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Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition by Worthington Publishing  Many of us grognards are of an age where 'Zulu&#...

Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition by Worthington Publishing Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition by Worthington Publishing

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Rorke's Drift

Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition


Worthington Publishing

 Many of us grognards are of an age where 'Zulu' was one of the first war movies we saw, if not the first. It portrays the desperate fight at Rorke's Drift in 1879. A Zulu (in reality AmaZulu, the people of heaven) Impi, or division did not arrive in time to take part in the Battle of Isandlwana. Ignoring their king Cetshwayo's orders, they crossed the Blood River looking for a fight. The Impi decided to attack the British garrison at Rorke's Drift. The Zulu people under their king Shaka had conquered a large swathe of territory in Southern Africa in the early 19th century. The line of kings continued with Shaka's half-brothers Dingane and the Mpande. Cetshwayo was the son of Mpande who had won the throne in a Civil War of the Zulus. The Zulu Nation and its Army had been honed to a fine degree by Shaka in his rise to fame. The army was divided into Impis, or divisions. The favorite tactic of the Zulus was the "Horns of the Buffalo". The head of the buffalo, or the main body, would hold the enemy in place, while the horns enveloped them on each flank. Simple, but extremely effective facing enemies without guns. The Zulus under Shaka had developed in close fighting tactics using their short stabbing spear, the "Iklwa", and large cowhide shields. The Zulu Nation, under Cetshwayo, had been attacked by the British and invaded by them under trumped up reasons, in reality a land grab. The British in their hubris believed that their soldiers' rifles and bayonets were more than a match for the Zulu Impis. A part of the British invasion force (roughly 1300 men) had been left at Isandlwana to keep contact with British Natal. A Zulu Army of roughly 20,000 men was surprised by British scouts. The Zulus were not going to attack that day, but the British scouts forced them into action. The British force was destroyed by the Zulus, but not until it had caused the Zulus thousands of casualties. The Zulus themselves were impressed by the British, and describe the British prowess by saying "like lions they fought". So, there is the history of the game's events; onto the game itself. Here is what you get in the oversized box:

 This box contains two games in one package. You get to refight Isandlwana and also Rorke's Drift. Worthington Publishing describes the quality of the game's components as "Top Quality", and I couldn't agree more. The counters are extremely large and seem to be produced with the eyesight of us older grognards taken into account. In addition, the counters are almost like little paintings of the soldiers. One thing about the counters, be careful and do not try to move the cardboard sprues too much. The counters pop free so easily that you will end up with them strewn across the floor. The maps for both games are done up in period style, and are pretty much devoid of anything but parchment color. This is not a bad thing at all, and I think it actually gives the player more immersion into the game. The different areas of the maps are well defined and the description of the areas are in large print. It is almost like Worthington Publishing had designed the game to be played in a grognard's old folks home. I really love the style of the maps. They are divided into areas and not hexes, for both movement and combat. As we have seen, there are two Player Aids done in color and like the other components large in print and easy to read. There is also a Turn Record and Victory Point Sheet that has one battle on each side. The Rulebook is sixteen pages long and among those are four pages of play examples. The actual rules for both games take up only eleven pages. The rules are concise and easy to understand. This is another kudo for Worthington Publishing. The fact that they were able to develop rules for both highly dissimilar games (one a large scale battle and the other almost down to single soldiers) in one short rulebook is pretty amazing. In the rules an item in a red box is just for Rorke's Drift, and one in a brown box is only for Isandlwana. This saves a lot of wasted space and ink by having the rules written together instead of duplicating most of them.

 All of the Worthington Publishing Games seem to work on the KISS (keep it simple stupid) formula. They usually have very few rules and are easy to learn and start playing. However, they are not beer and pretzel games. All of their games that I have played, including this one, are deep and leave the player plenty of choices to make. I have used the analogy before, but it is still good, chess has very few rules, but do not tell me it is a simple game. This goes for the Worthington Publishing games also. The game rules include a few optional starting rules for Isandlwana. In a great move for players, both games can easily be played solitaire by playing both sides, but they have also included a full 'bot' allowing the game to control the Zulus in both battles. I have played a few computer games on Isandlwana, but never a boardgame about it. I am what I would call a historical boardgamer, meaning that either the game gives plausible historical outcomes, or back on the shelf it goes. Having a deep interest in Zulu history and both battles, I can unequivocally state that both games pass my litmus test for games. The one caveat I would add is that it is hard for the British player to win in the Isandlwana game if he starts with the historical unit setup. The British had no idea until the last moment that a large force of Zulus was anywhere near. It takes a good cardboard general to pull out a victory. If the players use the 'free form' British setup of the units it does make it an entirely different game. With the free form setup it takes into account that British regulations were to laager (circular defense learned from the Boers) their camps. This makes the British nut much harder to crack for the Zulus. Even though Rorke's drift is 4,000 against 125, I find that the game is a toss up.  

