10 June 2016

"The Sands of Sudan" - some more Q & A

This chap looks over the horizon at a host of excellent and exciting questions for "The Sands of the Sudan".

We have started an excellent and dynamic dialogue with a few of the chaps who are keen to expand their playing of "The Sands of Sudan" and they have sent through some questions and queries which might be of benefit to the many of you who have purchased the rules so far and also to those contemplating a plunge into some old fashioned colonial stoushes on a grand scale.

For those wishing to get some more background information visit the previous "A few Questions" post.

Gerry and Dave ( two very esteemed wargamers) feel that the turn sequence may need some tweaking.

"Turn Sequence. The point talked about in the game were twofold. Firstly, do both sides "secretly" declare charges? 

No need.  The Umpire is the Mahdist player so he declares his charges ahead of the Imperial players.  This has a two fold effect.  Firstly it allows the Imperial players to react to the Mahdists moves after the vent as well as knowing that they are able, by means of superior tactical skill and manoeuvre, to set up for events for the next turn in their current movement phase.

We know that the "baddies" are acting compulsory, but lets assume they have to advance to contact and 2 enemy units are in reach, both at the same range. Do they choose?

The Umpire chooses if one is closer to the other it is obvious.  If both are the same distance approximately simply roll a dice to determine who cops it.

Secondly, lets assume the Imperialists declare a charge. The logic of the mechanics and your answer appear to describe the following.

The "baddies" always move first, irrespective of what, if any, Imperial charges are declared. Following this is the logic that if this is the case, then Imperialists just declare what they want to do when it gets to point 4 in the sequence.


A newly arrived Officer looks to gain every advantage he can against this blasted African sun!

Implicit in this sequence is the following. "Baddies" must charge. Imperialist gun battery, with flank exposed, is in range. At the same time, an Imperialist cavalry unit is in range of the "baddies" and if move rates were prorated, then the cavalry would contact the "baddies" before the "baddies" contacted the gun flank.

If moves were simultaneous then you are correct - but they are not and I believe Peter Gilder designed it this way for a simple reason.  The Mahdist player moves first and then the Imperial player.  It is precisely for the reasons you are discussing e.g. pro-rated movement that it is designed that way.  Too complex and slows the game down.  Let them get into it and suffer the consequences afterwards.

The sequence, as written says the "baddies" move first and contact the guns. The cavalry are impotent. This flies in the face of too much for me. This is why the question arose. We had "baddies" charging a gun battery, alright, flanked by two deployed battalions and would get blasted. The cavalry were to the "baddies" rear and given the respective move distances could contact the "baddies" before they contacted the Imperialists: IF CHARGE MOVES WERE SIMULTANEOUS.

However there is nothing to stop the cavalry charging those same Mahdists who have attacked the gun battery in the flank or rear.  This also adds to the combat result remember because the Mahdists have to cause more casualties in figures than they receive for all combat they are involved in.   So the Mahdists would be fighting the gunners to the front and be allowed to turn a total of two to the flank or five to the rear to face the cavalry as well.

This allows the Imperial player a bit of additional flexibility in countering those fiendish natives.

This is why the question got raised. We think "charges" should be included at sequence point 2.

I think the turn sequence works well when you consider the above points.  However I would be keen to see some reports on games played with the variation to it.  The "Charges Declared - Mahdists then Imperialists" before Mahdist movement.  Personally I don't think it is necessary but I love feedback gents.  

Regards the Emir, we played that he could change all reaction dies rolls by +1 or -1.

I think that can work really well for all reactions other than "In Melee".  I think that is too powerful and allows the Mahdists too great a chance to "stick" in the melee as it takes a 16% chance of going a second round and turns it into a becomes a 50% chance.  Changes the play significantly.  

Regards pursuits, you are essentially saying they don't exist. Its the same as a charge. I think I've covered charges, having it at 4 in the sequence is the wrong place for me. I'd like to see pursuits, as these tended to happen when discipline lapsed after a success, to be a potentially compulsory action. I'd like something like roll 1d10 after a melee. On a 10, the Imperialist pursues, compulsory, in section 4 of movement. Add +1 if Egyptian, +1 if Sunday etc etc.

