Terrain Talk Pt. 9 – Cheap & Thrifty Scratchbuilt BIG Urban Board

I’ve been wanting to do this for AGES.

I’ve long had a vision of my miniature armies fighting their way through a ruined urban battlespace, diving and weaving their way through dense cover, shattered buildings, ruined walls.. the whole bit. Stalingrad, Berlin, Hue, Fallujah.. right up to the shattered metropolises of the 41st millenium and everything in between.

Now, we redid our regular board last summer, but I couldn’t help looking at the flip side of our chipboard shelves and imagining texturing and painting it up to model the ruined city I’d always seen in my head. But I was always worried I might not be able to match up to what I saw in my head. After mentioning it to Dan over a beer for the millionth time though, he told me to “either shit or get out of the kitchen” – which I took to mean either shut up or get on with it!

We’d built a small urban board and a Deadzone board over the last couple of months and had pretty much nailed down the building/ texturing/ painting scheme – so we had a plan. The main challenge was to ensure that it was “scale independent” – whether we were doing our favoured 20mm, making forays into 28mm, or creating apocalyptic havoc in 6mm, we wanted to be able to use the same board. So it wouldn’t – couldn’t – have too many details, but at the same time we didn’t want to just paint it grey and leave it at that. So….

And with that, battle was joined:

You can see the remains of the old artificial grass overlaid with primer, some home made texture paste (PVA, sand, filler powder, paint, water) and acrylic caulk
Acrylic caulk with cat litter embedded in it
Cardboard scored with squares to represent paving slabs or flooring tiles, texture paste, caulk and cat litter blended around it

 

Sprayed black, drybrushed with blue grey Crown house paint, then drybrushed with our usual pallette of greys 
Red! But it’s all part of the Luke’s APS approved paintscheme, and it’s served us well so far..
Drybrushed again and ready for some washes
Texture close up
Washes added – thinned and thinned again, Vallejo Skin Wash, Army Painter Green Tone, Vallejo Smokey Ink
League of European Nations patrol for scale – also added mud and flock effects
Close up of flock, mud and rubble
Blended mud effects with flock and dust

Big Urban Board

Between the multiple drybrushes, washes, flocks, dust and everything on there blending nicely, I’m really pleased with this, it looks almost exactly like what I’d visualised. The next trick is going to be building the ruins to go with it, I’m really looking forward to having a truly 3D absolutely epic battlefield for Dan to paste me on!

So, to sum up –

Step 1 – texture paste, acrylic caulk (aka flexible filler) and kitty litter, cardboard paving slabs – basically, all your texture goes down at this stage.

Step 2 – prime black. Cheap black spray paint or craft acrylic applied with a big brush.

Step 3 – drybrush blue grey, over everything. We used Crown house paint tester pots.

Step 4 – drybrush red (in certain areas) – go light here, but don’t worry, it’ll work out!

Step 5 – Greys! Drybrush up with Wilkinson City break, followed by Granite Dust and Cloud Burst in gradually lighter stages.

Step 6 – Washes – splodge on VERY watered down greens, browns and chestnut tones.

Step 7 – Mud. Stipple on the burnt umber and drybrush up with lighter browns

Step 8 – Flocking – paint on watered down PVA and daub on strategically. Then drizzle – very sparingly – flock and dust.

Step 9 – Seal. PVA and water, 1 – 10 mix. Slosh this stuff on at least three times

Step 10 – Varnish – cheap £1 matt varnish.

Done!

We also added a couple of girders and a tiled floor, done in the same way as our previous smaller board. So now, the planned 40k 2nd ed mini campaign set on Armageddon will have somewhere authentic to fight over, not green fields on a planet famed as a harsh, overdeveloped Hive World! Can’t wait 🙂

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Deadzone! On a budget.. of £0…

Focus? What is this focus of which you speak? Heresy!!

You know that phenomenon where you hear about something – a band, a game, a TV show – and all of a sudden you hear about it everywhere?

What is that called?

Anyway, that’s what’s happened with us – a Luke’s APS video brought it up, and then over the next couple of months we just kept hearing about it, reading about in blogs and forums.. what is it? Deadzone, that’s what!

I’ve long had a weakness for small, quick skirmish games that bridge the gap between wargame and boardgame, and doing a little digging into what Deadzone is.. we liked what we saw.

Particularly when we discovered the rules available for FREE on Mantic’s website. BOOM (as the saying goes).

So, we had the rules downloaded. Next up – miniatures. Well, that was easy. Dice – Deadzone runs on a D8 system with specially labelled D6s for command rolls, but normal D6s will work just as well- you simply assign a number to each command skill. Ebay, £3, 20 D8s show up a week or so later. God bless those hard working Chinese kids.

Finally, terrain – Deadzone box set ships with a 2′ x 2′ mat with printed 3″ squares, and a terrain system based around 3″ cubes. Happily, Dan had a couple of bits of hardboard knocking around his shed, roughly 2′ x 3′ – the excess would be used for dice, counters, roster cards etc.

It begins! Measured out 3″ squares onto the hardboard and scored them into the material with a DIY knife
Stippled on texture paste – a mix of paint, PVA, filler powder and sand. Rubble effects are done by squeezing acrylic caulk onto the board and pressing cat litter into it. Caulk is excellent for gripping the litter and holding onto the board.

Sprayed the whole thing with cheap black spraypaint and then began drybrushing up as per the previous urban board.

Here I’ve added washes to help delineate the squares – thinned down black, smokey ink, and skin washes to colour the greys.

