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DateOriginal Topic
14th January 2005Wargaming the Zulu War 1879
By Coll
I guess from previous topics you will notice that I have specific areas of interest with regards to the Zulu War 1879, but I like the idea of pursuing other projects connected to this campaign.
One of them including wargaming, which I researched a little about, with regards to figures, buildings, rules, etc.
I was really amazed to find just how many items were available covering the zulu war.
Anything from 25mm metal figures, to 1/72 and 1/32 scale plastic figures, these scales including buildings, accessories, etc., as well as rulebooks, dice and so on.
Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift seem to be the battles covered most often, obviously being so well-known.

Has anybody been involved in wargaming the Zulu War 1879, as a serious hobby or as an interesting pastime ?.
15th January 2005Carl

Like most contributors I would imagine, my interest in the Zulu war started after a visit to the cinema in the late early 70's. I was already a wargamer of the Napoleonic period and keen model maker. Since the age of 12 i have been interested in all aspects of the AZW including gaming. This interest was re-ignited as a hobby after laying dorment for about 15 years when a house move resulted in the discovery of the rorkes drift buildings I had scratch-built (no models available then) and the lead figure 25mm armies I had painted as a boy. Well the hobby has really kicked off. Aswell as making repro-boxes I have rekindled my passion for painting figures- this time in acrylic, again a medium not available to me all those years ago. I now use the 28mm ranges from Black Tree design and Redoubt. The buildings have been renovated - after all they are over 20 years old and a gaming board has been designed and made. I have also found the rules that I wrote specifically for Rorkes Drift re-enactment. I am still to reproduce them on Computer. I have played once again with them and they work well. They allow for a game to be played quickly (2-3hrs max) and are not anally retentive like some commercial games that are simply too complicated. Once the rule are re-vamped I will make them available for fellow saddies. please feel free to e mail me off sire for more details, photos etc. Good luck with your hobby.

15th January 2005Coll

Thanks for your reply.

The Zulu War 1879, judging by a few wargaming magazines that I viewed, seems to be becoming extremely popular in gaming.

I noticed that the cost of figures, etc., varies quite significantly, between metal and plastic scales, especially if the metal figures are painted.

As I see military strategy like a game of chess, my approach to actually wargaming battles of the AZW is maybe a little different.

I like the idea of 1/32 scale plastic figures, but unpainted, as representations of both armies involved in the campaign.

I know this may horrify a confirmed wargamer with an eye for detail, but bear with me.

I found that this scale of plastic figures for the AZW by ' A Call To Arms ' had their british infantry in a light brown colour, which I found unacceptable to use if unpainted, however, I managed to obtain details about a U.S. company called ' Conte Collectables ' that has AZW figures in 1/32 scale, the british infantry being red in colour, the sets include officers, etc., which is more in keeping with what I had in mind, they also have, apparently, Rorke's Drift buildings and accessories to compliment it in this scale.

The choice of plastic is, I guess, financially more practical for me, if I was to pursue this project, but I personally don't feel that it would mean I take wargaming any less seriously.

What are your views on this matter ?.
15th January 2005Carl

I believe that an effective and enjoyable wargame is one that involves strategy, chance, an appreciation of history and some excitement. So many of the rules I have seen in the past seem to just involve the throwing of about 30 dice followed by 2 hrs with your head in a rule book which then equates to moving a unit of unrealistically based figures 3 inches on a board. I suppose what you need is a combination, especially if you have other duties that do not allow for a game to be in progress over a period of weeks!

I converted our spare bedroom about a year ago but it remains under threat....

I know a few examples of gaming using 1/32 scale plastic and have seen both ranges you mention. However The conte range is not cheap. you must also consider the size of the gaming area if you are using such a large scale.

I would always reccommend using 28mm as the size is better for scale and detail than 25mm and is becoming more popular with gamers - probably as their eyesight fails them. I found that the range offerred by Black Tree Design is ideal for the bulk of the armies. They also sell large packs at discounted prices. redoubt are better for personality figures. If you did not intend to paint them in any detail you could still spray both the zulus (Brown) and the British (red and Blue). This will also serve as an undercoat should you change your mind in the future. One other tip - if you are using plastic figures, one childs arm or an open window and your firing line will be gone quicker than at Isandhlwana.

So join the traditionalists: Go 25mm metal base them on pennys and leave the plastics well alone!

Good luck with whatever you decide


15th January 2005Paul Cubbin
One for the plastics.
I must admit, I have a strange perchance for 1/72 plastics. One reason has undoubtably got to be poignancy value - it takes me back to Saturday afternoons with my two brothers, our poor mother having to pick her wa across the kitchen floor that had miraculously become the North African desert/Zululand/Carthage/Waterloo etc... In fact my interest in the hobby was rekindled (after a decade or more of decay) after finding our old toy box in my mum's loft. I am now a professional figure painter who specialises in 25/28mm, but still I love the old 1/72 for my own collections. Of course, the choice is much more limited and the Zulus especially cannot be fielded in individual regimental costume, but I like 'em.
18th January 2005Coll
Although I managed to find suitable figures, Rorke's Drift buildings with accessories and also wagons to suit 1/32 scale, I can't find the type of tents used in this campaign anywhere.

Are there any companies that supply these in 1/32 scale and made of plastic ?.