Archive for February, 2010


Name this object and WIN ten points.

February 28, 2010


Roman Seas Review

February 22, 2010

For those of you that don’t wargame skip this post. For those of you who follow in the footsteps of the likes of Genghis Khan and Winston Churchill you’re in for a treat. I’ve been wargaming for a few years now… ok pushing forty but whose counting. I’ve also played a wide range of periods and game types from ancient to miniatures to computer games, hell I was playing EPT before anyone even thought of D&D… I may have said too much. My personal favourite is table top gaming because you can’t beat the tactile nature of the environment and of course exceedingly bitter arguments over whether that distance is from the closest corner of the base meaning you get a +1 on the dice or from the centre meaning there no modifier. You either know what I’m talking about or you don’t. It’s lot like the Big Bang Theory, if you laugh too often you8’re a geek. I’ve worked with the incredibly painful Wargames Research Groups rules, which were good for their quick reference guide but not too much else, to the simply anal Squad Leader series which notable only for its love of lots of words and defining the difference in ranges of the pistols that one guy in 300 was carrying because hell that could change the outcome of the battle!. I’ve even written more than a few sets of rules myself, the first being the ancient skirmish rules I wrote in ten minutes at our wargames club at high school because everyone had brought their figures but forgotten the rule books. Last I heard they were still using them, evidence of simple bloody laziness if nothing else. But what I have learned from this is that “playability” is kind of the point of table top gaming really, the figures and scenery, not the complexity or the “accuracy” of the rules. So when I review Roman Seas I’m doing it with a lot of experience and a certain amount of disillusionment.

To achieve the balance between rules and pliability is exceedingly difficult but key to the long term success of any game and Roman Seas has achieved it exceedingly well. However I do have to take issue with the tagline. “Ancient Roman Naval Combat Rules 264BC – 400AD”. This “rule book” is in fact an entire game. With the book comes a CD that has all the files on it you need to print your own counters and game boards as well as your quick reference sheets. The quick reference sheets tables all have their relevant rule numbers listed so you can go back to them if you need to. But once you’re familiar with the rules you’ll probably only have the quick reference sheets on the table.  It uses a hex system which regulates many of variables helping to reduce arguments (note: reduce, not stop. The arguments are a feature, not a bug). Even then the rules actually apply to miniatures as well as the board game version. Specifically Eric Hotz’s Roman Seas range of ships and buildings. In fact you can buy the Roman World collection and make pretty much anything from the ancient world you want. I’ve been using some of the fortifications for some time now in rebuilding a model of Roman Legion Fort. You can also rebuild Hadrian’s Wall and even a tented camp if you want to cut and fold the teeny tiny tents. I have four actual tents and a miniature camp ramparts dug so I’m good.

Flexibility is key to the usefulness of Eric’s rules as they cover a period from the rise of the Roman navy during the first Punic War, which started in 264BC to the peak of great fleets at Actium in 31BC and on to the decline of the Empire when the Romans were dealing with Saxon raiders in the fourth century AD. He gives you Roman, Carthaginian, the massive Antonian/Egyptian ships and the barbarian Ventii along Saxon wraships (which are begging to be converted to having dragons heads) augmented with a range of merchants. With each of these different enemies different tactics were employed and Eric details these within the rules and provides rules for things like flame weapons while telling you why they were very seldom used. Even the hapago, a catapult launched grapnel are there.  What is central to Eric’s rules is the fact that his father was a Roman historian and these rules are accurate while providing the individual player with the opportunity to try different methods of their own. In short you can engage in a wide range of differing types of naval and river warfare using these rules. I would suggest that it’s an advantage to learn a bit about the tactics employed and assume you don’t it already.

When you use Eric’s models you’ll be able to create that engaging table top feel of gaming  (please keep your coke cans OFF the battle area gentlemen) and you wont be paying through the nose for it. As I mentioned you can get the entire Roman world set for $100 from which you can build any naval force as well as any port, fort or city you feel like. You can print off as many models as you want with a variety of optional extras and they go together very easily. I just got myself the Barbarians vs Rome set because I’m working on a couple of river engagement scenarios and the set has eight ships classes on 25 sheets. With printing it works out to being about 50 cents for each model if i use all the extras. Somewhat more cost effective than buying and painting cast models.

Roman Seas, the rules and the models represent great value for money as well as being of exceptional quality.


A genuine Can-o-Kick Ass.

February 15, 2010

Which is a good pun if you know your Latin. For others this is Onager-in-a-Can.

