Wooden Wars: HMS Smeagol and Gun boats

"A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say, 'How to Build a Boat' !"

                                                               ~ Stephen Wright

Ms. P proudly shows off the scale of  HMS Smeagol

HMS Smeagol- out of Dry dock

 With a wee bottle of whiskey tapped gently across her bow (didn't want to spill it now) The HMS Smeagol was launched out of drydock and sent down the harbor, ready for sails and, erm, flags. You may have seen early tests of the model at Fossling proving grounds (see blog post here) and now she's ready for the real game.  Based upon a mashup of the HMS Beagle and the Lady Washington, she's kinda a Square rigged sloop/ brig thingy. Hey- it's Hollywood baby!

Note large base are for masts. This holds them up till they are struck
When working on a project such at building a ship model, especially one for gaming, you have to always consider what she'll be used for and how she's handled. I caught myself far too often wanting to add more details to this model, only to remind myself that she'd designed to have rubber balls hurled at her!  Is she true to scale for a crew of 80mm in height? Pretty close compared to some of the brigs and sloops I've had the honor of stepping aboard. 

 For game purposes, the Smeaol is designed such that the masts, bowsprit, wheel, and guns can all be knocked over. And of course, the crew. In retrospect, I wish I had built the ship either a bit wider, or waited till I was done before making the gun carriages. the biggest issue was how much space the bases for the masts needed to be, in order to keep them stable enough until well struck.  Later I'll re cut some slightly smaller gun carriages, and if (when) I make another ship, she'll be slightly wider as well. She needs a bit of a bow sprit too, which maybe I'll get to before the convention. Maybe...

From here that uniform looks the part
Concept art for Sailors with variations.
As for crew, I cheated on the Captain and first mate, using a British and French foot officer and painted them up to look Naval. I did    I'm currently working on Sailors to crew her. They'll pop up in an upcoming post.

Gun Boats

The scenario calls for gunboats to try and make it ashore and take outthe shore fort (and now capture sheep)  while the HMS Smeagol, the only ship light enough to get into shore close enough to protect them, gives covering fire. It will take 3- 4 turns for the gunboats to get to the beach, so I needed to make sure there was enough to actually succeed.

Gun boat full of marines is launched from the HMS Smeagol
 Each ship holds a unit of 10 crew plus an officer, and a gun, so they get to fire each turn as they row in. Odds are not high on these guys, but there will be more than the shore batteries can fire at each turn. And if the Smeagol does her job in taking out a few fort guns, the gunboat crews may stand a good chance.
I'm going to pass out rum flavored life savers candy to all the row boat crews before the game, to "steel" them for the upcoming task.
The business end

Each gunboat has a different color for easy player identification

I made these out of laser cutting 3mm birch ply for the bases, sterns and rudders, while the sides are heavy matt board that I got from dumpster diving local frame shops. Frame shops are a great resource for foam core and good matt board offcuts- I highly recommend you find your nearest ones and when they take out the recycling!
the bottoms are just painted to look like there are benches. Pretty happy with the results.

Behind the scenes- how the backdrop was created. 


  1. A very impressive sloop of war!

    1. Archduke, thanks very much. Definitely a project that got out of hand. On the upside, I have all the templates to cut another one, or 3...

  2. Thomas you never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I've seen your best work you crank out something even more stunning. I absolutely love the ship and boats. I'm gobsmacked over the whole lot. I'm looking forward to seeing them in person.

    I hope you tipped the mat crew. ;-)

    1. Blckthrn- oh drat, they are still out in the back yard!

      You gotta come play at Kublacon!

  3. More fine creativity, even a boatload of marines. Well done, Thomas !

    1. Thank you Corporal- really need to get you over to Fossling proving grounds one day soon!

  4. Looks fantastic. Hope you blog the game!