Saturday, 20 July 2013

Maori Wars

Damn, I hate being a wargamer sometimes.

No, that's a bit of a lie....its like saying 'damn, I hate breathing sometimes...'. Doesn't really work does it? I suppose that what I really mean is that I hate how easily my attention is turned....SQUIREL!.....and yet, I am not sure even that is right either. Wargamers have highly eclectic interests and with a hobby that covers so much in the way of history, cultures, game types etc etc is it any wonder we run about like the silver ball in a pinball game? My attention is not so much turned...its more like recognising opportunities to do things that my subconcious has always been interested in but saw no way of doing. Does that make sense to any of you? Just say if you think its just me.

I have always had an interest in the colonial period and the Maori wars was a particular favourite; it had so much to offer the wargamer but rarely ever got a mention. No decent rules or figures, tricky terrain, little information....balanced with fascinating troop types - mix of regulars, provincials, friendlies and even simple farmers - an enigmatic enemy that could be savage and implacable but who at the same time put themselves in danger to give water to a wounded Tommy caught between lines. The conflict was called The Fire in the Fern by many, recalling how the war could die away only to re-appear just as hot elsewhere before dying away again. The Maori would build clever defences to fox the British but then simply melt away and leave them, this made understanding the Maori warrior difficult and like fighting smoke....who could not be interested in a war like this? How the hell would you game it?

At our last club meeting Andy ran one of his great 'The French in Mexico' games for us. This is a 19th century period game but Andy has made good use of a set of Sci-Fi rules with great effect. Star Grunt, available as a free download from the Ground Zero Games site, has a very flixible mechanic that allows you adapt it to other things quite easily; that it could brilliantly cover the French in Mexico opened my eyes. Something about it made me think of a Maori game, the rules and unit organisation, troop type variable could all be covered well. This in turn got me to re-look at Muskets and Tomahawks, a game designed for the French Indian wars of the eighteenth century but that also covers a variety of troop types and irregular warfare. I also kept reminding myself that Empress Miniatures now produce a set of very nice 28mm Maori Wars figures.......Then I accidentally came across a brilliant blog with some very nicely painted figures.....

Picture taken borrowed from the work of blogger and gamer Roly. The man is a demon!

oh my........ I took a good look at the blog, Dressing the Lines, (folow the link in the above caption) and was pleased to find that Roly, the blogger, had written a lot about the subject...painted some damn fine figures too. He has been using the rule set 'Sharp Practice' with some good result although, I have to confess to not having had much luck with the Lardie rule sets to date myself. Roly is a New Zealander and no doubt has some better access to historical sources (...and decent Rugby Union...) than I. He has made a fine job of these figures and others shown on his site. His efforts have added extra impetus to my own disturbed musings and I find myself spookily drawn to the Empress Miniatures site...again....and again...

I like the Epress figure range, I like a set of rules that I am confident will work well, I like the can see where this is going can't you?.... Damn it!!!


  1. Heh heh! Sorry about tempting you like that! But, hey, the Empress figures are truly fantastic. beautifully sculpted, animated and a painter's dream. You won't be disappointed.

    Roly (aka Arteis)

    1. Hi Roly,

      Tempt me you did! I loved your site and the New Zealand Wars posts in particular, some very nice painting too. When you have the seed of an idea in your mind it does not take much to set it off, some good game articles and decent figures is all it takes. The seed in my mind appears to be Japanese Knott Weed, its growing at an alarming rate and has reached my wallet already! If I caanot control it by Monday morning I am in trouble and an order will be sent off. Sigh.

      How are you getting on with the Sharp Practice rules? I read you needed to tweek them a bit. I re-read Muskets and Tomahawks last night and I am more convinced that these could work well. The Maori are a unique foe and it is tricky to pin a stat system down for them but this rule set is quite flixible in the right places. I think the games side plot rules will really add something to the games.

  2. Resist Alan, resist!


    1. Hi Andy,

      I am sorry to report that despite his best efforts, hitting himself with sticks and pouring buckets of iced water over himself whist repeating 'I do not need, I do not need' over and over again, Alan sadly succumbed to a severe bout of New Zealand Wars Syndrome late last night. I am given to understand that Alan's last audible words after being found slumped over his PC (the screen of which still showed his completed order to Empress Miniatures) were 'There is no Alan....only Zool...', before he slipped off his chair and under his desk. He remains there this morning, wrapped in a dog blanket and clutching a copy of Muskets and Tomahawks.