David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

The Death of Chief Bykelezi

 A return to the Anglo-Zulu War was Phil's choice for this week's game here in GHQ. Taking a little poetic licence with the theme I chose to pit Chief Bykelezi's Impis against the wily Boer, Van Robhinsaan. The Boer objective was simply to exit on the opposite side of the table, crossing the Blood(less) River ( which would take a turn). The wagons and baggage can only cross at the ford, as can any units on foot, while the mounted Boers can cross at any point, taking a move plus Dx6 to do so. The Zulus, apart from two units of rifle armed warriors deployed covering the approaches to the ford,appear randomly after the Boer initial disposition. The baggage train fights as two Small units - I don't have enough figures to depict the escort!

Three of Chief Bykelezi's Impis deploy on the flank of the Boers, but several moves potentially from making an attack. Probably the deciding factor with hindsight.
The mounted Boers (with some Natives making up the number) move swiftly out to block the Zulu approach.
The Boer wagons have made a bold strike for the ford, supported by some Boer infantry, only to be attacked by the fourth Zulu Impi.
While that fight rages on the mounted Boers elements halt, firing from the saddle.
The Boer infantry s fire is concentrated on the rifle armed Zulus so they can take the higher ground and flank the Impi fighting to halt the Boer wagons' bold push for the river.
The Zulus are shaken by mounting losses and so the Boers close in to finish them off! The Impi fails yet again to defeat the wagons' guards!
Meanwhile, one mounted element is driven off but the other two hold their ground. Zulu losses begin to mount and the exhibit an uncharacteristic reluctance to charge home!
Zulu losses and Disorder are mounting on the Boers' flank as the mounted elements steadfastly hold their ground.
The fight at the approaches to the ford reaches a climax! Both sides have losses, who will be the first to buckle?
Shaken and Disordered with excess casualties! Throwing 3 in the Moral check hardly helps does it? The Zulu Impi flees from combat shattered and the route to winning the game is open for Van Robhinsaan!
One mounted Boer element charges the Impi to its front. Surely a rash move at this stage? No! Both sides are Shaken by losses but are not broken!
The Impi which defeated the mounted Boer element earlier finds its path blocked by the Boer artillery! 
The Boer wagons reach the ford! The game is slipping away from Chief Bykelezi's grasp.
The rash Boer charge has done more than shatter the Zulu resolve. In the fighting Chief Bykelezi falls, never to rise again! (What a time to throw a 6 with one excess casualty?)
The Boer wagons cross the Blood(less) River. The game is almost over!
One Impi is chased to the river, where it is slaughtered to a man! (A bit of overkill never hurt anyone Phil said!)
The only remaining Impi of the late Chief Bykelezi can only watch the victorious Boers from a safe distance! Seven moves to disaster for the Zulus but a great game thoroughly enjoyed despite the comprehensive thrashing  and the demise of my little lead alter ego...


  1. A fine game, I thought the Boers would have a tougher time of it but the Impi's arriving where they did cleared the way for the bold advance of the train. Who in turn stood steadfastly against overwhelming odds with the help of the supporting foot to clear a passage to the river and beyond. die dobbelsteengode was by ons.

  2. That is a lovely looking game and a period I've never played before. Certainly the Die Gods were with the Boers this game.

    1. The dice gods didn't even give the Zulus a passing nod!

  3. Greate looking gamen and Exellent AAR.

  4. Congratulations on victory to the bold Van Robhinsaan! Super looking game, David.

  5. That's a beautiful looking game David!


  6. Very nice Mr.B. It's been a long time since the ZW Collection last saw the light of day. Well worth blowing the dust of them.

  7. Cracking stuff David…
    It’s always tricky for the chaps with pointed sticks… when they are up against bullets…

    All the best. Aly

    1. Indeed, the Zulus' fighting skills were a tad rusty it seems.

  8. A splendid affair, Helion have a book out shortly on the Boer invasion of Zululand 1837-1840, I can at least vouch for the maps :)

  9. An interesting action to read because of the unusual turn of events. Perhaps you'll win your next game.Thanks. Stephen

  10. Hello David, I was surprised to find I could access your Blogger without being ejected by my computer security software. Anyhow, lovely looking game and sorry to read of your loss. No steam roller effect from the Zulu Impi this time.
    Best regards,

    1. Welcome back Helen! Your contribution has been sorely missed!