Monday, 18 December 2017

Sudan: Scenario: Battle of Hashin

Thought I'd get this scenario up after posting the previous No Relief from the Midday Sun scenario.

This scenario has been played twice with close games standing at a one all victory for Brits and Ansar. Seems to be well balanced, with game one (battle report) and game two (battle report) both sea-sawing between victory for each side.

An A4 PDF of the scenario can be found here.

Hashin, Northern Sudan, March 1885
On the 21st March 1885, most elements of General Graham's Suakim brigade saw action at Hashin.

While the East Surrey Regiment and Royal Engineers set up communications and a fortified position a few miles to the east of Hashin, in the west, Ansar were sighted around a hill called the Dihilbat feature, and Graham sent his Indian Brigade, several regiments of foot, and elements of cavalry, forward to drive the Ansar from the feature - supported by the Guards Brigade.

Several smaller assaults and engagements followed but fearing envelopment by flanking Ansar from Tamai, and due to an over extension of division forces across several miles, before the Ansar made a more determined assault, the action resulted in Graham withdrawing his forces and subsequent battle at Tofrik the next day.

This scenario explores the 'what if' possibility that the Ansar mounted their attack at Hashin rather than Tofrek, before Graham had a chance to withdraw.

Area Around Hashin
The area around Hashin was open, yet covered with scrub and mimosa (6-8 feet high in some places).

The major features of the Hashin area were the Dihilbat spur or hill, and Beehive hill next to it, where Hashin was actually nestled - which can be represented by several small huts against the north-west of Beehive Hill.

Further to the north-west was another feature of broken ground called the Low spurs of the Waratab.

Tamai lay some miles to the south-west and was then a centre for Ansar troops.

There is an excellent map of this area on page 147 and description of the action in Lt. Col Snook's Go Strong into the Desert, published by Perry Miniatures.

Graham's division ended up spread over several miles, from Hashin and back east across open ground to the minor features where the Surreys and engineers were creating their redoubts.

Set Up
On the day, there were several sightings and interactions with the Ansar between 0940 and 1225, but no concerted major attack.

This scenario considers the situation where the Ansar, at some point between those times, made a coordinated and major assault of Graham's forward (western) elements, with original dispositions of those elements used as starting positions.

This makes the Dihilbat feature, Beehive Hill, and Low spurs of the Waratab the key features for the the scenario table.

So far we've used 280cm x 150cm and 300cm x 240cm tables to good effect for this scenario. I'm not sure what this is in Imperial measure, probably a few cubits and Google can do the conversions for you... or alternatively it may be easier to move to a country that employs modern measurements... :)

As we know the lay of the land, on the British side of the table, set up should include Beehive Hill (hill feature) and Dihilbat Hill (large hill feature). These should be set up on the table edge in the centre, with just enough room between the features to house a British square.

If you are fortunate to have enough terrain, the Dihilbat feature should stretch almost across the board and be set up on the British player's left.

The Low spurs of the Waratab should cover a good portion of the Ansar player's left quarter and represent uneven, undulating even, semi-broken ground, and stretch up to the centre of the table.

The rest of the ground was fairly open but much of it covered in scrub and Mimosa, so if you have these terrain pieces, a good portion of the open ground can be covered in scrub - providing further cover for the Ansar.

Also we employ a house rule called Sudanese Rough Ground.

Most features are rocky or covered in scrub. Given the superb tactical use by the Ansar and effect on British cavalry (they get mauled when fighting in it), Sudanese Rough Ground is as follows: as per Rough Ground, plus Unclear targets, Ansar infantry get Cover, -2 morale saves to cavalry fighting H2H in it.

So there should be a good mix of Rough Ground and Sudanese Rough Ground on the table.

Measurements are for 20-28mm standard basing and Brigade Square rules are used, with even partial brigade squares claiming supports from other units in the square. All Cav units are Marauders.

Unless otherwise specified, units are assumed as listed in Blood on the Nile supplement.

Each side gets two commanders, including the army general.

British Forces
Indian Brigade: The 5th Ludhiana Sikhs, 17th Bengal Native Infantry, and 28th Bombay Native Infantry (3x Standard BP formations),  9th Bengal Lancers (Standard BP formation), a Naval Brigade Gardner and Tiny support formation, and 2 screw guns (or one medium artillery piece).

2nd Brigade: The Berkshire Regiment and Royal Marine Light Infantry (2x Standard BP formations), squadron of 9th Bengal lancers (Small BP formation).

Reinforcements: 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, 3rd Battalion Scots Guards (2x Standard 'guards' BP formation, starting off table, available from turn three onward, and assigned to a brigade as the general sees fit).

