‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’ colonial rules


I bought this set of colonial wargaming rules today from my mate Scott Bowman’s excellent Hobby Corner in his pharmacy at Paraparaumu Beach, New Zealand (probably the only pharmacy in the world that sells wargaming supplies for stress relief!).

My first reaction to the rules? Wow – I think this just might be the set of rules I have always been looking for!!! OK, this still has to be proven or disproved by an actual play-test. But from my first read-through, the design philosophy matches what I’ve always liked:

  • simple rules (which is my most important criteria)
  • elegant mechanisms that are intuitive rather than gamey
  • neither too few nor too many troops on the table
  • scenario-driven
  • a level of unpredictability
  • Hollywood rather than strictly historical
  • a sense of fun
  • an attractively illustrated and motivating book.

Plus I would have to say these are the most readable set of rules I have ever read. It has nice touches of period-appropriate humour dotted throughout – not too much, just enough to make it an entertaining read rather than a dry set of rules.

There’s a particularly clever device for solo-gaming, called ‘Playing Against Mr Babbage’. Apparently your regular gaming opponent, Mr Babbage, hasn’t been able to make it to the game tonight, but he has sent you a set of instructions to follow. It sounds sort of like playing against the AI in a computer game. Ingenious!

As for this set of rules’ appropriateness for my particular colonial gaming preference, the New Zealand Wars? Well, although Maori are mentioned a couple of times, and there is a lavish full-page picture of the NZ Wars, there aren’t any lists provided for this period. However, it should be dead easy to concoct some, so I think there is indeed real potential that these rules will suit well. Let’s wait and see till after I’ve had a chance to play a game or two.



20 thoughts on “‘The Men Who Would Be Kings’ colonial rules

  1. Funnily enough, Happy Wanderer just posted his Thoughts on LAF for how to portray the Maori, its on the thread about precontact Maoris

  2. Thank you for yet another recommendation for these rules. I put them on my birthday present list and hope to revive the old 25mm colonials from the depths of my store! Look forward to hearing more when you play with them.

  3. Roly – I live in Queensland Australia. Have been following your blog for years with interest. Just come back from 2 weeks holidays in South Island. We were in the North Island 2 years ago but not in your area. I am looking at gaming New Zealand Wars using a Musket & Tomahawk variant “Musket & Spears”. Would be very interested in your experience with TMWHWBK. I noticed you tried a Sharp Practice 2 variant for New Zealand Wars. How did that go ?

    1. I tried SP2 once, but must admit I didn’t quite get the hang of the rules from just one go. I probably need a few more games of it to get familiar with it, preferable with someone who knows SP2.

  4. I have been reading the rules myself. Have been playing TSATF and though I would give these rules a try. Have not play a game but looking forward to one.
    Bill in the USA

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