BY JINGO - Colonial History & Wargames Page

With Hicks In Kordofan

A Multi-Player, Solo Game System

Devised And Ruthlessly Applied

By Richard Brooks

((Reprinted by permission from
The Nugget, #125, Feb. 1998)

From Nubia's burning sands, I present the current version of my multi-player solo game based on the earlier stages of the Mahdist Revolt in the Sudan of the 1880s. The game is one sided as I find it difficult to enter the thought patterns of Islamic fundamentalists, and it is much more frightening when the enemy can be literally anywhere on the table. The players take turns playing the Egyptian commanders tasked with suppressing the revolt. The alternating command simulates the confusion and inefficiency that characterized Egyptian operations in the Sudan. Consultation about tactical options is strictly forbidden.

The basic idea is to march your square safely across a table suitably decorated with a tea stained cloth and bits of fish tank gravel towards the Britain's palm tree (1/3d from Hamleys in 1967) [for alternatives, see the Encyclopedia Miniaturana--the Editors] in the far corner. Meanwhile the movement rules conjure up parties of Ansar, whose dice driven behaviour is usually more intelligent than that of their human opponents. If you get fed up with your square being annihilated it is possible to play the game with British or Indian troops, who should be given higher Tactical Competence, Moral, and Discipline. They also shot better. That seems rather unsporting to me, as the Ansar, or Servants of God never destroyed a British square, although there were some close calls at Tofrek and Abu Klea.

Useful books on the Sudan, from a non-British perspective include:
Karari, by Ismat Hasan Zulfo, Frederick Warne, 1980.
Fire and Sword in the Sudan, by Slatin Pasha, 1896 (Reprinted by Negro Universities Press, 1969).
Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, by Colonel C. E. Callwell (Greenhill Books, 1990).



Besides the figures, measuring devices and terrain, a variety of dice are required. A full set should include three Average Dice (AD), two regular six sided dice (D6), and a twelve sided die (D12).


A) Four battalions of 16 infantry each formed in two ranks: one each of Blacks, Arabs and Bashi-Bazouks, and one unknown--dice to find out which when it matters.
B) Two squadrons of 4 cavalry (one each of Arab regulars and Bashi-Bazouks).
C) One Field Gun with three gunners and a limber containing shells.
D) One Mitrailleuse with three gunners, and a Small Arms Ammunition (SAA) mule.
E) An average dice (AD) of SAA mules and one camel with field gun shells (remove as used).
F) Camels, courtesans, donkeys and organ grinders to fill the square. G) One mounted Pasha figure per player.

There is no Ansar player. Deploy the infantry in a hollow square round the transport, with the guns on the comers. Cavalry will scout ahead to occupy terrain features, or follow the square to protect its flanks or to sweep up stragglers.

Troop Qualities
Ansar 2 4 2 Dashing*
Arab Regulars 3 2 3 Stubborn
Bashi-Bazouks 2 2 2 Cowardly*
Black Regulars 3 3 3 Dashing
Egyptian Gunners 3 3 3 Stubborn

* Poor shots; fire at half effect.


1)Move or fire all, some, or no Egyptian units.
2)Place Ansar ambushes triggered by Egyptian movement.
3)Conduct Ansar firing.
4)Dice for Ansar spearmen and move Ansar able to do so.

Resolve hand-to-hand combat as it arises during movement.


To halt or move off, roll a D6 result less than or equal to TACtical Competence. Roll twice if the Pasha is with unit testing at start of turn. "TAC 3" units form on the preceding unit if their move is sufficient to keep up.


Players take turns to move all units 2D6 inches per turn; X 1/2 in cover, X 2 for Cavalry in the open and not scouting. (N.B. if the square stops, roll once anyway to check for ambushes.)


These occur on the following movement scores:

12--Ambush in the open at 3AD (Average Dice) inches range.

11--Ambush at the edge of any cover within RIFLE range.

10--Ambush if inside cover, at 1AD inches range.

