The occasional exploits of Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh and the Rhanzlistan Field Force

Monday, 14 December 2015

A 'SPIFFing' Surprise...

I realise its been quite some time since I last posted anything relating to the exploits of the Rhanzlistan Field Force {RFF}or its rotund commander, Brigadier 'Tubby' Bykleigh, in this dedicated Blog, but there are so many genres to be gamed and time is limited, even for we retired gamers. I can however put that omission right today by sharing with any interested party the goings on earlier today in Rhanzlistan...
As ever, Phil bought with him his wonderful Bolshevik Russians who, in the guise of the Soviet People's International Frontier Force {S.P.I.F.F.} represent the main opponents here in Rhanzlistan. The game was set up to represent a surprise attack by S.P.I.F.F. against the RFF so as the defender, I deployed first, with Phil having a choice of three entry points on the opposite side of the table. This left my forces somewhat spread out to cover each eventuality, with a further force held off table to be hurried forward if things looked sticky! We used 'Setting the East Ablaze' as the rules and found in the early turns we were more than a little ring rusty! First into action were a column of Bolshevik infantry probing the RFF's right flank along a line of hills. They were successfully engaged by the Mountain Gun of the No1 Baalti Battery ~

The RFF's position was split by a fast flowing river rushing through a mountain gorge. The only link between the right flank and the HQ was a rickety rope bridge. This was the sole means of reinforcements passing from one area to another and was a choke point in the deployment of troops as the game unfolded. The No1 Baalti Battery was supported by The Royal Surreys and the Loyal Tandooris , while their extreme right flank was held by the Jalfreezi Rifles. Beyond the gorge were the Brigade HQ , defended by the South Staffords and the RHA No5 Battery ~

The South Staffords had dug in in depth to defend the old wooden bridge across the river to their front. In the game the river would be tested for a crossing point when a unit reached the bank: on a D x 6 Even throw the river could be forded, on an Odd throw it could not! On the extreme left of the RFF's defensive position the RHA 18lb gun was deployed to cover the river crossing. Despite being thinly spread across a wide front the RFF position looked very secure in the opening moves ~

The SPIFF advance was developing quickly. On their right the artillery supported by the Siberian Rifles moved towards the river while in the centre the armoured car unit, supported by a strong cavalry force drove straight for the bridge crossing point ~

Disaster for the S.P.I.F.F.'s armoured car as it probed the bridge defences it suffered a direct hit from the 18lber and was knocked out, effectively reducing the bridge to difficult going as it burnt fiercely ~

Undeterred by this set back the Bolshevik cavalry confidently crossed the bridge, only to find them selves caught in a murderous cross fire from the RHA battery, the South Staffords and the Royal Surreys. At that point their cause looked lost ~

The forward positions around the bridge had looked in real danger, but moments later {the next turn} the Bolshevik cavalry were decimated when the order of cards allowed all three units to fire on them one after the other ~

Sensing a possible opportunity the Rolls Royce Armoured Car drove forward up a slight rise above the river and engaged the Siberian Rifles. What it had n't banked on though was the fire of the Bolshevik artillery which promptly destroyed it where it stood ~

The Bolshevik's artillery might be proving dangerous, so the RHA 18lber got it in its sights and suppressed its fire effectively ~

Over confidence can sometimes bring on disaster I've found, in life as well as across the wargames table! While all the action was seemingly around the bridge, the Bolshevik infantry had rushed forward on the RFF's right flank and engaged the Jalfreezi Rifles and the Royal Surreys in a close fight ~

Back to the action around the bridge crossing and a gallant charge by the elite Bolshevik infantry saw the South Staffords evicted from their trenches ~

Things were suddenly looking sticky for the RFF's gallant lads. Never fear, the Tandooris were making their way across the rope bridge to reinforce the South Stafford's position covered by the fire from the Machine Gun Company ~

Sadly, the card draw and the dice suddenly favoured the cause of the enemy. A Maxim Gun played havoc with the Tandooris as they crossed the bridge and a second cavalry unit rushed towards the village and the RFF's HQ ~

At this point, we ran out of time as Phil had to get away to an appointment! As friends, we agreed a draw, although I think that a generous gesture on his part towards my lads, whose position was very weak now. Brigadier Bykleigh can be seen organising a 'tactical withdrawal' from the headman's house ~

A celebratory 'cuppa' for the S.P.I.F.F. commanders and their propaganda chief seems the least they deserve for overseeing a remarkable turn around in fortunes from one half of the game to the other ~

We shall return to Rhanzlistan and its myriad of characters soon in the New Year I hope. In the meantime, I hope any readers who have enjoyed their visit to our little corner of the Empire will find the time to leave a response to our efforts. A Happy Christmas and New Year to you all from Rhanzlistan!


  1. Well I will leave a response if no one else will, a great game that looked all but lost for the SPIFF at one point. Grand photos and reportage too, look forward to our next outing in the New Year, when perhaps the SPIFF will have further surprises in store.

    1. Yes, it did ebb and flow a bit after all. We'll not leave it so long for the next instalment.

  2. I always look forward to your battle reports! Your tables are just inspiration!

    1. Thank you very much for that,Gordon! We try to do our best in GHQ.

  3. Beautiful report with fantastic photos, love the vehicles and the bridge especially...

    1. Thank you for that,Phil! The rope bridge is a cheap aquarium piece ready stringed.

  4. I really enjoyed this batrep.
    Terrain and figures are top notch and the scenario was entertaining. S.P.I.F.F. gets my vote as the best wargaming acronym of 2015. I am sure that Brog. Bykleigh will reorganize and save the Empire another day.

    1. Thanks for those kind comments Michael, it makes wrestling with Photobucket worthwhile! I'm quite pleased with S.P.I.F.F. myself, though it was Phil's invention!

  5. Sir, your beautiful tables and figures, and your inspiring games always lead to happy daydreaming for days after each visit! Thank you for sharing your tabletop adventures.

    Private W.

    1. Those very kind sentiments are very much appreciated, Thank You! I hope there will be more to entertain you in 2016!