A pirate’s life for me!


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.

Pirtate ship_P2240985

zilveren zeemeeuw2_P2260988

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.

“Aaargh, me hearties, don’t ye be forgetin’ to leave a comment!”

20 thoughts on “A pirate’s life for me!

  1. Wow! A very nice blog, Roly, crackin’ pics, excellently painted pirates, ships and scenics. Inspirational! And to this old wargamer, who’s better days were pre-computers, the wonders of the internet still boggles this Old Beard – it being so much fun seeing pics of good looking games from the other side of the world! Keep up the good work, ship-mate! I’ll be visiting your blog again!
    Richard-the Beard! in England

  2. Good stuff. I don’t do pirates, but I do love the ships and the terrain. Most of my suff is 20th Century. Pegasus makes good palm trees, I am planning on getting some to get away from the cake decoration look for my jungles.


  3. A wealth of inspiration! I’ve struggling to find a suitable ship for my privateer crew, and your converted Black Pearl was just the sort of thing I was looking for.
    So I have just successfully bidded for one on Ebay which I got for £3.20! It looks great at it’s saved me a pretty penny. I just hope I don’t destroy it when I saw the bottom off!

    1. Well, that was cheaper than flying all the way from New Zealand to San Francisco to buy one!!!

      Good luck with your project. There’s plenty of room to work with in sawing off the bottom, so you should be right. And if Mr Butter-Fingers the Non-Home-Handyman here can do it, then you can, I’m sure!

      1. LOL! I’m actually only just starting LOTHS at our gaming club, and I doubt the converted Black Pearl would class as a small ship! So I’ve stolen your ideas again and just managed to find a used “Weapons and Warriors Pirate Battle Game” on Ebay. As you know the box contains loads of useful stuff for conversion(including 2 ships, 2 small boats, palm trees, and some treasure chests) and your Brig looks the right size to qualify as a small ship?
        One thing I have found during my research is a large ship which is crying out for conversion: http://www.wonderhobby.com/rcfufuracopi.html
        There’s a few on Ebay 4 sale at time of writing. Hope you find this useful 😉

  4. Just flicking back through your blog posts Roly. Love this one, and the fun memories of that day doing the Pirates at Wellington Warlords Call to Arms. I will never forget your crew man holed up with his blunderbuss in the crows-nest…!

  5. Looking for small miniatures for our pirate ship! half inch or smaller… any ideas where we can find some?

  6. Yes, I like this. Plymouth in UK spawned a lot of Pirates over the centuries in search of great riches. This reminds me of Sid Meier’s game that I still play occasionally. Francis Drake and his raids on the Spanish Main would make a good wargame. When his crew docked at Plymouth after one such raid everyman (who survived) was rich for life. In 2020 Plymouth UK is commemorating the 400th sailing of the Mayflower to the Americas in 1620. Although Jamestown in what became Virginia was founded in 1607. It has been eclipsed by the Mayflower as Jamestown was a commercial adventure and what became known as Plymouth (or Plimoth) in Massachusetts was a spiritual venture that resulted in the ‘founding fathers’ early manuscript of a fledgling country that eventually would become the USA. Both enterprises would be interesting in skirmishing with the local eastern coast Indians, who attack stockades etc. And scenarios of the supply of the early colonists both by the friendly Indians and from England. And of course Captain Cook also sailed from Plymouth, and there lies another story………..

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