The Men Who Would Be Kings

The new colonial rules from Dan Mersey, The Men Who Would Be Kings, hit the table at the BAD Gamers last night.

Mersey has written a good range of rules, many of them published under the Osprey Games blue book umbrella, with Dragon Rampant (large scale fantasy skirmish) being a favourite amongst the BAD Gamers. The Men Who Would Be Kings (TMWWBK) takes the ideas of Dragon Rampant – activation by dice roll, large scale skirmish, simple rule mechanisms, and a focus on fun over competition – and evolves them into a 19th Century Colonial set.

Frank and Paul were both keen to get the rules to the table, and they didn’t disappoint. They played the To the Last Bullet scenario, which saw a small force of 36 British infantry men fending off a Mahdist force of nearly 100, as they tried to fall back onto an old farm building, for cover.

The game proved to be great fun, with simple to pick up rules, and fast.

The Mahdists overwhelmed the British, killing them to the last man, and providing a great narrative in the process.

Two things stood out in the game – the roll to activate mechanic, in that each unit must roll a certain number to activate, based on the quality of their leader, and the leadership traits. The first adds friction to the game, in that you can never be sure that your troops will act when you want them to. The second adds character and story; the British Captain, Terry May, was an idiot, demonstrating this by leading his platoon in a charge to meet the oncoming horde, rather than staying in cover and shooting at them. His Lieutenants, Hammond and Johnson were respectively brave and a drunkard. Which saw Lt Hammond holding off a Mahdist force for a couple more turns after his platoon had been charged by the enemy, thereby buying time for Lt Johnson to get his men into the relative safety of the farm. Unfortunately, this was squandered by Johnson, who in his drunken “we’re doomed” mindset failed to get his troops to do anything for three turns, resulting in his and their massacre, in the open, by the swords and spears of the Mahdists, in the final act of the game.

The game was played in 15mm using Peter Pig figures based up for Patrols In The Sudan. Frank and Paul agreed that while it would have looked better in 28mm, the fun and drama of the game wouldn’t have been improved, so they are happy to stay with 15mm as the scale.

Well recommended, and it will be seeing more visits to the tables of the BAD Gamers.

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