These Imperial lads are made of sterner, disciplined stuff in the  "Sands of Sudan" rules Gerry.  They always do what you want them to do as long as they are in command and don't get an adverse "Reaction Card".  They never need to take morale, never need to test to charge (though I do like the idea of testing to break-off from a melee and will play-test it myself soon).  Quite deliberately the odds are stacked against the British forces from the start so they do need to have a bit of Hollywood "stiff upper lip" flexibility and I make no apologies about that.  "Stand firm lads!"

Slight close up demonstrating my attempt at painting bamboo cane for the handle

I still think the change of circumstances needs expanding. The one that happened to us was for a "baddies" unit to get a reaction to charge, the enemy being just under 72" distant. So the "baddies" go on their merry way. What is not clear are things like: what if previously unseen enemy become visible and are closer? I see the example you gave and the "baddies" change direction and retested. Would you retest every time the "visible troop multiplier" changed? What if an Emir joins the "baddies"? Can he claim a change of circumstance? What if a sand storm descends and no one is visible, but the sand storm only lasts a turn?

I would retest every time the circumstances changed.  A quick roll on 2d6 and they may well completely change their mindset.  Your example and how you described the changes that are possible is a perfect example of when to test again. 

I would also be tempted, after more game play, to consider the range troops fire at when charged. Rather than point blank, I'd be tempted to bring in a "Grand Manner" mechanic of "apparent range". I think it might be needed for pitched battles when they are developed.

Interesting and could work well.  Remember though that in many rules I have played where you do a roll a dice to determine at what range you fire (sometimes dependant upon training, class etc.) a hit is implicit and you simply roll for effect.  I was also conscious of the fact that their is a good deal of rolling of dice in the fire sequence already so perhaps adding another one may be too much however there is nothing to stop someone rolling a handful of dice at the same time as suggested in the rules.  Perhaps a d4 with a 1 - close, 2 or 3 - medium and a 4 long modified up or down + by Guards, raw etc. 

The flexibility to use these kinds of house rules is always actively encouraged as long as you share the good ones!

In these rules you can still fire off a very inefficient volley by rolling a 1 even at point blank range and missing a charging target.

Rear view of the command base complete with mat tufts!

I can see no use for a General!

Well spotted Gerry.  From all my research, Peter Gilder never defined what a General could actually add to the Imperial forces other than as a ceremonial figurehead on a base.  Perhaps that said it all as far as he was concerned! 

Thoughts on the merits of additional abilities of Generals are most welcome. 

Can a battalion elect to fire by company instead ofrisking an all or nothing roll of the dice when shooting. I ask this asthere are times when it may be necessary such as when a company has lost its officer and cannot rapid fire?

Good question Andy (who owns and runs the excellent Legendary Wargames).  Yes it can however be careful as you may be rolling a LOT of times for firing. The approach when firing a battalion "Rapid Fire" and one of the companies has lost its Company Commander may well be the perfect example of when to allow it however I would hate to think how much it would add to the time of the game being played out if players elected to fire by company all the time. I am sure that is not what you are asking though.

Folks - I absolutely LOVE questions on the rules and how people would like to tweak this or that to help in gameplay.  Remember that these rules were the product of a good deal of research and investigating however this is the first time they have ever been in print to be enjoyed by a new generation of global wargamers who never managed to fly the flag at the old Wargames Holiday Centre with Peter Gilder at the helm as the Mahdi.

The more questions, old rules we interpret and new additions that are in the spirit of this style of game, the better for everyone involved.

Please keep them coming and keep the games going.  Photographs gleefully accepted and be warned, they will be posted!

For those of you wondering about the new command base he is a converted Redoubt Miniatures Camel Corps Officer who I thought looks absolutely perfect.  I married him up with a standing Redoubt horse from their Sudan range and then drilled out both hands.

