BY JINGO - Colonial History & Wargames Page

Islandlawana - Rules for the battle and variations thereof

By Chris Ferree

On January 22,1879 the main Zulu army Attacked a British column at Isandlawana. The British were able to hold their extended firing line until the native horse began to run out of ammunition. The reduction of fire allowed the Zulus to charge home and destroy the defenders.

This scenario will allow players to refight the battle as it occurred or vary the problem with circumstances that "could have" taken place.

Equipment Needed - The figures as described in the order of battle, Also this set of rules, a map of the battlefield 2 six-sided dice, and 1 card of game markers

The figures should be mounted on bases. I use " square bases for the Zulus and British enlisted men, " round bases for British officers, sergeants, and the Induna that are on foot. Mounted figures should be mounted on a " x 1" base. Also, it is handy to make movement trays for the Zulus. If the Zulus bases are made of metal, then a movement tray can be constructed out of magnetic sheet cut to a 2 3/4" square. Otherwise, movement trays can be made out of card stock.

Players will need to provide a measuring device ( a steel tape measure works best ). Players may also provide additional terrain, such as a green table covering, model trees and brush, and fences. These items increase the visual appeal of the game and also its enjoyment.

Scales- Figure Scale - 1 figure = 10 men. Officers and personality figures = 1 man

Ground Scale - 1" = 50 meters.

Base Sizes- Foot - " x "

Mounted " x 1"

Unit Organization- Zulu- A Regiment is made up of an Induna and a number of movement trays as specified in the order of battle. 25 figures make up a Zulu movement tray.

Regiments are grouped together to form the left and right horns, chest and loins of the Zulu attack formation. There is an Induna commanding each division as well as an overall commander.

British- A battalion is made up of a battalion commander and a number of companies. Each company is made up of a company commander and a number of enlisted men. The number of companies and enlisted men for each are listed in the order of battle.

Sequence Of Play - 1. Determine the situation at the start of the battle.

2. Zulu player maps his starting positions.

3. British player deploys his troops.

4. Zulu player deploys his troops.

5. Mix up the Movement Counters.

6. Draw a Movement Counter. The indicated unit is active and takes its turn

A. Check unit resolve.

B. Move the active unit.

C. The active unit shoots.

D. The active unit engages in close combat.

7. Repeat step 6 until all units have acted

8 Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all of the Zulu regiments have been broken or all of the British are killed or escape.

1. Determine the situation at the start of the battle. The following steps may be used to change the situation at the beginning of the battle. Players should feel free to modify, pick from, or disregard this section as they see fit. It is included to give some reasonable variables to the problem.

A. British Camp - Roll 1D6

1-5 The camp is set up historically (See map)

6 Chelmsford follows hi own advice and laagers the wagons. Form a square with the wagons (3 to a side) on the wagon park.

B. Further Defense- Roll 1D6

1-5 No Defenses (historical set-up)

6 Thorn bush barricades formed around tents. A wall of thornbush is constructed around the perimeter of the camp (2 " out from the tents).

C. Durnford's Arrival- Roll 1D6

1-5 Arrives at 10:00am (Historical)

6 Durnford is late - Roll 1D6

1,2 = Arrives at 11:00 am (1 hour late)

3,4= 1D6/2 hours late (arrives between 10:30am and 1:00pm)

5,6= 1D6 hours late (arrives between 11:00am and 4:00pm)

D. Deployment Of British Troops- This is dependant on the set-up of the camp.

1. Historical Camp (both A. and B. Are historical)- Roll 1D6

1-5 Deploy historically (at least 15" from camp).

6 Troops pulled in , deploy at least 7" from camp.

2. Defensive Camp (either A. or B. is not historical)- Roll 1D6

1-4 Troops pulled in , deploy at least 7" from camp.

5 Up to of the available troops may be put into a fortified position. (The laager or the thornbush redoubt, which ever is present)

6 All of the available troops may be put into a fortified position.

E. Scouts- Roll 1D6

1-4 Scouting done historically

5 Scouting well advanced +1 to Zulu discovery roll.

6 Scouting slow and cautious, -1 to Zulu discovery roll

F. Zulu Discovery Roll- Roll 1D6

1 or less Zulus found 1D6/2 hours past 12:00pm.

