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""Shooty" Zulus in TMWWBK" Topic


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696 hits since 23 Mar 2017
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 1:53 a.m. PST

I realise I can pretty well do what I like with KINGS but I thought I'd float this to see reactions.

I'm contemplating forming units of Zulus with firearms. These 12 strong formations would be classed as "Irregular Infantry" with a downgrade of "Poor Shots" & an upgrade of "Fieldcraft".

My reasoning is that the Zulus seemed to be able to form such concentrations of firearms: see Rorke's Drift & Kambula.

The "Stabby" Zulu units would still have firepower capability but this would represent a short range shower of thrown spears.

Your opinion is welcome.

Mike Target23 Mar 2017 2:17 a.m. PST

I suppose it would represent those that had Martinis but no training to use them. Though personally Id prefer to use Tribal Upgraded with increased range on their weapons.

The Irregulars are far too good at shooting to be zulus!

I believe most zulus carried a firearm, usually for a last shot at short range before they charged.

Glengarry523 Mar 2017 3:15 a.m. PST

Remember many of the firearms the Zulu's had were left over Brown Bess muskets dumped on African market after the Napoleonic wars or similar!

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 3:20 a.m. PST

The Zulus did have groups of firearm troops (on the hill over Rorke's Drift and in the dungheap/kraal at Khambula and elsewhere) They only got to be more than a nuisance at very short range, and were always outshot by regular troops by a great margin. Your rules should reflect this.

melfortuk23 Mar 2017 3:36 a.m. PST

In my multiplayer game each Zulu command had a unit of 12 firearm troops, but with skirmish as their free action. The ranges were 0 – 6 & 6 – 12

Dexter Ward23 Mar 2017 4:58 a.m. PST

The existing Zulu lists in MWWBK already have the things you are looking for. They have Tribals with limited shooting and Irregulars who are musket/obsolete rifle armed.
So I think you are re-inventing something which is already in the rules.

advocate23 Mar 2017 5:02 a.m. PST

Ochoin, in principal I agree. There should definitely be Zulus with shooting as the principal option. I liked melfortuk's solution. It might be amusing to surprise the British by letting the Zulus have a single better-armed unit firing at longer ranges.

Mike Target – all the British casualties, wounded and killed, at Rorke's Drift – apart from those killed in the hospital – were gunshot wounds (the detail of casualties was in either Snooks or Greaves' book about the battle). I haven't seen an analysis form any other battles of 1879.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 5:07 a.m. PST

Gentlemen: thank you for your erudite commentary. I appreciate you taking the time.

@ Glengarry
Yes. I think this is refected in my "Poor Shots" classification.

@ Herkybird.
Agreed. The 12 (only) figures of such a unit, hitting on '6's won't get many casualties. I believe, after Islandlwana, the British weren't inclined to come to grips with the Zulu & the overwhelming cause for British casualties was rifle fire.

@ melfortk
Nice idea. I think limiting the number of such units has a lot of merit.

@ Dexter
I probably didn't explain myself well: I *was* proposing to use the existing Irregular Infantry designation

Mike Target23 Mar 2017 5:50 a.m. PST

"Mike Target all the British casualties, wounded and killed, at Rorke's Drift apart from those killed in the hospital were gunshot wounds (the detail of casualties was in either Snooks or Greaves' book about the battle). I haven't seen an analysis form any other battles of 1879."

Indeed, I am aware of this. The corner at the front of the post where the north wall met the biscuit box barricade was where the bulk of the casualties occured simply because the men there were exposed to shots in the back from the heights behind them, whilst they tried to keep back the zulus below them.

My point is though that several thousand zulus spent a day and a night taking pot shots at a static target and only hit a handful of times ;) .

One account I read suggested that most of the bullet wounds were probably inflicted by just one Zulu- a chief/prince who was rather better armed than everyone else as befitted his status, and had some training from European hunters and settlers. I forget his name but believe he spent the battle on the Oskarberg overlooking the mission station.

If it takes 4000 zulus that long to inflict a mere 15 (IIRC) kills, than the Op's unit of 12 should manage about 1 kill every 80 or so games!

I can see the sense in such units, as the Martinis were prized rifles amongst the Zulu being far better than anything else they had, but the antiquated muskets etc were still much more common, and the source of most of the zulus firepower. There can't have been more than few hundred Martinis available- the Zulus complained that most of the ones captured at Isandlewana were broken.

Whilst its certain that most casualties were inflicted by this musketry it has to be pointed out that the Zulu even with a good rifle, still struggled to hit a dense and massed target at short ranges. British reports suggest most shot going harmlessly overhead.

