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Maori Wars: The New Zealand Land Wars, 1845-1872» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Wanganui Uprising, 1847-48 rss

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Mike W
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Maori Wars Session Report: Wanganui Uprising, 1847-48
Mike W (Maori, narrator -- opinions are mine) vs. Richard L (British)

Richard and I played the Wanganui Uprising scenario from Maori Wars recently – what follows is a session report from this game. In general, it was an extremely fun and exciting scenario, with a lot of movement, momentum swings in victory points, and interesting decisions that needed to be made.

I setup the Maori first, followed by the Richard setting up the British and Neutral Maori.

The Maori did very little in the first turn – just an alliance in the North, which was successful. I probably should have sent a warrior unit out to create a village, but I did not think of it during my movement phase. It might have been risky, too, so maybe not the best idea.


Figure 1- Maori Try Alliance in Taranaki

The British setup allows them to land turn 1 reinforcements on any coastal hex of the Central Interior (CI) territory. This means a monster stack of British units hits the Coast, spends 1 MP to disembark, then can cause some havoc.


Figure 2- British Reinforcements Arrive

The British moved onto the attack in their turn, both in the CI and Taranaki. The British did a bombardment, without an infantry attack, since it seemed like a historically accurate thing to do. The various attacks reduced the Pa with Te Rangi to a village and killed a warrior unit… not bad for the Brits. Notice that the gunboat is on the hex with Te Rangi in the CI. It should have actually been adjacent on a coast or river hex to bombard, but it really did not change the results.


Figure 3 - British Attacks!

On turn 2, the Maori Ambush the British units in the open. The threat of bush raiding really makes you careful not to leave your units exposed, which is a very cool game mechanic. Also, the rules allow you to attack the same hex twice, even in the attack phase. For example, suppose Potatau wanted to attack the Queenites under the ambush marker in Taranaki after the ambush was done -- legal? Yes.


Figure 4 - Maori Ambushes!

The ambushes were a success, killing at least 1 Queenite and the British Cavalry! Very exciting. Unfortunately, this was the best the Maori would do at ambushing the whole game.

On the British part of turn 2, Richard sent a leader on a gunboat to attempt to negotiate with the Neutral Maori down South. This would not go well. Also, during the combat in Taranaki, a Battle Dispatch (BD) chit let the British put a fort for free in Moturoa! BD chits are drawn with most combats and may shift the battle in either direction. This fort would have a critical impact on the turn 3 Maori reinforcements, as they cannot come in closer than 4 hexes to a fort.

On the Maori Turn 3, the reinforcements come in the CI rough regions. My idea was I was going to try to take the isolated British settlement, but taking a settlement in the rough is a -4 Die Roll Modifier (DRM), and thus VERY tough. I failed.

On the British Turn 3, a bunch of units landed in New Plymouth and proceeded to strike against the weakly defended Pas in Taranaki. I really should have paid more attention to where these reinforcements were due to arrive.


Figure 5 - Reinforcements!

At the end of turn 3, very exciting things happen! The alliance negotiation in the South fails, and Nelson is alone, isolated and very afraid. A BD chit draw for a Taranaki combat results in the Taranaki Queenite village becoming hostile -- what a momentum swing!


Figure 6 - End of Turn 3 and things are happening

On the Maori turn 4, Bush Raiding goes very wrong, and a Maori unit is eliminated, and 1 is disrupted. However, the new Hostile Maori village in the South comes out and eliminates Nelson. I could envision all sorts of grisly things being done to the poor British officer.

On the British Turn 4, attacks in Wairau and on the Taranaki coast are repulsed, which will allow the Maori to catch their breath and build up their defenses.


Figure 7 - End of Turn 4, Breathing Room for the Maori in Taranaki

During Turn 5, the Maori will mostly hold their ground, although the do try to keep the pressure on the fort in the CI territory, but forts are tough to crack.

