Schooner progress, part II

I found some time to create some additional components for the improvised schooner – and once again I thought that woodworking lathe & mill would be most useful. Unfortunately not possessing either, I have to resort to trusty Proxxon tool, drill as a lathe and some vigorous filing to make some of the hardwood bits. Recent progress includes some things that every ship needs (according to the little shipowner) like catheads, belfry, fife rails to name a few. Main stay bitts (not really sure how the mount point of main stay is called in any language…) will be mounted to the frame to provide proper support for the mainmast. Same goes for the fife rails and in lesser extend to the catheads.

I thought back and forth about the head of the ship and after much contemplation ended up building it in 19th century style. Head is probably the single most fragile part of the whole boat and hopefully the construction is solid enough (albeit a test trial did pass – e.g.. the boat hitting a floor bow first without ballast;)). Anyway, bow may not exactly in par with the durability requirement I’m afraid.

Bowsprit and foremast are also well underway and turned out quite all right I think. Because it’s not much of a model, some things are not intended to be in scale, nor perfectly accurate.

Additionally, I had to resort Amati to supply some of the hard to make bits (hard to make without mill and lathe, that is) such as blocks, deadeyes, deadeye chains, the bell, wheel and anchors. One of course may wonder what all those bits are doing in a sailing model that really isn’t a model, but we’ll see.

Functional tiller and a rudder should be done (to be connected to the wheel), as well as the deck hatch gratings. Since vessel is smallish lake schooner, there is no need for stern windows, or skylight.

Water test was success, she goes in straight line and with ballast of ~459 grams, she’s very solidly upright and snaps right with vigor. Waterline is where it should be so we’re ready to go forwards. Little shipowner was very, very exited and happy testing the boat in the bathtub (and that was far more thorough testing than I had in mind).

… until the next part…

Posted in 7 years war, Painting, Revolutionary wars, Scratch built | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Actions at Sea

Captured spanish vessel - 4For quite some time there has been hiatus in ship building and when I went to do a bit of inventory through the unpainted Langton ships, I realized that there is a whole lot of ground to cover to have them all in shape (about half of the existing ships have no rigging set up as we speak). Not only that there is many, many ships that should be painted, but some of the jewels I bought years ago I had entirely forgotten (such as two Brigs with full rigging – and that is a whole lot of rigging). Therefore, it occurred to me that to expedite the progress, I should probably find scenarios that the available forces would enable to fight.

Of course there are plenty to choose from, even Seven Years War alone has many historical instances where moderately sized fleets were in close proximity and albeit they never really engaged. It means whole lot of hypothetical situations that would be interesting.  Not to mention the actual battles, and campaigns. Consider for example Suffren in India, the whole episode that we can probably call the most tactically successful French career could turn into compact, but very interesting campaign game.

Then there are all the small encounters that occurred all over the place and where ships were no more than Schooners, Brigs, boats and such – usually in restricted or coastal waters. A splendid ground for interesting but overlooked battles that would fall in range of ruleset that has all the details one could wish for.

Langton’s Signal Close Action (including the fast play version that is even quicker) is a nice set of rules that runs well and is fairly fast, but the general lack of interest in the naval operations is somewhat depressing. A bit like trying to get people try out March Attack…

Perhaps it is only seasonal variation (that has been going on for few years now), and age of sails games will pick up pace again. Who knows – meanwhile, the general lack of war is as good opportunity as any to have some reinforcements ordered, laid up and built. It takes quite a long time to build a fleet after all.

Posted in 7 years war, Revolutionary wars, scenarios, Signal Close Action | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review – Italia


While talking about Pax Romana, and Imperium Romanum II, it would be somewhat unfair to leave out Italia – an offshoot of Britannia. Unlike Britannia, Italia never quite didn’t make it, and I genuinely wonder why. Of course Britannia was there before, and yes it has different geography, but italia had more interesting geographical constraints – at least in my opinion. Italy, a narrow boot that it is. Italy is divided in two games, three player game of early Rome, and four player version for late game. Movement and economy are very simple. In fact, sometimes even too much, so it does not offer whole lot of decision points.

