Having finally finished the embrasures I decided to indulge my OCD just a bit and add doors in the doorways. Having done so I then found myself compelled to add hinges and handles. A simple process in its own but there are a couple of dozen doors, and it simply wouldn'r do to have some door with handles and others without.
finding myself without any thin balsa (my preferred answer) I decided to
try slicing blueboard very thinly as a substitute, it seems to have worked
Behold below the Castillo. Now fully embrasured she awaits only a drawbridge to be ready to defend herself against Pirates, Englishmen and the odd Huguenot. Doors, window shutters and other such niceties are still required, of course, but hardly mandatory when facing invaders. Wait, there is the small matter of armaments; I have but six cannon with which to defend this erstwhile mighty fortress, sixty-six embrasures remain empty! Much Sadness.
Actually, my research shows the the Castillo was never fully armed when under the flag of Spain (and, most likely not while in English or American hands) so the demands do not run anywhere close to a full 72 cannon. I do intend this for other purposes and will need many more cannon before I'm finished so if anybody has a line on cheap cannon (or just cannon barrels) please drop a note in the comments.
with the corner towers in place it does look very much more elegant
Having finally finished the dozens of doors and windows I moved on to the next hugely repetitive job; embrasures. There are dozens of these as well, and they need to be the same size and evenly spaced. So I made myself a little template and started the long process of carving notches in my lovely parapets.
about a third done so far; each bastion has ten embrasures
just to relieve the boredom I decided to fancy-up the main gate a bit
Next up is the corner towers, then the drawbridge, then doors and window-grates, then a portcullis, then the Ravelin..............
Rich Uncle Pat (R.U.P. to most folks in the know) reports great success in his efforts to inculcate the Wargaming Spirit in his first born. Dice are used to regulate casualties (although the "red spot means a hit" is sometimes replaced with a more Wellsian approach of flinging the die at the target) and the youngster displays great skill in both methods of casualty randomization.
terrain is kept to a minimum while teaching the rules
As if I didn't already have WAY too many distractions......I was at my local Brick&Mortar the other day when Matt (an employee of same) told me that he was working on a Conquistador vs Aztecs game using any of a number of rules sets. The discussion wandered around and it came up that it would be visually striking, as well as an instant stage-setter, to have an iconic step pyramid on the table. I said that it would be dead easy to knock together as they were all right angles and layered like a birthday cake, it is always easy to brag......
.......but this morning I got home from work and couldn't get to sleep. My busy mind needed to occupy itself with busy hands, so off to the workshop I went; and this happened. I will be delivering it to Matt for completion as I have too much work already but it was a happy half-hour and very therapeutic.
the stairs need a little refinement and the whole thing needs a lot of surface decoration, but it is a decent start, of course it is hollow inside to allow for "Indiana Jones" style exploring
Having built a couple of boxes of the old Wargame Factory War of Spanish Succession cannon kits (currently available from Warlord Games) I found myself in possession of several spare gun barrels. As these were beautifully sculpted cannon barrels it seemed a pity to just throw them away, besides, I needed cannons to mount on the walls of gradually completing Castillo de San Marcos. The biggest stumbling block is that fortresses use cannons on garrison carriages (the classic "ships cannon" on the small heavy mount with little wheels) not the two wheels and a trail style carriages that the model provides. It was clear that I was in for a building project.
Not fancying the idea of making dozens of tiny symmetrical wheels I cast around for an idea as to what I could use as a substitute. After some thought I hit upon the idea of using small flat beads to replace the wheels. A trip to Hobby Lobby provided both the beads and the bass wood strips to build the rest of the carriages.
the components, 3/32 square basswood strips, a string of beads and the "donor kits"
One of the great things about our local gaming conventions is that John Vincent of Quality Miniatures usually shows up with a vast array of reasons for me to spend money. This latest convention was no different, and I walked away quite happy to have added to my collection of 28mm Mediterranean/Caribbean buildings. These were hand-crafted by John himself and are carefully constructed with lift-off roofs and evocative details. Check out his website, if you don't see what you want contact John, he may be able to build exactly what you are looking for (he is talented like that!).
Another Pro or Con convention has come and gone. The games were beautiful, the company convivial and the bargains were available. My game was oversubscribed and I ended up with twice as many players as I had figured on; changes were made and everyone had a good time. Due to the press of action in my game I was not able to take a look at any of the other morning session games (apologies to the many gamemasters that had games with excellent terrain and beautifully presented miniature, I could only glance at your displays).
