Matakishi's Tea House

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A bad day to be on patrol

A report on 'Patrols in the Sudan', a set of wargaming rules from Peter Pig.

A bad day to be on patrol? Hm, you could say that. It didn't look that way at first. It was very interesting how things got out of hand for the British very quickly.

The terrain is from various places, the oasis and scrub are from S&A sceniics, the palm trees were from K&M and I made the rocky outcrops from, well, rocks. The scenery moves around during the game as the Dervish can place new bits, remove other bits and reposition them.

The rules are very good, they bring out a Colonial flavour in an innovative way and contain original mechanisms that make it possible for the natives to hit and run or show up to draw their opponents one way and then disappear only to reappear elsewhere.

It is very hard for the British to win, but that's part of the challenge that adds to the fun.

The game is designed for 15mm figures. However I have used 28mm Redoubt figures because I don't like 15s. I kept the base sizes the same, 30mm square for infantry, but had a single 28mm per base instead of a group of 15mm figures. Cavalry and gun bases have to be a bit bigger than originally intended but this has no bearing on play. The ranges and movement distances were kept the same as in the rules. This allowed us to play on a 6 x 4 table, which is roughly the original size board from the rules (the rules suggest 3 x 5).

A british infantry figure can move up to 12" and a Dervish up to 16". Rifle range is also 16" so nothing felt cramped or fiddly even with the bigger figures.

The only other trouble I foresaw was that the lower figure density would look odd but I think the game looked ok.

I highly recommend Patrols in the Sudan, I got my game up and running from nothing in five weeks, it was an easy and worthwhile project to do. I'll be adding cavalry and other troop types later when I paint up the casualty markers but they're not necessary for a basic game.

The rules are published by Peter Pig and can be ordered direct from them
or presumably from any of their stockists.
All my figures for this game are from Redoubt Enterprises

The Battle

We chose 'scout the well' as our scenario and the oasis representing it was  placed at the end of the table. The area behind was for storing stuff as we were only using 6' of the 8' table so the oasis represents the limit of the  playing area.
Two bits of terrain, scrub and rocky outcrop, with a unit of Ansar riflemen lurking nearby greeted the three native scouts who advanced ahead of a platoon of the Black Watch.

The rest of the British arrive as a group of Beja spearmen sneak into the area. The first scout enters the scrub to see what's there. All very easy so far, the British are confident.....

Equally as confident as the British the Ansar murdered the scout and revealed themselves to fire on the British. The hail of lead that was returned to them cut them to pieces and the remainder ran.
Inspired by the skirl of the pipes the British stormed the scrub to flush out any other lurking enemy.....but it was empty. Hadn't someone seen the glint of spears? Oh well, the Sun plays tricks on the eyes out here.

The British advance pauses for a bit as movement is noticed in some rocks to their rear and a platoon of the Coldstream Guards turns to face any imminent threat.
Seeing their chance a unit of Dervish spearmen breaks cover to the right and storms across the desert towards the Guards' exposed rear.
(the little rocks represent jammed guns, something we had a lot of).

Calmly the Guards turn to face the onrushing savages, almost as if they were on parade, their crushing volley stops the attackers in their tracks.
Their subsequent fire and the support of the other Guards platoon kills most of the enemy and the remainder scatter to the four winds.

Turning their attention to the objective once again the British are stunned to find themselves confronting a stand of trees, obviously the well wasn't here, it must be further on. Those trees look like they could be hiding all kinds of trouble.
After the rapid fire earlier several Guardsmen are struggling with jammed rifles. Their lives aren't made any easier when a scout warns them of more approaching natives...... The balance of confidence is swinging away from the British.

Despite their lack of firepower the Guards turn to face the new challenge, cold steel will determine the outcome of this one.
In the trees to their right other eyes are watching for the outcome of this fight and stealthy forms begin to slip from the cover of the palms.....

As the charging Dervish close with the British on the right a group of riflemen shoot a ragged volley from the trees to the front causing casualties to the other Guards platoon. The spearmen from the trees in the rear approach closer and the Scots turn to face them.

