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by Editor in Chief Bill

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MiniPigs21 Jun 2019 11:44 a.m. PST

Recently and for the first time in a very long time, I played a few TSATF games solo.

Not big games, 20-30 British and 60 Boxers. Seems like the British really creamed the boxers and the 6x4 table seemed small!

I played three games in maybe 4 hours. I am wondering, does the TSATF get old quickly? Where can someone get enough scenarios to hold interest?

I did get some of the Sergeants 3 scenarios but the demand for pack mules figures was very high.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Jun 2019 3:51 p.m. PST

I find it gets tedious – loads of dice and loads of cards which slows things down in multi player games. And I'm not a fan of the whole buckets of D20s….

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2019 6:52 p.m. PST

Needless to say, rating the quality of wargame rules is subjective, and every TSATF player will have their own answer for your question, MiniPigs. My answer is that I've been playing them since they were first published in 1979, and they still haven't gotten old for me and/or the various others I've played them with over the intervening 40 years (YIKES, I started young but now I'm pretty old).

Re: the Sergeants 3 scenarios, I own the set made for the NWF. One of the 5 scenarios -- called "THE PASS" -- requires pack mules. The supply train is listed as having 20 pack mules and/or camels led by 5 bhistis, which I agree is a very high number. But the mission itself is given as a simple percentage -- at least three-quarters of the supplies must get through the pass or the mission is a failure -- so pretty easy to scale down the numbers.

I seriously envy you for playing 3 games in 4 hours! Maybe you can incorporate some lessons learned and give the Boxers a better chance against the Imperialists next time.

raylev321 Jun 2019 9:25 p.m. PST

Also been playing off and on since 1979. Still hasn't got old. As for scenarios, you're only limited by your imagination.

Dentwist Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2019 11:06 p.m. PST

Its the scenarios that make the difference. If all the Empire has to do is stand in place and volley fire at the locals trying to get them yes, but id the Empire force need to advance and separate to complete objectives, its great fun after all these years.

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2019 6:20 a.m. PST

We've played with the smaller unit allowance – this enables more maneuver (and man. elements), less [immediate] impact from firepower, and can work much better for on a 6X4 table.

Don't feel restricted to the game's figure amounts – tweak the European or tribal units for more or less bodies as needed.

I've seen guys slavishly adhere to the 20 fig units, and not get reasonable tabletop results, then abandon the rules w/o considering tweaking for balance. For authorization to do so, yes, European platoons or Companies had specified tables of organization – tribal contingents hardly so…..feel free to increase these native units, or decrease their opponents, and enjoy seeing the results.

P.S. And if you're playing solo, nobody will likely complain.

MiniPigs22 Jun 2019 7:48 a.m. PST

I dunno, I had some motivation issues playing solo and complained plenty.

I eliminated the "wounded" category and counted every hit as a kill which speeded up both play and clean up.

I did use 10 man units for the British. I was shocked at both how terrain trays for the natives made my life easier moving them around and yet, how much bulkier it made them as a footprint on the table.

My imagination is vivid, sometimes to vivid, what is weak is my experience making scenarios, my desire to design them and the amount of time I can spare to do anything but actually game. I did buy this Berserker Games mini campign for the NWF. Thus we will see how that goes in terms of generating scenarios:

link

Out of curiosity, how many of you have 20 mules painted up in case of scenario emergency?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

If I don't have 20 I'm close, and can eke them out with a cart or so. I try to have one decent baggage train for each pre-modern scale/period, always remembering my Kipling:

"Oh, gayest of scrimmages man may see
Is a well-worked rush on the G.B.T.!"
(Government Bullock Train.)

"The Ballad of Boh do Thone" of course. But anyone answering TSATF questions knows that.

MiniPigs22 Jun 2019 8:36 a.m. PST

If you think about it, even Sister Sara only got two mules.

But where are the scenarios? You mean in 40 years of this set of rules, there are only 5 NWF scenarios from Sergeants 3?

