26 June 2016

"The Sands of Sudan Campaign" weekend

A British square comes under attack from the Mahdist masses from the authors collection

A quick post on a sunday afternoon to draw your attention to a wonderful blog called "Legendary Wargames" which has featured on this blog before.  The lads have recently played a wonderful Sudan mini-campaign over a weekend and have photographed and detailed their accounts on their excellent Blood Red Sands of the Sudan Weekend"  post.

Click on the link and check it out.

16 June 2016

Battles in the Desert from around the globe!

'A' Company of the Black Watch makes it way through the desert terrain on its way to a friendly zeriba

It has been a wonderful week for "The Sands of Sudan" rules, based on Peter Gilders WHC classic games,  which I had published over eighteen months ago and is currently in its third reprint.  The wonderful gentlemen from the AMG forum have just had a sensational looking gaming weekend which played four major games, one of which was a brilliant scenario put together by the very clever Dave Docherty.

The AMG forum ( A Military Gentlemen) is a remarkable thing.  Originated from the purchase of Mr. John Ray's tremendous book of the same name it has opened up the door onto a wonderful world of wargaming doyens and their projects.  However it has a catch.  You need to post, create and contribute to remain a member.  Definitely no lurking allowed or you are summarily discharged (politely of course).  I believe there are still a handful of copies available to residents of the UK only and you can buy them from here.  It will be the best money you spend in the hobby for years I guarantee you!

You can see reports on this games from a few bloggers at :

Dave Docherty - the man responsible or putting on this tremendous series of games has some absolutely cracking shots of the action at his excellent blog One Man and His Brushes. Dave does amazing work and some of his special pieces he put together for the weekend have to be seen to be believed.  Very clever and talented man.

Scotia Albion  - the mighty Graham Cummings who also sells the tremendous range of Crann Tara Miniatures

Chris Gregg has the excellent  Not Just Old School Wargaming where he has some wonderful shots of Dave's game.

Colin Ashton has a wonderful blog called Carryings On Up The Dale with a couple of nice shots of the Sudan game and a heap of tremendous shots of his Battle of Soor SYW.

Those same Scots feel pretty secure with the Yorks and Lanc taking the high ground to their right.

A little closer to my home, good friend Nathan Vinson from the most wonderful Lonely Gamers has a wonderful "The Sands of Sudan" battle report full of sensational photographs as the British and friends battle or some wells against the Mahdists in an 1884 skirmish that will keep you on your toes until the end.

You don't need to haggle at the bazarr for a copy of the rules - just read on!

I still have rules in stock if you are interested in grabbing a copy. 

The glossy, full colour rules also come complete with a laminated Quick Reference Sheet and the full Random Event Card deck and is available for AUD60.00 airmail by emailing me at.


All the very best until next time.

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.

4 June 2016

Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby

The good Colonel Burnaby, armed with his double barrelled shotgun which caused
such controversy back in England, prepares to close the gap in the line.

Anyone even remotely interested in the campaigns in the Sudan would be certainly be familiar with the larger than life figure of Fred Burnaby.  Reputedly the strongest man in the British army at the time, stories abound of his feats of strength as well as with his wit (he was an extremely clever fellow) all about Victorian society of the time.

I have been looking at finally basing this excellent rendition of the famous, larger than life character Fred Burnaby for sometime.

The figure is from the much under-rated Redoubt Miniatures Sudan range and shows our good hero resplendent in Matinee Coat and double barrelled shotgun preparing to do his bit for Queen and Country!  He is accompanied on the base my another fine Redoubt Bugler who also happens to have a drum on him as well.  Hope he is drawing double wages.

Amongst some lovely Connoisseur Miniatures Camel Corps dismounted troopers

The Colonel was painted by my good self some years ago and the Bugler was through my good friends at DPS - thanks Herbert.  Wonderful job.

His death at Abu Klea was genuinely mourned by both the army and the nation.  It was the catalyst for 5000 word obituaries in "The Times" and poems from the nations artistic society such as the following:

Come listen to my story boys,
There's news from overseas,
The Camel Corps has held their own
And gained a victory.

Weep not my boys for those who fell,
They did not flinch nor fear,
They stood their ground like Englishmen,
And died at Abu Klea.

No more our colonel's form we'll see,
His foes have struck him down.
His life on earth alas is o'er
But not his great reknown.

No more his merry voice we'll hear,
Nor words of stern command,
He died as he had often wished,
His sabre in his hand.

Weep not me boys for those who fell,
They did not flinch nor fear,
They stood their ground like Englishmen,
And died at Abu Klea.

Now Horseguards Blue both old and young,
Each man from front to rear,
Remember Col Burnaby at sandy Abu Klea.
And when Old England calls her Blues to battle soon or late,
We shan't forget how soldierly the Colonel met his fate.

Weep not me boys for those who fell,
They did not flinch nor fear,
They stood their ground like Englishmen,
And died at Abu Klea.

 He was also rumoured to be the person referred to in the famous poem Vitai Lampada by Sir Henry Newbolt about a young schoolboy cricketer who grows up to fight for the Empire in Africa line "The gatling jammed and the colonel dead"

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night -
Ten to make and the match to win -
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red, -
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; -
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year
While in her place the School is set
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind -
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

Of course the "Gatling" referred to is either a "Gardner" or 'Nordenfeld" but you get the picture.
The famous poet Andrew McGonagall  wrote a wonderful poem on the Battle of Abu Klea which you could read  here.

Frederick Burnaby painted in 1870 by James Jacques Tissot - copyright The National Portrait Gallery London
For those who would like to read an interesting account of Burnaby I highly recommend visiting
Great British Nutters - a highly entertaining blog with a wonderful write up of our good friend.

Redoubt do make some very nice figures that compliment my Sudan collection quite well.

A few more Sudan pieces I have been working on to follow as well as some more clarifications on the fantastic rules queries we are receiving.