Tuesday 10 November 2015

Salamis....Part One

A map of the battle of Salamis 480 B.C.

One of the particularly helpful benefits of my recent Heroscape acquisitions has been the greatly increased number of blue 'water' tiles I have accrued. I now posses over 250 and this will give my small scale model naval games a major boost as these can look a little lost in a standard Hexon tile. Going forward the plan is to use the Heroscape water tiles in conjunction with the normal land based version to be able to models river banks, coastal areas and such like. My interest initially centred on the ancient period and the use of 1/1200th galleys but I am already thinking about 1/2400th for the Armada, the Anglo Dutch Wars (I bet you did not see that one coming!) and possibly the ACW/Victorian naval. Taking it further forward in time possibly even WW1 and WW2 using 1/4800th or 1/6000th but that is a long way off.

I guess it may have been easier just to get a plain blue hexed mat for naval games but for me that misses the point. I like the idea of having some land as terrain - either riverbanks or coastline - especially as many of my gaming ideas involve combined operations and similar. Heroscape lends itself very well to this approach and for me offers a lot of potential.

The Persian King of Kings, Xerxes, looks on at the unfolding catastrophe

I have acquired a modest collection of Navwar 1/1200th ancient galleys - including some later types for the Punic Wars - and am looking to use these for a refight of the battle of Salamis. This was one of the most significant naval battles in history and my inspiration for this project has come from various sources. Many years ago I used to play the Avalon Hill game Trireme which was huge fun. I never used models but always planned to do so at some point. Fast forward a few years and I had the good fortune to pick up a copy of Richard Nelson's book on the subject published in the Battles for Wargamers series. A copy of his fleet action rules published by WRG appeared courtesy of EBay and a copy of Warfleets of Antiquity from my good friend Chris Hardman.

The rules from book by Richard Nelson are in effect a cut down version of the WRG set. they feature enough detail to cover the refight of the actual battle and in terms of the number of ships involved he uses a scale of 1 model equalling 12 actual ships. Based on the sources he has used this translates into 54 models - which is eminently achievable. I only need a further 16 triremes from Navwar (not as detailed as Rod Langton but a lot cheaper!) and I will be good to go.

I will have to make some important decisions about the models. They are all going to based on a 40mm by 30mm base with the nationality and number as a label. That much I have decided upon but the main area of contention concerns sails. Do I have them mounted on the ship or do I leave them off? The former would look better but the latter is more historically accurate. I did toy with having them detachable but in 1/1200th they are a little on the fiddly side. An associated problem is there is a huge hole in the deck where the mast is stepped which is quite an eyesore without the mast in place. Of all the options I am leaning towards having the masts in place - simply because the models look nicer.

Ah but what of Jutland? I can almost hear a collective sigh as yet another project is launched. I shall be tackling something Jutland based to commemorate the anniversary next year but it is unlikely that models will feature. Salamis however is a lot more achievable and so my naval efforts will be focusing on this for the next few months. the final models will be acquired at the weekend.


Paul O'G said...

Having watched your blog for years this project has ultimately been inevitable.
I for one rejoice in it finally arriving :-)

Jonathan Freitag said...

Our hobby is one based upon aesthetics. If the ships look more appealing with masts then masts should be standard convention.

Good luck with this project!

Archduke Piccolo said...

Naval wargames is a whole fascinating field!. So far I have tended to use naval stuff as an adjunct to my land-based campaigns - for combined ops. I've had to resist the temptation to go much further with it. However, I have constructed home-made balsa fleets for my 'Jono's World' project. Unfortunately, they haven't yet seen action...

David Crook said...

Hi Paul,

In a sense it will be a refight of a refight as I am planning on following Nelson's book as closely as I can - not just for the historic battle but also for the two 'what ifs' he tried as well. The strategic game is also something I would like to try and so am considering using Heroscape to model a map of Greece for this. It will need some figures to use for the counters but that should not be too onerous.

As you rightly say though - it was inevitable!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Jonathan,

That is a good point well made. I have decided to go with the masts deployed on the models - primarily so that I can mess around with designs on the sails. The plan is to use some 15mm sheild transfers for this as there are quite a few Greek sets available from Veni, Vidi, Vici.

You are right about the aesthetic value!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Archduke,

I have always enjoyed naval games and it is rather ironic that I originally did so due to not needing much in the way of terrain. Most of my games now feature land in some fashion so terrain has become rather more important than it used to be....

I would love to see the scratchbuilt ships you have made as this is an area I really enjoy dabbling in.

The great thing about naval games is that usually you can get away with just a few models for a good game.

All the best,


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


Your new project grows apace and it will be great to see all your blue Heroscape water tiles in use. In fact, the Heroscape terrain system lends itself to this sort of project, and your ideas have rather set me thinking (gunboats on lakes, for example)... at a time when I am trying (not very well) to sort out and possibly reduce my wargaming collections. You are a very wicked man to come up with such good ideas!

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

I must confess that the map idea came courtesy of Google Images but it seemed so good it would have been rude not to share it! I am thinking along similar lines for the ACW and possibly the Danube and the 'Mespot' river actions.

Lots of good ideas and I apologise for causing you an idea overload!

I am reminded of Oscar Wilde and being able to resist anything except temptation....;-)

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Salamis and Jutland
My naval wargaming Nirvana
Watching this with interest

I seem to be leaving it late in life to do either of these
My thoughts on Salamis are either Outpost Wargames in 1/3600 with many ships on a base or Navwar 1/1200 (Greek Fire and Roman Fury David Manley Rules)

Jutland always has and always will be my 1/3000 Navwar Jutland Pack, painted that is sitting in a box

David Crook said...

Hi Geordie,

In my present work situation Salamis is a lot more doable than Jutland would have been and the main consideration will be, as ever, painting time. I think I have a good system planned for this though so it should not too difficult to tackle. Scaling the numbers down will help hugely so the 54 models are manageable. My next blog post will go into a little more details about how I plan to deal with this and the other important points concerning organising a refight.

I opted for 1/1200th simply because I had some models already but the 1/3600th were an intriguing option. I note that Tumbling Dice also produce 1/2400th galleys as well but I have not seen these.

The Jutland fleet pack eh? I remember when this was a mere £99 from Navwar! I have often pondered investing in this but have never gotten around to it - who knows? Maybe next year.....;-)

All the best,