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!

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!

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!

Terrain Talk Pt. 6 – Next Gen Hills!

One of the great things about this hobby, especially with the rise of the internet and YouTube, is that you never, ever stop learning new tricks. Certainly, our last terrain post, dedicated to master terrain builder and all round good egg Dakka Dakka user Skalk Bloodaxe, taught us that!

And courtesy of our internet mentors at Luke’s APS and Mel The Terrain TutorBoseClifffSitu2, we’ve learned a few new things since our last round of terrain building. Last year, we bought a big square of insulation foam and 3mm MDF with the intent of revolutionising our collection of hills, and in true SFG style we’ve managed to make….

One.

The problem we’ve had is gradient – trying to get the height/ width ratio with such a thick block of foam is really tricky, so we’ve ended up settling for a big LoS blocker, and as a salute to Luke of Luke’s APS fame, we heretofor dub this “Fellowes’ Peak”. The real issue is having bought to thick of a sheet of foam. Too thick a sheet = too much height = too steep slopes to get up.

That said, it was a pretty fun build. Want to see how we did it?

Step 1: Cut out a piece of insulation foam, hack some chunks out of it with a DIY knife and glue it to a piece of MDF. I tried using a jigsaw but 3mm MDF didn’t respond too well to it – wound up using a DIY knife, scoring the material before cutting through it. Notice the little alcove carved in the left hand corner.

Step 2: Adding texture! Tacky glue and “Hard As Nails” glue used to attach pieces of masonry and bark shippings to what will become the rock facings.

Step 3: Filler! Using a spatula and fingers, we start to create the hill contours.

Step 4: Dressed with cat litter, painted with texture paste (mixed from PVA, sand, filler pwder and water) and undercoated white – yes, white! Stay with me…

Step 5.1: We begin the leopard spotting! Start with washing a dirty yellow, mixed from yellow, brown, and black craft paints, thinned down with LOTS of water

Step 5.2: Dabbed on some brown wash, plenty of overlaps

Step 5.3: Black wash chucked over the entire thing, and black paint to undercoat where there will be earth tones and flock. You can start to see the effect coming together now!

Step 6: With the wash dried, a light bone drybrush pulls it all together and adds highlights.

Step 7: Flocking! I used Mel The Terrain Tutor’s 3-tone flocking method for this, mixing three grades of Jarvis JTF flocks – lowlights, highlights, then midtones

Step 8: Sealed with a spray mix of PVA and water, and then hit with a coat of matt varnish. Then place in situ and enjoy!

And thus was Fellowes Peak born!

A week or so later, I got the itch to do another big piece – I’d always fancied a big corner piece to add drama to the table, and it occurred to me that a big cliff or rocky bluff would be the perfect way to utilise the height that the thick foam gave me. And so, using the exact same methods, over the following week Bose Cliff was created:

The thing that’s been really great about these pieces is how easy the new techniques have made things – I always hated the PVA/ sand stage, it took forever and inevitably made a huge mess. Texture paste is a far better bet, especially when you’re going to be flocking on top of it anyway. As for leopard spotting instead of the traditional grey drybrushing – well, I’m not sure we’re there yet with the paint ratios, but it’s looking pretty fly!

Bose Cliff in situ

I’d also like to take a moment to thank Mel the Terrain Tutor for his video on the three T’s of terrain design – I built this having measured the capacity of my cupboard and also the footprint of Skalk Point, our power substation from the other month, as we’re planning these to be the centrepiece of our big Apocalypse: Earth Summer Smackdown game, just a few short weeks away!

In the meantime, I hope these provide you with some inspiration – good luck and good hobbying, stay thrifty and we’ll check in soon!

Great Scott – 88 Gigawatts?!? Cheap & Easy Scratchbuilt League Of European Nations Platoon Support Laser

I’m going to be entirely honest here – the concept for this build was 100% nicked from this post by the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts, so let’s just get that out of the way first.

But it was a fun little build. And I used magnets. So…

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my League Of European Nations infantry platoon – these guys would have been the first to meet the fury of the Holy Soviet Army assault on the Ostwall on that fateful day in 1954..

Of course, I couldn’t just send these chaps out on their own. They needed something to deal with enemy armour- I suppose a panzerschreck or faust could have done the job, or maybe a mortar, but I liked the concept of a giant laser just that little bit more.

