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!


1 comment:

  1. Nice review. I shall look forward to reading some game reports!