Texture catches the drybrushing nicely

Added mud – burnt umber basecoat, drybrushed with layers of lighter brown
Added flock to the mud to help mark out the squares, simulating weeds growing in the mud

After all this, the board was pretty warped, about a 1cm bulge in the middle. Were all our efforts to be in vain, our attempts at Deadzone gaming to be thwarted by models gradually sliding off theboard?

Happily, no – Wyloch to the rescue – we coated the other side with thinned down PVA and left it for 24 hours. Result? Totally flat board.

Added some scenery built a while back from various bits of food packaging and away we go!

The rules give a sample scenario along with two strike teams – we’ve proxied the Marines as Enforcers and the Gretchin as Forge Fathers, and so far we’re 3-2 to the little stunties.

Deadzone is definitely a fun game, once you get your head round the dice test mechanic, and it’s great for keeping both players involved through alternating activation boosted by command dice providing extra actions throughout the game. It’s definitely a game that lends itself to tactical play – you’re going to get the victory points through taking and holding objectives, as it can be damn difficult actually putting a model down, (particularly as the wimpy laser rifles the Enforcers are equipped with don’t pierce armour too well), but this is no bad thing – in the real world, you wouldn’t just chuck your highly trained strike team into a meat grinder, and as we get the hang of this game it’ll be fun to try and build a narrative campaign.

Time to finish up with some pics, as Grot and Marine get down and dirty in the Deadzone:

Till next time, stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!

CheapHammer 40k- the 2nd Ed Revival Project! Pt. 3 – Wotta Lotta Grots

The plot thickens! Just as Dan’s Marines have got themselves fly new Deathwatch paintjobs, I’ve not been idle with my share of our Ebay booty – first out of the blocks, the Grots! Now, as it turns out there are 36 of these little buggers and to do the mini campaign properly I’m going to need 40, so I may be taking to eBay again pretty soon.. oh, the irony! This is how wargamers end up with houses full of tiny plastic figures… but enough of that for now.

I spread some home made texture paste (filler powder, sand, PVA and water) on the base and hit the whole thing with cheap pound shop white primer, before giving all the figures a prewash with thinned Vallejo brown ink.

I’ve got two mobs of ten painted up so far, with a pretty straightforward three colour scheme – dark grey, bone and red. To differentiate, Furst Mob has grey and red blocked out with a camo scheme (of grey and red) over the bone areas, while Secund Mob has the bone and grey blocked in and a bone and grey camo  scheme layered over the red. Thurd Mob, when I get round to them, will have bone and red camo layered over the grey and blocked in red and bone. and Uvver Mob will either have a whole load of camo or none!

I used Vallejo German Grey, a cheap acrylic red and a craft paint bone. Black ink wash, thinned, over the grey and thinned brown ink over the red and bone.

For skin tones I went with a thinned light green, washed with Army Painter Green Tone and then highlighted up with green mixed with yellow, and a touch of bone for the teeth and a dash of red for the eyes. After that, I added a unifying light drybrush of bone, and then on to the metallics – block in black and then boltgun metal highlighted with silver, and then washed with brown ink to give a rusty metal vibe.

Then, basing! I used the same brown craft paint I used for the leather part, then drybrushed with bone, before drizzling flock and Garage Floor TM dust, and then a final edge of brown to touch the whole thing up.. and then, varnish and done!

Grots frontally engage the Deathwatch!
Furst Mob

 

Note the red autogun – he’s the mob leader
Secund Mob
More Secund Mob!

 

Secund Mob WIP

CheapHammer 40k -The 2nd Ed Revival Project! Pt. 1 The Plan

So, hands up who remembers this?

20171109_205218

As it happens, we don’t either – don’t drink and eBay, kids! So, we were wondering what we should do with this haul – loads of Grots, a full complement of 20 Marines, and a couple of Orks in various states of repair… not to mention the cardboard cutout Dreadnaught, plus the very brightly coloured Codex Imperialis and campaign book.

 

In the grim darkness of the far future, there are only bold primary colours

Now, this raises an interesting, almost paradoxical conundrum – because we can’t afford proper 40k minis, we’d got sunk deep into 20mm (aka 1/72 or 1/76 or HO) gaming, meaning all our terrain was designed and sized for this. So getting our hands on actual 40k minis kind of threw the plans out a bit. As discussed before, we planned on using them as proxies for OOP systems like Firefight, Space Crusade etc (not to mention freely downloadable ones like Deadzone), but with all this… stuff… it was more or less a given that at some point we’d end up giving 40k a try again, and we’ve had a couple of little skirmishes with our new skirmish board.

And yeah, compared to modern systems, this old girl is a bit clunky. But we got to thinking – both me and Dan got into 40k in 1991 (albeit independently of each other and hundreds of miles apart) and by then the 1st edition Rogue Trader had evolved massively from it’s origins as an almost unplayable (in practical terms) RPG/ skirmish game and was heading towards the slick and shiny and GLORIOUSLY colourful subsequent editions. Dan and I both remember getting the 40k box set – and be aware, a 40k box set was a brand new thing back then, never been done before! – for Christmas 1993, and working our way through the mini campaign missions given in the book. If you’re unfamiliar, this set focused heavily on the 2nd War For Armageddon, and featured a three (four?) mission campaign of Blood Angels vs Orks.

Then Dan reminded me that 1993 was 25 years ago exactly.

Hmm. We should mark this occasion.

We did something similar last year, commemorating 30 years of 40k by playing The Battle At The Farm from Rogue Trader using 8th Edition rules, and had a blast, but we figured, you know what? 2nd Ed was our edition. Goblin Green bases, primary colours – the grim darkness of the far future had never looked so appealing. Army lists existed from the drop, rather than being gradually added over six years of White Dwarf articles.