Ansar Forces
Green Flag Rub: 6 x Hadendowa (Standard BP spear/sword formations)
Black Flag Rub: 3 x spearmen/swordsmen (Standard BP formations), 2 x African Riflemen (Standard BP formations), 3 x Small rifle-armed skirmishers.

For some reason this scenario suits a ratio close to 1:1 British:Ansar rather than 1:1.5. I think this is because the terrain favours the Ansar and the African (slave) Riflemen are given a shooting quality of 3 (as per the indications of their projected firepower in Michael Asher's history of the Sudan conflict called 'Khartoum').

Its worked twice so far, but if it seems weighted in the Brits favour, chuck a couple more spearmen units into the mix for good measure, and stir thoroughly. Or vice versa.

Force Notes
  • Ansar Spearmen and Riflemen are Warband, Spearmen are fanatics.
  • Ansar Riflemen have a shooting quality of 3 and H2H of 4.
  • Ansar Riflemen and Skirmishers are armed with Breech-loading Rifles.
  • All British forces are Steady.
  • Guards are Elite 4+.
  • Bengal lancers are Marauders but do not count Lance. They were only given lances two weeks before this action so are treated as 'lance-armed' Medium Cavalry.
  • The Naval Gardener gun is considered Accompanied, in that the Tiny Naval Brigade unit is 'attached' to the gun. So if at least two of the Naval Brigade figures are touching the gun, it can move as Infantry.

Along with the lay of the land, we are fairly certain of the dispositions of the British on the day. As such, at the start of the game:
  • the two screw guns are placed on Beehive Hill
  • the 5th, 17th, 28th, along with the Gardener are placed in a partial brigade square in between Beehive Hill and the Dihilbat feature
  • the Berkshire Regiment and Royal Marine Light Infantry are placed on the Dihilbat feature near the table edge
  • the Bengal lancer units are placed anywhere within 30cms (12 inches) of the British player's table edge.
  • reinforcements arrive at the beginning of the British player's turn three and units can be assigned to either or both brigades as the player sees fit, placed on the table edge nearest the brigade the unit will join.
See photo map above for indications of British dispositions at the beginning of the game.

For the Ansar, we know where they were around 0940, massing around the Low spurs of the Waratab and several masses of Ansar were south of the Dihilbat feature and on the feature itself. We also know that Tamai was not that far away to the South-west. As such:
  • Ansar enter the game in the first round, from either corner of the Ansar player's table edge and
  • One Riflemen unit and Skirmish unit is placed on or to the left and touching the Dihilbat feature, at the centre of the board.
Gentlemen and woman will either concede or not force their opponents to continue, perhaps before one brigade is entirely broken and the other is mostly shattered.

I hope you enjoy the scenario as much as we have.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Sudan: Scenario: No Relief from the Midday Sun

Having finished a bit early for the year and having received my "Xmas Present" to myself in the post from Newline Designs (20mm Hadendowa, Yorks and Lancs, and some dismounted camel corp to provide dismounted cavalry options), I thought I'd write up a scenario for when they are all painted... hopefully sometime in January... hahahahaha...

... well given all existing Hadendowa will be re-based and touched up... it might take a bit longer...

Anyhow, given the success of the Battle of Hashin scenario, fought twice now, here's one which uses the Brigade Square rules.

Note all measurements are made in metric... because its the 21st Century and base 10 is king - who the hell uses fractions any more... but its easy to remember that 12 inches = ~30cms.

An A4 PDF of the scenario can be found here.

No Relief from the Midday Sun

In the north of Sudan, a brigade has been caught out in the open, on its way to relieve Gordon at Khartoum.

For two days at least, dust on the horizon, coupled with glimpses of Ansar in the distance, has convinced the brigade commander that an attack is likely.

Fearing the worse, they have formed their brigade into a square and set the cavalry off to reconnoiter.


As it might be a bit of a stretch for some to build a table of this size (232cms x 232cms), just note that the scenario is set for the Ansar to be just in range of Breech-Loading Rifles when they come on the table - hence the terrain -  and for them to have to make at least two full moves to get into contact.

If you're stretched for space just imagine the distance from an edge of the table to the face of a British square unit is 1 meter away (~39 inches), and make the Ansar have to move accordingly.