2 Zulus found 1D6/2 hours past 11:00am.

3 Zulus found 1D6/2 hours past 10:30am.

4 Zulus found 1D6/2 hours past 10:00am.

5 Zulus found 1D6/2 hours past 9:00am.

6 or more Zulus found 1D6/2 hours past 8:00am.

If the Zulus are not found before 11:30am the camp will begin to break down to move on. The time needed to break down the camp depends on whether or not it is laagered.

Camp is not laagered- It takes 3 hours to pack up the camp. 4 wagons can be put on the road each hour. If a thornbush redoubt was built, it will be destroyed by 12:30pm.

If the Zulus are not found until 2:30pm or later then the British will be in road column.

Camp Is laagered- It takes 6 hours to pack up the camp. 2 wagons are put on the road each hour. If a thornbush redoubt was built, it will be destroyed by 12:30pm.

2. Zulu player determines which Regiments will move off-board. The Zulu player may choose up to two regiments from the right horn and all of the regiments of the loins to move off -board around the rear of the British camp. The entry point for each regiment moving off board must be noted at this time.

3. British player deploys his troops. The British player now arranges his figures on the battlefield. The following restrictions that apply from step 1.

4. Zulu player deploys his troops. Each regiment is placed on an indicated location using the movement traysThe following restrictions apply to the Zulu deployment:

All trays of a regiment must be adjacent to or behind another tray of its regiment.

Regiments of a division do not have to be in contact with each other, but there can not be a regiment from another division between them.

If two or more movement trays are assigned to a particular starting location they will enter the board one at a time through that square as it is vacated by previous tray. The regiments that make up the Loins can not enter on to the board until turn 3 and should be held off-table until their arrival.

The Zulu player may pick out 1 figure from each regiment to act as snipers. These are set next to their parent movement tray. Snipers act at the same time as their parent unit, though they do not have to stay with their parent unit.

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

6. Draw a Movement Counter. The indicated unit is active and takes its turn.

A. Check Unit's Resolve. Zulu Regiments- If the active Zulu regiment has lost 10% or more of its figures it must check its resolve. To make the check, find the Percent Of Figures Lost column the regiment falls in to and roll 1D6. If the score rolled is listed in the Die Roll To Stay row of the regiment's column, the regiment will continue as normal. If the roll is not listed, the regiment is broken and routs.

Zulu Regiment's Resolve Test

Figures in Reg.




Percent Of Figures Lost

10% 15% 20% 25% 30% or More
50 2 stands 5 - 7 8 - 9 10 - 12 13- 14 15 - 49
75 3 stands 8 - 11 12 - 14 15 - 18 19 - 22 23 - 74
125 5 Stands 13 - 18 19 - 24 25 - 30 31 - 37 38 - 124
150 6 Stands 15 - 22 23 - 29 30 - 37 38 - 44 45 - 149
175 7 Stands 18 - 25 26 - 34 35 - 43 44 - 52 53 - 174
200 8 Stands 20 - 29 30 - 39 40 - 49 50 - 59 60 - 199
275 11 Stands 28 - 40 41 - 54 55 - 68 69 - 82 83 - 274
450 18 Stands 45 - 67 68 - 89 90 - 112 113 - 134 135 - 449

Die Roll To Stay






British Companies- An active British company must check its resolve if at least one Zulu movement tray is within 6" or it was shot at by snipers. To make the test Roll 1D6 and add the modifiers from the list below that apply. Find the result on the British Company's Resolve Test table in the column for the company type being tested.

British Company's Resolve Test Mofifiers
Modifier Description
+1 Low on ammo (see shooting rules below)
+1 Each casualty (seriously wounded or killed) the company has taken.
+2 For each Zulu tray with in 6" that is not pinned (see shooting rules below)

(native foot count all trays including those pinned)

+2 Each friendly company retiring within 6" to the front or sides (European units do not count native foot units)
+3 Out of ammo (see shooting rules below)
+4 Each friendly company retreating or destroyed within 6" to the front or sides(European units do not count native foot units)

British Company's Resolve Test



Unit Type
Europeans Native Horse Native Foot
Carry On! 1 - 15 1 - 13 1 - 11
Retire 16 - 22 14 - 18 12 - 16
Rout 23 or more 19 or more 17 or more

Description Of Results-

Carry On!- The unit will perform normally as the player wishes.

