The Portable Colonial Wargame

After our success at playing a few games of Bob Cordery’s Portable Wargame rules, Anthony and I decided to try out the Colonial version of the rules using our 54mm North-West Frontier collection.

We assigned 6 units plus a gun to the British and 8 units plus a gun to the Pathans. The British had magazine rifles with a range of 4 grid squares and rifled artillery with a range of 8 squares; while the Pathans had a rifle range of 3 grid squares and smoothbore artillery with a range of 6 squares. We classified all the troops as average with the exception of the cavalry on each side who were elite.

The initial deployment is shown here:



The rules have the interesting mechanic that native troops can double move on a 5,6 – they cannot fire after such a move but it does let them outflank their opponents.

We tried the exhaustion point rule from the original rules of 1/3 of the units but what happened was the native lost 3 units first and then couldn’t attack. We decided this doesn’t really work unless you are playing a scenario. We played on until one side lost 2/3 of its units – which meant a narrow victory to the natives.

Overall, the rules worked well, looked good and we both enjoyed the game.

9 thoughts on “The Portable Colonial Wargame

  1. Mike,

    It is so rewarding to see that you are enjoying my Portable Wargame rules … and your wargames always look so attractive.

    I think that your decision to have a 2/3 breaking point was a good one. I envisaged Native armies usually having twice as many units as European ones, but if they are roughly comparable in size, the 2/3 rather than 1/3 makes sense.

    All the best,


  2. Hi Bob,

    If we had used twice the number of natives we would have had to use less scenery as the longer range of of the British artillery and rifles was more or less negated by it as it was. I must say that Mike and I thoroughly enjoy your rules and I hope to put on a historical scenario later this year with my growing Little Legion Zulu War collection.

    Have you considered updating your WW2 grid rules to include ATGMs etc for Cold War and Moderns?


  3. Mike,

    That spread looks great. The Bengal lancers in particular look very fine. I did some work with those lances you sent me though I’m ashamed to say I didn’t use them for 54mm figures. On the other hand, Mrs. Kinch did surprise me with a lancer mould, so I’ll be on track again fairly shortly.

    I look forward to seeing the next chapter in your battles with Anthony.

  4. Hi,
    I really enjoy your games you post. I’m in the process of painting up AIP and Conte Afghans for my own 54mm TSATF battle. I have a question for you. I tend to go with half size units 9 figs +1 command as opposed to 20 fig + command rule in TSATF. In the rules, 1/2 of a pathan/afghan clan are given swords and 1/2 get rifles. Since the tactics they used were cover fire at long range with sword-armed tribesmen for CC, does it make sense to create a small unit of swords independent of a small unit armed with rifles or does that give them an unfair advantage? I was also thinking about making the rifle unit so a mix of captured Sniders and Jezails.

  5. James, glad that you are enjoying the write ups. I also use half size units in our TSATF games and use a mix of sword only and jezail only units. I don’t think that a rifle only armed unit gives the afghans a massive advantage as their shooting is so much poorer than the British.

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