Friday, 27 January 2017

Rorke's Drift

So, following on from my last post about Eric the Shed's epic Zulu day, here is part 2'...Rorkes Drift.

We'd made an early start and fought through Isandlwana in the morning and had a short break for pizza and a reset of the table.  Legatus Shedlius has also written up his account of Isandlwana and no doubt Rorke's Drift will follow shortly and it can be found on his blog...Link

The afternoon game was to be a refight of the defence of Rorkes Drift, again using Black Powder rules but with some adjustments.  These are all set out in detail on the official Shed Wars write up which can be found here...Link

In summary the Zulus made a series of attacks,  each of which played out as a series of normal rounds until the Zulus decided to call of that attack.  The next phase could then either be another assault or a recovery phase where wounds were patched up,  the managers gave inspiring team talks and  (in the case of the British) some frantic shifting of mealie bags took place.

The other significant change was that the Zulus were able to make use of dummy units to force the defenders to spread out and never be sure where the main attack was heading.  This worked very well,  forcing the Brits to commit troops that could have been invaluable elsewhere.

We swapped sides for the afternoon game so James,  Legatus and I took the defenders while Eric and Mark got to lead the Zulu hordes. Each of us was allocated one of the characters from the film... my case I had Owen, Hughes and both Jones'.

The initial Zulu attack was against the hospital building from the Western side and was pretty successful, driving the British back in a series of bloody fights inside the building.  Casualties on the Zulus were also mounting though and they eventually withdrew but not before achieving their main aim for this assault...setting fire to the hospital.  Once the fire was established in 1 quarter of the building we checked each turn to see if it spread.  Unfortunately it quickly took over the whole building meaning we could no longer use it as a strongpoint and nicely illuminating the camp as night fell.

The Hospital catches fire...
...which quickly spreads!

The Zulus now had a choice to either go for a recovery phase or to assault again and they clearly had a taste for blood as they piled straight back, but this time switching their attacks to the NW and NE corners.  The fight in the NW was a bloody affair with Allen falling and the Zulus, despite heavy casualties, pushing the British back from the walls.  In the first 2 assaults the Zulus had a +1 to Morale saves to reflect their early enthusiasm and this had a real impact. 

The Zulus advance from the Kraal

Over on the NE corner where I was the defender the Zulus were advancing from the Kraal and although I initially managed to flush out a number of Feint units, they were able to charge up to the defended wall, negating the cover bonus I'd been enjoying as we tussled over the rampart.  I was forced to pull one of the defenders from the Southern store building to throw them into the fight to try and hold them back.  Thanks to a successful multiple movement order Mark was able to throw an Impi onto the flank of one of the defenders wiping them out and killing Owen.  At least this spared us yet another rendition of Men of Harlech!! I also lost a Jones at this point although I can't remember which one...these Jones' all look alike!!

The Zulus then decided to withdraw again and this time had to have a Recovery Phase.  While they regrouped and tended to their wounded we decided to use this respite to build the Redoubt in the centre of the camp and waited for the next assault.

Again the attack was split, this time against the NW corner and against the Stores on the South wall.  This time the Zulus didn't have the +1 morale bonus and it showed as Zulu casualties mounted rapidly.  Fighting in the NW was again a tussle over the walls while in the south the Zulus were caught between fire from defenders at the wall and in the stores and Jones holding out in the Redoubt.  Several Zulu units were routed before they finally called off the attack but again they succeeded in setting fire to the building, forcing the defenders out.

Zulu snipers watch from the hills...they weren't very effective but were very annoying!

At this point we'd reached 5pm and as it had been a very long day and we were all pretty knackered we decided to call a halt.  We reckon there was potential for at least one more Zulu assault and this may well be played out as an evening game at the Shed once the weather is a bit warmer.

The game was really tense and exciting with the Feint rules and the changing phases adding to the uncertainty...where was the next assault going to come from, would we be granted a short respite or thrown straight back into the fight, were we facing real troops or was it a bluff?  Detailed rule amendments are all on Eric's blog and if you're thinking of a Rorke's Drift game it would be well worth checking them out.  What was very interesting was how different the game felt to Isandlwana in the morning, despite using the same rules (apart from the amendments).  The smaller battlefield and being confined to a defended camp made it feel much, much smaller and changed the nature of the game completely.

Huge thanks to Eric for hosting us and putting on 2 excellent games and to his wife and son for allowing us to take over their kitchen for the day!

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