Tuesday 11 June 2024

Isandlwana - the refight - 28mm wargame

 Evening All

Last night we took the opportunity to refight my Isandlwana scenario which was last fought over seven years ago in the old shed. A lot has changed since then , not least of which I have so many more Zulus painted (almost 1000 at last count), and as such it only seems right to share this with the larger readership and on the various forums.

Aside from the number of Zulus available I have also upgraded the terrain and tweaked the scenario rules. To all intents and purposes this is a new scenario and I felt it played much better and even gave a chance for the British to rewrite the history books.

The original post can be found HERE

The table for this game was L shaped with the two long edges each 15ft long. In the corner of the L lay the mountain top with the British cam nestled in its foothills.

Full table (game has started with Zulus advancing)

The British companies (6) were strung out as per history away from the camp, and Durnford's horse division lay in the Donga to the east. A lone Rocket battery occupied the gap between the Donga and the camp.

British Order of Battle

Number 2 Column -
Number 2 Column -
Commanded by Durnford 9+
11 Battery 7th Brigade R.A. - 3x 9pdr Rockets.
One Rocket Units

Sikhali Horse
One Unit Sikhali (Small Unit)
Edendale Troop - 50 men.
Hlubi's Troop - 50 men.

Two Unit Boers (Small Unit)

Number 3 Column commanded by Colonel Glyn
Commanded by Glyn 9+
N Battery 5th Brigade R.A. - 2x 7pdr Guns

Two Artillery Battery
1/24th - 5 companies - 415 men.

5 units British Infantry
2/24th - 1 company and detachment - 180 men.

1 unit British Infantry
1/3rd Natal Native Contingent - 2 companies - 200 men
2/3rd Natal Native Contingent - 2 companies - 200 men
No.1 Squadron Mounted Infantry - 27 men.
Natal Mounted Police - 34 men.
Natal Carbineers - 29 men.
Newcastle Mounted Rifles - 17 men.
Buffalo Border Guard - 8 men.

Unit of Natal Mounted Police (Small)
Unit Mounted Infantry (Small)

(For game purposes this will be transferred to Number 2 Column)


All Units have a local commander with a rating of 8+ thereby allowing each unit to act independently

All British regular units have the drilled ability ie they can make one order regardless of whether successful or not

All British regulars have the steady & stubborn ability

All Units have finite ammunition - if the unit rolls more 1's than 6's a firing pip is lost, Resupply can be made by runners to ammo wagons (two in camp)

Once British units have been shaken they may NOT rally. They can continue to fight but at a disadvantage.

Zulu Forces

Zulu Units and their approximate strengths.
Whilst searching for unit descriptions of the Zulu Army I discovered that an Impi is just a generic term for an Army/Regiments. Regiments were actually called IButho’s and these were made up of several units called Amaviyo’s.  Amaviyos ranged in size from fifty to three hundred men. The Amaviyo will become my standard warband and each warband will represent 300 warriors.

Zulu Forces (actual Deployment)
Right Horn

Number of Men

Left Horn

Number of Men


Number of Men
uMbonambi -

The Zulus have a total of 52 units in play which gives them a 4 to 1 numerical advantage
Once a regiment has lost more than half its strength the regiment must retire. Zulu units may NOT rally once shaken

Cards for all of the Zulu Regiments were produced to aid identification of the units.

The Zulu player will receive one commander for each regiment. These are all +8 commanders.

Zulu units all have the initiative ability that allows them to move forward one move provided they have not been ordered.

All the Zulu units were standard warband units as described in the book  with no differention between married and unmarried units.

The Battle started with the Zulus bringing on 50% of each regiments forces (the remainder would join in turn 2) This was done so we could get them all on the table !!

As expected the rocket battery was quickly overrun in the first turn and the left horn swept into Durnford's horse in the Donga. Some of the mounted units got away, other weren't so lucky

The Zulu centre and right horn make their appearance...

The Donga was the scene of fierce action as the mounted units tried (badly) to make a fighting retreat. Had they been mounted they could have evaded the restless natives.

More Zulus appear on the field. It looked epic.

The hordes began to rush forward. Some desultory fire from the camp failed to hinder their progress.

The centre and right horn began to mass their attack against the besieged redcoats.

As the fight progressed the Zulu commanders taunted the defence....

 By now the Zulus had swarmed across the Donga eliminating 50% of Durnfords force. The Sikhali horse put up a brave stand but fell to the sharpened assegais

The British edged their way backwards to the camp. Hoping to trade distance for time.

The British prepared their volley fire..... 

A lone unit of Boers is forced to flee....

The Zulus crashed in and the line held, driving back the first wave.

But no sooner could they draw breath more Zulus were rushing forward.

As the Battle reached its climax the British had delivered withering fire on three of the opposing Zulu regiments forcing them to retire from the field.

With all three Zulu forces closing in the British were starting to falter. To begin with the British left collapsed as two companies succumbed to the spears

The right of the camp held firm and delivered more punishing fire on the Zulu force

Again the Zulus charged and again they were driven back.

