Posted on 12/01/03 @ 12:00 AM (updated 12/13/03
”First comes the trader, then the missionary, then the red soldier.” (Zulu King Csetswayo kaMpande, when discussing British colonialism’s impact on his people - and his 1879 war with the British).
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This is Version 3 of ZULU !! . Berserker Jerker was clever and persistent in fixing problems which sometimes caused a crash. He, AnastasiaKafka and Ingo van Thiel provided technical, instructional and aesthetic suggestions to help me make it better. OldGrex, 14 Dec 03.
The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 began when Zulu King Csetswayo rebuffed intentionally unreasonable demands made by the British High Commissioner for Southern Africa. In this historically-based campaign, you fight the opening actions of the war -- from two very different perspectives -- on a reasonably accurate map of part of kwaZulu (Zululand).
On January 10th, British Brevet Colonel R.T. Glyn marched proudly into Zululand from Natal Colony, across the Mzinyathi (Buffalo) River at the head of the powerful Number 3 Column - 4300 British, Afrikaner and black native fighting men, plus hundreds of support people and camp followers. This was very easy at first. The Zulu had mobilized their 40,000-man Impi (Army) at Ulundi, their capital, and had a few muskets, but no modern weapons. The British found it simple to advance toward Ulundi on 3 separate axes at once, with Glyn leading the strongest force. His initial goals were to establish an advance base in Zululand (at the foot of a mountain called Isandlwana), and to find the Zulu army. He succeeded at both, but then ...
In High Noon at Isandlwana, you are Tshingwayo, war chief for Csetswayo. With about 25,000 men, you have been racing west from Ulundi for several days to head off the British drive. You must assault and destroy the British invader's force at Isandlwana. You can slaughter great numbers of “Red Soldiers” easily -- as was true in history -- if you fight the Zulu way. The real battle at Isandlwana was a major triumph for the Zulu: over 1300 British and their native auxiliaries were slain in a few hours, including virtually all of a battalion of the 24th Regiment of Foot. This, arguably the most humiliating defeat suffered by British arms in a single battle in two centuries of Empire, came on January 22nd at the hands of mere "heathen savages" partly because the Zulu were adept at war, and partly because Number 3 Column was arrogant, overextended and somewhat undisciplined.
Then, as Lieutenant J.R.M. Chard at Rorke's Drift, back on the Buffalo River that same night, try to stay alive against the onslaught of the Zulu's fearsome uNdi Corps. Your tiny force of green infantry, logistic troops and hospital patients will face odds like those at Thermopylae. As with Leonidas (2400 years ago now), you must defend - neither attack, nor retreat, nor surrender is an option. If you fail to hold your post at kwaJimu, the Zulu will have an unimpeded route to the major depot at Helpmekaar and then into the heart of Natal, and HM Government at home may well fall. However, the fight at Rorke's Drift (if your hand keeps it true to history), will ennoble both the Zulu Impi and Company B/2/24th Foot through the crucible of one of the most stirring examples of inspired and tenacious defense (by the Brits), and of endurance and raw courage in the attack (by the Zulu), in the annals of warfare. You will give the Queen and Parliament the heart to go on in the wake of the debacle at Isandlwana. The Zulu want to wash their assegai with your blood. Only if you are smart, tough and lucky will your troops and Martini-Henry rifles be enough to hold -- and survive. Stiff upper lip, now, Chard -- you’re an Officer of Engineers; you can do this!!
The first scenario is easy to win. Some will find the second scenario moderately challenging. My purpose in creating ZULU !! (when I started about 2 years ago -- before my job got so intense I got away from the game) was to teach myself and perhaps newbie players basic AOK:TC Fixed Force management skills, try out then-new scenario design features, and prattle on a bit about statecraft, military history, tactics and leadership in combat. Be patient, as some parts of the campaign evolve slowly. Learn a little. Have some fun. Ex-Angel OldGrex.
”Here they come, boys!! Black as Hell, and thick as grass.” (A fleeing Isandlwana survivor, to the garrison at Rorke’s Drift, as he rode swiftly past toward Helpmekaar and possible safety).
