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Keymonus

[OL-FB] The Shield of Aurelia

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Aurelia, Blueton, April 621

The defenders of Aurelia were ready to fight to their last final breath, the muskets clenched in their fists.
Apart from some strong artillery positions, only a few improvised barricades divided them from the redcoats and the horde of screaming natives. The first houses of Aurelia were immediately behind them: if they failed, the enemies would have burnt the settlement to the ground and slaughtered whoever attempted to resist, or maybe slaughtered everyone, with no distinction.
With the muskets loaded with buckshot, the soldiers were waiting to see the white of enemies' eyes. They probably had no real chance, outnumbered by more than two to one, but they were ready to sell their skin dearly.

When the enemy soldiers and the Ténotclaxcans war band disappeared back into the jungle, nobody could really believe their eyes: diplomacy had ended the war just a day before the disaster!

The very next day, as civilians were still drinking and celebrating, the heads of Aurelia garrison gathered to understand what had gone wrong. The main problems were quite obvious: the "neighbors" of Aurelia were stronger than expected, especially if they joined their forces; and the fortifications were absolutely inadequate for the size of the settlement, especially if the attackers came from the interior of the island.

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November 621

After months of hard work, the Bouclier ("the Shield", as the Aurelians called their new fortifications) was finally completed. With several forts and smaller batteries ready to support one another, a strong garrison and an impressive number of heavy artillery pieces, the new system of fortifications has turned Aurelia into an incredibly hard nut to crack, may the enemy come from the sea or from the land!

Coastal batteries

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Aurelia had already some old batteries defending the entrance of the port, that to date had been sufficient to repel pirates and small raiding parties. As a part of the Shield, the existing batteries were reinforced, and new ones were built. Positioned on strategic points of Aurelia cliffs, the coastal batteries would now represent a real menace also for large attacking forces.
A simple but effective flag system allows fast communication among distant batteries, so that fire can be concentrated against chosen targets.

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The batteries represent small and difficult targets, scattered along the coastline and low above the water. At the same time, with their heavy 32-pounder cannons, they could start a deadly crossfire against an enemy fleet, hitting the ships hard right at the waterline and sending them to the Halls of Poseidon.

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Even if the batteries are not strongly fortified, the sturdy brick wall offers good protection to the artillerymen. Each battery is manned by a detachment of the Artillerie de Marine Coloniale (Naval Artillery of the Colonies), formed with recruits coming from the Nouveau Monde colonies and trained in the Royal Artillery Academy of Breshaun.

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Spoiler
Spoiler

Overall view (size 24x24)

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Forward blockhouses

During the attack of April 621, enemy forces arrived unspotted almost to the outskirts of Aurelia, likely with the help of native guides and warriors. To prevent something similar from happening again, a series of small brick blockhouses was built on the edge of the jungle, near to the faded border with Ténotclaxcan lands.

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Each blockhouse is a small bastion fort, protected by a dry ditch and equipped with a few cannons. The low, angled walls offer a bad target to enemy artillery, while the ditch and other obstacles make them still difficult to climb for an attacker.

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The small garrison of each blockhouse is strong enough to repel without problem enemy patrols and to deter warbands of hot-headed warriors from raiding the lands of Oleon.
In case of stronger attacks, this first line of defence would likely be overthrown, but this would inevitably cost heavy casualties and precious time to the enemies, allowing Aurelia garrison to organize a counterstrike.

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Although small, the blockhouses include some solutions typical of modern-style fortifications: for instance the low, thick walls are made of bricks, that shatter less than stone when hit by cannonballs; moreover, the height and the angle of each element is calculated to create no blind spots for defenders' musket fire.

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Moreover, a low gallery runs behind the scarp wall (that is, the inner wall of the ditch). Shooting through small loopholes, the defenders can shoot the enemies climbing down the ditch with almost no risk of being hit... another unpleasant surprise for the attackers!

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Spoiler

Overall view (size 32x48)

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Light mortar batteries

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Small batteries of light mortars are scattered on low heights behind the first line of defenses, their short bores ready to send death upon the enemies of Oleon.
With their arched trajectories, mortar projectiles can fly over the forward blockhouses and fall over the attacking forces, sending them into chaos.

