The Second Game: Big Units/Small Board
For some time now I have been debating the relative merits of a small game played with a large number of small, weak units vs a lesser number of bigger, more resilient units. ( This debate presupposes using the same number of miniatures on the same table ). My head supported the many small units approach but experience, the narrative benefits of a few identifiable, named units and "the look" has been tilting me towards fewer larger units with some sort of roster.
For the second Zulu game I used 6 units each represented by 2 stands on a 6" grid to replay the same scenario but using the standard Strength Points system rather than Sudden Death.
|A Zulu unit with 2 hits.|
Knowing that I would probably use strength points at times, I added a marker post when basing up the Zulus. These "posts" (aka finishing nails) can hold at least 3 hit marker rings, usually 4, but if grouped in pairs to form a unit that can take 4 hits only 1 ring is required per base. Each extra hit removes a stand.
|Turn 4. The 2nd Zulu reinforcement has arrived. The battlefield looks less congested than it did in the last game but this is partly due to an illusion caused by each grid being 1/2 empty in depth.|
In this game the British benefited from experience to push ahead more aggressively and made more effort to spread out but also benefited from being able to suck up the occasional hit without being destroyed when there was no room to retreat. The Zulus, however, benefited from having learned the benefits of following up when possible to maximise damage and of keeping close since they were equal in combat but at a disadvantage when shooting thanks to the home rule penalizing their fire. The ability to absorb more than one hit helped with this as well.
|Turn 8. Time is growing short! All Zulu units are on board. The British are about to push forward aggressively. Both sides have taken multiple hits but no units have been eliminated yet.|
In addition, the strength points added a extra decision point at times. Was it better to suck up a hit in order to hold a position or give up the ground to save the strength for later?
So, all in all I have no hesitation in recommending the Portable Wargame for a quick enjoyable Colonial game.
Its not the sort of 1:1 low level, semi-roleplaying skirmish game that some people think of when you mention Colonial game but for this sort of scenario I was happiest considering the units to be Company sized. At this level there are large numbers of suitable scenarios and Tabletop Teasers which are easily obtained in addition to the freedom to design your own.
With a bit of the imagination that is required to get the most out of compact, cardtable type games it would also be easy to go up a level with units being battalions and then you could play some of the famous battles as well.
There should be time and mental energy for some painting though. I need to convert and/or refurbish some of my Brits so they look appropriate to face Zulus!