Sunday 10 September 2023

Back to India………well for a Sikh Wars game anyway!

It was about time these chaps came out of the box again, so yesterday’s game was a Sikh Wars encounter. It was to be a simple affair as I wanted to see if General d’Armee could be adapted for this conflict. The weaponry was much but not exactly the same as in the Napoleonic Wars, but it was going to be interesting (I hoped) to see if I could successfully replicate the very different troop types and qualities of the soldiers themselves. I will sum these up at the end of this post.

Nigel and John the Red played the British while Richard and I commanded the Sikhs. The scenario was pretty simple. The Sikhs had managed to get their army astride the British lines of communication so General Gough led half his Army of the Sutlej to clear them off, while a (mythical as it turns out) flanking force was set to hit the Sikhs on their right flank. This was simply to get the Sikhs to act a little more passively than they might otherwise have done (I didn’t tell Richard Singh it was a ruse, and he was expecting more Sikhs to arrive).

In time honoured manner there follows some photos of the game, which in time honoured manner Blogger has managed to randomly reorder out of sequence.

The battlefield from the ‘garden end’. With the exception of the nullah in the distance and the village with its poppy field the terrain was relatively open, dotted with some low lying jungly bits and rough ground, which had no effect on the game.

The British right flank, two brigades of cavalry and supporting Bengal Horse Artillery.

Facing them the Sikh left looked menacing and colourful. But would the Gorchara feudal cavalry and zamburek camel gunners be able to hold their own? 

Guns! Guns! Guns! The Sikhs were very well supplied with artillery, too well said the British, but they would say that. Above are three large batteries of medium field guns.

More Guns. This time three heavy batteries in position behind the nullah.

Our right flank was held by four battalions of feudal Sikh infantry. 

Facing them across the nullah was a brigade of Indian cavalry.

Time for an early drink. A broken down commissariat wagon ‘guarded’ by British infantry. One of them has already passed out with liberated arak and another inebriated comrade is falling off the wagon.

Turn 1 and my cavalry were hesitant and didn’t move.

The zambureks were also hesitant and rooted to the spot.

Nigel launched his Bengal Light Cavalry at my stationary horsemen and camel guns, with predictable results.

This regiment of Bengal Irregular Cavalry smashed into the hesitant zambureks and broke them.

My favourite uniforms, the Bengal Horse Artillery in action.

The Governor General’s Bodyguard.

Sikh artillery holding the centre. They kept becoming hesitant so couldn’t fire at long range, which kind of made them impotent?

Richard was having similar issues with controlling his troops but one brigade advanced up the nullah.

I pushed my Akalis forward to slow down the advancing British, but the fire from the 60th Rifles and then follies from the infantry in line behind them saw them off.

HM 3rd Light Dragoons. 

While all this was going on around them the villages enjoyed another day watching snake charmers, rope trick climbers and other delights.

BHA galloping off somewhere.

Bengal Foot Artillery manning a battery of heavy guns.

The British right flank was making great headway against the crumbling Gorchara cavalry under my command.

Bengal Foot Artillery trading shots with the Sikh guns.

Sikh feudal irregulars holding the line of the Nullah.

John managed to get a brigade of cavalry over the nullah after the defending Sikh feudal infantry were driven off.

British advancing on their left. They had suffered terribly from the Sikh heavy guns but were able to sidestep out of trouble and continue their advance.

Nigel’s cavalry had driven off all my cavalry then hit the flank of the retreating Akali, all of whom were ridden down. They were then poised to roll up the Sikh artillery.

General advance on the British right.

With the Sikh left driven off and the right starting to crumble we called it a day, and announced a victory for the British. Their plan to defeat our left flank worked a treat, and I was not helped by my troops becoming hesitant far too often. Our artillery certainly pounded John’s advancing infantry, causing significant losses, but it wasn’t enough.

The rules worked ok. It has been a while since we last used them and we were VERY rusty, but they certainly have the potential for the Sikh Wars, and no doubt the Crimea as well.

In terms of troop classifications, the Queen’s troops and European units in the HEIC army were all graded as veteran, while the Sepoys, with the exception of the Gurkhas, were bog standard line. The BHA were elite.

The Sikh artillerymen were graded as elite. The infantry were everything from elite, to line and militia. The Gorchara were classed the same as Cossacks in the rules. Probably a bit mean to do that but….?

One change I did make was that the Sikhs had to score a 4+ to gain an ADC (rather than 3+) and their brigades had to also score 4+ to activate (again, instead of 3+). This idea worked very well and seriously hampered our plans, ensuring a fairly static game for the bulk of the Sikh infantry. What ADCs we got were usually expended on the artillery, but with the amended activation score, they became hesitant quite often. I need to rethink a few things, such as trying to reflect the Sikh artillery more effectively, and maybe restrict all or most Sikh musketry to the inferior line. 

Anyway, everyone said they enjoyed what was a most colourful game. The pizzas for lunch were annihilated in very short order too.


  1. Brilliant. Bit disappointed I missed that. I like your idea about 4+ for Sikh ADCs; 4+ for activation seems harsh but I'm sure can be historically justified. The upcoming GdA2 has a new rule about sacrificing Initiative to regain a Hesitant command. We already incorporate it into our Pickett's Charge games, not that it's done me much good so far!

  2. ADC rules seem to work quite well in reflecting the near treachery of the Sikh high command nad perhaps . It was nt nice being on the receiving end of all those Sikh guns, but then they did give a hard pounding to the British / EIC armies in the historical clashes. GdA does allow for some tweaking to give that extra local context.

    Enjoyable game and the heatwave we were experiencing was atmospheric !!

  3. Certainly a very colourful conflict.

  4. A colourful spectacle of a game!

  5. Fantastic looking game; very colourful and a wonderful table of terrain.

  6. beautiful game Colin, I wish I was there!

  7. Poor poor Gorchara