The British, behind on VP, bring their attacks on the last turn in an all or nothing gambit… that is unsuccessful. The Maori repulse their attacks, safe behind their Pas, one last time. The end result was a minor Maori victory with a net 3 VP.


Figure 8 - The Final British Attacks

We finished the scenario in a little under 3 hours, and probably could have shaved 30 minutes off that time if it was setup beforehand and we had all the rules known well.

Impressions
One of the things I really liked about this scenario was that both sides get a big pile of reinforcements on turn 3 (out of 5 turns). This made the scenario have a lot more action/movement than I have seen in the first two scenarios. Strategically, I will need to pay more attention to this for next time, as it can make for a very big difference in how to play the first 2 turns if you know exactly how the reinforcements are going to come in.
For the game as a whole, it definitely has some things I really like:
• The components and map are amazing. It really helps you feel like you are there.
• The Bush Raider concept is very cool, and leads to interesting gameplay decisions
• The overall game flows well, and makes sense
• The BD chits lend some crazy swings to the combat results – of course some may not like this. I like it, especially when they go my way.
• I really want to try a scenario with gunboats and canoes – this very fluid, striking play appeals to me more than the sometimes static fort / Pa situation you might see (I think the Hutt Valley scenario) may be a little more susceptible to this.
• I like that there are many different scenarios – makes the game feel deep and varied.
• The individual scenarios are playable in as little as 2-3 hours.

There is definitely still some polishing that needs to be done, but I am optimistic that with committed final game developer support, this will be an excellent game.


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John Poniske
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Thank you for the exciting and entertaining AAR, Mike. It's a beautiful country with a fantastic people and a fascinating history that deserves to be told.
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David Janik-Jones
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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Map so damn pretty it makes me (geography/fine art) weep.
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luke mccredie
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Lots of waiting for this game. Loving the historical units and map, accuracy.
Take your time getting it all play tested........ but when!
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Randy Lein
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Mike,

If I were to say that you did an excellent job posting the Maori Wars AAR I wouldn't even be close to the level you achieved. Thank you so much for giving the customers a sneak peak into this long, long, awaited game. Kim Kanger is handling the final development so I have the utmost confidence that it's going to be the best game it can be.

Randy Lein - LEGION WARGAMES
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Eric Dodd
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I'm at Mini-Wellycon - Oct 22 - 23, 2016
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Very nice, thank you.
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Roger Hobden
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Nice AAR !

Thanks !

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Rich Lloyd
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World Champs!!....again
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Forgot me velcro gloves again...
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It was a lot of fun.

Sending my leader without an escort was a big mistake. My reasoning was that British leaders get a bonus to their negotiation roll if they are without troops. What I should have done was have an escort unit just outside the village hex while my leader negotiated with the neutrals. That way, when the negotiation went pear-shaped, I could have retreated my leader back to his escort and not been automatically eliminated.

Pa are very tough nuts to crack. Which is historical, you really need to have some bombardment units to help taking them.

The BD chits and Bush Raiding makes the game unpredictable but loads of fun.
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luke mccredie
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Yes. My apologies. The game looks magnificent! A real tribute to the designers. And the well written session report
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Martyn Smith
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The front cover of my PhD thesis - shameless, self-promotion... ;0)
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I didn't think it was possible to desire this game any more than I already do.

Then you posted this, upping the ante to new, heady levels...

I have the sense that this is a game that will prove to have been well worth the wait and then some!

I hope that the 'polishing' and refinement continues to go well...
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John Poniske
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Likewise, Martyn ... and I hope it is published before I get any MORE gray hair.
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roger beatson
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Excellent AAR guys.
The report just made this game a 'must buy' in my opinion.

