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"Need advice getting into Zulu War" Topic

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Baranovich30 Aug 2021 9:01 p.m. PST

I finally want to do Zulu War and it feels like the right time to at least get started in it. I've read quite a lot about the time period and war and own a dozen or so books, and I have several rules sets that I got a while back.

I have copies of The Sword and the Flame, Battles for Empire, and an older rules set which is a pamphlet type booklet from the early 1980s called "The 1879 Zulu War and Boer Zulu Conflict" by Richard Tory.

I've skimmed them a number of times over the years but never really read any of them thoroughly.

My primary questions are scale, figure ratio and basing. I'll be playing it at home and so my main challenge is that I'm attempting to do this on a 4 x 6 table.

So I'm thinking it needs to be one of the smaller scales for sure.

6mm is probably the best figure scale for smaller tables but I have a hard time getting inspired by figures that small. I would prefer to do at least 10mm scale figures like what Pendraken sells.

So, for example their starter armies give you I think like 60 British infantry, 3 artillery pieces, a handful of mounted troops, and then about 120 Zulus. I'm guessing I'd probably need to supplement that with more models depending.

Do you generally buy models that represent British infantry both marching and firing and base both versions separately so you can represent columns and firing lines, or do you personally just use like all generic marching poses for the firing lines as well?

I guess with 10mm minis. you could maybe do a decent-sized Zulu War battle on a 4 x 6, not sure?

What do you folks recommend? I'm also curious as to the ratios for figures. Like for example a typical British infantry foot company, how many models would represent it? And what would the ratio for Zulus be?

I want to try to achieve an aesthetic on the table where you still get a mass effect and not have the ration be too condensed.

On a 4 x 6 table I'm not looking to do full large battles (which require bigger tables any way), but perhaps only portions of them or simply smaller scenarios, whether historical or made up.

Thanks in advance!

Oh, just in case there was any interest here is that old rules set I was talking about. I got it way back in 2004 off Ebay with the intention of doing Zulu War "someday", lol. The publication date is 1982 and was made by a company called 'Tabletop Games.'

Is anyone familiar with these rules or have actually gamed with them?

Dexter Ward31 Aug 2021 1:08 a.m. PST

I play Zulu war in 28mm and a 6x4 table is ample. I use Death in th Dark continent or Horns of the bull.
About 50 British and 200 Zulus is ample

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2021 2:10 a.m. PST

I use The Sword & the Flame in 28mm. Single figure basing. Never done much in 6mm, not my preferred size. I have those rules but opted for TSATF.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2021 3:57 a.m. PST

I use TSATF…and 1/72 figures…..

ChrisBrantley31 Aug 2021 7:05 a.m. PST

Most larger battles of the Anglo-Zulu wars (Rorke's Drift excepted) were fought at a 3-5 to 1 ratio of Zulu to British and native troops. I think TSATF suggests at least a 3-1 ratio when fighting skirmish style battles.

To my mind, with a 4x6 board to work with, scale choice and rule choice depends on whether you want to fight the bigger battles or skirmishes.

Like many, my interest in the period started with the movie, and then after reading Washing of the Spears, I took a broader interest. So I have collected 15mm figures that are DBx-based and can be used with simple DBx/HOTT period variants like KISR's DB-Colonial with 25-50 total elements on the table. These would also work for larger battles in 6mm scale, although other rules suggested may provide more period flavor. LittleWarsTV has a neat replay of Isandlawana in 6mm using a tweaked version of Osprey's The Men Who would Be Kings, which I also like.

YouTube link

For skirmish, I have a fondness for TSATF.

advocate31 Aug 2021 10:29 a.m. PST

Unless doing ultra-detailed skirmish rules, no need for units in particular poses.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2021 11:20 a.m. PST

I play skirmish solo/co-operatively with my own rules link

I use about 350 Zulus and 80 or so British…


Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2021 12:32 p.m. PST

I used to own those rules, but never played them. Personally, I would recommend using more current/popular rules. Skirmish rules, like TSATF and TMWWBK, would allow you to start playing with a couple of dozen British and twice that number of Zulus. I use Battles for Empire 2nd Ed. for my larger battles.

Baranovich31 Aug 2021 12:54 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the insights guys, much appreciated!

@Herkybird, that's an awesome looking table, love it!

What scale minis. are those? Table looks like a 4 x 8 maybe?

Baranovich31 Aug 2021 12:58 p.m. PST

So do you think it would look too out of whack to use 10mm miniatures with 6mm basing and rules? I just personally need that minimum size for the aesthetic. 6mm is so small that everything on the table kind of gets reduced to colored dots if you take my meaning.

10mm models at least have enough size so that you can begin to make out details in a more substantial way.

28mm would be awesome but I've already got a huge AWI 28mm project on deck and I want this to be something I can paint up faster.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2021 1:05 p.m. PST

Hi Baranovich, the table is 12x4.5 feet, the figures are old Wargames Factory 28mm.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2021 1:20 p.m. PST

The Jackson Gamers have gamed with 25mm figures since "The Sword and the Flame" rules came out (helped Larry Brom develop them). We've used tables from 4x6 up to 6x12 with as few as 60 Brits versus 180 Zulu to exceedingly large numbers on both sides. Our battles have almost always been either closely fought or Zulu overruns of the Brits. With TSATF, you can use just about any size figure as the rules include measuring devices from smaller sizes. Plus with the "Every Man a Briton" variant, you can play solo as the rules govern the appearance and tactical movement of the Zulu.

There is enough variation in the game which uses cards to order the movement and weapons fire so that no game is like the next, even if the same scenario is used.


Olaf 0305 Sep 2021 4:56 p.m. PST

In TSATF do you have to track the status of all figures (i.e. track if figures are wounded or have specific capabilities)? If so, does the 800 Fighting Englishmen variant remove this? I like some of the mechanics from what i have read that TSATF has but I am not interested in skirmish type games where you have to track individual figures etc.

Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2021 7:29 p.m. PST

Olaf, in TSATF you do not have to track any status of individual figures. Once a figure is hit & becomes a wounded or dead casualty they are "out of the fight" for duration of the game. Though TSATF uses single based figures, it's not really a traditional "skirmish" game, and many gamers use it mostly and sometimes entirely as written to play very large size games. 800 Fighting Englishmen dispenses with the single figures and uses multiple figure movement trays, which of course speeds up play. It's a significantly different rules set but still retains some of the "classic" aspects of TSATF, such as hidden native movement in rough terrain and variable movement rates for all, to name only two.

Jeffers24 Sep 2021 1:01 p.m. PST

First ever game I played in a club used those rules! I had a set myself but all I have left are the pages with the orders of battle. Can't say I was overly impressed and not as good as the Newbury set I started with.

Now I would just use a variant of the battle rules in Richard Brooks' Khartoum siege game (from Miniature Wargames many moons ago).

Olaf 0326 Sep 2021 9:03 a.m. PST

Mad Guru,

Thanks for the clarification on TSATF and 800 FE

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