Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! The last day of the old year closed with a whoosh. A tornado touched down about a mile west of us a little after noon and tore up a city block's worth of damage. No-one was killed, thankfully; some minor injuries is all, but a number of houses were destroyed and a church roof torn off. We were lucky and had nothing more than a strong wind and heavy rain for a spell. Let's spare a moment of sympathy for those who suffered and had their celebrations spoiled, and hope the New Year is less dramatic!

On a more pleasant note, the manuscript of my novel Rebel Hearts has just been accepted by eXstasy Books! Updates as they happen can be found over at my website.

So, the New Year is less than a day old here in the United States. What of the future, gaming-wise?

My Colonial Africa Station project is advancing slowly. The main problem is most of my collection is still in the UK, and it costs a wheelbarrow full of cash to mail anything of any weight across the Pond. Add to that the fact that no less than three parcels mailed to me from the UK failed to arrive in the last year, and you can see my concern.

Still, onwards and upwards. I came across references online to a structure called a tembe, a fortified building found in east Africa which has a lot of potential for African gaming. The pictures I've seen show a square single-floor structure with thick mud-brick outer walls and a flat thatched roof built around a central enclosure where animals could be driven for safety in the event of a raid. The interior was divided into several rooms leading into one another, each of which made an individual strongpoint in the event of the outer door being breached. It sounds like an African version of the pele tower found in the English-Scottish Border country.

Another project I hope to get to in the New Year is a British blockhouse of the kind found in South Africa. The preserved example below is located in the grounds of the Museum of the Boer Republics, Bloemfontein. More information about fortifications in Africa can be found at this excellent website.

It's a fairly simple structure, prefabricated from corrugated iron, ready-fitted with a water tank, and easily transported from site to site at need. It was cheap too at only £16 sterling! The blockhouse would be augmented by a deep trench, or local field stone as shown above should the ground be too hard. The garrison was typically six or seven men, an ideal unit size for skirmish gaming. Although originally created in the last Boer War, I feel it could serve very well in earlier Colonial times.

One thing which is eluding me - a source of MDF, or Medium Density Fibreboard. I have a hunch it may be known by another name here in the US. Can anyone enlighten me as to what it's called, and where I can get some of 2mm thickness? Any help or suggestions appreciated!


Bluebear Jeff said...

Happy New Year, AJ. You might want to consider using 1/72 plastics for Colonial troops.

Here's a link to "Plastics Review", which has a nice rundown of available figures for many periods:

-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

re: mdf. Hopefully you've found a source by now. It took me quite a while to find a local source in Calif. The "big box" and chain stores like Lowe's and Home Depot didn't seem to know much about it. Then I found a local place (through actual paper "yellow pages" phone books) that sells wood paneling, plywood, and such to local builders and regular retail customers. They knew exactly what I was looking for, were able to quickly cut down 4' by 8' sheets into manageable sizes. I bought enough to keep me supplied for a long time to come.


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