Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Annual BIG Colonial Game

Date: September 9, 1885/2017
Situation: Annual BIG Colonial Game
Location: El Teb, Sudan
Rules: House Version of Peter Gilder's Original Sudan Rules

Today's story is about traditions; commonalities that hold diverse people together to accomplish goals. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is General Pettygree. Ride along with me, will you, as we explore traditions of The Annual BIG Colonial War Game.

On the 6' x 28' Imperial Back Table, the emptiness of the open desert inevitably forces nervous thoughts of being in the middle of nowhere. Only your mates and the Martini Henry on your shoulder offer consolation. Off image to the right is the Dervish Main Table and beyond that, their Back Table both of the same dimensions.

From time to time table height necessitated that both Jim and Bill ascend to the desert surface to move units. It has to do with biology; where the body can bend. Six foot and taller gamers have little trouble bending and reaching inward to march units along. Not so for everyone. Here Jim advances the Right Flank toward the Main Table where the Dervishes were waiting for him.

Earl (left) and Chuck (right) are about to step off beginning Turn 1.

Farther away on The Imperial Left Flank, Peter Gilder's own Camel Corps scouting ahead immediately tripped a shocking Dervish ambush.

Three squadrons of Bill's 9th Bengal Lancers formed to face the Hadendowah threat. Nearby British infantry began to form a wall upon which they hoped the Dervish tide would eventually falter. Surely the Camel Corps was doomed.

On the Hadendowah rushed flushed with success. The rest of the Camel Corps and a squadron of Gilder's Lancers madly countered with a few against the many. It worked. Surviving Dervish withdrew for three turns leaving the Camel Corps greatly withered. Bill was joyously amazed about this miracle never minding the improper use of the Camel Corps. What else could he have done?

The Hadendowah continue their forced withdrawal
whilst Bill's cavalry follows nudging them along.

Here is the wall of infantry formed to meet the expected enemy onrush that did not happen.

The medium brown feature is a gully. Several of these appeared randomly. Each might or might not contain a Dervish ambush.

The Imperial Back Table edge is inches to the left. Beyond it was a gap for us to walk and then the Dervish Main Table. In reality the latter was mere inches from the left-most British battalion. Without the gap, everyone would have had to climb onto the tables!

Turn 7: Turning about we are looking from the Left Flank outwards. Bill's Imperials are advancing cautiously in preparation to cross to The Main Table off image to the right. The Hadendowah shock was still fresh in his mind. Remnants of the foe are in the upper right hand corner.


Chow Time at Keith and Donna's is a cherished tradition. Bob M. (near), Earl (center) and Jim (distant) are serving themselves salad, vegetables, a casserole, dinner rolls, muffins, beverages and more. Near an hour of companionable conversation ensued while the game paused.

Later in the afternoon Donna served a scrumptious and moist chocolate birthday cake for celebrants, Keith, Curt and Chuck. On game days we remember our birthdays with cake; a nice tradition.

Subsequent game turns found the Dervishes falling back and back as the Imperials pushed onto The Main Table. Imperial firepower was overwhelming. (Several rules misinterpretations.) The Mahdist Reaction Table kindly made them withdraw to fight another day.

Another tradition: Players are encouraged to bring their own units to games. Chuck, Earl and Bill brought units for the game reinforcing Keith's lovely Peter Gilder collection. Plus, if you don't look too closely, Northwest Frontier Pathan horsemen are bolstering Dervish forces. Why not?


Good luck lads making your own traditions.
Your friends will look forward to it, I assure you.

Repeated annual games are appealing.
Make it a BIG game and a long BIG day.
Players contribute forces and terrain for the game.

Chow Time.
Monthly birthday celebrations.
Using miniatures, terrain and rules owned by the late and celebrated Peter Gilder

2} Peter's original hand-written rules were put into a Quick Reference format more than a decade ago. We are in our fifth version adhering as closely as possible to the concepts Peter used at The Wargame Holiday Center. For this game, movement rates were increased by 66% and weapon ranges by +50%. It is likely some changes are needed for this very  large scale of game but not for the more customary ones.

3} The Imperials had twenty-ish sixty figure battalions; more than 1,300 miniatures. Dervish numbers exceeded this. Peter's entire collection is owned by Keith. We love seeing it on the table.

