Saturday, 16 November 2019

All at Sea - Another Project


It was back in April this year that I reported on my visit to Salute and was able to show pictures of the then, next big thing from Warlord Games, namely Black Seas which was being shown for the first time along with some of the models and mock ups for the gaming materials which have now become familiar with more of us, following the launch of the game system this year.

Salute 2019

I am not usually an 'early adopter', to use the marketing speak, but following the release of the plastic sprues attached to Wargames Illustrated, my imagination was captured by the detail on these models and with extra Brigs donated by Steve M, I set about putting these and the frigate together as a British light squadron.



Following this initial build I have discovered how well these models look and the possibilities to add extra detail, with crew figures and running rigging which really adds to the overall look.

The fun I have had putting them together, inspired me to order up the US frigate and three of the plastic 74's which are on the paint desk as I write and I am looking forward to adding to the collection in time.

The models are very straight forward to put together, and there are plenty of YouTube videos out there illustrating this. I myself have found that painting the hull and the masts separately allows an easier painting process with both, afterwards bringing them together with the paint job completed, and ready to move on to rigging.


The rigging is very straight forward, more so in my experience than working with the 1:1200 Langton models, with the standing rigging being attached followed by the acetate ratlines, and then the running rigging to finish.

The ratlines are not a perfect fit for the masts and sails and require a bit of work, and superglue does tend to cause them to mist when fixing them to hull and masts. I notice some modelers are turning to various etched options, but they add to the cost of what is for me a wargaming model and not something I intend putting on my mantelpiece for show, thus the acetate option makes an sturdy robust model better able to stand handling.

Another slight issue is the thickness of paper the naval ensigns are supplied on, making folding a little more problematic and needing a good paint job on the edges to make any unsightly seem less offending to the eye.


The next question for me was basing, which I always intended to do, as I want the model to take most handling on the base rather than the model itself, thus I have sized the bases to extend the length of the hull and the projecting bowsprit.

I decided to move away from the textured rectangular base common to a lot of naval wargamers models, which I find hard on the eye when seen on a sea table, and so opted for the clear acrylic pill, or 'stadium' bases you see on my modes, supplied by a great company,  Fluid 3D Workshop ,who will cut these and other shapes to specific dimensions for gamers.

The clear style of base allows my Tiny Wargames sea mat to show through around my ship models in all its glory and the round edges seem a lot more subtle to my way of thinking. You could add ship names and other data to them, and I will probably fix labels in a temporary and sparing fashion as needed.


I really love the lines of the 38-gun frigate and am looking forward to getting her on the table up against the American Super-Frigate, Constitution which contrasts sharply, being almost the same length as the 74-gun ships.

Likewise the model brigs are very nicely done and offer lots of opportunity for scratch building to personalise them or convert them into another small class of warship or small merchantman.


So the next issue for me was the rules to use as I came at Black Seas rules with a lot of reservations about them, based on what I had seen from Warlord for other periods.

As I suspected 'Black Seas' is not for me, and I find the wake markers and counters grating to the eye, and so I looked around for other alternatives. In the end, after a lot of thought and sleeping on ideas, I have settled for using 'Kiss me Hardy' (KMH) from the Lardies which seem to have been scaled to about 1:900 which should allow the use of these models, 1:700, without the need to mess about with the movement and gunnery ranges.

Having played KMH quite a few times and with all my card decks sorted out, the rules will allow a fun game with these models for either small or single ship actions right through to bigger battle set ups and my 9 x 5 foot table should allow plenty of scope.

If the collection develops to allow even bigger set piece battles to be modelled then with these bases I can move to a fleet action set of rules such as Grand Fleet Actions.


I noticed a comment recently on a certain forum by another naval gamer that this range would not be featuring on his table, extolling the virtues of a great range of paper ships from War Artisan, that I have featured on this blog and am only too familiar with how good they look and at a fraction of the cost of other options, including these.

That said, I don't think you can argue with the look of these models, and with multiple ships on the table, fully rigged, with gun flashing smoke markers between models, the look of a naval battle will only be enhanced, which is perhaps the biggest issue with naval wargaming, namely the look of the table.

Warlord Games are to be congratulated for making available a larger scale Age of Sail set of models that are not toy looking pirate models but capture the look of the historical vessels they portray, and fulfill the promise of the Meridian range launched by Skytrex all those years ago of larger scale, accurate models, but affordable for building a wargame collection.