Or  Warhammer 40000 Compilations.

Or Warhammer 40000 Compendiums.

Or Warhammer 40000 Battle Manuals.

You have to figure by this point, the game had evolved quite away from it’s origins, and was badly in need of a rewrite! And so it was…

You bought wargear with cards rather than having a 15 % chance of having it. The thing had been tested, and many mechanics from 2nd Ed actually form the backbone of 40k as we know it now, love it or loathe it. We may not have had Tau or Necrons, but we had Squats, dammit! (at least for a while..) And so begins our new project for the remains of 2018 – painting up the contents of our unwitting haul to replicate those halcyon days gone by – we began with the Marines, and Dan has a load of Grots ready for the camera – then there’s the scenery to make… lots of ruins (which we’ll make 3″ by 3″ to also be Deadzone compatible – muy Skinflint).. plus we have found a very cool papercraft of an Ork Deff Dread… And then come Christmas, we’ll run the whole campaign!

So, here’s raising a glass to our “origin story” within the hobby – we may not be the seasoned grognards in at the birth of it all with Rogue Trader, but we were there for 40k to find it’s feet and become what it is today. And for all it’s (many many ) faults-  it will always have a place in our hearts.

Terrain Talk Pt. 8- Cheap Scratchbuilt Urban Warfare Skirmish Board

So the dust has settled after last month’s mega-battle, and after gorging on our biggest game yet, we’ve decided to turn our attention to something a little lower key and skirmish-y.

Now, there’s a strong appeal to these types of games – low model count means easy buy in, short set up and pack down means it’s easy to get in a quick game even on when time and space are a premium, and it’s a great way to learn a ruleset without jumping in the deep end with a full combined arms force!

Clearly GW agree with us, having just released the new version of Kill Team, but we’re planning on starting with a few more free-to-download sets, not to mention our own Black Ops system (intended to be a more detailed small scale RPG/ skirmish variant on the basic Apocalypse: Earth game engine). An accidental alcohol-related eBay purchase means we’ve got ourselves a crowd of 2nd ed 40k Grots and Marines, so we figured time to make them somewhere to have a scrap!

We did actually put together a folding urban warfare table last year, built from the back of a set of shelves – roughly 3’x3′ folding, made of some sort of hardboard/ cardboard laminate – but we’ve learned a lot since then, and now it looks a bit… crap, to be honest. So we decided – time to pimp, yo.

Began with single corrugated cardboard to act as paving slabs and such – for the tile textures in the corner, I scored 20mm squares into the card, then tore off the edges to make some broken tiles. I used PVA to glue them, but in retrospect acrylic filler (caulk) would probably have been a better bet.
Began adding texture – the grey stuff is home made texture paint, made from water, black paint, filler powder, sand and PVA glueand stippled on with an old brush. The white stuff is cat litter (unused, I should add!) held on with splodges of acrylic caulk intended to look like rubble piles..
Close up of tilework and rubble

The board textured and ready for priming black

After getting the stonework and texture paste on, I made sure to seal thoroughly with a spray of diluted PVA (empty Windolene bottle, ten parts water to 1 part PVA). In fact, I actually hit this three times at roughly 4- 6 hour intervals over the day – worth it in terms of time investment to make sure the thing doesn’t end up shedding grit and cat litter all over the floor every time you get it out!

Two £1 cans of matt black car spray paint later – voila, primed!

With priming complete, the next step was painting. I used a recipe that has served me well, nicked wholeheartedly from Lukes APS. I used house paint tester pots for economy and ruggedness – hilariously, Duncan recommends using about £20 worth of Citadel model paints for this…. don’t, just don’t! – and put simply:

Overbrush grey blue

Drybrush red (lightly, and only in selected places)

Drybrush with Wilko’s City Break grey

Lighter drybrush with same brand Granite Dust

Grots patrol an urban wasteland… (more on them in another post)

Next up, I made up some very thin washes based on brown, green, black and skin/ flesh wash colours heavily watered down and daubed about the board. This gives it a rather cinematic feel which I found I liked.

Not sure how realistic this is, but it seems to work!

 

After a looking at it a few times, I decided I’d cocked up a bit with the tilework – 20mm squares just looked wrong with 1/72 – so I chopped them up into 10mm and painted a checkerboard pattern using cream and dark grey, lining the edges with thinned down Vallejo smokey ink
And then I realised how long it had taken, and settled for cream alone on the other part!

For the muds, I went with a burnt umber basecoat and gradually drybrushed up a couple of lighter browns, taking care to really work the brush into the texture to blend with the concrete.

Overall, this was a fun little build and I think t actually came out looking pretty good. It’ll suit Black Ops, and 28mm stuff like Kill Team and Necromunda. Plus, it folds away!

Next step is to scale up these techniques for the main 6’x4′ board, and a squared off 2’x2′ for Deadzone – thanks to Mantic for making the core rule book freely available as a download – and actually, none of these steps are particularly difficult, just require a bit of patience, planning and imagination. Youtube, and particularly The Terrain Tutor and Lukes APS are your friends here – good luck, stay thrifty and we’ll see you soon!

Assault On Skalk Point: Apocalypse: Earth Mega Battle Report

Welcome to our 2018 Summer Slam Megagame! It’s becoming a bit of a tradition during the summer months when I’m on glorious paid summer vacation and Dan is less busy at the warehouse, to congregate in my garage with a couple of boxes of Carling and whatever models we’ve managed to acquire or concoct to throw down for a BIG FIGHT.

