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3/9/2007

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Pancho Villa's Raid on Columbus
  Celebrating the anniversary of Pancho Villa's attack on the United States, using the 'Contemptible Little Armies' rules. At right, the traditional TBC dirigible shot to establish the geography of the gaming area. This time looking south over the community of Columbus New Mexico. In the foreground is the town of Columbus. Farther south a row of US Army barracks, and just beyond the barracks is the row of stables that the Villistas, in real life, mistook for barracks. Finally, next to the giant hand, is the neighboring country of Mexico. As in real life, the Villistas have split their command in two with half sneaking directly north from the Mexican border - and the giant hand - and half sweeping deep into US territory so as to hit the town from the west. Once in the town the Villistas are forced to search all of the 'large' buildings in order to find the Ravel Brothers Mercantile, which they will then set alight. (That should teach those Ravels for stiffing Pancho on that arms deal!) Of course with each building searched there is a substantial chance that the excitable vaqueros may accidentally immolate the wrong building.   game0101.jpg
 
  At right, as the stunned umpire looks on the Villistas find and destroy the Ravel Mercantile, on turn 2, and after starting only 1 other 'accidental' fire. They then move out of town, south, towards the US Army barracks in a cunning plan to pin the defenders between themselves and their compatriots coming up from the south. Meanwhile the US players continue to roll scores of dice, in myriad combinations, trying to determine just which squads will erupt from the barracks to defend the town. There was much chuckling on the part of American players, because the Villistas had repeated Pancho's historical error, and mistaken the southernmost row of stables for enlisted men's barracks. Consequently much Mexican artillery support was wasted in firing upon buildings which contained no actual defenders.   game0102.jpg
 
  US troopers set up defensive positions behind a wall of sand bags. These protected them from the rifle fire of the Villistas maneuvering south out of the town, but unfortunately their rear was completely unprotected from the small arms fire of the Mexicans rushing up from behind them. To make matters worse, the US troopers were now between the southern Villistas and the burning town, and consequently fully illuminated by the fire. At right, the machine gun survives yet another turn of Mexican shooting, but the '2nd of 3' US squads falls prey to Villista rifles from behind. Early in the game the Americans suffered very heavy casualties. But on the brighter side, so many of their figures were killed that they were able to reuse the limited number of their 'little lead dollies' (to use the technical term) sporting the correct uniforms.   game0103.jpg
 
  At the mid point of the game things are still going Pancho's way. In the background a unit of Villistas, led personally by Pancho, storm what they think is an army barracks, but what is really just another stable. In the foreground another band of hearty revolutionaries falls prey to rifle fire from the '3rd of 3' US infantry squads mentioned previously. The Villistas have suffered some casualties, and will now return fire.   game0104.jpg
 
  A dice roll so remarkable that General Villa insisted it be immortalized on the web site. With only 7 figures left to shoot back, and hits scored on a 5 or 6, remember the Americans were illuminated by the fire in town, the Villistas throw 7 hits on 7 dice. Shaking his head, the US subcommander picks up the last of his 3rd squad and shuffles off to the bar to console himself with a fermented beverage. In a burst of national solidarity he insists on a beverage from 'North of the Border.'   game0105.jpg
 
  The bitter hand to hand combat inside the stable. The actual building has been removed to facilitate the process of resolving combat. In the foreground can be seen those Villistas who survived American rifle fire and managed to enter the stable. To the left is the great man himself, Pancho Villa, who somehow has remained mounted inside the building. Between Pancho and his men is a squad of US infantry -in the wrong uniforms, but more about that later - And in the distance can be seen a half unit of Chinese Boxers, portraying the US Army cooks who in real life helped to eject some startled Villistas from one of the Barracks. The Villistas were gradually swamped, as the Americans kept feeding more men into the building.   game0107.jpg
 
  Yet another US squad appears on the scene and the Americans eventually bring their superior forces to bear on the withdrawing attackers. Here the Coldstream Guards, it has already been mentioned that the club was a bit short on accurate figures to represent the Americans, advance on the surviving Villistas who desperately try to achieve some of their victory conditions by dragging a US machine gun out of town. All in all, a very close game, with both sides suffering much higher casualties than they did in real life, and the US winning by 36 victory points to 35.   game0108.jpg
 
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