Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Historicon Pre-registration Info for Khartoum! The War Game


The Battle of Abu Klea

Historicon will be releasing the Preliminary Events List ("PEL") later this week and I now have the time slots and event sign up numbers for all of my games at this year's Historicon convention.

I will be running the "Khartoum! The War Game" game three times and the Battle of Abu Klea once. With 12 player slots for each Khartoum game and 10 for Abu Klea, that works out to a total of 46 possible player slots that you can fill if you want to sign up for any of these games. I would suggest pre-registering for one (or more) of these games ahead of time to ensure that you will reserve a seat at the table for your game. All three of the games that I hosted at this year's Little Wars convention sold out quickly, so once the pre-registration is open, go for it!

Here are the game times and identification numbers for each game:


T10:242  Khartoum! The War Game at 10:00 AM - 12 players


F10:243  Khartoum! The War Game at 10:00 AM - 12 players

F19:574  Save Gordon! The Battle of Abu Klea at 7:00 PM - 10 players


S14:244  Khartoum! The War Game at 2:00 PM - 12 players

When you preregister for the game, enter the game number (for example, T10:242 for the Thursday game) when you sign up for the game. You are allowed to sign up for multiple games so it is possible for one to play in all four games if you can beat the crowd.

I am looking forward to hosting these games and to meeting all of the well wishers and blog followers who have been following the progress of this game journey over the past 12 months.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Visting Guilford Courthouse National Park


This past weekend I was in Raleigh, North Carolina to attend my nephew's wedding. I padded the trip with two extra days so that I could visit several battlefields in the area: Guilford Courthouse and Bentonville. Mapquest indicated that both trips would be approximately 90 minutes of travel, to and fro, but that must have been in Dog Time Years as both trips seemed much much longer. I want to thank Mrs. Fritz for putting up with me on the battlefield tours.

We arrived at the Guildford CH visitors center around 4PM and discovered that the park closed down at 5PM, so we didn't have a whole lot of time to see everything in a patient and measured manner.

My initial impression of the battlefield is that it had way more undulating up and down terrain than I would have imagined. There were some significantly deep ravines between the three lines depth of the American deployment. I had not been aware of this. The second impression was that the ground had more woods than I would have guessed, however, in this case, it is probably due to lots of forest undergrowth and new trees that didn't exist there in 1781.

Here are some links to useful web sites that provide the background and history of the battle of Guilford Courthouse:

Guilford CH National Military Park

American Battlefield Trust web site

British Battles Web Site - Guilford CH

The visitors' center offers a 30-minute film to get you oriented, a small collection of real and reproduction artifacts, and a book/gift store. I bought a T-shirt and a couple of books about the battle.

Here are some pictures that I took of the museum inside the visitor's center.

Reproduction American 3-pound cannon in the Visitor's Center.

I am standing next to the 3-pounder to convey an idea of the size of the cannon relative to a person.

Museum's collection of fire arms.

Reproduction uniforms

First American line of defense (North Carolina militia):

An example of some of the battlefield markers and displays.
This one highlighted the first American line of defense.

The second American defensive line (Virginia militia):

This picture and the one above give you a sense of how thick the forest is in 
the area of the second American defensive line. The thinner trees are obviously
new growth that weren't there in March 1781. There would not have been
any leaves on the trees at the time of the battle.

Third (and final) American defensive line (Maryland and Delaware Continental troops):

Trail marker for walking along the Third Line.

Artist's interpretation of how the Guildford Court House might have looked.

Close, wooded terrain along the third American line.

A pair of American 6-pound cannon at their position on the third line.

Looking down the barrel of the cannon after it has been sited and ready for firing.

Proof that Der Alte Fritz was there.

Cannon barrel markings.

American 6-pound cannon. Big carriages with wheels that are as high as my shoulders.

At the end of the line, back to the barracks:

I think that this is part of the Third Line Trail. Stay on the path and avoid the snakes.

Information signs at the park entrance.

Well there you have it - a quick tour of the Guilford Courthouse battlefield park. I wish that I had more than an hour to visit, particularly after a two hour drive from suburban Raleigh, North Carolina. The park is definitely worth the time to visit. There are lots of hiking trails and one would have a better idea of how the battle unfolded by walking the trails rather than making the car drive through the park.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

A Visit to the Marketplace in Khartoum


A gentleman from Belgium is searching for some curios to take home.

