Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Game Design Thoughts - Map sizes

I continue to toy around with my 18CO design. Spurred on a bit by finding an almost complete copy of 18GM in the basement of the other house. Components aren't really an issue with this one but the rules were. Much like 1869 there were a number of fairly innovative concepts built into what we referred to as the Aurora Rules and there was no way I would be able to remember what they heck we had done from memory. It will take some time but I can now get those rules from the original printing back into a computer file.

Fair warning, I do consider the following to be copyrighted material.

I have been working with a gentleman to create a custom map that will be the background for the game itself, if it gets that far. What you see below is the current iteration of that map, definitely not the final version. What I have been struggling with is how big the board should actually be. I have come up with three iterations; the 12 hex, the 15 hex and the 19 hex versions. These "measurements" refer to the number of hexes in the east/west hex rows.

This is the 12 hex map. This map means that the tile count would be relatively low. Its about the size of the 1830 map from Avalon Hill. My feelings at the moment is that it fails to capture the vastness of the state and would create some fairly serious funnels in the routes which would keep the replay value relatively low.

This is the 15 hex map. It doesn't sound like a huge addition but from a tile count perspective its a pretty big change. Its going to fall into the mid-to upper side of board sizes but it really helps spread things out and increase the number of possible routes as well as the allowing more towns/cities to be represented.

This is the 19 hex map. It seems absolutely huge. The tile count is going to go way up and from a printing perspective is probably going to create issues. It really shows off the vastness of the state and provides a lot of route options.

At present I'm leaning towards the 15 hex map as the best size to work with. I'll probably make prints of all three just to get a feel for game play.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pirate Project - The disassembly continues Part 2

I have been pressed for time, typically really, and this particular de-construction is tedious. However, if I want things to go back together in any kind of reasonable fashion I must proceed a bit slower than I would like.

In my last session at this I separated the top (poop) deck from the quarterdeck. It took about 30 minutes of applying acetone, then prying or flexing the parts (rinse and repeat) until I was able to actually see some of the glue joints separate. There was a lot more glue here than there was along the edges.

In the end I was successful separating it into two sections. At this point I think I can begin to consider how things will need to come apart. Again the biggest issue I'm facing if that if I'm going to have the main deck come off so you can see the gun deck then the rigging and masts have to come away, intact, with it.

Here's what it looked like after I finally pried it all apart

All of the white discoloration you see are stress fractures in the plastic from bending it. Its thick enough that I'm not concerned with it at this point. A little more texturing and paint should cover it right up.

I'm going to leave the stairs attached. Its one of the better gluing jobs that I have run into so far and I don't think I can get them apart. It should work out just fine that way.

Here you are seeing the underside of the deck. You can see how much glue was used in the center section
Here I was just doing a test fit to make sure that this section still fitted correctly to the sides. Looking good so far.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Acquisitions - Pirate Project - A book!

The acquisition of reference material could well be one of my favorite aspects of any project and quite possibly the reason I never seem to finish anything. However, for this project I'm going to try and stop at two books of which the first one arrived over the weekend:
"The 44-Gun Frigate USS Constitution" by Karl Heinz Marquardt. 

Its really on obliquely related to the Pirate Ship project since the Sophie's Revenge comes from a much earlier sailing era. They both, however, use sails! Close enough! This is really a bit of a fun reference the Black Seas project but that's another tale to be told.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Pirate Project - Sophie's Revenge - The disassembly part 1

As is pretty normal for me I have been distracted by yet another project that is likely to never be finished but its the thought that counts! I have been thinking a lot about what to do with this massive kit, which means its likely going to be displayed in the main part of the house which will require more than a game level paint job and build. We have plenty of guests that would appreciate it as a ship but would not understand what gaming terrain means.

I know that Talon did the design concept and Chris Lewis was the sculptor I see a lot of the Black Pearl and Queen Anne's Revenge in this ship and I'll use one of those two for the rigging. Yes, rigging. I know that its likely to be in the way as a game piece but I like the thought that players would have to maneuver around all the components that you might find on a ship and that means ropes, lots of ropes. 

Based on what I have been researching I think I can get away without the running rigging and just go with the standing rigging, except for perhaps the on the mizzen mast. What I'm thinking is adding a lateen sail as part of the mizzen and I think a sail there wouldn't be in the way to much, or maybe do all three lateen sails. The key to all that though is that the decks have to come away as a single piece to keep the rigging intact. I'm not sure I can even pull that off at this point, but I'll give it a try.

To even get to that point I need to figure out how to disassemble the ship and rebuild it so that any interior detail can be seen and appreciated. With that in mind I worked up my nerve and took a knife, a sculpting tool and acetone to the quarter and poop deck structure. I'm was fairly certain that they used super glue to assemble this at the factory hence the acetone which would serve to soften the CA joint. So using a brush I started running beads of acetone into the joints and gently trying to pry it apart.

I managed to separate the deck from the bulwarks and I think I'm in business. I broke the deck in a couple of places in the slots but it wasn't awful and I'm going to leave those "breaks" in place it will help make sure everything fits back into the right place. I want to be able to remove the decks, including the mast, and leave the bulwark in place so that I can detail the cabins in this area. Still not quite sure where I'll be making those cut lines but now that its in a couple of pieces it will certainly be easier to figure out.

Painting will probably be an ongoing process rather than something done at the end of the project. Will just wing it as I move along.

Let's take a look at the damage I managed to do!

And this is where it starts. If you really take the time to examine this its made up of 7 or 8 pieces.

Under the gentle ministrations of a hobby knife, a sculpting tool and a lot of acetone. I managed to separate the deck from the bulwarks

You can see a couple of the rough edges on this side. I actually broke the plastic here instead of it neatly separating. I'm going to leave the broken pieces in place, it gives a nice reference to glue everything back to.

Here is a look at the underneath of the deck. The circular bit is were the magnets for the mizzen mast are located. I'll need to run some deck  beams across the "ceiling" to make sure the deck remains stiff and not flexible when I take the deck off (if I can pull that off). Techincally I think there should be another cabin underneath that top deck, but there isn't a door and I'm not sure I want to go to that much work.

You can see the edge of the deck that I broke off. I was more careful after this and did much better after this. Just below this is the point where I need to start cutting the deck and top edge of the bulwarks away. Although I'm having some second thoughts on this because of the way the rest of the ship goes together. I'll avoid rushing in with a knife at this point.

And a look at the inside of the stern. This is another spot where I broke a portion of the deck that fits into the slot.

When I start to reassemble this I'll glue the gun deck down to a base that should help keep everything aligned. But the afterdeck cabin sits on the main deck which is the biggest issue for adding the standing rigging, if I try and make the quarter and poop decks removable.