Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Zulu War Skirmish at Bert's Drift

This evening we tried out a set of rules I’ve cobbled together and been jokingly referring to as Ever Contemptible Victorious Little Black Powder Armies (of DOOM!). It’s basically a modified version of Ever Victorious Armies – with some ideas added from Contemptible Little Armies and Black Powder. (The “of DOOM” was added because John Burt said he would definitely play any rules with “of DOOM” in the title). It is pretty much the same rules I used for a couple Great War in East Africa games back in February (Rais on Tantoone Station and Retreat from Boongobe).

I think for simplicity’s sake I’ll just call them “modified Ever Victorious Armies” in the future…

I’ve been painting Zulu War figures and have been anxious to get them into action so came up with a simple skirmish scenario that could make use of pretty much ALL the Zulu war figures I’ve painted so far. John came over to play the game.

I need to get painting more Zulus…

Bert’s Drift, March 1879


After the debacle of the first invasion Lord Chelmsford is biding his time waiting for reinforcements to arrive so he can launch a second invasion into Zululand. In the meantime raids and patrols are being sent across the border to harass the Zulus and scout potential invasion routes.

A company of the 24th infantry is stationed at Bert’s Drift. A couple days ago a squadron of Mounted infantry crossed on an extended patrol – but as they return a force of Zulus is moving to block their retreat!


The British mounted infantry start in the southeast corner of the table. The British infantry start within 12” of the ford. The Zulus will start in the tall grassy areas on the north end of the table.

The British must retire back across the river.


The British

Major Bert C-in-C
1 company 24th Infantry (15) Breach Loading Rifle
1 Squadron Mounted Infantry (10) Breach Loading Carbine, Skirmishers

The Zulus

nBrtu kaMjon C-in-C
2 warbands Zulus Warriors (15 ea) Ferocious
2 units Zulu Skirmishers (10 ea) Rifled Musket, Skirmishers


Round One

John decided to play the British and I played the Zulus.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

The British Infantry Company defending the ford (and the camp beyond) – Zulus skulking in the distance….

British infantry deployed to face the Zulu horde!

The Zulus approach (this is the scene after the first turns movement – everyone rolling pretty average for movement…)

The mounted infantry making their way across the table in reasonably good time.

The first long range volley from the British had knocked three off of my unit (the turn before this).

BLAM! The second volley (at considerably shorter range) took down eight and caused two morale failures. No more forward movement for these chaps…

No worries… The second unit passed them right by and crashed into the British. Defensive fire as they charged in took down five Zulus – a completely average roll – and just enough to give the British 3:2 odds in the close combat. Of course the Zulus are ferocious which still gave the Zulus a net +1 advantage. I roll a five, John rolled a one…

Poof! The British infantry were wiped out!!

On the following turn the Mounted infantry were able to gallop past the scene of the massacre (being a smaller unit of skirmishing mounted infantry they wouldn’t have stood much chance against the Zulus)

Well… as that was all over in about twenty minutes or so we decided to set up again, switch sides and have another go of it….

Round Two

My gallant British infantry re-deployed to face the zulu onslaught…

My first turn roll for the mounted infantry’s movement… that’s how many inches they get to go that turn…

(That’s bad…)

John’s Zulus were a bit more anxious to get into combat and their first move into range brought them into short range.

BLAM! Half the unit disintegrates…

The remainded closed and fought a pretty pitched battle – I can’t remember how many exactly but I think we both lost a fair chunk.

The general scene after the first round of close combat. The mounted infantry still very far away and feeling somehat threatened by the advancing skirmishing Zulus with firearms…

On the following turn the second unit of Zulus closed and because of the previous turns close combat outcome I was unable to fire… The British were obliged to retire back across the river with only half their original number.…

The mounted infantry, waiting to see how things would turn out with the infantry and if they’d be able to make it across the river of if the drift would be plugged with hordes of angry Zulus, acrually stopped a turn and exchanged some fire with the skirmishing Zulus.

Just out of half range the mounted infantry caused negligible casualties against the skirmishing Zulus. The Zulus, however, caused a few casualties and a morale failure.

The following turn the Mounted infantry tried to scarper towards the drift, but the Zulus pursued the British infantry across the ford and all but wiped them out. It wasn’t a bad close combat outcome – but I rolled really poorly for my losses (six!) and only two remained and I failed two of the three morale tests I had to make and that was that…

Two games. Started after 8PM, done by 10PM. It was fun and quick playing – I think it could easily handle a great deal many more troops and not get too bogged down.

I’ll have to think the shooting ranges relative to the potential distance the troops can move. Right now the shooting seem a tad on the short side… but I woldn’t want it too much longer lest things be able to shoot clear across the table and negate any desire or ability to maneuver (except under cover…).

I’m keen to try this with bigger forces – guess I better get painting… and some artillery… and some real cavalry…

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

More Zulus and British (and Martians) and ACTION!!


  1. Very nice, Tim - love the figures and stripped-down terrain, perfect for this kind of game. Very impressive!



  2. Great report -- sounds like a fun couple of games.

  3. Nice batrep and good looking pictures. Esp like the mounted infantry

  4. This looks so much fun. I love the Victorian era.

  5. What saved me was that I rolled 1s both time in the hand to hand combat for losses. This means my 2Zulus stayed alive for an additional round.

    One thing you might consider, on the CC result of 1,0,-1, change it to D6-2 (minimum 1) because this will prevent that from happening again.

  6. ...and I rolled sixes both of those times... meh. I'm okay with negligible (no) losses from close combat. That's what gives the game some randomness and swings one way or the other.

  7. Great batrep, a very enjoyable read. The photo of the dice made me laugh!

  8. Nice looking game! I really liked the mound of casualties after the Zulus finished 'washing their spears'.