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Differently from cannons, mortars can fire small fragmentation shells, that explode a few meters before impact. For an attacking force, slowed down by ditches and barricades, this would mean a hellish rain of fire and iron splinters falling on amassed soldiers, a horribly effective way to stop them.
Here, the head of Aurelia garrison is inspecting one of the forward batteries, proudly manned by a crew of Aurelia Artillery Militiamen.

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Spoiler

Small battery: 18x16

 

Main fort
The chain of defenses built around Aurelia is likely sufficient to repel most of the menaces to the city. An enemy sufficiently strong and motivated to overcome them, however, would still have to face the Jewel of the Shield, the main fort protecting Aurelia.

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The fort is built according to the "Modern Style of fortification": this means that the position and the size of each element are carefully calculated with precise geometries to block and deflect artillery fire, and at the same to make the advance of enemy infantry as hard as possible.

In "Modern Style", the fort begins hundreds of meters far from the wall, with the glacis, an artificial slope shielding the fort from enemy artillery: while the defenders have a clear sight (and fireline), the attackers can only see (and aim at) the very top of the wall, unless they conquer the external earthworks before.

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The covered way runs right behind the glacis. This long trench represents the first line of defense, and can also be used to move soldiers to any point of the outer perimeter for a counter-attack. 

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The fort is surrounded by a dry ditch, wider and deeper than the one of the blockhouses. Also here, the scarp wall and the caponiers (tiny blockhouses traversing the ditch) are equipped with musket ports, that would turn the ditch into a deadly trap for the attackers.

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Spoiler

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Mortar batteries are scattered behind the outworks. In this position, they can provide close fire support to the defenders, but they can also be abandoned quickly if the enemy tries to storm them.

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The fort itself is nothing more than a low, sturdy, embankment lined by a brick wall. Completely different from the elegant castles of the past centuries, it is basically a platform for cannons and soldiers.

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With its new Shield, Aurelia has definitely more chances to grow in peace and prosperity on the Northern tip of Blueton, one of the more disputed islands of the archipelago... people sleep better (and merchants invest more) when the enemy is beyond a thick wall, with a lot of big, big cannons pointing at him!

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Spoiler

It is easier to put a cannon back in position after firing if the rails are sloped.

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Overall view (size 32x64)

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OOC: During the last "diplomatic crisis" I started building a series of fortifications for Aurelia (formerly Dragonstone). I delayed the publication of the original fort due to the new war rules but, in the meantime, I built a series of additional defenses, making the project larger than I originally planned... and a lot slower to complete! I hope you like the result!
I will license it as a Large Fort, with a footprint of some hundred studs above the 4096 required.

Edited by Keymonus

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Very impressive defenses! Looks good the defensive wall built on the rocks. Cannons, cannon balls, gunpowder, signal flags and resolute soldiers. Well, photographed with an interesting and exciting story.

Edited by NOD

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Good job patching the hole I attempted to exploit in:

Attack was called off here:

Lovely flagpole, wall, and water! I like the mortars and that round blue hat the guy has in the last pic! :pir-grin:

Interested to hear what @Faladrin makes of this new fortification

Edited by evancelt

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1 hour ago, evancelt said:

Good job patching the hole I attempted to exploit in:

Attack was called off here:

Lovely flagpole, wall, and water! I like the mortars and that round blue hat the guy has in the last pic! :pir-grin:

Thanks! I started building a land-based fort to repel your attack, but the rule changes and a significant increase in my workload delayed the publication of several months! Tomorrow I’ll post the proper fort. The hat is from HP CMF Kingsley, it fits well with the classic blue uniform (and also with some Orient Expedition torsos, I’ll use them too).

3 hours ago, NOD said:

Very impressive defenses! Looks good the defensive wall built on the rocks. Cannons, cannon balls, gunpowder, signal flags and resolute soldiers. Well, photographed with an interesting and exciting story.

Thanks! It took far longer than expected, but the fort is finally ready!