Although, I have heard rumors that these books are replete with playable scenarios that can be retooled for other colonial times and places:

Tilson, Tim THE GORDON CAMPAIGN: Colonial Campaign Scenarios

Tilson, Tim THE SIKH WARS 1823-1849: Colonist Campaigns

Fastoso, Mark intro by Larry Brom

Has anyone played or investigated these scenario resources?:

Patton, Roxanne COLONIAL CONFLICTS: The Indian Mutiny

Patton, Roxanne COLONIAL CONFLICTS: The Indian Mutiny for Would Be King

Ragbones22 Jun 2019 12:57 p.m. PST

The scenario booklets by Skirmish Campaigns are terrific and most of the scenarios can be easily adapted to other Colonial conflicts. Sergeants 3 also sells a fantastic set of scenarios for TSATF.
I love to play TSATF run by a great host but I don't enjoy running games myself or solo. I've moved onto ‘The Men Who Would Be King' and ‘A Good Dusting' depending on mood and type of game I want. All of the above sources for scenarios work fine for just about any rule set.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2019 10:35 p.m. PST

TSATF is a terrible set-piece wargame, because it wasn't meant to be one. It's a simple, easy to learn, melodramatic framework for staging battles with a strong Hollywood atmosphere, and it benefits immensely from roleplaying-style flourishes. The background, the personal goals (or animosities!) of the characters, and the story unfolding on the table matter a lot more than dry statistics, maneuvers and numerical values. As Ragbones observes, the flair of the GM is critical. If you're playing the game straight, you're missing the point, and most of the fun.

I've never been a fan of the TSATF rules, but a couple of the TSATF games I've played at conventions have been among the most fun I've ever had, because the GMs breathed them full of life.

- Ix

SaveGordon23 Jun 2019 3:25 p.m. PST

Firstly, a disclaimer, I stock and sell TSATF. It's my favorite rule set. Gamers being a diverse breed, others have different preferences.

As for scenarios, I've used and enjoyed the scenario sources mentioned above, but also actually enjoy writing my own scenarios.

In idle moments I've been known to sketch out a scenario, based on how many players will be present, or an idea from a book or movie, or to give a newly raised unit a run. Some scenarios get tweaked into a 3rd or 4th version.

I also like to add an opportunity for players,perhaps some terrain which could be useful. Sometimes they make use of it, sometimes not.

The commercial scenario sources mentioned earlier should also be useful for other rule sets.

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2019 5:11 p.m. PST

However many or few "official" TSATF scenarios are available from Sergeants 3, as Yellow Admiral alludes to, a key engine for development and promotion of TSATF since it first appeared has always been the players and especially GMs who love the rules. Over the decades many, many TSATF scenarios have been generated for just about every colonial theater of war imaginable. I'm guessing you can find a few via Google.

There is also a TSATF Yahoo Group, which if you join has at least a few more scenarios posted.

There is also the old fanzine "The Heliograph," created by TSATF gamers soon after the rules were first published. Over a couple of decades it had more than 100 issues and most contain at least one scenario. I'm not sure of current availability status but Bob Burke -- who frequents TMP -- used to sell an index and individual back-issues at reasonable prices.

That being said, MiniPigs, thanks to your frustrated search I am going to try and start posting my own Second Afghan War and NWF scenarios on my blog in an easy-to-find fashion. Maybe create a new page just for "scenarios" so they don't disappear into the backlog of more recent posts. I don't know if you'll still be interested when and if I pull it off, but I hope you will be, and thanks for the inspiration!

Re: pack animals, I have about a dozen pack mules, a few less pack camels, and a bunch of baggage wallahs and water bhistis. They come in handy for a variety of scenarios.

MiniPigs23 Jun 2019 6:29 p.m. PST

@Mad Guru

Maybe I need to invest in some pack mules. I was looking at the afghan villagers, mules and Bazaar stalls sold by Bicorne which were once the Conoisseur line by Peter Gilder?

Anyway, love your site. I was also thinking of Some Darkest Africa figures; love the Foundry Range. Have you seen this terrain site?: https://www.gotogroundwargaming.co.uk

Do you have any preferred colonial figure maker?

Also whats the most figures you ever heaped onto what sized table for a TSATF game?

Robert Burke23 Jun 2019 6:31 p.m. PST

I still sell back issues of The Heliograph and Savage and Soldier. If anyone would like free copies of index for either publicaiton, you can contact me directly at Burker1 (at) aol (dot) com.

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2019 12:14 a.m. PST

Robert Burke, thanks for posting the Heliograph and "Savage and Soldier" info! S&S was the great Colonial wargaming magazine back in the day, and I still have my collection… somewhere. Appropriately enough for this thread, I first learned of its existence in the back of the first edition rulebook for The Sword And The Flame.

MiniPigs, thanks, I'm glad to hear you like my blog.