The first group of howling Dervish was driven off by the sporadic fire and grim determination of the British. The second wave from the rear was also met with a piecemeal volley and cold steel.
Alas. Kipling knew the strength of these Fuzzy Wuzzies, they took the fire and charged home, destroying the hapless British to a man even though they suffered appalling casualties themselves. The firing from the trees to the front kept the rest of the Patrol occupied.
All is lost?
Not quite, Determined fire from the nearby native scout drives the few Dervish who survived the melee away from the rear of the second Guards platoon and reduces their number still further.

The fire from the front begins to slacken as more and more native rifles become jammed and refuse to work. There's a chance the British could make a fighting withdrawal and slip away.
Just then a cry goes up from behind them, the unit that a second ago seemed almost destroyed and helpless, suddenly emerges from the sands with fresh men and renewed vigour.
It was at this point that your corespondant slipped away to file his report........

The dead.......
Another patrol lost to the desert.

Scenario explanation and Victory Points


Patrols in the Sudan
First game 21/05/05


'Lieutenant, we must find water'
There and back patrol

The British player must find water for his troops.

In the Sudan water is a scarce commodity. The Commander has ordered you to check out the next well at El Kir. If it is good he will divert the column. This is absolutely vital but the Dervishes will know you’re coming. Very risky.
It is early in the morning and the sun is starting to come up…..

To finish the game you must exit some of your forces off your base edge after you have scouted the well. The well must be scouted by a non-scout unit even if a scout unit has previously scouted it. This is to represent getting a reliable report. Each non-scout figure that exits your table edge rolls D6, rolls are totalled and 14 is required to make a report. The exiting figures do not need to have scouted the well themselves, runners could have relayed a report to them.

Extra Victory Points specific to the scenario:
4D6 if report made
3D6 if British hold well at game end

Troops involved:

1st platoon Coldstream Guards, 7 men with Sgt and Officer, all average 118 points
2nd  platoon Coldstream Guards, 7 men with Sgt and Officer, all average 118 points
1st Platoon the Black Watch, 7 men with Sgt and Officer, all average 118 points
Native scouts, 1 mounted, 2 on foot, poor 21 points
Total 375

8 riflemen and leader, poor 35 points
8 riflemen and leader, poor 35 points
8 spearmen and leader, average 64 points
8 spearmen and leader, average 64 points
8 spearmen and leader, average 64 points
4 riflemen and 4 spearmen with leader, average 56 points
Total 318

(The British have 15 extra points over the suggested total and the Dervish have 18, just so I could use more figures.)


1 Oasis to represent well
2 Rocky outcrops
2 Trees
3 Brush
1 Depression

Victory points Common to all scenarios:

-2 per British figure lost
-1 per Egyptian or Sudanese figure lost
12 per officer lost. This is in addition to normal –1/-2 for lost figure
-4 per MG lost. This is in addition to –1/-2 for figure lost
+1/2 per Dervish figure killed or routed
+4 for Dervish unit routed or destroyed. This is in addition to to figures lost
+4 Dervish banner held at game end by British

Interpretation of Results

It is late in the day. The camp fires are burning and there is a meal waiting for you but first you must report to the command tent……

British victory
4-10 Good show!
11-21 Damned good show!
22 or more Your mission is a great success and the whole regiment is honoured. You’ll get a medal.

Dervish victory
-22 or lower You are the leader the men want to follow, come! We must let you meet the Mahdi.
-11 to -21 Abu, you are as strong as a lion.
-4 to -10 Sulieman you are magnificent.

-3 to 3 is a draw and gives no glory to anyone.

Actual points when first game called to a halt:

-25 for British casualties
-12 for British officer lost
+17 for Dervish casualties
+12 for Dervish units destroyed/routed

Total: -8 minor Dervish victory, but it was about to get a lot worse for the British.

'Houston, we have a problem.' -Jim Lovell