Wednesday, September 12, 2007 dry desert sands.... part 1

...after much painting, planning, writing and cogitating I'm about to set forth on my first ever Sudan game - imaginatively titled "Desert Skirmish" this will be the first run out of a subset of my painted output, and is mainly aimed at testing the rules I've been working on for almost 6 months now.

The rules are based on those used by the great Peter Gilder, who used a set of his own which in turn he based on a set called "Pony Wars". "Pony Wars" were a set of Wild West rules that aimed to represent the Hollywood style battles between cavalry and Indian, very definitely 'fun' rather than 'simulation'. Peter spotted a very unique feature of the rules however, that he was able to use for his Sudan games. In essence the rules have a superb set of reaction tables, because in "Pony Wars" all the players are on one side - the Indians are entirely managed by the reaction tables..

Those first rules that Peter used were never published (they may have been used at the famous Wargames Holiday Centre) but I bought "Pony Wars" some time ago and have also 'half inched' the tables for my rules (with a few mods/changes), I also combed the articles that Peter wrote in the first issues of "Wargamers World", and then filled in the blanks with the basics from the Will McNally rules I use for AWI and WSS games. This with a number of discussions on the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group has been enough to put something together...

It promises to be interesting seeing how this works, as I'm not 100% clear in my own mind at the moment whether the Dervish should be fully programmed (a la Gilder) or partially programmed - the play through of the rules should help with some of these questions. Either way - here are the scenario details..

This is the table layout..east is at the bottom of the picture:

Same again - this time recreated with the GameMappr package:

The British will enter somewhere along the eastern edge decided by throwing 1D6 and dividing the edge in 6 segments. Their objective is the village on the western edge as they have received intelligence that there is a high ranking Dervish commander there. They need to get to the village, and then return to the eastern edge of the table (anywhere along the edge) while losing the least number of points/men. I'm not going to document the winning criteria as I don't have a clue how the game will pan out, and at this stage I just want to use the scenario to drive some of the elements of the rules, melee, firing, movement, and most importantly the reaction/morale rules...

The Dervish are all on the table, but are deployed in ambush and I won't know where until I find them. All I know is that they are in one of the numbered terrain features, I'll have no idea which as I will randomly shuffle a number of cards equal to the number of terrain features, some of which will have Dervish on them and some not - as the British come within sighting distance of each feature the card is turned over and any Dervish then take their reaction test as per the rules.


Imperial: One troop of Cavalry, one company of Camel Corps (mounted Infantry), and two companies of Infantry (one British, one Sudanese)

Dervish: Six "rubs" of foot soldiers, and two of Cavalry - half of which are rifle armed....

Part two will document how the game progressed.... J


  1. Steve, please take pictures during this playtest . . . and, of course, show them to us.

    -- Jeff

  2. I'd be interested to see what you've done on the reaction rules, as well, when you feel they're ready for viewing.