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El Tubi, 1884


Queen Victoria’s Little Wars, Black Powder, 28mm

The new Black Powder rules purport to cover the period from around 1700 to 1890, and the rules include a sample game set during the Sudan Campaign of 1884. well, we thought we’d give the period a try, using figures from the collections of Dave O’Brien and Colin Jack. The result was this enjoyable and rather strange encounter, between An Anglo-Egyptian force and the Mahdists, somewhere between the Egyptian-Sudanese border and Khartoum. While the Mahdists didn’t start with many troops on the table, all they needed to do was to roll for reinforcements, and the table would be flooded with Dervishes and wild followers of the Mahdi.sudan-jan09-002Of course, as luck had it every roll for reinforcements was unsuccessful, and although the Mahdists caused the British commanders a few worrying moments, the outcome of he battle was rarely in doubt. this was in complete contrast to a practice game fought over the weekend, when the Mahdists simply rolled over everything in their way. This time the thin red line – or rather red, blue (Royal Navy and Marines), green (Rifles), khaki (Sudanese) and white (Egyptians) line held firm.sudan-jan09-021On the British centre the Mahdists launched a furious mounted camel charge, supported by screaming Dervishes, but the British line held them off, although the Marines to their left were overwhelmed and chopped up. Fortunately the Naval Brigade were on hand, and the “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” spearmen came to a sticky end. Even the Egyptians and Sudanese did well – a small unit of Egyptain armoured cavalry charged four times their number of Mahdists and lived to tell the tale – or most of them did – while for once the Sudanese infantrymen held firm, and defeated their opponents through firepower before they reached stabbing spear range.sudan-jan09-020In the end the game was declared a clear victory for the forces of Queen Victoria, and the chastened Mahdists slunk back into the Sudanese desert to plot their revenge. Once again theBlack Powder rules performed well, and produced a fast, enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining game. The system was easy to pick up, and while it seemed casualties at first that casualties were a bit low, by the time units got to within point-blank range the carnage was suitably realistic, and believable.sudan-jan09-018One thing I like about these rules is the way they can be used to reflect the tactics and formations of just about any period, simply by adding or omitting special rules covering things like troop quality, machine guns, rifled-weapons, ferocious fanatical charges and unreliable troops (like the Sudanese). Above all they’re fun.As in last week’s game we scaled down the movement and firing distances, using 2/3rds of the distances given in the rules – ideal for an 8×6 foot table.sudan-jan09-026

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