Saturday, 28 March 2015

AAR: The Zareba at Handoub

At the last club night at Wyvern Wargamers, I put on a further game in my ongoing Sudan campaign. Bob and new Wyverner Furphy of ('Furphy's Brush with History' - check it out) took a British brigade each, while Dane took the Mahdists. It was a slightly smaller game than usual to fit in over a shorter evening, on e again using the ubiquitous Black Powder rules with my own modifications. 

The British briefing took up the story of the Anglo-Egyptisn expeditionary force after the games last October (wow, almost six months ago):
Your Anglo-Egyptian expeditionary force is to bolster its position at a Handoub throughout the construction of a zareba around a farmstead on the Eastern approaches to the town. This zareba form a staging post for future operations towards Berber on the Nile. The local Bija tribes have retreated to the foothills in recent days offering a chance for your troops to rest and recover from recent engagements. Mahdist incidents have been limited to night-time sniping from positions overlooking the town, the perpetrators melting away before pursuit

The British deployed around a central farmstead and half-constructed zareba, with two units out cutting the nearby acacia bushes to finish the work. The Mahdists had a choice of two of three entry points. 

As Beja skirmishers emerged from the low hills to the West, the outlying British units returned to for a defensive ring. 

The first wing of Mahdists arrives and Dane, typically direct, sends them surging towards the British lines. Dane had rightly marked the Bazingers in the zareba as the weak point (on their first outing no less! They come on, despite the murderous fire against them thinning their ranks. 

One group made it to the zareba itself and swept aside the doughty Bazingers, before crashing into the Indian troops alongside. With a second Mahdist wing entering, things looked decidedly precarious for the British defensive line!

More Mahdist fanatics plough on, with the British unable to bring heavy fire to bear because of the swirly melee. The KRRC that have garrisoned the farmhouse itself, find themselves trading fire with Mahdist skirmishers rather than the much more dangerous warbands. Despite repeated attempts to order them out to bolster the line to the east, they flatly refuse to budge. The shame! 

The KRRC are no help, but in the nick of time, the Naval Brigade troopers (who else?!) help the Indians push back the Mahdists that managed to storm the zareba and regain the defensive position. 

The second Mahdist wing hits the line and a second melee ensues. 

But the line holds. The last charge is stopped and with remnants and the overdue Baggara cavalry, the day is done for the Mahdists. The British position is held, a solid victory. 

Once again, Black Powder seemed to put on an entertaining game. The scenarios was a bit defensive for the British, which they should excel at but perhaps makes for a less interesting fame but after the first wave hit and the second arrived, I thought they were in real trouble. But calmly bringing fresh troops up in support ensured the compact position held in the initial melee and won the second rounds. 

I gather that Furphy enjoyed his (first ever) tabletop wargame - he's just been a painter to date but got chatting to the Wvyerners hosting a demo game at WMMS the previous week. Welcome the to club!

I've volunteered to out on a game at the annual Wyvern 'Day of Lard', where gamers from far and wide are invited to play too Fat Lardies games over a pleasant summer afternoon.  I'll switch to Sharp Practice for that - any suggestions on rules changes from anyone that's tried it with a later era would be warmly welcomed. 


  1. Wonderful wargames table, and really nice AAR. I like a lot your terrain elements and units.

  2. GReat looking game. I will have to get back into the Sudan again soon as well.

  3. Good looking game - the figures and scenery are great.

  4. Phil, you know that's nothing like I remember but then again the night shot past like a Japanese bullet train . For my first ever game it was a cracker here's to many more !
    Regards Furphy .

  5. I will bring you extra Beja along next time to spice it up!

  6. Very nice looking game Phil.


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