The book follows the usual format of most of its predecessors in the series, with a fact-filled introduction to the period and events leading up to each conflict that sets the scene for what is to come. The battles of both wars are each covered in great depth, with useful orders of battle and tips on how one might play each scenario. None of these are dependent on a particular set of rules so it is left up to the reader, armed with the necessary information, to shape this to fit their preferred set. As well as the full-on battles such as Mudki, Sobraon, or Chillianwalla to name but three, there are also several more ‘fringe’ scenarios covering the exploits of a few brave European officers leading the troops of various factions against the Sikh regime. The maps that support each of the battles, and the more strategic ones that appear throughout the book, are excellent and provide clear representations of each combat.
We are also provided with a wealth of information regarding the organisation (or not) of the Sikh forces, the different troops available, tactics and weaponry, as well as a discussion on the Sikh ‘leadership’ and the backgrounds and influence of the many European adventurers who acted as military advisors and generals in the army, and who led their own ‘Compos’ or brigades until immediately prior to the outbreak of war, when most were murdered by their men or fled. Similarly, the organisation, leaders and weapons of the Honourable East India Company presidencies of Bengal and Bombay, including the Crown forces who were to bear the brunt of the fighting, are covered. The authors also provide useful information on the dress or uniforms worn by all participants, and for wargamers, James shows us how to paint your miniatures. There are also lists of manufacturers and other resources available, together with some sample ‘army lists’. Particularly helpful are suggestions on how to adapt your rules of choice to more accurately reflect the weapons and tactics used during the wars.
The illustrations in this book are superb; as well as a number of contemporary images there are a vast number of gloriously colourful photographs of painted Wargames miniatures, not only from the author’s collection but also a good number featuring miniatures of my extensive collection.
It goes without saying that in my opinion this book sets the bar even higher for this series, which is quite an achievement. It is well written and researched, and is the product of a genuine understanding of the period by Andy. If you have any interest in this key period of Anglo-Indian history then this is a fabulous book, a veritable ‘one stop shop’ for wargamers and those interested in the fascinating history of British expansion across India, you should buy it.