After a short break for lunch I was able to photograph some of the afternoon session games. See below.
the first game I was too busy to take any photos, the second game had fewer players
and they had a handle on the rules which allowed me the luxury of taking pictures
here we see the French on the right and the Dutch on the left
Joe dropped by and we took the opportunity to test out my game scenario that I was planning on using at the Convention on the 28th. The picture above shows the troops and the layout of the table that I am planning on using. I tried to give a good selection of troop types while remaining close to the sort of troops found in the early stages of the Nine Years War. 32 points per force provides plenty of troops for two players on each side. After due consideration of the terrain I conceived a Brilliant Plan, see below
the Forlorn Hope (being totally B.A. troops) would smash their way into the farmstead and then be able to fire into flanks of the enemy troops while being safe from the powerful Gallopers the skirmishers would make noise on the left while the Shot advanced to flank the farmstead and provide a base of fire
Have you ever wished for a truly custom figure to represent your hero in a Role-Playing game. Well, I certainly have. Enter Hero Forge an on-line custom figure design and creation company. They are a bit pricey if you are building an army but if you are looking for the miniature to represent your august personage on the gaming table they can create a truly customized figure and then 3-D print it for you. Check out the Dwarven Warrior that I designed for myself, the whole process took just a couple of minutes.
To break the tedium of window and door frames I assembled the fortress on my folding banquet tables (the ones in the picture are eight foot long and have a combined width of five feet). It is HUGE ........ I can barely wait to take this to a convention.
I plan on using Pikeman's Lament for convention play and have already started on a battered wall section and a damaged bastion to make the assault easier.
I throw most of the stuff that appears in my mailbox away as soon as I see it (the balance are bills that I would PREFER to throw away but can't). However, every once in a great while, an item of real interest appears. In the most recent case it was the very substantial Uline Corporation catalog. Although aimed at commercial shippers there are a cornucopia of goodies in here (and on their website) that are of interest to wargamers seeking an answer on how to safely store our tiny armies. They produce boxes in sizes ranging from the ridiculously small to the frightfully large as well as shipping tubes (perfect for maps) and every imaginable packing material. Whether you need twenty boxes or a thousand you will most certainly find what you need here, take a look.
Of particular interest is this page that lists "literature mailers" which are nice flat sturdy boxes with tab-closed lids, they come in different heights and sizes and will accommodate everything from 2mm to 54mm figures. I have dozens securely storing my 15mm WW2 collection.
....one thing that I had not noticed about the Castillo de San Marcos is the simply HUGE number of doors and windows that face into the courtyard. I tried drawing them but it just looked silly. Thus I have to install a LOT of door and window frames. After two days of steady work I'm about half finished.
lots and lots of doorways and windows.....
.....and lots more to go
The next step is adding the fifty-plus embrasures to the parapet. Does anybody know where I can get a bulk discount on about sixty 18lbr cannon on naval mounts?
Anyone who knows me at any level of familiarity will have noticed my interest (fetish? obsession? mental disorder?) in permanent fortifications. particularly those in the New World. My children endured "fort day" on every vacation that we took as a family. A further reading of this blog shows the extent that I will go to in an effort to satisfy this ongoing enthusiam. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered this website Starforts.com . Written in a delightfully irreverent style and cross-linked in every direction this is one man's effort to document every starfort in the Universe. I'd say he is off to a pretty good start. Grab a glass of your favorite libation and enjoy!
Last we visited the fray the Confederates were holding in the north by the skin of their teeth while in the east Sumner's relentless pressure had drawn all of the Rebel reserves to his assault. Mansfield was finally working out how to get past one hugely stubborn Confederate brigade. With all the reserves on both sides in play there was little suspense left, just a lot of hard fighting.
at the top of the picture you can see the last of the Rebel reserves turning to the east to confront Sumner's troops, the center is held by a few artillery batteries and two perilously weak Confederate brigades, oh, and a d10 (which, from it's blue uniform, would tend to favor the Union)
With all the Union cards on the table, and the balance (however slowly) shift in the favor of the Bluebellies, the Confederate Commander (Joe) had hard decisions to make; Hill stood little chance of stopping Sumner's slow-moving (but overwhelming) advance, while Hooker was finishing off J.R. Jones in the center. The one shining spot was Hood's indomitable defense of the snake-rail fence that stood in the path of Mansfield. With precious few brigades in reserve where would he send them to stymie the Union attack and gain a chance to win the day?
the Texans attack along the road had slowed Hooker's advance but the one brigade of bold Southern boys was swamped by the mass of Northerners and Hooker's troops began to flow past them to the west
Having shown you the terrain, and the Union's Cunning Plan, we will now begin to unfold how the game progressed. As always the Plan did not survive contact with the enemy.........but it at least provided a framework for action. The Fire & Fury Brigade level rules functioned very well, providing a fast playing game with its share of frustrating Command breakdowns and offering realistic results.
