Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A Small Punitive Expedition

Well, the Colonel calls the Captain
Then the Captain calls the men
He says "Listen lads, I've got a task for you
John Zulu's been a naughty boy
There's a lesson to be taught
And that is what you men are going to do".

This was Scenario B from The Men Who Would Be Kings, a mission to destroy a native village.

The British have two units of elite regulars, both with leadership of 5+.  Company A is commanded by Captain Thompson, a gentleman with a bottle.  Company B is under the leadership of Captain Crosby, mother nature was not kind to him in the looks department.

A unit of Natal Native Contingent (7+) goes with the column, commanded by Lieutenant Fraser, who is destined for greatness.

Finally there is a unit of irregular mounted infantry sharpshooters (7+) lead by Captain Van Beek.  He has an aversion to assegais and as such is viewed as a bit of a yellow belly by the British officers.

The Zulus have six fierce units, all 7+ and with no leader characteristics, per the optional rules.

So out we goes in column
And a  right mixed bag we was
All sure we had enough to beat the foe
Us reg'lars and some native lads
Some mounted boys as well
We'd give Johnny Zulu what for, don't you know.

From bottom to top the British have Mounted Infantry, Company A, Company B and the NNC.  Three Zulu units are in the village and three more will enter from the right.

(The huts are completely wrong for Zulus, but they are the most suitable I have.)

Both sides advance, the Zulus have decided the best way to protect the village is to wipe the British out.  

Both companies of regulars failed to form close order as the Zulus came nearer and nearer

As we came up on the village
A swarm comes flowing out
Like an ants nest being stirred up by a kid
Too slow to form in ranks we was
So the Captain yells out "Fire!"
And by 'eck, aim and fire is what we did

Four shot down by B Company.

And they fail their pin test.

Company A joins in, killing two more.

And another pin on the unit.

The Mounted Infantry open fire on the Zulus in the village, getting eight hits.  At long range this is halved, for four kills.

And they become pinned too.

Then, in a daring move, Lieutenant Fraser advances on the Zulus to his front and has his men throw spears and fire the few muskets they have.  Only two Zulus fall...

But the sheer audacity of this move causes the Zulu unit to be stunned into inaction.

Only the Zulus in the village fail to rally but the other two are unable to act this turn while they recover.

The Zulu reinforcements move ever closer.

The NNC again throw spears and fire the few muskets they could reload, getting three more kills.

And again pinning the unit.

Company B gets another five kills.

And a pin.

A Company's fire leaves a single survivor.

Who now has a double pin all to himself.

The Mounted Infantry fail to move, so it's on to rallying.  Only the lone Zulu in front of Company B fails, and he backs away from them shouting insults and drumming on his shield with his assegai. 

The reinforcements are getting dangerously close.

A little bit of overkill from Company B puts the lone Zulu out of his misery.

And this disheartens the unit facing the NNC.

Who bravely charge in, killing three for the loss of two of their own.

And causing a second pin on the unit.

The Zulus in the village lose another man.

And seek cover from the highly accurate long range fire.

The pinned units both fail to rally.

But the reinforcements have finally reached them.

Gawd bless Martini Henry
And the rifles what they make
Gawd bless the lads who make the bullets too
Fire and load and fire again
We drove old Johnny off
And we dared to hope our troubles now were through

There was a pause in the action as the regulars formed up in close order and the flanking forces fell back.  The Zulus in the village rallied and a threatening line of Zulus was formed for another attack.

Fall in, at the double
Close up in two ranks
And so we does, all falling into line
Rows of bayonets gleaming
As we wait for their advance
And the Captain's smiling, saying we'll be fine

The NNC fall back further and the regulars wheel to refuse their left flank.  Superb long range fire from the Mounted Infantry sees to three Zulus advancing past the village.

Successfully pinning the unit.

But they rally, as does the unit on the other flank.

Not quite your classic Zulu attack, they have two horns but nothing in the centre.

The Mounted Infantry pour devastating fire on the nearest Zulu unit, more in hope of a pin, but seven kills will do nicely, thank you very much.

And with -7 for kills even a double six sees them get the pin they needed.

B Company gets one kill against the tip of the right horn.

But no pin this time.

And the left tip of the horn rallies.

The crisis point of the battle approaches.

Johnny Zulu charges forwards
And we fire and fire again
And wonder why he doesn't run away
And how much ammo have we got
And will it be enough
And will we meet our maker this fine day

Volley fire mows down the unit coming over the hill.

And once again even doubly sixes isn't enough to stop them being pinned.

More long range fire from B company causes a kill and forces a pin check.

Which they fail.

The NNC risk their move and fire trick again, to good effect.

And it's a double pin.

The Mounted Infantry use a skirmish action to fire and fall back.

Inflicting yet another pin.

The three pinned units try rallying but only the one on the left succeeds.

Zulu units on the left and right try to charge at the double, the one on the right passes it's activation but rolls too low to reach the NNC, the left flank fails to move.

B Company fires a volley into the Zulus crossing their front.

Pinning them in place.

Once again the Mounted Infantry show their skill at long range fire, I think they deserve an upgrade to modern rifles.

The inevitable pin follows.

And the NNC round off the turn by throwing a few spears to finish off a unit.

Rally attempts again, with only the unit on the extreme right passing, and the only Zulu unit that was eligible to attack again failed it's activation roll.

But we hold them till they waver
Then they start to walk away
They walked away, they didn't turn and flee
And I'm thinking as I watch them go
With their dead strewn all around
John Zulu you're a better man than me

Company B keeps the pressure on the right horn.

Pinning it yet again.

And then Lieutenant Fraser leads the NNC in against them.

The surviving Zulus back off wondering how the NNC got their reputation for being a bit rubbish.

But they don't get to wonder for long as the NNC shoots them down.

A Company breaks into skirmish order as it comes over the hill shooting.

The lone survivor stands defiant.

Then sees the left flank crumble too.

The Zulus give into the inevitable and walk away.

They swear revenge as they watch the village burn.

So we burned down their old village 
And then we marched back home
Exhausted, we was dead upon our feet
But John Zulu won't forget this
He'll be thirsty for revenge
So here's to you John, till the next time we both meet.

Far easier for the British than I expected, but the Zulus had a pretty bad leadership rating and I played them terribly (not deliberately, it was my natural incompetence 😄 ).

The NNC did amazingly well, but having a 'destined for greatness' leader allowing them two actions a turn was the cause of that.

These units and leaders will carry on into future games, along with new units as I get them painted up.  The regulars may be used as different companies too, for a bit of variety.

Sorry for the standard of verse, I'm no Kipling (I can't even make exceedingly good cakes), but it was something I wanted to try doing. 


  1. At first I wondered why it didn't always rhyme, I then I wondered why the verse was reflecting the action so well and then I realised that it was you!
    A very clever idea. Well done :0)

  2. A very enjoyable game report.

  3. Excellent, thanks for posting! I’v got TMWWBK and TSATF and a whole bunch of 10mm troops to paint up... someday.