Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The First Fort Knox

Earlier this year for our Anniversary the Czarina and I opted to vacation in Bar Harbor Maine, vs. our usual destination.  It had been over 20 years since our last visit ‘up there’ and the town had certainly changed a lot.  But even more importantly, on the drive up, we passed a little sign on the highway that said ‘Fort Knox’ and an arrow pointing to the left.  

Fort Knox?  As a former Armor officer, I have some familiarity with Fort Knox, and while I haven’t been there in almost 35 years, I’m pretty sure it’s still in Kentucky.  The Czarina graciously agreed to stop.  Unfortunately the Fort itself was closed for maintenance on the stone work, but we were able to walk the grounds.

America’s First Fort Knox, a brief history.

Diagram courtesy of ‘Friends of Fort Knox’ brochure

Fort Knox is located on the Penobscot River near Prospect Maine in an area known as the Penobscot Narrows.  The region had strategic value as the it was a mjor source of  timber for ship building, and allowed easy access to Bangor.  During both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 British forces seized the area and occupied Bangor and Castine.  The region is also the sight of the worst American Naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor, where the Colonial Penobscot Expedition of 1779 attempted to force the British from the region. The American’s  lost 43 ships and approximately 500 men.  (Bonus question, what American Patriot famous for getting arrested on his midnight ride was court martialed for his role in the American Land Forces debacle phase of the Penobscot Expedition? He was ultimately found innocent after Ben Franklin was rumored to have intervened on his behalf)  

Originally approved in 1825, Congress failed to fund construction until 1844, with the construction of the gun batteries closest to the river.  In 1853 work began on the granite walls for the central fort building.  

"A" Battery 
The large gun in the center of the battery is a 15" Rodman.  It fired a 330 pound shell or 450 pound solid cannonball. With a charge of 100 pounds of gunpowder it could fire a solid cannon ball up to a range of 5,579 yards or just over 3 miles.  

"B" Battery 

The Fort was garrisoned by 20 – 55 troops during the Civil War.  The fort was not yet completed and the troops were forced to live in temporary wooden buildings.  During the Spanish-American War, approximately 575 troops from Connecticut lived at the fort for approximately 1 month.  As the Fort was still not completed they lived in tents.  As you may have guessed the Fort was never completely finished before it became obsolete.

And now for something completely different…

That was last spring.  Now fast forward 6 months, and we’re into fall, and the leaves are doing their color change thing, below are a couple of photos of the backyard of the Summer Palace before it’s covered in snow.

So much lead, so little time.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Building a World is Hard Work

Details, Details, Details, sheesh, this is like work or something.

It’s been a while. Work on the Imagination map has stalled due to real life issues.  

But first a digression. This weekend reminded me that time has a way of changing traditions.  Last Friday was the local Fireman’s Parade and Fair, and for the first time in 18 years we didn’t host a party.  The Czarina’s relatives came to visit us at the new Summer Palace, and the Parade/Fair happen at the Winter Palace.  I still was able to toil away on the grill, but instead of listening to fire engine sirens, I was listening to Turkey’s gobble in the valley.  Such is the price one must pay when one is the Czar.  (And I greatly prefer the 70 degree temperatures up north over the 90 degree temperature that greeted me this afternoon when I returned to CT).  

While work on the map has stalled, I started to think maybe I was getting the cart before the ox, so to speak.  While I had a vague idea of the type of Imaginations that would populate my world, or parallel world, or maybe Paratime world if you will, I hadn’t really fleshed them out.  

So while I was working the grill the other day I organized my thoughts, and below are the current ‘known’ Realms in the ‘world to be named at a latter date.’ Not very original, I know.  But it’s a start, and as always, subject to change.

The Great  Kingdom of Hos
Hos is one of the oldest Realms in the known world. Hos is ruled by the strange Lord Calvin.  Little is known of his background, other than ‘he’s not from around here’.  His speech, mannerisms, intellect and way of fighting clearly set him apart from the other rulers.
Lord Calvin has embraced the use of gunpowder weapons more so than any other ruler.  He can often be heard lecturing about how the future of warfare lies in gunpowder.
He is also a scholarly man, and early in his rein instituted a series of stone road construction projects, which gives Hos the best road network outside of the Molybdenum Empire on the southern coast of the continent.

Ehdan, one of the Northern most realms in the known world is ruled by Prince Talon.   When the Ehdan go to war, Prince Talon can always be found in the van of the army, with this massive 3 bladed sword making him easily identifiable.  The Ehdan’s are considered Barbarians and little better than animals by some, a view that is probably brought about by their disdain for heavy armor, their continued use of Chariots on the battle field, and their belief that ancient Sorcerer’s can be raised from the dead and used to influence battles by those with dark intentions.  
However, those who have fought or traded with the Ehdan’s know them to be both shrewd warriors and master negotiators.  

