Monday 26 November 2018

Another Fine Mess

One of the things delaying the rules is..
how to write a fool-proof protocol for sorting-out this kind of thing!
There are four squadrons of ships here. Two Persian, with red squares, and two Greek.
There are 15 ships, two of which are swamped, two of which are damaged. Some have rammed and then in turn been rammed. 

The dilemma is that one wants the capability to create such chaotic melees of ships but this then creates the problem of adjudicating the fight.

Who does what and with what and to whom and when do they do it.......???????
I am close, I can smell the cigar, but I don't have it just yet,,,,,,

Monday 5 November 2018

The Last Galley

Some reading for you. Pleasurable, not a chore...

Arthur Conan Doyle penned a series of stories about the ancient world in 1915. The anthology is entitled 'The Last Galley - Impressions and Tales'. The stories are short but many quite evocative in the way he describes the ancient world they are set in. Some ideas are anachronostic or even quaint but the stories work anyway when penned by a master story-teller.

Conan Doyle was no stranger to life on the ocean wave. He was doctor on an expeditionary ship in the Arctic Sea. He kept a notebook now available from the British Museum.
Conan Doyle 3rd from left.
 'The Last Galley' is about a Carthaginian galley. While it is a short piece it is full of atmosphere and has a lethal twist in the tail. In a few words he brings the Mediterranean to life.
Could be 'The Last/Lost Galley ?   Found this at random. No i.d. Anyone know where this 'ship' is ? Looks like a copy of Olympias but crazily shortened- stern ornament stowed inside.

You can read the book HERE at Project Gutenberg, choose any format.

If you don't know Project Gutenberg, ..shame on you.. . Out of copyright books available for no money. Many classics, a lot of academic works and historical material. Go there and get lost for a few hours. e.g.
Title: Ancient and Modern Ships. 
Part 1. Wooden Sailing Ships
Author: George C. V. Holmes
Title: Famous Sea Fights 
From Salamis to Tsu-Shima
Author: John Richard Hale
Title: The Certainty of a Future Life in Mars
Author: L.P. Gratacap 

Saturday 3 November 2018


Beautiful but hideously rugged coasts of the Dodecanese : hunting grounds of the war-galley
 I was recently in the Dodecanese to gather information for a book. Apart from a great chance to examine earthquake damage from last year's magnitude 6.7(!) earthquake, I had a look at some shipsheds.

So, I found myself in the basement of a police headquarters with 5 policemen, 2 armed,2 museum security guards and, maybe because it was the foundations of a neorion I was examining, a naval officer!
Looking down a slipway..plastic canoe at right is not original inhabitant of this neorion, pillars are modern!
The ship was dragged up a sloping ramp over beams/sleepers in the floor and then supported in place by wooden stays. Gear could be stored above or alongside. Some shipsheds took several ships side-by-side or end-to-end.

picture by Yannis Nakkas for Zea Harbour project

The slots for the sleepers are still visible....
Shipsheds are a fantastic type of building, the remains of which allow us to learn about the vanished galley fleets. Rather like the naust used to store wooden boats over winter in Scandinavia, The neoria of the ancient Mediterranean protected the galley from sun and weather over the winter season or when it required repair or maintenance.

I am sure galleys laid up in neoria grumbled and gossiped as much as steam engines !
 Neoria can tell us how many ships were stationed at a harbour, how big the ships were and how these changed with time. They had a light structure of columns bearing a tiles roof but the base for the columns and the slipway up which the hull was dragged, were solid enough to survive as some kind of remains.
Zea harbour :  again by Yannis Nakkas
 The simplest forms were rock-cut slipways which probably had a light timber roof originally.
This one is at a Rhodian anti-pirate naval station and probably accommodated 2 hemiolia.
2200 years of waves have taken their toll but the cut on the right is still obvious and the parallel sides

There are hundreds of slipways identified all over the Mediterranean, above which were once erected neoria. The haydays of Athens and Carthage as well as the long arm of Ptolematic Egypt, and the scale of naval investment by the tiny island states all become apparent from the study of shipsheds.
Carthage Admiralty island by Peter Connolly
Mediterranean cats are always appealing.

