This week I’ll be posting about and oldie but a goodie, The Sword and the Flame. Originally written in 1979 we frequently play with the 20th anniversary edition. The Sword and the Flame pretty much covers all your Victorian British wars. This rule set generally requires a game master to get the full experience. D6, D20, and playing cards are used to determine most of the game’s effects. Six sided are used to determine movement and close combat results. Depending on formation and nationality you roll different numbers of dice for movement. For example British infantry in close order move 2D6 while a Dervish mass moves 3D6. Charging grants an additional die while rough terrain doesn’t reduce the number of dice but removes the highest die rolled.
shooting uses twenty sided dice. Units check if they are in range and then roll one die for every figure firing. The score to hit is determined by a chart. The weapon is referenced against the class of the target. Class I is a mass of guys in the open. This carries onto Class IV which is troops in a building or behind walls. Better trained troops have a higher range of numbers than the rabble. All hits are allocated to the unit with the flip of a card. A hearted suit kills while all others wound. An ace means an officer is hit while a face card is a key figure (scouts, gun crews, etc.) Wounded models don’t matter for most non imperial troops. British and their allies however are forced to carry the wounded like the good chaps they are. In game terms this means anyone carrying a wounded model cannot shoot nor fight in melee.
Close combat is initiated by a charge order. If the attacker rolls high enough to contact he takes a morale test to complete the charge. This is more difficult if the leader has been killed previously. If they are successful the defender has to roll to stay and fight. This is also more difficult if the leader has been killed. In the close combat phase models are matched up and a series of 1v1 duels are fought. Both combatants roll a D6. The close combat chart has a series of modifiers. Charging generally allows the attacker to win ties. defending a wall or emplacement gives a +1 to the die roll. If the loser rolls a 1 he is killed. On a roll of a 2 he is wounded. 3 or more the loser falls back. After the first round the combatants are matched back up. This continues until someone wins. All of the members of the unit that fell back take a major moral test or flee. That’s it for the major rules, onto the game!
The mission for the British and their Indian allies was to burn the village down as a friendly reminder for the tribes to pay their taxes. The Pathans of course wanted to see them off with the village intact. The was a hill fort overlooking the town that provided some defence and an old cannon. Most of the Pathans started the game hidden. The British were given a wide corner away from the village to deploy. The mountainous terrain dictated most of the routes the British could take although a detachment of Gurkhas were able to scale the various ridges. I was in charge of the hill fort so that will color most of my battle report. The Indians were tasked with taking the fort while the British advanced on the town. The Guides set up a mountain gun on a ridge opposite of the hill fort. Between that and the regular Indians they eventually shot the Pathans into hiding and climbed to the fort.
Along the other side, the British were peppered by ambushing Pathans. They persevered and eventually assaulted a Pathan occupied building. The British were mercilessly wiped out. Then we looked at the die the British player Jerry was using and found it to be a D3! So we replayed the assault and the British still lost but the Pathans took enough casualties and fled.
At that point we looked at the clock and called it a night. The Pathans were battered while the British had fresh reserves to commit. The game played smoothly and we were all satisfied by the result. The Sword and the Flame provides a good game with enough lead to push around and concludes in a decent time. You’ll eventually see more reports on TSaTF as we use it for the Boxer Rebellion, The Zulu Wars and other Northwest Frontier games. I’m currently reading through the SAGA rule book to give a better researched review. I also plan on putting a .45 Adventure game on in the near future.
You may have noticed I switched up the picture format. Like it? Dislike it? let me know.