Saturday, October 31, 2009


Welcome to my new blog. This blog will be dedicated to my new interest in learning about and war gaming the Sudan Campaign (1881-1898). Fought between the followers of the Mahdi and the Imperial British Army and allies.

First a bit about me. I have a bachelors degree in History from Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, United States, a Master's Degree in Environmental Science and have been playing historical miniatures war games for the past seven (7) years. My primary war gaming interests are the Seven Years War and American Civil War, however having read about colonial war gaming on blogs like and I have become interested in developing my own fictional colonial campaign.
My primary interest has been painting miniatures and playing games has always been a bonus. This has created shelves of beautifully painted miniatures that have not seen the battle field, and there is nothing worse than getting "all dressed up for nothing", but I really enjoy painting the little guys and new periods allow me to exercise my painting skills on different types of troops.
So why a Sudan campaign?
I believe the Sudan will allow me to start with small units, scouting patrols, raids etc and build to larger battles, covering both my desire to paint miniatures and allowing me to play games with smaller units of troops, I tend to paint fairly slowly. Having read about Sudan rules on other blogs, there is the opinion that the Sudan lends itself well to solo play. This is good because I can not always count on my friends liking every period I enjoy and this will allow me to play by myself if necessary. Finally, the romanticism of the Victorian era and the color of the characters has a certain appeal.
So what does the title of the blog mean?
Steve Turner of started a fictional Northwestern Frontier campaign and solicited advice from fellow war gamers on his blog. I, not having had any experience in colonial warfare, created the fictional character Captain Lucien Verbeek of his majesty King Leopold II's Belgium Armee. Having read Adam Hochschild's, King Leopold's Ghost, I thought, a Belgium observer attempting to understand the workings of colonial control for the future sole owner of the Congo would make an interesting character. So I created a back story, painted up a figure, pictured in the blog title banner above (figure by Peter Pig) and started reading more about colonial Africa. In the interim Captain Verbeek was shipped to the UK and assigned to the British Sudanese expedition at He immediately got lost, captured, nearly rescued and then actually rescued by a combined British/Egyptian column. It was reading Steve's blog on the rescue attempts that finally made the period irresistible.
So How did I get started?
I revisited some books, the previously mentioned, King Leopold's Ghost and Thomas Pakenham's The Scramble for Africa, watched a few movies, Zulu, The Man Who Would be King and Khartoum, drank a few Pimm's and Ginger and ordered some Osprey Books. While attending CharCon, Charleston, West Virginia's own gaming convention I picked up a few War Games Illustrated dealing with the Sudan campaign and Colonial war gaming in general, including an article on how to scratch build stern-wheel boats (but that is for a future post).
The first Osprey book to arrive was Khartoum 1885 by Donald Featherstone, I have only begun reading it but already it has increased my knowledge of the various tribes, army organizations and chronology of the first Sudan campaign. I look forward to completing it.
Next in the mail was The Sudan Campaign 1881-98, I gave it a brief thumb through and look forward to reviewing it in a future blog.
Early Focus:
My initial efforts will be in determining what set of rules to play and what miniatures to buy. I will be posting quite a bit on both of these topics. Additionally, I am going to start at the very beginning with the Mahdi's forces fighting for control of the Sudan against the Egyptian garrison forces, that means no British for a while. I believe this will give me a chance to play more evenly balanced games, is chronologically significant and will let me start painting exotic uniforms and building desert terrain right a way.
Finally, I have purchased Too Fat Lardie's They Don't Like it Up em! (TDLIUE) rules set and have planned their tutorial scenario to be played with friends next week. I do not have enough figures to field the forces yet so it was off to one of my favorite web-sites which has great paper miniatures to cut out and play with until you can buy your own metal miniatures. Paper miniatures are an inexpensive way to test new periods, rules-sets etc. and only require a little work to produce a nice looking battle.
That was a long introduction but hopefully it will give you some information on why and how I plan to conduct some colonial war gaming.