Saturday, February 2, 2019

Sudan rules - thoughts

The rules I use are based on the old Pony Wars set of yore, and were adapted by Peter Gilder for use at his wargames holiday centre in Yorkshire back in the '80s. That's where I first came across them and I have been hooked ever since. They were re-released a few years ago by Carlo Pagano of Australia under the title Sands of the Sudan. Follow the link to order and see some photos of Carlo's superb collection.

I literally hadn't played a Sudan game for years, and hadn't used this rules set for a lot longer. Even so I found I picked up the mechanics again with total ease.

In the latest game, the advance to Gebeit, the rules' unnerving tendency to emulate a cunning human player showed up again. The cards were drawn and the dice were rolled, and the biggest masses of Mahdists kept appearing in the North edge or North-East corner of the table - at the open, weakest end of the Imperial column. This proved especially tragic for the 5th Lancers. I thought I'd deployed them well to the point where they destroyed a serious threat to the column - only to have sizable Mahdist forces appear right where and when the Lancers were at their most vulnerable. Stomp...

Oh crikey!

To some extent the card draw also favoured the Imperial column. The numbers of Mahdists appearing were relatively small, and two Blank Card draws where nothing appeared or happened gave the Imperials a breathing space. Such easy going is never a given. Another game might see the entire Mahdist army appear from the outset... 

Tactical tips.

Cavalry are useful chaps to have around. When able to range out ahead they can spring ambushes and evade trouble, or pin large enemy forces long enough for the infantry to form up to receive them. When cavalry is caught stationary and winded, it gets messy - as the Gebeit example showed.

The biggest asset the Imperial forces have is steady infantry firepower, especially from the British companies. With relatively small numbers of enemy it's quite feasible to drive them off or destroy them with a double volley from one or two companies at close range, especially from Guards companies. I give them +1 firepower (because guards). With larger masses it's best to open fire with a single volley at as long a range as possible with as many companies as can bear, and keep a double volley or two in hand for when the range closes to short. If you can bring Gatling guns and artillery to bear it all helps. Hand to hand combat is brutal, and if the Imperials can't repel the Mahdist after the first round... quite.

Gatling guns are useful but they are also prone to jamming. I really reserve them for times when large numbers of enemy are bearing down on the column, fire to full effect - and hope the percentile dice roll is kind.

Artillery has its uses, the best of which is for hitting Mahdists in cover or defensive positions. In the field it can inflict only a modest amount of damage to oncoming enemy unless used en-masse. Luckily for the Mahdists I have but one 12 pdr and a couple of 7pdr screw guns, so there's no chance of them being greeted by a grand battery in the Napoleonic manner.

Next game.

The next game - which I hope to play soon - will be the advance from Gebeit to Sinkat and thence to Haiya.

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