Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Constructing Fort St Elmo

I thought I'd put up a couple of WiP shots to let you all know how I'm going about building Fort St Elmo. As you can see, the main structure of the fort is just polystyrene that i salvaged from a construction site. It's 10 cm/4" thick. I've just cut it out with a thin-bladed saw I have and then carefully sliced the "batter" of the walls so they slope. That then gets smoothed off and generally tidied up with a block and 120 grit sandpaper.
The base and fighting platform are both 3mm/ 1/8th" MDF cut to shape with my jig-saw. I got the shapes right by tracing around the top and bottom of the balsa with a marker. Make sure that there is a couple of millimetres' overlap on the top layer to produce the "lip" that you see on many vauban-type fortifications just below the ramparts.

The sentry box is just a piece of balsa rod with a half a foam ball stuck on.

The figure is a 30mm "Willie" who is standing in for the whole Turk army.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Building Fort St Elmo

Havin some time to spare this weekend, I decided to start building fort St Elmo for a Great Siege game some day. You'll note it's main structure is made from large slabs of polystyrene used in housing insulation that I scavenged from various building-sites!

The figure I am using for scale purposes is a 30mm Willie from the Colonial "Dolly Grey" range.
A general view of the fort showing counter-clockwise from the left; the cavalier; the main fort itself; the original ravelin covering the main gate and; the hastily constructed ravelin of earth and fascines.
The cavalier. I'm intending to build this as a two-tiered gun platform. In it's final state it's going to be somewhat higher than the fort as was it's real-life counterpart.
The landward side of the fort. I have not yet decided whether to just cut a gateway in the curtain behind the ravelin or to put it in the recess behind the orillon of the lower demi-bastion. The former would be easier, the latter more accurate.

The next major piece of work will be to sand down the exterior faces of the fort to give the characteristic "batter" of these kind of works. After that I will need to cut out the interior courtyard of the main fort and line it with some foamcore in which I am going to be cutting numerous arches to simulate the forts casemates.

The whole work is about a metre long (or a little longer depending on how you space out the outworks) by about 60 centimetres wide.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Terrain and Undercoats

Big terrain as it is made on the exhibition circuit as I know it tends to make bulk use of polystyrene as a keleton with any number of different skins and finishes. One similarity they all seem to have is the use of a black undercoat and then sucessivly lighter coats of base colouration put on with a four-inch brush. Has anyone ever done their terrain on a white undercoat and then used progressively thinner and darker washes to get their base effects? I'm going to repaint some earthworks over the next few days as an experiment.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Fort St. Elmo

Where better to start than with Fort St Elmo? It seems to me that there have been some misconceptions concerning its' trace as reported by Ernle Bradford in his book on the Siege.

The fort is described as a star fort with three outworks in the shape of a pair of ravelins (one built in some haste of timber and earth) and a cavalier. Now, how are we to interpret this?

Take the image above, an engraving of a fresco of Matteo Perez d'Aleccio. The fort under siege is St. Elmo. Note that it is simply a star fort. There is a structure to the side of the fort closest the peninsula-tip, and another to the left of the fort.

The image below is a modern interpretation of this image and others. I believe that what we have here is a star fort with a ravelin at it's left, another "ravelin" or more properly a "rivelino" (see the great "ravelin" at Sarnzello) oriented at face the tip of the peninsula. I'm not yet persuaded one way or the other that the tower-like structure is in fact a cavalier (or raised battery - the battle accounts don't read that way to me) or whether that might be the structure linking the two named outworks being pierced for artillery and arquebuses to command the ditch. Certainly I think that the tall structure still exists, having been integrated at a later date into the greater structure of the fort. Accounts of the siege do stress that once the Turks took it, they were able to dominate the interior of the fortification, as the Ravelin they captured was taller than the fort.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Snap Out of It

Time to set some goals here, people.

Time to put a stop to the drift.

Goals, then. Right.

By the end of 2012, I want to have done the following:

*Made real progress in the "1565" project.
*Re-started the "Old School ACW" project.
*Finished all of my outstanding French Cavalry regiments
*Built at least three British, Prussian or Bavarian Infantry regiments and a pair of Cavalry regiments to go with them.

Rough outline of the above as follows:

"1565" - to start with a skirmish-sized force to see how I go painting my assorted Knights of St John/Spanish and some Turks. Working out some appropriate army structures for them. Pausing and seeing if I am really interested in starting to build them. Building some anciliary bits to go with them. I would like to build some Renaissance artillery fortifications just for the fun of it. I am looking for an excuse to construct an earthern "star fort" from polystyrene. I am also itching to build some of the Langdon 1:1200 Renaissance warships. They look terrific. I have some experience building his Napoleonic ships, so I know what I'm in for. Where might this take me? I am pondering a loosely-based-on-reality solo campaign set in the eastern Med in that era. Might it culminate with a "Great Siege"? Who can tell. Certainly not me, but I have greatly enjoyed reading about it. I've also been daydreaming about Landsknechts, perhaps just as a painting/collecting thing, but again, who knows where the renaissance may take me. Maybe I also want some of the old Hinchcliffe Winged Lancers, too.

"Old School ACW" - I feel like a bad parent. So much effort went into the project, and I felt so bad when I ran out of time with only one undocumented game played. At the very least, I need to get a few games in, and at best, I need to follow the project plan I laid out in the blog to it's conclusion. I have at least enough miniatures in stock here to build the project up to it's divisional-sized milestone. Let's do it, eh?

"The Eighteenth Century" - This has been on a care and maintenence basis for longer than I care to think. Not good. I have one complete and six part-completed French Cavalry regiments. Surely I can finish off another three from my existing lead pile alone? Likewise a recent audit has revealed many many infantry who could fight my French Infantry - if only they were painted... My ambition is to get playable forces together to play some of the smaller scenarios from "The Annexation of Chiraz" and "The Raid on St Michiel".

At a rough guess, that's about 340-400 Olley-points over about 20 months. That's less than one toy soldier or horse a day; at my painting speed (900-milliolleys to one Olley per day), that's a pretty acheivable amount.

Part two of this post is titled "The Lonely War Gamer". I'll keep it brief as it is largely born out of a fairly large disappontment.

In recent months I had decided it was all very well to build these damn' huge armies but really, what was the point of it all if they just sat around in their plastic boxes in the car-port. So, I decided to get out there and join a war gaming club. Your actual, honest to god wargaming club. None of my friends here in Melbourne are war gamers, indeed, my nearest and dearest friend I am sure regards it as only a step above dressing up as a lady, although what's wrong with that I'll never know.

My nearest club dabbles in almost anything other than straight historical games, so I thought, OK, go with it and finally got around to painting/touching up the Riders of Rohan army I'd been slowly putting together after reading Mike Siggins review of GW's "War of the Ring". I read the rules, tried to become familiar with them and finally went along.

Well imagine that of all the people there playing the various flavours of Warhammer, only two were doing the Ring thing and they were about 14 or so. Nice kids, but, really, do I really want to be spending my precious spare time doing this? One of the other guys there told me that this was a dead gaming genre pretty much and that GW was only promoting it as much as it was to recoup the massive license fee they'd paid.

I was generally ignored as I wandered about the room, hopefully trying to insert myself into a conversation here and there... Fair enough, they all knew each other and were mates and I was just some guy, but I'm not sure it's how I'd have treated a noob.

So I'm thinking fuck it, I'll be a soloist from now on.

Might be selling some Riders of Rohan before long. Painted to a basic wargames standard. 48 infantry and 34 cavalry. Another 20 infantry and 30 or so cavalry unpainted.