Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Sudan Wargame!

The British Outpost - lovely model!

It's over three years since I started this blog and my interest has, as ever, waxed and waned somewhat. However, I still regard this as my main period so was delighted to actually get a game in for the first time at Guildford on Monday. This was down to Keith at the club who suggested a game as he has some Sudan War figures (some very nicely painted Camel Corps made an appearance) too.
We decided to use The Sword and the Flame which I had played once before about four years ago and Keith had never played. There was, as a result, a lot of rulebook consulting which, hopefully, next time won't happen quite so much.
Guy's Rub of 60 figures comes around and over the hill

We played the attack on a British strongpoint scenario. Keith had a unit each of Kings Royal Rifle Corps, Camel Corps and Royal Marines Light Infantry plus a Naval Brigade Gatling Gun (inevitably). I had six units of Beja. We didn't fuss too much about points values of each side and this seemed about right. My little boy, Guy, joined me on the Mahdist side which was just as well given we had over 120 individually based figures to move per turn. It makes me realise that my plan to refight El Teb and Tamai with 300 on the Beja side will be an all day job!
The RMLI had already driven off one unit and are dealing with the second
Keith had a nice desert building but it wasn't quite big enough to hold his force so we spread the British units out a bit with the RMLI outside the compound. This had one negative effect (for the Beja, anyway) in that because the fortified area wasn't at the centre of the table any Beja attacking the RMLI who were driven back (3xD6 of running required) exited the table and were lost. We must make sure that next time the defended area is exactly in the centre giving the attackers a chance to regroup.
Osman Digna sends in his first unit against the Naval Brigade Gatling gun

Tactically, the Beja weren't brilliant in that they attacked in three groups. Given Keith only had four units we should have spread our six units out more. But the table was against one wall and Keith was sitting on the other side of the board (although he sportingly offered to move) so we naturally kept largely to one side of the board too. I could always argue that perhaps this reflects some terrain issues but next time we need to be more flexible in our deployment!
The Gatling Gun struck first but wasn't as destructive as we had feared (I suspect we were lucky-under the rules you can suffer up to 12 casualties). The Beja took a few casualties but carried on in their charge.

It's nice to get some use for my wounded figures

One of Guy's units was very quickly seen off by the RMLI proving how difficult it is to attack formed Imperial infantry who get a plus one on every dice roll. The same unit them put paid to the force I sent in to assist.

My first unit got bogged down in rough terrain so it was my second that charged and took the Gatling Gun. We were not quite sure if we were handling the rules for attacking artillery correctly as we had 18 Beja against 4 Naval brigade so they didn't have a chance in hand to hand combat. But then, on every occasion we found that the rules worked reasonably realistically so maybe the lesson is don't use a gun without infantry to defend it.

A date with destiny (or at least a Gatling Gun)

One of Guy's units was driving the KRRC back and I was at the gates of the strongpoint when we had to stop (it was a school day and was well past Guy's bedtime!). If we had continued it could have gone either way. The RMLI had destroyed two of our units but we still had four on the table. The KRRC were on the run but the Camel Corps were safely ensconced in the building and were shooting away from the rooftops.

A few things we need to check:

1. The rules for charging artillery.

2. The role of extra-unit leaders (morale?)

3. Two units attacking one.

4. Throwing spears during a charge.

A few things I learnt: Beja swordsmen get an extra 1 added to their dice in melee which brings them up to the British level - Perry order going in! Spread warband units out as the shooting arcs are tighter than in WAB, for example. If playing as the British ensure there is infantry support to defend a gun.

Hopefully we can get another game in after I return from my next batch of travels. I will have finished my first unit of Beja -mounted cavalry by then too!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Fourth Unit of Beja

Beja in Ambush

I'm now entering winter painting mode which means that I can't paint shading in the evening as it's all under artificial light. Currently, mornings are still OK but as I'm heading off for work at 7.00am there isn't a lot of time. So tonight I just did some work on the bases of the last five figures I need to complete my second Rub of sixty Beja for the game next Monday. They are well on the way and should be ready on time, I hope. That said I am off to see my friends in Bath on Thursday for a couple of days so will lose Thursday night, Friday and all day Saturday. Sunday is Colours in Newbury so I won't have that much time then either. It looks like my plans to finish some more camel mounted cavalry and start my field gun look doomed! Oh well, hopefully Keith, my opponent, will enjoy The Sword and the Flame and we can play regularly which will incentivise me to get more figures (including the dreaded Gordon Highlanders) done.

This unit is one I started ages ago and uses the evocative "Beja in Ambush" figures from the Perries. I gave one of the spearmen a flag from The Virtual Armchair General even though it rather gives away their position!

Anyway, this post gives me the chance to post a few of the nice period photographs of Beja sent to me by Louie Blades who must have wondered what happened to them as he sent them in April!

Note the large blade on the spear

A particularly flared kaskara scabbard.

This lot look pretty tough. It makes you realise how well the Perries sculpted their faces.