Friday, November 25, 2016

The Sakbe Road at Anch'ke - It Seemed Like A Good Idea, At The Time (2)

Looking down the length of the set...

The Battle of Anch'ke was originally fought in Phil's campaign, as part of his 'Hekellu - Sirsum' micro-campaign. We, the Tsolyani, were trying to being the benefits of Imperial civilization to the tribal clans east of Hekellu; they, on the other hand, felt that they didn't particularly need the benefits of Imperial Civilization, thank you very much. Our little army consisted of Chris (Bear) Huddle's Legion of the Translucent Emerald (32nd Imperial Mediums) and my tiny Legion of the All-Consuming Flame (which may be descended from Searing Flame, 10th Heavies) as well as some Vridd clan troops. 6,000 - 800 - 600, respectively. Not a very big force, but a good one.

A day's march out of Hekellu on the dilapidated and not very big Sakbe road to Sirsum, we realized that the Young Master (the local version of the Mahdi) had the tribes out in force, and we were in deep trouble. Phil obviously knew his history of warfare on India's Northwest Frontier, and had us right where the Afghans had had the British on several occasions. In short, we were in deep trouble and likely to get wiped out.

What Phil didn't know - mostly because he didn't allow gunpowder weapons on his game table, I suspect - was that I really liked 'colonial warfare', and had read up on the history of the fabled Frontier in preparation for this micro-campaign. Phil sprang his ambush just that little bit too soon, and I attacked into him with my cohorts. It was the only time in over a decade of gaming with him that I caught him flat-footed; I won the fight, and kept us all alive to fight another day.

A number of years ago, as part of my series of Tekumel-based games at the FLGS, I built the battlefield from the map that Phil had drawn for us, scaled to fit the 140" table they had. Anch'ke requires a set of specific terrain, as it plays a major role in the fight; there's two ranges of low hills to hid the ambushing tribesmen, and the dilapidated Sakbe road that we fought around.

I varied from my usual practice of using extruded styrene foam, and used expanded foam instead; the latter has a 'pebbled' texture, which I thought would look good on the model. (This was my first project that I did with Third Daughter and Second Son-in-law, by the way, so I have kind of a special place in my hart for this model.) We went and re-fought the battle at the FLGS, with very bad result for the Tsolyani.

So, my question for all of you: I am standardizing my table sizes, and the largest table I use these days is 60" x 120". The big table at the FLGS is 140" long; I really don't do games there, at this point. Should I cut down the roadway (by lopping 10" off each end, most likely) or leave it as it and live with the extra length hanging off the 120" table?

15 comments:

  1. Tough call, because of the emotional connection this piece has to Third Daughter and Second Son-in-Law, but I think it'd probably be best to cut the piece down - but save the ends. Otherwise you're risking someone bumping into it and damaging it.

    As an aside, thank you for posting this picture - I'd developed a completely different mental image of the Sakbe Road from reading the Tekumel novels. This actually makes much more sense than the terraced, "bridge on top of a bridge on top of a bridge" mental image I had.

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  2. I think you're right. Lopping ten inches off each end will solve the problem, and I can always finish the cut ends to make them look nice. And everything will still fit in the new storage crate, too.

    You're welcome! I think you would get that image from the Sakbe roads around Purdimal, which are much like what you were thinking of - they are wooden causeways on pilings, with the elevated sections not being as high above each other as on the stone ones.

    I've often thought about building one of these. Tons of chopsticks for the pilings and tons of wooden coffee stirrers for the planking. Oh, and about a gallon or two of wood glue, a couple of months, and infinite amounts of patience... :)

    It'd look cool as all get-out, though!

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  3. Very nice Chirine. You never cease to amaze me with your modelling skills! Like the commenter above the picture I've had in my mind's eye all these years was very different from what you have posted. Your rendition makes a heck of a lot more sense than what I thought. I was thinking more of the Great Wall of China.

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    1. Thank you!

      I was working off of Phil's drawings; he did this set as well as a more usual set, and that latter set is still in the works.