I am curious about the British cavalry units. There were no British cavalry units present in New Zealand during the NZ Wars. During the 1860's they did use some Royal Artllery men in a mounted role but that was largely for force protection and scouting rather than as impact cavalry. The NZ government did establish a Colonial Defence Force cavalry for a short period of time in the 1860's and later on the Armed Costabulary did have mounted units however the bulk of the cavalry in New Zealand were locally raised Volunteer units. This might be worth considering when evaluating the effectiveness/values of any cavalry units in the game.

Also in terms of the scenarios the Waikato war was more about the Kingite movement than the Hau Hau. The Hau Hau would be more appropriate for the later campaigns.

regards
Roger
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John Poniske
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Thanks for the input, Roger! We will make an adjustment regarding British Cavalry and place the emphasis on the Kingites in the Waikato War. Having native historians advise us definitely helps to smooth out the wrinkles.
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roger beatson
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Hi John

Hey thank you for taking the time to read my comments. It's really encouraging to see a game designer striving to achieve a level of historical accuracy in his game design. I must say that I'm really looking forward to seeing this game published. The new counter artwork looks great and the map has a nice Victorian era feel about - very evocative of the period.

With regards to my comments about the cavalry in New Zealand what you will find is that cavalry on the whole had a very limited impact on the conflict. I can only think of perhaps one notable instance where the Colonial Defence Force cavalry were used for pursuit during the Waikato campaign. Apart from that, cavalry was largely utilised for scouting, recon and force protection.

The Maori generally tended to avoid engaging in open battle with the British and Government forces and their pa strategy proved very frustrating for the British commanders to deal with. Frontal assaults on well-defended pa were pretty brutal affairs and the British were given a bloody nose on a number of occasions. The British did however successfully use saps to threaten the Maori pa on a few occasions, most notably Pratt's long sap during the 1860/61 Taranaki war,and I'd be interested to see how this might be reflected in the game.

What players will probably need to understand is that whilst the capture of a pa might appear to be a tactical victory the Maori were quite willing to abandon a pa after it has served it's purpose (which was to inflict as much loss on the British as they could and tie down the British forces). The British and Colonial player needs to be able to exert continuous sustained pressure on the Maori to bring them to the negotiating table. The Maori only had limited manpower resources which needs to be taken into consideration. They could ill afford to take big losses and Maori warriors were also required to assist in food production/cultivation so the fighting tended be quite dependent upon having sufficient manpower at any given time. Certainly during the Waikato campaign there was a constant flow of war parties from various tribes into and out of the theatre of operations.

I'll leave it there for now but as you can probably tell the New Zealand Wars are a fascinating topic and I'm absolutely thrilled that our 'small war' is finally getting some long overdue attention. Thanks again John for all the time and effort you've put into this project.

regards
Roger
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John Poniske
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Thank you for your kind words, Roger

A little advice to you and anyone who reads this. Avoid answering posts early in the morning. I just wrote you a "book" in reply, then tapped the wrong button and lost it all. Ah well, here we go again.

I do want to listen and apply the lessons I learn from those who are more familiar with the conflicts and the periods I choose to "game." I am not so possessive that I am unwilling to apply that which will enhance a design. In fact I encourage inventive players who wish to apply their own house rules to any game they play. Experiment, then share your experiments with the gaming community. I believe in the synergy of a "collective" design. That said, a designer always has his beloved aspects that may be tweaked but which he is loathe to discard.

My purpose in design is to bring to light historical situations or aspects of those situations which are forgotten or in some cases swept under the rug. I want to provide the facts but I can't always game the facts. I think it was Richard Berg who once said 'No game is a true simulation,' or words to that effect. Mostly, I design the big picture of historical instances and allow players to fill in the details though a tantalizing historical introduction, designer notes or their own research. I design a game to entice a player to learn more. To that end I strive to keep rules relatively simple and play relatively short. This limits what can and can't be included.

I will adjust the approach to cavalry, renaming it Mounted Militia or something similar, and it remains a minor addition represented by only a single unit. However its use is up to the player. Cavalry will have a slight advantage in open ground - as it should, but a good Maori player will deny him that advantage. Regarding the successful sap you mentioned, I do remember reading about it but made the editorial decision not to include it in the game. I urge you, however, to come up with your own rule(s) for it and then share it with the rest of us.

