Friday, March 17, 2023

Khartoum Play Test on 18ft x 32ft Table


The vast sands of the Sudan look very vast indeed over three 6ft by 32ft table.

This weekend I am taking my talents (and my giant Khartoum game) to Woodstock, IL to run a full size play test of my Khartoum! 54mm wargame. My friend Keith L. has a large basement that holds three 6ft by 32ft tables, arranged parallel. The aisles between the tables don't exist as far as the playing surface is concerned. When you move your figures to the edge of the table, you simply pick up your figures and move them across the aisle and onto the next table. This provides a depth of 18 feet when you consider the three 6ft wide tables. And with 32ft of length, well, let's just say, there is a lot of maneuver room on the flanks.

Here are two pictures of the large expanse of playing surface for our 54mm Khartoum! wargame this weekend.

The terrain looks a bit empty without troops on the table.
These would be set up on the following day.

As we set up the terrain on Wednesday, I was gobsmacked by seemingly endless table space and I began to wonder if I had enough troops to fill it up. Actually, one doesn't have to fill up the space on large tables, but rather, one can appreciate the amount of room available to maneuver without running off the edge of the game table.

I set up the game with Keith's assistance over the course of two days (Wednesday and Thursday of this week) because my vehicle is not large enough to hold all of the terrain and figures. So on the first day, I hauled all of the terrain bits and pieces to Keith's house and we set up the terrain. Keith's wife Donna kindly made a delicious lunch to keep our energy up. The next day I brought all of my Sudan 54mm figures to the venue and we set up the Egyptian garrison in Khartoum and laid out the Dervish forces.

We set up the Nile River (the Blue Nile coincidentally ) using 6ft wide blue felt and then placed the Dervish river flotilla of dhows and one steam launch on the tables. The river runs towards the walls of Khartoum and flows around the back of the city. This provides a Dervish player the opportunity to try to attack the city from the back door, the river.

Note that Khartoum's walls spill over to the middle table. This is done so that  
all of the players don't end up in the middle aisles once the Dervish attack reaches the city's walls.

The Egyptians will have a pair of paddle wheel river boats to protect the city.

A view of Khartoum from the river.

The front walls of the city are placed on the middle table so that both sides can reach the walls with their arms and play from both sides of the table. Had I put the entire town on the back table, then every player would be standing in the middle aisle trying to move their figures. For my convention games, I will make the middle table only 5ft wide, rather than 6ft.

This is a stack of just some of the figures and terrain that I had to transport to Keith's house for the game set  up.

So now the game table is set up and the figures have all been placed in their starting positions. This is two days before the first roll of the dice on Saturday morning. We have 7 players participating in the game, although I could easily accommodate 10 to 12 players at the Little Wars and Historicon conventions.

I will post game day pictures probably on Saturday night, so come on back and visit my blog to see how the game played out.

A final note, one advantage of setting up the game table at its full convention size is to allow me to see the spacing of the terrain and troops and to see if there are any bits and pieces that I still need to add for the convention game, It was clear that I would need more walls, so I made four walls yesterday and will finish them up with some dry brushing on Friday. I also want to make some more scaling ladders.


  1. That is sooo impressive Jim and frankly I'm amazed at the size of Keith's basement! Good luck with the ocnvention and I look forward to seeing pics of the game in action:).

  2. Very smart looking table and city.


  3. Brilliant Jim, dont fall into the trap a lot of exhibitors do which is to fill a table with too many figures, it is more realistic with what you have done, and also allows people to appreciate all your hard work.

    1. Thanks Robbie, some good observations and advice.

  4. Wonderful . I so look forward to seeing this in the flesh at Historicon

  5. Wow!! I am not sure what is more impressive. Keith's wargame table space or your figures and terrain filling it! Looks fantastic. Best of luck at the convention.

    1. I’m fortunate to have Keith’s basement available for our occasional large games.

  6. That is a truly awe-inspiring space to game in - it looks like an industrial premises, rather than a domestic basement - cant wait to see your images of the weekend game!