Wargaming the Battle for Ohaeawai Pa

Attempting to wargame the Battle for Ohaeawai Pa brings you face to face with the Challenges of Wargaming the New Zealand Wars, even more than the Battle for Puketutu Pa does. A relatively tiny group of entrenched Maori bloodily repulses a large number of European attackers. How to make that possible? How to make that a good game?

The DBA (Bad) Example

When I started my New Zealand Wars project in the 1990s I was intending to use my DBA New Zealand Wars variant. At a Ratio of approximately 40 men or 1-3 guns to an element to an element the two armies would be:

DBA Orders of Battle

  • European wargames army (assuming all allies present)
    • 2 (Elite) Regulars (Grenadiers of 58th & 99th)
    • 11 Regulars (6 of 58th, 3 of 99th, 2 of 96th)
    • 1 (Elite) Regulars (Naval Brigade)
    • 1 Settler (Volunteer Pioneers)
    • 2 Artillery
    • 1 or 6 Maori (depending if all there or not)
  • Maori wargames army
    • 3 Maori

Using those orders of battle in a standard DBA game would mean the Europeans attackers will swamp the defenders. It would need some special rules to balance it up – balance in the sense of givng both players the chance of winning. Two examples of special rules from my DBA New Zealand Wars variant are

  • the fairly obvious move of introducing Maori Fighting Pa onto the table with significant modifiers
  • the concept of reserved fire – the Maori had very good fire discipline

For Ohaeawai that might not be enough to balance up the game. Even ignoring the pro-government Maori, who did not participate in British assaults, still leaves a massive European numerical advantage. Needs thinking.

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