Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An Elf Might be Handy

Not dead yet! This is one of the seasons of the year when hobby time and energy are at their lowest. Even when I am find myself free of seasonal social and domestic calls on my time and winter preparations for property and house, I am often too tired (or sick) to make good use of a spare hour at my disposal. But it never completely ends, a few newly painted OS 25mm medievals have appeared on the Gathering of Hosts and I nabbed a small sheet of foam core on an Xmas shopping expedition and have begun construction of some grid friendly towns. Or rather, I have begun seriously thinking about the same.
There was a crooked man who built a crooked house....

If I was doing historical WW1 in France there is lots of photographic evidence not to mention loads of impressive 28mm models to draw inspiration from (or be intimidated by). If I were doing a Little Wars project there are illustrations in Little Wars and Floor Games to copy. But for Atlantica.....well, its up to me isn't it? Except that we already know from past blog photos that towns in the Europeanized parts have a certain Anglo-American Victorian Christmas-y sort of air about them and it is on record that the Atlantic natives favoured log construction with sod or wooden roofs though there is also some evidence in one area of adobe with flat roofs with parapets, just right for placing troops. I've started scouring books and the net for photos of turn of the last century Canadian buildings, especially out west as Oerburg doubtless has similar architecture while Faraway is much closer to Nova Scotia with occasional touches of Quebec.  

Size is a major concern. The buildings must be small enough to fit the grid while being tall enough to allow the eye to forgive the scale discrepancy when seen next to the 40mm toy soldiers. There are also the delicate issues of fitting in roads and of placing garrisons. Having talked myself out of an explosion of flat topped adobe building with parapets, its going to have to be either the removable roof route or Grant's hidden ruins, or a mix. The battered ruins do have a certain 20thC air to them.

Roads are trickier, ideally the houses should share a square with the road but with the larger solid buildings, that just has not been an option so the towns are just a little larger and I have to remember that the road through town should still have limited visibility past a town. Over all it is the easiest route so I will work on the rules for that and for ways to show that a road past a single house is part of the town if the house is a town but not if it is an isolated farm. Something along the lines of a stone wall and cobbled street perhaps?

Archive shot of a typical Atlantican town with a full square width road between town blocks (aka buildings).

In any event, I suspect that it will be January before I have time and energy to sculpt or build but there should be a game of some sort within a week. Especially having  had to back out of one today thanks to a bit of a cold bug.


  1. I like these sorts of buildings - friendly, don't you reckon? Wargames friendly, that is to say. On the capacity for villages to block line of sight, I have always enacted that a village or town might be seen into down a street, but not through, however tiny the hamlet. It's partly an 'accidents' of ground thing - casual rises and declivities too trivial to depict otherwise on the war games table - and partly urban clutter - vehicles and assorted detritus of village living. Mind you, I rarely allow straight main streets.

    Villages and towns on a gridded playing surface rather limits the shapes of the towns and the opportunities to create blocks to LOS. Some while ago a couple of bloggers (I forget who, offhand) was experimenting with 2D or semi-3D village profiles for gridded tables. These simply lined the square, leaving an internal space for troops.

    A method I have been thinking about is to make cobbled or paved surfaces upon which buildings may be placed close together, forming an impression of a closely built up area. Through roads are indicated by those entering this built up area. If troops need to be placed within its precincts, just enough buildings are moved or removed to allow their deployment. The Volley & Bayonet system uses something like this, but what I have in mind is less 'formal'.

    Having said all that, I infer from this posting that Atlantica is 'New World' country. Not knowing enough about it, I can't comment upon the city development of the Spanish and Portuguese colonists, nor upon indigenous city dwellers. But the North American colonists (as in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) went for square gridded town planning, in which the city limits were defined even before the place was settled. The result was often a quite a dispersed residential zone (houses separated by empty lots, gradually being filled in) about a fairly compact CBD close to road junctions or railway stations. The plan of leaving whole squares empty to accommodate streets seems to me very appropriate for a 'New World urban frontier' style of town development.


  2. Yes I do find the style practical and attractive. I considered the silhouette idea but it won't mix comfortably with existing buildings so it would have been or nothing and a complete break. Also a visual break to LW, Charge!, etc.

    The houses and roads are completely out of line with ground scale, 100 yd wide rds etc so its all very abstract. Larry Brom had an article in The Courier during the early 80s that I always liked. He fadtened a few houses, walls etc onto a base with just enough open space to hold the number of bases allowed to garrison the town. For bigger towns several such town bases were placed adjacent ti each other. For the 40mm troops though, my table is too small for the system so each house represents several blocks or a whole village.

  3. Dear Ross & Ion,

    In the northeast part of North America - the British settled New England part to be precise - groups of people would receive permission to settle in an area. They then would "buy" the land from the natives and a map would be drawn for the village clearly delineating where the church would be erected and where the green was located. Streets would be drawn in and plots assigned sometimes by lottery and sometimes by virtue of who was wealthiest or who had sponsored the settlement. Plots would be reserved for things like the blacksmith and for future residents. If areas of Long Island are any indication, these layouts were rational and usually followed some basic rules like access to the Church, water sources, proximity to the common green, and shared out the spots which could be farmed as equally as possible. Roads followed soon after. Later the counties would figure out where the seat of government would be and rail lines would connect these with the "big" cities.
    Your wargaming scenery looks terrific and could easily be located anywhere on the Eastern seaboard. If you wanted to push the story line you could lay down a rail line and have a train full of reinforcements arrive in your settlement.
    Happy Holidays to you and yours,

  4. Thanks Jerry, very different from most of Quebec which in turn is quite different from Nova Scotia, both different from out west.