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Zulu is a very entertaining historical and learning campaign with mild game play. Intended as a learning campaign it provides a moderate challenge for new players, and subject interest for all. Two scenarios creatively depict two of the most notable battles in the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
The game play is easy and fun in this learning campaign with an excellent historic premise. I found the game interesting and enjoyed it from a tour like perspective due to my level of playing skill. So, I'm attempting to review Zulu from both my experience playing and also imaginatively through my memory of when I was new to AoK game play. I did find the objectives amusing if not challenging, and I imagine that a new player will find it mildly challenging and be able to learn and have fun as intended. The learning campaign's playability is very good to excellent as both scenarios are relatively short and paced to keep the player interested and engaged. From a standpoint of the sheer fun I had playing -- this campaign just falls short of the highest rating due in keeping with my precedents. 4+
The Balance is excellent for the learning campaign intention. The balance weighing heavily on the side of the new player was to be expected. New players can learn to build defenses, protect an ally, heal, and garrison during a very easy computer player attack. The instruction is to play the second scenario (Chard at Rorke's Drift) on Hard, and this gives the learner a sense of the aggressiveness of the standard AI on hard. I also thought in contrast to the designers notes that the first scenario (High Noon at Isandlwana) is more of a challenge simply because it has unique objectives to be met that are set in an open design. My rating for balance takes into account the intention of the learning campaign. 5
The tried and true creativity of this campaign is evident, and pretty remarkable in view of the designers history with AoK. What was new then is renewed now in this fine portrayal of the historic subject through game play. The history supplement was a most absorbing and eloquently written account of the fateful day in African history. Player messages are given as a creative dialogue reenactment of the historical characters and subjects. Some pretty good unit choices were made for the portrayal, but my least favorite was the Samurai for Tshingwayo. Many of the units and buildings were named to further enhance the scenario experience, but I only thought Zulu when using the Skirmishers and Elite Mesoamerican units. I thought the Zulu attack at Rorke's Drift might have been portrayed better. Perhaps by having more Skirmishers. The campaign was a touch weak in its intention of a learning campaign, as it might have provided more creative affirming aspects for the new player. It seems that almost by default does this campaign not reach it's potential for excellence in it's intention for learning in the area of creativity (the balance favoring the new player not seen as a creative effort), as Designer Old Grex created it primarily when he himself was attempting to learn. Maybe more creative messages affirming of viable tactics as with the message regarding the loss of the Hospital, would have made this very creative learning campaign excellent. 4
The map did seem reasonably accurate, and moreover it captured KwaZulu (Zululand) geography in what is now South Africa very well for my imagination. The rich and vast landscape created portrayed the real world distances in a relatively accurate way and I felt as if I was transported to the historical location. The technical design was very good too, and especially where elevations and obstacles are given to enhance the learning aspect of the campaign. This was most notable in the second scenario where new players can easily learn to build and maintain defensive structures, while taking advantage of the elevations there. 5
Story and Instructions
Fine instruction screen maps with images greet the player in both scenarios. The History supplements are given in a phenomenally eloquent prose, and captured my imagination and spirited me into the scenarios and the intended historic roles. Instructions were very clear and seemed to enhance the capability of new players to learn Fixed Force management skills inside the great custom scenarios. All players can experience the historic recreation, and the dialogue further portrays the history in excellence. 5
I envy the new player for these fine scenarios to learn on, and recommend this campaign not only to new players but to veteran enthusiasts for an entertaining tour.
Zulu is a historical campaign which was made as a learning campaign to teach newbie’s some new aspects for age of empires. It is based on the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.
Zulu is a very enjoyable learning campaign. It does exactly what it is meant to do. It teaches you new AOK aspects and how to use them efficiently when playing. It certainly did with me. The campaign itself is very fun and historically accurate. The two scenarios are based on true battles of the Anglo-Zulu war and both of them are very entertaining. However they are a bit boring for an experienced player as they are quite easy.
The game is well balanced. It is equally balanced for the new players. It is not too challenging and not too easy. It is the perfect level for any new AOK player. However the campaign is a little bit too easy for more experienced players.
Zulu is a really creative campaign. It is the first player made learning campaign that I have seen which is very enjoyable. It has a good map design, it is historically accurate and it uses some great trigger tricks. I also really like the fact that all of your soldiers in the second scenario have been personalised, given their own names. This makes the game even more enjoyable.
Map Design: 5
The Map Design is another strong point of the campaign. It is quite an accurate design of "Zululand", South Africa. It uses elevation and cliffs well and also has some great terrain mixing. The map has some great eye-candy and an outstanding use of GAIA objects, which improve the map design much, much more.
The story of the Anglo-Zulu war is told really well in this campaign. It is and entertaining story which keeps the player wanting to play. It is accurate and easy to follow. The Instructions are clear and easy to understand. They guide the player through the game, teaching them everything along the way. Both scenarios also have very nice and well written introductory screens which are both accompanied with very nice images.
A great learning campaign which I recommend to any new player.