Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Maori Wars Donnybrook game!!!

Well, I did actually happened....the Maori Wars game took place last night!!

....and so it begins....

It was supposed to be bigger and played to Muskets & Tomahawks rules but....well, lets just say it wasn't and leave it at that. The Donnybrook rules were chosen as fewer figures were needed and, supposedly, a faster game system would allow a couple of games. As it turned out the first game lasted all evening! This was the first time we had used the rules etc etc etc.

Four people played whilst I acted as umpire. Mark and Steve played as the Maori with two units of eight warriors each and a couple of character figures. Andy and Bob played as the Europeans, Andy took one unit of eight British infantry and the unit of twelve settlers. Bob had the second unit of eight British infantry and a unit of eight New Zealand Militia; each also had a couple of character figures. In the rule a basic 6 is required to score a hit and any given target. Poorer quality troops, such as the settlers, had to use a D6. The bulk of the troops could use a D8 whilst a few of the characters could use a D12. This did not always help as you will later see.

The scenario was that a party of Maori were raiding outlying homesteads and so several settlers had retreated to the house of the local magistrate and corrupt (probably) Land Agent and his family. They were supported by a detachment of Militia and a Local Constable. A detachment of British infantry were on their way to help evacuate the assembled settlers but, to add a little flavour, the British Officer was the brother of the magistrates wife and was determined to save her and his two young nieces.....not too bothered about the brother in law though! They arrived late and the Maori attack had begun.......

Donnybrook uses a card driven unit activation system, which allows for an interesting and often frustrating turn sequences as some units do not get to move each turn; or activate too late! In this case Andy's British infantry unit stood admiring the local flora and fauna for some time whilst the Maori attack  began. The Maoris attacked in two groups from the West, Mark concentrating on the north end of the homestead and Steve the south end; both choosing to move through the cover of woods to get as close as possible.

At first, the defenders seemed to be doing well. They shot down a few Maori warriors in the opening turns and a blood bath was feared by Mark and Steve before the defences could be reached. Some good Maori saving throws by Steve perhaps saved the early turns from becoming too messy and pressure mounted on the Settlers and Militia. The British troops were slow to get involved encouraging the Maori to close the gap and get to the homestead quickly.

Steve's Maori units three and four approach the south end of the settlement

Bob, did manage to get his British unit into the fight reasonably quickly aided by the movement bonuses his attached character provided. This meant that the Maori attacks to the south were challenged but the defences were breached and some messy close combat continued for several turns.

Maori character figures lead the way and the assault hits home...

....soon overpowering the militia defending the fence line

The use of special character figures with various unique traits really opened up the game, especially for the Maori. Several of these proved pivotal in the fight and are quite hard to kill off. The British characters never really had the chance to use their skills effectively and this may have been a key issue for them. The Militia were soon killed off to a man leaving Bob's British infantry unit fairly isolated. Maori unit four was all but wiped out but the sacrifice delayed the British from keeping the Maori unit three from breaching the defences. Bob's Constable character was able to use a D12 for all his attacks and one might have thought that such a useful skill would help the defence..and it would have done if he could have shot straight! At no point in the game did this character roll any higher than a 5 and missed every time. When he was eventually hacked down many considered it a mercy killing. Bob's British unit could only harass the Maori now but they took casualties in doing so leaving them seriously outnumbered and cowering in the woods.

The assembled settlers await the onslaught, directed by the magistrate

Meanwhile, at the north end of the homestead, Mark made good use of the cover and got close to the defences. Some good shots by the defenders took out a couple of Maori warriors but the weight of Mark's fire and movement were a major threat to Andy's Settlers...or, as Mark pointed out, these days Settlers are known as 'Tums'....and we wonder why we take so bleeding long to play a game...Good use of the Maori characters as individual units saw the north end defences breached and confusion in the compound amongst the settlers allowed the warriors time to reach the fence line unchallenged.

Maori shooting has weakened the defenders and the assault begins...

Andy's British unit, trying to hurry to aid the settlers, was just in range to get a shot off that completely took out the remaining six figures of Maori unit one; caught out in the open as they rushed to gain the fence line and with no saving throw.

....but the British infantry of Andy arrive just in time to catch Maori unit one with a volley in the open; six kills!

Whilst a major blow to the Maori, the undamaged Maori unit two, supported by characters, cleared the defences and panicked what was left of the defence into a rout.

With two Maori units in full control of the homestead and the settlers dead or missing the game was all but over. The Maori set light to the houses and even began to take the fight to the British infantry units. How that would have ended is anyones guese but at worst it would have been a partial Maori victory and the British officer, should he have survived, would have faced a rather serious enquiry as to the loss of so many men and the death of the magistrate.

The Homestead falls and is put to the torch!

The fight continues as Andys British unit arrives too late

...and so it ends...

All in all, a good game. The rules are simple but as always a bit more familiarty would have helped; we no doubt missed a few important pionts. I can see Donnybrook being used for other games but tweeks will be needed to better represent later warfare periods than the one the rules were actually written still worked though. I hope you all think it worth all the bloody grief of hearing me whine about it!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Maori Wars Donnybrook is a GO!!