This year we’re revisiting a concept we used last spring, with a gallant few Allied defenders holding off a endless horde of Holy Soviet Army attackers, but we’ve added a few twists..

The scenario began with our new League of European Nations platoon with 88Gw support laser deployed ahead of the Skalk Point plasma generator complex, performing regular rear area security duties – when out of the mist comes Dan’s entire Holy Soviet Army force! We deployed along the two narrow edges, the League forces up to the halfway mark, the Soviets up to 24cm forward.

Starting at the end of the first turn, the League commander could nominate 6 Alliance units (representing the local sector Quick Reaction Force) – if they passed a reaction roll, they would appear on his table edge at the end of the turn. Soviet casualties would be respawned within their deployment zone, and the forward edge of said deployment zone would move forward 10cm every turn, representing units rushing forward to find their officer (or anyone else to take responsibility for their decisions…). Once the last Alliance unit had taken to the field, the Soviets wouldn’t get any more reinforcements.

We – well, alright, me – decided to flex the literary muscles and try and write this in a narrative style.. so grab yourself a libation, this is quite a long post…

Skalk Point Power Substation, Location CLASSIFIED Northern Germany, 0600 July 21st 1956

The low cloud made him uneasy. Despite the early hour of the morning, it was already uncomfortably hot, and sweat patches were beginning to form in his underarms and under his peaked officers’ cap. Leutnant von Hulkenburg shifted his weight as he trained his field glasses on the horizon.

Rear area security was not a glamorous assignment, but the Leutnant and his command had spent enough time on the front lines to realise there was no glory to be found anywhere in this war. He was merely glad to have survived this long and the men under him shared his views. This posting allowed him and his men some rest, guarding a crucial power generation substation deep behind Allied lines – but it was essential work. Skalk Point was the nexus of the power grid for the entire sector – if it went down, it would cripple the logistics for the European and Atlantic Alliance armies operating in a hundred mile radius.

Behind him klaxons blared as the network of immense plasma rectors vented their exhaust gases. The Leutnant turned to watch despite himself, awed as always by the spectacle – clouds of vividly coloured gas moving through the vast plexiglass storage tanks, arcs superheated of lightning leaping between them as staff took cover in the specially designed bunkers. It never failed to impress him.

As he turned back to scanning the horizon, however – he saw something that took his breath away and turned his bowels to ice.

A monstrous mechanical walker, towering over the surrounding trees, cutting through the forest with the help of a massive flamethrower, leading a horde of Soviet tanks. Hulkenburg recognised T-48s in various configurations and a mammoth IS-6, leading a horde of infantry.

Mein Gott” he gasped – how had they got so close without detection? With a jolt, he realised there must be one of those damned sorcerers in the force, using and manipulating the low cloud to shield them from observation. He could’t believe how deep into the lines they had penetrated.

Achtung!” he cried to his men, “Take cover! Russ! Russ kommen!

Around him, his men dived for cover, taking up firing positions, fixing bayonets, removing safeties. His gunners quickly moved the support laser into position, initialising its systems. Hulkenburg grabbed his radio operator – “Get me reinforcements! Now! Everything you can!”

He prayed they could hold out long enough.

Task Group BUFFALO Staging Area, Anglo-American XXV Corps, Location CLASSIFIED Northern Germany, 0603 July 21st 1956

“Say again, Skalk Point, say again”

The static was ferocious, but there was no disguising the panic in the man’s voice.

“Russians! We have a heavy task group of Soviets inbound in our position, armour and infantry and superheavies – we need reinforcements now, we have no chance against them!”

“Stay calm, Skalk Point, we’re on it, the cavalry is coming” – the communications officer hit the Alert button and klaxons blared throughout the compound. In the distance, he could see soldiers running for vehicles, Silverbugs initialising their engines, tanks and Humvees gunning their engines – he turned back to the microphone.

“Skalk Point, this is Buffalo Six, we have QRF inbound to your position. Sit tight now, don’t do anything stupid, we’ll get you out of there”

Lieutenant Grant swore softly under his breath. BUFFALO 2-7 had 36 hours left on their rotation as sector Quick Reaction Force. Mostly spent doing maintenance, the Lieutenant and just grabbed a coffee and a bacon sandwich from the mess after a morning spent checking engines and supervising range practice.

He slid into the command Humvee as the ARPANET downloaded coordinates and planned a route.

From the other side slid Platoon Sergeant McAuliffe, cigar ever present and smelling suspiciously of bourbon. Grant didn’t mention it – after everything they’d been through together he couldn’t blame the sergeant for wanting to take the edge off. War did that to you after a while. He reached forward, unclipped the microphone from the Humvee’s dashboard and opened up the platoon ARPANet.

“All call signs, report in”

The receiver chimed as vehicles, tanks, gunships and infantry fireteams checked in with a “ready” status. Grant cleared his throat.

“Gentlemen, I’m sorry there isn’t time to brief you all properly. We are responding to an Priority One emergency call from the reactor installation at Skalk Point. There’s a German rear area platoon there fighting for their lives against what looks like a Soviet armoured battalion – they’re outnumbered, outgunned, and in deep shit. We all know what that’s like.”

He paused.

“You also need to know what happens if Skalk Point goes down. That’s power, communications and logistics across the whole sector. 100 miles – that’s all of us, XXV Corps and the whole European 7th Army, without comms, ammo, mail, food. That happens – well, we’re fucked. We’re not going to let that happen. Understood?”

