Friday, 27 September 2013

Zulu! Rorke's Drift

If twelve hundred men couldn't hold a defensive position this morning, what chance have we with one hundred?
Lt Bromhead, Zulu

The news of the disaster at Isandlwana has spread to the British force at the Rorke's Drift mission station. Sentries are pulled back in after they report the Zulus are coming...

As per Bayernkini's scenario, the British (forty men plus two officers) have to fight off three attack waves. A wave is fought off if four Zulu elements are destroyed. The Zulus then completely reset, while the British may return some casualties, and arrange their remaining forces as they see fit.

Scenario map showing deployment
Rorke's Drift mission station.
Hospital in the foreground, redoubt and storehouse in the distance

The First Wave

The Zulus rapidly assault Chard's men by the hospital.
By the redoubt, a weaker Zulu force is held off from the wall.
The force in the hospital takes many casualties, but fights off the wave.
In the first wave, the main assault comes at the hospital end, but is countered. The British take thirteen casualties, but recover three, leaving thirty (plus the officers) to defend the station. They are then redistributed between the hospital end, under Chard, and the storehouse end, under Bromhead.

The Second Wave

British disposition for the second attack.

The Zulus rush the centre.
The Zulu leader, in a captured jacket, faces off against Gonville Bromhead.
Bromhead withdraws to the redoubt...
... and has to abandon it to the Zulus!
Things are looking grim as the British are forced into the courtyard...
...but Bromhead and Chard are just able to repulse this wave.
After the first wave, the British were cautiously optimistic. But the Zulus launched a rapid and massive assault that tore apart the defenders by the redoubt. Bromhead barely escaped, and the British were just able to destroy the necessary four elements and prevent being torn apart themselves. The British took a devastating twenty-five casualties, and only recovered one, leaving just six redcoats and the two officers to try and survive the third wave.

The Third and Final Wave

The remaining British prepare their last stand by the redoubt.
The Zulus come straight at them.
Chard desperately tries to pick off stragglers as Bromhead retreats into the redoubt.
The last defenders of Rorke's Drift, immediately before their deaths.

This wave was never going to be easy. The Zulus didn't take their time to build up an unstoppable force, however, and charged straight for the British. The British were only one kill away from taking out a third element, and only needed to take out four elements to survive... but not today.

Chard and Bromhead meet their downfall in the redoubt
This game was a great last stand. The British held off the first wave fairly comfortably, but got ripped apart by the second. I didn't think they were going to make it, but eked out some kills to survive into the third wave. They only had two understrength units left, and I almost didn't play the third wave as the conclusion was certain, but the British surprised me with accurate shooting, taking out two elements and having a third down to only one man. But the Zulus were too many, and the fall of Rorke's Drift becomes a minor footnote to the Battle of Isandlwana.

The defence of Rorke's Drift 1879, by de Neuville. Somehow, this has been at the Art Gallery of New South Wales since 1882.

Next: Scenario rules, variants and ideas


  1. What a great looking game. I think ZULU! is one of the best war films ever made (definitely in the top ten IMHO) and along with Waterloo is one of those battles that every wargamer aspires to at least once in their gaming career.

    1. Thanks, Lee! Agree with you about 'Zulu', and I'll struggle to choose just the top ten battles I have to refight.

  2. Agreed. Certainly got me inspired to look at the possibility of restaging RD in either 6 or 10mm. Thanks for a great battle rep. Enjoyed it.

  3. I've actually seen de Neuvelle's painting at said gallery. Rather large and very impressive when you're standing in front of it.

    As for the movie - I think I had a copy of it at one stage which had a director's commentary on it. Michael Caine's career just took off after that.

    Great read. Look forward to a game of it sometime. Cheers!

  4. Great looking game. I like the 3d terrain on the game board.

  5. Aesome stuff! Im a great Rorkes drift fan.