By Rob Morgan
I don’t suppose Waddingtons Ltd have had so much coverage in a wargame publication for many years, but the response to my short note on the excellent game of ‘Buccaneer’ leads me onward.
Peter Barkworth’s comment is worth more explanation. Decalset’s ‘Trireme’ game? I’ve never heard of it. Was it only sold in the USA? When? Has anyone got more information or even a photograph? Twelve plastic triremes seems a good deal. Nor can I find Eagle games ship models. Am I looking in the wrong place, Peter?
Anyway, one of the main reasons that board games end up in the rubbish bin, or left in the attic, or given away to the charity shops is that people do lose pieces. Simple as that. A few others, well they find the game uninteresting, or complex or long-winded. It’s in charity shops, or car boot sales that I often pick up board games for pennies, just for their pieces. One that I’ve found cheaply priced on half a dozen occasions is Waddington’s ‘Escape from Atlantis.’ Not hard to see why, as it contains 48 ‘people’ figures, 10 ships plus sails, 24 assorted sea creatures, and 36 pieces of the Island of Atlantis. Lose a few and the game becomes far less easy to play.
I have played the game, but it’s not one of their best. There are two versions, the first, issued in the early 1980s had simple open ships with a vertical sail, like a pontoon. It had ‘bowling-pin’ people, sharks, dolphins and octopus beasts, and the island of Atlantis was simple moulded plastic hexagons in yellow, green and grey.
The game must have sold, as in the 1990s it was upgraded. Now the ships were clearly intended as oared galleys with sails, the islanders were sculpted people, and the sea creatures had become a fearsome sea dragon, shark, etc. The island pieces had become sophisticated pieces of a city, grey, green and yellow, and had small temples, palaces, trees and houses moulded on them.
Almost everything in the two sets has use for the solo wargamer, especially the naval enthusiast. I’ll produce a few notes on the sets, starting with this one.
In the 1980s pack, there are 12 of the green, undulating islands shown here. Centrally, there’s a cut out space for three figures to stand on, as they move towards the sea shore and the boats to escape. As you can see, the islands are hexagonal, about 25mm high and really look like islands, tremendously useful.
Here we have two simple conversions to fit in with almost any warship you want, and in many scales. At the left, is a sort of Ancient, or Medieval fort or maybe a Roman lighthouse, sitting high above the water on its own small island. Well, in fact it’s the Rook from a cheap plastic chess set, buy one set for 99p and you get four lighthouses, or forts. Cemented in place, and painted as you wish. You could if you felt generous, buy a pack of the Xyston 1/600th scale ancient catapults and cement one on top of the tower. Strew a few of these over the table top in front of your galley harbour to beef up the defences. The set contains some lower, only 8mm high, sandy dune-type hexagons, and these have a distinctly Caribbean or Indian Ocean flavour to them.
The second island at right, as you see has a rather better fort, crenellated and almost a Martello Tower, suitable for the 1600s, through to the wars against Bonaparte and even, I think the American Civil War and beyond (the Rook light house could fit in here too, but might need a little work). This piece came from another game I picked up for pennies at a car boot sale, ‘Game of Nations’ – Waddingtons again! The set contains two ‘King’ tokens with a crown on top, and the fort is simply the crown cut from the stem of the token. It makes a brilliant fort, and again one or two of these make for a decent harbour defence. Leave it as it is, and it’s a fort, or fortress, with a small 1/600th Peter Pig gun on it, then it’s a Martello Tower or simple battery. For WWI or WWII, a 1/600th Tumbling Dice a/a gun might do.