Thursday, July 29, 2010

Creating a Colonial wargaming setting

Some time ago I found a website devoted to Pulp-style gaming. This group's games were set in and around China Station, a mythical entreport located somewhere on the coast of China during the 20's and 30's. This photograph shows their stunning set-up.

Computer crashes and several other factors resulted in me losing any links to this group's site, but I retained the photo and the inspiration it gave me to try something along these lines for my own, Colonial-era gaming.

What I propose to do - eventually, time, funds and circumstances permitting! - is to create a small settlement, similar to China Station, situated somewhere on the coast of my Daft Continent. A locale where games can be played out in a semi/mini campaign style, featuring military and naval action, and the assorted skulduggery of the Great Game.

Architecture will range through a majority of African and Arab-type dwellings to a few European buildings and facilities. I may well use some African huts in the style I posted earlier for a native suburb or similar. The settlement will expand and develop as I construct more buildings. Some will be replaced or even modified. Being on the coast, it also gives me a chance to model various boats and ships, and to field a naval brigade.

As for gaming in and around the settlement, I'll probably use a mixture of rules. GASLIGHT has my attention at the moment. Although I haven't played these as yet, they seem to be suitable for solo play, and have the flexibility to cope with a variety of weapons and the odd unexpected situation!

All I really need now is a name for the place. I've a few ideas in mind but any suggestions will be welcome.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Classic Wargaming Journal

Due to recent commitments I'm running a bit behind the times here, but I'm pleased to see a new publication has entered the hobby in the shape of the

Harking back to the original home-produced publications produced by wargamers some forty years ago, CWJ is born of editor Phil Olley's desire to put something back into the hobby. Very much a labor of love, this little publication has a lot to offer the gamer, especially those of the Old School persuasion. The contributors for this pilot edition are well-known from their various blogs and websites, and they provide some excellent articles here. I hope you'll join with me in subscribing to a worthwhile effort, and in wishing Phil well in his endeavor!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Indian mountain gun

A new unit has joined the ranks of my Daftest Africa/GASLIGHT collection in the shape of this small brass mountain gun, crewed by the Indian army. Figures and gun are by Ral Partha.

The crew came in just one pose, so I set to work making some alterations. A trick Peter Gilder showed me years ago is to wrap a scrap of paper or cloth around the head of the figure several times, grip it hard with a pair of pliers and twist, very gently. It doesn't take more than a few degrees to make the figure look in another direction, altering its appearance. Take care not to exert too much force, or the poor chap will be decapitated!

Arms were similarly repositioned, although the left arm of the gunner to the left-rear of the photo needed to be amputated, filed and glued to fit into its new angle. I added a short sword made from hammered brass rod to one figure in order to make an officer for the detachment. He left his scabbard somewhere in the baggage train. Other minor touches included adding wheel wedges to the hands of a couple of figures.

The vegetation in the background came from the gardening section of a local dollar store. Apparently they're intended for flower-arranging purposes, but scattered around on the table they make reasonable bushes. They do need work to look more natural; perhaps a dry-brushing with a lighter green. I'll "have a think" on it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Constructing a palisade - 3

So here it is, the African village, complete with palisade. Twenty-five sections between two-three inches in length making up a total diameter of approx. eighteen inches. The tops of the palisade stakes have been painted a very dark gray to represent vitrification. (This process involves scorching the exposed ends of the logs to seal the sap capillaries to prevent water, mold and bacteria getting in, causing the logs to rot).

I've altered the form of the gate since the last picture, as the base warped when I applied the groundwork. The new one is based on a section of quarter-inch foamcore. It's nice and rigid. The paint used is the Craft Smart range, available at Michael's hobby stores. All the basework is made using lightweight spackle.

I'm putting this whole village may go up for sale on eBay in a day or so. Other projects have caught my eye...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Constructing a palisade - 2

On to the second stage of palisade construction. I now have 25 straight lengths of palisade, enough to make a circular enclosure roughly 18 inches in diameter and big enough to take five of the huts I made earlier. On to the gate...

After some thought I decided to make a staggered entrance, similar to those found in ancient fortifications in Britain and other places the world over. The general principle is to prevent an enemy having a direct line of attack through the opening by making the approach into the enclosure turn at a sharp angle. Two further enhancements are:-
To make the pathway narrow so only one person can traverse it at a time, plus it's easy to block: To make it turn to the left (viewed from outside) so a warrior carrying a shield will have the right side of his body exposed to attack from the defenders.

For the gate I made a large base area from laminated card. Cutting the corners off prevents warping when base-work spackle is applied. The line which the palisade sections will follow is drawn out in black felt pen and is wide enough for one figure to stand inside. The Colonel kindly demonstrates the idea.

The curves require a slightly different approach in making the palisade sections. I held the mini-dowels in place as before using a strip of masking tape and a popsicle stick, but instead of lengths of bamboo kabob skewer I used thick thread to bind the rods together. By weaving the threads between the rods and fixing them in place with a spot of craft glue, I created a flexible length of palisade work. A short piece of bamboo skewer served to edge the threads into line. This isn't as fiddly as it looks! The masking tape is a life-saver here.

Here's a photo showing the two flexible lengths of palisade leaning against the box cutter knife. Two more lengths of the ordinary type are under way. The line the gate sections will follow has now been raised to the height of the ordinary sections using two pieces of card cut to shape and glued into place.

Next, to fix the palisade lengths in place. I anticipated the flexible curves would pose a problem as ordinary craft adhesive takes time to set, even in hot weather. For this job I used a hot-glue gun, which allowed me enough time to tease the curved sections into place before setting. The whole job took less than a minute, with the results shown below.

The only task remaining now is to apply the groundwork. For this I use lightweight spackle (available in most hardware stores) sprinkled with florists sand. More to follow once my wife and I return from our 1st Anniversary weekend trip out of town!

In the meantime,

have a

Happy Fourth of July!


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