Friday, February 16, 2024

Battle of Aliwal - 15mm Sikh Wars game using Battle Command

Hi folks, Eric here! We are doing tons of gaming around here, but this is my first miniatures battle I have hosted in months. I hope to do this much more often. As usual, click on the individual photos to enlarge them. The game was played Saturday, February 10th, 2024.


See British Battles Website: Battle of Aliwal ( for details. 

This battle is from the First Sikh War between Britain and the Sikh Army of the Khalsa.

The British won this major battle with the 16th Lancers earning glory in the victory. Would they be covered in glory in this battle?

Rules and Miniatures

Rules: Battle Command (BC) from Piquet Inc. This was our first time playing these rules and they are very different than what Michael and Rich are used to playing. It took about a full turn for them (and myself) to grasp the concepts of the rules and turn two went twice as fast even though we did more things in turn two! I will be playing BC again in the near future. Likely with my SYW collection. There are some truly clever concepts in the rules.

Miniatures: 15mm figures from Michael's collection. This is likely less than 1/3 of all the figures he has for this war! Most figures are the old Freikorp line, plus Minifigs, Essex, etc. 

Game mats: Cigar Box Sicily maps x 2. These will be great for Boxer Rebellion, Maximilian in Mexico, Punic Wars, Greco-Persian Wars, and Russo-Japanese War collections! Love them,but I sure wish they would make one 10' x 6' cloth! That would be perfect.

Special Rules for this Scenario:

Sikh Militia Infantry (Jagirdari) get no First Fire Bonus on the Fire table.

British auto-win first initiative and it is a single initiative turn. Their first card is automatically the MOVE card.  


I tried my best to map out the battlefield according to all online and book research I could do. One interesting thing is that the British deployed their entire army in one long line with no reserve. Would that be a problem in our game?

Sikh defensive works (class II) on the left and the entire British in line on the right.

The Armies

I used mostly default charts to roll up the unit and leader qualities. I think I will need to make some adjustments for this period of warfare in the future.

British Army Roster

16th Lancers with their white helmet covers:

General Harry Smith!

Sikh Army Roster

Main Sikh Defensive lines with Aliwal in the background. That is a crapload of artillery!

I would likely tweak some of these values if I fought this battle again. However, since this isn't my figure collection and I have to return them (had them since March 2023!) I likely won't fight any more Sikh battles.

The Battle

The battle started with the British guns opening up on the Sikhs with little effect then the general advance was ordered and Hicks' 3rd Brigade was tasked with clearing out Aliwal! 

Above: The brave Jagirdari defenders manage to repulse the BNI and Ghurkas assault forces sending them back in disorder. 

Above: the Sikh guns open up in the center and drive back the 2nd Brigade with stiff casualties.

Above: British Horse batteries disorder (green marker) and cause UI loss (brown marker) on a Sikh Battery of the Elite Avitabile Brigade. The Avitabile brigade was considered some of the best Sikh troops and were trained by an Italian named Avitabile. 

Above: the 24th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) and Nasiri's Ghurkas use firepower to drive out the Sikh militia in Aliwal. (Sikhs are now cleared from the village)

Above: Stedman's right cavalry wing, which consists of four cavalry regiments, closes the distance to the enemy.

Above: After losing nerves in front of the Sikh guns, the British commander decides to "break some eggs" and advances into contact on the left flank (1st Brigade) and advance what is left of his forces in the center and through Aliwal.

Above: the 31st BNI loses two UI (tan pipe cleaners) while trying to overrun the disordered Sikh battery. The Sikh regulars in the improvised earthworks give them pause, but they move into melee with a much reduced impetus. 

Above: disaster in the 1st Brigade. The Sikh guns drive away the 31st BNI in disorder, while the 53rd Foot is ROUTED (red marker) by one of the Avitabile regiments! Brigadier Wilson of the 1st Brigade tries to steady the lads, but chaos of battle has nearly ruptured the 1st Brigade.

Above: seizing the initiative the Avitabile regiments launch into the offensive while the British are still recovering from their initial failure on the left flank.

Above: meanwhile the battle rages around Aliwal and the Sikh earthworks. The British bring up horse guns and send two regiments (31st Foot in blue pants and 24th BNI closest to the earthworks) into point blank musket range in an attempt to finally clear out some guns and militia. 

Above: realizing that the vast majority of the entire left wing of the Sikh army is raw militia, the British commander becomes more reckless and moves his guns into canister range. This pays off huge dividends at the Sikh militia are carved to pieces and melt away. 

Above: in the center the British suffer from withering Sikh canister fire but manage to hold their ground while delivering devastating volleys. 

Above: The 50th Foot sends the red jacket Sikh militia screaming to the rear and begin to hammer on th Sikh guns. The Sikh guns eventually push the 50th back in disorder.

On the far left flank the 1st Cavalry Brigade under MacDowell, charges the Sikhs and their guns. The Sikhs manage to repulse the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry (BLC) in the photo above.

