Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fort Improvise: The Campaign of 2013 Begins

The small US garrison remains defiant under the British bombardment.

There always seems to be some sort of special significance to the last game of the old year and the first game of the new year but given that just now I couldn't remember what the first game of 2012 was and mistook the last game of 2010 for the last one of 2011, I guess there isn't.

Since I spared every one from from a full review of 2012 and plan for 2011, I'll just mention that my vague resolve is to blog less (260 posts in 2012) , play fewer games ( 82 played last year, all but 4 or 5 mentioned on the blog, 48 of them solo, 6 of them via Skype) and in particular, fewer Grant scenarios. Given plans to reintroduce fantasy and concentrate more on my fictional lands this year, I figured I would start with a pseudo-historical game from one of my remaining historical periods: The War of 1812.

There are a number of reasons for backing off a little from the Grant scenarios and maybe I'll talk about it later but for the War of 1812 in particular, lets just say that some of them adapt better than others and if you play too many games, there starts to be a lack of freshness. Casting about for something different and War of 1812-ish, it was hard to avoid the thoughts "ambush/surprise" and "fort". These are two prominent themes and part of the reason that there were so few pitched battles. Its hard to think about North American wars without thinking "fort" anyway, and especially "stockade" from the old Last of the Mohicans TV show to Fort Apache it would be like thinking "medieval" without "castle".

Now one of my purchases during my 54mm plastic phase was the Barzso Davy Crocket Playset. The figures were painted and used, except for Davy himself, wrestling a B'ar, but the stokade has only rarely been out. I have a picture somewhere of a 54mm 1812 Wagon train game played when Rob Dean & family came to visit in 1999.  The fort itself is actually not badly scaled for the larger 40mm figures and might be appropriate for a large skirmish game. 

Trident 40mm AWI figures sortie out.
The foot print, however,  is hopelessly large for the games I play. Firing across the compound would be long range for a 6 pounder, it just won't do and it doesn't have a military layout or a blockhouse.  For some years I have  tinkered with the idea of taking a knife to it but given that it is an OOP limited edition piece, it might be kinder to sell it off to someone who actually wants it for itself. Its not a pristine, complete play set so not much use to a real collector and I don't expect to recoup the original purchase but a few bucks in the coffer would be better than time spent  trying to reconfigure it rather than making a new one from scratch.  So if any reader wants to make me a  offer to save me the hassle of ebay, please drop me an email at . 
The Barzso Davy Crocket Wilderness Stockade, 54mm plastic playset, or what's left of it.
Hopefully it can find a good home.

Building myself a stockade is high on the list of things to accomplish this year but in the meantime, I  broke out my old stand by, the Marx jungle stockade, minus its gate which went with the city defences of Haddington a few years back. There seem to be two main patterns of stockade fort in use during the War of 1812. The Americans seem to have normally placed 2 or more blockhouses at  the corners to act as flanking bastions as well as barracks and storerooms while the British seem to have gone for a palisade, either star shaped or rectangular with bastion corners, with a blockhouse inside, rather like a keep. I have no blockhouses but tried perching some Pegasus Russian log cabins on the corners to get a feel for how such a structure might work. I'll probably remove them before I start playing.

Any resemblance of the game to be fought sometime in the next few days to historical events, however  fleeting and unexpected, will be due once again to an historical action providing inspiration for a generic  game. (and no I'm not telling.) It should be a MacDuff game but HofT will get first crack.


  1. You know, Ross. The Jungle Stockade looks pretty god to me. Why is it so unsuitable you want to scratch-build one? I even like the improvised block-houses.



    1. Where to begin? The cabins as blockhouses look better in pictures than in lofe, they are slso balanced precariosly not to mention having windows instead of loopholes and artillery ports.

      I could overlook that the palidae is semiflat and holow with irregular tops if I had a gate and it had firing zteps.

      The trick I think would be to blend additions in.

    2. A crafty repaint of the whole thing would do wonders to tie it all together.

      It's funny what gets you going. I was lying in bed last night thinking "well, you could level off the spiky bits to allow the cabins to sit more securely... A gate? Nothing simpler! A sheet of scribed balsa. More balsa for the posts. Straighened paper-clips pushed in to make hinges."

      It was very hot last night and sleep was a long time in coming.

    3. Yeah it warned up here to minus 10 but it didn't keep me awake. I may use some pieces but its damned handy in its currrnt snsp together mode and it looks irregular enough to be used as a nstive village or a trading post.

  2. I am looking forward to seeing how the modelling progresses. I agree with greg but can see what you mean too. The plastic one certainly is a good place to build from...

    1. Could tske a while to get building but planning is underway.

  3. The log cabins in the first photo do look rather precarious - you might want to reduce the tenants' rent...

    1. Reduce? This is the American frontier, they'll pay extra for a penthouse suite and the heck with the danger.

  4. Hi Ross:
    Now that I think about it, you're quite right about forts ( and scaring people out of them) were central to the war of 1812. I agree w Tim that the rent for those Pegasus cabins shouldn't be too high.
    Seeing that play fort reminded me of the Fort Apache set I had as a kid in the early 70's, the one made of tin that folded into a carrying case. One of the best toys of my childhood. Perhaps some lucky kid will end up w yr Davy Crockett set.
    Cheers, Mike