Well its been much longer than planned and to get things along I have enlisted my mate Kieran (6mm Wargaming) to build my Rorke’s Drift Models and Base Board for me. I have been inspired by the SSWG’s (Southend & Shoeburyness Wargames Group) wonderful demo game from several years ago (you can see a full set of photos here, it was at Salute 2006 in the UK and I believe has been at shows prior to that), and they still reuse it regularly today (see this blog post from 2011). So Kieran has completed assembly of the buildings and we’ve done two mock-ups of the layout…
The first layout is a full approximately to scale version – it’s about 4’6″ (137cm) across from Stone Kraal to the outer Hospital wall on the right of the picture… It obviously requires quite a few additional mealie bag sections and a second barricaded wagon for the rear wall. The other challenge is it will also require about 100 figures (i.e. 1:1 with real life) to defend under TSATF (The Sword And The Flame) – and even then the defence will be pretty thin. So the expectation is that while this will look the best and the most historically accurate it’ll be a bit too big for typical single afternoon gaming and will also be a large model that needs a lot of input.
The second image shows an alternate layout – this reduces the total width of the defences to about 3’8″ (110cm) across which requires less input in terms of barricades and such and requires only about 80 figures to defend with some depth (still a ratio of around 1.3:1 but much more manageable – roughly 4 TSTAF units). Basically the layout is proportionately decreased (although the buildings obviously still occupy the same area) and the stone Kraal at the extreme left of photo is smaller stylised representation simply to recognise it’s presence (it was not overly significance in the actual battle – and no Zulu attacks actually came from that direction.
This second design is what we will be going with, and the boards will represent the raised part of the little plateau (see the SSWG photo above) with the stony embankment round their edge. The lines on the boards aren’t accurate – they are just a very rough guesstimate outline of the terrain features for working out the positions of the buildings and such… The other major thing Kieran will be doing for me is painting the buildings the right side – contrary to popular belief (and the Warlord Games illustrations) they were not a bright white-wash but were a more yellowy sandy colour (see the preserved Rorke’s Drift at the Anglo-Zulu War Society Website) – currently it seems de rigueur to mimic the WG colour scheme, so there’s lots of excessively bright white Rorke’s Drift Buildings out there right now!
For more historical reading see the rorkesdriftvc.com Website and the Rorke’s Drift Page at Wikipedia. Rorke’s Drift saw 11 VC’s awarded – the third highest total ever for a single battle, however 7 of these were issued to a single unit – the 2nd/24th Regiment Of Foot – which is the record for the most ever issued to a single unit ever in a single action in the history of the Victoria Cross.