The Molybdenum Empire
The Molybdenum Empire could best be described as a fallen empire.  It is barely able to compete with the surrounding Fiefdoms. Molybdenum is currently ruled by the Dictator for Life,  Sirius Smackdownum.  Sirius has grand plans of being able to restore the glory of the Molybdenum Empire, at the expense of his neighbors of course.  He arrived at his current lofty position the old fashioned way, through military prowess advancing through the ranks combined with a good deal of assassination thrown in.  As such he is somewhat paranoid and absolutely ruthless.  
The Molybdenum Empire favors formations of dense heavy shock infantry, equipped with massive shields.

The Realm
The Realm, not exactly an original name for one’s Earldom, but it is home to Earl D’Greer.  Exactly which noble bestowed the title of Earl upon him is still a mystery, most think he purchased the title via an Alchemist running a buy your nobility scam. 
Rumors, at least those spread by the Earl, hold that he was a mighty warrior in his youth, which is hard to believe since today he could barely sit astride a horse, and the poor beast would surely have a sway back for the rest of it’s miserable life. Plus, it’s difficult to lead a charge when you have a Mead Mug constantly filling one of your hands. The Earl is as creative in his war fighting skills as he was in naming his realm. His preferred tactic is to send waves of cavalry and lightly armored Halberdiers at his opponent, headless of the loss of men and horses.  He despises firearms and cannon, seeing them as far to expensive to use.  
Aside from jokes about their corpulent ruler, the Realm is best known for their Cheese products, with their  ‘Moon Cheese’ being in wide demand especially among the superstitious Ehdan’s.

The Middle Kingdom
The Middle Kingdom lies in the middle of the known world (as you would expect).   The Middle Kingdom is ruled by Count Guilleme.  As with Earl D’Greer no knows who bestowed the title of Count on Guilleme.  The most commonly accepted theory is that the Count also purchased his title via an Alchemist running a buy your nobility scam. This has some credibility, as the Count and Earl have been life long enemies – each proclaiming the other to be a pretender to their title.  
Several years ago the Count lost an eye during a skirmish with forces of the Realm, and has pledge to see the Realm defeated and the Earl in chains before him.  The Middle Kingdom fields a mixed fighting force, and has recently embraced gunpowder weapons for their Skirmish troops.

So there's the rough outline of the Imaginations for now. 

Now I need to get back to working on the map.  And I promise, there will be photos in the next post.
So much lead, so little time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Surprise Box

I mentioned a couple of post ago that I’m currently in the process of reorganizing both the painting area and the troop storage area(s).  Right now I have stuff boxed up and scattered all over to the point I don’t know where anything is.  

The other day I was digging through boxes looking for my stash of old 15mm Napoleonic’s on a quest for a couple of gun carriage wheels, and I stumbled upon a box from our move to CT (18 years ago) that apparently had never been opened.  This was like Christmas in May!  It said game room on it…. Hmmmm.   So, time to rip it open and see what we have.

Sadly, mostly junk that went straight into the trashcan, but…. But…. I found these two treasures. Purchased sometime in the 1970’s I think.   

The first one I had completely forgotten about.

 The box is in fair shape and all the contents are safe and sound

The second one I remember playing  this when I was in high school.

Again the box and contents are all in excellent shape

I can’t wait until I have a free weekend and can get at least one of these on the table for a quick solo game.  I’ve come a long way from board games with paper unit counters; I hope I still enjoy it as much now as I did back in the dark ages.

So much lead, so little time.

Monday, May 6, 2019


So, Joe has managed to get me intrigued with IHMN and I’ve been toying around with an appropriately Victoria evil faction.  As a child of the Golden Age of TV Westerns, I’ve found that they (and their values) have stuck with me over the years.  And what could have had a more lasting impression than the original Wild, Wild West TV show?  Which means there can really only be one basis for the ultimate evil genius – Dr. Miguelito Loveless!  

So, does anyone know where I can find a Midget miniature in Western or Victorian attire?  Can I even say Midget miniature without being banned from Blogger? 

I need my evil genius to lead his army of Dastardly Armored Lightning Equipped Killers or DALEKs. I’m still familiarizing myself with the rules but from what I can tell the DALEKS will be pretty pricy point wise. I figure one equipped with an Arc Generator to power both the weapons and the actual Daleks, and anywhere from another 1 to 3 should be enough.  Probably modify the Prussian Heavy Military Walker stats.  I need to reread the rules and put pencil to paper and see what I come up with.  (Yes, I still use pencil and paper).

I don't have the modeling skills to modify a 28mm figure to this extent, but I like it.  Enlarge photo to see source.

Of course, if you have bad guys, you need good guys.  And who was the best at being good with cool Victorian style gadgets?  James West of the United States Secret Service on special assignment for President Grant, of course.  I’ve been perusing the Cowboy figure lines, but I haven’t been able to find any yet that have that, suave gunslinger lady’s-man look.  You know, James Bond with a six-shooter and cowboy hat.

So much lead, so little time.

