents both morale and fighting skill like shooting]
British Patrol of ten, a half - Section of 20 men in this period.
Two details of four Soldiers, one led by Sergeant Scone to left, the other by an officer to right, Captain Biscuit. They are Elite [Quality 3+ so they pass Quality Tests on a 3+] and armed with Rifles [Breechloading Martini-Henry's - Figs actually have bolt-action Lee-Metfords it appears]. Their plan is to give the savages what-for and get back in time for tea and crumpets.
Turn 1. The British won the roll-off and started with Initiative [IN]. They chose to go "Ready" with their entire force off-table, and have the Pathans enter first, giving them the opportunity to react to the Pathan plan. With no choice, the Pathans enter, all running onto the board.
Turn 1 Pathan dahls and jezails run up the middle, looking for Cover to approach the British and close range for shooting. The unbased figs are spaced to be "Apart" giving them a '2' save, or a 5+ on D6. This represents being spread out and using cover, crouching, etc., and the Fast Move in indicated by the dust cloud to remind me they don't get Cover Saves.
Turn 1 Pathan Rifles head towards a little wood with a commanding view up the river to a wood and rocky hill, both obvious spots for the Brits to take up a position. They're a little distant, but their 36" Range is enough to cover most of the center.
Turn 1 British also run onto the board, heading for a rocky hill that will provide Cover and a commanding view [hills add 12" to Range due to better visibility]. It is a bit close to opposing cover on the other side, but the river slows the Pathans and the other detail will support.
Turn 1 British Sergeant takes his detail into some rocks [not a hill] with a view over the ford, a likely place for the Pathans to cross against the Officer's detail. They can also see the Pathan Rifles in the distance, giving them a sure Target next turn.
Turn 2. Pathans Seize Initiative! Beating them by 1 [3+2= 5 v. 6] the Pathans decide to go Ready with the Rifles - they will now take Actions after the British [I use the green sprockets to show "Ready"]. This gives them an effective "reaction" or counter-move. The rest of them move up into the rocks or prepare to dash across the open space to the ruins.
Turn 2 British. With no shooting threats or targets, the Officer's detail advances onto the rocky hill [just visible behind large lovely tree]; the sergeant's detail takes an Aim Action doubling their range and allowing them to shoot 72" instead of 36" - they can now target any visible Pathan next turn! This is indicated by the little crosshair marker.
Note how the Action allows what is effectively "overwatch" without a lot of complex rules...
Turn ends as Pathan Rifles also Aim, so they can hit any visible Imperialist next turn.
Turn 3 - Pathans Retain IN [3+2=5 v. 2]. Using their ability to act first, the Pathan Rifles take a Long-Range Shot at Sergeant's Detail, having Aimed last turn [which doubles Range as noted above]. Unfortunately, needing a 4+ they get no Hits.
Turn 3. With no shooting threats and IN in hand, the Pathan warriors dash behind the ruins out of Line of Sight of the Sergeant's men and in Cover. The jezaileers take up shooting positions on the rocky hill.
Turn 3, British support fire returns the favor against the Rifle-armed Pathans. How'd they get Martini-Henry's anyway?? They are Elite and need a 3+ except for the Sergeant who needs a 2+ since he's a Hero. Naturally, like all superior Figs I use, he misses anyway. He only misses on a '1', and the red/black dice below is his.
NOTE - to speed up shooting, I just drop the total dice understanding that I'm spreading the shots out 1-1 on targets, applying the dice as they fell to the targets top to bottom. So these 4 dice groups are the 4 Rifle Pathans, 1-2-3-4 going down from the top.
Against the top Pathan, they roll [above]an auto-miss with the '1' [thanks Sarge!], and an auto-Pin with the '6' [note marker for Pathan 1]. Next is a miss on Pathan 2. The 3rd and 4th Pathans are Hits, but they make their 3+ save [2 for Cover, 2 for Figs Apart].
Turn 3 end. Brits take positions in rocks on the other side of the river. All moved, no shots.
Turn 4 - IN roll ties! There is a Respite, and everyone loses Smoke [Reloaded] and the Pinned Pathan recovers from being Pinned [as there's no Leader within 6", he needed to pass a Quality Test which he does easily on a 5 needing a 4]. No one has IN now.
Turn 5, Brits seize back the IN! [6 v 2, no plus for either side due to the Respite]
Having the IN, both detachments shoot first targeting the warriors who will obviously charge CPT Biscuit's detachment, hoping to trim them down a bit. I could target some of the shooting Pathans, but hope to knock out a few of the dahl men and better the melee odds.
Above, the Sarge's detachment gets four Hits for five, not bad. The '1' is an auto-miss, the Sergeant's '2' is a Hit [barely] and the 4-4 & 5 are Hits, but the green 6 and 3 are good Saves [again, needing a 3+]. The other two miss Saves, but then easily pass their Quailty Test [QT] and there's no effect - some determined Pathans here!
Officer's Revolver is out of Range, so the four Rifles shoot, getting only two Hits. One Save misses but the Pathan rolls high and passes his QT - fights not out of these savages yet!
Turn 5 - Pathans. Jezaileers have a 24" Range but the hill gives them a bonus 12" so they're all easily in Range. They shoot 7, hit only twice [c'mon it's 50% guys!!]. Brits save one, and pass the QT with a '3' on the officer [who was fired at 3 times!].
CPT Biscuit calmly whisks some dust from his lapel...
Turn 5 Pathan dahls advance through the ruins, using cover and spread out.
Turn 6 British keep IN and start shooting. SGT Scone's detail gets four Hits, Pathans miss three saves. The resulting QT has two of them pinned [they'd be Wounded on a '1'].
Turn 6 British fire from the rocky hill.
Three Hits, one failed save, Pathan passes Quality Test.
Turn 6 Pathan Rifles have two Pins from which to recover, and they do on a 5 and 4. The other two fire to no effect, missing both times [still getting used to the rifles? damp powder?]
CPT Biscuit makes mental note to bring more repellent for "these pesky mosquitoes..."
Turn 6 Pathan dahls begin crossing river, staying spread out to reduce casualties. The Jezaileers all Reload [losing the smoke marker] to support the attack next turn.
Turn 7, British keep IN and fire everyone on the advancing dahl warriors. Results are an auto-Pin with the 6 and two Saves from Scone's men...
...and three auto-pins from Biscuit's men. I'm not liking that a "good roll" like a 6 doesn't have more serious ramifications than an auto-pin result.
Turn 7 Pathan jezaileers fire, getting two Pins and a failed Save followed by a passed QT. Not bad since Pinned Figs don't fight as well in melee and can't shoot.
Turn 7 Pathan Dahls close in, get into three melees.
The top results in a Pathan win but a successful Cover Save. The middle against CPT Biscuit results in a loss, a failed Cover Save [needs a 5+, note that you don't get the "Apart" Save in melee, just from shooting] and the CPT dies losing all three wounds since he is Pinned. Well, the holes in his jacket and blood will certainly send his batman into a tizzy...
The bottom Soldier loses but makes his Cover Save, avoiding Biscuit's fate.
Hmmm, well, recent changes in shooting do result in more Pins, but I'm not sure if there's enough actual effect from it. Will have to keep at it and see how melee goes to judge where the mechanics are at this point. I like the low wounds from shooting, but it seems a bit easy to recover from. Of course, the Pathans are rolling very well on the QTs.
Tune in for more of this battle soon!