I can cheerfully blame several things for the game you are about to read about. There cannot be a wargamer alive that has not seen the film Zulu and thought "Now there's a game in that". Many gamers then move on and acquire armies for the war in various scales - ranging from 2mm to 54mm - and fight numerous battles, both large and small and historical or hypothetical. To some of us though, it is always one of those periods that will be gotten around to at some point. That is certainly true in my case anyway.
So there you have one reason - the second is slightly more complex and I am happy to say is very much in the nature of paying someone back with their own coin. Steve Blease has just launched a second blog to report on the progress of his 28mm plastic Zulu War project - which features obscene numbers of figures and when finished will look absolutely staggering given Steve's usual high standard of painting. He is planning on using Army Painter to 'dip' the Zulus and I will be very interested to see how these come out. His blog can be found here - 'uSuthu!'. The reference about 'paying someone back in their own coin, is simply this - his blog has inspired me to want to try a Zulu War game using the blocks (which means I will be need to make an additional set!) and so I hope that by doing so it will serve to whet his appetite so that progress is accelerated and the armies are in action sooner rather than later!
I shall be using Bob Cordery's Big Battle: Portable Wargame - Modern set for this action with the only addition being for the Zulus themselves. I have rated these as ordinary infantry without firearms for the most part but have allowed them to move two squares and battle. Those with firearms are rated as poor troops whilst the white shields are rated as Elite. I did consider giving them an enhanced close combat ability but reckon having them fight the same as ordinary infantry is probably better as any benefits of being expert with an Assegai would be offset by close order volley firing Martini-Henry rifles and bayonets! A special rule though is that an activated unit can move 3 squares when charging into combat if it contacts an enemy. The British force works as per the rules although the machine gun unit is rendered out of action should it roll 3 x 6s when firing ('The Gatlings jammed and the Colonels dead' - or was it the other way round?!).
Number 7 Column
1 x Commander - Colonel Ignatius Maximus Hyde-Bowned (his grandfather served in Belgium under Wellington in 1815 - see Battle of Artois, Belgium 1815)
1 x 4 block Rifle Company (Elite)
2 x 4 block Infantry Companies
1 x 4 block Naval Brigade Company
2 x 3 block Natal Native Contingent (Poor)
1 x 3 block Durban Mounted Rifles
1 x 2 block Naval Brigade Gatling Gun
1 x 2 block Mountain Artillery
1 x 4 block Transport (1 strength point but consisting of 4 blocks for aesthetic effect)
Strength Point Total: 31 - Exhaustion Level 16
1 x Commander - Cetshgoogoo (Cetshwayo's cousin and has been described as being too shy; shy and retiring for the role of a chief)
2 x 5 block Veteran (Elite)
5 x 4 block Married
3 x 4 block Unmarried
2 x 3 block Unmarried Rifles (Poor)
Strength Point Total: 49 - Exhaustion Level 17
Somewhere in South Africa, 1879....
Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift had been fought and the initial invasion of Zulu territory had been singularly unsuccessful. The second and much larger invasion was underway and by a piece of good fortune some important intelligence had been provided to the commander of the Number 7 column, Col. I.M. Hyde-Bowned. Number 7 column consisted mostly of odd detachments and new arrivals although a single company of the Rifles were present, together with a useful reinforcement from the Royal Navy.
A couple of Zulu deserters had revealed that the Kraal of the Zulu King's cousin, Cetshgoogoo, was lightly defended as most of the warriors had been sent to the King's army. The Kraal was a little over a days march away and so could easily be reached by a small force. Hyde-Bowned hoped that an attack against the Kraal would serve to draw Zulu forces away from the main objective of Cetshwayo's capital and so immediately gave his orders to the troops under his command and sent a runner to the overall commander of the British Forces, Lord Chelmsford, to advise him of his intentions.
The two Zulu deserters, requesting permission to return to their homes after swearing eternal friendship to the British and the Great White Queen, were allowed to leave and were rewarded with a brace of cattle apiece for their efforts.
Meanwhile, Cetshgoogoo had made some plans of his own. The two 'deserters' had been planted by him as he had a plan to raise his own profile at the expense of the King's. If he could secure a victory over the British his value amongst the Zulu tribes would rise to new heights especially as he alone had made a detailed study of the campaigns of the great Shaka himself. He was a shy and retiring type to be sure but he was also extremely intelligent and well versed in the art of Zulu warfare.
His Kraal was empty, the women, children, cattle and the infirm had taken to the scrub and brush lands to the north whilst his warriors waited for the British. They had not been sent to the King's army simply because they had not been asked for. His warriors were not held in high regard in any event but in this Cetshwayo was badly mistaken as he had failed to appreciate his cousin's command of the tactics of Zulu warfare.
The plan was simple, engage the British with first one horn and then the other whilst holding with the head. When the enemy was thus fully engaged, the loins could take advantage of suitable opening and the victory would be complete. Then there would a great washing of the spears....