Thursday, April 6, 2017

Oh look, More Zulus!

Actually its the same Zulus in the same scenario, different Brits this time.
(See my February 11 Battle Report)

The Portable Wargame and One Hour Wargames. They look like they are a good match.
Once again the scenario was "Escape" from Thomas's One Hour Wargame with Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame and my 54mm Zulu War figures on a 3 foot x 3 foot battlefield gridded into 144 3" squares. This time though, I tweaked the forces a bit more for flavour. All of the British were counted as Elite but they only fielded 8 units including the General. The Zulu's had their -1 to shooting penalty and no general since one usually pictures "the old boy" on a hill at the back rather than leading charges. So, 12 Zulu units, 1/2 with firearms against 4 British Infantry, 2 cavalry with carbines, a rocket battery and a General, all Elite. Rocket batteries aren't mentioned but I treated it as a Mountain Gun with a range of 6.    Given my goals of under an hour per game at Huzzah and rules as written, I decided on the Sudden Death option.

The Zulu's won both of the initial tests but this time the British lost. ......OK so 3 straight losses for the British including two where they beat the Zulus but took too long and failed to exit enough units by the deadline in which case something drastic no doubt happens, the arrival of the main Impi perhaps.  I strongly suspect that the British just haven't been focusing on escaping as much as they should have. They probably need to be less concerned about their flank and rear (which tend to get hit anyway) and more concerned about time. I'm going to try again before I decide that its not a suitable scenario as an introductory primer.  After all, all of the games have been enjoyable to play and felt close so maybe I'll drop an occasional reminder about victory conditions. I might add one or two more British infantry units though or at least boost their Exhaustion Point and their activation deck.

The Zulus stand on the brink of Exhaustion but that won't stop them from causing delay.
 I was going to add a rule making the rocket battery less effective than other artillery but I didn't need to, It just kept rolling 1's all by itself.
I did try something new this time. I have a dislike for dice based initiative systems  that let you possibly fail all the time and not get to do anything. Bad enough if playing solo or at a weekly game but as an introduction to a game or as a once in a blue moon game with a friend, bad activation luck can leading to a boring game and spoil the occasion or the experience.  At the same time, I am also opposed to having too much and too predictable control. Something in the middle seems best.

The rules include an optional solo card draw system of the right sort, always something but not always enough but it allows for a run of cards on one side. In a scenario like this such a run could end the game after 10 or 15 minutes. After a bit of thought I decided to give each player their own deck and play igougo but with the card draw indicating how many units to activate. To make life easier I used an idea I have been using and made each deck 15 cards so that when the cards run out, the game is over without having to track turns. I also inserted face cards to mark when the Zulu Horns and Loins arrive.

It worked like a charm but with one little wrinkle. I don't have any matching decks so I increased the range of cards selected. As fickle fate would have it, both sides drew a lot of low cards when they only had a small force on table then a lot of high cards when they had their maximum units available then the rest of the small cards when they only had a few units left. There were some exceptions and over all it will work just fine, even if I don't get around to picking up some new decks of cards.    
Time's up! Turn 15 and only 1 unit has exited with one more on the edge and the rest several turns away.
There were a couple of minor rules issues but nothing new. I find it unsettling that a unit can move from in front of an enemy to their flank where it receives the same bonuses as one that sprang unseen out of ambush.  Its not so bad if it is the speed of cavalry or double-moving natives that lets them move from several squares away but a literal reading of the rule for moving away would seem to say that a unit moving away from an adjacent enemy may not move adjacent to the front of an enemy but does not preclude sidestepping to a square not adjacent to the front of an enemy then moving forward to the flank of the unit it was fighting thus gaining a 2 pt advantage. It that melee is a draw the enemy can then repeat the manoeuvre and thus the units will circle each other like monkeys and weasels until one pops.

Having thought about it I am going to go as far as interpreting the rule on page 46, where it describes a move away from an enemy as "withdrawing", to mean that a unit cannot withdraw from and then attack the same enemy unit in the same turn, even if it becomes a flank attack.

More painting and terrain building will be done before the next test game though.


  1. Nice looking game, love these Zulus!

    1. Thanks Phil, Theoretically I don't "do" Zulu Wars games but these Call to Arms Zulus found me in a hobby store years ago and made me take them home!

  2. Ross,

    Inasmuch as the do-se-do from the front to the side to gain the flank attack bonus can occur with any set of rules, we specify that the bonus is not awarded unless the advance to the flank began from behind a line extending out from the front of the target stand. Our rationale is that the target would see the swing-around and refuse its flank sufficiently to ward off the usual devastating results. Considering the other generalizations and assumptions we have to make when we play, it does not seem like much of a stretch.

    For what it's worth--


    1. Thanks Chris, I have similar wording in my own rules.