I played Mansfield, the narration is told from the Union viewpoint (mostly mine). J&R or R.U.P. please add the opposing narrative if you wish.
and the Cunning Plan runs into problems right away,
Mansfield's Corps is slowed by atrocious Command rolls right off the bat
moving at half speed instead of a stunning sudden assault
Before to see how we fought it out you might like a quick reminder how the actual battle proceeded. The Civil War Trust has produced a lot of great material. Watch this highly informative video on the historic battle it is chock full of information and is very well done.
Our refight was slightly different. We ignored the whole Burnside Bridge fight as a wash and played the game with the idea that, on that front at least, things would follow the pattern of historical events. You will see that the rest of the battle turned out rather differently.
As for the rest of the battle you will see from the photos below that the troops were laid out largely according to historical deployment. We did allow for a bit more coordination between the Union Commanders that was followed that fateful day one hundred fifty-five years before.
Thus we have the field of battle reduced to manageable proportions; the area contained within the green line is the area represented by our tabletop;
Having the luxury of two consecutive days off of work I allowed myself the pleasure of wasting most of one of them in the workshop. The Castillo has been occupying the game table like some invading Leviathan, virtually demanding attention. I finished the molding line that runs along the parapet on all of the walls and bastions, completed the stairway, made the hard decision to only card-clad the vulnerable corners and edges (the sheer volume of surface argued against cladding the entire thing as I had done with the first bastion) and started on applying a coating of wallboard compound to simulate the stucco that covered the original fort. All in all a good bit of work.
the stairway had been started earlier, a simple enough thing, built up layer-cake style,
it took up a surprising amount of time to complete
Despite my job's best efforts at working me to death I managed to get a day off. I took a little while to unwind and worked on the Castillo project for a few hours. I had to make the walls deeper (another math error had left them too thin by almost 33%). Then I got to work filling gaps and added details. After this I am back to the card cladding of the surfaces then mounting the whole thing on sections of thin plywood.
the extent of my error is visible here,
the blue at the back of each section is the depth that needed to be added
In one final outburst of gaming before my job ruined my vacation I played on Sunday. Only Joe could make it so we set to with my new favorite rule set Pikeman's Lament. Three back-to-back games in just over four hours tested Joe's new "Combat Only" force of Pikemen, Clansmen and Aggressive Gallopers fronted only by two units of Commanded Shot against my standard firepower-heavy force. Joe won the first two games, the first by a narrow margin , the second by a landslide and we fought the third "Morning Assault" to a draw. We were having too much fun to stop to record things but I did snap a shot of the draw at the end of the third game
The Morning Assault envisions a dawn attack against an enemy held defensive line with a sneak attack on its flank. Victory conditions are only achieved through the complete destruction of the enemy force or, when there are five of fewer units still on the table. We battered each other until only four Commanded Shot were left; two of Joe's and two of mine. As usual, my Leader fell in combat as did Joe's. Both survived their wounds and will be back next game.
the figures were left largely where they fell showing the intensity of the fighting,
only thirteen figures on my force fled and ten in Joe's; the rest fell in combat on the field
Having lost my Leader, captured by oldSarge's Duelist in the last battle, I was resolved to try to rescue him from captivity. I laid out the terrain with a small farm in the center and offered oldSarge his choice of sides. From there we played out rescue mission in the rule book; half of oldSarge's troops were in the and around the buildings guarding the prisoner while the rest of his force was away foraging. With great caution and stealth my troops had crept close during the night. As dawn broke my troops charged forward with a loud "huzzah!"........or something to that effect.
the situation at the beginning of the battle
the French troops are arriving on the near edge, the Dutch reinforcements will appear on the far (top) edge with the two building in the center already occupied by some Dutch foot
My grand plan for building a Pirates game wherein the ships sail around in an imaginary sea and the game tables are islands has already been done. And in grand style I might add. R.U.P. found this gem that I somehow missed ages ago when it showed up on Jay's Wargaming Madness blog (which is an interesting way to spend some of your free time, I might add). Check his post here for more pictures.