Retire-Native Units- The unit moves toward the camp at normal movement rate.

European Units- The unit moves 1D3+3 inches on foot or artillery, 1D6+3 inches if mounted toward the camp. Retiring artillery or mounted cavalry can not fire. Men on foot fire with a -1 modifier.

Retreat-Native Units- The unit moves toward the camp or Fugitives Drift at 1D6+6 inches if on foot, 2D6+6 inches mounted, movement rate. A routing figure can not shoot.

European Units- The unit moves 1D6+3 inches on foot or artillery, 2D6+3 inches if mounted toward the camp. Retiring artillery or mounted cavalry can not fire. Men on foot can fire counting only a "6" as a hit.

Surrounded Units- Native Units- The unit will huddle in a mass. It may not move or fire. It will use the Retreating Close Combat Modifier (-3).

European Units- The unit will form a square. It may move 1D3 inches. Fire and Close Combat are conducted at its current Resolve Level.

B. Move the active unit. The Zulu's movement rate is 2D6 inches. The British Movement Rate is 3 + 1D6 inches for foot troops and 3 + 2D6 inches for mounted troops. Artillery movement is discussed in Special British Moves- Artillery Movement

Special Zulu Moves-First Turn Movement - On the first turn, Zulu regiments get only 1D6 for movement..

Induna Rules- A Zulu Induna may move 3D6 inches during his turn. If he ends his turn in contact with a unit that has not acted, he may order it to move. The unit will then take its turn before the next counter is drawn. When the unit's counter comes up, skip its turn and draw another counter.

Taking Cover- Zulu figures that end their turn in a donga that is not occupied by the firing unit is in cover. Also, a unit that is prone is considered in cover. Going prone or standing up from prone costs 2" of movement for each action.

There is a -1 modifier to British shooting if the target is in cover.

Crossing the laager- When a Zulu figure makes contact with the laager, it stops its movement at that point. If it is defended ( a British figure is across the laager, within " to either side of the Zulu ), it then fights a close combat with the defender. The Zulu suffers a -1 close combat modifier.

If the Zulu wins the combat, it is moved on top of the laager. If the Zulu figure is engaged in close combat while on the laager, it will suffer a -1 close combat modifier. The Zulu figure may move normally next turn.

Pinned Zulus- If a Zulu movement tray loses 3 or more figures in one turn that tray is pinned. A tray that is pinned will not move (except to rout). A tray that is pinned will remain so until it rallies or is not shot at.

To rally a tray determine its situation, roll 1D6, then add the number of British figures that have fired at the tray since its last turn. Subtract 1 from the score if an Induna makes base contact with the unit. Next, find the result on the Zulu Rally Chart:

Zulu Rally Chart
Zulu Situation Result
Stand was not shot at 1-4 rallied; 5,6 remain pinned
Shot by smallarms but no casualties 1,2 rallied; 3-6 remain pinned
Under artillery fire or the stand takes casualties 1 rallied; 2-6 remained pinned
-1 if Induna is with stand

Charging A Retiring Unit- If a British unit is ordered to move away from a Zulu tray to its front (or does so as a result of a resolve test), then any Zulu tray within 6" of the unit may test to see if it will charge. Roll 1D6 and consult the chart below. Subtract 1 from the die roll if the tray is pinned.

Zulus Charging A Retiring Unit
Die Roll Result
1-3 Charge
4-6 Stay put
-1 if Induna is with stand
+1 if stand needs a "1" to rally

If the result is charge, the British unit will make its move. The Zulu tray(s) then determine their movement distance. If the Zulus contact the British unit at this point then a close combat occurs. The British will not get to fire before this combat.

If the Zulus fail to make contact they are returned to the spot where they started the turn and will act normally when their marker is drawn

This type of charge is a bonus move. Trays that have already acted in the turn may make the charge at no penalty and those that have not acted may perform another action when their marker is drawn.

Zulu Off-Board Movement-

Turn OF Entry For Off-Board Movement
Die Roll Point 1 Point 2
1 4 6
2 5 7
3 5 7
4 6 8
5 7 9
6 8 10

Note: Units from the Loins add three turns to their result.

