Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Black Powder Zulu review

 Way back at Xmas my wife kindly gave me a copy of the Black Powder Zulu supplement [I did have to leave lots of hints and website addresses lying around for a while!] but I haven’t really got round to reading it properly.  I thought it was time to give it a proper read through and a somewhat belated review, and I can confirm it’s an excellent supplement, well worth getting if you’ve in interest in leading your Zulu hordes against the plucky Redcoats.

 The book is 94 pages long and, as you’d expect from Warlord Games, chock full of excellent photos and illustrations.  It begins with an overview of the Anglo-Zulu war and some specific rules for the period, to be added to the advice in the main BP rule book.  It then presents a series of battles, beginning with [of course...]:

  • Isandlwana

  • Rorkes Drift

...before outlining some of the less Cinematic battles...

  • Nyezana

  • Hlobane

  • Khambula

  • Gingindlovu

Each battle is summarised and forces are outlined, along with any specific rules that are suggested for each scenario.  There’s then a report on a playthrough for each battle.

Finally the re are some nice [but I felt somewhat pointless dioramas] and then a useful guide to Zulu regiments and some info on the David Rattray Memorial Trust, a charity supporting  education and development work in KwaZulu Natal....

Like many colonial games, the Zulu wars can feel a bit one sided if you’re on the side of the guys with the pointy sticks and inevitably it’s going to feel a bit one sided without some specific victory conditions or careful planning around the scenarios.  When I’ve used BP for this era before we’d tinkered with the Shooting and Melee values for the British, swapping them round to reduce their effectiveness in hand-to hand, but making them more deadly at longer ranges, and I saw some discussion at the time the rules came out about this.  This meant that it was hard for the Zulus to close with the British but they were more effective once they managed to reach the enemy

 I’ve noticed that the supplement still has the ratings  higher for HtH so it might be interesting to see how much of a difference this makes.  I noticed there’s a special rule for the British to deliver two rounds of Closing Fire against enemy that are some distance away so perhaps this, combined with making the Zulus ‘large’ units vs the smaller Redcoats might balance things out.

Some of the scenarios have very specific victory conditions too...perhaps the most interesting is Gingindlovu which effectively has  all the players as Zulus against British units formed up in a square.  Points are awarded for being the first regiment into combat, coming under sustained fire etc and, of course, breaking the square, pitting each player against the other in trying to outdo each other in the pointless slaughter stakes.
As I said at the beginning, well worth getting if you’ve an interest in this period and if nothing else it’s tempted me to dig out my Zulu and British armies again which is no bad thing!


Monday, 26 May 2014

I've been Liebstered!

Thanks to Stephen at Legatus' Wargames Armies this blog was nominated for a Liebster award...ta Stephen!

The rules are that you then pass the award to some other blogs, leaving a comment on one of their posts to notify them that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog.  There are also an interesting set of questions each person has to answer

My nominees for the award are....


I think I'm meant to nominate more but I thought I'd keep it small and select!

And now for the questions.......

Why did you start blogging?

Like lots of other bloggers this was an attempt to try and organise my gaming habits and thoughts.  What I hadn't anticipated was the community of bloggers that was out there and the links you make.

If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be?
In an ideal world I'd love to see the range of physical shops that used to exist when I first started getting into gaming... in reality of course those days are gone and the internet has fundamentally changed the way we explore, research and buy our next projects. 

When I first started out in Glasgow in the early 80s there were at least 2 decent shops in the city... Games Gallery in the West End and another shop in Candleriggs whose name I sadly can't remember.  It was here that I first bought copies of AD&D rulebooks and other RPGs and boardgames, fanzines and figures and, thanks to the staff in the shop, was linked up with the Glasgow & District Wargames Society which introduced me to historical gaming.  There was also an odd shop which only existed on a Saturday and lived upstairs in an anonymous office block just off George Square... it always felt as though you needed a secret password to gain entry!

When I moved to London in '86 there were a number of shops around the city... the original Dalling Rd Games Workshop, a shop up near Euston and one near Kensington [I think... that one's a bit hazy!]  I also used to live near Croydon so discovered Spirit Game before they moved up North.

I think all of these have now gone... I can see the financial reasons why and online shopping is so much easier but there is something that these shops used to provide which is harder to replace.

The number of shops now is pretty limited where I live with only Gamers Guild in Redhill and Heroes and Legends in New Malden and Croydon and of course Orcs Nest in central London.  Let's hope at least a few stay around.

What is best in life? 

Ooh... deep....

erm... family, chocolate and red wine for starters...oh, and cake, lots of cake!

Fame or fortune? 

Fortune...then I could buy more cake.

What miniatures are you most proud of having painted? 
Not sure about proud...I'm not the world's greatest painter and I'm definitely more of a gamer than a modeller but I'd say some of the more recent figures I've done for IHMN and Ronin have left me feeling quietly chuffed.

