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Rorke's Drift - It's Jolly Deadly, Old Boy!

A set of rules for 15mm figures

By Chris Ferree


On the 22nd & 23rd of January 1879, 4,000 Zulus made a series of attacks on the British supply station at Rorke's Drift. For a day and a night the 141 defenders fought off wave after wave of attack. In the end, British bullets and bayonets won the day.

This game is a simulation of that action. The Zulu player can make three assaults upon the British defenses with all of his figures. The British player must defend against these attacks without any replacements.

Now let's begin the epic of Rorke's Drift

Equipment Needed


Figure Scale- 1 figure = 5 men. 1 personality figure = 1 man (or dog)
Ground Scale- 1 inch = 10 yards

Figure Base Sizes- 1/2" x 1/2" (use a 1" x 1/2" for the Induna figure if it is on horseback) 10- 3" x 3" movement trays are needed. These are used to make moving the Zulus up to the barricades easier. (My movement trays are made of sheet metal and my figures have magnetic bases.)

Unit Organization

Zulu- 25 figures make up a Zulu unit called an Iviyo. Ther are 10 Iviyo in the Zulu army. 5 Iviyo may have a single rifle armed sniper figure. In addition, there is 1 overall commander, Dabulamanzi, the Induna.

British- 5 enlisted men and a sergent make up a British unit called a section. There are 4 sections in the British command. There are also two officers, Lt. Chard, the O. I. C., and Lt. Bromhead. Also represented are the personalities Colour Sergeant Bourne, Surgeon Reynolds, Assistant Commissary Dalton, Chaplin Smith, and Pip.

Sequence Of Play

  1. Zulu player maps his starting positions.
  2. British player deploys his troops.
  3. Mix up the Movement Counters.
  4. Draw a Movement Counter. The Indicated unit is active and takes its turn.
    1. The active unit moves.
    2. The active unit fires.
    3. The active unit engages in close combat.
  5. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all units have moved.
  6. Check for building fires.
  7. Check Zulu resolve.
  8. Repeat steps 4 through 9 until Zulu resolve fails or all of the British are killed.
  9. If there are British troops still alive, then perform the following steps:
    1. The British may make 1D6 attempts to patch up wounded figures provided Surgeon Reynolds is not wounded or seriously wounded.
    2. Make 1D6 fire checks for any buildinf that was burning at the end of the round. If the hospital is burning, the troops inside may be evacuated without any penalty between rounds.
  10. Repeat Steps 1 through 10 The Zulu player will get to use all of his figures, the British playe can only use uninjured and wounded figures. This sequence may be played through up to three times, the third round is a night attack. If any (human) British troops survive all three rounds, then they are the winners. If the Zulus kill all of the redcoats then they have won.

1. Zulu player maps his starting positions. There are a number of squares labeled "Zulu Starting Position" arranged around the sides of the map. At the beginning of each round, the Zulu player marks the 10 squares on the map that his units will start in. Only one unit may occupy a particular starting location. Snipers and the Induna figures do not need to be indicated on the map. Their initial deployment is done in step 3.

2. British player deploys his Troops. The British player now arranges his figures within the fortifications. The following restrictions apply to British deployment:

  1. In the first round, one figure must be placed in each of the back (shaded) rooms of the hospital. This is the only time that figures may be deployed in those rooms. Once a figure is placed in a back room of the hospital it can notbe moved out unless the building is on fire or the Zulus break in. (See Movement Rules below)
  2. No more than one British figure may be deployed in a particular room, though figures may be moved in to an occupied room during play.
  3. No more than 4 figures can occupy a single room in either building.

3. Zulu player deploys his troops. Each unit is placedon an indicated location using the movement trays. In rounds 1 and 2 the Zulu player may pick out up to 5 figures (each from a different unit) to act as snipers. These are set off of the movement tray, next to its parent unit.

Snipers act at the same time as its parent unit, though they do not have to stay with its parent unit.

The Induna is placed in any empty Starting Location or in contact with any Zulu unit

4. Mix up the Movement Counters. Place the movement counters in to an opaque container (like a coffee cup for example) and shake them up.