The French confronted the Dutch in some anonymous corner of the Netherlands on the fringes of the main armies. Pikeman's Lament (once again) handled the action admirably; I wish I could claim my generalship was as effective. 30 points on a side; the Dutch had two units of Shot, two of Trotters, two units of Forlorn Hope and a single unit of Commanded Shot. Opposing the the French possessed three units of Shot, two units of Gallopers, two units of Commanded Shot and a lone Forlorn Hope.
the battle begins, I had advanced the two units on my left then failed a Command roll,
this turned out to be a theme for both myself and oldSarge in this game
We had decided to take a break from Pikeman's Lament and dust off some old figures and rules for a game of Black Powder set in Spain set in 1810.
enthusiastic, but frightfully unprepared, the militia assemble in the pass
Moore had fled long ago, Wellington is lurking near Portugal and the Spanish find themselves trying to eject the French from Spain on their own. There are still significant portions of the old Royal Army operating in Spain as well as some of the newly-raised militia troops. The Spanish have decided to fortify and hold one of the narrow passes between the French armies in an effort to keep the enemy scattered. They have asked some locally raised militia to hold the pass while divisions of regular troops move into the area. With this pass seized, and a respectable sized force of Royal troops assembled, the Spanish will force the French to spend the winter short of supplies, fragmented with poor communications and surrounded by a hostile countryside.
The French, to no one's surprise, have taken exception to this plan and have moved vigorously to thwart it. The stage is set for battle.
Once again Rich Uncle Pat has graced us with one of his cleverly contrived and beautifully presented games. This outing involved a stolen aid convoy, foreign mercenaries, rebels and an invasion by an aggressive neighbor. So, in other words, an unusually quiet afternoon in these parts. But far and away the most striking thing about the game is that it took place in a shanty-town that covered the entire 6x4 foot table. These little gems had been acquired from tinned-pears via Ebay.UK who produces them in 15mm/20mm/28mm and is also open to commissioned projects. He can also be found on Facebook at Tinned Fruit Buildings. I was completely blown away with the look and the fact that each and every one was a hand-crafted original. Simply Awesome!
R.U.P. has more buildings but we needed to have room for a few minis!
A view from the other end, just as stunning
the mean streets down by the docks
hardly a bustling waterfront, but then, civil war is usually bad for commerce
Inspired by the fun we were having with Pikeman's Lament Joe and I decided to dig out Lion Rampant and my old 15mm Middle Ages troops and play a game. I have to admit that my first experiences with Lion Rampant left a bad taste in my mouth. As I have played more of Mersey's games I understand his design ideas a bit better and have come to terms with my old apprehensions.
True to form, instead of playing a game of twenty-four points a side we thought that we would give a sixty point battle a try. We did make two changes; we broke each force into three Battles, these groups diced as separate entities so that one bad die-roll didn't freeze the action all the way across the table, secondly we decided that each base represented two figures (ignoring the number of figures mounted on the base) this changed the look of the game a great deal.
I chose a force heavy on firepower, crossbows with pavises, a couple of blocks of Foot Sergeants and some Fierce Foot supported by two units of dismounted Knights, my only mounted troops were one unit of Knights and one of Mounted Sergeants. Joe opposed me with three units of Elite Archers, one unit of Foot Sergeants, Two units of Mounted Knights and five of Mounted Sergeants.
the right flank of Joe's army, a threatening mass of cavalry, four units of Mounted Sergeants
in the distance the rest of Joe's force; four units of Elite Archers flanked by a unit of Foot Sergeants, on his far left two units of Mounted Knights and another unit of Sergeants
nearer is my army with (left to right) Mounted Sergeants backed by Mounted Knights then alternating units of crossbow and Foot sergeants backed by Foot Knights on my far right a unit of foot sergeants and two units of Fierce Foot
Once again I had an opportunity to play a quick game and my sole opponent was Joe, we quickly resolved on playing a round of Pikeman's Lament. I had a scenario in mind for a Napoleonic game but the it translated well to the 1690's so I laid it out on the table.
The situation is that a convoy of siege guns needs to be delivered to the besieging army, it is being escorted by a group of infantry with a nominal cavalry escort. Word of the convoy has been passed to the opposing side. They don't have the forces to lift the siege but there is a handy force of elite cavalry and brave infantry. With steely nerve and a dash of luck they just might be able to intercept the convoy and destroy the guns and disperse the crews.
the place of battle, the convoy will arrive from the far end,
This being one of my favorite periods and once again having just Joe as an opponent it seemed a perfect time to give The Pikeman's Lament rules another go 'round. We agreed on standard size companies but threw an added spin on it by gaming with my (ancient) Minifigs 15mm ECW forces. A little playing around with the look of things we decided that each base of figures would stand in for two figures under the rules; this gave a good looking game and matched the physical space that the larger 28mm figures would have occupied thus saving us from having to scale the moves and ranges. The battle was a heads-up fight to make sure things worked as we hoped they might.
