By Rob Morgan
It’s quite incredible how many board games seem to have small and useful model ships included. Even ‘Monopoly’ has (or had?) a splendid little ironclad warship as one of the pieces, but for the moment, let’s stick to ‘Atlantis’ and the two types of ships, 10 of them in each case, to be found in the game box. The first set, that from the early 1980s, had a small red hard plastic hull, 45mm long, and 12mm wide, a slot carried a removable white sail, almost 40mm tall. Plenty of hull space to fill. This could, without the sail, be a pontoon, or filled with gear, or even decked over, become a small barge in 1/300th scale, or a large one in 1/600th. I tried a few out using the tiny Games Workshop monsters, I think, but I might be wrong, they were called ‘Snotlings?’ You could fit four or five into a hull, with the sail, and have a landing force or naval wargame on the River Styx. The uses of an empty but ship-like hull are many, and it’s all down to imagination. I tried out a plasticard deck across two, and mounting a small gun, or ballista on it, for siege operations. It worked.
Ten ships, of course, make a decent-sized fleet.
The 1990s set lifted the game to a new level of sophistication. For the 10 ships, this meant a move to an oared galley. This was in brown hard plastic, 50mm long, 30mm wide. There was a figurehead at the prow, recognisable rudder, and a stern castle. The mast, 40mm high carried a decent rectangular sail, over which there was a crow’s nest. I liked this one a lot. The problem was that the hull was dented by three 10mm diameter cut outs for the bases of the people figures the ship was designed to ‘rescue’. As a galley its use is probably best suited to late Ancient, or early Medieval, maybe a ‘fantasy’ fleet based around one of the Greek legends?
The cut outs caused me a problem, and if anyone’s got a suggestion for dealing with that, please share it! I actually came up with an idea. Small 1/600th ballistas on circular slivers of plasticard fore and aft, they looked right. With another sliver of card in the central cut-out, with a bunch of troops- a few with banners or flags, huddled together ready to attack another ship. That way you could choose a number of troop types, Byzantine, late Roman, whatever. The bolt shooters and troops are best provided from the Xyston Range, I think, unless anyone knows of a decent range of Ancients in the scale, which could be used. I did think of the Irregular 2mm range, but the bases are so hefty.
Next time, some of the islands, I think.