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I like where this is going, they are some very nice artillery positions and are very realistic when compared to the 19th century harbour defences I've visited spread around Sydney harbour. The mortars are a particular favourite of mine. I look forward to seeing the rest!

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Oh, how the mighty forts of OL have evolved! Definitely some bad megablocks goodies such as those mortars and cannons guarding our islands! :pir-huzzah1:

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The light mortar batteries look good too. The gun emplacement and mortars are well built. Again, you told an informative story.

Forward blockhouses? I'm happy to see that too.

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Thank you all guys! It took definitely longer than what I planned, also due to some little problems with my computer.

The project now is complete! I'll license it as a Large Fort for Aurelia!

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Looks really good, really good, I'm impressed. Some interesting techniques here, taking notes.

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On 11/15/2021 at 2:16 PM, Spud The Viking said:

An impressive collection of builds, the period fortifications are well portrayed, I love all the angles and those spikes with the HP wands are very clever!

Thank you! :pir-sweet: It is not my first attempt with the spiky thing, but I think this is the best design (as well as the most stable).

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I must add that while many claim dust is the bane of a LEGO build, I think it adds texture in this build!

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Boy every time this pops back up to the top of the pile I find something new to love about it. At first it was the mortar, then the platforms for the cannon wheels to recoil on, but I checked out your hidden shots and realized just how perfectly you captured the artillery fortress "modern style" here. I keep working on angles and slopes, and my latest project (not on here yet) is actually sunk about three bricks down into the ground to reduce the outward profile, but you nailed it! The rising elevation, the trenches, even the canalized crossing points back to the primary defensive line. You clearly have needed out on the historic examples and you really captured it beautifully. This could easily go in a museum as a diagram of how this was actually done.

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Thank you guys!

On 11/18/2021 at 3:45 PM, evancelt said:

I must add that while many claim dust is the bane of a LEGO build, I think it adds texture in this build!

Actually I hate dust in my builds, with my close-up photos single dust grains become visible and often I remove them with photo editing… but a lot of time passed between builds and photos! Thank you anyways! :pir-grin:

On 11/18/2021 at 7:22 PM, CapOnBOBS said:

Boy every time this pops back up to the top of the pile I find something new to love about it. At first it was the mortar, then the platforms for the cannon wheels to recoil on, but I checked out your hidden shots and realized just how perfectly you captured the artillery fortress "modern style" here. I keep working on angles and slopes, and my latest project (not on here yet) is actually sunk about three bricks down into the ground to reduce the outward profile, but you nailed it! The rising elevation, the trenches, even the canalized crossing points back to the primary defensive line. You clearly have needed out on the historic examples and you really captured it beautifully. This could easily go in a museum as a diagram of how this was actually done.

Thanks! This was a very complex project, with one fort that was basically version 2.0 of the other, since I wasn’t completely satisfied by the result… so I’m very happy for your comment!

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I agree with Cap here. This could be an educational diorama at a museum, and your descriptions really underline this. It seems like you have done your homework, and this is hands down the best fort I have seen in LEGO, and that is saying a lot.

Stellar work! Aurelia will certainly not be an easy target should we ever, Gods forbid, end up at war!

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On 12/16/2021 at 9:27 AM, Bregir said:

I agree with Cap here. This could be an educational diorama at a museum, and your descriptions really underline this. It seems like you have done your homework, and this is hands down the best fort I have seen in LEGO, and that is saying a lot.

Stellar work! Aurelia will certainly not be an easy target should we ever, Gods forbid, end up at war!

Thank you, this is definitely a great compliment! It required a lot of work, so I'm glad that you like my fort!

On 12/18/2021 at 3:34 PM, Captain Braunsfeld said:

Great defences! You must have thought about them quite some time :pir-huzzah2:

Thank you! In this period I had more time to read and to think than to build, so this was the result! 

On 12/20/2021 at 9:59 PM, Jeff of Clubs said:

Amazing! Love the detailing. I feel safer already.

Thank you!

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I missed this one before, but what an awesome colossus of a build this is! I love how you've explained each phase of the fortress in detail. Truly a great MOC to look at, plus really informative :thumbup:

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