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"The Men Who Would Be Kings - Indian Mutiny" Topic

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715 hits since 18 Apr 2017
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basileus6618 Apr 2017 5:00 a.m. PST

Bought it the other day and I thought that it might help me to move forward with my Indian Mutiny project -I have been procrastinating with it for ages!-; at least, the games don't require hundreds of figures, which given my slow pace at painting is a plus, indeed.

There is not a Field Force list specific for the Mutiny, though. I have been thinking about how the most common units could be represented, but as a novice with the rules I am not sure if they would accurately represent their historical counterparts.

Here is my take:

HEIC European regiments (1st Madras and such): Regular; modern rifles (some units could be poorly armed, in the first part of the Mutiny, as many units hadn't received their Enfields yet.

European volunteers: Irregular. Fierce, if infantry; Lancers, if cavalry. Poorly armed. I think that European Volunteers infantry should be Fierce to represent the strong feeling against the Mutineers of most of those volunteers. Many of them had lost friends or family members at the hands of the Mutineers, and were hot on revenge. Lancers for the cavalry would act similarly, even if they didn't carry lances! I was thinking about to replace the special rule for Aggressiveness, but it would play the same role, so Lancers it is. I think that Poorly Armed would represent well the variety of weapons they had, from modern rifles, hunting pieces to fowling guns and old muskets.

HEIC Native Loyalists: this category would represent native units that remained loyal or that were recruited between Sikhs, Gurkas or Pastuns at the start of the Mutiny. It would cover units like Hodson's Horse, the Corps of Guides, or Ferozepore Sikhs. I believe they should be considered as Irregulars, with units like the Guides being treated as both Veterans and Lancers (to represent their aggression in combat, regardless they carried lances or not). Should be Poorly Armed.

Regular british infantry regiments: Regular. Modern rifles: Early Mutiny units might be downgraded to Poorly Armed, to represent that they hadn't received their full complement of Enfields. To represent the effects of the heat on European soldiers that hadn't acclimatized yet, I believe they could be downgraded in some scenarios to Unenthusiastic. I am not sure that would represent it accurately, though. Highlanders and other top-notch regiments could be treated either as Elites or Fierce, or both! Don't know which, if any, was famous for their markmanship, but in the spirit of the ruleset it wouldn't be ungentlemanly to have one unit of marksmen in an British field force.

Regular british horse: Regular. Only one per 24 pts field force. Can't be fielded if HEIC Horse or Volunteer Horse is fielded. Can have Lances.

Artillery (HEIC, Naval, British): Regular. Only one per 24 pts field force. Well drilled.

Note: Artillery is, in my opinion, too abstract in TMWBK. I have not gamed the game yet, so I will reserve my judgment until I have a few games under my belt. Would like to tweak a bit with the Crew Weapons rules to represent the role of guns in the battlefield… even in skirmishes!

Mutineer infantry: Irregular, with the odd unit, particularly when representing the early period of the Mutiny, being treated as Regular, to represent those that still preserved an operative chain of command of shorts and were relatively well disciplined. Poorly armed. To represent units that haven't been paid for days they could be downgraded to Unenthusiastic.

Mutineer cavalry: Irregular. I don't think that any of them should be treated as regular, given their battle record, but maybe as exception one could be fielded as such. To distinguish them from the Indian Princes horse, may be they can be upgraded to Veterans, to represent that they are better drilled and more willing to accept orders.

Mutineer artillery: Poorly drilled. Only one per 24 pts field force. Can't be fielded together with Princes Armies – artillery. Can be upgraded to Well Drilled, particularly in scenarios set at the beginning of the Mutiny.

Princes armies – Infantry (musketeers): Irregular. Either Poorly Armed (Antiquated muskets) or Poor Shots… or both if you really feel the guys were just noise-makers! Half of them might be considered as Unenthusiastic.

Princes armies – Horse: Irregular. Unenthusiastic. Lancers (while they weren't, mostly, very well disciplined, they were inclined to agression, as it was part and parcel of their martial culture).

