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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Second Zulu war game using Black Powder rules

For my first game of Black Powder for the Zulu war, see

I made some tweaks to the British infantry stats, changed the brigade structure and headed down to the Portcullis Wargames Emporium in Bolton to try the ideas out.

British infantry had their shooting and melee stats swapped. So now they roll 6 dice for shooting and 3 for melee.
The British were organised into 2 units of infantry and the (imaginary , I must find it) artillery piece as one brigade, with the two units of cavalry as another.
The Zulus also were in two brigades,; one of 3 impis and the other of 2 impis and two units of skirmishers. No rifles in any of the Zulu units.

As the mist lifted on the South African veldt, a column of British infantry are confronted by a mass of Zulu warriors - BTW this effect is easy to achieve, just walk in pouring rain to your venue and the camera lens steams up, creating the misty effect, I cleaned the lens for the next shots. The Zulus are advancing and the British are deploying out of their march columns into firing line.

John Holroyd played the British side and got lucky bringing the artillery piece into action on the first turn. However the cavalry stubbornly refused to enter the table, as we shall see.

The British firing line now formed,  the Zulus are subjected to withering fire. The artillery as usual were not very effective but the rifle fire - with new stats - quickly stopped the Zulus (they became Shaken). As the Zulu player I used skirmishers to mask the artillery (which would have been much better if it had been firing into the columns of Zulus) and also made a flanking move against the British left flank. All the while expecting the British cavalry to arrive and stop me. After the British fire, the leading impi was shaken and forced to retire. However that cleared the way for the impi at the rear to charge the British line, on its own however.

After charging in, the Zulus are shaken and the combat against the British infantry is an inconclusive draw. However the flanking force charges and wipes out the artillery, leaving the flank of the British infantry exposed. And the two shaken (unengaged) impis are being rallied by their commanders.

It was a close run thing for the Zulus, all along the line they have taken heavy damage. The number on the dice indicate hits (wounds?) suffered.

With his centre unit holding the Zulus, the British commander attempts to charge his unit into the flank of the Zulus and fluffs it with a roll of 11. NOTE: however we played this wrong and the British were close enough to make an Initiative move and charge in, OK lesson learned.

The end. The flanking Zulus come round behind the British line and charge into the rear of the British line (avoiding the rifle fire that stopped their comrades). The centre British unit already having already failed one round of combat is charged in the flank by the Zulus, overwhelmed and broken. And so with 2 units of the British brigade broken, the British are destroyed and the colours lost.

The cavalry not turning up exposed the British flanks and there was no way that they were going to win. With a bit more luck (better save rolls) the Zulus might have been able to charge the front of the British line but that sort of attack was never going to succeed, the British certainly would cause any Zulus coming in at the front to be shaken and then the combat is a fairly even affair. So this game felt more like we expected a Zulu wars battle to be fought in history. Certainly the British should always win if they fight on their terms - with full artillery and cavalry support. But this scenario gives a decent chance for either side to win and certainly choices to be made with the use of troops.

A couple of shots of the Bolton shop, taken on the opening day.
Downstairs, the shop with painting table and gaming table.

and upstairs in the gaming area, another 5 tables

The Friday evening games are the club meeting of the Bolton Vikings

So thats it, with tweaking the British infantry stats, I think the games will work 'right' and now we can add some more and different troops and just have at it, exploring how Black Powder rules work. I have some work to do, finding those lost artillery pieces and basing up the units that I have.


  1. Wow. Impressive game. What size board did you use?

  2. I seem to remember that was 8 foot by 4 foot. That is because we found in the previous game that the British like to retire from the Zulu to keep the shooting going as long as possible.

    Unfortunately for the British they failed most of their command rolls and failed to get the cavalry on the table.