Some doubted...others guffawed...but they were wrong! (for once)

I have done it! I have manged to get the figures and terrain ready....and in time....for the promised Maori Wars Game for Tuesday 28th October. OK, it isn't the Muskets & Tomahawks game that I had wanted but, I have a game.

Each side has four points of troops along with the four character figures each point of troops allows. This makes the game quite small as Donnybrook games go, a sort of starter version perhaps, but the games seem to be fast and bloody so several games might be possible that night. Wanna closer look?

First the British/New Zealand force....

The four points are made up of a unit of twelve settlers, including a family of four; husband, wife and two daughters. In future games these four will be the family related to an army officer determined to rescue them during a flare up of the Fire in the Fern, as the New Zealand wars were colloquially known. Then there is a unit of eight uniformed Militia and two units of eights Imperial troops. The characters chosen from the available list are, two Sergeants, a bugler and a member of the Local Constabulary, ' to arrest the Zulus, 716...'. Just replace Zulu for Maori...obviously. And not forgetting, a force commander.

A close up of the characters, I hear you ask....

Yeah, the copper has a bent carbine...I see it now....sigh.

Now for the Maori...

This force is made up of four units of eight warriors. The thing about Maori warriors is their rather personal choice of weapons compared to other native enemies the Brits came across. The basic hand weapons are all lethal, New Zealand has a wide range of serious flora to make amazing clubs. They took to muskets well enough but also fell in love with shotguns. The mix make Maori trick to deal with at every range band....and they stick their tongues our whilst rolling their eyes about...are incredibly brave and not a little intimidating. They also knew the terrain and were masters of it, capable of simply melting away or arriving, seemingly out of nowhere.

The Characters are a Weapons Master, Great warrior, Musician and a Fearless One....I know...oooo. Again, there is a force commander. Closer look time again...

So, in all, I am very happy. Just have to make the turn sequence cards and make sure I actually understand the rules....there is always a sticking point, ain't there!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

SELWG and the Maori Wars

I had a nice trip to the SELWG show on Sunday. I also did my bit for charity and took along my temporarily disabled mate, Mark, who, it should be noted, sustained his fractured shoulder injury in a 'terrible staircase-and-clear-plastic-document-wallet incident'.....and most definitely not, as some seemed to believe, in a rather shameful and wild act of self abuse. There, I am glad I have sorted that out. Anyway.....

Mark and I spent a lot of time talking to the traders and promoting Broadside 2015, we handed out 1500 flyers and even got our fist confirmed booking; welcome back Col. Bill!! A good day and a good start to the Broadside campaign :) Mark also took the opportunity to scotch those terrible rumours that simply flew around the venue....who knows who spreads these things.

Of course we also took the opportunity to do a little light shopping whilst there and I had a generally successful day. I was surprised that some basic items I was interested in were simply not there, Army Painter basing materials, some notable rule books etc.. but I also noticed several of the usual traders were absent. Running a show is a complicated business at the best of times and I know the difficulty of getting traders to sign up and confirm their attendance of a show; so many factors can affect that decision. But Mark and I enjoyed our day and we took time to have a good look at the wares on sale and splash the cash.....rather more than I was intending to as it turns out! But, I can at least hold my head high and say in all honesty that I only bought things that I needed and could use within the projects I am running. I really did!

My principle concern was to complete my ongoing Maori Wars project, especially as Empress Miniatures were there. But I picked up the buildings and extra terrain I needed too although, I did go a bit overboard.

So I needed another waggon and a team of horses... 4ground and Col. Bills horses...the waggons are so easy to put together and don't need painting.

 I needed fences for the New Zealand homestead but, a bit worried about how far one pack will stretch, I bought two. That said, fences around a very rural homestead are a priority for the settlers; even if they just form a symbolic garden fence to ease English sensibilities!

 I needed an extra few buildings for the homestead rather than just a house for the family so got a small cabin for the homestead's hired help. I also needed a stable thingy but completely forgot about that important point...but I did get a bloody great fortified blockhouse! This is to be used in games where Maoris attack a Naval signal station...sort of. And when I got home I felt the urge... and built them too.

And then I saw these Bell Tents and thought I needed a camp for the troops running the signal station, obviously. And a pack of women Maori warriors...and two pack of the newer militia packs for added variety. I also bought three packs of Royal Navy figures but cannot find the bloody photo for the life of me! Stupid computer....and operator...

Then I had another wobble. I do not need a 36lb Royal Navy gun with six crew but, it does look so cool. And the man at the stand made me buy it. He did...honestly...forced me to buy it....Mark so did not help here!

So. My Maori war game, set for 28th October, is almost ready. The new purchases are mainly set for the terrain for this game and the figures for a bigger game set later. The game being prepared is using Donnybrook rules and I am almost finished. The Brits have two units of eight Imperial troop, a unit of eight Militia and a unit of twelve settlers. There are four character figures and a commander. The Maori force has just one eight figure unit ready and one character. The rest are under way and WILL BE READY FOR THE BIG NIGHT!!! Honestly.

These are the Maoris, two shades of Wargame Foundy South American Flesh and then my usual strong tone dip. Seems about right to me...but what do I know.

And here are a few shots of the British force. I am pleased with how they have come out....

...especially the settlers.

So there you have it. SELWG was a good show, I was fairly good and didn't go silly with spending and my forthcoming game is going well do far