Saturday, 28 March 2015

Campaigns and Earthworks

Wargame campaigns are funny things and we've tried a few over the years (and more are planned).  One of the first large scale campaigns we did used a somewhat truncated map of Ireland, over which we fought a bloody ACW campaign.
"Say cheese"
We decided to use Ireland as the basis for the map because a) Bruce Quarrie had suggested it in the Airfix Magazine Guide No. 4 "Napoleonic Wargaming" and b) we happened to have a map of Ireland.
Campaign Map from Airfix Magazine Guide No. 4
Not having access to a Xerox machine (this is quite some time ago) our map was made by (Geoff) tracing the master map and adapting it somewhat.
Hand drawn map of Ireland, somewhat adapted
Map movement was conducted using the classic matchbox chest of drawers method and battles were fought using the old Circa 1863 rules, which produced a gruelling, yet I think accurate, outcome.  Anyway, what has this got to do with earthworks?
Cautious Confederate attack on Federal positions
Well, one of the battles involved an attack by superior Confederate forces on a Union held village (Ballina).  It was judged that the Federals would have had time to throw up some defences and therefore it was necessary for me to make some earthworks.

Since then, these have lain in a box (only getting the occasional outing) but it was always my intention to fill in a few gaps and refurbish what I had already made, so this is what I did last week.
Stage 1: glue polystyrene to cardboard
Raw materials comprised strips of polystyrene pizza packaging (i.e poor man's foamboard), cardboard, matches, polyfiller, fine sand and PVA glue.  The polystyrene (suitably scored to allow it to key) was used to create the overall profile and then this was covered in filler.
Stage 2: profiling with filler and attaching matches
Once all this had dried out thoroughly I spread PVA glue thinly over the front slopes and added fine sand to give it some texture as the filler I had was too smooth (it was what I had to hand at the time). 
Stage 3: sit back, take out your pipe, and admire your handiwork
Everything was then undercoated in matt black and the earth slopes painted in a reddish brown colour (I used Tamiya XF-79 Linoleum Deck Brown) in order to match the pieces I already had.  The woodwork was painted with Revell Acrylic Dark Earth (82) and everything was dry-brushed with a sand colour.  And here they are lined up on the kitchen table with some Airfix soldiers manning them, veterans from the original battle.
A selection of what's in the box now
I was particularly pleased with the gun emplacements which featured in the battle mentioned above.
Suspiciously empty gun emplacement
You will notice that the emplacement I've shown is empty.  This is because, although the Federals had had time to prepare defences, they did not happen to have any artillery.

This was not known to the Rebels who approached very cautiously, only to find that the guns pointing at them, apparently fiendishly waiting until they got to cannister range, were merely tree trunks shaped and painted to look like guns.  Quaker guns.  Well, I laughed: but then I did say that campaigns could be funny things.


Ray Rousell said...

I'd like to have seen their faces when you told them the artillery were logs!

The Wishful Wargamer said...

Geoff's face displayed a mixture of relief and annoyance, combined with rolling-eyed incredulity and mutterings of "Gordon Bennett..."

Service Ration Distribution (Hobby) said...

Unleash the tricks of war! The old ones are the best...used again at Point du Hoc. Nice eathworks. Thanks for the 'how to..'

Phil said...

A very nice job, looks great!