The gamesmaster will secretly determine on which turn the regiment(s) will arrive. On that turn the Zulu regiments counter will be put into the cup. When it is its turn the regiment will start its movement at the edge of the board at the indicated entry point. They may make a normal move from there.

Special British Moves- Fixing Bayonets- British Regular figures start the game with out their bayonets fixed. A unit may be ordered to fix bayonets when it is active. Figures with fixed bayonets suffer a -1 to all shooting ( a natural "6" will always hit). British Regular (except officers) figures without bayonets fixed suffer a -1 to their close combat roll. British Native Levy do not suffer the close combat penalty because they have spears.

Moving Wounded Figures- Wounded figures move at speed. Seriously wounded figures can be moved by a wounded figure at 1/4 speed and by an unwounded figure at speed. Calculate the normal movement rate and divide by 2 or 4 respectively. Stretcher bearers carry wounded or seriously wounded figures at normal rate. Seriously wounded figures that are with unwounded figures may be picked up by stretcher bearers with no movement penalty or risk of attack.

Artillery Movement- Cannon- Limbered- 2D6 inches Prolong- 1D6 inches.

Rockets Limbered 3+1D6 Prolong 1D6 inches.

To show a cannon as limbered, line the crew figures up in the direction of movement. Place the gun at the back of the line pointing to the rear. To show the cannon unlimbered, move the gun to the spot that the lead figure occupied, facing forward and place the crew around the gun.

Limbered artillery can not fire. Artillery may unlimber and fire or move 1D6 inches and unlimber, but not fire in one turn. Unlimbered artillery may move 1D6 inches and fire or fire and limber, but not move in one turn. Artillery may change its direction by 90 to the left or right without being counted as moving.

Artillery units that retire will take their guns. Artillery units that rout will leave their guns.

C. Shooting-

Zulu Snipers- When the sniper's parent unit is active the sniper may fire. To do so, the Zulu player nominates a target. He must be able to trace a line from the firing figure to the target figure without crossing a Zulu unit or intervening terrain.

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
Officer Roll 2D6: 2-11Miss 12= Hit

If a hit is scored determine the seriousness of the wound. (See "Effects Of Hits" below)

British Shooting- Each figure of the active unit that can shoot may do so. The British player may nominate an individual figure as a target for each firing figure, or he may specify a unit as a target. Fire for each figure may be directed at a different target. Figures on foot may fire in two ranks, all other troop types fire only the first rank.

Each artillery crewman is counted as 2 figures when firing.

To determine The results of British fire use the table below:

British Firing Table

Shooting At Special Zulu Targets

Target Type To Hit
Induna Roll 2D6: 2-11= Miss 12= Hit
Sniper Roll 1D6: 1-5= Miss 6= Hit

Modifiers to Shooting To Other Zulu Targets

Firing Figure is wounded -1
Target is in cover -1
Firing figure has fixed bayonet -1
Retiring European foot Figures -1
Retreating European foot figures Roll 1D6: 1-5=Miss 6=Hit
Mounted figures Roll 1D6: 1-5=Miss 6=Hit
Retiring or retreating mounted figures No fire allowed
Retiring or retreating N.N.C. or Sikali Horse No Fire allowed
Range To Hit
Rifle 0 to 6" Artillery 0 -12" Roll 1D6: 1-3= Miss 4-6= Hit
+6 to 12" Artillery +12" - 24" Roll 1D6: 1-4= Miss 5-6= Hit
+12" to 24" Artillery +24" - 48" Roll 1D6: 1-5= Miss 6= Hit
Retreating european foot Figures (at any range) Roll 1D6: 1-5= Miss 6= Hit
Officers pistol 0 to 3" Roll 1D6: 1-5= Miss 6= Hit

Zulus that are hit are removed from play. The exception is an Induna who is rolled for on the "Effect Of Hits" table.

Ammunition- The British carry a limited amount of ammunition to the firing line. When this begins to run low, players will want to resupply their men.

When a unit can send a runner after more ammunition is determined by the type of unit in question. The table below shows the number of turns that a particular unit may fire and how many turns of fire must be expended before more can be requested.