I read somewhere that the Zulus always set their weapons sights (if they had any!) to maximum range, because they believed it increased the hitting power. Obviously at short range that means they miss by miles.

advocate23 Mar 2017 6:25 a.m. PST

I always thought the 'setting the sights to maximum' story was about the Boxers… clearly an urban myth and possibly not relevant here, since most Zulus, as you say, wouldn't have had adjustable sights. Certainly in a lot of situations inexperienced riflemen seem to fire high.

I take your point about casualty rates: but the British fired a lot of rounds per kill too, so the casualty rates in TMWWBK are on the high side. But I do think the British had more to worry about than just groups of warriors charging straight at them. And it will give an additional dimension to a game which is otherwise 'set them up and charge'.

Mike Target23 Mar 2017 6:45 a.m. PST

Your possibly correct about the boxers and certainly about the urban myth bit, can't recall where I heard it.

I don't know if you read my other post linked to my blog, and a TMWWBK AAR? I've found in this game that simply charging forward gets native armies absolutely nowhere fast, and isn't historically correct anyway, and the Natives are better served by getting close and throwing spears/shooting from cover.

I did two games on tuesday night which highlighted the two different strategies. Charging in got the Natives killed very quickly. Seeking the flank whilst laying down fire (even at short range and needing 6's to hit) was a lot more effective- in melee the British get to hit you back. Throw a spear (or 32) at them first and you'll probably pin them and then they can't shoot you or hit you back effectively.

As you say, a lot more for the Imperialists to think about, but my point is (and Dexters point earlier) was that those tools are already there in the game with the basic lists.

Rhingyll Supporting Member of TMP23 Mar 2017 8:35 a.m. PST

Ochoin – I like your idea and will use it to give little bit more range to the shooting ability of Afghan tribal infantry. The rules now give them tribal spears and rag-tag muskets with shooting ranges of 0-6" and 6-12". Allowing some of them to form 12 man units that are more accurate shots with jezails as poor shot irregulars and fieldcraft gives them some ability to be snipers and take potshots up to 18 inches.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member23 Mar 2017 1:39 p.m. PST

@Rhingyll

One of the virtues of not being a tournament player or a member of a club Is, if I can persuade my 4 pals, I can try anything.

So, I'll give a go. If it sucks, I can always drop my "tweak".

sjwalker38 Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2017 2:24 a.m. PST

I'd class them as Irregular Infantry, poor shots with obsolete rifles or antiquated muskets and consider making them understrength units (8 figures instead of 12, half the strength of a Stabby unit) as they represent 'normal' warriors sent off to perform a particular task (like the riflemen on Oskaberg terrace) rather than a separate company of trained riflemen.

8 figures firing at Brits in soft cover at long range are going to need 3 6's to inflict 1 casualty, which means they might inflict a casualty every couple of turns – irritating but not overwhelming.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Mar 2017 2:28 a.m. PST

@ Simon

Thanks for that. I really just want them to be an irritant & not a lot more so this about fits the bill (I've popped the 'Stabbies' up to 20 figs a unit so 10 for the 'Shooties' should do).

Mike Target24 Mar 2017 4:41 a.m. PST

Im now thinking it was the Shiyane terraces, rather than Oskarberg. Unless thats two names for the same thing…

sjwalker38 Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2017 6:25 a.m. PST

I'm thinking you're right Mike, I was writing in haste anyway, the guys sent up into the rocky ground overlooking the mission :-)

And you're right to say that most Zulus carried some form of firearm by 1879, if only as a status symbol: mainly poor quality trade muskets or similar made worse by a lack of good powder and ammunition. Generally used at short range as an alternative to a thrown weapon.

I think it's pretty conclusive that the Zulus at RD had few, if any, Martini-Henrys to hand the regiments involved would have had little or no opportunity to take them from the dead at Isandlwana, and those that did would have struggled to find ammunition for them at the time.

During later battles there may have been more M-Hs available, from Isandlwana and Intombe, but still a comparatively small number compared to the other firearms.

Mike Target24 Mar 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

I was reading the report on ulundi last night; and this should say all it needs to on the subject of Zulu marksmanship;

15k+ zulus spent half an hour shooting at a densly packed square 4 ranks deep all round and crammed with squishy things that bullets go through, and totaling around 4500 men packed into a very small area with no cover at all.
By this point at least some of the Zulus must have had Martinis, and the rest of the zulus with more antiquated firearms had access to better powder from the cartridges taken at Isandlwana etc…

…and they killed 13.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Mar 2017 12:53 p.m. PST

…and they killed 13.

Sure but that's 13 more than were killed hand to hand.

At Ulundi, no warrior was able to get within 30 yards of the British ranks. Should this mean we need to make it impossible for our small plastic & metal Zulus to close?

I believe Chelmsford said that Zulu casualties were about 400 dead. Not a great many for the 17 000 strong British force to inflict.

Mike: I think it's all relative. If my rules allow the possibility of galling fire, I am happy enough.

