Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Little Wars - Day Three

Image from the 1966 Khartoum movie poster, from the author's collection.
Charleton Heston as Gordon and Laurence Olivier as The Mahdi.

I have been saving the pictures of my Khartoum games until the end of this series of posts about Little Wars convention this year.

The Dervish swarm the Governor's Palace inside Khartoum during Game Two.

I ran three games (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and each game was sold out with a capacity of 12 players per game. I did squeeze in a 13th player for the Friday game. The Dervish won the first two games rather decisively, as one would expect. General Gordon died a heroic death in Game One, but managed to escape on the last river boat leaving town in Game Two. The latter was a disgraceful performance that will not play well in the London newspapers.

However, the third game was a convincing Egyptian victory. The Egyptian players decided that fighting the Dervish on the walls of the city was a losing proposition. Their strategy was to fight on the walls until the Dervish were on the ramparts. Then they would fall back into the town where they had stationed some reserve troops. There they were able to concentrate their forces and level some withering volleys on the Dervish as they attempted to jump off the walls and onto the ground inside the city.

I divided Khartoum into two sections: the forward walls of the city were placed
on the middle table, while the rest of the city was placed on the back table,
behind the players on the left. This provided an aisle in which all of the players
could use to facilitate the movement of their figures during the game.

Assaulting the City Walls with Scaling Ladders

There is nothing more fun in war gaming than attacking some walls, setting up some scaling ladders, and then climbing said ladders to get into single hand to hand melee with your opponent. The two pictures below show the ladders pushed up against the walls.

Attack from the front

The following pictures provide a panorama overview of the Dervish assault on Khartoum's walls. The weak point is obviously the corner bastions, which the Dervish attacked from two sides.

Tod Kershner appears to be having fun attacking the walls.
Tod wanted a command that would be quick and bloody. He got his wish.

Combat within the walls of the city

Down by the river wharf. Dervish disembark from their dhows and attack the lightly defended backside of the city.

With victory imminent The Mahdi enters through the city gates to encourage his followers.

Let's all head to the Governor's Palace. It looks like a safe place to stay!

Dervish over run the market place and turn towards the Governor's Palace.

Gordon makes a run for safety accompanied by a young lady.
He abandoned her to save his own skin. Was this really Harry Flashman rather than Gordon?

The Egyptian Last Stand

It's not looking good for the Egyptians who are making a last stand inside 
the Governor's Palace.

The Rescue of Gordon (or was it Harry Flashman?)

A small British relief force arrives via river boat. Troops are towed in 
barges behind the paddle wheel boat.

The paddle wheel boat turns up river to attack the Dervish in their dhow boats.

British relief force lands outside the city in river barges. The paddle wheel steamer that towed them
has let the tow lines loose and continued on towards the town to rescue Gordon.

A small contingent of Camel Corps and Staffordshire Regiment soldiers disembarked 
from their barges and provided a safe zone for anyone fleeing the city.

A small group of civilians were able to escape the city and seek the protection
of the British relief force, which arrived via river boat.

Gordon legs it out of Khartoum and takes the last river boat leaving town.
The Egyptians had the first movement initiative so they were able to make
the boat pull away from the dock before the Dervish could jump onto the decks.


We had three very good games and I appreciate all of the people that played in my games. They were good sports all.

The rules worked well to my satisfaction especially in the last two games. We had worked out some irregularities in the wall scaling and melee part of the rules during the first game on Thursday evening and these changes carried over nicely into the second and third games.

Now that Little Wars is over my next stop will be at Historicon this summer in July. I will be running the Khartoum! game at least three times, maybe four. So I encourage everyone to preregister for the games when the registration goes live. 

I will see you all at Historicon!

Are you up for a trip to Khartoum at Historicon?



  1. Would you be prepared to share your rules for this game . I for one would be very interested.

    1. Sure, if you can send me your email address then I can send you a copy of the rules.

    2. Thanks Jim my email is

  2. A tremendous undertaking and I am glad it all went well. Just the visual spectacle is amazing.

    1. Thank you Ben. I was really gobsmacked when I saw all of the terrain set up for the first time.

  3. Having observed the hectic pace of my first convention, I'm impressed simply that you managed to keep everything together and reassemble the game each time! You must have been dashing about the table collecting and organizing casualties. Well done!

    1. The rules were what I’d call “convention easy” so the players figured how to use them quickly. Players practically ran the game themselves and all I had to do was shout “next turn” and make rules judgements. The players also helped get their units put back together and ready for the next game.

  4. That looks great, we'll done. I know hard it is running big convention games, hats off for doing it three times!

  5. What an incredibly spectacular undertaking Jim. Sensational looking game and a great advertisement for the Sudan as a gaming period. Brilliant.

  6. An excellent looking game Jim, full of 19th century adventure and wonderful eye candy.


  7. Jim, I too would appreciate a copy of the rules. Also a listing of the type & number of figures necessary for the game would be appreciated. My email is

  8. What an outstanding game and report! Truly a feast for a wargamer's eyes. Well done!
    Would you be be kind enough to briefly explain the mechanics of troops using ladders and the melee.

    1. I will do a blog post in the next several games that covers these mechanics.

  9. Beautiful game, Jim! I'm looking forward to seeing/playing in it at Historicon!

  10. I have entered the game for three sessions at Historicon and added a fourth game: Abu Klea for this year 2023.

  11. Greetings! I am working on a simulation on the Siege of Ninety Six and would like permission to use one of your pictures you took of the Maham Tower you built. I would appreciate it if you could email me at Thank you!

    1. Feel free to use any of the pictures that you need. Just give me some attribution for the pictures. :)

  12. This was a great game and what a spectacle. I had a riot playing the game and dying to the last man.