So tonight we were off to the Sudan for a colonial encounter. The rules we used were Peter Pigs “Patrols in the Sudan” a set we were unfamiliar with (even Michael, whose rules they were) so there were some lengthy pauses and furious page turning as we worked out if we could do what we wanted. They are small scale/skirmish rules and we managed to get 2 battles in.
Ally, Peter and myself took a regiment of British each. Peter the naval landing party, Al took the Egyptian regulars and I had the Highlanders. Neil and Sandy were the Dervishes and Michael was the ‘impartial’ umpire.
The terrain was set up and we were given our objective. All we had to do was enter from one end of the table and exit the other. Sounds simple, right? Yeah…right….
The terrain at the start.
We deployed our scouts and 1 regiment. (Surprise number 1) It was then we learned that we needed ‘activation points’ to do anything with the regiment, although the scouts could move and scout for free. I moved my scouts into the woods (in Sudan?) in front and thoroughly scouted them, but found nothing. We rolled for reinforcements and brought on the Egyptians. (Surprise number 2) The Dervishes have the ability to place extra terrain pieces pretty much wherever they want at the start of their turn. So it was that an entire village materialised before our very eyes!!!
A village ‘arrives’
(Surprise number 3) At the start of our next turn, we were informed that we could only move 1 unit at a time. Al moved his Egyptians towards the terrain piece in front of him, but that’s all we could do. We rolled for reinforcements and Peter’s Navy boys were deployed near the Brigadoon of the Sudan.
(Surprise number 4) No matter how well you scout a terrain piece, it can, at any time, become ‘unscouted’. That’s right, that pebble you didn’t look behind suddenly hides an entire regiment of Dervishes! Which leads to Surprise number 5, Dervish units can ‘vanish’ into a terrain piece and then appear in any other terrain piece, without moving (presumably using a cloaking device or teleporter technology).
Al advanced to the edge of the rocks and Sandy charged out into melee, against the advice of Neil. (I know, Neil Danskin NOT wanting to charge! What is wrong with the universe???) Al fired a volley before Sandy made contact, but to little effect, they took one base off and inflicted 1 casualty, but were roundly defeated in the ensuing melee and sent reeling back. (Surprise number 6) if you win a melee, any casualties inflicted (which doesn’t result in a base being removed) are miraculously healed.
and received Sandy’s charge
Peter then advances his marines and sailors into the village, which was suddenly swarming with Neil’s Dervishes (see teleport comment). A brief melee pushed him back out again. We decided enough was enough and called an end to the encounter.
Peter in Brigadoon
We reset and started on Battle 2
This time we had a clear objective. Brigadoon was placed in the middle of the table and all we had to do was successfully scout the bloody place!!
Peter started on the table with his Navy boys in column this time. He moved forward at quite a good pace, swerving to avoid some rocks where Neil was hiding. This moved him straight towards the woods, from which Sandy erupted!
He wasn’t as successful this time and he was pushed back into the woods, losing 2 stands.
Meanwhile, my Highlanders advanced to the edge of the rocks where Neil’s elite Fuzzy Wuzzies were (allegedly) hiding.
(Surprise number 7, and this one’s a beauty!) The Dervish player(s) get to play an ‘event card’ before their turn. The British player(s) can ‘gamble’ and attempt to cancel the effect of the card. On a roll of 5 or 6, the event is cancelled, on a 3 or 4 it goes ahead as normal, on a 1 or 2 the event is magnified. Sandy played a card allowing 1 unit to recover all it’s dead bases!
It was at this point my sarcasm filter suffered a terminal breakdown…..
Comments about “the Lazarus Brigade” and references to zombies all being at Ibrox abounded. When asked if we wanted to take a gamble and try to cancel the card, I replied with: “What happens if we lose? Does the Great God Anubis reanimate all the mummies in Egypt?” To which Sandy (who was thoroughly enjoying my Premier League hissy fit) replied with “Bitter, bitter, bitter…”
Peter advanced his Navy boys and scouts into the village, but failed to scout, just.
Where they were immediately set upon by the teleporting Fuzzy Wuzzies
They were badly defeated and pushed back out
Once again, the Brits decided enough was enough and conceded defeat (again). Which sent Mr. Gillespie into raptures! (I don’t think he’s ever won twice in a row before….)
If you’ve made it this far, it will come as no surprise that I don’t like these rules. I believe my direct quote was “I’ve played some shite in my time, but these take the feckin biscuit!” Sandy, naturally, commented they were the best rules he had ever played….
In fairness, they aren’t as bad as I’ve made them out. A lot can be put down to poor tactics on our part. We focused on only being able to activate 1 unit at a time, so attempted to get 1 unit to do everything. Moving forward unsupported, allowing the Dervishes to redeploy to meet the next threat. Neil suggested that the British could have won if we had gotten our tactics right and he may have a point…
With Sandy, Neil and Al all having other commitments next week, I have no game arranged, so I will either have to scrounge a place in someone else’s game, or take a week off. If it’s the latter, there will be no entry next week. The week after next, there will be a big Panzergrenadier game at the club, being run by Derek Hodge, which should be fun.