Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Maori Wars - a descent into madness?

Here we go again. I lasted until Sunday evening but the writing was on the wall long before then. I have now ordered my first batch of figures for the Maori thing. I tried to resist, I really did, but I am just a weak willed wargames nerd; what chance did I realistically have?

On the other hand, I can qualify the purchase and the project reasonably well and for once it does not hang on pretty figures like these Maori warriors by Empress Miniatures...

....or these homesteaders ....

.....oh no. There is actually a logical explanation for once.

When Muskets & Tomahawks first came on the scene I was immediately impressed; I have a thing for quirky rules that also provide a solid framework. I have always been interested in the AWI and skirmish level games and so here seemed an ideal opportunity. I planned games based upon Lexington and Concorde, drew up figure and unit lists and everything....I even bought some figures; and therein lay the rub. Given the skirmish nature of the game I decided on using the magnificent Front Rank 40mm figures, and they truly are magnificent too. The trouble was that I had miscalculated in my eagerness and love of the figures; 40mm is a bit of a bugger when it comes to terrain. Skirmish games are terrain heavy of course and so my plans and enthusiasm sadly and slowly dwindled, psychologically hoisted by my own petard.

Then, thanks to Andy and Roly (see previous Maori post) the answer dawned to my Muskets & Tomahawks problem, use a different period and theatre for the rules. The New Zealand Wars, as all conflicts in that country are now known, provide all the possible scenario types that the rules were designed for; irregular native forces, local militias, Imperial troops, settlers, naval landing parties etc etc. The wars were generally large scale skirmishes, raids, flag pole chopping, just the sort of thing that the rules were meant for. There are a great deal of similarity between the French Indian war and these 'Fires in the Fern' of New Zealand. The weapons are similar enough to make things easy for adaptation as are the troop types. I can use a variety of readily available buildings, a mix of AWI and even some Western Gunfight buildings are perfect for such a frontier colony that was New Zealand in the mid 19th Century.

So, in fact, I have not actually started a new project at all...I have progressed  in a new and exciting direction that will afford me new enthusiasm and an achievable end.....so there....and you cannot say otherwise....la la la la la I'mnotlistening la la la la la


  1. I know next to nothing about the period, but the figures sure do look nice!

    1. Hi Ray,

      The figures really are nice, and were posted off to me today! should be here soon!!!

  2. Very nice figures, I hope this turn out well for you.

    1. Hi Clint,

      You and me both but everything feels right about this project....

  3. I'm sure you'll be delighted with the figures. They are absolutely exquisite, and loaded with character

    Might I suggest the recent Osprey book on the New Zealand Wars will give you a good start on both history and painting info.

    Bear in mind the Empress figures are for the first part of the NZ Wars (ie during the 1840s, and mainly around the Bay of Islands, Wellington and Wanganui). The wars of the 1860s involved troops in completely different uniforms, and often more westernised dress for the Maori. It would be nice if Empress branched into these later wars, but I understand there is no plan to do so.

  4. Hi Arteis,

    I hope they will be delivered today, I will post pics when they do, really looking forward to getting them! The Osprey book is now on order too, found a few other bits for free on amazon too; ebooks for the kindle.

    you make a good point about the period the figures are meant for, I hadn't fully appreciated the scale of change but thinking about it post Crimea...quite logical really. I suppose that the period covers those Flagstaff wars and general insurrection? This will suit me, I am looking at large skirmish games at best.... attack on a Royal Navy signal post, cut down the flag pole, etc etc etc. I think there is scope for a few more hollywoodesque games too, defending a homestead, escorting the colonial family of the regiments Colonel to safety, that sort of thing.

    I suppose for Empress much will depend upon how successful this range becomes first, it is quite niche after all. The sad thing is that I think it is such a rich seam for wargamers and they are missing a trick here. You have helped inspire me so I shall have to pass that inspiartion on. Its like a sexually communicated disease really, its great fun getting and then you have the urge to pass it on!

  5. See if you can secure a second-hand copy of the out-of-print book 'To Face the Daring Maoris' by Michael Barthorp. This is an evocative history of the 58th Regiment in New Zealand. It is not only a detailed resource, but also a thrilling read at the same time. And it only covers the 1840s period of the Wars that the Empress figures depict, so that's perfect.

    1. Hi Roly,

      I have been looking out for a copy, ebay, library etc. This is just the sort of thing we need for teh period. I have done some more geberal background reading, mainly on the early settlement and land sales; such a confused and sadly inneficient system of early government that just piled the trouble up for later times. Too many individuals with personal interests...or ideologies. If the Maori could just keep the in-fighting down the early settlers would have had a very different effect. It seems the British government tried to keep out of things and were concerned for the Maori but....well, hindsight is a wonderful thing I suppose.