In The Beginning...
Hidden placement of Native Units has been a cornerstone of The Sword And The Flame
from its start. It was one of the first war game rules to make it more than “optional.” With “Identification Rocks,”
author Larry Brom provided the simple means to anonymously site hidden Native Units, and simultaneously, created “ghost”
Units which simply might be out of sight beyond that rise, behind those trees, or down that donga, etc. By recording
the numbered rocks which actually represented Units, it was possible to know the “real” from the “imaginary,” and the
use of Scouts by the Imperial Forces took on authentic and dramatic purpose in play.
And early on, some Native Players took the next logical step and moved their “ID Rocks” to avoid discovery,
or at least keep the uncertainty alive. Of course, such Markers not only had to begin hidden, but remain so during and
after movement, even though subsequent Enemy moves in the same turn could still unmask them.
But if an ID Rock (or other marker) rested behind a tree, did that mean the whole Unit was actually
hiding there? “Oh!,” but the Native Player would pop up, “That’s not just one tree! It represents a growth of them!” Uh huh.
As wide as a 20-man mounted Boer Kommando, or 12 Beja Camel Riders, and growing in the direction you just happen to need?
Indeed, some Native Units began trying fitting into spaces, shadows, and holes Stephen Hawking couldn’t define, hurting
an otherwise great evening’s entertainment.
What Are "Hidden/Dummy" Unit Markers?
TVAG’s Hidden & Dummy Unit Game Markers were developed to end all that sort of uncertainty, while
keeping the kind we want for ALL Native Armies for TSATF/800FE, in the most popular gaming scales of 25mm, 20mm (1:72),
15mm, and 10mm. If there is a request for another scale (we don't see a practical use for 54mm/1:32 figures), we'll
try to accommodate you!
Each Marker Set PDF is offered on one 8.5" x 11" or A4 sheet, and has the marker representing
one Native Army—Mahdist, Boxer/Chinese, Zulu, Afghan/Pathan Tribesmen, Afghan Regulars, Egyptian, or Boer. Each sheet
carries at least one Marker, depending on the scale bought. The smaller scales bear more Markers to the page, which is a
convenience when self-printing on your own card stock, paper, etc, in B&W or Color, as you prefer! By mounting the printed
Markers on foam core or matte board, and covering with contact paper, or laminating, a set of Markers become essentially
permanent, lasting for years of game use.
The size of Markers in each of the offered scales was determined by the physical area covered by the
largest single Unit type each Native Army could field in figures of that size. For example, 25mm Mahdists can have 12
figure Units of Camelry on 2” round bases, but one each of all their other Unit types will fit under the one 8” Marker.
Every Unit type in the 25mm Egyptian Army fits under a 4.5” x 3.25” Marker. The 25mm Zulus have only Infantry in Mass,
so only a 4” x 4” Marker is needed for each Iviyo in the Impi.
Each Marker is easily identified as to Nationality at a glance, and has a uniformly located blank square
for writing an ID number, etc, into to keep record of which Unit (if any) it represents in play.
So, How Do They Work?
Markers move, or “hold,” as any other Unit on the draw of a Card, rolling for distance, affected by
terrain and their (invisible) but legal formation for type. If they move, they must be hidden by line of sight for the
whole distance from all enemy Units in all directions and all three dimensions. No pre-measuring is allowed, and once
moved, no part can be “taken back.” An Imperial Unit may claim to check for visibility at any point during a hidden Native
Unit's move, and if it has a line of sight, may also claim the right of “Pass Through Fire,” if otherwise possible. A
hidden Unit announcing a “Charge!” is immediately placed on the table and remains so, whatever the result of its Morale Tests.
Hidden Units which choose to Fire, and meet the requirements, give up their hidden status immediately. Hidden Units may be
subject to “Fire At Concealment Areas.” Finally, for purposes of TSATF/800FE, once a Unit goes from hidden to exposed
status, it cannot practically return to hidden, though it certainly can move again out of the line of fire.
The key to remember is that no matter the size of the Marker, only ONE Unit may be “under” it. If this
may seem like a lot of space for just one Unit, remember: As the Native Player, YOU may know there’s only some Infantry under
that impressive Marker—but to your Imperial opponent, it could be ANYTHING your Army could field.
And that very unknown can make it the strongest Unit you have!
"How Many Dummies Does It Take...?"
Just how many Markers can usefully be on the table during a game is a fair question, and the answer in the end depends
on what works best for the players--like most other aspects of the game.
For actual hidden units, obviously it's "One Unit, One Marker." But when Markers are also being use to create the element
of uncertainty as to the Native Army's numbers and placement, this requires fair thinking. Complex formulae, plus random
dice rolls, can produce results secret from the Imperial forces from 25% to 100% of the number of number of Native Units
actually in the game, at least based on historical precedents. But anything above a third is simply too many for
TSATF/800FE, bogging down the game and defeating its purpose, though that, too, is up to the players.
For simplicity's sake, and to keep the use of Markers a "spice" to the game, and not the "meal" itself, we recommend
something like this: Count the number of Native Units of all kinds (Foot, Horse, Guns) that will begin on the table, and
have the Native players plan their initial dispositions. Units that will begin hidden will have their own Markers placed
on the table while the rest of their Units figures are laid out as usual. With the number of hidden units established while
the army is being set up, roll a D6: 1,2= 1: 3,4,5= 2; 6= 3. Multiply this result by the number of
initial hidden units, and place these dummys while doing so with the rest of the army.
Remember, any hidden or dummy Unit which becomes visible to an Enemy Unit by line of sight--even if before movement on
Game Turn 1--has been exposed and must be replaced with the actual figures, or removed as a "ghost."
Placing Units as "hidden" when they would be revealed immediately in Turn 1 simply to inflate the
number of possible dummy Markers is the work of a low down dirty rotten....