woensdag 21 augustus 2013

The Sudan – a battle set in the late 1830’s.

While the board and terrain pieces were out for the last photo session, I wanted to test further the revised DBA-HX using 3.0. This is certainly a non-historical match, but given the East India Company response to threats to its trade and/or the welfare of British citizens living overseas, I would imagine under the right circumstances this match-up is not improbable.

Previous to this game, the last big battle engagement fielded 40 elements of Chinese against 20 of Anglo-Indian. This time, the number of commands and elements per side would be increased further. The game was played on a 1.20 x 1.20 m board (4’ x 4’) with army deployment just outside cannon range (10BW).

In our revision we cast a die for a general’s characteristic. This can be Cautious, Bold or Rash. As an example, a cautious general for the Sudanese might prove to be a less than willing ally while the East India Company may promote a clueless senior board member to accelerate his retirement.

The opposing forces:

command one             1 x 3Cv (gen.), 8 x 3Cv, 4 x 3Cm                              13 elements
command two             1 x 3Cv (gen.), 8 x 5Hd, 4 x 3Sh, 4 x 2Sk               17 elements
command three          1 x 3Cv (CinC.), 8 x 5Hd, 4 x 3Wb, 4 x 3Sh            17 elements
command four            1 x 3Cv (gen.), 12 x 3Wb                                         13 elements

command one             1 x 2LH (gen.), 4 x 3Cv, 2 x 2Sk.                            7 elements
command two             1 x 3Cv (CinC), 9 x 4Ms, 1 x 3Cv, 2 x Cn                 13 elements
command three          1 x 3Cv (gen.), 6 x 4Ms, 2 x 2Jg, 1 x Art                10 elements

The battle:

The Sudanese deployed its two main "divisions" facing the British centre. On the left flank, the warbands of the Hadendoa and on the right, the entire mounted corps completed the deployment of the Khalifa's army. 

The British deployed their cavalry brigade opposite the Sudanese horse, while the remaining two commands deployed as much into a "thin"firing line. The terrain offered little cover, but as the Sudanese were exiting a valley, the British could only hope to contain the horde before it could effectively deploy in the open. 

Speed favoured the Sudanese. However, a goodly portion of infantry were locally raised levies and as horde (Hd) they required an extra pip to move. Both central commands had musket and sword armed troops to keep the infidels busy. 

At the opening, the two central divisions plodded forward. On the right flank, the Sudanese cavalry moved forward while extending their own line further to the right. The Camel Corps followed behind in support. The British cavalry responded by extending their own small numbers to meet the expected threat. 

On the opposite flank, the Hadendoa moved unimpeded forward. Breaking off a small column to meet the Gurkha skirmish line, the main moved ahead. For unexplained reasons, the British right hand brigade from the central command moved forward to bring their muskets to bear. Intended or not, this prompted the Ansar warband to make a bee-line approach toward them. 

Here can be seen the "thin red line" facing the Sudanese hordes. By this time, turn three, the Sudanese were taking casualties, nothing significant, but definitely a sign this would become one long hard battle.  

By turns four and five, the British cavalry despite their small numbers were able to best the Sudanese on two occasions. Here you can see a spot vacated by two elements of camel mounted troops. Casualties inflicted earlier by musket fire brought the mounted corps to a demoralised state. 

On the opposite flank, the Hadendoa, true to their reputation, inflicted casualties on the British right. Matching blow for blow, both Hadendoa and the British reached demoralisation on the same turn. In this photo both sides hold their ground just outside musket range.  

In the same photo, you can see the horde of the Khalifa's command wheeling toward the British centre. Moving in advance of the main body, the Ansar warband wiped out a brigade and took on the artillery, bringing the British central command to near disaster. 

Throwing caution to the wind, the CinC and a supporting regiment were able clear out enemy warbands bringing both central commands to one short of break point. Between turns six and eight, the British cavalry were beating Sudanese mounted corps that refused to go away. By turn eight, the Sudanese cavalry had had enough and moved off the field. Rather than pursue, the British cavalry reformed to take on the next command. By turn nine, the cavalry were encountering a tougher foe - the horde (Hd). 

Turn 10, with both central commands one short of breaking, the British CinC attacked. Casualties inflicted by musket fire however, were not brought on the Khalifa's command, but on the second one. Victory would have to come from a melee. 

And it did! 

Catching the supporting division's general, the British cavalry brought a third command to demoralisation thus ending the game. Adding creme to the dessert, the British CinC won his melee, crippling the Khalifa's command. 

Despite the 2:1 odds in favour of the Sudanese, I thought the game was rather balanced and certainly qualifies for a re-match. 

Under the command of the Khalifa (bold) were three cautious generals. This brought the number required to reach a demoralised state by one. The British were fortunate having only one such general and the remaining two commanders (both bold) could increase their total by one. This may seem like a small change given the total number of elements, but it made a huge difference during the game.

Further, the 30 elements distributed among three commands gave the British an extra flexibility which the Sudanese lacked despite having four commands. A fifth would give the Sudanese a greater advantage. As the battle developed, the Sudanese bloodied the British right, while bringing the other two commands to one short of demoralisation.  
Of the 60 elements of Sudanese, 44 were foot troops, 16 of which were Horde or levies. To balance this, a further 16 were Warband class, adding an extra punch for the Sudanese. The Horde, despite their mobility could take punishment. 


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