Māori and British do battle at ‘Call To Arms’

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I played my first game of Sharp Practice 2 today at the ‘Call To Arms’ show in Wellington, NZ. It was a colonial New Zealand Wars game.


We had loads of scenery, but the game itself was a simple encounter battle that we played on the clearer half of the table. The left-hand side of the board, dominated by a massive Māori pa, was just decoration.


Three groups of the British 58th regiment, along with one group of Royal Navy sailors faced three groups of Māori warriors. Unfortunately the British diced to deploy straight into a forest, which meant they couldn’t get their groups into formation (see bottom left of the photo below).


The three Māori groups flitted easily across the plain whilst the soldiers were still struggling through the clinging supplejack in the bush.

The sailors managed to push clear of the treeline. But they were immediately dealt several volleys of withering fire from the three groups of Māori warriors, which almost annihilated them. The surviving tars fell back in disarray, passing though two groups of infantry and and disrupting them as well.


In a last ditch effort, the only remaining steady British group charged a Māori group that had entered the bush, but were dealt a smashing defeat by the doughty warriors. This was the final blow, and the game resulted in a stunning loss for the British … um …er … I mean, for me!

As it was our first game of Sharp Practice 2, it’s fair to say that we got lots wrong and were quite confused at times. But overall we enjoyed it.

The table and New Zealand setting received lots of really positive comments, too. As did the fabulous 3D printed Māori pa by printablescenery.com It was really nice to be able to present a game that reflected our own history for a change, rather than a setting in Europe or America.

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Besides the pa, we had a few other decorative vignettes on the board that didn’t play any part in the game, such as a colonial farmhouse, a military camp, a Māori carronade, and a huge naval cannon.





Finally, here a few pictures of the other games at Call To Arms that caught my eye. Firstly, a very attractive Napoleonic game that was also fought with the Sharp Practice 2 rules – though probably more competently than we did!.




This fantasy game included some marvellous 3D printed buildings from our friends at printablescenery.com.


Finally, I was rather taken with this Dystopian Legions game between steampunk British and Prussians.



18 thoughts on “Māori and British do battle at ‘Call To Arms’

  1. Very nice set up, Roly! Every NZ Wars game that I’ve been involved has ended up with a Maori victory, so I’m not sure whether its a reflection of the rules or just poor dice throwing.

    1. The 3D-printed pa caused a lot of comment on the day, Michael. I think we’re only seeing the beginning of where 3D-printing will take us in this hobby …

  2. Well the game looks SPECTACULAR even if the rules didn’t go as smoothly.
    But it sounds like you got a reasonable result even with the difficulties so that’s a good thing.

  3. So lovely , so great as usual Roly , and with an unexpeted end . I love it .
    Roly , i have some question about it but it seems that your ( old ? ) email adress doesn’ t work . Could you be so kind contacting me at veitl.eric@orange.fr .Thanks.Regards

  4. I am sorry I missed you at CTA. Roly. I did not get there until Sunday afternoon. The pix look great.

  5. As usual your visual presentation is outstanding. We’re justing getting to grips with Sharp Practice as well for skirmish gaming, so far looks very promising. That Dystopian game looks interesting.

  6. Hi Roly, I was fortunate to have a friend print out the pa palisades for me here in California. Each row of palisades seems to have a row of very thin, straight uprights between the thicker posts. Am I correct to assume that the thin bits are artifacts of the printing process and need to be trimmed away? Your blog and posts are a continuing source of information and inspiration.

  7. It’s Nick from California back again. I finished my pa and tried out a New Zealand colonial game using a variant of Muskets and Tomahawks, but I was not impressed with the way rules modeled the conflict. I am going to try using The Men Who Would Be Kings for my next game this coming weekend. At first I thought the rules were too generic and I was disappointed that the author only considered the Maori in passing, but, having now used the rules for a half dozen games, I am looking forward to trying them out for the NZ colonial Wars. My collection is all for the 1860’s period and I cannot make up my mind which battle of the First Taranaki War to play, either Waireka or Puke-ta-kauere. I am favoring the former for its mix of British regulars, Royal Navy and militia, also because it allows for more maneuver and is not a straight attack on a pa. On the other hand, Puke-ta-kauere feels like a more desperate struggle and might make for a more decisive game. I would appreciate any thoughts you might have.
    Nick Stern

    1. I look forward to hearing how it goes. I have the TMWWBK rules, but haven’t tried them yet. Both battles would be interesting, but Puketakauere would need some specialised pa models if you were going to be really accurate.

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