Saturday, January 20, 2018

Death in the Dark Continent: First Game and Impressions

My gaming group has been regular users of Chris Peers' "In The Heart of Africa" and "Contemptible Little Armies" rules for our Africa games, and we've found them to be quite enjoyable for our casual get togethers. With North Star releasing his new "Death in the Dark Continentrule set, we wanted to see if it brought anything new to the table.

For our first trial game, Steve and I tried a clash of two European forces: British and French.  We went with the basic "Pitched Battle" scenario to be fought over a jungle outpost. The scenario description says that bases can be placed anywhere up to 6" of the opposing table edge, so we both decided to deploy around the middle of the table.

Steve won the dice role for initiative, and placed his French in the village while I did my best to surround them.

 The British askari charged the French tirailleurs holding the trading outpost, but were pushed back and received 2 disorder markers.

Meanwhile, the British soldiers moved in on the left to threaten the French baggage, while Sikhs moved in on the right behind the outpost.

The askari and Sikhs opened fire on the tirailleurs and failed to eliminate any bases, but managed to cause some disorder. The 1st legionnaire squad began firing at the Sikhs, while the 2nd legionnaire squad moved to protect their baggage from the advancing British.

The askari and tirailleurs continued their exchange of gunfire at the trading outpost, with neither side managing to dislodge one another. Meanwhile, the Sikhs changed targets and charged the 1st squad of legionnaires.  Their action was unsuccessful and they were forced to retreat. 

On the other side of the village, the 2nd legionnaire squad and the British unleashed a hail of bullets at each other.

Shooting continued for another round and though no bases were lost, the disorder markers continued to pile up.

 The 1st legionnaire squad finally launched a counter-charge against the Sikhs, but after a short stalemate they were pushed back.

The 2nd legionnaire squad and the British exchanged another round of fire, with the British eventually deciding to take cover behind the huts and move into position to support the asakri advance towards the tirailleurs.

The Sikhs eventually managed to eliminate a base of  legionnaires while the askari overran and slaughtered the tirailleurs.

At this stage we decided to call it a British victory and end the game.

So our thoughts on the rules:

  • The production value is top notch, with beautiful pics, extensive army lists, and a lot of historical reference.  And it's well indexed with quick reference sheets to boot!
  • It generally plays similarly to his previous rules, with the major difference being the use of multi-figure bases instead of individual figures. We didn't want to rebase out figures, so used 2x1 movement trays from Warbases. The larger bases did cause us some confusion in determining how to draw line of sight for shooting, but we later got some clarity from the Facebook group (2 corners of a base need to be visible to the attacking unit).
  • Our impression is that morale breaks are what is going to win or lose combats much more so that base loss. In our game, only 2 bases were lost to critical hits.
  • There are a lot of dice modifiers for the shooting and melee (16 each, both additive and subtractive!) that really slowed the attacks as we tried to work out the math. I think this is the weakest part of the new rules and it would have been better if they had fewer modifiers and and had stuck with either additive or subtractive instead of mixing in both.  Or perhaps they could better organize them to help with improving the processing speed.
  • For close combat, the unit sizes don't actually play a role in any of the above modifiers, which we found rather odd. It will be interesting to play again with natives to see if this confers any advantages to to either side.
Final verdict: While solid, we weren't really sold that the rules are a significant improvement over Chris Peers' other rule sets. It seemed more like a variation on a theme, with some things working better and some less so. If you've already invested in the other rules and army books, I'm not sure this would be worth picking up.  However, if you're just starting out in African gaming, this would be a good purchase, as the rules include all the army lists and histories, plus a bonus big game hunting set of rules.


  1. Fantastic looking terrain and miniatures!

  2. A good summary of the rules, appreciated.
    The pics of the game looks great

  3. Nice battle report Major 😉

    I understand some your misgivings. I made a play sheet that might help. It has the factors laid out in all + and all - factors. Get it here.

    You may also be interested in my thoughts on DitDC here.

    Have a look at the Death in the Dark Continent tag. The rules might be worth a few more tries before deciding they’re not for you.


    Happy Wanderer

  4. Thanks All! We haven't passed final judgement on them yet and still plan to try out more games. The rules just didn't blow us away on first play.

  5. I am pretty sure those are miniatures from my BrigadeGames WW1 ranges, correct?

    Fantastic painting and scenery.


    1. Thanks Lon! Yes, the bulk of my British forces are from your line. They will also be moving into Back of Beyond when I finally get around to completing the cavalry.

  6. Are the huts scratchbuilt or bought? They look good. I've yet to be able to play a game with my african terrain but I'm slowly getting there.

    1. Hi John,
      The huts were purchased from Old Glory: