Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Battle of Gerald's Ford

Rules: Black Powder

Figures: 28mm Most manufacturers represented

Zulus vs British

This is the first game of the new year. The club has not met since November so there were a lot of members present. The game takes place in Africa as the Zulus are n force in the area. A British column is approaching a small outpost from the opposite end of the table.

The Game Table

The outpost contains a small infantry unit supported by a Gatling gun. Morning brings no news or activity from the surrounding country side. The soldiers in the outpost hear the approach of horses in the distance.

The first unit to enter are frontier horsemen. They arrive ahead of the main column scouting the countryside.

Suddenly the steady clatter of spears hitting shields is also heard. The Zulus are on the march and the Zulu impi creating the head and chest makes the first appearance. The left and right horns make an appearance later as the initiative rolls dictate.

Zulu Impi of the chest

Additional units enter with 3 impetus or up to 36"in movement.The skirmishers are deployed up front to absorb any shots. They will count the guns by sacrificing their soldiers.

Skirmishers in front and 2 more units on the left flank

The British column arrives and the commanders know they need to deploy quickly. The Zulus are moving fast and the British don't want to be caught in column.

The British column enters

The British figures are painted to a very high standard. They are based individually and placed on movement stands. We play TSATF, Black Powder and other rules so we need to be flexible with basing.

The British line infantry in column

On the next Zulu turn the left horn enters. The Gatling gun had been firing at the center units but missed. The outpost commander knew he had a problem and redeployed the gun to face the new threat that was closing in.

The Left horn enters on the next turn near the fort

We had a lot of players and we caught up on all holiday news. The Zulu Players are on the left contemplating their next move and discussing hobby news. The person seated in the center is the British outpost commander Joe Krone.

The DAWGS , Zulu on the left, British on the right and center

The British players Jim, Dave, and Leo, are getting instruction from the game master Jim Ferich. You can see Jim's extensive collection on the shelves in the background.

More DAWGS playing the British

The British deploy and the Zulus try to close. The British need to keep moving up as more units are following and they don't want to be crowded in.

The British form line
The British move slowly and the rest of the column is coming in with limited space. Both side are rolling and getting one impetus and delaying the inevitable.
The British and ANC form up to slug it out
In a larger view of the field you can see how the British started out. They entered in column and bottled up due to having one impetus, meaning a 10 inch move. They couldn't get all their rifles on the line but did enjoy support in case the Zulus close on them.

The Brits try to move forward

Kyle, my son and one of the Zulu players, declares a charge! He rolled double 6's and got that sinking feeling. His fumbling resulted in a charge so he still got to close. Basically he fumbled and bumbled his way in. I guess it doesn't matter how you get there, just as long as you do.

A charge is declared...Double 6s...and the result is ....a Charge!

The Zulus are moving to support the charge. The British fire has been not been effective so far and the Zulus slowly close. The Zulus finally make contact on turn 3. Jim and Leo had to fight right out of their staging area.

Zulus make progress against the Brits

The British are shaken but stay on the field. The Zulu skirmishers in the rocks take the brunt of British fire and are also shaken but stay on the field. The British have a characteristic called "Steady" and get a re-roll on one failed morale roll and it really made the difference. The British absorbed a lot of what the Zulus could throw at them.

The red markers show shaken units and the white markers show disordered

The Zulu movement on Turn 3. The Left horn made their appearance. Jerry Accord was commanding the left horn and he stayed back. His job was to prevent a crossing at the ford and the British were still tied up with the center formations of the Zulus. Kyle Schulze and Eric Boyle had their hands full as the Zulu commanders of the chest formations. The British columns kept coming in and there were more than originally thought. Joe Krone the out post commander was constantly shifting the machine gun to meet the new threats as they appeared.

At the outpost the Zulus hold waiting for an opportunity

The Zulus in the center cause a British unit to flee the field which opened a gap in the lines. Another British unit begins to waiver. The Zulus appear to be in a strong position and the left horn has not entered yet. When the British begin to fire the Zulu ranks thin and units begin the hit their point of being shaken.

The Zulus defeat a British unit opening a gap but face withering fire
Shaken Zulu units are forced to fall back and British cavalry closes in for support. The Zulu right horn finally appears on turn 4 from the rocks. The British slowly move forward keeping their lines straight and preventing gaps from opening. Their are few units for support. Once again the British ability to re-roll one failed morale roll makes the difference in the battle.

Zulus in the center begin to break
On turn 5 the British must refuse their flank to keep the Zulus from over running the ANC and British units on the exposed flank. Chris Ferich is the Zulu commander for the impi  making up the right horn. The first few units made contact but it was slow moving through rough terrain for the Zulus. Units from the center are in disorder and shaken. They need to be rallied but the Zulu commander has more than enough on his plate and can't rally everyone. His priority is to rally the units closest to combat and hopes the right horn will pick up the fight.

The center is broken

The right horn fails to win the melee and most of the units are now shaken. The Zulus must retire and give the British the field. As for the victory conditions the British failed to get any units across the ford but did hold the field. Depending on your view it is either a draw or a Marginal British victory.

The center tries to rally but its not enough and the Zulus leave the field
We finished the game by 10:30 pm so it took about two and a half hours to play about 7 turns. Our club prefers rules that allow us to finish a game in under 4 hours. We typically start playing around 7:30 pm and play until 11-11:30 pm. We like to discuss the difference between rules. We are convinced that Black Powder meets our needs for the periods it covers. Had we played TSATF we probably would not have had a decisive outcome in the alloted time. TSATF takes much longer to play a game of this size, but we still love those rules (Thank you Larry Brom!). Colonial Adventures also comes up in discussion as a really good rules set that can be modified to meet our needs. We are discussing future games for a Flames of War campaign for Operation Market Garden.


  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I've truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again very soon!
    Prevail® Bladder Control Pad, Case of 144

  2. Thanks for the feedback. The club tries to stay active and we have a wide range of interests.