How do you deal with burn out?

I do have fits and starts at painting and. less frequently, gaming.  Right now has been one of those episodes where I haven't really been able to summon up the enthusiasm to pick up the brush, although I have done some work on some scenery on the last few days.  I've also noticed the blogging tends to dip at the same time.  The reasons for this??  Probably work and real life... very annoying!  Thanks to the good folks of Guildford Wargames Club I tend not to have too many lapses in my gaming as there's usually something interesting going on and even if I can't summon up the energy to organise a game, there's usually someone happy to host one for the evening.

How do I deal with it... I refer you back to the red wine, chocolate and cake mentioned earlier

Why is a raven like a writing desk? 

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite books!  There is no answer in the book and it's meant to be unanswerable but Carroll later said “Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!”  in a preface to a later edition... not sure that helps much!

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars.

I always enjoyed Star Trek TOS and some of the earlier films but never got into the more recent stuff [my son keeps reminding me that I often describe things as 'recent' and then realise that they happened 20 years ago!]

Funnily enough I watched A New Hope the other day and my son and I watched The Empire Strikes Back yesterday and spent half the film trying to outgeek each other with quotes and facts.  I was slightly ashamed to be able to quote the odds of navigating an asteroid field [3720:1  of course!].

If you could only buy from one miniature company from now on, which one would it be? 


28mm... probably Copplestone or North Star
15mm...Peter Pig
6mm... Baccus

What is your favourite takeaway?
Now being Scottish makes me, I feel, ideally qualified to discuss takeaways!  Locally we have a range of Chinese and Indian takeaways and an ok Chippy but for purely nostalgic reasons it would have to be Dello's in Burnside, Glasgow.  The range of fatty goodness on sale in a Glasgow chip shop is so much more varied than down in England and no... they don't sell Deep Fried Mars Bars... the only time I've actually tried one was in Cornwall but I must admit it was very nice, even if I could feel my arteries furring up as I ate it.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Not a lot's been happening....

So there's been a bit of a lull in the blogging activity...a combination of work and tiredness has left me a bit demotivated.  There's a half painted post-apocalypse tube train sitting on the dining room table which has been there for a few weeks with only an undercoat to show any progress [I wonder how may dining rooms have such 'interesting' ornaments!].  I  also haven't made it along to my local club for several weeks due to a mix of bank holidays, appointments and family stuff, so there isn't even any gaming to report on!

Currently on the workbench are the post-apocalypse scenery and a few Copplestone figures to go with it.  I'd bought into the Across the Dead Earth kickstarter and although the figures and rules aren't scheduled for release until later in the year they've sent out a PDF 'Living rulebook' as a taster and as a way of developing the rules.  I haven't had a chance to read them properly yet but they look interesting.

The other figures adorning the dining room are the minion set from Crooked Dice for their 7TV game... so far they've been glued into their slotta bases and need their heads fixing.  My wife's remarkably tolerant of the state of the table!!!

Occasional readers of the blog may have seen previous posts in which I've mentioned the growing collection of Role Playing games that I seem to have been accumulating.  The most recent [an most playable I think] has been Pathfinder which struck me  as a really good updating of the D&D system into something that plays simply but has as much depth as you want in a game.

I've acquired quite a few old games from Fantasy Games Unlimited and the latest is Chivalry and Sorcery... I seem to remember playing this once or twice when I was at Uni and enjoying it but it was also ridiculously complicated [like may FGU games].  My memory hasn't let me down... the three books of dense text include tables for practically everything but it does have a great atmosphere and we're looking at a  Dark Ages style setting with little or no magic [mainly because I gave up on the magic section as it's stupidly complex!]

I also picked up a set of the 1st edition of the Warhammer Role Playing System... now I missed  out completely on Warhammer when I was younger... I had a bit of a break from gaming when I left  uni and went out into the Wild World [in '86] just at the time the WH was beginning it's rise to power.  By the time my son discovered it I had become immune to the lure of GW stores although I can see the attraction, especially to younger gamers with it's whole, ready-made world and setting and, lets be honest, some lovely figures.  At 16 my son in now moving out of his GW phase so we'll see if he sticks with the hobby [or should that be THE HOBBYtm ]

I'd read lots about the RPG version of Warhammer and everyone seemed to enthuse about the 1stt and 2nd editions, but not the most recent 3rd edition from Fantasy Flight Games so a quick dabble on Ebay picked up a cheap set... it looks like a really promising system with enough darkness and squalor to give an unusual background and what looks like a good skill/career system.  I haven't done more than read bits of the rules but so far so good!

Anyway, here's hoping some motivation and energy comes my way sometime soon!!