We began with a rectangle of corrugated cardboard, and six defunct Hexbug (little motorised insect things powered by watch batteries – seriously, these things are awesome fun!) batteries provided the carriage wheels, three a side. Strips of IDE cable cut at a 5mm thickness (thank you Zrunelord from TMP) and glued on with gel superglue made excellent caterpillar tracks, and another defunct Hexbug battery made for the gun mount. I dressed the chassis with some thin card and kebab skewer cuts for cabling and duct work.

For the weapon itself, it began life as a superglue nozzle, behind which I fashioned a gun shield from cardboard and bulked the assembly out with kebab skewer offcuts and a little bit of foam – and then it was time to break out the magnets!

I’d bought a small pack on eBay and was anxious to try them out, so superglued one to the underside of the weapon assembly and one to the gun mount – and the result was actually pretty successful!

Next up – painting!

White undercoat, wash of Vallejo black ink, then tan basecoat followed by green and brown camo striping as per the German infantry platoon a few weeks back  ted together with a brown wash, a pin wash of Vallejo Smokey Ink and a light drybrush of Americana Buttermilk. Metallics were a boltgun metal washed with thin black ink, and I applied a rough DIY texture paste of brown paint, sand and PVA. This in turn got a wash and a highlight drybrush!

Terrain Talk Pt.5 – INSANE MEGABUILD! Power Substation Skalk Point

Feels like we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front this month, but the truth is – we’ve been glueing stuff together like Chinese children in the better class of sweatshop (i.e. busily, but not necessarily in fear of our lives…).

It all started with this thread on Dakka Dakka, by a user named Skalk Bloodaxe. Browsing through his log of work, we started with a fairly “meh” attitude, but by page 20 both Dan and I were slack jawed with awe and busily scribbling notes. And so it was that we were inspired to raid my draw of Interestingly Shaped Crap to try and build a genuinely spectacular centrepiece for our games.

After the success of our earlier plasma reactor attempts utilising low energy light bulbs, we figured we’d take the idea a little bit further – what about a whole plasma generator substation? Featuring reactors, coolant coils, storage tanks and whatnot.

Reactor No. 1 takes shape – oversized IKEA lightbub, bottlecap, pizza slice holder, laundry powder cup. THIS is why you never throw stuff away!
Asthma inhaler spacer – six years old and never been used, Jim’s willing to tempt fate.. and it does look like a storage tank! Ladder is granny grating, you may also spy the lid from a bottle of Tabasco sauce (mmmm, Tabasco…)
The final layout! Cookie packaging, dogfood scoop, vitamin tank, three defunct inhaler mechanisms, detailed with kebab skewers and granny grating… plus dead car headlight bulb and some form of speaker surround sound mount that has sat unused for the last seven years..
Different angle – we took time measuring to ensure that 20mm bases could move between the obstacles.. actually thinking before we glue stuff!

I cut a slice of roughly square MDF and after glueing everything down with superglue we mixed a texture paste of PVA, filler and a little bit of sand and stippled it down around the terrain parts for an asphalt effect. With that it was time for priming!

Rocking some ultra cheap pound shop grey spray primer!

Next up – painting. Now, experienced, talented modellers will think about a paint scheme ahead of time and in many cases paint individual pieces ahead of time to ensure a clean finish and coverage, before glueing them in place. We are neither of these, so we glued it all down, primed it, and then realised how difficult it was going to be to get to almost everything we needed to paint.

This is why the blog’s been so quiet this month – we’ve been too busy angling our brushes into impossible patterns and swearing through gritted teeth…

Anyway – I’ll spare you the frustration, suffice it to say we went with an all-purpose olive drab finish for most of the complex using Vallejo Russian Green (figuring this would work well across both 1950s Europe, 23rd century sci fi and the grim darkess of the 41st millenium) – this got a wash with Army Painter Green Tone, and a pin wash with my own homebrew dark green wash, before drybrushing back up with Russian Green, mixed in with Crafters Choice tan to lighten back up. If memory serves, we did three drybrush layers.

Next was the main storage tank, and we’d agreed we wanted this yellow. Unfortunately, we’re both muppets and had primed it grey.

Sigh.

So at first, we needed to undercoat it white or the paint was never going to work. We duly managed to work a white undercoat, and then prewashed with Vallejo Skin Wash, and the yellow (cheap stuff from The Works) actually layered up quite nicely over it. We mixed in a little white and drybrushed lightly over the top. You need to be very gentle here, modulating colours subtly is essential. Vallejo Skin Wash came out again for a thin wash into the crevices to create depth.

