"Compression and Compromise"
I never quite understood why we had to count "steamboats" when I was compelled to play touch football, "football" also has 2 syllables and so takes the same amount of time to count but would have made more sense. However, the list of things I don't understand is pretty much endless so I'll move on to talk about my boat building industry.
|The Reuse and the Recycle began as identical sister ships but now both have been refitted in their own way and are ready for hard service.|
When I went from 15mm to 54mm as my primary scale without becoming a 1:1 "skirmish" gamer the disconnect between model scale and gaming ground scale became a major obstacle made worse by my reluctance to abandon the WYSIWG, moving diorama approach to wargames.
|My 15mm boats came out of retirement one last time about 10 years ago to appear on Gary's table.|
Take the boats in the first picture, the proportions are internally inconsistent and wrong. They are obviously too small for the figures but their foot print is still too big for the ground scale. Despite these faults they have been used in games again and again and worked well. Because of the esthetics the eye overlooks the inconsistencies while the footprint works within the structure of the rules.
When I decided I wanted some smaller boats to ferry troops up or across rivers, I hit an extreme case of the old conundrum. What I wanted was a longboat, something akin to the souvenir fishing dory in the 2nd row above but with the foot print of the red toy boat. Since my two steamboats are meant to be larger vessels with cabins and some freeboard, they should be taller than a longboat which is obviously not the case with my existing boats.
My first thought was to just do a thin wooden hull with a mast. Oars would probably be better but they look odd with standing oarsmen who then join the landing party and permenently sitting ones just take up too much room. This low hull has a reasonable height differential with the decks of the steamers but in practice the figures look like they are on a raft, not in a long boat.
|First row prototypes, 2nd boat commandeered boats, 3rd Recycle, 4th Reuse before her make over.|
The issue of course is that without a deck, the figures on the boat should actually be sunk down into the table, obviously a problem. A mental review of OS boat pictures reminded me that this is usually done by adding unnaturally tall gunwales out of cardboard. Fine, I started to fiddle with some cardboard and then realized the bit of wood I had used for the hull was so thin that gluing card gunwales to it in a robust fashion exceeded my skill. I made a 2nd hull from a slightly thicker board, an offcut from my last trimming of my gaming table as it happens.
I started on the gunwales again and again I stopped. The figures looked just as silly with knee high gunwales but deeper ones on such a small boat just looked too bizare. To distract myself I started experimenting with masts and crew capacity while pondering movement rules for wind and current where the river is only 1 square wide. Since small steamboats were used by both sides of the War of 1812 to move troops on inland waterways I decided that my life would be easier if Atlantica was precocious and made wide use of steamboats. Two pieces of dowelling soon provided a boiler and funnel and work on troop capacity and gunnels continued.
Tugboats and fishing trawlers both came to mind as I fiddled with bits of cardboard. They often have a higher bow and a low stern with low or no gunwales. The high cardboard gunwale on the bow would suggest structure while the low quarterdeck would allow troop bases to overhang and help keep that low, smaller vessel feel compared to the big armed steamers. The use of a screw for propulsion is a bit anachronistic for the 1812 and 1837 campaigns but dashed convenient.
I want to add a few small details but essential she's ready to assist the bigger boats on an expedition. Together they can carry 5 companies of infantry plus a company of blue jackets and a naval rocket battery.
Is that enough or should I make one more?
|Almost there, just a few details to add either physically or with paint. Cutting a very basic gunwale stretched my cardboard modelling techniques, I don't think I'll be making tanks or artillery anytime soon!|