Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Anglo-Zulu Isandlwana Little Wars 2016

This past weekend we finally had the opportunity to present the long planned Isandlwana scenario at Little Wars HMGS Midwest convention.
British Fores deployed
This was the culmination of the Anglo-Zulu gaming project that I started late last fall with Brian Ward and Phil Cook.  Unfortunately Brian was not able to make it, but Phil and I were able to make this happen.

We set up and played the scenario as our third Black powder game at Little Wars on Saturday afternoon.  Before we even began the game was already a hit as it completely sold out and was actually oversold with many more wanting to play.  Many a passer by stopped to take pictures.

Phil and I collaborated on the scenario using the concept from the Black Powder supplement, "Zulu" and Battle for Empires II (BFE II) scenario by Chris Leach we found online.
Map from BFE II
The concept was to use the cooperative play idea from the Warlord scenario in the "Zulu" supplement with the set-up and deployment from BFE II along with a few historical additions of our own..  In addition to the six British line companies of the 24th foot we also gave the British 2 guns, 2 rocket sections, a unit of cavalry (Dunford) and two units of Native Natal Contingent.

Eight British players were randomly assigned a unit.  The objective for the British players was to stay in the fight as long as possible and ultimately escape from the table.  Players earned 1 point for every turn they survived and an extra point if they made it off the table.  Additionally, players blindly drew another friendly unit and were awarded an extra two points if that unit also made it off the table.  In the end the player with the most points was the overall individual winner.  It was a foregone conclusion that the Zulu would ultimately win the battle.
The set up
The Zulu forces were controlled by the judges as well as a few recruits we pulled from the audience.  In total I believe we had about 15 playing to include Phil and myself controlling Zulu.
Zulu off table ready to deploy

Overall Table with British deployed
Deployment along and in the "Dunga"
Camp and wagon park, note the cattle
"It is just a leg", amputation i progress

Zulu begin to advance
Each Impi contained two spear only units and one armed with some muskets
across the field and through the dunga they came
Brits refuse their flank to face the threat
First contact is made on the British far left as the Zulu rush forward
A unit of NNC become the first to break
The line continues to hold as the Dust Raisers charge in
Guns start to withdraw early to higher ground
British right realizing they are left exposed as the left moved back toward camp
A gap has opened in the line
Hold to the Last!

Zulu press even harder as numbers grow
Isolated company sees an opportunity to flee when the Zulu fail to charge home
Survivors begin to fill the camp as the defense begins to collapse
"Here they come again, pour it on lads!"
Get to the high ground!
Amazingly some order is maintained
The final push is coming
A desperate struggle for survival
The swarm like flies
All hope may be lost
"For God's sake we need more Ammunition!"

As time was about to expire we had to conclude the game on turn eleven.  As judges we probably needed 1-2 more turns to vanquish the red devil invaders, but the players knew the game was up for the British.

At this point only a single  British unit had escaped on turn ten so all remaining players were tied for points with eleven each,  Ah, but wait, a unit had escaped.  The player who had that unit as their co-op was awarded two extra points and declared the winner.  In reality they were all winners as everyone including the judges had a great time.  Black powder had won the day.

Due to the fact that I had just completed the terrain two weeks earlier we did not get a chance to run a full scale play test.  The game worked well, but we already have a few ideas for future improvements.

First, you can never have enough Zulu.  While 21 units continually being recycled seems impressive we could use a few more.  The Zulu attack seemed to stall at times due to poor command rolls and waiting for more troops to recycle.  Already started to solve that issue.
Fresh troops recruited at the vendor area.
Second, the British may have had a few to many extras.  In reality the rocket sections were destroyed early in the battle and could probably be removed from our scenario along with the cavalry.

Third, in order to keep the Zulu pressing higher command values or making them marauders might be a solution.  We could also even create a specail ability for the Zulu to modify the effects of disorder counting it for firing and melee modifiers, but allowing disordered Zulu units to continue to advance so the pressure will remain constant.. 

Overall no one had any complaints and all including spectators and passer by seemed to enjoy the event.  Any tweaks we make for a future attempt will only make it that much better.

Again, thanks to all who played.  We hope you had as much fun playing as we did running it.

Until next time.......