      Some sections of roadway are indeed taller and 'steeper'; these are usually the ones closest to hostile borders. Howard Fielding had such a one made, and he's posted photos of it on-line.

      The roadway system is very diverse; it grew up almost organically over a very long time, and so has a lot of design variation in the various sections. I also scaled my roadways to the figures, to allow for two carts to pass each other - Phil had done the same, being had some practical experience with carts while in South Asia.

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  4. I don't know how smoothly this stuff cuts, but any chance you could cut the whole thing into several modular sections without heartbreaking damage? That way you could keep it all, and if you made some angle cuts you could configure a variety of "snakier" sakbes for different scenarios

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    1. This is the 'beadboard' white polystyrene expanded foam, which is a pain to cut cleanly' it's not structurally very strong, and tends to shed beads when being cut unless you use a very fine toothed blade - hand saw or bandsaw, I've found. I have a very specialist large handsaw, and I'll use that.

      Understood about the angle cuts. This is a specific terrain item for a specific game table, and I had not planned on it being a truly modular set. The set is already in three sections, two 48" straights and the 45" tower section. By way of contract, the 'big' set is truly modular, with the large tower section being 30" long and the six straights in 200" sections. The two smaller towers are only 10" wide. Doing angled sections for this set would be much easier.

      I'm really torn about the angled sections. The scale of these roadways is so huge, the 'curves' are measured in kilometers or radius. Phil once remarked that for all intents and purposes, they would look straight from horizon to horizon. So, I suspect I'll do an 'inner' and 'outer' curved/angled 'corner, and go with that.

      Further suggestions always welcome, too!!! :)

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    2. Typos...

      'contract' is 'contrast'; 200" is 20".

      Sorry!

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  5. Sorry, I don't have any more ideas. Expanding polyurethane is fairly easy to cut with a fine toothed hacksaw-type blade. But the beaded styrene is trickier. I have in mind that back in the day people used to cut it with a hot wire. Maybe that's an option?.

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    1. Agreed; I've used everything from razor knives to table saws, and it's a preferred material. I usually don't use the beaded stuff, but I wanted the texture for this project.

      I do own a hot wire, but the fumes are pretty bad and it's winter here in Minnesota... :)

      In the end, I just used a very fine toothed framing saw, and cut the sections down to size. The saw left a decently smooth surface in the foam, and a good clean cut in the thin MDF base plates. So, we're good; paint is drying, and I'll crate up the set for storage tomorrow.

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  6. Sounds like you have it in hand. I can recommend the polyurethane if you want a more pitted stone surface, like tufa or pumice. Like Styrofoam it is strong, rigid and light as air, but it is easier to cut

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    1. Yep, I took my heart in my hands and made the cut. Scared the heck out of me, but it's done.

      I love urethane! Great stuff, and I have some very treasured bits of scenery made of it.

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  7. sounds like the decision has been made. I was going to suggest considering cutting 20 off one end, as that leaves a single usable road section that can be dropped on a table for skirmish level adventuring. Nice piece. Pleased to see you have become quite prolific in your posting again. Or perhaps I have simply been slothful in my reading.

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    1. Great suggestion! One factor is transport of the set; it's easier to nest everything together, so having small ends just worked better. Crate's now made, so it all fits.

      I am trying to get back into things; it was a very bad year, health-wise, and blogging had to take a back seat to our health. Model-building suffered too, and TRE Games has helped a lot with that.

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  8. There's still hope to take both 10" ends - some PVA/spackle/paint and you have that 20" skirmish section...

    Gorgeous work! It's a real beauty and all the more fun for having good memories around it.

    I'm busy putting together foam city walls, Hirst Arts towers and ruins for GaryCon and Little Wars next year. Can you imagine this road in Hirst Arts blocks? You'd need an engine hoist to raise the thing to the table...

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    1. Done; the ends look pretty good, actually.

      Thank you! I'm hoping that the big set turns out as well.

      Yeah. You's need a forklift. I'd use foam to make the core, to save weight and plaster, with a 'skin' of Hirst Arts blocks. Have you see the 'Domus' range of kits from Spain? They work like this, and the little bricks are simply wonderful.

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