You can see where I put one of the counters in upside down

 As mentioned, the game is played out in area movement. The line of sight rules are pretty easy to follow. To ensure there is no confusion, the line of sight to each zone on the board is written in the zone. Not only that, but it also shows you the range to each zone that has line of sight. Leader rules for both sides give added immersion to the game, especially in the Rorke's Drift game. One of the interesting rules covers 'Zulu Random Fire'. Some of the Zulus were equipped with firearms. This is the sequence of play:

"Each game is 16 turns. Isandlwana are all day turns. Rorke’s
Drift is divided equally between 8 day turns and 8 night turns.
Within each turn the players use the following sequence of play:
player adds replacements.
B. British Move - The British player may move any and all
units following the movement rules.
C. ZULU MOVE - The Zulu player receives replacements and
then may move any and all units following the movement
D. BRITISH FIRE COMBAT - The British player conducts fire
combat following all fire combat rules. All losses caused
by fire combat are taken immediately.
E. ZULU RANDOM FIRE - The Zulu player conducts his
random fire combat. All losses caused by fire combat are
taken immediately.

F. MELEE COMBAT PHASE - Both players conduct simul-
taneous melee following the rules for melee combat.

Losses caused by melee combat are not taken until after
both players have completed their melee attacks.
G. BRITISH BAYONET CHARGE - The British player declares
and completes bayonet charge with British leaders plus 4
SP following the rules for bayonet charge.

checks to see if a fire starts or spreads in the hospital ac-
cording to the fire spread rules.

I. CHECK VICTORY – Check if victory conditions met.
J. END TURN - If victory conditions not met, end turn and

move game turn marker 1 space, go back to step A."

 One of the odd things about both battles are that both have had excellent movies made about them: the aforementioned 'Zulu' about Rorke's Drift, and Zulu Dawn about Isandlwana. You don't get too many games that have movies about them, let alone two in one box! Thank you Worthington Publishing for letting me review another winner from you. There were some comments made about the grammar usage in the rulebook. I understand some people may have a problem with it. My editor (read spouse) is a stickler for it, and refuses to allow certain papers into our household because of it. Do not worry, I did not allow her to read it. On the other hand, I may or may not notice, but it doesn't disturb me in the least. I had no trouble at all reading the rulebook. 

Worthington Publishers website:

Victoria Cross II Deluxe Edition website:

Rorke's Drift a New Perspective by  Neil Thornton  The Title of the book pretty much sums this book up in a nutsh...

Rorke's Drift by Neil Thornton Rorke's Drift by Neil Thornton

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Rorke's Drift


 The Title of the book pretty much sums this book up in a nutshell. For those of us who thought we knew the story of Rorke's Drift and how and why it was fought, and also the story about all of the Victoria Crosses that were won there, we might be in for a bit of a shock. 

 The Zulus destroyed a camp and killed over 1,300 British soldiers and their African allies at iSandlwana on January 22, 1879. A few hours after that the Zulu Undi regiment crossed the Buffalo river into Natal. The Undi regiment was kept in reserve during the battle, so the warriors' blood was up. Prince Dabulamanzi, the Undi regiment's commander, decided to cross the river against his king Cetshwayo's orders. The next British encampment of any size would be Rorke's Drift. When Lord Chelmsford came back to his destroyed camp at iSandlwana, he could see the fire in the distance from the battle at Rorke's drift.

 For those of us who have had the pleasure to see it, the 1964 movie 'Zulu' starring Michael Caine and Stanley Baker encapsulates all of our thoughts about the battle. The only thing is that, as usual, the movie version of a historical event is not really historical. Although to be honest, this movie stays closer to the truth than many others. The real story of Rorke's drift does have all of the makings for a movie blockbuster. You have cowardice, bravery, and a desperate defense of about twenty to one odds or better. 

 The book starts with the actual history of Rorke's drift and why it was there and it's various uses before that fateful day. It started out as a trading post owned by Jim Rorke at a crossing place of the Buffalo River. Strangely enough its next incarnation was as a missionary post and chapel owned by the Church of Sweden, no less. The British negotiated the rental of it for their invasion of the Zulu's lands. It was used by the British as a supply depot at this time. The fact that it was stuffed with supplies for the army was an extremely good stroke of luck for the British soldiers stationed there. The tons of mealie bags and biscuit boxes that were stored, were the makings of their impromptu walls and fortifications besides the little bit that the Drift had to offer itself. 

 The Drift was awash with escapees from the massacre at iSandlwana before the battle. Almost 500 African allies and British soldiers were there. The appearance of the Undi regiment caused a panic and only 155 soldiers, mostly of B company of the 2/24th regiment, stayed to defend the Drift. 

 The book goes into minute details of the actual defenses that the soldiers built, and who was where at what time during the battle. The exploits of John Chard and Gonville Bromhead, and all of the other heroes of the battle are described in detail. For more than 10 hours, the 3,000+ Zulus attacked the Drift and its 155 defenders. A lot of the time the fighting was down to bayonet against assegai. The defenders and attackers had nothing to say about their enemies, except to mention their bravery. 

 The book first sets the scene and then goes into the battle itself. It then goes on to describe the battle's aftermath. Next it goes into a long list of the 'Gallantry Recipients' with a short biography and the stated reasons for their awards. To many, the book's part of 'Unjust Criticism' will be the most interesting. Apparently many, including the new area commander Sir Garnet Wolsley, did not think much of the heroes of the Drift, and didn't even think some of them deserved their medals!

 The stirring epic of the defense of Rorke's Drift certainly needed this book to separate fact from fiction. Hopefully the author is at work on a book about the battle of iSandlwana with this much detail.


Book: Rorke's Drift A new Perspective
Author: Neil Thornton
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Distributor: Casemate Publishers