Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rorke's Drift: Out of the Box (A review)



Well, no sooner had I finished up my last batch of 10mm medievals when I I found the Old Glory boxed set of Rorkes Drift waiting for me. I received it almost exactly two weeks after ordering, which is great considering times for casting and shipping. And this sucker is heavy...
I considered the Warlord 28mm Rorkes Drift with plastic figures but realized that I would never have a table large enough to do it justice. Furthermore, it came with plastic figures and, well, let's just say that glue is my mortal enemy. Any plasic figures that I glued together would look like people who got rejected from a leper colony because they were not healthy enough. Furthermore, I paint 28mm figures at about a rate of a figure a day when I am working in batches. Doing a horde of Zulus would leave me a very old man before I was finished. Instead, I went for the Old Glory 15mm set, and I'm glad I did.

The set comes with a serviceable set of skirmish rules, but I think I will stick with Smooth and Rifled. Of greater value is the schematic of the compound. I figure a 6x4 table should be more than plenty to give the Zulus room to maneuver and for the British rifles to do their bloody work at range.

Here are the Zulus. 300 of 'em. I like the castings a lot, and what little flash there was could be picked off with a stout thumbnail. There are about a half-dozen poses (plus another two with rifles), making for a good variety within the warband. The pack you see below contains the shields. 300 of them. Remember what I said about glue? They all have to be fixed to the Zulu arms. There are pegs cast for guidance, but I had to file down or remove most of these, as they stood up too far. By the time I got the first 20 shields mounted on the Zulus, my fingers were so crusted with glue that I probably could have secured a space in that leper colony.


Now we come to the Brits. The bags are a lot lighter compared with those of the Zulus! The small pack has three officers, and I presume the larger one has 59 infantrymen. There are five infantry poses (standing firing, kneeling firing, at ready, loading, and what is either a charge or hip-firing). I have seen others quibble with the size and shape of the helmets, but they look good enough to me.


Next come mealy bags, biscuit boxes, and accessories like the stairs of the hospital. I was surprised to see that these were cast in metal, not resin. They are solid and will make good game accessories. Both bags and boxes are stacked very neatly. The RSM must have been a stickler for detail!



Finally, the buildings. The storehouse, the hospital, and even the tiny bakehouse are all represented. These are cast in resin and have removable roofs. I was glad of this, since part of the fun of Rorkes Drift is the desperate fighting inside the hospital. The buildings are nicely scaled with low roofs on which to perch figures. The hospital does not have a second storey in which to station figures. The stairs go up to a tiny loft door. The floor plans inside are simple, and perhaps they could be broken up further with dividers if I were so inclined (though I'm not likely to be!). The doors can be removed (I won't) and some of the open windows have flash in them. I realize that this is part of the casting process that cannot be avoided, but I have yet to find a clean and elegant way to remove it. Also included is the large kraal and the last redoubt. I have no doubt that these are to scale, but as I am mounting my troops on pennies, I suspect they will both get cramped when occupied by troops.





Overall, I'm very happy with the value and quality of the boxed set. I've never tried a skirmish-level game with 15mm before, but I think this is the right scale for this game. I'd never have the time or patience to do justice to 300 28mm zulus!

Now to watch the movies again for inspiration, and then off to fetch my glue and paints.
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