Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Sands of the Sudan

A quiet and isolated desert oasis, teaming with fanatical Dervish warriors of the Mahdi. (click on all pictures to enlarge the view)

This past weekend Keith L. played host to our group so that we could fight the Dervish in the Sudan once again. Keith is the owner of Peter Gilder's Sudan collection that was featured in Wargames World Issues 1 to 4 in 1989. Given the provenance of the collection, it is a real treat to play the Sudan at Keith's house (although some would say that we really attend so that we can eat the sumptuous lunch that is always served by Donna, Keith's better half.

The gamers all gathered in the basement to take in the vastness of the game tables, which seemed to stretch on endlessly, much like the Sudan. Then, from out of nowhere, loomed our host to greet us. We were caught off guard to find that our game judge was wearing the Dervish Jibbah and some wondered if their dice would have favorable rolls throughout the game.

Our host, Keith L., attired in period Jibbah of the Dervish.

We were using The Sands of the Sudan rules which are basically the Peter Gilder rules that he used at the Wargame Holiday Center. The Dervish forces are usually programmed by card draw and dice throws, and commanded by the game judge, so all players are on the home team running brigades of British and Sudanese/Egyptian troops.

Fritz Pasha going Old School by climbing up on the huge table in order to push his troops forward (short legs, wide table).

One of the advantages of staging a game at Keith's house is that he has a HUGE basement that is large enough to accomodate three 6ft wide by 26ft long game table. The aisles between the tables are virtual and do not exist. One simply hops one's troops from one table to the next.

The vast terrain of the Sudan is remarkably recreated across an endless vista over three game tables, each 6ft wide by 26ft long.

Four brigades of British deploy across a 26 foot long table.

The action commenced promptly at 9:30 AM with four British brigades stepping off smartly from the baseline of the lefthand table. Their objective was to attack the village of El Teb, an important gathering point for the Dervish armies. The left flank cavalry force was commanded by Protz Pasha, who was ordered to skirt around the jebel in front of El Teb and make an dash for the oasis two tables away.

Chuck the Lucky was in the left center and his orders were to follow Protz Pasha around the jebel with his infantry brigade. General Earle commanded a British brigade in the center and his orders were to demonstrate in front the jebel and keep the Dervish attention focused on him. And finally, my alter ego in the Sudan, Colonel Archibald Sinclair, commanded a Brigade of Highlanders and Sudanese troops with orders to skirt the right flank of the jebel and lead the dash into El Teb. A brigade of British Hussars and Indian Guides cavalry were also attached to Sinclair's task force.

The Dervish had built fortifications on a jebel that blocked access to the village of El Teb.

Almost immediately, Dervish started popping up seemingly out of the ground and attacking the Imperials. Protz Pasha seemed to attract the largest group of hostiles (the poor chap) on Turn One and would continue to fight them off for the whole game. A hoard of mounted Dervish nearly overwhelmed Protz Pasha's Camel Corps, but while severely cut up, they survived due to the timely intervention of the Bengal Lancers.

Peter Gilder's Dervish horsemen bear down on the unfortunate Protz Pasha.

Meanwhile, Chuck the Lucky did not live up to his nickname today as he had to face down this hoard of Dervish fanatics.

Colonel Sinclair was having some early success, having sent out his hussars ahead of the brigade in order to trip any ambushes that were hidding in the rugged Sudan terrain. The Highlanders brushed off a small group of Dervish horsemen and bull dogged forward onto the second/middle table. At that point, the sands seemed to erupt with thousands of screaming Dervish intent on wiping out the English dogs. At one point, Sinclair's aide de camp, Cavendish, looked at the looming hoard of warriors and declared to nobody in particular, "we are doomed".

Sinclair's Highland Brigade sees off the charge of the Dervish camelry.
The Highlanders calmly held their ground and tumbled the Dervish back to where they came with the loss of only three of the Good Guys. Said Cavandish, "I knew that we would see them off!"

Osman Benson can't believe that his war band was repelled by the Highlanders, so time to check out the rules just to be sure.

There seemed to be an endless supply of Dervish war bands everywhere we looked.
I don't know what was happening in other parts of the table, because I had my hands full and did not have the time to wander off to the other end of the table. The Highland Brigade was about to traverse the middle table to the third table, when the Dervish let it be known that they had had enough for the day.

The Prime Minister shall be pleased.


  1. Most impressive, splendid and huhe table, what a battle!

  2. How wonderful Jim! Great to see so many legendary figures of Peter Gilders on the field at Keith's as it seems like ages since you have played Sudan. Great post.

  3. Brilliant ,, can't beat a big Sudan

  4. I'm always glad to read your take on the game Jim. Plus your photos are very well done and tell a fun story. Inspiring too.
    Bill aka Protz Pasha

  5. A real wargame and no mistake! Splendid!

  6. Absolutely splendid madness!

    I'm sure PG would have approved.

  7. Wow!!!! 26 foot tables....3 of them. Now that's 'Going Large!"

  8. Tremendous game and legendary figs.
    Great blog!