“SIR, YES, SIR”

Skalk Point Power Substation, Location CLASSIFIED Northern Germany, 0605 July 21st 1956

“They’re coming, Herr Leutnant, Atlantic Alliance QRF inbound on bearing 275 – down the service road to our rear, sir.” The RTO looked up at the Leutnant, who was peering through field glasses at the oncoming crowd of Soviet tanks. The HQ section had dived into the cover of a ruined farmhouse while the 88 crew had manoeuvred themselves into a covered defile. Meanwhile the two rifle and two assault sections had spread out along the line, taking whatever cover they could.

“Thank you, Dieter – everyone, don’t do anything stupid, ok? Just stay alive, till the Americans get here”

“Americans” snorted his platoon sergeant, “Don’t know who’s worse, them or the Russians”

The Leutnant stared at him. “Yes you fucking do”

The sergeant looked away.

“Targets, sir” called one of the 88 gunners.

“Fire at will – but for Christ’s good sake, everybody keep your heads down”

The mighty laser cannon thrummed to life, unleashing, a flash of light appeared on the side armour of the Soviet SU-152 assault gun nestling a few hundred yards behind the lead elements and almost too quickly to register, forty tons of steel became a fireball. Battle was joined.

The Soviet horde appears on the table edge, whilst von Hulkenburg’s security platoon hunker down in what cover they can find
88Gw gunners score their first kill, immobilising the Soviet assault gun – lacking a turret, this had the effect of neutralising the vehicle for the entire battle!
Recognising their impotence in the face of the Soviet armoured horde, No. 1 Assault section begin to infiltrate forward through cover, preparing to ambush the follow on infantry squads
Led by a wave of T-48s, the Soviet horde barrels forward – with the League security platoon sheltering in cover, their only target is a solitary rifleman… two 140mm shells from the Rampager takes care of him! Overkill? Nah… it’s how the Holy Soviet Army rolls!
While the main Soviet infantry force follows close behind the tanks, the Lightning Storm attack squad detaches to work through the buildings and clear out any resistance
League assault troops shelter in the ruins of a department store. “Go easy boys, let them get closer – there’ll be plenty for everyone..”
Holy Soviet infantry dash forward under cover of armour as the superheavy Rampager and Colossus lead the way. “Forward for the Motherland, comrades!” bawled Lt. Polikarpov, being careful to ensure Commissar Kuryakin was close enough to hear and take note.
“Skalk Point, this is Buffalo 2-7, be advised friendly forces are in back of you – say again, friendlies to your rear” – Silverbugs and a hard driven M60A3 Centurion arrive to reinforce the hard pressed position.

By the end of turn 1, things were looking bleak for the Germans – they’d managed to immobilise an assault gun with an inspired laser cannon shot, but with precious little in the way of anti-tank capability (1 panzerschreck per rifle squad, both operated by the squad’s token half blind members…) and the Soviet infantry using cover to conceal themselves, there was precious little they could do other than to pull into cover and save themselves for a counter offensive when Alliance support arrived. Meanwhile, Assault section No. 1 was infiltrating up the buildings on the Allied left to spring an ambush, while No. 2 assault section hung back waiting to strike when the Soviets hit the main League force sheltering around the ruined farmhouse.

Resolving to sell their lives dearly, the 88Gw laser gunners score a direct hit and brew up the lead T-48
“Good shot boys! Now – can you do it again?”
Picking it’s way carefully up the treacherously steep slopes of Fellowes’ Peak, the Soviet BTR APC disgorges No. Heavy Weapons Squad onto it’s heights, with a commanding view of the battlefield
More Alliance support arrives – from left to right, elite power armoured Dreadnaught infantry, Stinger/TOW and laser cannon equipped Humvees and an M113 sporting an automatic grenade launcher

As turn 2 drew to an end, the Soviets were very much on a roll but with the newly arrived Alliance firepower starting to bite, things were hanging very much in the balance.. the Soviet deployment zone was creeping forward steadily however, and the main infantry force had yet to close with the enemy.. too many factors to call!

Stinger/ TOW missiles and laser cannon fire streaks out to brew up another T-48
Allied fire lights up the Soviets as they push toward the objective
Soviet Shock Drones leap forward, eviscerating the 88Gw laser and crew in a flurry of razor sharp limbs and tentacles
Assault section leap forward and gun down the Holy Soviet Mystic and bodyguard at point blank range
Alliance HQ arrives at the bottom of the picture, accompanied by another APC and the Rocketeers of Warhawk 4-9

Turn 3 saw more Allied firepower rolling onto the table, but at the same time losing the 88Gw laser, a crucial part of the League firepower, and the gradual erosion of Allied infantry was taking it’s toll. The Soviet steamroller as gaining momentum, with losses respawning further and further up the board, but with as yet all to play for..

Alliance Silverbug gunship gets in close amongst the Holy Soviet infantry, providing close air support with deadly Avenger cannon
Meanwhile, his wingman wreaks havoc amongst the lead T-48 elements
Meanwhile, a T-48 from the follow on echelon catches the League Assault section out in the open, mowing them down at point blank range
Rumbling forward, an Alliance Centurion draws a bead on the Shock Drones and with grim efficiency, annihilates them with missiles, .50 cal and 120mm cannon fire
The Soviet lead elements reach the gulley, tantalisingly close to the objective..
A new wave of armour threatens the hard pressed defenders!
Finally with some targets to shoot at, League rifle troops break cover to return fire
While on the Soviet right flank, the plodding Lightning Storm squadron fry an APC with their Lightning Launchers
Soviet artillery brackets the ruined farmhouse as Lt. Hulkenburg screams for his men to disperse
Gutter fighting around the gulley as a Stinger/TOW takes down yet another T-48
The Soviets are breaking through..
An M60A3 gets in a successful sniping shot on a T-48 trying to infiltrate through the ruined buildings
Lt. Hulkenburg can only watch in horror as his riflemen are torn limb from limb by the nightmarish Siberian assault mutants!
Soviet troops overwhelm and capture the other rifle squad
More desperately needed antitank firepower is lost to barrages from massed Soviet armour
“There’s too many!”

