A few weeks ago I began to give serious thought to my next big project, the Anglo Zulu War. The first book I bought was Daniel Mersey's Wargamer's Guide to The Anglo Zulu War published by Pen and Sword Publishing. I wanted to begin this project with a broad overview of the period, the forces involved and the type of actions that this conflict brought up (its not all Hollywood after all!). This book fulfilled that brief completely.
The book is divided into seven chapters starting with an overview of the conflicts origins, its stuttering progress, major actions and inevitable conclusion. There are better history's of the war out there but this is meant as an overview and in that respect it does a very clear job in setting the scene. This is followed by a review of the armies, their organisation and the equipment used. Again this is necessarily brief but pretty concise and I really felt that it was a good place to start for the beginner in this period.
Now we start to get to the meat of this book and the next two chapters focus on the key battles of the war and how to wargame the campaign. As well as the big set piece battles and encounters like Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift there were many much smaller skirmishes that offer a wealth of options for the wargamer. I'm still deciding at what level I want to model my troops so I found this section very useful. After this the next chapter looks at some of the rule sets available. Its not comprehensive but it does cover many of the main sets available commercially and as free downloads. I found this very useful and its given me some ideas of rules I'd like to explore.
The next section reviews some of the miniature manufacturers for this period. For me this was the least useful section, I want to stick with 6mm so I'm limited to just a couple of manufacturers. But for those that have yet to decide this section does give a pretty comprehensive review of what is available out there in other scales. I suspect though that most wargamers will come to this period already with certain ranges in mind so I'm not sure how useful this section will be. The final chapter however focuses on scenarios that could be played and I felt this was quite useful as it helped me have some idea of what would work at different scales and what would make for interesting games.
I found the writing very engaging and easy to follow. There is a lot of information in this book but it never feels like wading through a text book. I did come away from it with a lot of things to think about and in that respect its proved to be a pretty good starting point for my Zulu war project.