If an ambush occurs:
A) Roll a D12 for clockface direction of ambushers, if not obvious.
B) Ignore silly ambushes (e.g. on top of a friendly unit).
C) Roll 2 AD for the number of Ansar: 1) Within SA range: rifles, plus a flag bearer who cannot be killed. 2) Outside Small Arms (SA) range: horsemen, and a flag bearer. These follow the square, outside rifle range, killing stragglers, until a chance occurs to charge, e.g. a gap in the square.
D) Each turn, or when overrun, Ansar rifles with good morale roll D6: if "1" or "2," deploy three times 2AD spearmen behind them. 1) Modify the D6: +1 is less than 4 inches; -1 if greter than 8 inches. Halve distances in cover. 2) If a "pair" results (e.g. "22, 66, etc.), roll the 2 AD again (i.e. you get more spearmen).
E) Remove Ansar with 50% losses, no SAA, or if beaten in hand-to-hand.

Any "Pair"--Cavalry or infantry roll a D6: If greater than DlScipline, lose a straggler who follows the square, outside rifle range, unless collected by friendly cavalry. Guns, Transport, or Pashas stand still a turn, stuck in the sand.

7--Halfway through turn, find an unexpected Terrain Feature if crossing unknown ground. Roll a D6:
"1" or "2"--Pool of Water: Roll a D6: if greater than DIS, break ranks to drink until rallied by rolling D6 less than or equal to DIS in a subsequent turn.
"3" or "4"--Soft Sand 4 inches across and directly in front; halves movement, but provides no cover.
"5" or "6"--Wadi directly in front extending 2 AD inches each side of the unit halves movement, and provides cover.

Use fish tank gravel (or other material) to mark the extent of sand or wadis.


Stationary units may always fire. Moving infantry can roll a D6 less than or equal to their TAC to do so.

A) Roll 2D6 greater than the range in inches to hit the target. Mitrailleuse score x 1.5, Field Gun x 2. Run out of ammunition on rolling a "pair": bring up fresh supply from transport, removing the animal on arrival.

B) Count rifles/gunners firing (regulars fire in 2 ranks): X 1/2 Poor shots; Ansar; Target in cover; Target hiding in open*.
x 2 Target moving in open all turn or more than 2 ranks deep; Mitrailleuse gunners; Field gunners within 5 inches.
x O Target hiding in cover'.
Note: Do not modify field gun effect against Targets marked "*"

C) Kill 1 figure per 6 points, dice for fractions.


Test to advance/stand under fire, or if friends panic.

A) Modify MORale as follows:
1)+1 if No losses; Dashing/Stubborn when advancing/standing
2)-1 per sixth figure lost; Cowardly troops expected to advance on enemy
3)+1AD-3 if Pasha present--roll once and use score for rest of game
B) Roll a D6 and compare score with modified MOR as below:

If roll is greater than or equal to MOR+DIS: Panic; run 8" per turn until rallied by OK Test.

If roll is greater than or equal to MOR:
1)Infantry in square/advancing--Halt & Fire
2)Infantry in cover--Hide
3)Otherwise--Fall back the die roll in inches

Otherwise--OK to carry on.


For each side ADD:
A) MOR modified as for Morale Tests + D6
B) Adjustment for numerical odds: +1 three to two; +2 two to one; +3 three to one (count up to 4 ranks; double regular cavalry charging).
C) -1 per 3 inches advanced under fire from stationary troops.


Lose by more than DIS--Loser panics; see Morale Tests (B).
1)Winning rifles fire, regardless of whose turn it is.
2)Others pursue next turn, killing 1 per 6 as they go.

Lose by less than or equal to DIS--Fall back difference in scores, exchanging casualties:
1)Ansar/cavalry kill 1 per 12: cavalry finish move to break contact.
2)Rifles fire at half effect.
3)Gunners fire at full effect, and are cut down if driven from guns.
4)Continue next turn, Rifles/Gunners fire at half effect.

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