David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Sands of the Desert are Red with Blood...

Earlier this week I received a custom sized Tiny Wargames Desert Mat via Dan at Wargames Illustrated. I’ve had in mind to acquire one of these for a while now, having been impressed with the overall look of the mats I saw in August at The Other Partizan. As Jon was due on Wednesday evening for our regular monthly game I set up a Sudan War game, which collection has not seen over much Table Top time of late. I decided we’d use Black Powder as the rule set, so it was necessary to look into the Blood on the Nile supplement for ideas of how to rate the units.
The scenario sees three Imperial columns advancing on the Mosque at El Pend-Ha, where the leader of the revolt in the area, the Barmy Bhykli, is rumoured to be quartered. Of course, he is far from alone, being escorted by numerous Beja and Nile Arab units. Lord Walton took command of the Imperial columns, personally accompanying the most easterly column and communicating with his subordinates by heliograph - on a Dx6 throw of anything but a 1 that is! The game ebbed and flowed as BP games usually do without either side gaining a decisive edge. As usual, a few pictures to tell the unfolding story of the battle ~
"Oh, My Beloveds, do not fear the bullets of the infidel!"
The Nile Arabs and Beja Camelry sweep forward to attack
Lord Walton's column.

Baggara cavalry sweep across the dunes to confront the 
Imperial Cavalry column on Lord Walton's right flank!
Red with the blood of the square that broke!
The Naval contingent flanks their Gardener gun, which was to
repeatedly jam throughout the game, a great bonus to the Beja
in its line of fire!

With the Imperial cavalry column stalled in the dunes, more
Beja tribesmen surge forward to bolster their fellows.

Lord Walton's Column, or rather its remains, are bolstered by
the arrival of a Highland battalion from the Centre column.
Meanwhile, the Nile Arabs surge forward and the Beja Camelry
move to flank his line.

We called it a draw after eight turns as it was clear the Imperial Force could not win, especially as their western column of cavalry was Broken and most of the eastern column had routed, leaving the main centre column to bear the brunt of the Mahdist attacks. Turning to the Mahdists though, their Baggara Horse were blown and the Beja camelry stalled, so any further fighting would depend on the depleted ranks of Nile Arab spearmen and on the Fuzzy Wuzzy! Needless to say, their chances were not good against steady Imperial infantry so they wisely held their ground!
Lord Walton takes stock of his deteriorating situation.

Arabs surge forward while the Imperial infantry wait full of

"Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!" The Imperial Cavalry Brigade
is Broken and the Mahdist left is secured.

A stand-off in the center, Beja riflemen hold the wadi, with 
Camelry securing their right flank and keeping the South
Staffordshires at bay!

Monday should see a second Desert cloth themed game, this time pitting the British against Egyptians in the theatre of the Anglo-Egyptian War. Can Lord Rawnsley do any better than Lord Walton? We shall have to see, as Bhykli Pasha prepares the Egyptian plan of battle...


  1. Stirring derring do there, the mat certainly looks the business. Bring on the chaps in fezzes.

    1. I may do when the rain ceases and I get into GHQ in the dry!

  2. Nice to see the Navy represented, I was in an ad hoc platoon to back up our Marines, a bit Virgin Soldiers if you remember that. Nice cloth.

    1. They did well, bar the Gardener gun crew whose gun jammed in every firing turn!

  3. Lovely looking game, your collections cover such a fantastic range David. The mat looks great, I have a similar mat but it kept causing problem with photos so I have changed to what are actually much older versions. These mats are deinfately the way ahead allowing easy hills to be created.

    1. The sign of a wasted life? Or lack of project discipline? Or just too prone to new and shiny syndrome? I do like the mat though.

  4. Lovely collection of figures and the mat looks great! A wide range of interests is surely impressive!
    Best Iain

    1. Many thanks Iain, but at times I’m not so sure it isn’t a sign of something else myself.

  5. A lovely looking game David...
    The desert mat works rather well.

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks Aly. The mat seems to change colour depending on the angle you view it from.