Monday, October 21, 2019

Skirmish at a Natal Farmstead

Keeping up with my blogs can be a challenge. All that to say is that this one has been sitting in "draft" mode for over a month.

The game was part of a campaign I call, The Sun Never Sets. I'm sure I stole it from somewhere but don't remember where.

The backstory assumed the Zulus were successful at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. After Rorke's Drift the Undi Corps continues on into Natal.

Chelmsford is making his way back to Natal. In the meantime British and Colonial forces are spread thin while the Undi Corps rampages around.

In this case a British force of 24 points faces a Zulu force of 30 points. The Empire forces are clustered around a walled farmstead.

Both sides had freedom of action to a point. The Zulu's needed to accumulate supply. This was done by occupying the mealie fields and the cattle herd. A major victory would have entailed eliminating the British force and looting the farmstead.

The British were supposed to interfere with the Zulu project.

The rules used were The Men Who Would Be Kings. Leadership for each unit was rolled for and two of the three British Foot units received poor leaders that significantly reduced their small arms range. Only the Highland unit was in tip top form.

Of course the Zulu's did not know this and besides they had some poor units as well.

It's fair to say that the leadership roles affected the British player to the extent he was very cautious; making little attempt to leave the walled farm and interfere with the Zulu's supply gathering expedition.

The Zulu player fearing a repeat of Rorke's Drift decided to mask the farmstead and sweep around the flank in order to find easier pickings.

From a campaign point of view it was interesting as each player played a personality as they saw fit. Had it been a one off type game it would have been the type of game I'd call a "cost benefit analysis" type game.

This means how many Zulu points does it take to eliminate however many British points are in the game.

I suspect that many gamers play the rules along those lines and I understand since the rules lend themselves to a Hollywood type game. (There is no insult in that.)

A campaign game where losses matter casts a different light on the situation. There simply was not enough incentive for the the Zulu's to charge a fortified post and there was not enough incentive for the British to leave the fortified post and try to interfere with the Zulu's sweeping around them.

The game had to be judged in a different light. Would the Zulu king be happy with the Undi Corps continued rampage? Would the Colonial Government be happy with the British officer in charge as he allowed the Zulus to continue on? Those kind of questions go beyond a "one off" type game when the cost-benefit analysis victory conditions apply.

The British officer was in fact chastised and the Highland unit removed from his command. It's expected he will seek to train his officers to be a bit more effective for the next round.

The Zulu player has to also face political considerations. He wasn't supposed to be in the Natal in the first place. His success makes the Zulu king nervous but the Undi Corps loves Prince Dabulamanzi  kaMpandeand   is happy to follow him into Natal!

Here's some pictures of the action and non-action.

Newline Miniatures, Natal Mounted Police
Hat, British Foot
Hat, British Foot
Hat, Natal Native Contingent 
Strelets, Highlanders
I'm supposed to guard the cattle!
A ready made fort.
One of the units with poor leadership.
Most of the Zulu Impi, figures are Hat, ESCI and Waterloo. The Prince Dabulamanzi kaMpande is on the white horse.
Most of the British deployment
Zulus gain the mealie fields
The NMP sortie out
The Highlanders contented themselves with long range fire although their leader wanted to go, "up and at them."
Two foots units with poor leadership are still formidable.
How many waves of Zulus would it take to penetrate the defense? That's the cost-benefit analysis principle at work.
Zulu's taking cover in a depression
The Zulus had some poor leadership units as well. Hat figures

Impressive and scary!

An impressive array of warriors!

Natal Carbineers not in the game-posed picture because I like them. Figures by Newline
An impressive, newly painted block of Zulus, figures by Hat.
A young regiment, few white spots on a black background
The sweep around meant crossing a river.
The Zulus would get no closer and the cattle are safe.
Zulus crossing the river. The NNC would withdraw.
For a turn or two the Zulus would threaten but not charge.

Dabulamanzi kaMpande on the right of the picture
"Not going to charge that"Dabulamanzi kaMpande) 
This unit took long range casualties from the Highland unit thus under lining the potential of the British rifles.

The NMP sought to skirmish with the Zulu unit opposite them and came off a little worse. The police took the only Empire casualties.

Zulu unit with a pin marker

Editorial commentary

I'm mulling over the suitability of skirmish type rules in a campaign that has a strategic dimension. In other words my plans for The Sun Never Sets may be a bit grandiose and not conducive to a good game. Both players did a fine job of role playing but it made for a rather dull game, although it was very pleasing visually. Food for thought for next time.


Phil said...

Most beautiful report Bruce, both armies are spectacular...Superb!

Philotep said...

Very colorful armies! I love the way all these sets work well together.

Philotep said...

Hum, I lost my first comment !?
Once again: Very colorful armies, I love the way the different sets mix together, the result is excellent, congratulations Bruce!

Bruce Roeder said...

Thanks Phil

Bruce Roeder said...

Thank you Phil

Paul´s Bods said...

They really are lovely armies..the basing on the different Units is top. Lovely Looking game all round.

Bruce Roeder said...

Thanks much Paul. I was very satisfied by the visual.

Antonio Lobo said...

Hello Paul,
I like a lot both armies, but the painting and the basing -with those bushes- of the zulu Army are top. Now I´m trying with the scenography and I think the way you solve it, as I said before, with and abstract background, and regular bases and realistic elements on them,… work very well¡¡