Now let me see if I can post this without erasing it all again.
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roger beatson
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Hi John

I know what you mean about typing a book then losing it at the tap of a button.

Thanks for sharing your design philosphy. It was very enlightening and made for an interesting read.


As for Pratt's Sap just as an off the cuff idea how does this sound.
The sap would be represented by two double-sided counters. The first sap counter is placed adjacent to the pa. The counter has a defence factor (lets say +1 on one side and +2 on the reverse for example) which also doubles as the required number of units to be present on (or perhaps adjacent to) the counter itself and as an abstraction of the number of redoubts constructed along the length of the sap. Pratts sap evetually had 8 redoubts and got to within about 34 yards of Te Arei pa (the Taranaki stronghold) before the Maori eventually entered into a peace settlement so I would have two double sided counters (one with defence factors +1 on one side and +2 on the reverse and this can then be replaced by another sap counter with +3 and +4 defence factors).

The British are obliged to defend it and the Maori have the option of attacking it. If the sap is attacked and defeated its defence factor is reduced by 1 (eg from 2 down to 1). If it's at 1 and reduced to zero then it is destroyed completely. If the sap is still intact at the end of a game turn then at the start of the following game turn its defence factor is increased by 1. If at the start of a game turn the sap has a defence factor of 4 it is deemed to have been successful and the Maori lose. Pratt came under severe criticism for taking so long with the sapping campaign that the locals became increasingly disillusioned with him. This could be reflected by placing a limit on which turn the sap can start and by what game turn it must have reached the +4 defence factor. If it hasn't reached the +4 factor by the end of game turn X then it is deemed to have failed. The choice for the British is if they commit to the sap it requires sufficient units to defend it, thereby tying up valuable resources in the hope of achieving a win. For the Maori do they attack it when it's at it most vulnerable in the hope of preventing it from achieving defence factor +4 before the time limit runs out.

Pratts sap was arguably the most effective example of using a sap in NZ so I would perhaps limit its use to just that Taranaki campaign.

Bear in mind these are just the random ramblings of a somewhat foggy mind (tired and hungry) so feel free to use/discard/tinker with/ignore at your leisure.

regards
Roger

PS: just watched an excellent video review of your King Philip's War game. Very tempted to grab that as well !!!

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John Poniske
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I like your idea, Roger and I will discuss it with our developer, Kim. Agreed, it should be relegated to the Taranaki Campaign. I would also agree with the possibility of the sap to be reduced - but not destroyed. I just can't see how extensive diggings could be destroyed under combat conditions without high explosives to which I assume the Maori did not have access.

If you do obtain King Philip's War and you enjoy it, I would encourage you to follow the progress of Blood On the Ohio to be published by Compass Games. It depicts the three American campaigns against a coalition of Native American tribes on the Ohio frontier shortly after our Revolutionary War. BOO (my nickname for the design) uses similar rules to KPW with more emphasis on raiding, winter return, and the building of forts.

Also if you like the idea of Bush raiding in MW you might like my Amigos and Insurrectos a design covering the Philippine Insurrection of 1899 which uses a similar jungle mechanic. This design released recently in BATTLES Magazine.
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roger beatson
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Thanks for the heads-up about your other games John. They're all exactly the type of game that I would enjoy.
Funnily enough I only just became aware of Washington's campaign on the Ohio about three weeks ago. Another one of those lesser known conflicts which deserves to be explored. And the Philippine Insurrection game looks awesome.(I'll see if I can sneek that one past she-who-must-be-obeyed)

As for the Pratt's sap suggestion it really was just some initial thoughts I had on how it might work so please feel free to tinker with it as much as you like. Hopefully it might work within the paramaters of your design.

regards
Roger
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