But it was all too late - the loss of the British Left gave the Zulus the opportunity to hit units in the flank

By now the Zulu left horn had closed in for the spoils. Bouyed by their victory in the Donga they came steaming into the camp.

It was alost over...

The Zulu forces flooded into the camp

A gallant stand by the last two companies of redcoats. The King's Colour held aloft in the dying moments of battle.

A Zulu victory but at what price?

The British had managed to drive off just under 30% of the Zulu force. Was their a chance they could have done better? Possibly if the dice gods had been kind but this was not going to be their day.

More soon

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Entry to Shed of the Year

 Morning All

Just wanted to share with you that I have entered the Shed into the famous Shed of the Year competition (entries close on Friday 31st May) . As part of my entry I thought I would produce a short video to accompany my entry. 

Creating the video would not have been possible without the help of Shedson. We used a free video creator called Canva and the music is AI generated using a service called Suno. It was very straightforward to make and will hopefully spur me on to producing more short videos.

I do hope this is of interest and please wish me luck when the judging begins. Not sure how the process works but if it requires voting I'll be looking for wargamers support.

All the best

Eric the Shed

Wednesday 8 May 2024

First time using To the Strongest

 Afternoon All

On a beautiful spring day I thought I'd share the latest from the Shed. Over the last couple of weeks we have been trialling for the first time Simon Miller's To the Strongest ruleset. You may recall that earlier in the year I finished painting my rather large Greek Army of ancient times (see below)

For sometime I have been wanting to get these chaps onto the table in city state v city state action (until the Persians turn up !) and have been agonizing over which rules to use. A short list was drawn up including our usual go to ancient rules, Hail Caesar. This was followed by Swordpoint, To the Strongest and a ruleset featured in Wargames Illustrated last month called Alala.

For our first game we elected to use To the Strongest. 

The following pictures are shots from our first two games.

The first thing I had to do was create a gridded table as TTS uses boxes for movement and shooting. Each box is 20cm square and is transposed onto the table by placing tufts at each of the corners. This can be seen in the picture below.

For our first games each player had a mixed force of about 10 units of which at least were heavy Hoplites, the remainder being light troops (javelins, slingers, light cavalry etc). In hindsight this was quite possibly too many units for our first games. All of my Greek light troops were pressed into action and I used about 2/3rds of my painted Hoplites

The battlefield was deliberately left sparse with just a few rocky outcrops and stands of trees.

To the Strongest works with playing cards to activate units, shoot, rally and save. Each player has a double pack of cards with all the picture cards removed. This leaves them with 80 cards numbered 1-10. At the end of each players command round the pack is shuffled. Many years ago I purchased a card shuffling machine and this was a real bonus.

The mechanics of the game are very straightforward but unlike Hail Caesar each command group (a group of units sharing the same commander) keeps going until it fails an activation/order. This essence means there is NO movement phase followed by a shooting phase or vice versa. It does work and is quite tactically nuanced. Using cards to denote success/failure is also somewhat fun and different to the use of dice.

The game does really seem to lend it self to the type of linear warfare you expect from ancient times. Once the players are familiar with the rules it can rattle along at a great pace.

Perhaps its biggest bonus is that it is perfect for multiplayer games. It can certainly handle three aside with no trouble.

Our two games featured units from Sparta and Thessaly versus two Athenian forces. These were assembled using the free to download army lists on Simon's website. They are comprehensive across all ancient and medieval periods/

Aside from playing cards and a gridded mat you will need some counters to highlight disordered units (we used red counters), a means of recording ammunition for missile troops (i used my WOTR arrow markers/small dice) and victory markers.

Like Never Mind the Billhooks To the Strongest uses a mechanic of victory points to determine victory. As units are destroyed or routed from the field the losing player coughs up a number of victory tokens from his set amount established at the beginning of the game. When he has no more he has lost the battle.

Inevitably our very first game was plagued with errors but is was great fun and looked great. With one engagement under our belts and a reread before the next game we corrected many of our errors we made first time round. 

 The second game was a very tight affair with the lights and skirmishers generally taking care of each other.  The big old Hoplite units soon came face to face and fighting was furious. 

Neither side could claim victory but had time permitted Sparta and their Thessalian Allies may well have prevailed. 

The table itself was 6ft x 12ft (somewhat smaller than our standard games). A few pictures left to show and final thoughts at the end.

So there we have it...our thoughts on To The Strongest. Generally speaking everybody enjoyed it and felt it did justice to the period of warfare we were replicating. However there were thoughts that it might not be fast enough like Hail Caesar. I suspect that our familiarity with HC  allows this to be played at real speed. I also think the activation process is wonderful but for those 'chess like' players who want go through every permutation before the commit to turning a card it will be daunting and arguably frustrating for other players.

Well done Simon on a cracking ruleset - so p[leased we finally played

PS - finally got back to painting. The next 300 Phalangites for my Macedonians are a third painted.