Mike Target24 Mar 2017 6:13 p.m. PST

Fair enough, but I'd still use the tribal unit type rather than the irregular. 6's to hit rather than 5's with a 12" range. and still get 5's in melee.

And just for slight pedantry (this is TMP after all :P ) ;
One report from somebody in the square reckoned the closest was 9 paces. And only 4.5k of the 17k were actually at Ulundi. From the accounts in Ian knights books (well, one of them) I'm not really surprised that Zulu casualties were relatively light- the description of their qualities as skirmishers suggest they'd be very hard to hit!

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Mar 2017 6:35 p.m. PST

@ Mike: well, we won't fall out over it. Especially because we are not that far apart!

My Shooty Zulu "irregular infantry" have Antiquated Muskets (ie close range 6", long 12")and are Poor Shots (hit on '6's) & I've given them '5' in melee….so we're not that far apart. Except mine are in units of 10 (maybe 12….we'll see) and are slightly dodgier shots than yours!


the description of their qualities as skirmishers suggest they'd be very hard to hit!

Yes, their use of ground cover was evidently expert.
I am working towards a KINGS Sudan game next week. I have loads of AZW figures ready but they'll have to wait whilst the Mahdi gets a few plays.

Henry Martini24 Mar 2017 9:54 p.m. PST

How many British were wounded, though? Surely the total number of casualties is the most relevant figure.

ScottS27 Apr 2017 12:57 p.m. PST

I will freely admit that the Zulu War is not my subject, but a while back I picked up a big pile of Zulus with the idea of one day painting them and playing a wargame with them.

But this?

Mike Target all the British casualties, wounded and killed, at Rorke's Drift apart from those killed in the hospital were gunshot wounds (the detail of casualties was in either Snooks or Greaves' book about the battle). I haven't seen an analysis form any other battles of 1879.

One account I read suggested that most of the bullet wounds were probably inflicted by just one Zulu- a chief/prince who was rather better armed than everyone else as befitted his status, and had some training from European hunters and settlers. I forget his name but believe he spent the battle on the Oskarberg overlooking the mission station.

Is downright shocking. How do you represent this in a game without going into some really weird places?

"Line up a few thousand Zulus. It doesn't matter how many, they can't hurt the British. Now take a single model with a rifle and park him on a hill; his job is to shoot the British until the other Zulus fail a morale roll…"

Smokey Roan27 Apr 2017 1:17 p.m. PST

In my game, adapted from Chris Feree rules and TSATF, every Zulu unit has one sniper on the Oskerburg. Hits on a 6.

It NEVER comes out historically, ScottS. Always MUCH bloodier, and the Zulus get over the walls a LOT.

Why? Because lead Zulus dont have any sentient concepts of survival, and dont duck down below the wall and other cover when getting shot at :)

Smokey Roan27 Apr 2017 2:36 p.m. PST

Ochoin, the Brits also had like 20 killed by firearms at Ulundi.

Bottom line when gaming the Zulu Wars: Often the games turn out like the real battles. (Slaughters, like Gingeluvou, Kampala, Ulundi)

If the Brits are in proper square or line, good rules would lead to a turkey shoot.

A Good Zulu game is all in the scenario. Gotta give the Zulus the opportunity to surprise a scattered British force.

TSATF usually makes for a much bloodier battle where the Zulus have a 50/50 chance, I've found.

Run a 1/1 Moriarity Battle if you want to give the British a real tough time. :)

Henry Martini27 Apr 2017 4:32 p.m. PST

So the chief didn't expend ALL his ammo at Rorke's Drift, then?

Smokey Roan27 Apr 2017 10:27 p.m. PST

It's a given that a handful of Zulus who could shoot, on the Oskaberg Terrace, would have made short work of the garrison.

We are talking maybe 2 or 3 armed with rifles and with ammo, and the battle would have been over pretty quick.

Imagine if the Zulus had one platoon of Boers? They could have made the entire war very different.

GreenLeader29 Apr 2017 4:36 a.m. PST

Hardly likely that the Boers would have allied with the Zulus… but yes, what a combo they would have made.

Henry Martini29 Apr 2017 5:56 a.m. PST

The enemy of my enemy…

GreenLeader30 Apr 2017 2:24 a.m. PST

One of the reasons for the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 was because the Zulus were poised to swarm over the border and wipe out the Transvaal Boers (who, despite their Apartheid-era reinvention as a peaceful, benign people, had been steadily gobbling up parts of Zululand for years)… Kruger then spent a good deal of time after the annexation pleading with the British to break the power of the Zulus – which they duly did.

It was a truly bizarre 'hate triangle', and however much the Boers might have disliked the notion of British rule, it is hard to see them ever allying with the Zulus against the Empire.

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