By this point (in true SKG style) we’d got too pissed and too involved in the game to take proper notes, but suffice it to say that both sides were all in, no more reinforcements, and it was desperately close, the Soviets could almost touch the objective… but there was still enough fight left in the Allies to make it tough!

 

M85 ‘bots enter the fray..
One falls to a Shock Drone, the other to a Siberian
Elektra leads the final wave of Soviet armour – the objective is so very close now..
It’s the last few men standing..
Lt. Hulkenburg falls!
The final M60 Centurion surveys the scene..
Lt. Grant guns down a Shock Drone, but  will it make a difference?

As the last few elements of the Allied defence fell, one by one, it was left to the lone M60 crew to hold the line at the entrance to the generator complex – this she did to great effect before being rammed by two T-48s who’s cannons had been destroyed after fending off the remaining Siberian assault troops.. but it couldn’t last, and the tank went down in flames –  taking with it the last chance for Allied victory. The newly arrived sniper team, Ghost 7, could only flee the scene and bring word to Sector command…

So the Soviets were victorios, but by the end they only had one fully functioning runner, which the Centurion (heretofor to be named “Leonidas” after his brave and heroic stand at the gates of the generator complex) took out before being mobbed by rams, Siberian mutants and Molotov cocktails.. what an end to a game!

Afterwards, we played a small Black Ops game (a WIP skirmish take on Apocalypse: Earth) where an SAS team managed to infiltrate the command centre and at great cost hack the central computer to stymie Soviet attempts to redirect the power – next up, the League of European Nations gathers an armoured fist to strike back and retake the complex!

That was a biggie, so thanks for staying with us – stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!

CheapHammer 40k – the 2nd Ed Revival Project! Pt. 2 – Deathwatch

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS ACTUAL CITADEL MINIATURES.

I KNOW :-O

So, some of you may remember these guys from an earlier post:

20171109_205617

..and our wondering exactly what the hell we were going to do with them, being as we’re pretty heavily committed to our beloved uber-cheap and thrifty 1/72 figures.

You may also remember our dabbling in the Horus Heresy game “Betrayal At Calth”, which we picked up sans miniatures for £4.99.

And I think you can start to see where this is going.

Thing is, over the years GW have published a great many games set in the 40k universe – Space Hulk, Space Crusade, Advanced Space Crusade as well as the current generation (Betrayal at Calth, Burning Of Prospero, Deathwatch Overkill) – all cracking good fun, easy and quick to set up and crucially, with a very low model count. 20 Marines and a big crowd of Grots to play the bad guys is plenty for these types of games (not to mention the nostalgia factor of those 2nd ed sculpts.. opening that box was Christmas ’93 all over again!), and as we discovered with the Calth box set, many players by them for the minis and disregard everything else. As for the older games, rules, tokens etc can all be found online and downloaded for free (often there are fan remakes to be found too – check out this one).

As a side note, I’m also hoping to track down a copy of Alternative Armies’ Firefight rules from 1991 – that was a brilliant game, fast paced and utterly addictive!

If you like sci-fi skirmish games, you need to try this game.

All these games are board or tile based, so easy and quick set up, perfect for a quick hobby fix!

(edit – add Mantic’s Deadzone 2.0 to that list – just downloaded the rules from their site and very much looking forward to trying it out!)

So, onto painting them – I figured the Marines should be Deathwatch, as that seems to fit with the fluff of small scale alien (or heretic) -hunting skirmishes in narrow streets, cramped arcologies or abandoned spacecraft, so I stripped them using meths, primed with black spray paint, popped a beer and watched Duncan’s excellent Deathwatch painting tutorial video, and had at it!

I did deviate slightly from the Duncan’s template – black acrylic basecoat (cheap £1 store black), light drybrush with Vallejo German Grey, then took a deep breath and tried some edge highlighting, having mixed the grey with some bone and a little blue, and was pleasantly surprised with the results! I’ve seen edge highlighting look pretty cack handed and splodgy (particularly when I’ve done it), but I think the trick to it is ensuring your paint is thin and you create a smooth colour graduation. Clearly all that time painting weeny 1/72 figures has helped get my eye in as these chaps came out better than anything I painted back in the 90s! Metallics were Vallejo silver, washed with thin black ink, skulls were bone washed with thinned brown ink and the red was a cheap £1 acrylic that I layered up with some yellow to create highlights. Flesh was craft paint skin tone washed first with Vallejo skin wash and then thinned brown wash.

For basing, I was briefly tempted to go full retro – PVA, sand, Goblin Green, remember that? – but instead took things a little further. I put a bit of home made texture paste (sand, PVA, filler powder, water) on the base before the priming stage and after I’d painted the model, painted this dark brown and drybrushed up with a couple of layers of lighter browns. Then dabbed on a bit of PVA and drizzled on some flock, than another dab and drizzled on some Garage Floor Dust (TM) which is one of the best basing materials I’ve ever discovered, despite it’s humble origins!

Finally I edged the base in black as I wanted a cinematic look (and brown just looked weird) and done! So the first group are complete, and (deep breath) – here are the pics!

