I probably should have done some reading on the Zulu Wars before I started buying up Thousands of Zulu's. In my defence I'd have to say that Zulu is such a good Film and story in itself and inspiration enough to get into this period. I read a book on Shaka Zulu a few years before Warlord brought their range out which was my original inspiration.
I am still reading personal accounts written about the Vietnam War as I am still very interested in this conflict but. I have found some time though to read a few Ospreys and this very interesting article taken from a book which I should look at buying.
The War readiness and Military effectiveness of the Zulu Forces
This has some decent photos but must confess that I've only skipped through the text.
Zulu conquered the march of the red soldiers 1828-1884
The problem that I can see me having that is this only going to be a conflict that can be played a couple of times? Would anyone in the know be willing to take the Zulu forces? I have a few friends interested in painting up some British forces but do not have the same interest in buying up loads of Zulus. (no offence meant to anyone reading this) The reality though is that heaps of Zulus are needed to make this happen and only relatively few British, if you look at the numbers involved in the conflict. Or perhaps this is the perfect Solo gaming conflict with the Zulus acting to a set plan?
The accounts I have read all agree that the only chance that the Zulus have of winning is if the British make major mistakes in either their deployments, or supply of ammunition. Both of which led to the disaster at Isandlwana. The Zulus are restricted to using the same tactics of the Beasts Horn formation and do not know how to use the firearms properly that are at their disposal. The unmarried Regiments are largely unbloodied in battle while the Married Regiments have been inactive for 20 years and mostly aged between 41 and 47 years old. The 24th on the other hand are veteran fighters.
The Black Powder scenario of Rorke's Drift is almost impossible for the Zulus to win, as it should be. The Zulus are shaken before they get into hand to hand and the British have the advantage of a longer reach due to having bayonets. I've not read gaming accounts of Isandlwana but would imagine that you would have the same issues. It would be even worse if the British were to form squares and have no rules for ammunition supplies.
Perhaps I am overthinking the gaming issues and should look at ways of writing scenarios that reflect the limitations of this conflict? Perhaps make the British roll for how much ammunition is at hand each round of firing and not allow them to form squares!
The immediate problem at hand is that I have come to the last of the ready assembled Zulus that I stuck together while sitting on my partners couch, and will have to find time to make up another two unmarried Regiments and two Unmarried skirmisher units. I am currently basing the last regiment and will do some command stands next. I feel that this is still not enough to play a game with yet as I have seven Zulu Regiments and one of NNC (which I feel should be split into two small units). I have some Napoleonic British Marines I could use as stand ins to playtest some ideas that I have for using Sharp Practice. The other thing I should mention is that the more I look at references the more confused I get about what Unmarried Regiments the Warlord headdresses are meant to be. Perhaps the idea would be to just use the plain heads and not try and make the warriors in their parade dress?
Anyway these are just my thoughts and not meant to put anyone off painting this conflict. Just be prepared for a long ongoing commitment to painting (unless your Eric the Shed of course and can turn out a Regiment before breakfast).