5. Draw a movement counter.The unit named on the counter is active and takes its turn.

  1. Move the active unit
    Zulu units-
    The Zulu's movement rate is 2D6 inches. This rate is modified by the following terrain features:
    Oskarberg Terrace -3"
    Fences -2"
    Ditches -1"
    Brush -2"
    Buildings and Barricades Stop movement
    • Special Zulu Moves-
      • Climbing Buildings- It takes a full turn to climb on top of a building. The Zulu figure must start in contact with the building in order to climb it. He will end the turn on the roof directly above the spot that he started the turn. If the roof is defended, the Zulu figure will suffer a -2 close combat modifier if engaged on the turn that it climbs up on to the roof. A maximum 5 Zulu figures may occupy the roof of a particular building.

        To climb off of the building, move the figure to the ground in base contact with the building. The figure ends its move at that spot. Figures that are engaged in close combat while climbing off of a building suffer a -2 modifier to its die roll.

    • Entering Buildings- Zulus may only enter a building by digging through the roof or battering down a door.
      • Battering a door- Only one ZAulu figure may attempt to batter down a particular door in a turn. To make the attempt, the figure must end its move with its base touching the door. Then roll 1D6, if a "5" or "6" is rolled the door is broken down. Add 1 to the die roll for each previous attempt.

        The Zulu figure will suffer a -2 close combat modifier if a British figure is defending in the room on the turn that its door is broken in. Zulus entering a previously battered door suffer a -1 close combat modifier.

      • Digging through the roof-Only one Zulu figure may attempt to dig through the roof in to a particular room. It will take one full turn to dig the hole. The Zulu figure must begin the turn in the spot that he will dig the hole. After a hole is dug, it will remain there for the remainder of the game.

        Once a hole is dug, it can be moved through by moving Zulu figuresover the hole. The figure will end its move in the room directly below the hole. A Zulu figure suffers a -2 close combat modifier on the turn that it drops in to a room. Only one figure per turn may enter a room through a particular hole.

      • NOTE: Zulu's that enter an unoccupied room will not suffer a close combat modifier if engaged later in the turn.

      • Crossing barricabes- When a Zulu figure makes contact with a barricade it stops its movement at that point. If the wall is defended (a British figure is accross the wall and within 1/2" to either side of the Zulu figure) it fights a close combat with the defender. The Zulu suffers a -1 close combat modifier (-2 if at the ledge in along the front barricade).

        If the Zulu wins the combat (or the wall is undefended) the figure is moved on top of the wall. If the figure is engaged in close combat while on the wall it recieves a -1 close combat modifier. A Zulu figure on the barricade may move normally in its next turn. Zulu figures that are directly behind a figure that successfully crosses a barricade may also cross at that spot but, it suffers a -2" movement penalty. Each sucessive figure that crosses at that point sufferes an additional -2" (1st figure=normal move 2nd figure= normal move -2" 3rd figure=normal move -3" etc.).

      • Taking cover- Zulu figures that und their turn with their base entierly in the brush or in a ditch, or are within 3" of the stone fence, rough kraal, on undefended barricade are considered in cover. British shooting a Zulus in cover suffer a -1 modifier to their shooting.
      • Induna rules- The Zulu Induna may move 3D6" inches during his turn. If he ends his turn in contact with a Zulu unit that has not acted, he may order it to move. The unit will move before the next counter is drawn. When its counter is drawn, skip its turn and draw another counter.

    • British Moves- The British movement rate is 3 + 1D6 inches. However, the British figures can not move until a Zulu figure is within 12" of the fortifications. An exception is made for officers and personality figures, which can move as the player wishes. Also, wounded and seriously wounded may be brought to the surgeon's station.

    • Special British Moves
      • Cutting through walls- Figures in the hospital may attempt to cut through the wall to escape if the building is on fire or the Zulus are attempting to break into the room. At the end of its turn, roll 1D6, if a "5" or "6" is rolled the wall is breached. If a Zulu is in the room while attempting to cut through a wall, there is a -1 modifier to the die roll. There is also a -1 modifier applied to both shooting and close combat while cutting through a wall.