A slot together table-top fully functional onager. We all know that cubicle wars are hilarious, but not all of us can afford those twin over chrome plated fox tailed ossiclating widget grublet flash missile launchers that are all the rage with the computing nerd warriors. So why not get anciebnt on their ass with this fully portable system! Yes you can take Onager-in-a-Can with you anywhere it its handy plastic box your tiny catapult will be safe from crushing and can be assembled in minutes.

That geek from accounting will never know what hit him! (A small plastic bead in fact)

Easily mistaken for a lunch item the Onager-in-a-Can blends in on your desk top…

When opened we see all the components and ammunition simply waiting to be assembled.

The parts are laid out and the rubber bands added to the torsion frame.

The throwing arm is inserted with the bands wound up.

The main frame is then slotted together…

and finally the crash bars are added.

Your Onager-in-a-Can is now ready to go.

Onager-in-a-Can is made from 3mm (1/8) blasa wood using less than half a sheet. You can build one using the plan that is available below for a compelled $1 donation to the 22AD Research Fund. The plan is full size so you can glue it directly to the wood for cutting and comes with photo instructions. There is an additional experimentation and history sheet included with the PDF file, so its ideal for teaching some history and physics to the kids.

Current range is about 10 foot and if you happen to have a model making bandsaw like me then you can make one out of some hard wood and get much more range if you so desire or you can use the upgrade optional parts included in the plan. Origionally I had planned to make something that glued together but it turned out that the model worlks well just being slotted together meaning you’ll be able to change rubber bands without breaking it apart.

PDF files will be sent to your email address within 48 hours. Please make sure you enter you email addresss correctly to avoid bitter recriminations and later face palming. Also feel free to pay the paypal fee please. And if you wish you can always donate more than $1 if you so desire and my crew were certainly appreciate it since it’s a long way to walk to Denmark from here.


Just out of interest…

February 12, 2010

Who is interested in a plan for making a small onager using one sheet of 1/16 balsa wood? I was suffering from insomnia last night so I sketched one up and I’m drawing it up in what we laughingly call my holiday.

Next question would you pay $1 for such a plan. You’d be able to print it off and pin it to the balsa wood sheet just like making a model plane… only it will work.


A couple of games for the keyboard catapulters.

February 7, 2010

Firstly the well known Crush the Castle. A fun little time waster followed up by the Crush the Castle Players Pack which has a lot more desgins from players I suspect.

Then theres one of my favorites, not so much as a game but as a simulator. The Warrick Castle Trebuchet Game. In this simulator you can alter the weight of the counterweight and the missile to shoot at a target which will randomly set itself anywhere beween 100 and 300 metres. If you set the counterweight to max and just change the missile weight you’ll soon work out what range you’ll get at each setting and impress your spouse and offspring with your ability to hit the target with the first round…for about ten seconds and then they’ll they start bugging you for more money for the movies and to mow that damn lawn and her mother said you were a no good layabout bum and she could have had her pick of guys like Jonny Mathews who is in money markets know and has three cars … blah blah blah…

mmm castle smashing goodness.


Introducing a crack team of elite specialists…

February 1, 2010

The Eh Team!

Our sketch artist has put together this  impression from eyewitness accounts of this hand picked group of former New Zealand Army experts* None of them were willing for their kids to actually see photos of them looking like this anyway so we had to go graphic, but innocent bystanders have attested to the uncanny likeness of the image. In order to the protect the guilty they shall remain nameless for the time being.

This is the collection that I plan to take to Denmark to impress academic world with out smashy skills.  Actually in terms of breaking things you couldn’t do better than the New Zealand Infantry. I’ll just tell them not to touch the walls… the moment they all look very innocent and start whistling casually I’ll now the walls are about to come down.

* X = unkown quantity, spert = drip under presure.


Change of project

February 1, 2010

Like our illustrious PM I’ve been invited to Denmark. Unlike him though there is a point to my going. To smash stuff!

I’ve been invited to participate in an experimental archaeology project evaluating the effect of Classical period large calibre ranged missile fire on defensive structures. Of to put it another way, someone is going to build walls and I’m going to break them. And my mother said I was on the wrong career path!

Consequently Big Tim is now on hold untill 2011 and Agrippa is on the drawing board.

Agrippa is a 4 mina ballista and as you can see is a little on the heafty side. This was the compromise between portability and hitting power. Thus making it big enough to be a pain in the ass to move and yet still too small to be a real threat to the average stone wall. Well there will be wooden palisades and mud brick as well so we’ll see what happens.

As you can imagine this is by no means a cheap under taking so if you want to contribute to my mid life deliquincey feel free. I’m also interested in hearing from anyone who is interested in sponsoring this machine. I can be fairly certain it will attract some attention. As always you can make a paypal donation and contact me using