Friday, February 5, 2016

Anglo-Zulu Project: First Blood!

The first Black Powder battle using the new Anglo-Zulu troops finally occurred last night.

We are still in the process of assembling troops, but we finally have enough complete to engage in one of the smaller scenarios. 

Phil and I have been itching to get troops on the table, so we took advantage of the fact that my British and complete and that between Brian and my Zulu collection we had enough Zulu ready to give battle using the attack on the cattle Kraal scenario from the Black Powder supplement "ZULU".  Unfortunately Brian was not able to join us, but that did not stop the action.

This scenario basically pits four British companies defending a kraal against Six Zulu units attacking.
Zulu Attackers formed into 2 commands
British defenders formed into 3 commands
While we very much enjoy the Black Powder game supplements that Warlord puts out (Cannot speak highly enough about AWI Rebellion book) the Zulu book leaves a bit to be desired and probably could have used some more editing.  The scenario lists the units, but does not really address the command structure or command ratings which are key in this game.  We decided to use the units as listed in the OoB which gave the British two independent companies with a separate commanders ad a two company unit which is kind of odd in the BP system.  By default we used the generic command rating of 8 for all commanders.
British defending he Kraal and Zulu occupy the dung heap
Additionally, the scenario talks about four stages, but never reveals how many turns a stage is or how long the game should last.  We decided  to arbitrarily make each stage two turns and probably should have been three or more.  Unfortunately the author is very vague on details and spends more time on superfluous information than the nuts and bolts of a scenario. This drove Phil crazy, but provided much needed comedy relief for me.

Set up in the book
Lastly, the details of who goes first and victory conditions were missing.  Since the Zulu are attacking it makes sense that they would start with the initiative.  With so few units the normal victory condition of breaking the opponent did not make sense, so we went with the objective based condition of holding the cattle kraal at the end of the game.

Set up starts with a lone British  company defending the kraal (hard cover) and three in reserve.  One Zulu unit starts in the Dung heap (light cover) and cannot move for the duration of the game.  The British also have off board artillery which they must roll for at the beginning of each stage to determine if they can fire or not.

Once set up we were ready to play.  Since neither of us were committed to a side we flipped a coin and Phil commanded the British and I took the Zulu.

Stage 1:

The Zulu start with a +1 moral advantage during this stage so getting in close and taking the kraal is key.  Unfortunately I blew the first command order so only the unit in the dung heap was available to fire which produced no results since the British have the ability to re-roll one morale save per unit and the Zulu only fire with two dice.  While in the kraal the British were saving on a 2+ due to the cover.
Zulu finally make it on the field of battle
The British rolled for artillery which were unavailable.  Unfortunately for the British this would be the result for all four stages, so the British guns never made an impact.

Turn two at least saw the Zulu make an appearance.  With three units firing I was able to inflict a hit and a disorder which stuck.
Red Coats taking casualties from concentrated fire, but shake most off

The Zulu morale returns to Normal for stage 2-3, but the 2nd Command is available.  The Zulu issued a charge order and successfully closed on the kraal.  Because the charge was more than one move away the British have a special rule that they could use closing fire twice.  They inflicted some hits, but the Zulu managed to shake most off and made contact.

The British held firm the first round with the benefit of the cover.    The Zulu won, but the British were steady and automatically passed the first break test.

On the second round of combat though they lost their nerve when the Zulu barely won due to having a unit is support.  This time the Red Coats had to actually test which they failed miserably and broke and ran for the rear giving the Zulu control of the Kraal.
Zulu finally overwhelm the kraal and send the Brits running
Stage 3:

British reinforcements in the form of two fresh companies advanced to retake the kraal.  Unfortunately one of the units spent two turns failing command rolls and could not reposition.
Regrouping to face the new threat
In the meantime The 2nd Zulu command maneuvered around the kraal and hit the flank of the 2nd Red Coat Company.  The passed the first break test due to their ability, ut could not survive the second with the overwhelming odds.
Zulu have reinforcements of their own
At that point the Zulu became a bit two aggressive wanting to break the other company and sent a unit on a headlong charge forgetting about the double closing fire.  This time the British fire was much more effective and the Zulu could not make the break test with just a -2 and rolled a six fleeing for the rear.

No!  Come Back!
Stage 4:

During stage 4 the Zulu suffer a -1 to morale so need to save on a 5+ which made British fire much more effective at causing casualties to the frail Zulu units which only have a stamina of 2.
Sir, I think our flank is a bit vulnerable
As mentioned British artillery never made an appearance so stage four was spent with ranged fire as the both sides kept taking disorder markers so the British could not move and the Zulu could not mount a final charge to sweep the British from the field.
You know chap, I think you were right....RETREAT!
The game ended as a Zulu victory with the kraal firmly in their hands.

Despite the shortcoming of the scenario design (more lack of information than design) we both had a great time.  Mostly because we finally were able to play with the shiny new miniatures.  I am sure we will revisit this scenario in the future with some modifications.  When we do we both agreed the stages should be a least three if not four turn long.  As it was the game played amazingly fast and we were done in just under 1.5 hours with all eight turns.

We were a bit surprised at how this scenario played out.  The Zulu stats seem fairly fragile, but in the end they performed well.  I do think they would have had it a bit tougher had the stages been longer though.
A tough day for the queen I must say
One thing we realized is the British will need more commanders.  Unlike the AWI scenarios where a command is typically 3-4 subordinate units in Anglo-Zulu and individual unit can have a seperate command figure.
Hey chaps, do you really want to go over there?
One thing this scenario also taught us is the Zulu definitely need movement trays.  We only had 6 units of 20 figures.  One was I the prototype tray I had made and moving it was so much easier.
Phil's rally cry: "if not the lack of guns I might have won"
Next up is finishing the remainder of the hoards of Zulu and putting the final touches on a the last two British units as well as making a few more officers.

We are ultimately preparing to put on Isandlwana at the end of April at the Little Wars convention in Lombard IL.

Until next item.....


  1. Great report really enjoyed reading it. As to the zulu supplement I personally think it wasn't finished. Which is a shame

    1. Probably a good way to state it. Great layout, pictures and battle reports, but I do not think anyone actually read the scenarios to very they have all the key components. Rebellion on the other hand is an invaluable AWI resource with great scenarios.

  2. I am gaming the same scenario tomorrow with a mate! Be interesting to see how it comes out compared to yours.

    1. look forward to hearing how it goes and how many turns you use for each stage. We are thinking 3-4 for next time.

  3. Replies
    1. Simple when I get to it. Other projects first. Unfortunately the Naval Gaming convention I had been attending for a few years in the fall moved their dates the past two years and coincide with my work weekend.

      I do plan to get back to them later this year though.