In the basics, Italia has several nations on map, each player controlling a group of color coded nations, or a single one in case of early game Rome. Nations come and go, whenever nation expires (is most likely overrun by barbarian horde, or some other aspiring group op people) there is already others waiting in the queue to occupy their share of the place. During the entire game, Italy is in constant flux, new groups of nations pouring in from the restless northern border, pushing everyone southwards as they go. Something a kin to small world, but much better. At the same time, Rome (in early game, Italia I) attempts to establish itself as ruling power in the peninsula, and fight off Carthage, Greece, and other rivals. In Italia II, Rome is fracturing, and players try to gain what they can from the seceding territories.

Each faction has a card that provides essential idea what each nation attempts to do for maximum victory points and hence, like it’s brethren, becomes quite scripted. Cards do not really give options, but rather rigid framework, which you should follow. Nowdays, after many games, I cannot stop thinking that perhaps the chief problem with Italia is among it’s super simplicity that you are only riding along the script, and have only little chances to do otherwise. There is little mechanics that drive the game besides of the cards and their VP pointers. It is not hard to see that the contest between factions is very difficult to execute for balanced game, and makes one wonder how well it is done in Pax Romana.

Unfortunately, Italia is also quite long – and good grief if group includes someone that has tendency to optimize, or someone that does not use the downtime to familiarize him/herself with the nation cards. Italia can be easily a slogging match of whole day and the end result may not be as satisfactory, albeit it is fun. Again, in same time span, one can play Pax Romana, and have much more rewarding experience.

So, if there are group of three to four players – and sufficient free time – like being stuck in mountain cabin with sufficient food, drink and other resources, Italia is quite nice way to spend an afternoon+evening. If however, there is no such luxury, and more careful selection is needed for the game that is brought to table, then there are better alternatives.

Posted in Ancient warfare, Boardgames, Review | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pax Romana, scenario II

There was an opportunity to play second scenario of Pax Romana, a two player game that pits Carthage and Rome against each other. Goal was simple, to destroy the capital of the other, or failing that, victory by VP’s.

I draw Rome, and my opponent took Carthage. From the outset, it appeared that Rome were better off financially, and in manpower. Carthage on the other hand, had advantage over the sea lanes, and easy access to Hispania. It was not hard to see the expansionist ambitions Carthage had.  As Rome, I had only one goal in mind, to utterly destroy Carthage, and spoil the land.

It happened however, that Sicilies stood on my way. So, while luck in leader draw were terrible for both players, they favored expansion over military feats. It took Rome a full turn to gain foothold in Sicily, displacing Mamertines, while building also some towns for additional income. Unfortunately though, after Romans finally got the foothold in the northeastern corner, and the town of Panormus, Carhage sent in large military force accompanied with lots of cavalry.

Several times did Rome try to fight the Carthaginians over the control of the island, and city of Lilybaeum but in no avail. Carthaginians repeatedly repulsed army over twice their own size and fleets kept the Romans from passing through to Carthage.

Meanwhile, Carthage advanced in Hispania and eventually took possession of the whole. Rome managed to take a bit of Gaul, sufficient to rise light infantry and cavalry there but all too little and too late. Expedition in Hispania was doing well after the cavalry contingent were reinforced, but there were not enough time to turn the Carthaginian tide.

