Saturday, August 29, 2020

So Where Are We Going With This Project?

A view of the new walls (upper right corner) that I have incorporated
into my existing King & Country commercially available walls.

During today's session of the Virtual Wargames Club (or "VWC") on Zoom, someone asked me where I was headed with the 54mm Sudan Project, which is a good question to ask.

The project started with the idea of running a game at the Little Wars convention in April 2020, but we all know what happened to that (the convention, that is). Actually, in an odd way, it was kind of a good thing that the convention was cancelled because it afforded me the opportunity to take the game to a higher level than I had originally planned. One of the areas of upgrade turned out to be the terrain. I was going to go with some 54mm King & Country middle eastern buildings and a few cardboard boxes turned upside down and given a quick coat of paint, etc.

The Governor's Palace in Khartoum, where General Gordon made his last stand. The mosque is only roughed out in black foamcore board to serve as a placeholder for the eventual location of the mosque after I make it.

A close up view of the corner section that I made this week. It is large enough to accomodate
a crew of Egyptian artillery. The figures are Britian's "War Along the Nile " figure range.

The view of the three new wall sections from further out. 

The Dervish army masses in front of Khartoum as they get ready to launch their attack.

Given more time, I have been able to build my own buildings at a more measured pace and get exactly what I needed for the game that I had in mind. The term "measured pace" is a bit misleading because I have found that I am churning out buildings at a rate of one per week, which is really quite extraordinary for someone who has not made his own buildings since the late 1980s. Once I started making buildings, I picked up new techniques and short cuts that made the construction work easy, at least for me.

I have made six buildings so far plus three fortified wall sections so far and it seems as if the city of Khartoum is growing every week. So this leads me to the kernal of an idea for a Siege of Khartoum convention game in addition to the larger tactical game that I had first envisioned. Thus I can get two games out of the same bits of terrain and troops and perhaps stage both games at a future Little Wars or Historican convention.

Another participant in the VWC asked me how I intended to store all of these buildings. That is another good question and coincidentally I was asking myself the same question this morning. The short answer is "I don't know". The buildings are so large that I may only be able to fit one or two buildings into a storage box. The toy soldiers will fit into plastic boxes, the type that are designed to store under a bed - they have a pull-out drawer designed into the box. I will have to make a trip to Bed Bath & Beyond or The Container Store to scope out the types of plastic boxes that are available. Once I have the boxes I will probably store the buildings in a local storage locker that I am renting to hold lots of my other painted figures. It is an 8ft by 10ft locker and it is currently about half full at this point.

However, I think that I am kind of dodging the original question: where are you planning on taking your Sudan Project?

I know that I want to make more 54mm buildings so the city is likely to continue its growth and enlargement. I also want to make enough of my own walls to surround the town (6 feet wide and about 4 feet in depth). The walls could also be used to make stand alone desert forts. Each wall section is 12 inches long and the corner sections are about 8-inches square. I suppose that I will keep making buildings until I get tired of making buildings. LOL! I still have a lot of ideas for adding things like small shops (bakery, black smith, rug merchant, etc), alley ways covered with an arch, and of course, the town mosque. I could also add the two wings of the Governor's Palace and a riverfront wharf. The project goes as long as my imagination goes.

With respect to the number of troops that I plan to have, I want to have around a three to one ratio of Dervish to Imperial troops (British Empire troop types and Egyptians). This will work out to about one thousand Derivsh and three-hundred Imperials. The large size of the 54mm toy soldier figures requires a very very large game table. One of my warmer parts has a huge basement that holds three 6x36ft tables, parallel to each other. My grand Sudan game, in which the Imperial forces attempt to rescue General Gordon at Khartoum, will be played at both a convention and at my friend's huge basement tables. Major General Pettygree also has a substantial table set up, with a 6x24ft main table and back tables of the same length, but only 3 feet wide, on which we will play games slightly smaller.

Eventually I want to get back to some Seven Years War and American Revolution games on my table. However, this will entail packing away Khartoum and all of the Dervish, which is a big endeavor.

Major General Charles Gordon is still waiting for those tardy British gunboats to arrive and relieve the siege.
Gordon is a Tradition of London figure that I purchase as an unpainted casting. You may also purchase Gordon as a painted figure, but at a higher cost. The unpainted figure is economical and fun to paint.


  1. Missed everyone today (family stuff), but this project is really special, Jim. Easily one of the most interesting developing out there in Bloglandia at the moment. Each new blog post is a joy to read and behold. Please excuse the fanboy nature of this reply and just consider the source.

    Best Regards.