        It takes 1 full turn to pass through a hole in the wall. Figures that are engaged in close combat while passing through a hole in the wall recieve a -2 modifier to their close combat roll.

      • Crawling out of windows- It takes a full turn to crawl out of a window. The figure must start in the room with the window. It ends the turn outside, in contact with the building, below the window. Figures that are engaged while crawling out of a window suffer a -2 close combat modifier.

      • Climbing on and off of buildings- This is done in the same manner as for the Zulus.

      • Moving wounded figures- Wounded figures may move on their own at 1/2 speed. Seriously wounded figures must be moved by another figure. If moved by an uninjured figure he is moved at 1/2 speed if moved by a wounded figure, they move at 1/4 speed. Calculate the normal move then divide the total by 2 or 4 respectively.

      • Special rules for Pip- Pip moves with Surgeon Reynolds and must stay within 1/2" from base edge to base edge of the doctor. If a Zulu moves to attack the Surgeon, he must first fight Pip. Pip gets a +1 close combat modifier and is subject to the effects of hits just like any other British figure.

        If the Surgeon is killed or seriously wounded, Pip will stay with the body until the end of the battle.

  2. Fire Combat-
    • Zulu Snipers- When the sniper's parent unit is active the sniper may fire. To do so, the Zulu player nominates a target. There must a clear line of sight (it can not cross over a Zulu unit or building) from the firing figure to the target figure. Figures inside of the buildings can not be shot at by snipers.

      To determine the results of the sniper fire use the chart below:
      Zulu Sniper Fire Table
      Target Type
      To Hit
      Enlisted Roll 1D6: 1-5= miss 6=hit
      Sergeant, personality or officer Roll 2D6 2-10= miss 11,12= hit

      If a hit is scored, determine the seriousness of the wound using the "Effects Of Hits" table below.

    • British Shooting- Each figure of the active unit that can shoot may do so. Surgeon Reyolds, Chaplin Smith, Asst. Commissary Dalton, Pip, and seriously wounded figures can not shoot. The British player may nominate a single Zulu figure or a Zulu unit as a target. Fire for each active figure may be directed at a different target. There must be a clear line of sight to the nominated target.

      To determine the results of the fire use the chart below:
      British Firing Table
      Shooting At Special Zulu Targets
      Induna(out to max. range) Roll 2D6: 2-11= miss 12=hit
      Sniper(out to max. range) Roll 1D6: 1-5= miss 6= Hit
      Modifiers To Shooting At Other Zulu Targets
      Firing figure is wounded -1
      Target is in cover -1
      Smith or Dalton is within
      1" of firing figure
      Daytime Ranges
      0 to 12" Roll 1D6: 1-3= miss 4-6= hit
      Over 12" Roll 1D6: 1-4= miss 5,6= hit
      Nighttime Ranges
      0 to 6" Roll 1D6: 1-3= miss 4-6= hit
      Over 6" Roll 1D6: 1-4= miss 5,6= hit

      Zulus that are hit are removed from play for the remainder of the round. The exception is the Induna who is rolled for on the "Effects of Hits" table. If the Induna is seriously wounded or killed, he will not come back for later rounds.

  3. Close Combat Close combat occurs when a Zulu figure and a British figure are in base contact or across a barricade (within 1/2" to the left or right of the British figure). In buildings, close combat occurs when a British figure and a Zulu figure occupy the same room.

    An active Zulu figure that can, must iniate close combat. An active British figure has the option not to engage in close combat, unless he is in a room also occupied by a Zulu figure, in which case close combat is mandatory.

    To determine the results of close combat each player rolls 1D6 and adds the appropriate modifiers. The high score is the winner. A figure that is engaged by more than one enemy will determine the results of close combat for each assailant seperately.

    Close Combat Modifiers
    British Modifiers
    Wounded -1
    Cutting through wall -1
    Moving through wall or window -2
    Zulu Modifiers
    Over barricade -1
    Over barricade at ledge -2
    On barricade -1
    Dropping through roof -2
    Breaking through door -2
    Entering broken/open door -1

    A british figure that loses a close combat is pushed back 1". British figures (and the Zulu Induna)determine the seriousness of their wounds using theee the "Effects Of Hits" table. Other Zulu figures are removed from play.