I set up several vignettes inside my model of Khartoum and experimenting with various styles of picture taking and composition. I like having civilians participating on the periphery of the table top game. It is very difficult to find 54mm (1/32 scale) Middle Eastern civilians to populate Khartoum. Fortunately, a company called King & Country (based in Hong Kong) makes a figure range called "The Life of Jesus" and some of the characters make suitable stand ins for 19th Century civilians. Granted the locals probably would not be wearing colorful robes, more likely all white clothing, but the figures seem to work just fine. Another company called John Jenkins Designs also makes some suitable stand in civilian figures.

Trips to Michael's Stores and Hobby Lobby have been a treasure trove of little knickknacks to use in my scenario. The oriental carpets, the baskets of fruit and vegetables and a few other items have come in handy.

The rug merchant 

A citizen with his hookah is taken to task by a couple of
members of the Khartoum Chapter of the Temperance League.

Overview of the market place

My Khartoum terrain is pretty much finished and ready to go for this year's Historicon games. I had everything that I needed in time for my games at Little Wars, recently. After that show, I set up the city terrain on one of my game tables to see how things were looking. I identified a few things that I want to add before Historicon. These include the expansion of the Governor's Palace to include a pair of building wings (DONE), the town arsenal, and a mosque. Maybe a couple more corner towers for the city walls would be a nice addition if I can find the time.

Friday, May 12, 2023

My Historicon Games Are Entered in the PEL


Major General Charles Gordon contemplated the world with disapproval.
He reached the conclusion that it was no place for a gentleman. 


Yesterday was the deadline (for inclusion in the Preliminary Events List or "PEL") for submitting game events at this year’s Historicon Wargame convention July 19-23, 2023 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I entered my Khartoum game three times (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) and I added the Battle of Abu Klea for Friday evening. I felt the need to add the fourth game to sort of justify the amount of floor area and table space that are required for my game.

The wargaming world is excited to hear about the number of games
that Der Alte Fritz is going to run at Historicon 2023 in July. Everybody's 
talking about it.

The other day I set up enough figures to form two squares, one British Camel Corps and one made entirely of Egyptian troops. Each square has 32 figures on each face of the square for a total of 128 figures per square plus artillery placed on each corner of the square.

British square in the foreground, Egyptian square in the background.
Dervish everywhere else.

The Egyptian square.

The British square.

Taking stock of the of the figures that I have already painted compared to what I might need to stage the Battle of Abu Klea, I determined that I was in pretty decent shape for the game. The Egyptian square only needs a pair of Gatling guns. The British Camel Corps square needs an extra 16 to complete one battalion and another 32 figures to complete the fourth side of the square. A pair of Gatling guns will also be required to complete the British square.

So I placed an order with Armies In Plastic for the needed 54mm British infantry and Gatling guns with crews. AIP's service is exceptionally quick and so the figures arrived within 2 business days.

Recently arrived reinforcements from Armies In Plastic

I organize my British and Egyptian regular troops in groups of 8 figures per movement tray (from Litko) and 6 movement trays constitute a "regiment" of 48 figures. For my Abu Klea game, however, I plan on using only 32 figures for each side of the square with a Gatling gun or a 7 pound cannon in each of the four corners. When I paint the figures I work in groups of 8 figures at a time. Thus one painting grouping fills up one movement tray and my method gives me a sense of getting things done since it only takes 8 figures to finish something. This works psychological wonders for my mind. I can generally finish painting 8 figures in one or two days, depending on the amount of time that I have available. I am retired to I have some control over how much I paint each day.

The picture of the unpainted plastic figures, above, illustrates 8 sections of 8 figures or 64 figures in total. I generally do not use the running poses, which I consider to be somewhat useless for my units. I don't like figures standing on one leg. The picture shows the contents of 5 boxes of figures (16-18 figures per box), less the running poses that I have removed from the scene.

With respect to my three Khartoum games, I plan on adding some new buildings to the city. I recently finished two one-story wings to attach to my model of the Governor's Palace in Khartoum. You can see part of this improvement/renovation in the first picture at the top of this post.

Stay tuned, more to come shortly.

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?