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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Monday, 1 July 2013


... this is the cup the white men drink/When they go to right a wrong/...'
Well, it was the same war, but just a different bit of it. Clearly Kipling didn't regard the Spanish as 'white men', but, like many at the time, he was an enthusiast for the great English-speaking project, and some saw it as a future safeguard against (take your pick), Jack London's 'Yellow Peril', or the Papist sloth of Latin America, or various 'great unwashed' threats. In fact, even the Islamists came into the picture - in the Philippines . Anyway, back at the rattling dice:

The US battle line, raring to go...

And that was half the problem. Those boys were keen, not so used to operating in brigade or division sized formation, and, in some cases, not that bothered about what officers thought. So, in order to replicate this in some way, I added a simple card element to ARD:

Each US unit had a card, and then I added the same number of non unit cards to make a small deck. A unit could only move if its card was drawn, and only seven cards were drawn each turn. The artillery and gatling batteries could, however, fire at will once they had reached a position where the enemy was in line of sight.

Happily, the simple card element worked - the above photograph shows how the battleline lost its cohesion, even though all units had an advance to contact order.

 Right out in front - the Buffalo soldiers (erm, Kipling probably forgot about them...), here seen taking the first casualties from the Spanish mountain gun.

But the gatling battery did some good work in support, with the first Spaniards going down.

The Buffalo heroes make the wire, but that put them in range of not just the Spanish trenches, but also the blockhouse defenders:

Another US regiment in support, but the casualties are mounting and the wire has still to be crossed....

P.S. on Kipling and 'A Song of the White Men' (1899). Reading it today and it reads like a peon to liberal interventionism , the sort that brought us Iraq, and would bring us Syria. Odd that. Plus ca change.


  1. or Rome straightening out some Asiatic despots?

    One of the things I like about simple rules are that its much easier to customize for particular games without upsetting a delicate balance and unravelling everything.

    Great looking game but the boys look to be in a bad way, where's that bugler?

    1. Yup! That's the idea - Rome and the Despots, sounds like a wargame series.

      Your rules have worked brilliantly. I really struggle with complex mechanisms, pages of explanation etc. Rattle gives me a game that I really could pick up quickly and seems as if produces reasonably representative outcomes. Thanks, Ross.

      Oh, bugler bill bought it tonight, I'm afraid...

  2. Replies
    1. Jolly fun! Have a great summer hol, Alan!

  3. Very nice looking the trenches too!

    1. Cheers! Actually, they're for 20mm, but don't tell anyone.