12 May 2016

"The Sands of Sudan" - A few questions and answers

"Excuse me sir...may I ask a question please?"
Since "The Sands of Sudan" rules were published a little over 18 months ago I have been very fortunate to have received a great number of accounts of games played and battles fought using the rules and not only for the Sudan but other theatres such as Zulu Wars etc.

Good mate Gerry Elliot, immediate past owner of the legendary Wargames Holiday Centre and Dave Docherty, painter to the stars and all-round wargaming icon have been playing some wonderful games on a table that is as big as most peoples houses!  Check out what they have be up to here at "The Situation Room".

Being the intelligent men that they are, and wanting to get maximum enjoyment out of the games system they had a few questions which I though I would put upon the blog to get a dialogue going, not only for them but also for all those playing the rules or looking at giving them a go in the future.

Can we explain the turn sequence a bit more especially charge declarations and when/how these are done in sequence?

The Turn Sequence on page 6 details the process reasonably simply.  After Mahdists have reacted they move according to those random dice and the chart detailing their present situation best.

We have also added unofficially(soon to be official- thanks AJ)  the fact that a unit with an Emir attached can alter the result as on the Mahdist Reaction Chart up or down one letter to the one most favourable to the force that's testing.

For example a Mahdist force without an Emir that's testing for 'Unknown enemy' (due to the sounds of a fire fight out of their line of sight, perhaps) gets a dice roll of 3. The result on the chart is 'E - Head for nearest high ground.' With an Emir in command that result could stay the same, or go down to 'D - Head for firing,' or up to 'F/D - Head for known friends/firing,' whichever would cause most pain to the Imperial player.

This applies to all reaction tests when a unit is lead by an Emir EXCEPT WHEN ENGAGED IN MELEE. 

The melee rules are very finely balanced as and so the chance of a Mahdist unit remaining in contact after the first round still remains 1 in 6.

So if we go back to the original question, the Mahdist who gets a "Charge" result will move into contact in his very next movement phase.

For the Imperial player, he then moves his charges and then all other troops.  He cannot move and then declare a charge in the same turn.  He can also move some troops first and then charge others that are now able to access the enemy.

For example in a square he may wish to change formation from line to column for a few companies so some lancers sheltering in the inside can then charge out and hit the advancing Fuzzies.  As long as they can reach the enemy in that 1/2 a move (that's what it takes infantry to change formation from line to column) then the order he does it in is not critical.

Who pursues?  What are the mechanics?  When and how does this happen?

In "The Sands of Sudan" the only chaps who ever get a chance to really pursue are the Imperial troops.  Look at pursuit as a charge in another form and happening in the same part of the turn i.e. part 4 of the sequence.

Mahdists never pursue as the Imperial player never breaks - he either wins the combat or dies to the last man.

If he wipes out the enemy the Mahdist unit will react again next period.  The Umpire will roll 2d6 and refer to the Mahdist Reaction chart on page 18, referring to the circumstances under the heading "Winning:cut down" which will mean that 66% of the time he will go looking to charge into the nearest enemy.

If the Mahdist in contact need to test due to losing or losing badly and get a "Withdraw out of range at evade speed" they move away (evade speed and pursued speed are the same by the way, a small quirk in keeping the Gilder language in the rules) then the Imperial player gets the opportunity to charge them again if he has the movement or fresh units with the movement rate to do so e.g. that cavalry squadron over the hill etc. This is the advantage the Imperial players have as they do move after the Mahdists.

A charge in the rules however you can also interpret it as a pursuit by any other name.

Can Imperial troops break off combat from the enemy?

In terms of being able to break-off from the enemy that's an interesting one.

I certainly wouldn't allow infantry or artillery to do so however cavalry who still have an officer (the senior officer in the formation) in command might be able to do so on a roll of a 1-5 on 1d6.  A 6 means he is too far away from his trumpeter and they command cannot get the order through.

Perhaps reduce the chances by one for every wound he has sustained so that a roll of 1, 2 or 3 is needed if he has two wounds on him.   Interested how this plays for anyone deciding to give it a go so please relate your experiences back.

If they succeed in sounding the retreat , they could do then do so at pursued speed (6" + 2d6) meaning their is a risk that they don't get that far away and get charged in the rear the next turn if the Mahdists get the right reaction test roll.

Just enough uncertainty to make it a potentially fatal ploy.

I like it!

"They tried to break off.  One minute they were here and then the next...poof!"

What constitutes a change of circumstances in the Mahdist Reaction tests for "the bad guys"?

I always tend to umpire games, so in my opinion the Mahdists are always the good guys.  I am sticking to that!

Seriously though it is a good question.

Page 18 of the rules states "Mahdist Reaction" discusses the circumstances when a reaction test is required: a - Following a melee, b- second turn after arriving on the battlefield and c - following any change in circumstances e.g. enemy troops become visible.

So lets say a unit of 200 Mahdist spears have arrived on the table last turn.  They now need to make their first reaction test. 

Lets assume a scouting squadron of Bengal Lancers is visible within 72" of them and on the plains so considered to be "In the Open". 

They have 12 enemy figures visible and they themselves consist of 20 figures so we go to the "1/2 own" strength in figures row on the chart.

Lets further assume they roll an 8 on 2d6 which gives them a "A" result - Charge or move to charge ASAP.  So they set off at charge speed (their fastest pace 15") to try and engage the lancers.

Let us now assume one last time for this example that as the Bengal Lancers withdraw the Mahdist spears headlong approach takes them near a rise where a battalion of Scots Guards and awaiting in line - all sixty figures of them!  He nearest enemy is double their own strength and the umpire notes that next period this unit will need to start the turn by testing reaction.

General Reaction tests such as "Friends winning", "Firing heard" are all pretty self-explanatory and rely on common sense approaches as well.  No point rolling for "Friends losing" if that has happened at the other end of a table with a big range of hills in the way.  Changes of circumstances are those that can be realistically seen or heard. 

Keep the questions coming please.