Somewhere in Hampshire: my forces lurk in the hamlet while innocent bystanders mill about unconcernedly
Alastair at Guildford Wargames Club very kindly offered me my first game of In Her Majesty's Name, which we played at the club night yesterday. Now, I have very many sets of rules, most of which I have never played, so it is particularly satisfying to christen a new set. Fortunately, Alastair is well aware that as a wargamer I am very much a painter and was very patient with me as I stumbled through these rules for the first time.
Brontosaurus (1897) by Charles R Knight (1874-1953) One of my favourite dinosaur pictures when I was a child and nothing to do with IHMN - yet!
Firstly, I had to assemble my force and work out their mystical powers which I did while simultaneously watching the addictive Revenge of the Egghead on TV. I am shocked at the low level of general knowledge that most people display on this. Why enter a quiz show if you have no general knowledge? If they'd all read Look & Learn when they were young, as I did, they would know a lot more stuff. Of course, it does mean that my scientific knowledge, for example, doesn't really cover anything that has happened since 1974. That's why they are still brontosauri in my mind.
Anyway, we had agreed 250 points, which meant I could take most of the North Star company with the exception of the mummified priest. Instead I took my newly painted (the kiss of death) Nubian as a Nubian guard for 25 points and a good investment he turned out to be. I was a bit worried about this company because of the seemingly fragile nature of the cultists, of which I had seven, so I wanted the Nubian guard with his shotgun to give a ranged attack. I had to quickly choose some mystical powers for Akhenaton, Sir Lawrence Swann and Zairah Al-Ghais. Not knowing how they worked in practice I chose largely defensive powers such as clouding men's minds to try to ward off the long range weapons of the Scotland Yard men. This was, indeed, effective and forced them into having to close into hand to hand combat; perhaps more than they would have liked.
Alastair's civilians mill around some crates of produce. Probably rhubarb, rhubarb
We had an English rural set-up with a lot of well dressed civilians wandering around, thanks to Alastair's random direction dice, and generally getting in the way. I deployed in the hamlet while Alastair's Scotland Yard men advanced through the fields, in two groups, with military precision.
Pig alert! Scotland yard advance in the distance as Akhenaton prepares to take cover.
Akhenaton took some of his cultists (all members of the Worshipful Company of Bankers -so no one cares if they die) over to protect his flank by the barn. Alastair, who provided all the scenery and civilians had placed some livestock on the board too. There was some discussion as to whether this should have been a steam powered pig.
Sir Lawrence urges Shabaka on behind the barn which would become the epicentre of the battle
After several turns of movement, where I sent more men to boost the right flank, Scotland Yard's redoubtable sergeant and Shabaka the Nubian faced off and exchanged the first fire of the game. Alastair has played a few games of this and I had only had a quick read through the rules but it was very easy to pick up the basics. The only thing we couldn't find (and I am sure it is in there somewhere) was what effect difficult terrain has on movement. It is stated that there is a movement penalty for each of the three types of difficult terrain in the rules but while the shooting penalty is clear the movement penalty wasn't.
The inspector leads his men into the high street
On my left flank the Scotland Yard chaps soon shot most of my cultists and volley fire by the Special Branch put paid to one in the centre. Akhenaton was safe because of his clouding men's minds power, which meant he could only be shot if in base to base contact, but he decided to retreat to the back of the barn anyway. Shabaka successfully downed the sergeant but Dr Watson was on hand to use his medic's talent to revive him on the next move, annoyingly. Things were not going well for the Servants of Ra. I had lost four out of my eleven figures in two turns!
Brains vs brawn: Sherlock and Shabaka face off
Then I had a surprise! One of the random civilian ladies turned out to be the consulting detective in disguise! And he was right in the middle of my force which I had consolidated around the back of the barn. He attacked Shabaka from the rear which was a bigger shock than holding off the assault from the constabulary with their electro-truncheons. At this point I was down to just five figures while Alastair had eight still in action. An enormous hand to hand brawl ensued with multiple attacks, shooting from melee and all sorts of other shenanigans. This was where I discovered the almost invincible strength of Akhenaton. He started to cleave through the opposition with his mighty Khopesh while the lovely Zairah did for Dr Watson. Sir Lawrence, as all good cult leaders should, ran away and hid for most of this.
Gradually, the tables turned and Scotland Yard started to lose more and more men as Zairah sliced through them like a Whirling Dervish and Akhenaton fended off the constables. Holmes and Shabaka got involved in a massive slugfest which went on for turns while two Special Branch men went after the cowardly Sir Lawrence. Outnumbered two to one he unexpectedly put one of his attackers down with a very unpainterly roundhouse punch.
Sir Lawrence goes on the attack
Surprised by the eminent painter's aggressiveness the Special Branch man disengaged, only to have Sir Lawrence pursue him. Meanwhile Akhenaton and Zairah attacked Holmes. After a fight Holmes succumbed, as did Sir Lawrence. The cowardly (sensible) Special Branch man fled the field leaving the hamlet to Akhenaton and Zairah. A very rare wargames win for the Legatus!
Zairah rushes over to the fallen artist. Can she revive him? Will he ever paint a naked Egyptian slave girl again? We'll have to see in the next game!
There is a reason that In Her Majesty's Name is selling like hot cakes and that is because it is an excellent, well thought-out game that even an idiot like me can pick up very quickly! Although I thought the Servants of Ra would have no hope against Scotland Yard their key characters are tremendously strong and the game was very close. A lot of thought has gone into the composition of the companies and all credit to Messrs Cartmell and Murton for this. During the game, Alastair and I were thinking of all sorts of other scenarios and periods we could play with these rules and he is currently working on some African cannibals against which I could try to devise a Belgian Force Publique company. So it could be IHMN in Africa next! I have the new supplement Heroes, Villains and Fiends but haven't read it yet; something I will remedy shortly!
There is an interesting, recent YouTube video of Mr Cartmell discussing some possible directions the game might take, which is well worth a look. Pulp and swashbucklers, possibly. I'd be in for both of those!
Now I am enthused to get on and paint my next company. I have started Scotland Yard so that will be next I think! I don't think, from what he said during his video interview, that Mr Cartmell will be too pleased with the figures for an unofficial company I am working on. Too many corsets and goggles!
Thanks to Alastair for putting this game on and providing all the scenery. It was actually a game that didn't get me stressed! He is a very calming and convivial opponent!
Excellent fun and a highly recommended set of rules!