Our Game is a Handful.

Our Game is a Handful.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

The sloop "Dog"

The Infamous pirate "Black Dog" before sailing with Captain Flint and John Silver made quite a name on the high seas in the unimaginatively christened sloop "Dog". Ruthless and cruel, a man nary stray from his duty before the mast less he be flailed for the captain's entertainment or so it is told. Truth be known the floating hulk reeks of burning hemp line and cheap rum and despite the tales spun about this Jamaican sloop no one can recall the last prize she took. As of late she has made birth at the Merry Caye harbor of the proclaimed pirate king and despite requests by the Island to anchor down windward, she has been stocking up for a voyage the crew has been keeping mum about, Focsle-shizzle.     

"Is that a Canadian Ship?"

Builders notes: This is the other configuration of the FireLock 18th century Sloop. This is a much simpler Bermuda/Jamaican sail plan with minimal modifications: polystyrene sails, magnetic ratlines, removable flags to strike colors. I also lowered the Boom sail for ascetic value.  I couldn't help the theme, it was low hanging fruit for a pun. It also rounds out 38 ships for the convention in Oklahoma City next week.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The "Dirty Oar"

"Irish Dead Eye's are Smiling"

With no tolerance of the Anglican settlement of their homeland many fine Catholic Irishmen put to sea either by poverty or pressed into service. It's no wonder that a spirited crew would seize a ship and set to terrorizing the merchant shipping of the English Crown. Ireland's History of Piracy is a undersold legacy that includes infamous pirates such as Anne Bonnie (1697 – 1721), Grace O' Malley (1530 - 1603), William Burke (died 1699) and now Jack Brannigan (2001- )
The "Dirty Oar" is a bit of an Enigma. Where most pirates will steal to survive, she and her crew are known to go to ludicrous efforts to just be destructive miscreants. The articles of Piracy composed by her crew start with the words: "Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to Imbibe, Burn and Loot." A former midshipman explained the philosophy as "Look if we can't have a home with nice stuff, we're going to make sure no one else does either. Simply put shenanigans"      


Aft of the Dirty Oar

The Philosophy in Latin of Her Irish Catholic Crew.


Builder's Notes: This is one of the configurations of the Firelock games 28mm Plastic Sloop Model. For the price it is the most complete kit you can get on the market at the lowest price point. I wanted to build the model as close to it's original factory configuration as possible but my need for a more ascetically pleasing finished product overtook me. The modifications  I made include lowering the Boom for the aft rig, Adding Ratlines that are magnetic, cutting down the cart for a few of the cannons so they actually fit the gun ports, and adding sails and rigging. 

If you are starting out in any 28mm Pirate gaming I recommend this model for simply the cost alone. It comes with many little optional parts to make several ships from the same model.  

Saturday, June 10, 2023

The Pirate's Ketch "Morass"

 If you want to plunder booty?

The Ketch Morass would be a priceless asset to any navy who could get hands on her deck, but when she raised the black on her first encounter, the unfortunate merchantman's captain was left in awe to what scalawag could assemble such a craft. Rarely do Bomb Ketches sail from European empires who prize their destructive potential but never to the water's of the new world. "They really have no use in the Caribbean." the betwixt governor of Nassau said after several ships reported her activities."Unless someone really has it in for blowing up sugar cane plantations or just plain hates aiming a cannon. Why Here? One salvo could burn a settlement to the ground."

This question has occurred to most of the appointed officials in the region with wild speculation and rumor swirling if it is a pirate vessel at all. A privateer perhaps? A vessel of fortune perhaps? Or just a grim facade to entice capitulation over confrontation.   


The Ketch "Morass" engages the HMS "Penetrator" off the Barbados coast. 

No Pirate in the high sea's would hoist this many Flags, Most merchants would get the point after one. 

The Chain on the Halyard is an interesting detail that I wanted to capture in the model. The volcanic plume of the belching mortar would alight any combustible line put in place to stay the main mast. 

The 12 guns and siege mortar give a clue this vessel was probibly a refit from a Brigantine or Schooner in a former life. 

Modeler's note:
This was created from the Old Glory25's American Cutter model, completely refitted, Masts moved and numerous parts from different manufactures. No one really produced a Bomb Ketch and this was as close as I could find. As with most of my models it's questionably anachronistic but unquestionably playable.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Laguna Matata


Welcome to Laguna Matata, jewel of the misplaced Portuguese New world Colonies. A little Back history: The Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 divided the "New World" into land, resources, and people claimed between Spain and Portugal. The meridian ran North and south 345 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of northwestern Africa. This conveniently placed most of the Caribbean, New World, and abundant natural wealth square in the hands of the Spanish empire. In 1630 a storm battered Caravel  ran aground on a spit of sand west of Tobago leaving much of her ruin as a warning to passing seafarers. Cargo and crew long since assumed  claimed by the waves, it was a complete mystery to both the Spanish and Portuguese Empires when a battered Naval ensign bearing the crown and shield of Lisbon was found aloft of a village 62 years after the wreck. Surrounded by mangrove trees and at its center a Jesuit mission, Laguna Matata's settlement is a cornucopia of escaped slaves, Portuguese decedents, the Indigenous people who took them in,Spanish renegades, and scoundrels. The mangrove trees are so thick, reasonable trade can only be exchanged by small launches rowing past the shallows to larger ships and few captains brave the natural barriers to sell there. 

    The island's wealth comes from trade in cocoa beans, trekked from South America via mule train through the mountains then across the straits from Caracas by native canoes. Spain's monopoly on the cocoa trade has made smuggling quite profitable as the European empire grow a sweet-tooth for the delicious extracts.     


     In Game terms the Laguna Matada is a haven for the detritus of the Caribbean. Culture, religion, Languages all merge into a colorful struggling village. Only shallow draft ships can get anywhere near the Island and regular merchant trade is unheard of. Trade goods and Luxury goods bring a high price and cocoa is the currency of choice.