Princes armies – Badmashes: Tribal. This represents the mix of bazaars thugs, deserters and unemployed soldiers that joined the rebellion. They ranged from mere rabble motivated only by hate against the ferengi and hope of plunder, that only needed a well aimed volley to take to their heels, to real fanatics bound to kill every single European they could lay their hands upon. Therefore they should be considered either Unenthusiastic or Fierce. I am not sure they should be allowed to use the rule Gone to Ground, though.

Princes armies – Artillery: Poorly drilled. Only one per 24 pts field force. Can't be fielded if Mutineer artillery is fielded.

Well, this is my take on the Mutiny! I am open to suggestions!

Thanks in advance!

Ragbones Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 6:25 a.m. PST

A lot of good thoughts here. I found artillery to be a little less effective than I thought it should be so I tweaked the rules to give it a bit more punch. Like TSATF, TMWWBK is a rule set that is easily adapted to tastes and different tabletop circumstances.

Oh Bugger18 Apr 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

Mutineer Sepoy artillery was very good indeed according to contemporary accounts. Some Sepoy units fought to the last man. At the scale of TMWWBK you could pretty much have any sort of unit rating on either side.

Personal logo Smokey Roan Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

Show us your terrain!

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 1:15 p.m. PST

From experience I have found that even poorly drilled artillery can be deadly, especially if they are placed behind cover, as often was the case with mutineer artillery. So I would make all native artillery poorly drilled. Generally, the Queen's and Company artillery is going to have to maneuver into position before they can engage the mutineer guns so I think they will need that one pip advantage. Otherwise I agree with your ratings. I have not tried the Mutiny yet, but I have used the rules for the French Intervention in Mexico with similar quality vs. quantity statistics and they worked quite well.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 1:23 p.m. PST

The 60th Rifles should certainly be rated as marksmen! Concerning the Gurkhas, the main distinction between regular and irregular infantry appears to be their ability or inability to form close order and volley fire. While I agree that most of the Sikh and Punjabi were, indeed, irregulars, I think the Gurkhas deserve to be classified in every way as regulars and probably elite as well.

basileus6618 Apr 2017 1:46 p.m. PST

Hi Nick

That's a good observation about the 60th Rifles. I had forgot they were in India!

As for the Gurkhas I am of two minds. They were really brave and great soldiers, indeed. However at the time of the Mutiny, as far as I know, they weren't sufficiently well trained as regiments to be considered as Regulars, and therefore use Volley Fire or Close Order. On the other hand, giving the Gurkhas traits like Sharpshooters, Fieldcraft or Veterans, or a combination of them, I believe would represent better how they fought and their skills.

I will re-check my books, though, in case I find more info on the Ghurkas.

WillieB Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 2:15 p.m. PST

The Gurkha regiments were armed with a short smooth bore fusil in the Indian Mutiny so making them sharpshooters would be a bit much. However, giving them a plus in HtH fighting is IMHO fully justified. I don't know the the TMWWK rules but Fierce sounds right. In Sharp Practice for example they get the Big Choppers bonus.

Mutineer artillery was obviously well served and frequently better handled than the Britsh. At least that is what several British accounts say.

Some of the British cavalry units carried breech-loading carbines. (Terry and Sharps)Especially the ones equipped with the latter were very effective dismounted.

Most, if not all of the Bengal mutineer cavalry, only had one muzzle-loading carbine for every four men.

basileus6618 Apr 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

Thanks Willie! Didn't know about the type of fusil Gurkhas carried. I assumed they did use the same weapon as the rest of the HEIC native regiments.

In TMWWBK, Fierce is a trait reserved for Regulars and Tribal, but honestly I think Gurkhas should be granted such a trait, even if retaining their Irregular character.

Good point about the British horse. It could be a good idea to give the player the option to convert them into Mounted Infantry with the possibility of choosing Marksmen trait, to represent their higher rate of fire.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 3:06 p.m. PST

IIRC, there were two Gurkha regiments who served at Delhi, the Sirmoor Battalion and the Kumaon Battalion. The Kumaon Battalion, who later became the 3rd Gorkha Rifles were employed guarding the border with Nepal before their arrival in Delhi and, therefore, would be classified as irregulars for our purposes. But the Sirmoor Battalion, later the 2nd King Edward VII's own Gurkha Rifles, date back to before the First Sikh War during which they temporarily lost their regimental colour at Aliwal, before regaining it with a fierce counter attack. Since all infantry were trained for close order drill at that time, I see no reason why they would have lost the ability to form close order and use volley fire during the Mutiny. Anyhow, that's my story and I'm sticking to it and calling my Gurkhas (Sirmoor, anyway) regulars.