Monday, April 8, 2019


In my last post I mentioned still wanting to do a Tony Bath Hyboria style campaign, vs. a traditional Lace wars ImagiNation campaign.  That got the old brain cells working and I remembered that at some point last year I had started working on a map of the to be named world before I overwhelmed myself with complexity and shelved it.  After some digging through the computer files I managed to locate the below.  It’s not much of start, so far only 2 Barony’s? Warlords?  Realms?   Whatever they end up being called.  This is clearly still a work in progress.  

Sorry about the poor quality and lack of color.  Blogger wouldn't let me upload a PDF, and my printer needs ink, so this is the best it gets.   The building icons are color coded to indicate 'country' and of course river is blue, roads (dashes) are brown, woods are green, etc.  And if i don't post this now it could be another year before I get around to another post :-).

The grid is in Excel, which allowed me to write a simple formula to populate the hex numbering system.  The section below is situated in the north central region of what was planned to eventually become a continent.  If we use the European model, the Castles represent the ‘Lord/Baron/Count, what have you, the houses would be the Manor House/Village of their Vassals. (The building icons were found on line at https://www.deviantart.com/tomdigitalgraphics/art/MedievalTowns-561264510), the hills, forest/woods, are also from the web but I don’t recall the source.  

When I last worked on this, the scale was to be one hex = 5 miles. The original thought was that a force comprised of only Infantry could move 3 Hexes (15 miles) a day due to the need to forage.  With a weekly move maximum of 18 hexes to factor in time to rest, etc. A force that includes cavalry could move 4 hexes a day and 24 hexes a week as the cavalry is assumed to take on the foraging duties.  The plan at the time was to have a campaign turn represent one week.  

I originally went into excruciating detail on what was in each hex with the intent of having a stand alone Atlas that detailed each hex similar to Warplan 5x5.  Hex’s with villages would have one predominant attribute, hills, farms, pasture, woods. The brownish dotted lines are roads; actually little more than cow paths is how I envision them at this point.
Hills and mountains had a chance of mines being present, with the specific type of mine randomly determined.   
Farms would provide additional bonuses in the event of a siege or increase supply radius.  As well as potentially have a positive impact on population growth (but I never made it to the population growth phase before it all got too complicated).
Pastures would be randomly determined to be cattle, horses, or sheep, and would provide an additional light cavalry unit.  
Woods would increase revenue through fur trade and provide an additional longbow unit or a skirmish archer unit. 

That quickly became overwhelming and confusing even to me, so the project languished for most of last year after that.  And I didn’t even get to the income, manpower, troop supply, and a whole host of other items that would have further complicated things. So, for now I think I’ll scrap most of that although I like the concept of additional units based on terrain, so that may stay, or not.
I think I can still use the map as a starting point, and find a way to simplify the book keeping.  It’s all just a matter of time and motivation.

So much lead, so little time.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I’m not dead… yet

Wow, it’s been a loooong time since the last post. 

Despite the absence of activity on the blog I actually played in a quit a few games in 2018, for the most part reported by Peter on his Blunders on the Danube blog. Painting on the other hand, has been pretty much non-existent.  I just haven’t felt the motivation, and things have been  rather hectic since November (I’ve been  out of state more than I have been in state).  But enough whining, as I learned as a young 2LT, ‘the effective range of an excuse is 0 meters’.  

I expect to have more motivation in 2019.  I’ve really had the Imagi-Nation itch lately – I know and how is that different from last year, and the year before that and on, and on.  But this time I mean it!  I’m not really into the 7 years war which seems to be what most ImagiNations are set in, but I think if you set it in the early middle ages/renaissance time period with some barbarians and Romans thrown in it might work.  Or in other words, if you take the approach Tony Bath took with his Hyboria campaign, I think the extra diversity would keep the motivation going.  I actually started working on a map in early 2018, I wonder if I can find it?  Rules would be Hostile Realms, which does an excellent job of covering the proposed diverse time period – all you have to do is remove the magic and fantasy elements.  Or To The Strongest would probably work as well.  (I really think that To the Strongest is a fantastic rule set for a light, fairly fast game with a fair amount of tension and fog of war based on the card system).

And speaking of scratching the ImagiNation itch, Joe has graciously volunteered to run another Napoleonic era one.  More details can be found at his Fish Tales blog

Of course I’ll continue to plod along on painting up more Russian Napoleonics  with the goal still being of  to build  the 2ndArmy of the West from the 1812 campaign.  Hmmm, probably time I sat down and did an inventory of where I’m at on that.    And I still need to build out the French forces, I have the lead; just need more of that motivation thingy to do something with them.

But enough with this word stuff.  Blogs are for photos, so here’s some of what I did manage to paint up in 2018.

Figures are Perry.   It's been so long I don't recall where the flag was from.  

The magic wash came out a little blotchy on the pants , but from a distance it looks ok.  Although I'm not sure what's going on with the drummers face - warpaint maybe?

So much lead, so little time