Finally the other consideration for extending this collection was what period to model. In the past, using the Langton models, I opted for the American War of Independence and specifically a collection themed around Admirals Suffren and Hughes and their series of battles fought in the Indian Ocean in the 1780's.


This time I wanted to do something different and am rather interested in the struggle between the British and French in the Caribbean from 1793 to 1801 during the Revolutionary War which saw Spain ally with the French towards the latter part of that period.


The theatre offers plenty of opportunity for relatively manageable sized actions and plenty of single ship clashes when you include the hunting down of privateers.

However the ensigns carried during this period by the French and British change as the war reactivates in 1803 as the Napoleonic struggle and the later 1812 War against the USA and, as I would also like to be able to cover some of those actions, I am settling on modeling my ships for the later period as delivered in the box.



Warlord look set to add to this range of models and if the response and interest to them is anything to go by, they look to have come up with a model range that will pay them back handsomely for expanding it, and so I hope they will add merchantmen, a smaller third rate 74/64 -gun SOL together with a 4th rate 50-gun a French 40-gun frigate and perhaps a 22/24-gun three masted corvette or sloop-of-war.



There is something really nice about sitting down to rig an age of sail model and I really enjoyed the fact that Warlord have included aspects such as different figureheads and stern-quarters to really personalise each ship and create something unique each time, as well as offering models of specific historic ships from the period, such as Victory, L'Orient etc.


The fun has caused me to return to the loft and dig out my rather large collection of books on the subject and start reacquainting myself with the history as well as conjuring with ideas for campaigns and future big battles.

Isn't this hobby great?


In summary, the models are from Warlord Games, part of their Black Seas range of ship models, the bases from Fluid 3D Workshop and the sea mat from Tiny Wargames.

I look forward to showing you more models from the range going forward.

25 comments:

  1. You have done a superb job on these ships, JJ!

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  2. I have held off dipping my metaphorical toe in these waters because of the complexity of the models. Yours look excellent and as usual, neat & tidy in execution. Maybe a step by step tutorial would be handy? The rules have had some stick online so your suggestions here on others have been useful too, many thanks.
    Please keep us updated on progress...
    best wishes,
    Jeremy

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    1. Hi Jeremy,
      I have a feeling you are not alone in your fears of complexity, which is a shame, because these are not difficult models to bring together, but like anything worthwhile doing, requires a little application and method.

      I was fortunate, back in the day, to spend time at several local shows chatting to Mr Rod Langton about assembling and rigging his models and have come to develop my own methods based on his recommendations and a simple rigging diagram he drew for me on the back of a white envelope, several years before he published his book on the subject.

      I am in the process of painting up the 74's and Constitution, so when they are ready to be rigged I will look at posting a guide to my methods, for those that are interested.

      Cheers
      JJ

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  3. Nice work on the ships. While I can appreciate the War Artisan paper ships, I've never had much luck with paper models and I'm much more comfortable with plastic. I've just started putting mine together. I am a little intimidated by the rigging, but I think it really adds a lot to the model.

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    1. Hi Dave,
      Thank you. War Artisan paper models are a brilliant idea and en mass look fantastic on the table, and yes paper modeling brings its own different challenges.

      With regard to rigging these Warlord kits, see my comment above to Jeremy.

      Warlord do in fact include a guide to putting on standing rigging in their rules which I have the PDF version of. They don't include running rigging, Which I assume is because they don't want to put potential customers off, who might be intimidated by that extra stage. However I see that the models used in their Salute display had running rigging included.

      I understand their marketing decision, in the interests of attracting a wider customer group, but the extra bit of detailing can really make these models pop and is not complicated and is not difficult, it just seems so.

      Stay tuned, I will hope to show you how easy it is.

      JJ

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  4. Great post. I just bought these rules and starter pack for my brother for xmas. I plan to get these painted and rigged for him too, so I really appreciate the basing idea you shared.

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  5. JJ, I'm going through a company here in the States to create my bases. What dimensions are your bases? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Adam,
      Thank you. Great, I scaled my bases as per the Grand Fleet Actions rules allowing for the length of the vessel including the bowsprit and adding a cm at each end.