Hairy Japanese Bastards

And this week we’re doing – Age Of Sigmar! It’s fair to say that this game has had a controversial reception – blowing up the Warhammer World, renaming elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins for ease of GW trademarking etc., and to the casual observer (such as we) the replacement fluff seemed pretty vague and silly, and above all unrelatable. The Warhammer World may have been a dangerous place, but it was still one where you could imagine ordinary people living, working, eating, sleeping, and using the toilet. The AoS fluff was very high fantasy myth and legend, lacking the grit that let you believe in the stories you were telling on the battlefield. Plus there were a great many silly rules in the original, no real points structure or levelling mechanics and the whole thing just felt rushed and sloppy.

At least, that’s the way it seemed to us. But that was during the Age of Kirby. As GW have changed management, they really do seem to be making an effort to engage and put out well thought out balanced games – and in the case of AoS, making the rules available for free.

FREE.

We like that word. And so – with AoS 2 now out, high time we dipped a toe in the murky AoS waters and found out what was what.

Of all the WHFB/ AoS races, I’ve always had a thing for Skaven. Giant chittering mutant rats lurking in the sewers, waiting to strike in the darkness.. like Orcs but more cunning, less brutal.. like Goblins but furry.. and then there’s all the Clan Skryre craziness..

So for me, when we got into AoS I had to take this opportunity to start up a Skaven army. But of course – GW prices. They make lovely stuff, but WOW is it expensive – can’t run a Ferrari on a Vauxhall income! (and the minor issue of all our terrain being scaled for 1/72).

So….

Step forward Caesar (or MiniKnight, there seems to be some confusion on the box) Ratmen – 1/72 fantasy absolutely-not-Skaven, 39 figures and 11 poses to a box. My first box cost me roughly a tenner, postage included – and once they arrived, I fell so head over heels I rounded up every box I could find – three more, for a shade under a tenner a piece. Result – everything I need for one formidable Skaven army for the price of three Stormfiends.

So far I’ve managed to get enough painted up to field a decent little warband, and they got their first licks in against a Freeguild patrol a few days ago – the Skaven warlord took down the Freeguild general in grand style and the wee furry chaps just had the measure of the Guard in close combat, managing to pick them off in dribs and drabs.

So, pics:

It begins – first boxfull assembled and based
Scale comparison with a 2ed 40k Gretchin

Clanrats

The first of many!
First tranche complete!
Bringing the pain to the Freeguild (or Ancien Regime, depending on your system..)

Skavenslaves:

Lighter colour scheme here reflecting the low status of the Skavenslave..
And here with bows – that is, slings..

Plague Monks:

On the bench – started with bone for the robes then washed down with green and brown inks
In action against the Freeguild / Ancien Regime fools

Stormvermin:

Seniority denoted by dark fur and black armour
“WHERE’S THE DAMN CHEESE?”

Warlord:

Our current CO

I’ve gone with the notion that seniority is denoted by darker fur, so the Skavenslaves are a lighter brown than the Clanrats, who in turn are lighter than the Plague Monks, etc. Having had a little experience painting at this scale now, I’m more than ever convinced that the right way to do it is to start light (white primer) and wash down rather than starting dark and highlighting up. This is because washes are so much thinner- at this smaller scale, layering highlights will ruin all the detail, as well as taking far longer. That said, I usually finish things off with a very light bone drybrush to catch the highlights.

For basing, I used our now standard technique of thick cardstock (20mm square), covered in PVA, dunked in a pot of Garage Floor Dust (TM), and then a sparse overlay of flock for contrast. Edge with brown, spray with matt varnish and you’re good to go!

Now, as well as being Skaven for AoS and any forays into it’s predecessor, Warhammer Fantasy, these chaps will also be appearing in our own fantasy/ steampunk setting – Hyperian Wars!

The Virum Nascii – Men Of Vermin

The shadow in the corner? The rustle in the rafters? That presence you feel lurking in the corner of your room as you go to sleep? Most of the time it’s just your imagination.

Most of the time.

But sometimes – every once in a while – it’s the Ratman. The Vermin Kin. The Virum Nascii. Many years before mankind came to Hyperia, there were some within the Stoc’d who grew weary of the prohibitions on Vril usage, on biology, on experimentation. Cast out and labelled renegade by his peers, a once noble Stoc’d biologician dug deep beyond the frontiers of his races’ realms, deep towards the core of Hyperia – deep towards the essence of pure, life giving Vril – and began to create a slave race, a race that would do his bidding without question, and eventually make him master of our world.

But life does not always abide by the rules we want it to. The common rat joined him on his journey – and the Vril wrought its magic, sought by design or not. With the biologician’s attention focused on the acquisition of precious Vril and designs of vengeance, the rats grew in intelligence and stature, until they were able to overpower him and his retinue. Now they live in the darkest corners of Hyperia, pulling the unwary down into their shadowy empire. When you meet them in combat, beware – they may not have the martial code that distinguishes us, the Eal’va, the Stoc’d or even the Orca, but they are a deadly opponent, every bit as fearful as the Terrors of the Dead

Oh yes- this is JUST THE START..

That’s it for now, but as the Hyperian Wars fluff develops you bet the Virum Nascii will be along for the ride. Check back soon, stay thrifty out there!

Oh, and a PS regarding the title – we haven’t gone all EDL on you, the reference is this:

RIP Frank Kelly

Terrain Talk Pt. 7 – Nutritious, Delicious, (& CHEAP) Sci Fi Buildings

It’s a nice feeling when you can wrap up a project pretty quickly and simply – or, as a wise man once said, “I love it when a plan comes together”!

