Friday, August 14, 2009

The third best thing to come out of Belgium..

As previously mentioned DG and I had chance for a short (very short!) Sudan game after we'd completed the Battle of Camsix AWI campaign game...

Having been hideously impressed by the excellent painting of a figure on Cavenderia's blog of a Belgian officer representing "Captain Lucien Verbeek [click here - and I suggest immediately!]" I felt moved to try and work him into a little scenario...

Anywhooo... here we have the Rescue of Captain Verbeek. As usual please click on any picture for a bigger view....


Captain Lucien Verbeek is attached to the British army as an observer for the Belgian army, under the direct orders of King Leopold to report back on the tactics and weaponry of the Dervish (in the event they coincide with Belgian expansionist policy in North Africa) but also the British (because you never know..).

While out on a patrol he has become separated from the British column he is attached to, and has been captured and taken prisoner by the Dervish.

He is being held by one "rub" of Dervish who have occupied a rocky outcrop; they are surrounded by other Dervish mounted and footed units.

Quite by chance, while looking for him, the British column has stumbled upon him and the British commander after sending back a message to the main column, decides that he has forces enough to rescue him...


Seven units of Dervish - one mounted on camels. We diced for each to decide if they were rifle armed and two came up as positives - we also decided that it would be expected that the guarding unit would also have rifles making three in total.

The British comprised one troop of Egyptian lancers, one company of Sudanese infantry, one company of Camel Corps, commissariat (comprising ammunition camels), and a horse drawn Gatling gun.

Entry points for the Dervish were all diced for with the exception of the guarding unit who were placed in the central rocky feature along with Captain Verbeek.

Entry points for the Egyptian cavalry, and the Sudanese/Gatling/Camel Company/commissariat (who operated as a group) were also diced for...

The table:

We used a four foot table comprising two foot square terrain tiles gave eight entry points - one per two foot edge.

The dice throws turned out quite well for both sides...

Edge furthest away in the picture is north. For the Imperials, the Egyptian cavalry entered from the top left of the table (left side of the north edge as you look at the picture), while the infantry column entered from bottom left (bottom side of the eastern edge) preceded by the Camel Corps. DG (for t'was he, armed only with an impressive handle bar moustache, a chota peg* in one hand and an umbrella in the other) opted to bring the infantry column on in column of march (which may have been a mistake), the cavalry (temporarily under my command) entered in line..

The Dervish entered largely on separate edges - one of the groups (entering from the other half of the west edge) did, however, comprise two units.

The game

..was very short, and was used mostly towards the end as a means to discuss various improvements that could be made to my Sudan rules.

In a nutshell, the cavalry advanced towards the hill, were spotted by the Dervish who then started rolling on the reaction table without success (we're looking for a "charge!" result guys..)

Following various unit merges (as a result of reaction results), the Dervish began to meet critical mass (in my rules - the reaction table results swing in favour of the Dervish once they start to outnumber the Imperials) and after a successful charge by the Egyptian cavalry on one unit (resulting in the Dervish unit routing), the inevitable "charge" result was rolled - and all Dervish units leapt at the nearest Imperial unit....

...which happened to be the cavalry this picture the Egyptian cavalry have just opted to evade from the Dervish charge and can be seen skedaddling... in the distance is the Dervish unit they had previously routed.

Close up of Captain Verbeek (in his borrowed uniform!) being guarded by the Dervish

Larger view of the battlefield as the Egyptian cavalry move away.. following their evade however, they were subsequently caught by the main Dervish unit and, in the ensuing melee, lost and then routed from the field.

Pushing on with the Camel Corps - still in column (not a good idea) they were in turn caught before they could dismount and were also treated roughly...again routing from the field...

Faced with an enemy ensconced within the rocky natural redoubt and with only the Sudanese and the Gatling left, the British commander decided that enough was enough and retreated from the field (he would have stayed on the field, but it was getting late in real life!)

Post Match Analysis:

  • So.. a short game but enough to get the mental cogs whirring, and DG & I will now spend some more time working on the next version of the rules. Part of our problem is to do with the reaction tables - specifically when, and how often, to use them. I think both of us are keen to cut this down as it helps the game move more quickly/smoothly...
  • I think we want to start applying morale rules to the Dervish rather than just leaving it to the reaction table..
  • Basically we both agreed that it's time there was a little more human control of the Dervish...
  • Refreshments on this occasion were spicy, a rather pleasant Balti Bombay mix, and as we were in the deserts of the Sudan a very pleasant little - chilled - India style ale (Cotleigh "Barn Owl" [click here]) which slipped down a treat on a slightly muggy evening in the loft..

* Chota Peg: "To keep late Anglo-Saxon citizenry on the straight and narrow, King Edgar ordered that pegs be fastened in drinking vessels at given intervals; anyone who drank beyond these marks at one draught was liable to punishment. Meant as a deterrent, they became a provocation. Peg-tankards contained two quarts, and were divided into eight draughts. They inspired such expressions as "to take him down a peg" and "to put a peg (nail) in one's coffin". In popular parlance any drink of spirits became known as a peg.

Anglo-Indian in origin, a chota peg is a slang term for a drink of a spirits (usually brandy or whisky) and soda water". DG has obviously served time in the Indian army earlier in his career...

Oh..... and the first and second best things....??? Their beer and their chocolate of course!


  1. Alas, poor Captain Verbeek remains a captive . . . what will be his fate now that the Brits have blown the rescue?

    -- Jeff

  2. What! better than Tin Tin?

    If I may digress a moment, last year I visited the national brewing museum in Burton on Trent. Shortly before it was closed down by Coors (spit) to make room for more of ther disgusting beer
    I presume.

    Anyway among the exhibits were manifestos and displays showing the enormous shipping traffic needed to supply IPA to the overseas army.

    I am very pleased to see an acceptable IPA on the shelves again. Marston's Empire if memory serves me though sadly I do not have a bottle to hand to check that.


  3. Jeff - no need to worry for a relief column is being formed even as we speak... :)

    John - a very fine example but "pales" into insignificance next to the one made by St Peters Brewery - their India Ale is currently in my top 3 of all time... seek it out if you can for a truly sublime experience!

  4. All this has done is make we want to go and order some of the Perry brothers new Sudan Indian infantry!

    Curses. And locate some good IPA! Looking forward to more adventures!

  5. Tut, tut, drinking on duty. You could be slapped on a charge for that sir!
    I enjoyed the game though.


  6. Excellent report, Steve. Like LH, it makes me want to dig out my Perries again!


  7. excellent report, would like to hear more about the rules. send me your address and i will send the verbeek fig to you for the next adventure. email me at jeffreycavender at hotmail. maybe i can convert one of the infantry figs into a bound captive. again interesting battle report.

  8. whoops forgot the dot com at the end jeffreycavender at hotmail dot com