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5/11/2007

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TSATF: Burmese Surprise
  In what was perhaps the most argumentative, and thus some gamers might say traditional, of all games played at The Bengal Club the King of Burma sought to repel a British punitive force marching on his capital at Ava. The terrain was beautiful, and the conflict bitter in every sense of the word. At right, the Burmese front line of defense from the British point of view. Club members spent many hours turning one of those sushi mats into a series of stockades so favored by the Burmese in the 19th century.   game1131.jpg
 
  A dirigible shot of the same stockade from the preceding photo. This time the view is from slightly behind, and to the right flank of the Burmese center. There are as yet no Burmese figures on the table, because they are - as is traditional - in concealment from the approaching British. On this day everything seemed to conspire against the empire. The imperial commander elected not to support his attack with a prolonged bombardment from his artillery, and instead attempted to rush the Burmese position. Unfortunately, half of the British units failed their charge rolls. Consequently those units who actually reached the stockade were heavily out numbered, and repelled with great loss. Meanwhile, the faltering units remained standing in front of the stockades, while the Burmese fired on them from the cover of entrenchments. The Royal Artillery finally punched a hole in the stockade, only to reveal a Burmese bombard concealed behind that very point. The natives then fired back, through the hole, and decimated the British gun crew. This was then followed by a prolonged 'disputation phase' encompassing prolonged argumentation over which page in the rules applied as to "Who could shoot at who."   game1132.jpg
 
  The 6th regiment of foot, portrayed by the same figures used to represent the ill fated Coldstream Guards from the TBC's recent Ashantiland game. It is also possible that these 'Jonahs of the gaming table' may have earlier been stand ins for US Army troops at the game commemorating Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus. Devoted readers of the TBC web site will remember that during that game the unit was decimated by Villista rifle fire from the rear. In keeping with their tradition for poor luck, these figures failed their charge rolls (twice !) and spent most of the game in the open, firing on Burmese musketeers secreted securely in trenches behind the stockade.   game1133.jpg
 
  The Burmese army's only elephant 'maneuvers to the rear.' Although liberally supplied with heavy jingals (that's really big, two man muskets for civilians and girlfriends) the Burmese had only one elephant. Which, of course, had two more jingals mounted on its back. The Burmese had hoped to use the combative pachyderm in tricking the British into shifting their reserves over to the left flank. However, in the end it merely served to draw fire onto itself, and off of the Burmese musketeers and spearmen defending the stockade from repeated British charges.   game1134.jpg
 
  The very same portion in the Burmese front line as seen in photo #2, only much later in the game after the location of all Burmese units had been revealed. In the foreground, in mostly white uniforms, is a unit of palace guard troops. These gentlemen are no different in morale or training from the ordinary provincial Burmese troops. However, they do have more rifles and less spears. Beyond the white coated guards can be seen a unit of ordinary, provincial (i.e. 'crummy') Burmese infantry... with more spears and less rifles than the guards. To the left of the photo, in the Burmese rear, are several more jingals and a large bombard.   game1135.jpg
 
  At right, a semi-dirigible view (crane shot ?) of the final British charge on the stockade. The stockade has been shifted to the right so as to represent the 1 inch gap created by the abbreviated bombardment of the Royal Artillery, and through which the much debated battery and counter battery fire took place. On the left in the foreground is a courageous unit of Sikh infantry (they passed their charge roll). On the right is an almost as courageous unit of English infantry (they also passed their charge roll, but just barely.) The strange little pieces of terrain immediately in front of the stockade are custom built casualty figures designed to show where the British wounded have fallen.   game1136.jpg
 
  Very late in the evening, the British finally clamber over the stockade on the Burmese right flank. This would not have been possible had not the Burmese palace guard failed their morale test and run away, the Burmese commander kept saying "maneuvered to the rear," instead of standing to defend their entrenchments. The dice roll forcing the Burmese to maneuver to a less inhospitable location was a very near run thing, and would not have happened had not the commander of the palace guard been sportsmanlike enough to check, and then recheck his voluminous paperwork. This discovering that the colonel of the palace guard had in fact been killed several turns previous to the crucial morale check. Consequently the guards maneuvered with alacrity to a more commodious locale.   game1137.jpg
 
  In the foreground members of the Burmese 'Royal Marine Regiment,' actually sailors of the riverine fleet on dry land, strive manfully to defend the big, old fashioned bombard that has wrought such devastation on the Royal Artillery. In the background, one of the few English units to actually pass its charge roll and close with the enemy, and in between the English and the Burmese marines are the hardy survivors of the long suffering Sikhs. To the left of the photo can be seen the Italian artillery advisor responsible for the superior performance of the Burmese bombard. Shortly after the discovery of the hidden Italian advisor (the Burmese really did use them for their artillery) the game embarked upon yet another 'disputation phase.' Eventually the British drew off, recognizing that their high casualties prevented them from grinding out a marginal victory. After which numerous campaign dice rolls were made, and - much to the surprise of the Burmese high command - the Burmese rebels leap frogged the British, and came within 3 points of achieving full independence.   game1138.jpg
 
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