It’s odd, isn’t it? In this age of parents not letting kids play with toy soldiers or toy guns, and schools not teaching about battles and soldiers, we still find that kindergartens and primary schools love pirates. Some of the most blood-thirsty, villianous, chauvanistic characters around, and yet little Johnny and Sally sit and make eye-patches and cardboard swords (swords?!) in class. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t so surprising – after all, pirate crews were very democratic, and feminists might approve of pirates like Ann Bonny and Mary Read.
Anyway, I’m not complaining – I love pirates! So they form part of my wargames collection, and have provided many an exciting and fun-filled game.
It all started when my fellow Kapiti Fusilier, Scott Bowman, mentioned that Games Workshop Historical were coming out with a new set of pirate rules, Legends of the High Seas. This fired the imaginations of several Fusiliers. Here was a new period we could get into with minimal cost and painting required, and which could use a lot of our existing scenery. So we quickly ordered some sets of the rules, and a collection of Foundry pirates.
There was lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing when the books and the figures arrived. The rules were exquisitely presented, and looked easy to pick up and fun to play. And the figures – so characterful! We did a draw as to who would get what figures. Of course, in the nature of these things, the ones I had hankered after went to other Fusiliers, so it wasn’t long before I put the call out on the Net to buy spare figures, and I had a very generous response, I must say.
A few weeks of painting (which, with the wonderful variety of figures, wasn’t onerous at all), and we had our first crews ready to fight. Here are some photos (and like all the pics in this post, don’t forget to click on them to enlarge.)
Legends of the High Seas includes rules for ships. So, as with any pirate wargmer worth his salt, ships there had to be! My wife works for Air New Zealand and was flying international at that time, so I joined her on a flight to San Francisco. In the Disney shop there I saw the perfect ship – a radio-controlled Black Pearl. But I was nervous of carrying such a large toy home, so didn’t buy it .. .and of course instantly regreted it. Then when Sarah got another San Francisco on her roster two weeks later, I begged a few days off work and joined her again – and this time I shot straight to the Disney shop and bought the model. Oh dear, the size of my carbon footprint just to get hold of my pirate ship!
With the Black Pearl safely back home in New Zealand, I stripped out the RC gear and cut the bottom off the hull. I also did a few other small changes such as adding large fighting tops, making gratings for the deck, and giving her a complete re-paint. The final result was a stately galleon for my pirates – or, indeed, merely by changing flags, for my naval crew.
Some smaller boats were provided by an EBay purchase of the old Weapons and Warriors pirate playset. This set included a number of plastic brigs, boats, trees and even a blockhouse, which with a little bit of work could easily be turned into suitable wargame items.
Scenery wasn’t a problem. Most of my Peninsular War houses looked suitably Caribbean. Some cheap plastic palm trees repainted and based, some rocks and sand out of the garden, a blue sea cloth, and hey presto, we were ready to roll. Here are some photos of demo and real games.
“Aaargh, me hearties, don’t ye be forgetin’ to leave a comment!”