The Battle of Riachuelo during the War of the Triple Alliance
Now that the ACW naval project is gradually winding down I am able to at last really think about what comes next. Regular readers of the blog will no doubt recall several ideas cropping up and in truth, there is a pleasing smorgasbord of potential conflicts to explore from a naval perspective. I suppose in many ways the key thing I have borne in mind with all this ‘mental meandering’ is the need for what would be a different style of tactical challenge. The ACW offers everything from river based gunboat skirmishes to high seas ‘runners and raiders’ with coastal actions thrown in for good measure. In short it is replete with potential and indeed, one could game the ACW afloat exclusively and have a very rich and longstanding seam to tap into.
The War of the Triple Alliance and the later War of the Pacific both have much to commend the naval wargamer. The forces are relatively small, the ships are an interesting mix of purpose built warships and converted civilian types, ironclad, wooden vessels, screw and paddle wheelers are all in evidence. There are river based actions for the former and largely coastal for the latter. Between the two wars you have pretty much everything that the ACW had in terms of variety of gaming potential.
David Manley has produced an outstanding supplement for each of the South American conflicts - there are even counters for the ships featured - which include a complete campaign system as well as potted histories of the wars, scenario ideas and ship specifications so pretty much everything you need is to hand. He is even designing STL files of the major ships for those of the 3D printing fraternity. In short, these are essentially the complete package for the would be gamer in the period.
3D printing is not an option for me as my shipbuilding is firmly wedded to the use of lashings of MDF, cardboard, bamboo skewers and wooden cocktail sticks!
I am keen to explore both conflicts but I have this nagging feeling that for the moment they are rather too close to the ACW in terms of gaming. I am conscious of the fact that perhaps I need a bit of a change especially if I am tackling another naval project. Having said that many of the ships from both wars would be easy enough to build but in the cold light of day I am unsure if at his stage I want to. It would feel very much like making the models because I can rather than because I should. The same could also apply to the Boshin War - I am keen to tackle this but again, would it feel a little too similar to what I have been doing for the past two years or so?
The same could also be said about the Russo-Turkish War up to a point.
All four of these conflicts will get their fair share of attention in due course but for now I really need a change of tack.
I want to maintain the ship building enthusiasm because I enjoy the whole process of turning a picture or a plan into a model that looks similar to the original, more or less!
Winding the historical clock backwards one of course hits Age of Sail territory. From the time of the Spanish Armada up to the Napoleonic Wars there is plenty of potential and again, I have enough model building ideas for a couple or three projects. This will require more time and effort to organise compared to the later options I have in mind.
Winding the historical clock forwards a few decades then we have my yet to be finalised ideas surrounding Madasahatta circa 1900 or even East Africa during the Great War - Lake Tanganyika and the Rufiji Delta. These are suitably different enough from the middle years of the 19th century to be worthy of serious consideration and besides, I rather fancy tackling something a little later.
For now though, I shall concentrate on finishing the ACW models so work will resume in earnest as soon as the Warbases order lands.