Sunday, March 26, 2017

Getting My Hands Dirty?

My normal gaming group knows what my naval prejudices are.  I'll play a WWII game, but don't particularly care for them.  Airplanes foul up an otherwise perfectly good sea battle.  I do like WWI, but zeppelins get almost as much side-eye as airplanes do.  And don't EVEN get me started on submarines.  Torpedo boats and destroyers I can respect, but in gaming terms submarines are more like hooligans waiting to mug someone than they are a fighting ship.  Ironclads get a small amount of side-eye too.  Skulking behind armor and polluting the sky with clouds of coal smoke don't seem like a gentlemanly way to fight a battle.  My gaming friends just laugh at me, and say I'm a reactionary where naval games with technology are concerned.  My retort is that I'm a traditionalist.

Now, given the above rant I'm at a bit of a loss to explain why these turned up in the mail on Monday:

Actually, I'm not at a loss.  We played Yaquinto's Ironclads for a couple of months, and I became convinced that they could be fun after all.  So, I picked up a set of rules, and these three little beauties from Thoroughbred Miniatures.  Although they are best known for 1/600 scale models, they also do a line of 1/1200 scale ironclads as well.  As you can see, they are beautiful sculpts, with no flash and very dainty detailing.  The two monitors are Passaic class ships, which were the first ones built after the original Monitor.  The Confederate ironclad is the CSS Atlanta, so my test scenario for rules is going to be Atlanta versus Weehawken and Nahant.  I don't know if it is a "fair" scenario, but it will be more interesting than the usual Monitor/Virginia scenario and allow 2 other players to sit in on the first playtest instead of just one.

Full disclosure: I had some ironclad minis in the past, but got rid of them.  One of the things I had forgotten was just how small the ironclads are in comparison to my ships of the line.  The picture below shows these ships with the usual quarter.  As you can see, they barely come past the slotta-base holding the coin:

The 74 gunner is on a base, but I think you get the idea.

Because of their small size and low profile, I'm not sure about how to handle these.  I'm thinking about doing away with a base altogether and just putting magnetic material on the bottoms of the hulls.  Then again, putting them on a base would give the players some way to handle them other than the smokestacks.  I suspect that a base will win out in the end.

Right now, I'm in Virginia enjoying what can only be called a Civil Wargasm, and so will take more pictures of sailing ships when we get back home.  Oh, and of course the rant in the first paragraph is all in good fun.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Accessories: Dice Towers

For me, having a dice tower during a naval game actually serves a very practical purpose.  With a bunch of my ships on the table, the last thing I want are players tossing dice all around them.  I'm not saying that anyone would intentionally try to break them; in fact, I'm pretty sure a player like that wouldn't be allowed in our groups.  When the simulated shooting starts though, the die rolls get a little more rambunctious.  We all do it, and I include myself in that indictment.

Why a dice tower though?  Why not just a box, or tray?  Well, according to Wikipedia dice towers have been in use since the 4th Century CE, so it is certainly a period correct piece of equipment.  A tower also helps guarantee that the dice get some randomization to them when rolled.  The most important reason for me, anyway, is that dice towers are just cool.

My first tower was homemade, based on some plans that I found on the Internet.  It worked well, and still does, but is big and bulky.  That means that it's hard to carry with everything else.  It has given many years of faithful service, but I wanted something that is a bit easier to lug around.  The other problem is that I'm not what you'd call a 'woodworking guy,' and the tower shows that.  No one ever said anything about it, and if they had my prepared response was, "the inherent flaws of a handmade item are merely part of its charm."  I guess, if you pare it down to basics, I just wanted something a little better.  That's where Unique Dice Towers came in.
My homemade dice tower. Remember, "the inherent flaws
of a handmade item..." etc., etc.

I told you it was big.

Unique Dice Towers (their website is in the link list)  makes laser cut dice towers out of various woods, and with various decorative designs.  They also sell kits that you can build yourself, and even offer you the ability to customize a tower with your own graphics.  As I'm sometimes cheap, I went with the standard kit made out of 3mm birch plywood.  It has a separate tower and tray, so that it can be folded down for storage.  You could even store your dice in it if you wanted to.  The tower is about 5" tall, 2.6" wide and 1.6" thick, with the tray being 1.8" tall, 2.9" wide and 5.3" deep.  As built, it has no finish, but I may stain it later.

Yes, there is a Plexiglas window in the front.

The open end goes toward the back when closed, so you can
store dice inside, if so inclined.
 As the pictures below will show you, compared to my homemade one it is downright minuscule


Overall, it's a good product and I could see myself picking up another one sometime in the future.  Check them out!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spanish Fleet Photos

So here, as promised, is the first of the "family photos" of my fleets.  The Spanish start the process, simply because their storage box was out on the table because I've been building up this fleet for a few months.

First is the obligatory "family photo" of all the ships together:
 The frigates are on the left of the photo, and the ships increase in size as you move to the right.  As of now, there are only two frigates in the fleet, a 34 and a 40 gunner.  All of my fleets are short on frigates, so that at least is very realistic.  One quick confession before we continue:  When I was starting out again, I bought a fairly large collection of ships from a fellow who was getting out of the hobby.  So, when I post a picture of those, I will note in the caption that this was a purchased ship.

The Frigates:

34 gun frigate (bought)

40 gun frigate

The Third Rates:

64 gun

64 gun stern

74 gun #1 "at quarters"

74 gun #1 stern

74 gun #2 (bought)

74 gun #2 stern

74 gun #3 "at quarters" (bought)
74 gun #3 stern
I almost didn't include the next two ships, because they are the ones in the "new construction" post earlier this month.  However, it isn't a family portrait if all the members aren't there.

74/80 gun #1

74/80 gun #1 stern

74/80 gun #2 "at quarters"
74/80 gun #2 stern

 First Rates:

112 #1 "at quarters."  This model is specifically the Santa Ana

Santa Ana stern
112 gun #2

112 gun #2 stern

And of course, everyone's Spanish fleet has to have a model of the 136 gun Santisima Trinidad

St. Trinidad.  4 decks, 136 guns.

Santisima Trinidad stern

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Some new construction

I'll eventually break ships down by nationality as I learn to use Blogger a bit better.  For now, though, here are some pictures of my recent builds.

The first set of photos is a Spanish 74 of the MontaƱes class.  This model is what Langton calls "at quarters," which means she has guns protruding from the sides instead of just closed gunports.  They are a bit more difficult to paint, but give a really nice effect.

The US quarter is about 24-25mm tall for our metric friends.

This next ship is another MontaƱes class, but with the gunports closed.