Thursday, October 9, 2014

Uitkomst on the Tabletop; Adapting the Historical Skirmish for Miniature Wargaming (The Battle of Uitkomst Part XII and last)

In this twelve part series on the Battle of Uitkomst, I have gathered together and evaluated the best available contemporary German source material to document and reconstruct this colonial skirmish and place it in historical context.   Together, these posts provide the most comprehensive analysis ever presented, in English or any other language, of this short but bloody episode from the first weeks of the German-Herero war of 1904. 

In addition to satisfying my own intellectual curiosity about a forgotten incident from long ago that took place in a part of the world where I spent four years during my young adulthood, this research project has informed the development of a skirmish scenario for tabletop wargaming that I have titled "Ambush at Uitkomst: Volkmann's Gambit".

View a .pdf of the full scenario here:
I am indebted to Dr. Roy Jones, Jr., host of the Hererowars blog and co-creator with Eric Alvarado of the scenario and rules book Kaiser Over Africa, Vol. 1 The Herero War (available for purchase through  Roy has been an enthusiastic and generous collaborator on this project, always willing to consider new evidence whenever I unearthed and forwarded more German source material to him.  He has willingly shared his wealth of knowledge of the time period and experience designing and playing historical scenarios from the conflict using 25mm miniatures.  His Herero War rules derive from the venerable The Sword and the Flame (TSATF) system, but dramatically enhance them by adapting to the unique characteristics of this particular colonial war. 

The scenario for our Uitkomst skirmish assumes that Roy and Eric's adapted rules are used, but also includes modifications to address the unique attributes of the Boer element that are different from those used in TSATF's 1st Boer War statistics.  It also treats the small but significant number of German civilian war volunteers for whom Uitkomst was their first military experience differently from the regular Schutztruppen and reservists who rode in the German column. 

Many of the figures called for in Roy and Eric's Herero War book will work for Uitkomst, but there are some new ones required as well.  You will need 8 mounted and 8 dismounted Boer figures to play this scenario, as well as 8 standing mounts.    Boers do not require horse holders when firing on foot (though they do when charging or in close combat), while Germans do.  You will need figures to represent 2 Schutztruppen horse holders and 1 civilian war volunteer to hold a total of 12 mounts when the Germans fight on foot, and 2 Boers holding a total of 8 mounts when they charge or engage in close combat on foot.  Horse holders do not fire while they are controlling more than one mount.  Both horses and their holders are potential casualties in this scenario.

Battle of Uitkomst game board (4' x6')
There are a few more special scenario rules.  In this skirmish, mounted Hereros who enter the dense thorn bushes that cover more than half the game board are assumed to be fighting dismounted (without the need for horse holders).  Boers can fight from concealment just as Hereros, and are less likely to stand and fight or charge on foot like the German troops unless under Volkmann's firm leadership.

Update: This Uitkomst scenario, co-authored by me and Roy Jones, Jr., had undergone further revisions and will be play tested by Northern Virginia Gamers (NOVAG) in January, 2015.  Here is a link to the .pdf of the pre-play test version. If any readers of this blog decide to give it a try, I'd love to hear about your experience. Contact me in the comments, below.

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