Wednesday, October 17, 2018

SUDAN 54mm Three Battle Campaign Game #1

Date: 16 October 1898/2018
Location: Sudan Seacoast, Bebara River, Mafrica
Situation: Imperial Naval Landing Opposed By Dervishes

Rules: Batailles de le Ancien Régime/Colonial
Miniatures: 54-60mms
Weeknight Game --- Two Hours Duration
Players: Jim P. Der Alte Fritz, John B., Greg B. and me Bill P.

See previous post for set-up explanation and photos
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Imperial forces commenced a naval landing on the Sudanese Coast at the mouth of The Bebara River on the imagineered continent of Mafrica. Local Dervish forces immediately launched a counterattack to throw the Imperials back into the sea. This is what happened.

Morning Of The Landing

Northern Flank of the IEF Along The Bebara River
Royal Marines Assemble On The Beach
Naval Detachment Prolongs A Gardner Machine Gun Forward

To Support A More Forward Royal Marine Section Covering

The Most Forward Imperial Position Within A Stone Enclosure

Southern Flank Of The IEF
Dismounted Camel Corps Assembles On The Beach 
And Pushes A Screen Forward

Camelry Moves Inland
Left: Gatling Gun.    Right: Dismounted Camel Corps


Volley Fire --- Present --- FIRE!

Independent Fire

Royal Marines and the Gardner Quick March
To Support The Highlanders

Left: Hand to Hand At The Wall
Right: Dervishes Recoil Back 

 Royal Marines Move Forward Firing Into The Dervish Flank

Meanwhile More Dervishes Arrive To Overcome The Highlanders 

And Flank Them On The Left
Will The Oncoming Royal Marines Scare Them Off?

It Doesn't Look Like It!
Both Imperial Flanks Are Lost
Only The Center Holds On


The Camel Corps Is Rushed By Dervishes

Heedless Of Losses They Charge Forward

After Initial Melee Successes
They Become Surrounded

Survivors Defiantly Fall Back To Recover
They Fought With Fanatical Ardour!


This Looks And Is Dreadfully Bad For The Enclosure
Dervishes Are Within And Behind It!

Our game time was up at 9:20 pm. Many Dervishes had routed from the front of the enclosure and surely (?) the nearing Royal Marines, Gardner and surviving Highlanders would cause the winning Dervishes within to logically retire.

Kudos to the Dervishes (John B. and Greg B.) for putting a huge scare into the two Imperial commanders; Jim and I! Somehow we survived. 

The landing area is secure for the moment and the Dervishes are retiring to regroup and summon hordes of reinforcements for Battle #2.


(1) I am gravitating toward issuing game mission orders in the briefest way possible. It seems to help and allows players to use their own wits and intuition a bit more. And it is fast so a game can get underway without more than a few minutes of conversation. In recent years it seems as if lengthy game orders and speeches are not productive. Hence, this is all I gave to our four players.

(2) It helps enormously to use Quick Reference Charts. They are fast and each section has a number.

If you click on the above to make the image larger, notice that each little section is numbered. Thus, during a game all we have to say is, "Charlie the answer is in #19 or #44, etc." It's fast. Fast turn resolution is very important to maximize figuring things out and getting in more game turns.

(3) The enclosure creates an interesting and fun game tension. All of us know about Roarke's Drift. We recreated it a little differently.

(4) Bill's Imperial Roll Call After The Battle:
We should cobble together dice throws for KIA, Lightly Wounded and so on.

Stone Enclosure:
Burnaby Officer Commanding: 1 -0 = 1
Black Watch 42nd. Highlanders: 24 -6 = 18
Gordon Highlanders: 12 -3 = 9
Naval Detachment: 3 -2 =1

Officer Commanding and ADC: 2 -0 = 0
Royal Marines: 44 -0 = 44 (a)
Gardner Gun: 9 -0 = 9
Naval Detachment: 5 -0 = 5 (b)

(a)  22 unengaged (beach defense)
(b) 5 unengaged (beach defense)

(5) Jim's Imperial Losses

Major Edwards: 1 -0 = 1
Camel Corps: 50 approx. -6 = 44
Gatling Gun: 3 -0 = 3
Naval Detachment: 7 -0 = 7 (c)

(c) Unengaged (Guarding supplies on beach)

(6) Dervish Losses = ?

(7) Thank you for looking in.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Sudan 54mm Three Battle Campaign

Proposal: Three Battle Sudan Campaign
Situation: Link Three Battles Together
Miniatures: Britains, John Jenkins and Others from Der Alte Fritz and yours truly
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Jack Scruby's Mafrica Map

Battle #1:
Imperial Naval Descent at the mouth of the Bebara River.
Small numbers encamp along the coast on the south side of the river.
Natives react to throw the foe back into the sea before more arrive.

