Sunday, February 24, 2019

City walls finished

The weekend turned out to be a lot busier than I expected. There's also a howling Great Lakes gale making life interesting and a little alarming at times, but at least I finished the Sudan city walls.

Corrugated card from pizza boxes glues together nicely with a hot glue gun, takes spackle and craft paint well, and is sturdy enough to stand up to a lot of handling. It's also cheap! The crenelations were cut using a triangular-section rat tail file, which is about as fast as and a lot less messy and dust-making than using a Dremel. I painted everything a base shade of beige, followed by a darker shade in the ruined section and along the bases of the walls for the ground. Once dry I followed it with a dry brush of magnolia white over the upper reaches of the walls, towers and gatehouse to give that dry and dusty look. All doors and windows were drawn in using a pencil because I find that black paint looks too stark and unrealistic in this scale.

The battlements are wide enough to take single bases of Mahdist and Imperial infantry. The gatehouse can take a full company of British, Indian or Egyptian infantry, along with a 7 pdr screw gun or a Gatling gun on the battlements. Heavier pieces wouldn't be sited on the battlements due to difficulty getting the weapons up there. The towers can take half a company of Imperial infantry each.

So, walls and towers and gatehouse all finished. Time to test them out in a game. Watch this space...

Friday, February 22, 2019

Just a spoonfull of Spackle

A local environmental campaign I'm involved in has kicked into high gear with a crucial ballot coming up on Tuesday, so I didn't have time to play the next Sudan game this week. I did find a bit of time to work on the city walls.

Along with the intact walls I needed to make a ruined section which has seen the attentions of enemy artillery. I made the section below the same way as the others using corrugated card for the walls and walkways. Glue-stiffened cartridge paper formed the sloping ruined areas. It's stiff enough without adding a lot of weight. A few pieces of corrugated card made chunks and slabs of fallen masonry, then I smoothed everything over with a skim of spackle.

While I had the spackle pot open I got on with rendering the rest of the walls, gatehouse and towers. The gatehouse is of a type based on the ancient Roman pattern which can still be seen in parts of the Middle East. 

I haven't made any crenelations yet, but these will follow once I work out a couple of ideas on how to make them. Once everything's done I'll get down to painting. Normally I'd use spray paint, but the weather's still fluctuating all over the place, so it'll be a craft paint and brush job.

Hopefully I'll find time to play the next game this Sunday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

City walls for the Sudan

Although there's no evidence to show either Haiya in the Eastern Sudan or Atbara on the Nile ever had city walls, I thought I'd make some just to make life that much harder for the Imperial army.

These were knocked up in a couple of hours using trusty corrugated cardboard from a pizza box welded together by hot glue. I made four wall sections of approx. seven inches length and a couple of free-standing towers and a gatehouse to go between them. These are enough to represent a corner of the contested town without it taking up a lot of valuable maneuvering room. Making the crenelations is going to be a bit problematic. I'm too lazy to cut out each one of the blessed things by hand, so I may resort to using my Dremel. Once done, I'll slather the lot in spackle and paint then get 'em on the table.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Coming soon - On to Haiya

It's been an odd couple of weeks, with various local activities occupying my time, and my gaming table getting requisitioned (don't ask). Now I have time and my table back for this long weekend, I'll play out the next game of the Sudan campaign - the move on Haiya.

Major General Graham has secured his supply lines back to the port of Suakin and received reinforcements. Now he intends to make his move upon Haiya, nominal capital of the Hadendowah tribe and head of the caravan trail to the town of Atbara on the Nile. It's almost certain the Mahdists will contest his action...

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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