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Because We're Here Lad

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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And now for something a bit different!

I've always been interested in acts of bravery, be it on the battlefield, at sea, exploring dangerous uncharted land, out in space etc (see Neil Olivers excellent book "Amazing Tales for Making Men out of Boys") and the myths that are created from these acts/ events/ stories.
The Battle of Rorke's Drift is one of these, immortalised in the minds of many by the film "Zulu", it was the scene of the award of a record* 11 Victoria Crosses, but probably was more of a case of the British High Command seeking to salvage something in a PR sense after the earlier that day utter disaster of Isandlwana and the loss of around 1500 lives.

*by one definition: the most for a single action by one regiment

Zulus on the Ramparts!, and other such games, are not something I ever thought I'd play. I was vaguely aware of their existence but thought that historical reenactments / simulations were not really 'board-gaming' in any modern sense. I was looking through the stack of Victory Point Games that I had fortuitously acquired (they were in the way when I was packing away all the Christmas stuff at the weekend) and thought that some of the smaller box things looked like they shouldn't be too hard to learn and play - after all they said low complexity and less than an hour for solo playtime, so why not step out of my usual comfort zone?



Despite the rulebook not being the best it really doesn't take much to learn and there are lots of helpful videos around. The game is far easier than it looks. There is a simple, draw a chit, resolve, do your action, draw a card flow to the game. It's actually quite a tight system with you having just a single action per round (unless you are able to make a special move, usually involving a heroic sacrifice of one of the officers). The cards that drive your in game actions initially seemed a little 'busy' but there is actually pretty good iconography and a lot of the text on them is for flavour rather than gameplay. Dice rolling to resolve the firing / volley actions on the cards is simple and intuitive after a couple of rounds.

Quite simply you have to survive the relentless onslaught of the Zulu warriors, if they reach the objective marker you lose, if you hold out then you win, although how 'good' your win is considered will need to be worked out on a VP chart.
Under my charge I'm afraid that didn't happen. I thought I had it under control but I had some really poor dice rolls (14 complete misses over 3 volleys at a single unit!) once they'd broken through the perimeter, and despite me having built all the requisite barricades, I was overrun and defeated with a few cards still left in the deck (the relief column arrives at some point in the last few cards, starting the end of the game.)
I'm sure there are plenty of tactical tricks that can be performed with clever card playing (as well as better dice rolling) and I think it will be something I'll look to explore - it was an interesting and tense 45 minutes or so and had a great 'feel', especially compared to the more 'modern' solo games that I'm far more familiar with.

I'd suggest that you don't dismiss any section of gaming until you've actually tried it and whilst this isn't really a 'proper' wargame I think I could get interested in this historical reenactment wing of the hobby.
This game was good stuff!

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