Sunday, August 26, 2018

Taiping Rebellion - River Fort Assault at Hankou

This is hard to believe, but this is my 200th blog post. When I started this blog back in 2010 I didn't think I would still be churning out content at this rate. Life is good!

This is our second game this month dealing with the Taiping Rebellion. This scenario has the Taiping Rebels attacking a river fort in the town of Hankou. The Taiping tried to capture river forts on their way to Nanking so they could rule the rivers to help with supplies and troop movements. This fort\town is one of the important ones as it is the only crossing for miles in either direction. The Imperials are outnumber and are not expected to win this battle, but the more of the rebels they send to their "heaven" the better!

Sorry, about the pink board in the photos. I just couldn't finish painting them before game time. Hopefully it won't be too garish on the eyes.

Commanders and Rules
Taiping - Phil, Glenn, Mike (and his son Nicholas) - forces carrying the yellow and red flags
Imperial - Jan, Brian

Rules - Piquet Hallowed Ground with my period modifications for the Taiping Rebellion

Special Rules in play
Rule of 1/3 impetus
Skirmish rules for this period
Stink Pots

Starting Morale Chips
Taiping   43
Imperial  24

Ending Morale Chips
Taiping   21 (Taiping Victory)
Imperial  1

The Layout

Here you can see the general layout of the battle with the fort and town bracketing the ford across the river. The Taiping commands are spread out across the table with the Veterans and Levy (to absorb casualties) set to assault the fort, while the Brethren and Cavalry commands holding off the rest of the Imperial forces. Although the table space was large, 9' x 5', the number of units is not that large compared to my 15mm battles. These 28mm figures take up a ton of space. Sketch map was made with PowerPoint.

As short video showing the layout of the table and troop dispositions

A few shots of the armies before jump into the battle. Here is Glenn's Taiping command of Levies (furthest away), and his brethren. The Kan Wang (Shield King) is encouraging his troops and is marked by his huge banners.

Brian's command that is holding Hankou, with some crazy Tigermen running around out in front of the main line.

Oh the pink! Sorry again! This is Brian's command inside the fort and the cowering Imperial commander is firmly set to wait out the assault from safety.

The Battle

This was a bit comical as I allow the attacker to always win the first initiative no matter what the die roll is for the initiative roll. Well, the Taiping won, but only by one pip, the next roll the Imperial won handily, and preceded to through his Tigermen at the Taiping Jingalls all across the front of the battlefield. In every case, the Tigermen (D8) lost to the Jingalls (D4) in melee! What are the odds! Here is a shot of one such encounter.

As the Veteran Taiping move towards the fort, they push their light jingalls forward only to be surprised by an Imperial Heavy Jingall hidden in the tower of the fort! Of course, the Imperial Jingall missed. I don't think I have seen Brian (Imperial garrison commander) roll so many 1s and 2s in my life, and we have been gaming together for almost 3 decades!

Here comes the LEVY masses!

"We need more arrows!", shouts the Imperial archers manning the wall of the fort!

The two Taiping light jingalls were able suppress (disorder - green marker) the Imperial jingall.

Imperial light jingall has better success and staggers a levy unit (disordered) and they halt before they can reach the walls.

Here you can see the mass of Taiping surging across the battlefield. The Imperial commanders are already shaking in their slippers.

The Brethren hit the town of Hankou, with Jingals firing their large caliber musket balls into the enemy.

Taiping Jingal disorders the Imperial unit in the Hankou town sector,

Next a Brethren unit armed with stink pots advances and tosses their stink pots to great affect! The Imperial unit is routed (2nd disorder routs a unit in Piquet)

General situation across the battlefield at this point in time.

Taiping are swarming the fort. It won't be long before they begin their assault. Both the Levy and Veteran command are equipped with scaling equipment, like ladders, grappling hooks, etc.

The Brethren rush into the high crops to attack an Imperial unit.

Before the Brethren can occupy the empty Hankou, another Imperial unit moves in and takes its place! Now they will have to dig out another Imperial unit in the narrow streets of Hankou.