4} Carlo Pagano's modern version of the rules from 2014 are available here:

5} Bill was very busy commanding the Imperial Left Flank. Hence he did not take as many photographs as usual. We ask for your kind forbearance.

6} Dervish: Keith L. {The Shadow}, Curt B. and Bob M.

7} Imperials: Jim P. {Der Alte Fritz}, Earl K., Chuck L. {The Lucky} and Bill P. {Gen. Pettygree}.

8} Underlying movement trays were built for the 9th Bengal Lancers for this game. Reason: To reduce the number of things to move. It's a time saver.

9} Why not start traditions similar to this for your friends and you today? Don't stop there. Widen your net to include others of a companionable sort to enjoy fun and camaraderie.

10} Don't be a malingerer! Get a game going, move units and throw some dice.

11} Go to the blog of Der Alte Fritz for more photos and the story from a different perspective.

12} We would enjoy your remarks at "Comments" below.



Greg Rigler said...

Thanks for the report Bill. Who makes the General Pettygree miniature, please? I aspire to do the same one day. My compliments. by the way for recommending the old digital cameras on your blog. I managed to get an old Canon and what an excellent second hand purchase that turned out to be.
Keep up the good work.


Norm said...

Enjoyed - thank you. Not sure about climbing on my table though ..... or worse, getting off! :-)

Phil Dutré said...

Amazing looking game!

Conrad Kinch said...

A magnificent spread squire. These wargaming traditions are well worth upholding.

How long did the game take?

I'm very much of your turn of mind with regard to "close enough" troops. If Afghan horseman don't look too out of place in the Sudan - play on!

DaveD said...

Excellent .. great to see some old friends in action. I saw them at the original WHC many years ago..

Gallia said...

Thank you very much for your remarks.
Gregory: Pettygree is actually King and Country's 60mm Sir Edmund Allenby.
Norm: Descending Keith's tall tables was a small challenge as the saying goes. Worth it.
Conrad: We commenced near 10 am and stopped about 3:00 pm.
Dave: You had a marvelous opportunity back then. Good for you.
I appreciate the time you Gentlemen took to write.

tidders said...

A magnificent game

Der Alte Fritz said...

Great report Bill. It shows that there is so much more to war gaming than the actual movement of the troops.


Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

A magnificent affair by any measure!

You are spot on the comradeship developed over the years that can be kept if nurtured and the value of new friends to keep things fresh and to pass on experiences to.

Just spent a getaway wargamers' overnighter with friends first met 40 years ago.

Carlo said...

What a wonderful post Bill and the photographs of so many magnificent and legendary figures on the table is sensational. You are so tight in terms of getting together with friends for wargaming, drinks, food and conversation and the big games that evolve into a traditional get together are to be savoured. Your group of companions are certainly so well known in wargaming circles that is always great to see photos of you playing so many wonderful games over the years.

Thank you also Bill for your link to my blog and the rules page - it is greatly appreciated.

Henry Hyde said...

Simply wonderful stuff, Bill, marvellous to behold.

Stryker said...

What a great looking game - well done to all concerned!

A J said...

Excellent all round! I played with some of those figures to those original rules many moons ago at Peter's WHC. The Sudan is still my all-time favourite period to game. Happy days, and it's good to see you're continuing the tradition.

Stephen Gilbert said...

Have been waiting for the next instalment for so long (having faithfully followed General Pettygree for years now). This new `episode` certainly didn`t disappoint. Thank you for continuing to inspire me with my own gaming endeavours :)

Gallia said...

Allan, Jim, Ross, Carlo, Henry, Stryker, AJ and Steve,
It is very gratifying that you took the time to read the story and write remarks. We appreciate your engagement with us a lot.
AJ you are a lucky fellow having gamed with Peter's collection.
Steve, more Gen. Pettygree stories are percolating. These involve him directly where he is in the field and also indirectly. By indirectly these are stories he has been told about in recent centuries which he thinks you will enjoy.

Thank you very much.
Bill P.

DavyJones said...

Excellent work! And such a tradition is really cool!

Phil said...

Splendid, a fabulous looking game!

The Irish Mick said...

Having been in winter quarters since 1999, I am just so pleased to be starting again. time to pull my 54's for a grand review.
Good time are ahead.

I remain,
Michael Montgomery,
Arizona Territory