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"Basing Zulu games for Black Powder help...." Topic

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Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 8:54 a.m. PST

Greetings all. I had recently decided to give a Zulu scenario for Black Powder rules a try. I had decided on Isandlwana as my first project.

When it came time to come up with unit sizes I ran in to trouble. The difference in army sizes made this game unplayable as far as I could see.

Here's the problem. The Zulus, depending on who you read have anywhere from 13,000 to 23,000 troops involved in the battle.
The British have just under 800 Englishmen and about 2,000 Native troops.

If I chose a scale of the battle at anything from 1:100 or 1:50 this works well for creating Zulu units but the British end up with only 2 or 3 units.

If I bring the scale down to 1:10 then the British end up getting a few standard size units but the Zulu force balloons to 2,000 figures!

It seems like there is no obvious medium. That is unless I base the armies at different scales, like 1:100 for the Zulus but 1:10 for the British.

So I'm pretty confused as to how to proceed. I especially would love to hear how other Black Powder players dealt with this issue when creating Zulu scenarios for BP.


PzGeneral03 Jul 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

Personally, I never worry about figure ratios. I worry about Units. How many Zulus units do I want? How many British Units do I want?

You can always put more Zulus in a unit and fewer British if you want to give an additional look of being overwhelmed….

Don't worry about "Doing Isandlwana". Do a battle BASED on Isandlwana. As long as you have a look and feel that you like, good job grin

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 10:14 a.m. PST

Natives always get recycled, so you don't need 2,000 figures.

Basha Felika03 Jul 2018 10:20 a.m. PST

I've used MWWBK rather than BP for our Isandlwana-inspired game, but I'd agree with PzGeneral: model the Imperials at your chosen scale as it's important to have each British company represented (you'll probably still want to compromise on the numbers of NNC figures fielded) and then aim for around four times as many Zulus on the table – bear in mind that the ‘Loins'/Reserve played very little part in the battle , and the Right Horn regiments really only got stuck in after they'd completed their encircling move. You can always recycle Zulu units as well.

One thing to bear in mind (not sure if BP allows you to model it); the British came close to driving off the Zulu attack until the camp was outflanked and over-run, leaving the firing line cut off from its line of retreat. Estimates of Zulu casualties vary, but once they reach around 20% killed and wounded the Zulus should be on the verge of retreating.

Dynaman878903 Jul 2018 10:27 a.m. PST

The Zulu sourcebook for Black Powder has this battle in the book. They handle it by using a much smaller base to historical figure ratio for the Brits. I've not played it myself yet but it looks like a practical way of handling it.

cavcrazy03 Jul 2018 10:59 a.m. PST

I play The Sword & The Flame, great rules, great period feel, you can definitely do an Islandlwana game.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 1:47 p.m. PST

Thanks all. What PzGeneral says makes perfect sense and seems totally in line with BP's mission statement.

I'll be true to the "feel" of the historical battle while concentrating on playability first and foremost.


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Jul 2018 2:35 p.m. PST

I played the BP scenario at a con and it was great fun.

Lion in the Stars03 Jul 2018 3:23 p.m. PST

I'd recycle units. Maybe 500 Zulu miniatures total (possibly less).

You definitely want all the individual British companies represented.

I have the same problem with Pathans in the NWF. Can never have enough Pathans.

Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP19 Jul 2018 4:54 a.m. PST

My experience with BP is that it is unplayable and I would suggest a different set of rules.

Lion in the Stars19 Jul 2018 12:15 p.m. PST

BP is not a rule set for someone new to the period. You need to KNOW the history to be able to stat your units.

But if you and the club all know the period, it works as beer&pretzels.

carthagenj14 Mar 2020 8:56 p.m. PST

I have played "Eat EM Up" the Isandlwana scenario in the Zulu! Supplement for BP2 several times. It is an exciting and fun game and very unique. I recommend you give it a try. I base the British as 16 man units and the Zulus with 32 figure units which recycle.

sausagesca19 Mar 2020 1:33 p.m. PST

In my free scenario book for BFEII I have a full scenario for Isandlwana. I think it could easily be applied to BP (or you could try Battles for Empire II! :))

The free scenario book is available at Hotz Art webpage. He did the layout. There are scenarios for Nyzane and iNtombe Drift too.


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