Gold in them there forested hills of Gondal?

Northwest Gondal, 1870s

Rumours have reached the Redcoats at Fort MacGuffin that a gang of illegal loggers and miners are back in the hills to the NW edge of the Northern Forests. From time to time, rumours of past gold finds and limitless timber have lured landless settlers and gangs to try their luck.

Usually a Hunting Party of Forest Indians deal with any threats to their Hunting Grounds and Sacred Forests.

Redcoat patrols in the forest are warned to watch out for trouble. What will happen?

Turn 1

A small gang of armed miners is glimpsed at the entrance to the old mine, pulling down the boards that close it off.

D6 thrown to see at which turn or when next two parties of miners (Turn 4 and 9) and the next two Forest Indian Hunting Parties of five each arrive at Turn 6 and 7.

The Redcoat patrol of nine will emerge on the board and road to the south of the mine at Turn 11. Two d6 were thrown to determine how many redcoats are on patrol.

A Forest Indian Hunting Party emerges from the Northwest following a scrub turkeyfowl. They spot the Miners and some felled trees. This must be stopped! Where there are a few Miners, more follow.

The Forest Indians decide to scare the Miners off with some up close rifle fire.

Do the Miners post a lookout? D6 yes 1,2,3 – no 4,5,6.

Do the Miners see the Indians moving in the forest before the Indians fire? D6 Yes 1,2 No 3,4,5,6 – at this point Turn 1 and 2 the Indians are not seen approaching.

By Turn 3, the Miners do notice the Indians approaching. They are all out of range.

The first Hunting Party of Forest Indians uses cover to get closer to the miners.

By Turn Four and Five, firing has begun.

By Turn Six, the Melee between the Miner with the Pike and the Indian Braves sees the Miner and one Brave killed.

Photo: Turn Four, To the North a second Party of miners appears, weapons drawn.

Turn 8 – One of the first Hunting Party is in melee with the Miners’ Lookout, who is killed.
A higher bird’s eye view of the second Forest Indian Hunting Party advancing using cover of trees

Turn 9 – the final small group of miners appear on the track, south of the mine. Several Forest Indians and Miners are in melee.

Turn 10 – more Close Range firing does not lead to a mass of casualties due to some poor dice throws when firing and lucky Casualty Savings Throws.

Turn 11 A patrol of Redcoats appears on the path, south of the mine.

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At this stage with three groups on the table, I chose what would happen next from six options for a d6 dice throw.

1 – Miners fire on Redcoats

2 – Miners try to ally with Redcoats against Forest Indians

3 – Redcoats ally with Indians against Miners

4 – Redcoats fire in Forest Indians

5 – Forest Indians retreat away into the trees

6 – Indians fire on Redcoats

The outcome this time is Number Four, that the Forest Indians retreat whilst firing and being fired upon by the Miners.

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Turn 12 – time to leave?

The Indians departing and Redcoats arriving, the Miners throw a d6 to see if they stay to fight (1-3) and be caught or retreat (4-6). They wisely throw a retreat dice number, leaving their equipment behind.

Turn 12 As the Redcoat patrol advances, Miners hurriedly exit north and the Forest Indians disappear into the trees.

The Valhalla Queue – seven miners and a Hunting Party of five Forest Indians.

The fortunate Turkey watches the Redcoats load up and wheel away the Miners’ cart. It lives to gobble another day!

Before they departed, the Redcoats hastily used the gunpowder and explosives they found at the site to blow up the entrance to this troublesome mine good and proper, once and for all. If they can’t carry back all the Miners’ supplies on the cart, they will be buried for later or blown up in the mine entrance. No sense leaving it all for more Miners or the Forest Indians to find.

BOOM!

The fleeing Miners and Forest Indian Hunting Parties far away hear the sound and saw the plume of dust, smoke and rock spouting high above the trees as the Old Mine was sealed shut under a rockfall tumbling onto the Forest Path.

In their colonial policing role, the Redcoat Patrol gather up any dropped weapons and loaded them onto the Miners’ handcart. Removing any identification papers or personal effects that they find, the Redcoats quickly bury the Miners in one area.

That done, they bury the fallen Indians in shallow graves and cairns in another area, to keep them safe from wild beasts, knowing that the Forest Indians would return by nightfall to retrieve their fallen warriors and bury them according to the Forest Indian tradition.

By nightfall, even with the Miners’ Cart, the Redcoat Patrol should be back towards the safety of Fort MacGuffin by dusk.

Photo: The surviving two Hunting Parties of Forest Indians lurk to see what they can scavenge, including this small mystery barrel. Firewater? Explosives? Food?

Who knows what will happen next in the forests of North Gondal?

Conclusion:

An enjoyable short solo skirmish game in cluttered terrain, handling three different groups of characters for once. Hope you enjoyed it too!

I am enjoying the rough continuity of tensions between skirmish episodes amongst the various character groups and their background motivations.

The 54mm figures and terrain used are the following:

  • The Forest Indians are my repaired and repainted mostly Britain’s Hollowcast metal Indians
  • The Redcoats are my paint conversions of Pound Store Plastic copies of WW2 German Infantry
  • The Miners are Replicants plastics ‘Confederate Raiders’ sets, sourced through Steve Weston Toy Soldiers or on his eBay site
  • Trees are Bold Frontiers Australia tree packs.
  • The large dead tree and rocky mine entrance (a plastic pond edge or rockery) from Britain’s farm and garden sets in my childhood collection.
  • Charbens metal cart, repaired
  • Terrain is old fashioned felt pieces over big book hills with ‘logs’ and ‘rocks’ from the garden.

Rules are Close Little Wars scaled down adaptations of a Donald Featherstone ‘Close Wars’ appendix to his War Games (1962), book reprint or ebook copy available from John Curry’s History of Wargaming website.

Movement distances are again generally halved from the Close Wars appendix to reflect the smaller playing space available.

By chance, the Amazon.co.uk page for this book currently features in the sample pages / ‘see inside’ section a view of these Close Wars rules appendix – good choice, as you can see proof that it is a (reprint) book worth buying and reading!

Blog posted by Mark ManofTIN, 11 June 2020.