Muskets And Assegai

Maxxon

Introduction

Hassan leads from the front. Muskets and Assegai is our variant of Muskets and Tomahawks. The reason for this is twofold. First of all we had a bit of craving to have some colonial Africa gaming but we had no real preference for rules. Second, I had heard good things about the Muskets and Tomahawks rules and I wanted to try them out but I didn't have any French and Indian War figures.

Thus I adapted the rules for colonial Africa gaming.

New Rules

There isn't really a whole added to the rules. All I really did was give some troops breechloaders. These were defined basically as muskets that did not need to be reloaded and cost 2 extra points. For spotting purposes, the smoke cloud would remain until the unit's next activation, but it would be automatically removed. Initially I feared they would prove too powerful, but the price really limits them. In the end weight of fire from cheaper troops prevailed every time.

Otherwise all the troop types and stats are directly from the rulebook. I simply renamed them.

Since all the forces in the scenarios are pretty small, I allowed the overall commander to act as an officer for the troops with auxiliaries trait because it was difficult to fit another officer in the rosters.

About Historical Accuracy

Hassan's forces stay in the woods. You could argue that these rules make the natives too powerful and realistically speaking that is probably true. However, I think this is a failing with most colonial era games -- they require inordinate amounts of native troops who are substantially inferior to the redcoats in every imaginable way and tend to get mowed down in troves. Try to build player motivation with that...

I did not want a realistic portrayal of a major colonial military expedition. I wanted a fun adventure game with explorers where most of even the "colonial" troops were actually local recruits. Stanley did not travel with a battalion of redcoats. This gives some plausibility to the relative parity between troop types.

Rules Tweaks

During the course of play, we tried different optional rules. They are not specifically tied to the African setting, I would probably come to the same conclusions even in the original setting.

Figure Activation

Defensive line formed. The game is built around individual figures being able to do different things. However, with army sizes of 50 figures or more we found this to be extremely tedious and house ruled that the entire unit counts as doing the same thing even if some of them as actually unable to perform the action. Thus if someone shoots, the entire unit counts as having shot and needs to reload etc.

In addition we started using the excellent zombie bases from Warbases. I do not want to measure movement for 50 figures individually! This did require some fudging with figure facing, formations and close combat, but overall I think it was an improvement.

The Card Deck

We quickly found that the standard rules for the card deck easily lead to card counting when the deck is almost exhausted. Thus we adopted the random turn end rule and really liked it. Possibly because we really didn't have regular troops, which can suffer badly with the random turn length.

Overwatch

We did try the "overwatch" rule called Vigilance, but found that it tends to bog down gameplay. With the card activation you can take a gamble crossing open spaces. With vigilance in play you know for a fact that you'll be eating musket balls if you move so you tend to stay put.

We quickly stopped using this rule.

General Rules Commentary

Sir Sinclair's largely useless askari. Rather curiously, because they were pretty much identical to the much more successful zanzibari units statswise. It is immediately evident that this game is built for light troops skirmishing. Moving all the other troop types is painfully slow, especially if any terrain is involved. In the first scenario I tried to task the explorers with moving the bearers (civilians) across the board in a variation of the standard defend mission, but they move so painfully slow it was quickly obvious that they'd never make it across the table before the mission ended -- regardless of enemy action.

I think the game uses too many negative modifiers for a D6 system. When shooting you are easily faced with impossible shots. This tends to favor cheap troops since you can have more dice looking for those elusive sixes that actually have any chance of doing something.

I'm not sure if it's the translation or what, but the spotting rules are confusing and illogical. At the very least more examples would have been nice. An important distinction between this game and many others is that you can see through area terrain -- which also increases the rifles' power substantially. A squad of riflemen will easily wipe out an artillery crew before they can really have any effect on the game.

The Files

Here are the roster sheets for the games we played.

P.S. The Albino Hippo was simply a native chief with the savage trait and warrior talent. The queen was the same with 3 "wounds".


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