Set Up

  • Measurements are for 20-28mm standard basing
  • Brigade Square rules
  • British square must be set up in the centre of the board with each battlion face at least 1 meter away from the edge of the board and it cannot move (it will not risk the chance of gaps opening up in the brigade square)
  • Ansar place Terrain
  • 4 Manditory terrian pieces min 30cms in length, 4 optional terrain pieces of any size, Roll 1d6, placed on 4-6
  • At least one part of a terrain piece must touch the Ansar deployment zone and be no closer than 60cms to the British square
  • British calavry units may be placed anywhere on the table, outside of the Ansar deployment zone
  • Ansar attacking a side of a square may attack only the facing British unit or the facing unit and one adjacent artillery piece
  • Only Sml Ansar Skirmish units may indivdually attack  a square artillery piece in hand to hand
  • British facing units not in combat themselves and who are adjacent to an artillery piece attacked by Ansar Skirmish units may add 1 hand to hand attack to the combat
  • Sml British Skirmish Inf units may move through the square's facing units and artillery at will

British: 5x Std Inf, 1 x Sml Inf, 1x Std Cav, 1x Sml Cav, 1x 9 Pdr, 2x Gattling, 1x Gardner
Ansar: 9x Std Inf, 4x Sml Inf, 3x Std Camel, 2x Sml Camel
Ratio approx. 1:1.5, British:Ansar

Force Notes
  • Ansar Std Inf are Fanatic Warband
  • British Std Inf are Steady
  • Ansar Skirmish Inf carry breech-loading rifles, all else carry spears
  • Camels and all Sml Inf units are Skirmishers
  • Sml British Cav unit may dismount, becoming a Sml Skirmish Inf unit
  • All Cav units are Marauders
  • Ansar max four commands per side, including Army Commander
  • British max three commands per side, including Army Commander
  • Add other special rules as desired but balanced between forces
Unless otherwise specified, units are assumed as listed in Blood on the Nile supplement.

First side to loose 5 units, Shaken or outright - small units and artillery count as half a unit.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Federation Troopers!: Armoured 25mm Sci Fi

The next items from my Clear the Desk painting challenge are done and also celebrating over 20 years of war gaming and 10,000 views of the blog! Thanks to everyone who has surveyed my wares!!

Now, don't jump to conclusions about the paint scheme just yet. These are Denizen Miniatures 25mm Federation Troopers, started in 1995 and finally finished.

Back then I was broke and couldn't afford Games Workshop 28mm Space Marines but I could afford these guys and the Citadel paints - see where this is headed. So I bought these guys and the Ventuarians - again of which I realise I don't have any pics up on this blog - will remedy. Hence the paint scheme.

After finishing most of them in the 90's, about seven years ago I realised I had more Ventuarians then I did Troopers, my OCD (Obsessive Collectors Disorder) kicked in, and I grabbed some reinforcements.

They went out to a commission painter, got prepped, and almost immediately came flying back unfinished - literally chucked across the table, with the grumpy quote "Paint your own xxxxing figures". I do. I have. 😆 But into the desk they went and there they sat, until now.

I was worried about the paint match up after 20 years but was astonished to find some of the paints actually used all those years ago (and they say hoarding doesn't pay dividends!), and more astonishingly, that some were still active and ready to paint.

The Ultramarines blue was from the Citadel paint renaming/bottling in the 2000s and needed a bit of coaxing TLC with some Lahmian Medium, but matched the 90's blue pretty much perfectly.

The Blood Angles red was hardened like plastic but I used it as a palate reference, and it turns out that 90's Blood Angles Red =  Evil Sunz Scarlet + Yriel Yellow - little dabs of yellow at a time until satisfied approx. 1YY : 5-10ESS).

Hats off to Citadel (ah come on, don't boo) as the rest of the lads have been painted and occasionally gamed with for over 20 years, without a vanish, and still look freshly painted, and were only very slightly chipped.

There's something to be said about these Denizen figures, I reckon they're still some of the best generic sci fi on the market. I think they've aged better design/figure-wise, than most of the more successful brands.

I also painted up these two behemoths in the 90s, as Dreadnought stand-ins, they scale pretty well. Not sure what code they are or were, but they're from the - still available - Dream Pod Nine, Heavy Gear range.

I also found these sentry guns in the same storage bin as the troopers, pretty chipped up, and touched them up. Not sure, but think they're either Ground Zero Games or Denizen.

Which brings us to the next job in the challenge. A half-completed blister of Games Workshop minis no less and some loose colonials - you can take that one if you like.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Sudan: Royal Artillery (Limbered)

The Clear the Desk painting challenge continues, with first units for an intended Camel Corps Brigade, completed for Black Powder: Blood on the Nile.

These guys sat requiring construction, next to the undercoated Ja'liyin from the previous post for ages. The limber, crew, and horses are ZW54 and ZW55 from Newline's Zulu range, and the 9pdr guns and crew are from HaT's 8210 British Colonial Artillery.

Yes, I know the horse team is meant to be made up of six horses, which would look good, but doesn't scale well in BP, so there's two per team for this army.
As both sets were produced for the Zulu war, all the crew have had puggaree conversions, which is only just and proper, and why I think I procrastinated so long before completing them, but in the end the conversions only took about half an hour to do all twelve.

