Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Graveyard of Empires...and Pride

A few weeks back a copy of Decision Games’ Khyber Rifles found its way into my shopping cart.  Listening to too many episodes of Wargames to Go will do that to a wargamer.  Between that and regular does of Wargaming Wednesday over at the Castalia House blog, my hankering for a little light wargaming got the better of me.  (On a personal note, keep an eye on Wargaming Wednesday, as yours truly slipped another guest post into their schedule.  This one is about another, much more obscure, light wargame that touches on Fourth Generation War – a rarity.)

It looks like a tight, compact wargame.  It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down with a deep game like Advanced Squad Leader or a monstrosity like Stalingrad Pocket or TSR’s Air War.  Until the empty nest hits and my four lovely little time sinks move out, I’ve contented myself with lighter fare such as Awful Green Things, Outpost Gamma, and now hopefully Khyber Rifles.  The latter is a wargame based on the campaign that kicked off the British withdrawal from Afghanistan back during the height of their empire days.
This past weekend, the boy and I found ourselves with an empty house and an hour to kill.  With the impending school season this may have been our last chance for a while to squeeze in a quick wargame.  It didn’t work out so well.  Apparently, you can take the massive wargames away from a wargamer but you can’t take the massive wargames out of a gamer.

We sat down, set up the small map and handful of counters – each side gets around 20 to 25 of them – and reviewed the rules.  That’s when things came to a screeching halt.
Khyber Rifles is a standalone title, but it is also part of a series of games built on a common ruleset framework.  The package comes with a four page ruleset detailing the universal rules, and an extra page listing the force set-up and scenario specific rules.  For the record, the other scenarios in the Hand of Destiny series are Lettow-Vorbeck, an East African WWI game, and Custer’s Final Campaign, the battle of Little Bighorn.

As a graying grognard of no small experience, when the rules refer to a Combat Results Table, I know to look for something like this…

…and came up empty.  No player aid, no chart, nothing.  To email!  Decision Games responded the next day by pointing out that the table in question appears on the map, but is called the Battle Table, not the Combat Results Table.  It turns out this is what I should have been looking for:

 For the love of…of course it’s going to be just that simple, this is a pocket wargame designed to be streamlined.  You shouldn’t need to cross reference anything with anything to play a game like this.  Smooth move, Dad.  Real nice.
Now that the last wrinkle is out of the way, we can get in a game or two and contribute a little more to the best dang wargame blog on the internet.  Look for a full review and write-up of Khyber Rifles over at Castalia House sometime before the heat death of the universe.

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