Saturday 27 October 2018


3D printing is here to stay and is making increasing inroads on the sculpture and modelling world. If you can master RHINO or SKETCHUP or another 3D CAD package then the world may be your 3D printed oyster.....
D3 printing solve your modelling problems can it do not
Issues of quality have now been largely solved. Some beautiful things can be produced with 3D printers in various materials.I have used SHAPEWAYS to make some 'safe' flexible plastic javelin heads and they are great.
Available HERE - you get two heads

SHAPEWAYS is one way to overcome the outlay on a 3D printer. They are still not cheap if you want a good one. Another argument against buying your own is the time, noise and temperature required.

Printing things takes time when using a fine strand of medium to build up the model. Hours are needed for even small things. The machines are not silent by any means and trying to sleep with a 3D printer chugging in the next room is difficult! A friend had to move his to the garage at his wife's insistence! (her or machine, he chose to move the machine bed for her in the garage was too expensive).  Another factor is that the medium must be kept at a specific temperature range and this may involve insulating the printing pad or the room...

etc. etc.

SHAPEWAYS idea is that you send the file, they print it , you get the thing. Great !  They offer a great range of different materials from ceramic to plastics to steel !!!!! Once you set up your page there you can also sell to th epublic if they want a copy of what you have modelled.

There are galley models available on SHAPEWAYS. They look very nice. They are not so accurate representations of any ancient prototype but they prove it could be done. Relatively simple models should be easy and look very nice at various scales. Search for galleys or modern warships and you can find some nice looking stuff.
See at shapeways HERE

The big downside with SHAPEWAYS is the price. Economies of scale have not kicked-in yet. My javelin heads were so expensive I could not sell them. The model above is 26 Euro for a 6cm long model. Ancient galley battles require a lot of models...

The best function for SHAPEWAYS just now is for prototyping. Make your original and cast it in resin or lead.

The future is beckoning, though. Many times we can see CAD images used in advertising for miniature figurines rather than real figures. Look at Zvezda who use a lot of tech versus Streltsi who do not.
What the actual model looks like is another question...
 Soon the quality of 3D printing may approach a true copy of the CAD images.  The skills of the physical sculptor will vanish like the galleys we love.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Can the next one be a warship, please ?

Another well-preserved wreck from the Black Sea. At 2000m depth !

A small freighter of the size of the replica 'Argo or so. Cargo intact, wood preserved.

Read the whole story at BBC (pic from there too)

Sunday 7 October 2018


Work on rules and on a book continue. Reports from Rhodes and other places to follow.

Monday 29 January 2018


The development of my rules has taken another step....

Thursday 18 January 2018

Paper/Card Fleets and Corvus Rules

Over at KINGDOM OF IRANISTAN blog there is a nice summary of the author's investigations of rules and models for large galley battles.

Go and have a look HERE


Monday 8 January 2018

A word from our sponsors

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 And this backwater of Saudi has some eminent watery connections....

Just stop bloody spamming me .....

Sunday 7 January 2018


A few fotos of the reinforced fleet having at each other. All ships are Threes,
The velour base cloth is at its best here. It looks alive and no hexes...
A squadron prepares to get under way from a hidden cove. Commander has a pennant.

An Athenian drone captures the Laconian fleet forming up.

The Athenians in the distance. Laconian fleet prepares an ambush behind Holy Island.
Athenians coming up in file. Ambush awaits behind Holy Island.
The land is polystyrene. Temple is a 3D-printed Parthenon (not finished painting it yet, those metope friezes are tricky at this scale....).

Saturday 6 January 2018


I have been knocking together some more ships for rules testing.
All trieres/Threes

I build them from plasticard, paper, card and glue.

Tricky to do much detail at this scale

I will put scenery tips up soon and game fotos.
My eyes now feel like I should consider moving over to resin or tin casting for large numbers.....

I tried to include some variation to avoid unhistorical uniformity. Or did I just fail to make accurate copies ?