Battle #2:
Assuming the Imperials hold on, more forces come ashore.
The Army marches inland to capture Kharti.
The Bebara River remains navigable for Imperial gunboats.

Battle #3:
If the Imperials are successful, they march deeper inland to Omdurman.
Very large battle.
If Omdurman falls, the war ends.
If not, the Imperials retreat and evacuate the continent.

Depending on results, Battles 2 and 3 might need adjusting.

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Circumstances For Battle #1

A portion of the initial Imperial landing force.
Royal Marines assemble on the beach.
Gardner Gun is being hauled forward.

Forward perimeter manned by more Royal Marines.
Apparently something is in the air!

Highlanders defend a forward enclosure to protect the beach.
The beach is to the left off image.

Stand to!
Volley Fire - Present!

Natives gather in a wooded area.
Hundreds of 'em to the south.

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(1) The above offers an outline for three future games.

(2) Sometime in the deep past, the concept of a three battle campaign arose. I can't remember who imagineered this. It might have been Donald Featherstone. Does anyone remember? 

(3) Check back for more.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Mafrica #1 Van Deers Farm

Date: 10 October 1898/2018
Location: Van Deers Farm
Situation: Imperial Supply Column Moving South
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"Vader, the English are coming this way again."
"Ja. I see them now Margaretha." We must be pleasant to them."

Vanguard of Lieutenant Hawkings Supply Column

"Lieutenant Hawkings, Sah.' Van Deers Farm is just up ahead."
"Very well Sergeant Hicks. We'll camp there for the night. Pass the word."

"Do you see 'em Nigel?"

"I do my blind friend. Dinner an' make no mistake. 
Our cooking pots will be full tonight Charlie."

All was quiet at the rear of the supply column.
Flankers reported nothing amiss but....
Just as Nigel and Charlie were about to pot a few boars for dinner....

Enemy musket men hidden by vegetation and high stone walls of the Souk River Bridge secretly flanked the Imperial Advance Guard.  

Soon fire was exchanged.

Then they crossed and headed right to harass the Scotsmen and to support native spear and sword armed friends.

Who suddenly appeared in front of the Imperial van. Their shocking appearance and resolute advance found the Imperials just able to form a firing line to oppose them. It was a close run thing.

As these developments occurred, Lt. Hawkings ordered the 24th Foot detachment forward at the double to support the Scots and the 7 Pounder RML cannon to crown the high ground to the upper right. The buffs formed a firing line ahead of the supply wagons.

Next the buffs moved forward whilst the naval detachment double quicked to the hill.

All formed a respectable firing line.

But there was no time for congratulations. Events moved rapidly. The Van Deers Family already cruelly in the path of the foe lost Vader Van Deers and mother suffered a wound. The daughters stoutly stood their ground firing away as the enemy came on.

On they came, foes with throwing and stabbing spears. The two Imperial companies bravely fired, carried wounded to the rear and fought in hand-to-hand combat.

Back on the hill, Lt. Hawkings barked, "Give those poor devils some support! 

But, the end came too soon. There was no time to do more than watch the few minutes in which the gallant defence of the farm ended in favor of the Zulus.

The Rear Guard reformed an all-round defence. They waited for the inevitable turning of the Impi's chest directly toward them and the appearance of the horns encircling them. But this did not happen. The foe was spent.

 Hawkings: "Lt. Wright, we'd better get out of here while we can."

Wright led the decimated command back to the north as Hawkings and the Buffs protected the rear. Some survivors from the farm fight eventually joined the column. 

The Zulus did not pursue. Perhaps they were stunned by losses. We do not know. They were apparently content to have stopped supplies reaching an Imperial garrison to the south.

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1. Histori-Figs owner Mike Taber granted us the opportunity to show and use Jack Scruby's Mafrica Map. We show a portion below. The Van Deers Farm action took place on the Souk River just barely north of the lake of the same name in the upper center of the map.

Jack Scruby's concept adapted the Second Period of Colonization on one imagineered continent featuring shifting alliances of native and Imperial powers. Hence in our first game we have Zulus allied with Masai though historically the two were separated by more than 2,500 miles. In Mafrica this does not matter. Plus we adopted the "Old School" principle of use miniatures we have ready.

(2) Natives: Dave G., Chuck L. (The Lucky) and Todd B.

(3) Imperials: Bill K. and yours truly Bill P. (chronicler of the General Pettygree stories)

(4) Design: Dave G. and Bill K.

(5) Terrain: Chuck L. and Bill P.

(6) Mostly 28mm miniatures: Dave G., Chuck L., Todd B. and Bill P.