British Ammunition Table
Unit Type Turns Of Fire Turns Used Before Resupply
British Infantry 5 2
All Mounted Troops 3 1
Native Infantry 2 1

Note: The Ammunition table is for firearms only, spears do not need to be resupplied.

Once a unit has used the required amount of ammunition, it may send a runner back for more. Runners move 2D6+3 inches. If the unit did not move in the turn, the runner may be moved after the unit shoots, otherwise, the runner must wait until the next turn.

The runner is moved when the parent unit is active. He will stop when he comes into contact with a supply wagon. If more than one runner is at the wagon, line them up in the order they arrived at the back of the wagon when the Quartermaster for that wagon is active, the player may make his resupply die roll.

British Ammunition Resupply Table
Runner At His Unit's Wagon Runner NOT At His Unit's Wagon
Die Roll Result Die Roll Result
1-3 No Ammo this turn 1-3 Find your own wagon
4-6 1D6 turns of Ammo 4 No Ammo this turn
+1 for each turn the runner waits 5 To the back of the line
6 1D6 turns of Ammo

Runners at a particular wagon can be rolled for until a No Ammo result occurs. Those figures that receive a supply of ammunition may move toward their unit at this time. After that runners move when their unit moves. Once the runner makes base contact with his unit, it is resupplied.

Running Out Of Ammo- After a unit has fired the listed number of turns (and every turn thereafter that it is allowed to fire) the player rolls 1D6 to determine if that unit will be able to fire in the next turn.

Out Of Ammunition Table
Die Roll Result
1-3 May fire with of unit's figures

(Low on ammo for Resolve test)

4-6 Completely out. No fire until resupplied

Note: Once a unit is resupplied it does not use this table until it runs out of ammo again.

D. Close Combat- Close combat occurs when a Zulu figure and a British figure are in base contact or across a barricade.

An active Zulu figure that can, must initiate 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 where 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. Europeans win all ties.

Close Combat Modifiers

British Modifiers

Zulu Modifiers

Description Modifier Description Modifier
Regular without bayonet (except officers) -1
Wounded -1 Over laager -1
Inside of a tent -1 On laager -1
Coming out of donga -1 Coming out of donga -1
Civilian -1
Retiring -1
Retreating Europeans -2
Retreating native allies -3
Europeans in square +1

A British figure which lost a close combat will be pushed back 1". British figures ( and the Zulu Induna) that lose a Close Combat determine the effect of the combat using the "Effect Of Hits" table. Other Zulu figures are removed from play.

Seriously wounded figures that are contacted by a Zulu figure are killed.

Effects Of Hits- For each British figure (or the Zulu Induna) that was hit by rifle fire or lost a close combat roll 1D6 on the table below:

Effects Of Hits Table
Die Roll Effect
1 Scratch, no effect
2-3 Wounded
4-5 Seriously Wounded
6 Killed

Wounded figures may still fight, but at reduced abilities. Replace the figure with one of the wounded figures provided. Wounded figures that receive a second wound (or serious wound) are seriously wounded.

Seriously wounded figures can not fight, nor can they move. Replace the figure with a seriously wounded marker (face up picture). Seriously wounded figures that are contacted by a zulu figure are killed.

Killed figures perform no further function in the game. If the player desires, the spot where the brave man fell can be marked with a killed marker (face down picture).

Patching Up Wounded Figures-The Surgeon may attempt to aid wounded figures during the battle. Only one attempt can be made for a single figure. Three attempts by the surgeon may be made per turn.

To make the attempt, the surgeon and the patient must be in base contact when the surgeon is active. Next roll 1D6 and consult the table below:


Surgeon's Aid Table
Extent of wound Result Of Aid
Wounded 1-5= No Effect 6= Wound repaired, good as new.

For each attempt the surgeon will lose 2" of movement. He can only help as many figures as he can reach, up to three.

7. Repeat step 6 until all units have acted- Continue drawing counters and acting with units until all units have acted.

8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all Zulu Regiments Rout or all of the British are killed or escape. After all of the units have acted If there are units from both sides still on the table, place the movement counters back into the cup and start a new turn.

Once all of the figures of one side have been killed or left the table the game is over.

Click Here To Print Zulu Roster Sheets

Click Here To Print The Zulu Order Of Battle

Click Here To Print The British Order Of Battle

Click Here To Print The Map

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