      So my brig/small vessel base is 90mm x 30mm, my frigate is 110 x 35mm and I have also got some for my 74s and Constitution which are 130mm x 35mm.

      Hope that helps and your brother likes his pressy.

      JJ

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  6. You should really give Post Captain by Old Dominion a try, they give to me the best small scale Age of Sail wargames. I also agree with the other poster, a tutorial on rigging would be nice, I have always been intimidated by it

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    Replies
    1. Hi and thank you for the recommendation. Old Dominion know their stuff in naval wargaming and I have their excellent GQIII set for WWII together with their Solomons Campaign booklet.

      See comment above about rigging. I will do some step by step pictures and put it together in a PDF in the next post on this collection.

      JJ

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  7. Replies
    1. Hi Steve,
      Thank you, glad you liked them.

      JJ

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  8. Beautifully painted ships. I agree on the use of clear bases - I've seen games with beautifully painted ships which had different colored bases which detracted from the overall look. That is, the bases, nice as they were painted didn't match each other and also the gaming mat itself.

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    1. Thank you.
      I spent quite a bit of time mulling over the bases, but I think the best thing about them are for me the fact that they are clear and that they combine both straight and curved edges that seem to compliment the ships themselves.

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  9. Very nicely done, I could not resist these models myself and have 6 almost done. I hav ebeen painting mine up as Spanish. The first couple were a challenge, I find the sails a little trickier than the rigging but I have gone for a simplified approach.

    I am hoping to get my first game in tomorrow.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John.

      Six eh, well done sir. Yes the sails are an interesting idea and I wasn't sure how effective card artwork would be but I was very pleased with the outcome. I tend to roll mine gently over a paint brush to get them to billow before super gluing along the top edge to the spar.

      I also use the running rigging to help pull in the lower corners to lower spars just to make them more secure.

      Best of fun with your upcoming game.

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  10. Interesting post, I've recently started playing Sails of Glory, not much experience of the game but totally agree with your decision on the clear bases, so much less intrusive than their big blue rectangular ones or the normally blue sea ones that as you say don't match the mat. Would be interested on you rigging thoughts,
    Cheers

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I think the aesthetics of basing, like most aspects of wargaming, is very much in the eye of the beholder and in the end its a personal choice and what each of us is content with, so I like this option and its great to hear when others feel similarly.

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  11. Great blog thank you. You mentioned flashing smoke fire markers? Can you elaborate?

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    1. Hi,
      Thank you. Good spot.
      There is a very good tutorial on the Little Wars TV on how to make these:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtZG5QFJqb8

      And Warlord sell a prepared option:

      https://store.warlordgames.com/products/volleyfire-lights

      Hope that helps

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  12. Excellent models, well done. Yours are the first I have seen with running rigging. I too have done Langton's with all the rigging many years ago. These ships are the perfect scale for it. They do look good on the pill bases. Even at the larger scale I was cautious handling the model without one and would hesitate to bring a fleet for a convention game without bases.

    I have been running KMH games for Lard America at HMGS conventions. I intend to use the supplement "To Covet Glory" (Wargames vault) for small ships to run the 1812 lake battles. I have been hesitant to get the WA paper ship due to the modelling. Looks like you have to be a wood carver as well! Not sure at this point if the Black Seas range will cover that, although they have a gunboat squadron and schooners are in the rules.

    As for Black Seas I was not as disappointed playing the game as I thought. I have seen some videos where players did away with the wake and other table markers and it works better. Those wake markers sure are fiddly. As a sailor though I say that the advanced rules are mandatory.

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    1. Hi Eric, thank you.
      I too was interested in the Great Lakes as 1:700th would seem the perfect scale, but I am not sure what Warlord Games intentions are for the range going forward so will develop experience building their models with the hope that they will produce some of the smaller vessels.

      I was not all that gone on the gunboats as I hate having the models cast on a base and would most likely have to go to the bother of cutting them off.

      From reading the Black Seas rules, I don't think I would not play them if others were inclined but I don't think they would be my first choice and yes I too had considered ditching the wake markers and playing the advanced rules, but again am happy with KMH and GFA.

      Thanks for your comment
      JJ

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  13. Very nicely done and I will come back to this post once I start cutting sprues. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Norm,
      Thanks and great, I hope I can help.

      JJ

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