Above: the 16th Lancers rides into glory and overruns this Sikh battery completely annihilating them. 

Above: Sikh's far left flank looking at the British massing to punch a whole into the poorly defended section of the Sikh line. Only a dry riverbed stands between the Foot Guns and that poor Sikh militia unit.

Above: Brigadier General Wilson of the 1st Brigade is mortally wounded and carried from the field. The 1st Brigade is now hanging on by a thread!

Above: the entire front line of militia infantry has been cleared of the earthworks. The British are sensing a turning point in the battle in their favor!

Above: near the center more good news for the British and a Horse Battery sends Sikh regulars running from their entrenchment! 

Above: Shaky militia watch as Sikh regulars rout by them with 3 UI loses! 

Above: the 31st Foot clears the earthworks and is now poised to flank the Sikh guns or tear into the rear lines of the Sikhs, which is mostly militia. You can also see the 400-500 yard gap in the lines between the 31st Foot and the Sikh cavalry wing.

It was at this point we had to break for the day with the battle singing in the balance. The British only had 2 or 3 Army Morale Points left.

Above: end game photo showing the British cavalry wing about to cause massive problems and the huge gap in the Sikh lines.

Above: 31st Foot awaits orders! They have one UI loss.

Above: panoramic view of the battlefield from the Sikh point of view.

Above: here you can see where we left off with the 16th Lancers. Could they turn the Sikh flank before the Sikhs blast them from their saddles?

Above: another view from the Briths left flank looking at the entire battlefield.

Casualties & Conclusion

We completed two turns of the game and the British had broken through in several locations and the main Sikh defensive line had been torn to pieces and turned. The third turn would have truly resolved the game. The British had 2 AMPs left out of 25, while the Sikhs had just 12 of 40 so it could be anybody's game at this point. 

It was interesting to watch the British commander lose his personal morale check in turn one, only to go on a tear in turn 2 and nearly destroy the Sikhs as he got more and more familiar with the rules and how to maximize his troops effectiveness. He loved the British Horse artillery once he understood how to use them per the rules.

Sikh Casualties

When the game was stopped here is what the butcher's bill was for the Sikhs. 

1 Howitzer Battery destroyed.
1 Foot Battery destroyed.
2 x Foot Batteries crippled (each with only 1 UI left out of 3) 
1 x Faui-i-ain (regulars) routed.
6 x Jagirdari (militia\tribal) destroyed!
No leader casualties and the cavalry was just about to engage with the British on the Sikh left flank. Half the Sikh artillery was no more, and the rest had their flanks turned so they were likely on their way to ruination. 

British Casualties

Many of the Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) were roughly handled in the game (2 to 3 UI losses), but none were currently routing. 

53rd Foot currently routing (likely to rally, but essentially out of the action)
Gurkha Sirmoor Battalion destroyed.
Brigadier General Wilson of the 1st Brigade was mortally wounded. 

Just a caveat. None of us have played Battle Command, however I'm very familiar with Piquet and Field of Battle. Teaching this unique set of rules to newbies is a challenge and it took us longer with our first run of this ruleset than I thought. We started playing at 10am, broke for a quick lunch, then finished at 3:30 and folks had to leave for other commitments. 

The players and I truly enjoyed ourselves despite to bumpy rules start (I just had to look up too much stuff!) 

Can't wait to try BC with my Seven Years War 15mm collection next!




  1. I enjoyed reading about your game - thanks for all of the photos you posted!

    1. thanks Brent! I sometimes wonder if detailed blogging is worth it, but I enjoy doing the battle reports.

  2. Very good looking game, nice set up and some lovely figures on show. Sikh Wars are a very interesting period to game.

  3. Brave man to play, learn, and teach with new rules. All this in two turns? Look forward to your SYW outing. Do these rules owe more to FoB than Piquet?

    1. the rules are definitely more FoB in nature. I'm actually going to head to the French in Mexico before I do SYW. I wanted to try a smaller engagement.

  4. Looks great, and plenty of the usual Piquet/FoB/BC drama (a good thing, righht?!). The Matrix decreases the chances that some player will do little, without giving them carte blanche. However, sometimes making the choices can take some time (not much with experienced FoB players). Teaching the rules is somewhat harder than in FoB, because you are NOT limited to one thing at a time. Action is pretty constant with these rules!

    1. Teaching these were difficult. The British commander really struggled with the WIN EVEN caveats. I struggled too as this was my first BC game and I hardly ever play FoB. Onward to Mexico next (SYW after that)

  5. What a great looking battlefield and nice collection - I do that war also, my only war I use 25mm for. Old Glory figs. The Sikhs were in real life and should be in gaming a tough foe to best. Their artillery were the best part of their army. I always enjoy your long AARs (per your comment if doing long AARs are worth it - I think so!)

    1. Thank you Mike! It is a labor of love to write these up, but I do enjoy seening folks reactions to the battles. Maximilian game is next.