Friday, August 30, 2013

Epic loot and summer field trips

I got some additions to my hoard. Most of the time when I visit domestic auction sites and online flea markets there's no interesting hobby stuff available, but every now and then someone sells old stuff from their garage and I might get something nice for a low price. This time I got the first edition of Space Marine, nowadays known as Epic 40k. 

The game has not really been on my shopping list, but the deal I got was cheap on the basis of the seller not knowing whether all bits were present. Well, the box is missing the unit cards and half the Space Marine figures that came with the box, but has a complete Chaos Horde box full of Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Squats, Minotaurs, Beastmen and the like. The Chaos Marines are really good figures so I'm not complaining.

The main reason I got the box was because of the buildings. There's 14 plastic/cardboard 6mm scale urban buildings in the box, and they're generic enough to be used in Battletech Alpha Strike games. I think the Marines and Rhinos can also be used as infantry and infantry transports in Battletech. I'm also thinking of trying to make a simple silicone mold of the roof bits so I can start making my own. I recently bought some mold making and casting stuff to try out. It definitely wasn't cheap, but I think it's a part of our hobby I'd like to learn.

Apart from that, I thought I'd bore you with some holiday snapshots of historical sites I visited this summer!

First off, I got to visit Cagliari in Sardegna again. I visited ancient Karalis in 2012 on a EU project trip and this time I was out there in a research conference presenting my paper. It's a nice old city with just enough to see and do to keep you occupied if your days are mostly filled by sitting in a meeting room. Cagliari is a nice place to just roam the streets and to appreciate the layers upon layers upon layers of history that have been building up there for two or three millenia. And enjoy superlative Italian Ice Cream, of course.

The city's renaissance period walls were truly massive. Apparently no-one bothered to try and besiege them at any point. A working example of deterrence in effect?

There was a nice archeological museum there highlighting the cultures which have dominated the area. There was evidence of visitors and trade from all over the mediterranean.

The bronze age wargamers had problems with scale creep.

Greek style helmets.

 The rest of the summer I spent safely within the borders of my native land, but there were a couple of opportunities to soak in some history. My wife got the idea to visit the fortress of  Olavinlinna which is situated here in my home province of Savo. I have only been there once as a child so it was nice to see it again.

The Finns under Swedish rule began building the fortress in 1475 on the frontier between the Swedish and Russian realms. Well, actually the fort was built way into the land that was claimed by the Russians behind the border of the treaty of Nöteborg which forbade the Swedish and the Russians from building forts on the frontier. The Russians weren't using the land and Finnish settlers were making their way to the area so the fort was built to consolidate Swedish authority in the area. Obviously this didn't sit well with the Russians who saw it as a breach of the treaty (which it in all fairness was) and it served to worsen the relations between the realms for years to come. The fort saw several sieges and was lost to the Russians in 1714 during the Great Northern War. Later on, it became a part of the Autonomous grand duchy of Finland after our whole country was lost to the Russians in 1809 and became a part of independent Finland in 1917. 

Today the place is a tourist attraction, but I have to say the best thing about the place is the outside. The inside the fort is really bleak and basically just stone tunnels and vaults. Just like a military fortress should be. No pampering of perfumed royalty here.

The town museum happened to host an exhibition of miniatures which my wife agreed to go to with a sigh. 

A Bf-109 in Finnish air force colours. This was an operational model people take out to fly. Very cool.

Last, and sadly least, was the fortress off the shores of Helsinki. The fortress is known as "Sveaborg" (fort of Sweden) by the Swedes and "Suomenlinna" (fort of Finland) by the Finns so I'll be diplomatic and use the old Finnish language version of Sveaborg, "Viapori". Viapori was built during Swedish rule against Russia in the 18th century. It was called "the Gibraltar of the North" and is infamous for the blunder of it's commander who surrendered the fort to the Russians in the war of 1808-1809.

I've been in Viapori often enough, but this time the fortress was not the attraction I was there to see. The shipyard in the fort has been working on a gun boat built using 18th century schematics. These boats were used extensively on the shallow island network off the coast of Finland during the Russo-Swedish war of 1808-1809 and I was interested in seeing it as I heard that it was complete and on display. Sadly, the rumours were not true. Apparently they had set the finished hull in the water and paraded it before finishing the sails or anything, and hidden the boat after that. All I got to see was a bit of the hull visible under a tarp in the old drydock of the fortress.

Nothing to see here.
This sight wasn't worth the trip especially as I had to push my sleeping son on some of the bumpiest cobblestones ever through the streets of the fort to get there. So that's why it ended up being the least of the trips this summer. Anyway, I hope to see it finished one day.


  1. It seem your terrain problem is taken care of :)

    Epic buildings are more than fine to Battletech. B-tech has great variety of differend kind of architechtural options. Background stories and novels go from hightech to western town like stuff. Even medieval castles are build to star so why not some gothic looking admistrative cityblock?

    1. Yeah, now I just need to pick a suitable color scheme for the marines to keep them lore-friendly to both universes. They are tiny enough to pass as generic armored sci-fi troopers.

  2. Suomenlinna is a great place to visit. Really need a full day without family to properly explore though.

    Another Ehrensvärd work worth a visit if you have the time is Svartholm off the coast at Loviisa. I'm only sorry that our lads (the Royal Navy) had a go at blowing it up in the Crimean War!

    1. Yeah, as I've understood there's not much left of Svartholma and it was as interesting historically. The brits also did quite a number on Bomarsund during the Crimean war. They got a bit trigger happy when they destroyed a tar shipment in Oulu though, as the tar was bought and already paid for by the Brits themselves. A the story goes, the locals tried to tell the British marines the tar belonged to them, but the marines, believing it to be a ruse, burnt the cache anyway.

  3. Actually the fort at Svartholm has been restored pretty much. You can walk virtually the whole enceinte.

    That's a great story about Oulu. Not heard that before. Just goes to show they didn't let war get in the way of business in those days.

    1. Yeah, Finland used to be one of the biggest exporters of tar in the world and in those days the British navy must have been their biggest client.