Zulus on the Ramparts! AAR – Part 1

I decided to try something a little different. I’m going to go through an AAR of a boardgame.

The game in question is Victory Point Games “Zulus on the Ramparts!“.

Its a solitaire game, with fairly simple rules, that plays out within 30mins to 1 hour play. Its quite portable, and is ideal if you fancy a bit of tense defensive action in a bitesize chunk. It also captures the desperation of the British Colonial troops trapped at Rorke’s Drift, fending off wave after wave of Zulu ibutho.

I don’t play a great deal of boardgames to be honest, but with my unquenchable thirst for all things themed around the Anglo-Zulu war, I had to have this one.

Since this AAR will be a bit of an experiment, I’m not sure it will work out interesting at all. So bear with me. I’ll try and breathe life into shuffling some cardboard counters around on a paper map. As you might have guessed I’m a bit fan of visually representing the action, so I will be using a representation of the board and counters. I will NOT be displaying the original map or counter artwork, nor will I display the cards or explain all rules in fine detail – I don’t want to document the entire game so that it can be illegally replicated without Victory Point Games having the chance to sell their very entertaining product.

The map I’ve used was created by Mya (EmeraldYam) over at BoardGameGeek. It is a pocket version of the map, so that you can pack the whole game away in a small portable tin, and take it on holiday with you. I’d like to thank Mya for allowing me to use the map and everhat (Everett Hathaway) for  inspiring the structure of this AAR.

I’m a newcomer to the game, so I may interpret some of the rules and exceptions wrongly, and I may not use the most sophisticated combinations of abilities but please feel free to comment.

So without a further ado, lets get on with it…


There are four tracks leading into Rorke’s Drift and I’ve randomly assigned the following Zulu ibutho to the Buffalo Horn formations.

  • CHEST – uThulwana (Strength 5/5)
  • LOINS – inDluyengwe (Strength 3/3)
  • LEFT HORN – inDlondo (Strength 4/4)
  • RIGHT HORN – uDloko (Strength 2/2)


The players starting hand always has the two main heroes of the Battle, namely, Lieutenant John Chard and Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead, along with a card to start the action.

Here’s the board at initial setup (Turn 0) – you’ll notice I’ve used my counters from my Advanced Tactics Invasion of Zululand scenario

I’ve used C (Chest), L (Loins), LH (Left Horn) and RH (Right Horn) on the counters to indicate their part in the formation, along with the strength of the unit. To Win the game you have to kill all the Zulu ibutho, or last until the Relief Column arrives. To Lose the Zulu’s have to get to the Victory position indicated by the Zulu Victory counter (V). In addition, we also have a counter on the board to indicate it is currently daytime, and one which symbolises a lack of Ammo and Water supplies (inside situation).

The game kicks off by drawing an event from the Impi pot, we then process the event, play any actions that the cards in our hand allow, and then draw a new card and make available a hero if we want. The whole cycle repeats every turn after a little housekeeping.

Turn 1

Impi: All ibutho advance 1 space forward. The zulu’s begin their feverish charge forward, with thoughts of washing their spears in the blood of these arrogant British invaders!

Action: I take Lt Chard out of my hand, and make him “available” by placing him face up on the table – this is known as Putting Forth a hero. Heroes made available can be used to perform various actions, or they can be surrendered back to your hand, or even discarded to perform exceptional actions. Lt Chard steps forward as soon as hears a large mass of Zulu’s are encroaching upon the camp.

Draw: I take a Commit the Reserve card from the draw deck.

Hero: I put forth Lt Bromhead and make him available. Chard calls for Lt Bromhead, we must prepare.


Turn 2

Impi: Theres a building on fire! (I roll to check which building) – It’s the Storehouse! Somehow, whether by cigarette or oil lamp accident, or a rogue burning spear our valuable stores are alight!

Action: Lt Chard sets about creating Barricades inside the Drift. The task is 1/3 complete. I return Lt Bromhead to my hand to enable a free action. Chard organises  a complement of men to begin lashing the wagons together to form a Laager, and they start piling mealie bags up as high as they can. Lt Bromhead leaves to findd more men to help.

(Free Action): Lt Chard uses the extra manpower to progress the Barricade construction to 2/3 complete. Chard pushes the welshmen hard and they manage to build in double quick time.

Draw: I draw Lieutenant Adendorff into my hand. Lieutenant Adendorff arrives to lend a hand.

Hero: I put forth Lt Bromhead and make him available.


Turn 3

Impi: Loins advance 2 spaces forward. The young and  over enthusiastic ibutho in the loins charge around the camp and begin to push towards the cattle Kraal there.

Action: Lt Chard finishes construction on the Barricades and is returned to my hand. With a barricade in place, the Zulu Victory counter (V) is retreated back into the Inner Barricade square (-1). Chard and his engineering contingent have finished the Laager, pulling the main body of men into the inner barricade.

(Free Action): Lt Bromhead distributes Ammo and Water to the troops, and returns to my hand also. Bromhead and helpers set to hand out the water cans, quenching the soldiers thirst and shoving a few rounds of ammunition into their sweating fists.

Draw: I draw out Commissary Dalton. Commissary Dalton arrives to help out.

Hero: I put forth Lt Bromhead and make him available.


Turn 4

Impi: The Chest advance 1 square forward! The tough and seasoned Chest begin their war chant and stomp forwards towards the front of the hospital.

Action: I play “Here they come!” Volley card on the Loins at Medium Range. Two dice are rolled and I score a (3, 2). Both misses.

An initial volley of fire is called for, as cries of “Here they come!” ring out across the line. The zulu’s are still at a difficult distance to cause major casualties. The volley misses.

Draw: I draw the “Hark the orders” card.

Hero: I put forth Lt Chard, making him available. Chard dusts himself off and sets himself ready for the battle to come.

Discard: I discard the “Commit the Reserve” card.

[on to Part 2 (Turn 5, 6, 7 and 8 )]

2 thoughts on “Zulus on the Ramparts! AAR – Part 1

  1. Hey

    Was enjoying your report but it seems to just end. Is there something Im missing or will you be posting the rest of your AAR?

    would love to see how this works out.

    I have a game blog as well and enjoy reading other AARs


  2. The other parts (I’ve only done 5 parts up to now, currently up to Turn 20) are published, if you search for ‘Zulus’ it should display them all.

    I’ll get them linked to the main AAR page for Zulus on the Ramparts ASAP.

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Ian Bowes / spelk