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"Anyone game the death of the Prince Imperial?" Topic

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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2018 4:00 p.m. PST

I tried it years ago using an article from one of the British color magazines. It utilized a deck of playing cards to activate the figures as well as trigger special events, like the Prince trying to mount his moving horse and failing due to the saddle holster breaking away. When we played it, there was enough warning of the ambush for most of the mounted escort, as well as the Prince, to flee to safety. I am thinking you'd really need to disguise the scenario or else choose Imperial players with no knowledge of the event, but that seems rather cruel.

Cacique Caribe30 Sep 2018 5:06 p.m. PST



fredavner Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2018 5:22 p.m. PST

Yeah the Zulus used him as game….😂

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2018 5:26 p.m. PST

Louis Napoleon, Napoleon III's son, who was allowed to join the British Army in Zululand as an observer, but lost his life as the victim of a preventable ambush.

Winston Smith30 Sep 2018 5:31 p.m. PST

I haven't.
But it seems like it would be a good scenario for Gloire or another small figure number RPG game, 1:1.
The object would be for Lt Carey to throw away his life uselessly while some silly foreign Royal twit gets away.
It's basically a "Run away! Run away!" game.
I don't know how you can factor in his horse dashing away before he could cleanly mount.

Cacique Caribe30 Sep 2018 5:36 p.m. PST


Thanks. Sounds intriguing. I'll have to read up on that event.

PS. Hmm. Was it an honest ambush, or an "ambush" (wink, wink) designed to get France involved?

Rich Bliss30 Sep 2018 7:29 p.m. PST

I played in a convention game on this subject years ago. Fun for a skirmish but a I have no strong desire to play it again.

Winston Smith30 Sep 2018 7:48 p.m. PST

I don't see how France could "get involved" when he was the scion of a deposed dynasty.

Glengarry530 Sep 2018 8:05 p.m. PST

Ny the 1870's the first Napoleon was well on his way to achieving Godhoon in France. However, memories of the disaster of Napoleon 3rd's regime and it's defeat by the Prussians in 1870 were still fresh in 1979.

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP30 Sep 2018 8:15 p.m. PST

Dan, it was an honest/real ambush. And there would be absolutely no reason for England to want France involved. The young Napoleon was apparently a pretty nice kid overall, but Winston's probably nailed it, only I'd settle with "silly foreign Royal".

Pictors Studio30 Sep 2018 10:28 p.m. PST

I have.

advocate30 Sep 2018 10:59 p.m. PST

A few times, but long ago, using The Colonial Skirmish rules.

Glengarry530 Sep 2018 11:25 p.m. PST

Involving the French would have been a humiliation for Britain, admitting to the world they couldn't handle fighting a bunch of "primitive savages armed with spears who got lucky once" as the Zulu's would've been considered at the time.

4DJones01 Oct 2018 3:58 a.m. PST

1979 … Yes, the French can bear grudges for a long time it seems.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2018 6:38 a.m. PST

Yes, ran a test of it for potential con use back
in the early 80's using TSATF (scaled down a bit).

Did not develop it since it seemed that even with
TSATF, the paucity of figures made it more of a
flight than a game.

With that in mind, any mechanism whereby the princeling
made it to/on his horse decided the game, which meant
you might has well just roll a D whatever and say
'On a result of 'n', the Imperials win'.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2018 8:43 a.m. PST

Ed, I know what you mean about "Just roll a dice". I had the same experience running a game based on the last battle in the movie, Gunga Din. Din is either going to sound the alarm on his trumpet or he's not. The way we worked the scenario was that, as the Imperial column advanced toward the Tugee fort, they rolled an additional dice each turn. When the total of the dice added up to X then the ambush was strung. We played it a couple of times. Once the ambush was sprung early and once, when the Imperials kept rolling low, it was a real nail biter. Hmm, I could use something similar with the Zulus creeping through the tall grass towards the dismounted patrol around the Prince Imperial.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2018 9:12 a.m. PST

Nick, had not thought of that ! Thanks – might be
time to dust off the figures and have another go.

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2018 10:11 a.m. PST

Ed, additional thought: if you keep X secret, you can, as GM, control when the ambush is triggered. I just finished reading Ian Knight's "With His Face to the Foe". It says that the Prince Imperial took a nap for a half hour before the order was given to mount up. So, historically, plenty of time to set up the ambush.

Winston Smith01 Oct 2018 10:15 a.m. PST

And while the British are watching the Zulus roll dice and muttering Zulu curses, the Prince Imperial quietly mosies over to his horse to make sure all the straps are fine.
You can't have broken straps if the players know anything about the scenario. Well, you could, but…..
Have the ump tell the players flat out that this is going to be a Bad Day, luck-wise. Have a whole table of Awful Bad Luck ready. "Be prepared."
Which is more of a warning that the Prince Royal and Lt Carey had.

The last time I ran a Wyoming Massacre game, I informed the players that political careers after the war hinges on how well they performed in the battle, taking care to be seen being heroic.
Lt Carey, who had previously been mentioned in dispatches, was not a coward. He saw it was hopeless after the Prince got killed, and ran for it. He was snubbed by the army ever after.
Let the Lt Carey figure redeem himself with a pointless self sacrifice, making sure other survivors see it. (After all, he is only a nicely painted 28mm or 54mm figure…)
I think the umpire should roll a D20 to see if the barely alive body of both Lt Carey and the Prince Imperial are found the next day, and nursed back to life by a mysterious woman played by Gal Gadot.
Maybe he gets a VC, instead of universal shame. And a smoking hot girlfriend to boot!

Basha Felika01 Oct 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

I remember that participation game, run by the Staines Wargames Club and called "Death or Dishonour " aka "Death in the Donga". There's an account of it and the original rules here:


As you say, it was largely card-driven and an exercise in running away! Surely it can't be 30 years since I played it ?!

Winston Smith01 Oct 2018 2:31 p.m. PST

Getting back to "getting the French involved", google Fashoda Incident and see how willing the European Powers were to let others in on "their" territory.
Think about how willing the French would have been to "get the British involved" in Algeria. Or Indochina.

Timbo W02 Oct 2018 5:11 p.m. PST

Oh yes, if I remember it was the evening after seeing Zulu Dawn at the cinema!

Chuckaroobob02 Oct 2018 5:27 p.m. PST

My friend and I ran that scenario using TSATF at a con a couple years ago.

Dentwist Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 6:35 a.m. PST

This is made for Skirmish wargaming by Donald F. Featherstone

Rod MacArthur23 Jan 2019 10:20 a.m. PST

And Don Featherstone of course wrote his first straight military history, "Captain Carey's Blunder" about this incident.


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