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Battle In Earnest-The Missed Opportunity at Nyezane, 22 January 1879

This battle report is about me translating a Black Powder Zulu War scenario into The Men Who Be Kings rule set.

Battle in Earnest
The Missed Opportunity at Nyezane
22 January 1879
British OB
Infantry Bde
3rdFoot (12-figs)
99thFoot (12-figs)
Naval Bde
7 pounder
Mtd Infantry (8 figs)
Natal Carbineers (8 figs)
Natal Mounted Police (8 figs)
1stBn. 2nd NNC Regt. (12 figs)
2ndBn. 2nd NNC Regt. (12 figs)
Natal Native Horse (8 figs)
Natal Native Horse (8 figs)
12 units in three “brigades”
Zulu OB
(chest) Mxhapho Regiment-2 units (16 figs each)

(left horn) izinGulube Regiment-2 units (20 figs each)
(left horn) inSukamgeni Regiment-2 units (20 figs each)

(right horn) iNgwegwe Regiment-2 units (20 figs each)
(right horn) iQhwa Regiment-2 units (20 fig search)

10 units in five regiments. With the exception of Mxhapho each Zulu unit had a 4-fig sub unit of antique firearms.

As the scenario designer, player and judge I sought to recreate something of the history of the battle and yet have some degree of play balance-a difficult balancing act!

Historically, the Zulu commander on the spot sought to ambush the British column as it crossed the drift at the ford. His idea was to launch the Zulu chest, right horn and left horns all at once and overwhelm what force the British already had crossed the drift.

The Mxhapho Regiment ignored the orders to wait until all three regiments were in position and attacked immediately thus putting the entire plan into jeopardy.

The Zulu commander upon seeing MxHapho attack then ordered izinGulube and iNgwewe (left horn) to support them.

The Zulu right horn, inSukamgeni and iQhwa were not in position and attacked much later than the other three Zulu regiments. The overall attack was therefore piecemeal.

To simulate these conditions I made it mandatory that MxHapho ignore the inDuna’s plan and simply charge. On the third turn izinGulube and iNgwegwe would be automatically activated.

The inSukamgeni and iQhwa of the Zulu left horn had a chance to activate on the 5th turn but didn’t until the sixth turn and then had much distance to cover.

The British in the meantime had to make do, more or less with the forces already across the drift. The British foot and artillery (and Gardner gun) were strung out along the road and frozen (due to confusion) until the third turn.

I was not interested in creating a game\simulation that was fair; meaning that each side had a roughly equal chance of a victory. I do try on the other hand to have some sort of play balance so that as in this case the Zulu’s would have a 33% of success.

The question is how would that success be defined?

Obviously, the destruction of the other side’s forces is important and as it turned out the Zulu’s took horrendous casualties resulting in a tactical defeat. The challenge for the Zulus was to overwhelm the British force that already crossed and before the Redcoat infantry and artillery could come to the rescue. The plucky performance of the Natal Native Horse was crucial in preventing that from happening.

On the other hand the Zulu commander was seeking to prevent the British column from invading Zululand in the first place. The drift was an excellent place to make a stand and ambush the British.

In my estimation the Zulu’s did well enough to halt the British advance, at least temporarily,  in order to regroup and re-evaluate their intelligence. They were after all totally unaware of how many Zulu’s were in the Impi and lurking beyond the hills.

I was more concerned with fun than I was with who would “win.” Fun. as always was the goal and all agreed they had fun! That is success.

A quick note about the rules…

When I started my efforts in the colonial period I had in mind to use The Sword and the Flame, a set I was a little familiar with. The games seemed too small in TSTF especially after getting the Black Powder Rules and Zulu War Supplement with their excellent orders of battle.

The downside of Black Powder is the impressive number of figures they have in their units. I actually agree with the visual but on the other hand when you are painting most of both sides that can be intimidating!

Then I got a copy of The Men Who Would Be Kings and decide to try them out. Prior to this game we play tested them about 6 times until we figured out exactly how many units we could use in a reasonable amount of time.

It now seems I am settled upon TMWWBK, although the lists are more or less doubled in my scenarios. I confess I still look fondly on the huge units in Black Powder so who knows that maybe someday I’ll paint a lot more Zulus and Victoria’s soldiers.

Mxhapho is eager to wash their spears! (Zulu Chest)
Two squadrons of Natal Native Horse sound the alarm near the drift
The Natal Native Contingents are on the wrong side of the river. Oh, Oh!
The Natal Carabineers also give the alarm!
The Natal Mounted Police on the British left feel safe for the moment
The other unit of Natal Native Contingent  near the ford. 
The inSukamgeni Regiment is part of the Zulu left horn and they are unaware that Mxhapho has started the battle.
The iQhwa Regiment (left horn) is also unaware that reckless MxHapho has started the battle.
Mxhapho masses for the attack encouraged by their inDuna’s
A frightening sight for the Natal Native Contingent as MxHapho bears down on them.
The Natal Native Horse is not intimidated by MxHapho and starts to pluck away with their Martini-Henry carbines.
The izinGulube Regiment (Zulu right horn) is ordered to support Mxhapho’s reckless advance
The iNgwegwe Regiment is also ordered to support Mxhapho as part of the left horn.
MxHapho is determined to destroy the units caught on the wrong side of the drift!
The plucky Natal Native Horse mounts and charges half of MxHapho.
Close up of iNgwegwe (left horn)
Close up of izinGulube (right horn)
The Natal Native Horse performs superbly and flanks the Zulu left horn at great peril to themselves.
The arriving Redcoats get to the drift edge to support the Natal Native Horse. The Zulu’s are no longer able to cross the drift on the British right.
The Zulu right horn gets into action after a long delay and crosses the drift on the British left.
The Zulu left horn destroys the Natal Mounted Police and the unit of Natal Native Contingent and advances to the drift edge.
Redcoats and a 7pdr prepare to meet the left horn.
A Naval Gardner gun adds firepower near the ford. The right horn is shot to pieces.
More ammo!

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