|Abstract representation of Siegeworks|
You may recognise the objects in the picture – they are wooden blocks from a game which goes by various names – the very big garden version is called (I think) Jenga – I only played it once, and I wasn’t very good at it, though the beer was good, I recall. I subsequently bought four miniature sets, very cheaply, from a local general store, just to get my hands on the blocks.
You see, what these are really is siege trench sections. Yes, I know they don’t look very realistic, but they are what I have available. I am reminded of a very old schoolboy joke about survivors of a plane crash in the Tunisian desert searching for food; the bad news was that the only organic material they found was camel dung – the good news was that there was a lot of it. So my trench sections might look rubbish, but I have more than you would believe.
Since my siege gaming is still in its extended prototyping stage, and since I am a lazy beggar, I have stuck with these dreadful lumps of wood on the grounds that it wasn’t worth splashing out money or effort on anything better until I have a game which works. Disadvantages, of course, are multiple – for a start:
(a) It’s not very motivating or interesting to build trenches which look this ridiculous
(b) Recruited players – particularly younger ones – may find themselves building odd shapes with the blocks during the game, to create a welcome distraction
I am starting to think seriously about more acceptable trenches. Whatever I do has to be cheap, simple, and easily stored. There are some splendid looking resin castings around, but that is hardly a cheap option. I could scratch build something, but I fear I am not very skilled at such things, and it would take me ages to produce enough – and then I have to remember that all the scenery I ever scratch built fell to pieces very quickly.
Somewhere, in an old book, there is a suggestion for the use of triangular section hardwood strip, cut and mitred to provide proper lengths and angles. That’s cheap and storable, and would paint up OK, but it’s only a small step up from the Jenga blocks. What else is there?
Well, the bold Mr Kinch mentioned dado rail recently, and I had previously thought myself of picture frame mouldings, so I have been having a bit of a look at what is on the market, studying the websites of Wickes and a few specialist picture framing suppliers. Some exotic stuff out there – nothing jumps out at me yet, and I am starting to realize that I don’t even know very much about what a real trench looked like, so I’ve started reading up on that, and I’m heading backwards at a decent rate. If anyone would like to come round for a very large game of miniature Jenga, I might be interested.
More on this subject soon, I hope.
Subject 2 – Varnish
|Moss Troopers and friends, waiting to be de-shined|
I have become the owner of a collection of ECW figures of the correct size – SHQ and Tumbling Dice, mostly, plus some others I haven’t identified yet – which are painted up and should be capable of being worked into my armies without a life-changing effort. They were part of the (vast) collection of a chap in Belfast who died recently, and my interest was kindled by the fact that they contained numerous Scottish and Irish figures, which might give me an easy way to expand my armies in such a way that I could have a bash at the campaigns of Montrose.
I’ve received about half of the new arrivals so far, and am somewhat shaken to see that the flags and the organization of the units suggest that the previous owner had them set up for – that’s right – the campaigns of Montrose. I’ll have to see what comes in the second box, and there will be a lot of re-organising and rebasing needed, but this is quite an exciting little development.
Only slight fly in the ointment is that the figures are finished with a very heavy gloss varnish – almost certainly an enamel-type varnish rather than an acrylic one, so I’ll have some work to do calming this down a bit to match the rest of my forces. I’ve been trying some pilot figures, to see how a wash in detergent followed by a coat of matt acrylic works, and it looks promising. I was afraid that the acrylic would just form into blobs, or wouldn’t cover properly, but it is looking good. I’ll have to do a bit of extra detailing on the horses once they are dulled down, but I am reassured that it is feasible.
So I’m busily reading Start Reid’s booklets on the Scots armies, and am quite enthusiastic about the potential of this little exercise. Again, you should hear more of this in due course.