The defense of the Mission Station at Roarke’s Drift in January of 1879 was a small action in British military history that was at the time by a government hungry for heroes in the wake of the disastrous battle at Isandlwhana. The British needed something positive to come out of this (largely unpopular) war, so they chose to recognize the incredible action at nearby Roarkes Drift, where less than a hundred British soldiers held off several Zulu impis intent on wiping them out. Roarke’s Drift was a sideshow in the Zulu War, yet the heroic defense by the plucky force of Britons resulted in one of the largest awards of the Victoria Cross in British History. Of course, we Americans became aware of this action through the 1964 film ZULU! (and what a great flick that is). Games simulating the relentless waves of Zulus attacking the mission has been done before. Zulus on the Ramparts! is an interesting solitaire game on the same subject.
Victory Point Games is a new publisher of strategy games that offers a broad range of smaller scope games based on historical subjects at a price point that wavers between “very attractive” to “dirt cheap”. Zulus on the Ramparts! is based on the earlier War of Israeli Independence, which I also own and have played several times. The mechanics are easy to pick up and easy to teach. Zulus attack the center objective of the Mission along a series of four predetermined axis of attack— “the head, horns, chest and loins” mentioned in the movie. The Zulus approach via random chit draw—sometimes one space, sometimes two or three- which can be a very hairy reminder of what an attack by a screaming horde is like. The British player responds with hero and action cards that combat Zulu hordes as fast as they can. Once the Zulus enter the interior of the mission, the game becomes rather bleak for British chances of Victory, but it is still possible. Zulus on the Ramparts! is quite cinematic from start to finish, and lots of fun.
Here’s a very well done video review of ZULUS ON THE RAMPARTS, done by “Beanbag1982″, whomever that is. I was pleasantly surprised to find this on Youtube– it is extremely well done.