Oh Bugger18 Apr 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

As Willie B notes above the British often noted how superior the Sepoy artillery was compared to their own. Its a recurring theme in the sources.

Also informed observers thought the British advantage in armament was a key factor.

At the scale of TMWWBK the Sepoy higher command problems don't kick in either.

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

I'm with Nick re: classification for Gurkhas.

By the time of the Mutiny, Gurkha regts had been serving in HEIC armies for more than 40 years. Sharpshooters, no, but regulars? Absolutely.

basileus6619 Apr 2017 4:33 a.m. PST

So, the consensus is that Gurkhas should be considered Regulars, correct? And Fierce (+1), for 7 pts per unit. That is a good chunk of any 24 pts British force! Beauty of TMWWBK is that it is flexible enough to tweak the categories according the scenario, though. So you can play with Regular Gurkhas in an scenario set in the Siege of Delhi (Sirmoor Battalion) or Irregular if you wish to represent an action involving recently recruited warriors. It is up to you.

Same for Mutineer artillery. You can categorized it as Poor Drilled by default, and then upgrade them to Well Drilled if you feel it right for your scenario/campaign. Actually, any army list in TMWWBK should be considered a guide rather than a template.

Agreed that British Regulars and HEIC Europeans should have Modern Rifles by defeault, giving the option to downgrade any or all to Obsolete Rifles to represent the units that weren't armed with Enfields at the start of the Mutiny.

By the way, has anyone a suggestion at how should British civilians being considered? I was thinking to characterized them like Tribal and Small Unit (i.e only 8 strong, instead the usual 16 for Tribal units), but with some rule that would make them especially stubborn; after all they knew that they couldn't expect mercy at the hands of the Rebels. Not after Cawnpore or Delhi.

Some special rules for the Mutiny:

Remember Cawnpore!: British units, HEIC Europeans and Civilians ignore one Pinned marker when taking a Rally test. Therefore a unit with two Pinned markers will substract just 1 pip from its die roll when checking to Rally, instead two as usual.

Heatstroke: Non-acclimatized units, i.e. most British regiments, that take an At the Double action must take a Pinning test at the end of the action, regardless if it has engaged in melee or not.

Cold Steel: Apparently, Indian troops experienced a strong fear at determined charges. Therefore, any time a British infantry unit makes contact with the enemy for first time in the game, the oppossing unit only hit with 6+, regardless its usual hit number.

Oh Bugger19 Apr 2017 6:07 a.m. PST

Drunk: Would be a good addition when British troops take any building. On a throw of 6 on a D6 the unit is drunk and cannot move for two moves. It happened often enough for some British Commanders to think it was a deliberate Indian tactic to leave large stores of alcohol around.

Chouan20 Apr 2017 7:10 a.m. PST

The difference between irregulars and regulars in the HEIC armies was simply that regulars had mostly British officers and irregulars had mostly Indian, Native in the language of the time, officers. There was no difference in their fighting methods, although regulars might not have been quite as good at skirmishing. Possibly.

GreenLeader20 Apr 2017 7:18 a.m. PST

Oh B ugger

I wish it only took me two turns to sober up.

basileus6620 Apr 2017 9:18 a.m. PST


Yes, I know, but the idea is to represent the different tactics with the tools provided by the ruleset itself. Volley Fire and Close Order are better associated to a particular way of fighting. Mind that in TMWWBK US Cavalry of the Plains Wars, for instance, is considered Irregular Mounted Infantry, to represent that they didn't fight in close formations nor used, normally, volley fire.

