Sunday, January 23, 2011

15mm Essex Colonial: Dervish Rebasing Project TSATF

      I was introduced to Sudan gaming many years ago through dear friend Stuart McDonald (d.1998). The interest was strengthened through TSATF games that he ran but at the time, there wasn't available to me a Zulu or a March or Die movie to give it that inspirational oomph. Since he had most of what we needed to play I never felt compelled to mirror his output in any way. Nonetheless I was asked to provide more Dervish to help provide bulk to fight his British. My responsibility was simply to add reinforcements while he maintained the buildings, terrain, artillery, cavalry and all that. I bought a couple units of British anyway as counterpoint but it was the Dervish we needed more urgently.
     I painted (even eyes for crissakes!) and based them up individually in the traditional Sword and the Flame manner. But moving this many figures around is a pain and I have not found a way to make movement trays look esthetically appealing. I recently re-based Arabs for my fully fledged FFL games here and really liked the results and found that basing Native infantry in this manner doesn't affect the game appreciably at all. It was inevitable I'd cast an eye on these Dervish and redo them as well. Another benefit, to re-base them on steel washers, is that they will be better secured in my magnet lined trays rather than ranked up in an old nuts & bolts organizer drawer. So there is a preservation angle to all this too. Anyway, here's the results:

L to R, 1 leader, 2x4 men, 2x3 men, 2x2 men and an individual spearman to make change = 20 figs.

These are the most arid looking bases I've ever done but they came out really well; the recipe is a perfect harmonious triad -all from FolkArt: 1. Mushroom, 2. Country Twill (heavy dry brush) 3. Final dry brush highlight: Linen. I went back and edged the sides with Mushroom to finish. Tufts are Highland Tufts from Army Painter.

The Ansar unit organization didn't shake out so neatly and the astute observer will see there's only 18 men in each of the three units at rear. There's million ways to explain that on the tabletop of course. All rifles were based 2 per stand with a single for change. This was done in the odd event I needed Dervish rifles on walls or on buildings in a defensive role.

For the Fuzzys I had enough to make a dedicated Rifle Unit. They were based: 1 leader, 2 individual rifleman to make change and 10x2 men =23.

As for the British, I only have one and a half units painted up. They are still on wooden bases and the steel base replacements are on order. Stay tuned, but don't hold your breath.

Thanks for looking. Questions? Comments? Feel free to post and/or Follow ...!


  1. I started re-basing all my dark age figures on round bases... it looks a lot better than square / rectangle, and helps get round annoying flank rules. and you get a mix of armour / weapon types in a group. Now I just have to find some rules for using them on a grid! So your re-basing looks excellent to me!

  2. Here's the sizes of Fender washers I used (the first number is the size of the hole):

    4 man: 5/16 x 1-5/8
    3 man: 1/4 x 1-1/2
    2 man: 1/4 x 1
    1 man leader/mus/flag: 1/8 (#6) x 3/4
    1 man ranker: 1/4 x 1/2

    I tried to imagine if the groups were individually based in a mob formation, how many could really fit on that washer. So those sizes would work as movement stands without the individual bases over hanging the edge or overlapping each other.

    The holes on the smaller bases are relatively large so you have to select, where you can, figs with big bases to span the chasm.

    I used masking tape to fill the hole over the top then white glue underneath to kill the tack and give it some firmness. Then a layer of white glue and sand for the fine ballast then a second layer the next day of white glue
    over the entire thing upon which I randomly sprinkled the course ballast to create the rocks. All the glue evened out the grit so it didn't look too grainy.

  3. Great looking affect! I've always dismissed the idea of washers as to radical for me but now I'm considering it.

    1. Thanks David. I'm going to do more Woodland Indians for my FIW games this way too - though with different ground cover, of course) - any formation defined exclusively as "mass" going forward will be subject to this. I already have a fair amount individually based that I won't change. I did these because they were on lolly sticks and mostly non-uniform in size.