In this instance, this has come together in a little over a week, and I think you’ll like the result. So sit back, grab a beer, and then go and hunt through your recycling bin!

It all started a couple of weeks back when I picked up a punnet of blueberries for the youngling (his favourite fruit – for now, at least), and after he’d scoffed his way through it, as I was about to throw it in the recycling, I looked at it and thought hmmmmm…. I can do something with this!

Right – blueberry punnet. Left – yoghurt pot lid.. Crosses? They’re all about calibration!

As you can see in the above photo, I’m trying to improve my modelling skills by not simply half assing everything! I measured the interior depression on the blueberry punnet case and drew a centrepoint, then measure the yoghurt pot lid and did the same thing. Gel superglue bonded the two, hopefully irrevocably!

Dead centre!
Look what I found – ping pong ball and bottle cap..
Of course! A radar dish!
Dressed with bits from my Pot of Interestingly Shaped Crap – two wooden caps from Cholula hot sauce bottles, a toothpaste tube cap and something that was once part of a toddler bubble blowing kit..
Added some access hatches, door frames and steps (all cereal packet cardboard)
Primed white with some cheap £1 spray paint (seems there was a run on black in my local pound shops..)
Basecoated with Vallejo US Olive Drab – looks a bit streaky, but remember, two thin coats are better than one thick one (praise be unto thee, Duncan Rhodes)
As you probably noticed, there are some holes in the original blueberry container. So, I glued some nylon tulle (left over from the Skalk Point mega-build) to some card – having measured the gaps, I worked out I would need 8 strips, each 1cm by 1.5. So I cut a strip of card cm by 1.5cm, glued the tulle to it. This would then get painted black ad drybrushed silver to represent ventilation ducts.

Painting involved a layer of Vallejo US Olive Drab,  a wash with thin Smokey Ink, a pin wash with a mix of Black and Smokey inks (thinned, with the target area prewetted as per Mel The Terrain Tutor’s advice), before overbrushing with Olive Drab and drybrushing with the same olive drab lightened with a small amount of bone (avoid white for this, it can make for a “chalky” finish).

Weathering was sponge chipping using black, grey and metallics, and I followed Google Images for guidelines on how to paint a NATO communications bunker to get the grey radar dish idea. This was Vallejo German grey lightened with bone craft paint.

I added some detailing and hazard stripes, then based with a mix of Garage Floor Dust (TM) and green flock. So, pics:

All in all a fun build – a nice centrepiece, and a nice way to thin out my Box of Interestingly Shaped Crap! Still need to get better at hazard straps and lenses, but on the whole quite pleased – it should make a nice centrepiece in our upcoming Apocalypse: Earth game, along with Skalk Point and Bose Cliffs!

As always, stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon 😉

O. M. F. G.

It’s a bit of a fill in post this week as we’ve got a couple of different projects on the go and it seems like a marked lack of time to do them in.. Oh well, first world problems!

That said, with 2018 almost halfway there we took a quick peak at the stats and would you Adam & Eve it – over 10,000 views! In six months!

Celebrate!

And I’m pretty certain they’re not all Jim & me, as a good chunk are from countries we’d struggle to find on a map (there’s a NEW Zealand? Who knew!)

So while the new projects sizzle and bubble under the hobby grill and we get ready for the Apocalypse: Earth Summer Smackdown 2018 megagame, I thought I’d drop in a post to thank all of you who tune in to our geeky little blog, and hopefully we’ve given you some ideas about how to do wargaming without breaking the bank.

Anyway, here’s what we’re up to at the minute:

Scratchbuilding Sor Gharax (Word Bearers Contemptor Dreadnought) for Betrayal At Calth – Patoroch template with help from drinking straws.. this is a fiddly one!

Testing out the new League Of European Nations forcesforces against the Holy Soviet Army

We’ve also been dipping a toe into GW’s much maligned Warhammer Fantasy Battle successor game, “Age Of Sigmar” – as a general rule we tend to prefer sci fi in flavours ranging from gritty (ALIENS) to flat out daft (Flash Gordon), but every now and again we both get the “I wants” to start something new, and seeing as GW have the core rules an warscrolls available for free on their website, we duly downloaded them and had ourselves some hot Freeguild on Freeguild action to see what all the fuss was about..

Figures are Airfix Napoleonics, with a papercraft A7V playing the role of Steam Tank

And much fun was had – although I do get the feeling that they were trying to retain the IGO – UGO structure but not make it feel like IGO-UGO, and this has added some unnecessary levels of complexity, plus my own bugbear of Move Phase then Combat Phase – what if I want to shoot and then move? Why does this seem to be an alien concept to GW designers (with the honourable exception of Betrayal At Calth).

Anyway, it’s still a fun game, and now the new rules are available to free download, so I recommend giving it a shot. The Malign Portents series of stories has done a good job (in my view) of making the Mortal Realms seem more relatable – the Warhammer World I always had a soft spot for, it always seemed well fleshed out and the type of place where people could live, work, build, eat, piss, take a crap without being hugely overpowered daemon monster sorcerer warlord things, whereas everything I’d heard about the AoS fluff just seemed a bit stupid. But I’m guessing GW’s New Age is working on that. We’ll be trying out the new rules soon enough, so there’ll be an Age Of Skinflint battle report in the offing…

Meanwhile, a couple of teasers for the next post….

 

Nutritious and delicious sci fi buildings…
Definitely NOT Skaven….

Thanks to everyone who checks in with us, hopefully we can pass some knowledge and inspiration on to the community in the way that so many have passed it onto us. Stay thrifty out there, we’ll see you soon!