The terrain site looks cool. Their "Sand Dune Ruins" seem like they would work for Afghanistan or NWF, and the Fantasy Jungle stuff for Darkest Africa.

I have a lot of Afghan/Pathan civilians. The Bicorne range which you refer to is very nice, and of course many wargamers will get excited at mention of the name Peter Gilder -- I know I do! But most of my own Afghan/Pathan civilians are from the Eureka Miniatures "Civilians" Mid-East Bazaar & Indian Bazaar ranges…

link

link

The Perrys have a great set of Arab civilians in their Crusades range, which I also use…

link

And can't forget about Wargames Foundry Indian Mutiny civlians packs, which have a lot of useful figures, including the bhistis and baggage wallahs I mentioned in my previous comment…

link

I love the old Foundry NWF range. Of course it was designed by the Perrys, and I also love their newer Sudan and "Victoria's Little Wars" ranges, which now make it easy to raise historically accurate Second Afghan War armies without having to convert a single figure. Empress has another great range of late 19th Century British colonials, but they are more focused on the Zulu War. Still, some of their excellent miniatures can be used for Afghanistan even if you're a button-counting grognard type like me. There are some cool troop types in the Artizan Second Afghan War range that I have bought units of but sadly not managed to paint and base yet.

If forced to choose one current manufacturer I would probably pick Perry Miniatures, but I also like some of their competition and use figures from a variety of sources side-by-side in most of my games.

The biggest tables I've set for TSATF were 12'x6' MAIWAND and CHARASIAB historical refights.

My version of Maiwand pits approx 130 Anglo-Indians with 6 guns vs. approx 550 Afghans with 12 guns -- with the severe advantage going to the Afghans, as per history. Still, the British do have a chance to win. Out of 5 times I've run the game, they managed to win once and play to a draw once -- and historically speaking a tabletop "draw" really equals a British victory, albeit paid for with many casualties. GRAND TOTAL figures: approx 700 -- played by 4-10 players.

Charasiab is much more balanced, with approx 215 Anglo-Indians with 7 guns vs. approx 385 Afghans with 8 guns -- so the Brits face less than twice their number, but the Afghans have a big terrain advantage, occupying high ground that commands the British objectives. Sadly I've only run my fully play-tested final version of Charasiab 3 times, with two British wins and one Afghan win. I hope to play it again this November, on or about the 140th anniversary of the battle. GRAND TOTAL figures: approx 600 -- played by 4-7 players.

I agree with Yellow Admiral that TSATF benefits greatly from the "flair" of the GM. But I also think that's a universal truth with wargaming whenever a GM is involved. It can be said that those Maiwand & Charasiab games are bigger than any TSATF game was ever meant to be -- but Larry Brom himself ran and played in some notoriously huge games using his rules!

For Maiwand and Charasiab I adjusted some rules in an effort to speed up play, including using elements of the big battle variant, "800 Fighting Englishmen." But I think the GM "flair" Yellow Admiral mentioned is just as if not more important. IMHO that should include not allowing player decision-making to drag on, and trying hard to keep as many players as possible on both sides involved in game-play at all times.

I love the history of the period and I also love TSATF. The various times I played those 2 extra-large scenarios, I was lucky to get a bunch of enthusiastic players with great attitudes and enough patience for the games to go well and everyone involved to have fun, myself included.

MiniPigs24 Jun 2019 10:25 a.m. PST

I recently used some of the Old Glory Pathans. That Old Glory Range seems quite nice to me as well.

It seems a lot of people knock Old Glory figures but they make some very sturdy wargames figures where the bits don't get as bent or damaged with handling. Important for TSATF games.

550 Afghans! I am fairly mad about Afghans but even for me that's quite a few.

Yeah, I grew up slavering over Peter Gilder's stuff as well. He was a real pioneer.

TSATF is nostalgia for me, it's simple for me, just wanted a few scenarios. I will check out this Heliograph newsletter.

I might also buy a copy of the rules "A Good Dusting" and "Patrols in the Sudan" by Peter Pig

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2019 11:37 a.m. PST

MiniPigs, I've played in lots of big TSATF games, usually all weekend long at out HMGS-South Cons. As others have said, it really depends on the GM how well and how fast they go. I run large games all the time. I've participated in the Mad Guru's large games and they were amazing!!!

Cheers,
JB
sgtguinness.blossoot.com

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