Saturday 21 October 2017

Dabormida's Brigade at Adowa using Bloody Big Battles

One of our favourite Colonial games is a scenario from Mark Fastoso's Ethiopian Colonial Campaigns  - Dabormida's Brigade (Adowa).
This covers the Abyssinian attack on the Italian right flank at the battle of Adwa (or Adowa) on 1st March 1896. It boils down to a scattered Italian force attempting to stop a very large Abyssian army from tearing down the table trying to capture objectives by a certain turn.

Important Note
None of us have any Italians or Abyssinians for this period. However  Steve has a lovely 15mm collection for the Sudan so we proxy the figures. So do not be surprised if you should see kilted Italians. If you do not like proxies then pretend it's the Sudan

Although the scenario is written for The Sword and Flame we have used it with Battles For Empire. This proved to be a struggle for the Abyssinian who rarely got half down the table before we had to call it a day.

This time round we used Bloody Big Battles (BBB). We had tried the BBB scenario El Teb but had mixed feelings about it. It was fast but I think the scenario needs looking at.

Abyssinian Forces
3 Commanders
5 x Waruari 6 Trained, Spears,Aggressive
2 x Byet Lyjog 6 Veteran, Spears,Aggressive
2 x Neftenya 6 Trained, Muzzle-loading Rifles,Aggressive
2 x Snyder-yaji 6 Trained, Early Breechloaders,Aggressive
3 x Oromo Horse 6 Trained Cavalry,Aggressive
2 x Artillery pieces 1 Smoothbore Artillery

Italian Forces
2 Commanders
3 x Italian Infantry Companies 4 Trained, Late Breeechloaders
4 x Askari Infantry Companies 4 Trained, Late Breeechloaders
2 x Artillery Batteries 1 Breech Loading Artillery
1 x Machine Gun Battery 1 Machine Gun

The Battlefield looking east

The Objectives
Victory Points (VP) are awarded to the Abyssinians on the turn they capture an objective

The Abyssinians need 3 VP to win

The Spur: Turns 1-3 2 VP otherwise 1 VP
The Well: Turns 1-6 2 VP otherwise 1 VP
The Pass: Any Turn 1 VP

The start of the battle
The Setup

Abyssinians set up along the western edge

2 Askari companies are on the Spur
1 Askari company is behind the Spur
1 Askari company is on the hill across the stream
2 Italian companies and the 2 Artillery pieces are at the Well
1 Italian company and the Machine Gun are at the Pass

The game lasts 8 turns with the Abyssinians going first.

The Spur defended by 2 Askari companies
The Abyssinians immediately attack the Spur
An Askari square - disrupted (Yellow) and low on ammo (Green)
The other Askari square about to get overrun
The Abyssinians break both squares and capture the Spur on Turn 2 - 2 VPs
The Italians defend the Well

The Italians should have destroyed the Spearmen. Let's do the Firepoints
1 BLA at 3" = 9 FP and 1 BLA at 3" but it pivoted so 4.5 FP equals 13.5 FP rounded up to 16 FP
So 6 or more on 2 dice to kill at least 1 base and push the Spearmen back
And it's a ... 5 which disorders the Spears but under the BBB Colonial variant doesn't halt them

The ensuing melee saw both guns lose a life - they only have 2 - and retire 9". The Infantry company next to them fared no better and was forced to retire. 

The Well is lost on turn 4 - giving the Abyssinians 2 more VP - making a total of 4 VP

The Machine gun gets into position to defend the pass. The the distance an Askari company is both to get pounced on by some Oromo Horse.
A general view of the battlefield halfway through the game - looks like an historical outcome to me
On the left an Italian company covers the retreat of the last surviving Askari company from the Spur.
Yes I know the Italians are wearing kilts - it's all the rage on the Milan catwalks.
The view from the Pass - probably the safest place to be.
The kilted Italians continue to head south leaving the Askari to form a square against the hordes.
Unsurprisingly the square becomes the centre of attention - it looks baaad.
The brave Askari square repulses the attack losing a base in the process. To be classed as Square it must have a minimum of 3 bases. 
End of Turn 6 and as the Abyssinians close in for the kill the Italians concede the game.

I would like to say it was a close run thing but it wasn't - it was a shambles for the Italians mainly due to appalling shooting dice. It was also a historical result so I can not complain.

Thanks to Steve for putting on the game. He and Mark played the Abyssinians whilst Stephan and I played the Italians.

We are giving it an other run out next week - mainly to see if I can roll higher than 5

There are several more scenarios in the book which look as though they will convert to BBB. I can highly recommend these scenario books covering Ethiopia, the Sudan, Mexico and China. 

BBB comes up trumps again and works well for the Colonial period as it does for most periods