The levy have all moved into contact with the fort and are starting to scale the walls (i.e. waiting for a Melee Resolution card)

The Imperials moved their archer unit (didn't do any damage to the Taiping) off the wall and moved a standard infantry unit into the position. It looses a volley of matchlock and bow fire, causing two stand losses to the levy unit. That levy unit's morale is check and they fall back disordered.

Next, the Imperial unit fires into another of the levy units also causing two stands of damage. This morale challenge routs the levy units (see them running to the rear in the photos below). The heart next to the leader of the levy means they he has to make a survival check on the next "Officer Check" card.

The Veterans are unable to soften up the Imperial units guarding this part of the fort so they send in the two melee units to attempt to take the wall. The high crops do seem to hinder their impetus.

An Officer Check is drawn and the Levy commanders is killed. Was it friend or enemy fire? The Levy's complete collapse has bolstered the morale of the low rolling Imperial commanders.

The Taiping pull a Heroic Melee Resolution and send the Veterans over the wall. Only one Taiping Veteran was in contact with the wall at this point.

With the bonus of the "Heroic Moment", plus their far superior melee value the veterans are able to push back the Imperial battalion. Note, that they only disordered the Imperial unit, they were unable to rout them.

All along the battlefield the Taiping and Imperial forces cross swords, halberds, spears, and matchlocks.

Two Taiping cavalry regiments attack the Imperial Banner men!

Good shot of the center of the Imperial and Taiping forces.

The Taiping cavalry routs the Imperial Bannermen! Notice that the Taiping commander is attached and leading the charge (with Superior numbers)

The aggress attack by Mike's Taiping cavalry has left their flank vulnerable and the Mongols proceed to spin and hit the one Taiping cavalry unit in the flank, which routs them. (see below)

Veteran Taiping storm into the fort's parade ground to attack the Imperial troops they just drove off the wall!

The Taiping have now captured half of Hankou, and are looking to clear out the last Imperial unit closest to the ford!

The Imperial stink pot is thrown in the Veteran Taiping and the nauseous fumes have driven them back to the fort wall! First successful Imperial stink pot throw in two games. Brian is happy.

Meanwhile on the Taiping right Mike (and son) are teaming up against Jan's Imperials and slowly driving them back.

Matchlocks suck as Mike with his Taiping were going to find out. He fired twice into these Mongol cavalry men and completely missed both times. Too funny. The Mongols evaded shortly after this.

Oh no, here comes an avalanche of Taiping veterans over the fort walls. They launch another attack in the courtyard after the stink pot fumes dissipated.

The jig is up cries the Imperial general as he fleas the fort and makes for the river ford!

The Imperials facing the levy are still holding their ground.

A Taiping Brethren unit runs down the street and blocks the exit of the fort. This is not a good sign for the defenders.

The Taiping brethren chase an Imperial commander (now safely behind the Imperial infantry unit) and run into devastating fire, losing two stands.

The carnage in the parade ground. The Taiping veterans make quick work of the remaining forces of the Qing Dynasty and the rest of the Imperials surrender or flea the battlefield. There was great slaughter in the pursuit.

Another glorious battle with Piquet and my Taiping collection. Next week I'm going to fight one more Taiping battle then move on to another era. Hope you enjoyed this big battle report!


  1. Wonderful work, write up, pictures, and figures/buildings, Eric. Highly i.pressive indeed. Who makes the figures, buildings, and fort? Thanks, Hal

  2. Thanks Hal, here is a run down.

    Cigar Box terrain Mats
    Flex terrain roads from 1990s.
    Buildings by Mal Wright (one of a kind)
    Fort by Michael Huskey (card board with spackling)
    Foundry (80%) – Taiping\Opium War range.
    Old Glory 25mm (20%) – Boxer Range

    Hope this helps.

  3. Excellent exposition demonstrating mastery of fabrication, layout, history and gaming. Hats off to you, maestro!

  4. So colorful and exciting. Always a treat to see these armies in action.

  5. Fun AAR. I see the Imperial Chinese general behaved pretty historically, :)

    Always good to see the Taipings win!

  6. Superb as always. Great looking terrain and figures for a period not often seen on table