Age of Rifles: Last Stand at the Little Sphinx – Turn 1 & 2

After my quest to find wargames around the Anglo-Zulu War era, I found the Isandlwana scenario in the rather aged Age of Rifles game. I decided to run through the historic battle as an AAR.

I should point out that the “Little Sphinx” in the title, was the British nickname for the tor known as Isandlwana, literally “little house”  or “little foot” in Zulu. The shape of the hill reminded the British of the Great Sphinx of Giza and so the name stuck.


The Isandlwana scenario text is short and sweet.

The scenario has a number of Victory Point (VP) objectives marked by Union Jacks. All 12 VP’s are currently owned by the British troops. Their job is to hold on to as many of them as possible.

Here we see the initial British position around the “Little Sphinx”. We have a solid defense at the northern tip of the Tor. Our troops in position are mainly the 24th Regiment of Foot, however we have some Natal Native Contingent (NNC) and out scouting some Natal Native Horsemen (NNH).

On the eastern side (just south of a Conical Koppie) we have a small group of NNC troops surrounding the 6 pounder Rocket Battery.

Riding in the Northern plains, scouting around the Spur, we have a couple of NNH troops.

Immediately you get a sense we have very little in the way of troop numbers, considering there are 12 VP’s to hold. This is going to be a tricky defensive battle, and since I know about the historical outcome of the Battle, I already have a sense of foreboding.

Turn 1

As the Zulu’s come around the Koppie they step into the sights of my NNC rifles. Without protection they take some casualties. And so the first shots ring out in the Battle of Isandlwana.

Around the “Little Sphinx” the troops shuffle about nervously, but there is little to do other than to issue orders for “free fire”. Affording my men the luxury of “letting loose” as soon as the Zulu horde reaches 5 hexes away from my lines.

Other than shift my NNH scouts southwards away from the hills, the remainder of Turn 1 is uneventful.

Turn 2

As more Zulu’s round the Koppie in the east, I ready my 6 pounder Rocket Battery. As you can see the lethality ramps up the closer the range, however this “Large Victorian firework” was very inaccurate.

Impetuously I unleash my rocket. Casualties at this range are disappointing.

I move my NNH troops south into the Dongas (gullies) and dismount them. I’ve decided they are to be my forward offense, unleashing what they can from their defensive positions to take a little sting out of the Zulu spears. These brave horsemen will have to put up with overwhelming odds stacked against them with little in the way of support from troops around the Sphinx. They fire a few meagre rounds and chip away at the incoming tidal wave of spear wielding warriors speeding down the northern slopes.

The situation from the strategic map is as follows at the end of Turn 2. The majority of the Zulu force is ploughing down the northern slopes, past the Spur, with a splinter group rounding the Koppie to engage the NNC and the Rocket Battery. The men stranded in that precarious forward position, holding the three VP objectives there, are going to have a really tough job ahead of them. There is absolutely zero chance of support. If I have to, I’ll pull what I can back to the Dongas just east of the Sphinx and make a stand there. Forsaking those 3 outlying VP’s.

Looking at the Scenario Report, we can see it prematurely states this is a Brilliant British Victory. I suspect that will all change when the Zulu’s get down on to the flats and start the charge to engage my troops in melee.

Tune in for the turns ahead..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ian Bowes / spelk