Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Setting the Nepean ablaze: 1816

The year is 1816, the place is Smith's farm in the Nepean valley, in what is now New South Wales, Australia. We are using the rules Smooth and Rifled (with some house rules) as they work very well for this level of skirmish. We are using a scenario from A Grab Bag of Games.

At first the Darug people though only a few didjurigura garraway (white men) would come. But more than could ever have been imagined come up the river and the roads.

Fearing trouble, Governor Macquarie sends soldiers of the Veteran Company under Lieutenant Rivers, that loyal public servant, to Smith's Farm. 

A Darug leader, known in Lieutenant Rivers' journal as 'Ecstatic Traveller', or to the settlers as Happy Wanderer, or to the soldiers as just Happy decides enough is enough. He decided to gather the warriors and attack the place where the "fluffy-white kangaroo mob" lives.

Smith's Farm near the Nepean River
Smith's family and assigned convict labourers tend to their herd.


This industrious scene is shattered as some hostile Darug warriors  approaching from the north east.

Even more are approaching from the north west.

Today, the Darug, normally friendly, do not look happy.

At this point Lieutenant Rivers and his company happen to come swinging up the road from Parramatta.

Farmer Smith looking from soldiers to warriors and back to his family, instantly decides to get his family, and importantly his sheep, out of harms way.

The Darug warriors, however move incredibly quickly and throw a shower of spears as they run, wounding or terrifying the settlers.

The other war party start throwing spears and terms of abuse over the fence.

At this point the Darug warriors stop in amazement for two reasons. Firstly they make a terrible command roll. But secondly, the soldiers all simultaneously turn as one man. One end of the 'snake' stays still, the other marches forward. "What is this" cries Happy, "some sort of dance". 

Recovering their composure, the warriors resume throwing spears and creative insults over the fence.

Offended and hurt, the convicts run away, or sink to the ground wounded. Warriors jump the fence to round up the white-fluffy kangaroos.

Then the soldiers stop their weird dance, and at a cry from their officer raise their djarraba (Darug for musket) and all fire at the same time. The warriors are appalled and watch in shock as the soldiers do the ritual that makes the djarraba shoot again. This volley happens to kill Happy, throwing the warriors into more confusion. A third volley is somewhat more ragged, but sends the warriors fleeing down the road.

At a shout from Lieutenant Rivers, the drummer play a different tune and the soldiers stop firing and start to reload. The strange snake-dance begins again and the soldiers advance on the larger body of warriors. The warriors see no point in hanging around near these weird people, and fade back into the bush.
Here we see Happy's spirit nervously measuring the range to his warriors.

Lieutenant Rivers has not noticed that behind the enemy skirmish line, warriors have made off with most of the sheep.

The aftermath

Lieutenant Rivers reports back to Governor Macquarie the great great victory over the restless tribe. Farmer Smith, gingerly pulling a Darug spear out of his posterior, vows to leave the Nepean for good. Soon most of his neighbours follow him back to Sydney and the Nepean Valley once again becomes the unfettered hunting ground for the Darug. The Darug elders reflect on the events of the day and vacant spots around the fire, and vow never to fight against djarraba in the open again.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My fluffy grass matt

I have had a few request about how I made my latest mat. I always wanted a matt that I could unroll and ta.da: there was most of the work done. I wanted thing like roads to be integral to the matt, but I also wanted to the grass to be, well for want of a better word 'fluffy'.

There is a section of my club that things all games should be played on 120mm x 90mm or 4'x3'. Personally, I think this is because we are getting old and can't be bothered standing up to move toy soldiers around. But this size is used by Studio Tomahawk rules like Condo and Saga, so this is the size I went for.

So, here is the mat in question posing as Australia

 And here it is in India

The matt is A Zephyr Vinyl table cover made in Australia. The picture below shows the vinyl side


I do actually us this side for some games (see below)


However the other side has a fabric backing, and this is the side I used. Other people have made mats using drop sheets, but I think the vinyl baking makes the mat much stronger.

In the beginning I sketched out the roads in caulk


This is what I used.


With one layer you can still see the texture of the fabric, so I added a few very thin layers. I was trying to economise, so I didn't cover the whole mat in caulk. That was huge mistake as later you could see white bits between the flock.

I tried adding some sand for texture, but I stopped as I thought the abrasiveness of the sand would wear out the caulk as it got rolled up. Instead I just ragged the caulk with an old t-shirt as it was drying which gave me a texture I liked.

I used clay kitty litter for the 'rocks' as I thought the kitty litter would absorb the caulk and be more durable. So far that has proved to the case.

The caulk dried really quickly. Next I pained on PVA glue mixed with water and sprinkled three tones of flock in patches. The flock dries to be very fluffy, but not very durable.

So I splayed a water PVA mix over the top once it had dried. I found that the more PVA you spray, the flatter the flock becomes.

So I sprayed some areas really flat to create stable areas for my buildings. I also dry brushed the caulk at this stage to bring out the texture.

That was it. The project would have taken one whole Saturday if I had covered the whole mat in caulk. As it is I spent a few evenings filling in all the tiny white gaps. A lesson learned.

My last lesson, and I can't stress this enough, is you must stop your cat dancing on the flock while it is drying. The cat has been punished and the mat repaired.