The only person that could make it for the game on the 19th was my rules-junkie buddy Joe. Knowing this I decided that we would give Pikeman's Lament a try. Everybody else in my gaming group has pretty well made up their mind about the pike and shot era (and in a very negative way, I might add).
These rules are derivative of the Lion Rampant system but have enough differentiation to feel rather specific to the period. In reading the rules one of the scenarios gave me the idea for our game; a redoubt has been constructed in front of the main gate of the fortress and last night the big guns have been moved into position, these guns must be destroyed before they can blow in the the gate and allow the besieging army access to the fortress. To this end a desperate force of volunteers has been assembled and will attack at first light. They must place an unwavering unit on each gun for a full turn to spike the barrels and burn the carriages, anything else is failure.
the Gallopers burst forth from the main gate and headed hell-bent toward the guns
Actually a couple of people have expressed interest in playing games from the Neulandia Campaign so it looks like we will be running some VSF craziness.
First up Her Britannic Majesty's Forces will show the bandits on Vectis what proper hospitality looks like (tea and crumpets served a bayonet point, I am guessing)
Next we have the Mexicanish Empire's initial exploration of their newly granted lands, just so The Housemartin can show off his freshly painted soldiers. (Housemartin please bring your whole force so we can do an "Up close and personal" post on your unique force, you too Joe, and you as well R.U.P.)
Third will be the (hopefully) final encounter between the Prussians and the rebellious Malagassian upstarts.
And, because all of that should take less than three hours I encourage everyone to bring 36 points of their favorite VSF tank/walker/War-car etc for a free-for-all battle as a nightcap. If you don't have enough models I have lots of stuff left over from the D.O.D.O. DampfPanzerLandSchiff Korps so I can help fill in any gaps.
Having finished the fun part of the project I am now faced with the essential but hugely tedious task of cladding the surface with card. This process involves covering the model with glue and sticking index card weight paper over the surface. I find that this greatly strengthens the model and helps the foam resist dings and damage in handling. This is neither interesting to see or easy to photograph so I will refer my gentle readers to the posting on my efforts while building Fort Matanzas. It will take some time to complete this step so I will leave you with a photo or two before I return to the workshop.
it certainly looks like I'm going to need a bigger table
that is the "small" version of the fort with the 5" wall sections instead of the 15" versions
I had a moment to spend on the Starfort. Operationally unprepared to start cladding the fort in card I opted to build a few of the details that make it scream "Spanish!" Corner tower were a must and the spirit of the Baroque era demanded some sort of fancy gateway. While I was contemplating the off-cuts pile it occurred to me that if I made tiny sections of wall that would connect the bastions to one another it would save a lot of space on the table. There was a handy heap of blue board in 5"x5" squares. These were left over from the build phase and were exactly the right size for wall segments. So, off I went.
first I dug out my old Nemesis, the hot glue gun, and glued the squares into three-high stacks
Having completed the rough shape of the bastions I now needed to add the all-important parapet (that bit of the wall that the soldiers were actually protected by). I cut strips of foam to correct shape and then glued them to the top edge of the bastion, mitering the corners as I went. Below you can see one of the bastions with its parapet installed.
cutting, trimming and installing the parapets took longer than building the bastions did
OK, for once I turned down overtime at work and had a whole glorious day with nearly nothing to do with myself. Shunning the magnificent sunshine I descended into the depths of the Anton's Wargames Workshop to address unfinished project pile. Looming (literally) over the rest of my many "in-progress" efforts was the vast blue bulk of the starfort. I grinned and set to work, below you can see the fruits of my efforts.
the rough-cut bastions,these are slightly wider than the prototype,
I decided to just push ahead and start cutting foam, instead of the complex geometry stuff. It seems to have worked out so far, what the heck? So I cut three layers of foam to the outline of the bastion and then cut it again at the draft angle of the walls I had finished earlier. A couple of mistakes and a whole mess of hot glue and I have a bastion. All in less time than the math would have taken.
those are 28mm WSS figures from Wargames Factory
this is going to be a HUGE model when it is finished
the Mantanzas Fort looks tiny sitting inside this thing
and in relative terms the Castillo de San Marcos was small,
Spanish forts in Puerto Rico and Cuba are MUCH larger