The Sword and the Flame

front cover
Brief Description Rulebook includes historical background, terrain tips, and painting guides for the campaigns covered, plus a complete set of rules intended to cover desperate little battles involving outnumbered but well-led and disciplined Imperial forces versus their gallant opponents. Units move in random order as determined by the drawing of cards. Rules cover ranged and melee combat, morale, and formations.
Period British Empire vs. the Pathan (1878), Zulus (1879), Boers (1880), Egyptians (1882), and Dervishes (1884)
Scale Time and ground scale is unstated. One infantry figure appears to represent around 8 actual combatants. Designed for use with 25mm figures.
Basing Individual
Contents 30-page rulebook, with 4-page reference card insert. Requires standard deck of playing cards (not included).
Designer Larry V. Brom
Publisher Current edition published by And That's The Way It Was... "Revision 1" (second printing) 1984 by Greenfield Hobby Distributors. First edition published 1979 by Yaquinto Publications.

What You Think

David Helber (dnhelber@airmail.net)

Our grouplet has played The Sword and the Flame since about 1981, and still enjoys it. Since we play with more figures than the game was designed for, we use a simplified faster version that eliminates some of the individual-soldier features of the game (though one figure still is one man).

We got more grandiose as we went along. First just buildings, then a fort. Then vehicles: Kiel-Kraft 1/76 steam lorries, horsedrawn and early gasoline vehicles (Lledo and Matchbox diecasts), as the period expanded.

Native-bashing began to pall, so we started playing Brits vs German vs. American colonial troops, with their native allies. Then came small steam launches and native dhows. Then early aircraft to fling hand-bombs at them with appalling inaccuracy. The period stretched from about 1859 to the eve of WWI, all occuring at once -- Gatling guns bringing down DH-1 biplanes. River steamers next; a big amphibious landing to rescue the Colonel Bunthorne's daughter from being sacrificed to appease the volcano god (Paper-mache volcano spewing dry-ice vapor).

Then a detour into HG Wells' War of the Worlds -- Martian tripods battling it out with field batteries and ironclads in darkest Whosistan. Then steam-powered Landships ramming and firing high-wheeled bicycle torpedoes at one another. Though the group games rather seldom nowadays, the German player still occasionally threatens to build a zeppelin from 1-liter drink bottles.

Obviously, all this baroque stuff is not in the S&F rules; we just kept adding our own house rules. I know nothing of the new ten-men-per-figure edition of S&F, but the original and second edition game has provided the framework for a lot of fun over the years, and has outlasted any other miniatures ruleset for us (though what we now play bears little resemblance to the original).

Memorable moments:

Alf, a kneeling Stadden riflemen firing a single thundering round from his Martini-Henry and keeping a complete unit of Fuzzies pinned down prone with bad morale rolls for 3 turns. "And if any of you bounding beggars so much as moves a muscle, why, I'll fire again, I will."

Steve's new unit of Highlanders, exterminated to a man on their first outing, by the single Arab horseman to survive volley fire and make it into contact.

Two Martian tripods, holding the ends of the ironclad (which had foolishly ventured up the river) in their tentacles, and shaking the crew loose while they played heat-rays across the decks.

Charles' native elephants, reworked from some Ancients army and sporting paper drink-parasols, engaging the Queen's troops at the riverbank, the combat being accompanied by flatulent squashing sounds whenever an elephant won a melee roll.

The Mad Mullah, guiding his dhow through the shellfire to the ironclad, surviving 8 dice from the Nordenfeldt, and levitating himself (through mystical Eastern arts) onto the bridge to challenge the Captain in melee.

I apologize to the sticklers for waxing frivolous. We started out historical, honest. Someone earlier remarked that the game owed more to Hollywood than to historical realism. Well ... yeah. Turn a card.

Ray Trochim (trochim@rintintin.Colorado.EDU)

TS&TF is a simple set of rules for skirmish gaming. Each figure represents one actual guy on the battle field. The game is really easy to learn and play, and the most important thing about the game is that it's really fun to play. TS&TF has been around a long time, and you can find many additions and whatnot for the game. Overall, if you know anyone in your area that plays TS&TF, I recommend checking it out.

One thing that needs to be said about TS&TF is that it seems that different groups play the game in different ways. So if you play with one group, and then play with another group and notice that they do things a little different, thats why.

Binhan Lin (linb@essex.UCHSC.edu)

TSATF is pretty simple, and you can make a lot of common sense judgments on the parts that the rules don't cover.

The listed scale is 1 figure represents 10 men, but we play it as if 1 figure = 1 man, making it much easier to put personality into them (i.e. our Indian Standard Bearer named Gupta is the proud survivor of over twenty skirmishes, mostly by running away).

The rules cover various areas of the British empire - India, NW Frontier, S. Africa, the Sudan, The Boxer Rebellion, as well as French Legionaires and other similar period conflicts. The big appeal is the simplicity of combat - a simple chart for firing, and a single die roll per man for hand-to-hand combat. Movement is regulated by rolling a number of dice, more mobile units getting more dice. There are also morale factors influencing the ability of units to charge, to stand, and to rally after a failed charge or excessive casualties.

Some down sides are: Since we use it as 1:1 ratio, our battles have gotten huge with about 80-100 British/Colonial troops versus nearly 300 natives. We have adopted metal or cardboard plates to ease the movement of the 20-person units. Once you start playing, it's easy to get hooked into using more and more figures.

The rules don't cover a lot of nit-picky details such as: how long does it take to climb a building, use of river gunboats, how many people can fight at a window, or how many wounded will fit in a wagon. As previously stated most of these can be solved by applying some common sense and then beating it into the people you play with.

The rules are moderately expensive, about US$30 for the rules, 30 plastic figs and a deck of cards (used to determine movement order and casualties)

I like the ruleset alot, since you can concentrate on tactics without having to learn 100 pages of rules. Most of the time, we can teach a person the basics of movement and firing in about 10 minutes.

Jay Martino (mjmartino@igs.net)

I had great fun playing with the rules as 1:1 (this was the old set, the one thin book, no figs included and no box). I remember "Conan the Pathan" jumping up on the wall, waving a great bloody tulwar, and splitting Cpl. Jones from nave to chops. In the next few rounds, he proceeded to put down three British soldiers, until Sgt. Bourne (half-brother of Colour Sgt. Bourne of Rourke's Drift fame) dispatched him with some stylish bayonet drill (runs in the family, don'cha know). Adding personality to your troops is one of the biggest attractions to the system.

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Online Resources

The Sword and the Flame Additions and Clarifications
Ray Trochim (xray@texas.net) maintains this webpage, which contains material for version 2.0 of these rules.

If you know of additional resources for this game, please let us know. If you have material you would like to make available to the Net, also let us know.

Last Updates
11 October 1999added new publisher info
28 April 1998added link to Ray's website
1 November 1997illustration added
30 November 1996page first published
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