Tuesday 12 May 2015

Tha Washing of the Spears

Now here's the thing. A long time ago (probably a couple of years at least) I picked up a paperback copy of The Washing of the Spears by Donald Morris at a boot sale for pennies. The book is in pretty good condition but I am sorry to say it went to the appropriate section of the bookshelf and was then forgotten about.

Until last weekend....

I wanted something to read on the train and for some inexplicable reason this book caught my eye so I duly popped it in my bag and set off to work.

I am truly glad I did....

Like many gamers I would rank Zulu as being amongst my top ten films for sheer entertainment value. For sure you can rip holes in the historical accuracy of the film but from a visual perspective and for sheer unadulterated excitement factor it is hard to beat.

For many years I had promised myself I would research the period in more detail but apart from the off half-hearted attempt (even to the point of buying some figures) I never really followed this through. You may recall I even managed to fight a couple of Zulu War games using  my block armies - and I really enjoyed the resultant mayhem!

The book covers the rise of the Zulu empire under Shaka and the war of 1879 and it describes rather more of the period than I expected. The upshot for me is that there are a number of permutations from a gaming perspective. Consider this: Zulu versus Zulu, Zulu versus Boer, Zulu versus British and Boer versus British. Realistically, assuming you would not want to offend the purist, the Boers and Zulus could be used for anything from 1835 onwards, certainly up to the first Boer War.

At a simple level you have three very different tactical systems to play with - close in hand to hand and shock, long range accurate sniper fire and massed volleys with occasional artillery. The old game of Rock, Paper and Scissors springs to mind....;-)

I realize that the Morris title is a little dated - especially with the work of Ian Knight and others in recent years - but as an initial foray into the period it certainly serves to set the scene for more detailed research.

As ever, much to ponder....


Dick Bryant said...

I know what you mean by "rip holes in the history". Most "historical" films drive historical gamers mad! My wife absolutely refuses to go to a "historical" movie with me or watch one on TV!
Dick Bryant

Paul O'G said...

I have a large collection of 15mm Zulus, Brits and Boers and a lot of happy memories pushing them around the table 20 odd years ago.

Sadly they haven't seen the light of day since then. Its one of those boxes which has been moved a dozen times now and I'm afraid to open it and see what condition they are in...

David Crook said...

Hi Dick,

I have long since given up trying to worry about what is historically wrong in a film - instead I just smile inwardly at those details that are correct!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

I am sure they will see the light of day at some point - and you will surely get them on the table again.

Perhaps with a Martian tripod or two supporting the Zulus....;-)

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Stu,

Naaah! Where is the fun in that? I reckon 2mm is the way to go....;-)

All the best,