Chouan20 Apr 2017 1:18 p.m. PST

Then, according to the definitions given above, Mutineers (Bengal Native Infantry regiments), Sikhs, Ghurkas, Loyal Native Infantry etc should all be classed as Regulars, as they all fought in regular order, effectively as regulars.
This illustration shows mutineer infantry on the right in dressed lines, with light company infantrymen skirmishing in the fore ground.

basileus6620 Apr 2017 7:55 p.m. PST

Yes, the idea is to allow the Mutineers to fight as Regulars, to represent early actions like the one in the illustration you have posted -say to September 1857- or Irregulars, to represent units that had lost cohesion through casualties or desertion. It would be up to the players to field one type or the other, according with the scenario or their needs.

sjwalker38 Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 11:46 a.m. PST

I think that's absolutely the right approach B66. You have to make the British and Loyal Native units far superior to their mutinous opponents, with various period-specific traits (such as 'Remember Cawnpore' and 'Cold Steel' above – Sharp Practice, Black Powder and other rules provide useful ideas for new characteristics) to represent their achievements in the face of overwhelming enemy numbers even when storming heavily defended positions.

(My alternative take on 'Cold Steel' might be to force any Mutineer unit contacted/Attacked to immediately test for Pinning before the combat dice are rolled)

BTW, the formed troops at Arrah in the picture above are, IIRC, the forces of Runjit Singh, a local ruler, rather than mutinous regular sepoys – so should be rated as poor quality irregulars, unable to form close order and volley fire.

The 'Irregular Infantry' type is intended to represent poorer quality, less well trained units (and specifically mentions mutinous sepoys as an example), leaving the Regular Infantry type the preserve of only the best European Regulars serving in a colonial theatre, or the best of the locally raised units.

MWWBK makes no real distinction between troops that usually fought in linear or skirmish formations (or switched readily between the two), other than the Close Order/Volley Fire actions available only to Regular Infantry.

sjwalker38 Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

Oh, and if you want to know who was armed with what, there's a great thread in the Indian Mutiny section of the Victorian Wars forum – some of the results will surprise you!


Henry Martini21 Apr 2017 3:03 p.m. PST

Mutineers? Easy: regular in 1857, then irregular later when discipline had broken down. You can even distinguish them visually by using figures in uniform tunics for the former, and figures in entirely native costume for the latter. All the companies that produce IM figures make both variants.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 3:08 p.m. PST

According to The History of the Royal and Indian Artillery in the Mutiny of 1857, three regiments of BNI mutinied at Dinapore (doesn't give their regimental numbers) and then marched on Arrah. On the way there they were joined by Kunwar Singh and his levies. So it was a combination of regular and irregulars who besieged Arrah. The first attempted relief of Arrah is unique in that it is one of the few battles in the Mutiny where things went badly wrong for the British when 450 men of the 10th Foot and a detachment of Sikhs, were ambushed during a night march, leaving only 150 survivors. I like to study the British defeats as they show how the British could not afford to make even small mistakes when dealing with the numerical superiority of the mutineers.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP21 Apr 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

From the excellent historical notes on the Iron Duke Miniatures site: "A BNI regiment was uniformed in red and drilled in close order tactics in imitation of its British Army equivalent – the infantry regiment of the line." TMWWBK gives you plenty of ways to lower their effectiveness (and point cost) while remaining regular. Poor Shots, Unenthusiastic and Poorly Armed all drop their cost in points.

sjwalker38 Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2017 2:03 a.m. PST

That's the idea, Nick: a unit of mutinous sepoys as unenthusiastic Regulars would be 5 points at the start of the Mutiny and then degenerate to unenthusiastic poor shot Irregulars at 2 points as discipline, cohesion and supplies breaks down.

On the other hand, well led, Enfield-armed, revenge-seeking British or Bengal European Regulars are going to be 8-10 points apiece, so a 'balanced' force is going to see odds of up to 5:1 (bearing in mind that points are only ever a rough guide to parity between forces, the scenario is critical).

Give the British some additional traits or beneficial period-specific rules like those suggested above and it should be possible to recapture the flavour of the period rather well, without making fundamental changes to the game mechanics.

Chouan24 Apr 2017 1:09 a.m. PST

Just as long as the contemporary description of "Irregular" does not lead one to imagine that they troops so described are what we would more commonly describe as irregular. In HEIC terms the distinction was only in terms of the number of British officers. The Sikh "Irregulars" of the Frontier Force, for example, were drilled, formed and uniformed and fought in linear formations, although could skirmish.

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