The limber came together with no hassles, with only some fiddlyness when mounting everything together, at once, with white glue and super glue, coz I'm impatient :). As ever the Newline metals prepped in about ten minutes. A commission painter prepped the guns so can't comment on them but from the box art diagram, them look fairly simple (3 pces: wheels, carriage, and barrel).

Its good to get a couple of core units for a brigade out the way (they can be used for any British brigade) and its on to the next thing I found, wrapped up in tissue paper, smushed up in a plastic bag, right at the back of the desk - a group of Sci Fi figures to finish a unit I started in 1995!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Sudan: Ja'liyin Tribesmen

Halfway through the Clear the Desk painting challenge, for your viewing pleasure (not really eye candy, more eye broccoli), some Ja'liyin tribesmen for the Black Powder, Blood on the Nile supplement. These have been made up from multiple 20mm plastic sets as there aren't any of these tribesmen on the market - and have been undercoated and getting caught up in the curtains behind the desk occasionally, for well over a year.

The rank and file are the peltasts/light troops from HaT's 8044 Alexander's Light Infantry (in a previous life, they were actually peltasts painted by Chasseur) and the Numidians from HaT's 8020 Hannibal's Carthaginians - African Infantry set, with the shields shaved off.

The Emir on horseback and the standard bearer are also from HaT, 8249 El Cid Moorish Command, and one Emir on a donkey from Waterloo 1815's 011 Dervish Infantry.

The reference is from Col. Snooks' Go Strong in the Desert, Plate 23 on page 98 and contemporary coloured sketch on page 101. With many more plates from Michael Perry in the book, this is a must have reference for this period and I reckoned seeing how they made the effort to research the tribe, I'd make the effort to individually paint the 24 diamond patches and coloured bands onto the jibhas of these 20mm figures :)

Still, I reckon I know one sure fire thing to remedy the pressing hordes of Ansar, next to which these guys will take their place: some Limbered Royal Artillery from the same period.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Heavy Mechs: Ground Zero Games 15mm Sci Fi

Almost half way through the Clear the Desk painting challenge and in the next alcove over lurked these two bruisers, one in a fairly sad state of collapse after moving cities a few years back.

They're Manned Ambulatory Combat Unit (MACU), M98 Chargers, from the amazing Ground Zero Games 15mm Stargrunt range and they are excellent. I bought them years ago and am happy that they're finally done (although they may yet get tactical markings added once more 15mm are completed).

There are two weapon loadouts. V15-MEC01A with two forearm heavy cannons - 'Type A' and V15-MEC01B with a heavy multishot missile pod and one multibarrel super-gatling - 'Type B'. Heavily armed and armoured, I reckon these things would be first echelon AT/IS and indirect fire close support for troops on the table.

They come in many parts and require some care of thought in regards to pre-assembly posing, but are well designed and go together to enable an astonishing range of poses, and make for an enjoyable build (I basically tried to work with gravity and built from the feet up, constructing the torso separately, so as to work the pose on the centre, pelvic mount before final assembly).

They'll take their place alongside the other completed 15mm forces and at a push, I reckon they could be used for 25mm as well.

So some pretty versatile mechs for the collection... but what's this I see coming? A cloud of dust on the Dervish desert horizon...?

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Warmaster: Empire Crossbowmen

Yes, Warmaster - fantasy at that.  Continuing on with the Clear the Desk painting challenge, I found a unit of undercoated Empire crossbowmen sitting at the back in one of the alcoves.

These figures and Warmaster itself are fantastic, although long OOP - but one can hope. The rules are now a 'living rulebook' and available for free online at Dark Press, and Rick Preistley has his own site, but more focused on ancients rather than fantasy.

You'll notice that there are three units finished, even though I only found one in the desk. Well, it turns out I forgot how many figures made up a unit and painted half in blue dominant scheme and the other red dominant. Then counted. Then went - "oh dear" (I didn't really, but the expletives used do not bear repeating).

So then I went on the hunt for another blister, found one, got confused as to how many I had, then had a panic, then found another unit I'd bought painted from the interweb, amongst the finished Empire stuff.

Greatly relieved that I could still field 3000 points when I finish  the rest of the army (its only been 17 years!), to go with the finished Tomb King army, I realised that the painted one looked a little dull compared to the new units, and touched it up.

Had an 'OMG! These guys are so cool!' moment when I uploaded the pics. So cool... so single... :)

So, that's one alcove of the painting desk completely cleared of prepped figures and now the home for glues. On to the next alcove and I see two 15mm armoured behemoths from GZG undercoated, washed, and drybrushed - and I ask myself why didn't I just finish those megaliths of death at the time?