Corridor through Corsica was blocked likewise with strong Carthaginian fleets positioned there. Once Rome finally had sufficient navies to battle Carthaginian seapower, it was much too late to concentrate attack in multiple fronts. pax-romana-aar-scenario-ii-take-i-9

Last attempt to take Undefended Carthage (an insult of the superior naval power of Carthage) failed and Carthage stopped the advance through Sicily. So, Rome lost quite badly – which bad omens were blamed. Not to mention that Roman equestrians probably contributed as much as they usually do in Impetus…

Posted in AAR, Ancient warfare, Boardgames | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Reading for the Weekend – Rigging

riggingIncidentally I can foresee this book taking visit to a daylight again. Rigging period fore-and-aft craft by Lennarth Peterson is a book that focuses solely – as name implies – in rigging of fore-and-aft craft. Three examples are provided: British Naval Cutter, French Lugger and American Schooner.

Author goes through the rigging plan of each craft in admirable detail – and most importantly, exquisite drawings provide clear visualization for each and every yard, deadeye, block and rope. Of course it is important for any model maker to have the rigging right, but the details also help to understand why rigging is done in a way it is.

Selection of the ship examples is also nice, because (at least as far as I have found) those happen to be the more unusual ones and rigging reference is not easy to come by.Of course, I have a soft spot for smaller craft, Schooners, Cutters and Brigs being my favorites.

Conclusion then. If  building fore-and-aft rigged model, and there in need for a proper introduction and reference to the subject of rigging, this book is about the best one can find.

As the little project progresses, there will be ample reasons to use the book and not only for the visual appeal (no doubt I will omit a lot) but durability and hopefully also functionality.

Posted in Books, Review, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something completely different

My daughter likes sailing ships. A lot.


One day I promised to make her a ship when playing with a boat made of bark. Of course she did not forget and next two weeks I heard questions about the ship. I took some time before I found hull drawings, and thought that could take potentially rough handling but then again it was time well spent – I hope. Drawings needed some adjustments, and the ship is nowhere near model, nor intended to be one.general-hunter-1

Of course, being miniature shipwright, I thought that the ship needed to be scratch built. Preferably constructed in realistic way (especially because it cannot be terribly heavy, but should be rigid enough and easy to handle). I had some ideas, but then it occurred to me that small, simple schooner would probably be a hit – considering that she has got interest on my collection of 1:1200 ships and a few tall ships she had seen.


So, I went out to look for a hull drawings and ended up with a lake schooner that would have been from around 1812 or thereabouts (something a kin to HMS General Hunter). Nice lines, relatively shallow draft, and when around 40cm long, should not be too difficult to handle. Two masts, rigged as simply as possible. Building material would be mostly balsa, planks and hardwood masts. If lucky, ballast would not need to be very heavy, and there should be no need for additional ballast below the keel.


So far so good. And yes, I know that building one side first is not the best of ways, but there are some errors to correct. End result should be fine.

Posted in Scratch built | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Rhodean harbour

Rhodean harbour - 2

Incidentally, colliding with my interest in the Seleucid-Roman interaction, and probably also, but unknowingly with my interest to Pax Romana I had opportunity to stop by in a natural Rhodean harbor. Putting aside the fact that it probably servers more swimmers and holiday sailboats more than Tiremes these days, it is understandable how such a position would command sea and trade.

Rhodes was quite strong both geographically and economically. Sizable fleet, flourishing trade and strategic position that could deny transport of trade goods, troops and material  was once in mutually beneficial alliance with Egypt under Ptolemy. Later, Rhodes was perhaps somewhat unwillingly co-operating with Rome for the downfall of Greece and Seleucids, and then much later perhaps not so unwillingly against Ottomans. No doubt, common to all was the key strategic position in the eastern mediterranean. A place that everyone would like to have occupied or forge alliance with.

Rhodean harbour - 1

Dorian settlers apparently saw the position of the natural harbour and dominating hill on the side and decided to erect city of Lindos around the strong defensive position that dominated not only the surrounding landscape, but also the harbor.

In fact, this nowadays rather tiny little town, and the natural harbour beside it was once so powerful that the military nature was not relinquished until much later time. Acropolis had been build over and over with each passing era leaving it’s own signature.

Posted in Ancient warfare, Locations | Tagged , | 2 Comments