Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Victorian Steel -A review.

By Gum -Another review! Will Wonders never cease.!!
 Now as it happens I've had an interest in Colonila warfare almost since the beginning of my wargaming- indeed the first set of rules I EVER  wrote for myself were for the Indian Mutiny- that would be around 1972 when all the troops were Airfix conversions and nearly everything else was made from Cornflake packets.  Well thanks Goodness we have moved on .
 Now my library of books on various British Colonial Campaigns is pretty exstensive and contains a goodly number of comtemporay sources but I've always had a bit of a problem with Colonial games- somehow they never quite "feel" right.
Blue Moon Fuzzy- Wuzzies- Hadendowdah Tribesmen

So Gentle Reader when a copy of "Victorian Steel- Wargames Rules for the Colonial Era" arrived in the post I was somewhat intriguged.
 First the introductions, these rulesc are by Dave Tuck of the Grimsby club- and he knows his stuff. If you need proof see his articles in MW on the Boxer Risings in China.
These rules ostensibly cover the whole Victorian  Colonial era   but the accent seems to be on sizable encounters so I'm not sure if these rules would quite fit say the various Cape Frontier Wars in Southern Africa or the Maori Wars in New Zealand which were rather dominated by smaller individual actions
 However  they will fit admirably into the Sikh Wars  Indian Mutiny, The Sudan Campaigns  The Zulu War various NW Frontier Campaigns ,French Conquest of Algeria  The Boxer Risings  and even Spanish American War without too much bother.Oh and of course I have binloads of tasty troops in both 28 mm and 15mm for  many of these campaigns ...
The mechanics are simple- but not simplistic  even the mathematically challenged shouldn't have a problem here  Representation is basically 1 stand = 1 Company / Troop . for regulars or a similar sized body of around 100 men for the Tribal forces A single stand  can have as many or as few figures as you like and basing is not to the point of the game as long as both sides use a commonly agreed and understood system. The Rules say a 3 inch square base "if Starting from scratch" (and using 25/28mm) but make it clear that this is not mandatory.
 I'm tempted to use these for the Sudan in 15mm
 My only negative here is a personal and historical one and a quibble with the organisational nomenclature not with the rules .
 Apparently 4 or 8 or 12 "companies" make up a "Brigade "- So what happened to "Battalion " or indeed "Regiment" for the regular forces . Is accurate period language too difficult or complicated for today's Wargamers?
Old Glory 25/8mm British Command group. I'd use these to command a Battalion of  several companies.

 For much of the period a British Battalion would have 8 companies so 4 companies is technically a "wing"  and yes such a formation could and did fight  independently- though usually as part of a larger formation  for a distinct operation
 A cavalry regiment would usually have 2-3 squadrons each with  2-3 troops  and again Squadrons could be and were used singly. In a sense the rules have missed out the intermediate command level  but unless you knew this and actually care   then it won;t affect the "mere gaming" and its no big deal to build it into your scenarios  in the way you organise the troops for the game.
 So in conclusion a fine effort and definitely recommended for those chaps who fancy a bash at the Colonial ere

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