    Seriously wounded figures that are contacted by an enemy figure are killed.

Effect of hits- For each British figure (and the Zulu Induna) that was hit by rifle fire or lost a close combat roll 1D6 on the table below
Effects Of Hits
Die Roll
1 Scratch, no effect
2-3 Wounded
4-5 Seriously wounded
6 Killed

Wounded figures may still fight, but at reduced abilities. The wounded figure should be marked for easy recognition. Wounded figures that recieve a second wound (or serious wound)are counted as seriously wounded.

Seriously wounded figures can not fight or move. Replace the figure with a face up casualty counter.

Killed figures perform no further function in the game. If the player wishes, he can mark the spot where the brave man fell with a face down casualty counter.

Patching up wounded figures- Surgeon Reynolds may attempt to aid wounded and seriously wounded figures during the battle. Only one attempt may be made per turn during a round. A figure may only be treated once during the game for a particular wound.

To make the attempt, both the Surgeon and the patient must be contact. Wounded men can be attended to at the wall, but seriously wounded men must be taken to the Surgeon's station (the veranda of the storehouse) to be helped. When the Surgeon is active roll 1D6 and consult the table below:

Surgeon's Aid Table
Extent Of Wound
Result Of Aid
Wounded 1-4= No Effect 5-6= Wound repaired, good as new
Seriously Wounded 1-5= No Effect 6= Now only wounded

6. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all units have acted- Continue drawing counters and acting with units until all of the units have acted.

7. Check for building fires- If at any time during the turn a Zulu figure was in contact with a building, ther is a chance that the building will catch fire. Roll 1D6 for each building that qualifies, if a "5" or "6" results the building is on fire. The fire will start on the roof over a randomly determined room. Place a fire marker on the roof at the spot of the fire.

At the end of each turn check to see if the fire spreads. Roll 1D6, if a "5" or "6" results, the fire spreads to a randomly determined adjacent room. The room that the fire spread from is consumed in flames and any figures in it are killed. Add one to the die roll for each turn that the fire does not spread. Once the fire spreads this modifier is reset to zero.

If a building is on fire at the end of a round, make 1D6 fire checks between the rounds.

8. Check Zulu resolve- At the end of each turn, if the Zulus have lost 20 or more figures in the round, then the Zulus must check their resolve. Roll 1D6 and consult the chart below. If the number is listed in the proper row of the table, the Zulus will continue the fight. If the number is not listed, then the Zulus fall back to regroup and the round is over.

Zulu Resolve Table
Zulu Figures Lost
Die Roll To Stay
20-29 1-5
30-39 1-4
40-49 1-3
50-59 1-2
60 or more 1

9. Repeat steps 4 through 8 until the Zulu's resolve fails or all of the British are killed- After all of the units have acted, the fires have been checked, and the Zulu's resolve is determined, the round is over. If the Zulus continue the fight, put the counters back in the cup and start a new turn.

If the Zulu resolve fails or all of the British are killed then the round is over. If British figures are left, the British player may make 1D6 attempts to patch up wounded(seriously wounded figures may be moved to the Surgeon's station for free), provided Surgeon Reynolds is not wounded or seriously wounded. Also, 1D6 fire checks are made for each building that is burning.

If all of the British figures are killed then the game is over and the Zulus win.

10. Repeat steps 1 through 10- After the British patch up their wounded and made any fire checks needed, play starts again at step 1. The Zulu player will get to use all of his figures, the British only those that are uninjured or wounded.

The third round is fought at night and the following rules apply:

Optional Rule For Chard and Bromhead- Use the British unit markers for shooting only. The British player can only move a unit when the Chard or Bromhead counter is drawn. To move a unit the active officer must be within 2" of the unit. The player may then move the unit. The officer may move with the unit or remain in place. The unit does not fire at this time, it may fire when its counter is drawn. An officer may only move 1 unit during the turn.

If either Lt. Chard or Lt. Bromhead is killed or seriously wounded then Colour Sergeant Bourne may be used to move units. If both Chard and Bromhead are down then Dalton may move units. If all four of the above mentioned characters are incapacitated then the sergeants may act on their own.

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