Sunday, 30 January 2011

The portable wargame: A second tryout

Having re-written the rules slightly in the hope of improving them (the constant obsession of all wargames rule writers!), I decided to give them a further tryout this afternoon.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of each turn, I will summarise the main events of the battle and I hope that the photographs I have taken (using my iPhone rather than my normal digital camera) will enable my blog readers to follow the action.

Initial positions
The British force consisted of:
  • A Command Unit
  • Two Units of British Infantry
  • Two Units of Sudanese Infantry
  • An Artillery Unit
Opposing them was a Mahdist force of:
  • A Command Unit
  • Four Units of Nile Arab Infantry
  • Four Units of Hadendowa Infantry
As can be seen from the following photograph, the British formed up with their Artillery Unit in the centre of their formation whilst the Mahdist concentrated their troops into two ‘blocks’ in two of the corners of the battlefield.

Both sides were allocated three ‘Risk Express’ dice at the beginning of the battle.

Turn 1
Because no Mahdist Units were in range of the British Artillery Unit, it was unable to fire. Both sides threw a D6 die to see who would move and fight first, and the Mahdists won. As can be seen from the following photograph, the Mahdists were able to move their Command Unit and three Infantry Units, and chose to advance of their left flank. The British response was rather restricted by some poor dice throws, and all they did was to move their Command Unit towards their right flank, thus responding to the Mahdist advance.

Turn 2
The British Artillery unit opened fire on the closest Hadendowa Infantry Unit, but they missed their intended target and hit the Hadendowa next to it and destroyed it.

Both sides threw a D6 die to determine who moved first this turn, and this time the British won. They moved the rightmost British Infantry Unit forward and it opened fire on the Hadendowa Infantry Unit directly in front of it, and destroyed it. The Command Unit moved up behind the advancing British Infantry Unit to give its support.

The Mahdist response was move the two remaining Hadendowa Infantry Units forward, accompanied and supported by their Command Unit.

Turn 3
The British Artillery Unit fired at the nearest Mahdist Unit – the Command Unit – which it hit … and destroyed! This immediately reduced the number of ‘Risk Express’ dice the Mahdists could throw this turn to two.

Both sides threw a D6 die to determine who moved first this turn, and on this occasion the Mahdists won, and were able to move one of their Infantry Units. The foremost Hadendowa Infantry Unit moved into an orthogonally adjacent grid square to the rightmost British Infantry Unit, which it engaged in Close Combat. Both sides threw a D6 die each. Amazingly neither side won the Close Combat, and the attacking Hadendowa Infantry Unit was forced to withdraw.

It was then the British turn to move and fight. They were able to move most of their troops forward, and the two British Infantry Units opened fire on the foremost Hadendowa Infantry Unit … which was destroyed.

The Mahdist force was now only five Infantry units strong, and this reduced the number of ‘Risk Express’ dice it could throw next turn to one.

Turn 4
The British Artillery Unit was unable to fire at the nearest Mahdist Unit, which was masked by one of the British Infantry Units, and all other possible targets were out of range. Both sides threw a D6 die to determine who moved first this turn and the British won. Unfortunately, they were unable to move many of their Units forward, and only one of the British Infantry Units was in range of a Hadendowa Infantry Unit. They fired at the Mahdists … and missed!

The Mahdists were slightly luckier with their ‘Risk Express’ dice throws, and were able to withdraw the remaining Hadendowa Infantry Unit, thus ending the battle.

The revised rules worked quite well, and I was particularly happy with the way in which the numbers of ‘Risk Express’ dice that could be thrown by either side was affected by events. I was also pleased with the way the attacker who failed to win a Close Combat had to withdraw.

The photographs taken with the iPhone were not quite as good in terms of quality as those I usually take with my digital camera, but they are certainly of a reasonable and usable standard … and it will teach me to make sure that I have charged the battery on my digital camera before my next play-test!


  1. I've been using the iphone for all my photographic needs for a while now. The pictures aren't fantastic, but they do for the web.

  2. Conrad Kinch,

    I must admit that I surprised how good the pictures were, as any pictures that I took with my old mobile 'phone were not anywhere near as good in terms of quality.

    As you say, certainly good enough for putting on a blog.

    All the best,