Saturday, March 2, 2019

There's Gold In That Thar Space!

According to an article in this week's Economist magazine (Feb 23-Mar 1, 2019) scientists have discovered a treasure trove created by a kilonova, which occurs when two neutron stars collide. ("The ultimate nuclear reactor", page 77-78) Apparently they reckon some 10 x the mass of Earth in gold was created along with 50 x the mass in platinum. That's a tidy sum!

Unfortunately, it is located in a distant galaxy in the Hydra Constellation. And the event occurred a long time ago. But, otherwise, the next Gold Rush could be just around the corner!

Of course, flooding the market with that much gold and platinum would drive the prices down, however, spread across the many worlds of an Interstellar Empire some Mega-corp could stand to clean up a tidy fortune, or fortunes.

There's scope in there for some retro-sci/fi or pulp scenarios, methinks...

Thursday, February 7, 2019

How Two Rice Huts Stormed the Walls of Troy...Part 1.

Two Rice Huts: Sarissa Precision
The Walls of Troy: Chris the Modelmaker

Next weekend I am hosting a couple days of gaming and on one of those days Troy will fall again. Or not, according to the will of the Dice Gods. Originally this was going to be a medieval siege using the rules in the back of Arty Conliffe's Medieval Tactica rules. This would allow me to dig out my Hudson & Allen castle and give the rules another go. They're great, BTW. Highly recommended, being both simple yet bloodily effective. 

However, I soon  remembered that my castle is only partly painted and being laid low for a couple of weeks by a bad cold meant switching to plan "B": the Fall of Troy.

Which actually works out pretty well as I happen to have nicely painted armies for the period - which hardly ever get used - and was also lucky enough to snag one of Chris the Modelmaker's masterpieces on eBay: the walls for a biblical era city. 

Perfect! Part of the walls is shown in the above pictures. It was actually the second time the set had been up on eBay. The first time I lost the auction but then a few years later the guy that outbid me put them up for sale again and I lucked out, getting them for what I bid the first time round. :-)

Of course, I still want to use the siege rules, so it may be that the Greek's won't need their horse after all. But for that to work I need a battering ram and a siege tower to make the game fun. Now I gather that back in the day siege engines were pretty primitive and so using a siege tower might be a little unhistorical. They are however, such a fun part of the "Medieval Tactica: Siege" rules that the Greeks are going to get one. Another one of Odysseus' bright ideas! :-)

So for the last week or so I have been mulling about how to build one. My previous attempt using cardboard and strips of wood ended in failure. I was looking at some spare pieces of balsa I had lying around and wondering if they might work and then it occurred to me that there might be useful bits in all the MDF kits I have; maybe some leftover cut-outs, or surplus pieces could be re-purposed.

I started out looking at the bits from the Sarissa Precision Gladiatorial Arena but I was reluctant to use them as I might actually need them in the future. Then I stumbled on a Test of Honour scenery set I had received as a gift last year. I had built the Torii gate and Bridge, and started on the Watermill, but hadn't even looked at the two Rice Huts that finish the set off. 

An hour of fitting and re-fitting the parts later and I have ended up with the outline of a tower as shown in the pictures. It is actually a bit tall for the wall, so I am going to trim back those exposed struts in the middle part to shorten the tower. As it is now does show how it might work if one had a taller wall. My wall measures 5-1/2" to the top of the crenelations. I'll have to allow for how much the wheels raise it off the ground, but the struts at the bottom I think account for that. I am planning on trimming a lot of the ends that stick out, as well as the pitched roof end-pieces. 

One thing I think I need to do is change the walls around. They are etched with wood planking on one side only (the outside of the hut if built as intended.) I think that, as it was common practice to hang water-soaked hides on the outside, I might just as well switch the panels so the etched panels show on the inside of the tower. None of it is glued at the moment. I'm still working out how it might fit together. I should be able to cut "hides" from cardboard and use the age-old modelers shingling method to create the effect needed.

In Part 2, I'll take the huts apart and try and take pictures of the components and how they fit together.