Friday, August 3, 2018

Historicon 2018 - Isandlwana - AAR

To All,

I had the chance to play in the best game at Historicon 2018, Isandlwana, GM'ed by David Burton.
David Burton getting ready to start Isandlwana at Historicon 2018
Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows that when I go to a HMGS conventions I am really there to run Gnome Wars games, give the occasional painting class, and have a few 'soda pops.' So it is rare that I actually sit down and play in  a game. I did not run any games on Thursday (although I did give a painting class at noon) because my sister and my nephew were coming to their first gaming convention. We walked by this beautiful set-up, I saw that Mr. Burton was the GM, and I thought, "this will be their first Historical game."  

My nephew Ryan getting ready for the Zulu onslaught.
Here is the game description: 
Isandlwana – Theme Thursday, 6:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 14, Location: Distelfink: D11 GM: David Burton Sponsor: None, Period: Colonial, Scale: 20mm, Rules: Bayonets and Spearpoints Description: Battle of Isandlwana - Lt. Raw's troopers have found the Zulu Impi. The camp is alerted and the 24th regiment is stood to. British regulars, colonials, and the NNC will battle the Zulu regiments. Ammo rules will be in play for the British with ammo bearers doing their best to keep up with the demand. As for the Zulus...well there's thousands of them... Children under 13 welcome with playing adult

That empty chair is where I'll be sitting.
We were British and, as you can see in the picture above, there are a lot of Zulus and a few of us. The two gentlemen sitting next to my nephew wanted to take the British (with rockets) that were detached from the camp to the right. We had a brief "do you want to come back toward the camp" discussion and they kinda said, "hell no, we'll slow them down out here." My kind of guys!

Back in the camp we had three regular British units on the left of the line near hill. A veteran wargamer took those three units. On the right of the line curving in were three regular British units and an artillery unit. My nephew took the three regular units and a cavalry Unit. That left me in the middle with the Natal Native Contingent (NNC), the Natal Native Horse (NNH), the Rear Detail, the Civilian Contractors, the Pioneers (Pioneers!!), and the artillery led by Stuart-Smith.  Basically all the troops no one else wanted.
To the right, Zulus.......
........ in the center, Zulus. Here you see what I had. I figured the the NNC and the NNH that were already in the line were there for the duration, and I left one unit of NNC  just behind them as a backup/reserve.
Nice placement of this Ammo wagon. Don't fear, The Pioneers are on the way!
Everyone else started running towards the left and rear to try to protect this ammunition wagon and plug the gap to the rear of the hill and the end of the board. I sent the Civilian Contractors to the right.
This dude was a great opponent!

Side note: A convention game can look great, have fantastic rules, and have an awesome GM, but can become derailed by crappy opponents. This did not happen during this game and, as a matter of fact, the three guys in the above picture were awesome opponents. Everyone in our section picked up the rules quickly (great job Mr. Burton) and were fun to play with. "Maverick" was terrific!

As the Battle of Isandlwana began there was a lot of fighting and die rolling to the right. The rocket battery was gone but the troops out there were doing what they needed to do - slow the Zulus down.

The Zulus start the assault on the main line and regular British line do what regular British line do (as long as they have ammo) which is make Zulus disappear with volley fire. The Zulus start to head towards the NNC and NNH in the line....

...and the race is on to the supply wagon and our left flank.

The Pioneers take their first shot and it causes the Zulu unit to go prone. PIONEERS!! 
On the Left the British win the race to the Wagon and start to form up in a donga. The NNH are the first to get there, unhorse, and take cover. The Pioneers get to the base of the hill and fire their two rifles. Two hits and the Zulu unit has to go prone (green chip) - PIONEERS!!
A close up of the Pioneers. 

After a few turns here is what the left looks like....

On the left of the main line it has been brutal. The Zulus are thinned out by withering fire but, as predicted, there are holes in the line. The first line of NNC are gone which exposes the British line flanks and it turns into chaos. I will say that the gentleman that was in command of these units was rolling unbelievably. 16 d6's, 14 hits was his normal. Unfortunately once the NCC folded there was nothing he could do but make various last stands. 
Stuart-Smith standing tall!
In the middle of the British regulars was the artillery unit lead by Officer Stuart-Smith. I took this unit figuring, artillery. It was only after I assumed "command" that I was told that the artillery was basically useless. But Stuart-Smith stood tall letting the British line troops fire volley into any approaching Zulus.
Civilian Contractors rushing in. (they are the thin line behind the line)
To the right it was going as well as it could be. The units outside of the camp took their pound of flesh from the Zulus and started to come back to reinforce the line. Ryan,commanding the British regulars, pours fire into the Zulu hoard. There are just too many of them and they make contact...

...and the line holds, somewhat.

Four hours in and the right is still there!

On the left, we are still there. We slowed them up enough to score enough points for a British "victory!"

Rear detail saying, "Why am I in a donga?


Stuart-Smith says, "Let them come."

Above and below are shots of the final turn. You see the bottom (our left) the scrubs have formed up, are in cover, and would have lasted a few turns until we were overrun. But I thing I accomplished what I needed to for that flank. On the right they did well. The line is still in tact and they were battling away. The middle I didn't do so well as the NCC and NNH under my command were overrun and were the cause of the hole there. I assume Zulus will pour in there and engulf  the British.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed playing in this game. Great figures and terrain, smooth rule set that works great for the period, and an awesome GM. My advice to play in a game GM'ed by David Burton.

Mr. Burton won a well deserved award for the game.

Above and below are some shots of the game as it was set up.

Mr. Burton's rule set. 


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