(7) Rules: The Sword and The Flame 20th edition with aspects of The Africa variant.

(8) Played on a Wednesday evening in 2.5 hours. There may have been tenish turns and we certainly had a ton of fun.

(9) What's next? Mafrica #2 The Imperial Counter-Attack.

(10) See you next time.
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Monday, September 24, 2018

Design Secrets: Making The Battle of Shalalabad

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Date: 15 September 1905/2018
Location: Shalalabad Mountain, Northwest Frontier
Situation: Imperial Garrison Awaits Amrahn Kahn's Storm and General Pettygree's Relief Column

Photo: Courtesy of Bill K.

The Battle of Shalalabad was a wargame at a fictional location. Each September friends gather to participate in our "Annual BIG Colonial Wargame." Last year we were in The Sudan. This year found us marching north of the celebrated Khyber Pass deep within The Northwest Frontier. 

Let's talk about designing the game.

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Behind Shalalabad Mountain

Seated left to right: Curt B., Greg B., Bill K. and Todd C. Standing left to right: Yours truly Bill P. aka General Pettygree, Jim P. aka Der Alte Fritz, Dave G. and Chuck L. aka The Lucky.

Chow Time

Eating and wargaming are vital ingredients on game day. The guys brought veggies, drinks and other goodies to share and consume throughout the day. Here we enjoy sandwiches foraged from a custom sandwich tray  made that morning by a local grocery store.

 Food and companionable conversation about numerous hobby topics. 

Happy Birthday Curt (pointing), Bill K. (orange hat) and Chuck (serving cake).

Birthdays are tracked and a custom cake was ordered from the same grocery store that made our sandwiches. We do this for Saturday games. Dorothy P. routinely asks if we have a theme."Mountains" was my answer this time. You see the result within scrumptious butter creme frosting. Underneath was marble cake.


The secretive Amrahn Khan (second from left) will soon be widely known. 
His hatred for anyone unwilling to worship the goddess Kali in implacable.
Naturally he has a plan for world domination commencing with....

Bombardment and storming of the Imperial garrison at Shalalabad. 

Meanwhile General Pettygree hastens to relieve the garrison whilst....

His Advance Guard deploys near Shalalabad (off image upper left).

Typed mission orders of several paragraphs or lengthy speeches about them are no longer practicable for me. After everyone arrived at this game, observed terrain and contemplated known unit deployments (most of them), players were given small envelopes. Amrahn Khan's commanders received the above. 

The Shalalabad Garrison received these easy orders while....

The Advance Guard received these brief particulars.

What about my command? Here it is. Pettygree would arrive in the turn after lunch per a decision Jim and Curt made for me. They chose Option #1 in the right-hand note in the preceding photo. Meanwhile, as host I was free to answer questions, initiate new players to the rules and get things underway beforehand.

Why after lunch as opposed to a particular turn? Reason: So the lancers would have time to arrive, deploy and affect the battle. I've found that saying X Unit arrives on Turn 5 does not always work out as a best practice to make a game flow well. Plus, I like a little fog of war now and then.

As part of this though, I used a timer to speed things along starting on Turn 2. Five minutes was allowed to move units and in general six minutes for fire. It was enough. This works amazingly well to speed games along to get in the most turns possible. Otherwise the natural tendency to take one's time and engage in companionable banter really does reduce the number of turns that can be played. We had ample time for chit chat during lunch and later when eating birthday cake.


(1) The game was played in two zones; near Shalalabad and forward of the Imperial Advance Guard camp. Two player groups played at their own speed never minding coordinating turns in the other zone. This works well, is somehow really nifty and gives a good fog of war representation. This way the game plays on, is more efficient, faster and nobody sits around waiting very much. Motto: We play games to move units and throw dice.

(2) What About Battle Reports?
Jim wrote a superior AAR on his Der Alte Fritz Blog. See:

(3) As for my own battle report, I have a backstory and photographs I hope you will find interesting, very different and compelling. The plan is to place this in the book General Pettygree is writing. See the blog post immediately preceding this one for an explanation.

(4) Shalalabad's mountain once was a terrain divider on a model railroad layout. Chuck supplied pathways, hedges, the redcoats, the stream, some vegetation and several mountainous terrain items. Large trees and the tower were made by HG Walls. Other buildings and bridges are Miniature Building Authority products.

(5) Thank you sincerely for looking in. I hope you enjoyed the information, presentation and concepts some of which you might adapt for your own group of game friends.

(6) Last my dear Pettygree story readers, I hope you will give Jim the honour to read and comment on his blog and place remarks at the bottom of this report for mine --- at the word Comments below.

Until next time I remain,
Your Obt. Servant,
Bill P.
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