Friday, February 24, 2017

Becoming a Bigger Boer

It all seemed so simple. Take a 20mm Boer War Portable Wargame to Huzzah for a relaxed Sunday morning event. I had enough Boers and a couple of Brits painted up. Could even throw together opposing Russian Civil War armies as an option.

Then I thought that it might be nice to take some non-European enemies. I had just about enough Zulus but almost all their shields were gone so I broke out my old, beloved 54mm Nku Khu (aka Zulus) and some even older beloved Britain's British. Which of course led to....."This would look good at a con and be a good example of how 54mm games don't HAVE to be big". After all, I had the Zulus and just needed to do up some proper Brits to opposes them. Of course the only ones I have in Pith Helmets are the Gordon Highlanders. They didn't fight the Zulus but they did fight the Boers two years later..... Oh.....Oh dear.....

One unpainted guards casting, one headswap, one little ball of Milliput....
OK, part of me has been wanting to do this for quite a while, nearly 20 years actually, but when I down-sized everything I talked myself into getting out of 54's, sort of. Obviously my favourite bits stayed around. Now that I'm several years into games with fewer figures  I can enjoy 54mm wargaming with traditional toy soldiers again !

His own Drill Sergeant wouldn't recognise him now!
I've always paid less attention to the first Boer War but it is the one with scarlet tunics and one of the periods where  Boer, Zulu and British wargame armies can each fight the other. If that's not versatile enough it can also share some figures with my North West campaign.

Since the rules are pretty generic, I need a "thing" to make the Boers different but I want to do it without adding rules. They were mounted infantry but during the first war don't seem to have ever fought on horseback though they occasionally did in small numbers earlier or later when the situation called for it. They were expert shots and good at concealment but occasionally shy at close combat and reluctant to take casualties.

Using the roster system I intend to treat the Boers like Native Rifles with 3 SP's  (ie like cavalry) but will give them a special rule that they always count as "in cover" when not adjacent due to their skills at concealment. This means they will typically out shoot the British in the open but will have a reason to stay away from close combat in the open. Being "native" they will get the 50% chance of a double move, in this case representing a commando jumping on their horses to get to a better position. Lastly, having only 3 rather than 4 strength points will make them reluctant to trade hits equally.

Now to test these ideas out on the table. Just got to clean up the master once the putty is dry, make a mold, cast and paint about 20 figures and also convert about 12 more from different poses for variety........ Not going to be ready this weekend.


  1. Those tweaks sound perfect - enjoy your game.

    1. Thanks, I m actually looking forward to making the "armies" even more tyan I to playing.

  2. Replies
    1. Me too, now if only I can finally manage a decent mold again!

  3. Ross Mac,

    Nice conversion and the slight tweaks to the rules are exactly the sort of thing that I hoped that users of my rules would do ... adapt them to meet their own requirements.

    All the best,


  4. Ross,
    Yes the Boer War in earlier stages presents good incentive for a game- way back in 1986 I ran my own version of 'Laings Neck' at Ingleburn Army Barricks- using my ESCI 1/72nd Zulu War British- red coats- against Converted ACW Confederates - the game was excellent and duplicated the actual Battle. Laing's Neck is certainly worth reasurching as are the other Battles of that time. Regards. KEV.

    1. Yes I have read up on the first war, its just more limited in scope. Not a problem for toy soldiers though.

  5. Only you doubt you'll have the whole thing played within six weeks.