The Mysterious Island
By Jeffrey G. Chorney
First published in Lone Warrior #185
Editor Rich Barbuto
IntroductionJules Verne was a visionary and a man of detail. From the beginning of his career, he had expressed a passion for writing, albeit his parents had different intentions for his life and career. Though Verne abandoned his father’s profession, the law, he did so only to take up an unsuccessful career as a stock broker, writing on the side but never really living so much as visiting la vie bohème. Verne married a woman who was every bit a bourgeois as himself, and he had no use for his writing until it became a source of substantial income. Verne became popular because of his rapturous writing of the promise of science and this side of Jules is hinted in the character of Captain Nemo which some believe climaxes in the tale of Mysterious Island. There is some documentation that suggests Verne had a desire to go to sea since boyhood which would indicate why he wrote books like; Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and a less known book entitled Uncle Robinson.
As a wargamer, military historian, and science fiction enthusiast I have always had a passion for Verne’s books. There is something mysterious about Verne’s writings with an adventure to be told and a scientific flavor to it all. In a futuristic way, Verne captured the essence of mankind looking for the next adventure into the unknown looking to discover something extraordinary out of this planet we live on. My personal belief is that there is this spirit in all of us who wargame as we look to something beyond our reach, or control, as the battle or adventure unfolds on the gaming table.
Nemo’s War is a board game published and released from Victory Point Games. There is an excellent review of the game here at; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_gfw_Lei-8
There is a lot of rave over this game! I have it on my ‘to do list’ to purchase this game as it looks extraordinary. A good review of the game can also be had at; http://boardgamegeek.com/image/625915/nemos-war
This game is very unique as you play the role of Captain Nemo plying the seas in the Nautilus looking for your next victim in your war against the Capitalists. Your mission is to sink enemy ships whether cargo, passenger, or Capital Warships. For a Funny Little Wars campaign entitled Isle of Le’Ger’s, wargaming with 54 mm figures, I devised a way to utilize some of the basic concepts of this board game for a Mysterious Island excursion in which I built a battle board specific to the book.
What I love more than anything with the science fiction aspect to wargaming is; it never gets tired whatsoever as there is always a twist to the next adventure. Your ‘lack of imagination’ would be the only thing that would hold you back and believe me I have none of the latter! In the next few photos I will take you on a tour of my battle board to show you what can be done on a board that measures 24 inches by 48 inches in dimension complete with a shadow box, and back drop. First two photos below we have some British dealing with some American forces on Lincoln Island or in my case F.L.W. Isle of Le’Ger’s campaign. Note in the second photo the group of 5 passengers in a balloon none other than engineer Cyrus Smith, Gideon Spilett, Neb, the Nego, the Sailor Pencroff, and young Harbert.
Above we have a few of Nemo’s finest on Mysterious Island with a Kraken in the background devouring one of Her Majesties finest Frigates. It seems the Kraken can’t let Captain Nemo have all the adventure when it comes to destroying the Capitalist ships on the high seas. Background is hand painted by yours truly with acrylics, and artists’ oil paints. Below we have two of Nemo’s Iron Tubs in a shadow box display on the end of my gaming table. The tubs have just torpedoed a Russian dreadnought. Note the survivors trying to get to shore in a jetty, swimmers in the water to the rear trying to get aboard as well. Props on the tubs are scratch built from brass and the hulls are drop tanks modified from a 1/48” scale fighter jet. The sponge is painted to represent deep sea coral.
Above we have some of Nemo’s cohorts investigating the nefarious landings of the American and British Capitalists who have decided to fight things out on Lincoln Island. BTW I should mention that Mysterious Island is based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile. The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Verne’s masterpiece. The book is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog named Top, whose group lands their balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings on. Mystery, suspense, and science fiction combine in one breathtaking story as the men struggle to survive – and ultimately discover the islands great secret. The edition I purchased from the Modern library has 75 pen and ink illustrations by; Jules-Descartes Ferat, which in itself is an inspiration taken from the 1875 edition. Hit www.modernlibrary.com for details. I paid $7.95 CAD and worth every penny.
Playing a game
Just because I haven’t purchased the game to date doesn't mean I can’t play it. Remember it’s all about your imagination when it comes to wargaming. Boardgamegeek.com was gracious enough to post the game board so that’s all that’s needed to get a campaign going. The game has a 52 week time track and shows the different oceans one can battle the capitalists’. Seeing how I am designing a naval board game [originally titled Man the Rails, now game includes: naval - ‘Man the Rails’, air - ‘The Flying Circus’, and land battles - ‘The Bandy Boys’ during W.W.1], I can utilize concepts from my game design to play test Nemo’s War until I purchase it. I should mention my game design features the battle coming to the board game marker to save space and the new title of my game is now called George, Nicholas, and Wilhelm, Over the Moon and Under the Sun!
Eric Normandeau and myself continued to redesign and refine the game. Definitely a work in progress.
The idea is to wage war on naval fleets of your choosing with the Nautilus and in my case wreak some havoc with a few landing parties of Nemo’s cohorts. I am trying out some of my game ideas for the ‘Bandy Boys’ however for the most part I revert back to Funny Little Wars for basic game rules as the latter rules are brilliant in my opinion. One variant that sets Nemo’s War apart from some of the board games I have played is the sabotage and collected treasures section of the game. This concept I truly enjoy as it takes your wargame to a new level when you apply these variants into any game for that matter and… it’s easy enough to build some event cards to take an average set of rules to become an excellent set of rules with about a couple hours of work.
Please see my previous article on event cards L.W. 184 edition if you have a subscription, if not please get one you'll not be disappointed in the least!
What is appealing to me is the wargamers’ who frequent the board game geek website have taken it upon themselves to marry a board game with wargaming figures to come up with the ultimate campaign. I have been experimenting with the aforementioned for about 5 years to date and it never gets old. In fact, sometimes I believe accomplished wargamers move from scrimmaging with toy soldiers to playing exclusively with board games; as the latter allows you greater flexibility to fight large scale campaigns. There is no need to try and paint tons of plastic or lead just to field two or more armies. One would argue nothing beats the visual of figures on the battle board however it all takes lots of time and funds. For now I marry the two together to have some fun and let the imagination run wild. This hobby is truly an escape from the busy world we live in and I believe that’s why we as soloists enjoy this solitaire style of hobby.
Keep on gaming as it's a great way to escape all the misgivings of this planet!