Monday, July 29, 2019

Sights of Old Salem

Nah, I don't think I'm going to do another 777 miles/13 hour drive again. When I move my head my neck cracks like a bunch of celery being twisted and my bottom feels like tenderised steak. The standard of driving in Salem leaves a lot to be desired too. A friend of ours at the convention was out sightseeing when she witnessed a road rage incident that left three cars totalled in the middle of town. Still, the conference was a success, and I managed to find a bit of time seeing the sights of Salem, MA with my wife.

Salem's road system is a nightmare to negotiate, especially since it's rife with one-way roads, and street name signs are lacking in vital places. We got lost, which took up time so we weren't able to visit the maritime museum or board the replica Indiaman Friendship of Salem. I was able to take a few snaps of her alongside the wharf, and my wife took one of a huge model of her in the visitors centre in town. 
This wharf once thronged with tall ships loading and unloading cargo. Now Friendship sits looking rather forlorn in a deserted dock.
Friendship was restored recently by a shipwright of the town, but her masts have yet to be stepped. They're lying in a cordoned off area by the wharf. It's interesting to see details of their construction, when normally they'd be far above head level.

The superb model of the Friendship and adjacent historic wharf buildings in the visitors centre.
The original vessel was built in 1797 and made fifteen voyages around the world before being captured by HMS Rosamund during the War of 1812.

Now I'm home, I hope to play the Battle of Abu Hamad soon.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

A slight change of plan...

I was asked on short notice to cover a political convention in Salem, Massachusetts, which involved a long drive. The first day here was enlivened - if that's the right word - by an active shooter alert on the campus. Everyone stayed away from the windows and a police helicopter hovered overhead for a while. Thankfully it turned out to be a false alarm, but of course these days there's no such thing as being too careful.

Hopefully I'll find time to visit the nearby Maritime Museum in the next couple of days. It's reckoned one of the best in the country.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Before the game - The Battle of Abu Hamad

Things have been quiet in the un-air conditioned gaming room lately, not least because the extreme heat currently inflicting this area makes the place nearly uninhabitable. Luckily, although the temperatures are appropriately approaching that of the Sudan, it hasn't stopped me figuring out some details for the planned Abu Hamad game.

First off, whilst General Wolseley was a great organiser he wasn't a patch on his successor, Lord Kitchener. There's scope for the friction of war to appear in the 1885 Sudan campaign. Would the Imperial forces dispatched to the Nile-side town arrive on time? To decide this weighty matter I rolled an average die (remember them?).

A score of 2 meant the army mobile column was delayed 1-3 days in the desert somewhere between Abu Simel and Abu Hamad. The riverine force would attempt to take the town as best it could using landing parties covered by gunfire support. Huzzah!

A score of 3 meant that the army would arrive first with the rum-soaked matelots of the riverine force showing up a tardy 1d10 moves later.

A score of 4 meant the riverine force would show up on time and those lazy landlubbers of the army would arrive 1d10 moves later.

A score of 5 meant the riverine mission had been delayed 1-3 days somewhere along the river. The army mobile column would arrive first, fighting on its own as best it could to take the town. Play up, play up, and play the game...

The die was cast and... came up 3. To use the racing parlance of the time, "Tommy Atkins, mounted on Too Late by Verbosity," would attempt feats of derring-do against the Walls of Abu Hamad. A d10 roll gave a 6, so that many moves must pass before the Navy chugs into view.

Now, the temperatures are supposed to drop somewhat this coming few days, so I hope to reclaim the gaming room from the sauna-like conditions and fight out the battle. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A little oasis

One thing every desert should have is an oasis. A watering hole for people and beasts of burden alike. They make great objectives for games and, under the Sands of the Sudan rules, oases also harbour potential ambushers. Having a bit of spare time this weekend I made one for the Sudan campaign.

Bengal Lancers approach the oasis.

The urban buildings are more or less done, if a little bland looking. I'll do some more research and see where I can put some colour to make them stand out a bit.

Since I now have everything I need for the Abu Hamad game, I might be able to fight it out this weekend. Watch this space...

Friday, July 5, 2019

Urban development

It's been a while since I posted. The gardening has kept me busy, plus a tooth infection followed by dental surgery really did a number on me these past few weeks. Ho hum. At least I'm able to press on with Sudan developments.

I made a couple of buildings for the urban area in the upcoming game set in and around Abu Hamad on the Nile. The spackle work is done, just need to paint in the windows and doors.

The taller building at the back will be shops and apartments. The lower ones with the courtyards are apparently typical of Abu Hamad. I'm tempted to put some greenery in the courtyards, and perhaps a palm tree. 

I also finished the Bengal Lancers, so they're ready to take their place in the Imperial army. The photo is a bit blurry, but it shows what's what.

In the Ooh shiny! category, we have yet another area of wargaming temptation, to whit the Great War Middle East, Palestine and Mesopotamia. For this I place the blame on David Fromkin's book "A Peace to end all peace" - that and Pendraken Miniatures excellent Middle East range. Fromkin's work gives a general view on the background to the theatre and the aftermath that rumbled on into 1922, all of which offer plenty of 'what if...' scenarios. Too Fat Lardies have their If the Lord Spares Us rules for the Middle East, and from the game reports I've read seem to give a good feel for the period.

We'll see.

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