I then placed some copper rod into his right hand with a suitable bend to represent the handle of a locally purchased umbrella that this chap had managed to procure from the bazar the previous day.

A bit of wire through the nags bridle and the filing off of the reigns on his neck and it looked like a half-decent effort from this author.

The actual umbrella is from Vendel Miniatures and was purchased from their Ancient Indians range.  It actually is for the command elephants general as a form of standard.  Works well for this I think as well.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much Phil, it was great fun putting together.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Michael - greatly appreciate you popping by and always having a positive thing to say. Keeps the bloggers like me enthused! Cheers.

  3. A nice little vignette, Carlo. With regards to the abilities of generals they really only apply to "rescue the Governor" scenarios, where officers have a percentage chance based on their rank of persuading the silly duffer to leave his post. I think there was something else that applied, but I don't have the rules with me right now. I'll get back to you on it.

    1. EDIT: Here is the only reference I have in my rules set that shows the effect generals have in the game.

      Scenario: “Rescue the Governor.” Willoughby-Pratt Pasha is Governor of a Sudanese town. Much like his mentor General Gordon, he refuses to abandon his post in the face of the Mahdist threat. It requires an Imperial expedition to set off down the table to the town to bring himself and his dependents out. Once the Imperial force reaches the town, the Governor will automatically agree to leave. Otherwise, officers may be sent ahead to reason with him, with the following chances of success:-
      Captain = 10%: Major = 15%: Lt-Colonel = 20%: Colonel = 25% Brigadier = 40%:
      General Commanding = 50%.

      Only officers of Colonel rank or higher may re-roll each move. The Governor has little time for these excitable young chaps the army seems to be full of nowadays…

      It does seem a curious oversight not to allow the generals commanding the column to affect it in some way, if only in a 'look sharp, lads! The general's 'ere...' fashion, giving a bonus to combat/musketry and so on.

    2. Hi AJ - pure gold from you once again. You wouldn't have that scenario( or more of them) available for me to include in the planned The Sands of Sudan Campaign and Scenarios Supplement at all please?

    3. I have a few, Carlo. If you'd like to contact me direct via email, it might be easier.


    4. All received AJ - many thanks.

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  5. Hello Carlo just to say i love the rules but cannot see any clarification of why you have 2 different letters in the same box in the Dervish reaction table. Is it that the first letter takes priority but if not appropriate then use the second letter? Thanks Brendan

  6. Hello Carlo just to say i love the rules but cannot see any clarification of why you have 2 different letters in the same box in the Dervish reaction table. Is it that the first letter takes priority but if not appropriate then use the second letter? Thanks Brendan

    1. Hi Brendan - great to hear from you and apologies for taking a while to come back to you on this. The two letters are to be used together and actually helps give you a direction of where and how they move. For example a YB as a general reaction would mean "Y" move towards the imperial base but stay 36" away from enemy as much as possible in shadowing mode whenever possible. FL is an interesting one as it asks the dervish to head for and join known friends but to also withdraw out of range at evade speed. Therefore they would need to look for troops AWAY from Imperial troops. Once they have joined them their circumstances have changed and can therefore test again next turn.

  7. Hello Carlo. We played a game where the reaction was "head for high ground " To do this they would have to go through a unit of Imperial infantry directly in front of them as that was the only high ground. We decided to roll again for a different result. Is that correct or as one player suggested CHARGE! ? Regards Brendan

  8. Hello Carlo. We played a game where the reaction was "head for high ground " To do this they would have to go through a unit of Imperial infantry directly in front of them as that was the only high ground. We decided to roll again for a different result. Is that correct or as one player suggested CHARGE! ? Regards Brendan

    1. Hi Brendan,

      Either result would be fine dependant upon the umpires interpretation of the game situation. If that is the only high ground and the Imperials are in the way, then charge at them to gain it! If there is other high ground then head for that. However, and this is the great part of the rules, if the game needs some action or a quick stoush to spice things up, send them in anyway!