Main storage tank on the top left – access wheel added from a left over Caesar Orc shield.

Next up, the three smaller storage tanks in white – white’s a weird colour to paint, it doesn’t look right just painted on. So after painting we washed (with Vallejo Smokey Ink), drybrushed, washed and drybrushed again.. before sponge chipping – hopefully the feel conveyed is one of well used but maintained equipment.

Looking battered, but still safely operational!

After that came the plasma coils – this part was from a piece of packaging from some M&S cookies, and yummy as they were, the packaging might actually serve to be the best bit! These got the Russian Green treatment, followed by layering up white, and then a glaze technique using very light – almost turquoise – blue.. and then layered up with thinned down white paint up to a central point. Not sure I did as good a job as Duncan, but it looks OK from two feet away!

Plasma coils glow in the heart of the complex!

And then we get to the fun part – painting the reactors themselves! I nicked this wholesale from this technique on Warhammer TV, so I’ll let Duncan’s soothing voice talk you through it.. although to break it down for those of you without YouTube access, it’s basically blue paint, stippled with lighter blue, purple and pink patches, with lightning flashes done using thinned white paint. Simple enough, but looks the balls. Although with the sheer amount of surface area we had to paint.. it took a while.

Taking shape now!

With this all done, the next step was the asphalt – the paste had settled nicely and given a good texture, but this time rather than paint black and drybrush up, we decided to employ a variant on the “leopard spotting” technique Dan picked up from this Luke’s APS video – essentially, dark washes in three separate shades (black, brown and black/brown mix) that overlap each other. These then get drybrushed up with tan and bone colouring to unify it all together – actually really pleased with this one!

Finally, the nemesis – we needed to build wire perimeter fences. We checked out this video from master builder Luke Towan, but while he makes it look easy.. it really wasn’t.

You may notice Luke uses solder and/ or styrene rod to build his fences.. we didn’t have any of that. What we did have were a bunch of kebab skewers, and a couple of quid from Ebay bought is all the nylon tulle (mesh) we were ever likely to need. Gel superglue and greenstuff did the joinery and we used the grid on the modelling mat to line it all up at right angles, but still this was fiddly and frustrating. Nylon tulle does not respond well to superglue or cutting.. but we persevered and made it! The fences then got a blast of cheap £1 silver spray paint and a couple of Vallejo Smokey Ink washes, and then we drilled through the MDF to create holes to plug the fences into. Very important that they be removable – they may be impassable to infantry, but crash a T-48 into a wire fence and the fence loses!

All done – for now! League Of European Nations trooper for scale




In situ as the Hazzard 1977th Imperial Guard defend from Da Skooderia!

Overall, I’m giving this build a 7/10 – we measured, we thought, we planned, but we were still stupid in many ways, still plenty of wonky bits, but definitely a step up from our previous efforts! Lots more to learn about terrain building but that’s the joy of this hobby, you can always improve as long as you’re willing to!

We’ll come back to Skalk Point in time, as there’s plenty to add – little details here and there, industrial warning notices, a gate house, maybe a walkway or two… but for now, for the sake of our collective sanity, it’s time to turn our attention elsewhere and play a game or two!

Stay thrifty out there, thanks for staying with us through a lean month! See you soon 😉20180330_222815FPQ8CEQ - Imgur

Slaughter At Forge Valley – A Future Force Warrior Battle Report

So a couple of weeks back Da Skooderia and the Hazzard 1977th took to the field for some old school 2nd Ed action, and whilst it was fun and lots of stuff blew up, it does have to be said old style 40k feels a bit clunky. 8th seems to have gone some way towards streamlining but it’s still hampered by the IGOUGO turn structure, which feels much more suited to Napoleonic or fantasy regimental manoeuvring.. probably due to 40k having it’s roots in Warhammer Fantasy!

So for a while now we’ve been playing around with a re-skinned upgraded version of the Apocalypse: Earth ruleset, moved forward a couple of hundred years into the future as mankind begins it’s exploration beyond the solar system – Earth is divided between three superstates, NATO (covering the Americas, Europe and Australasia), the People’s State (former Holy Soviet Empire, Empire Of Japan, Asian Communist Federation) and the Caliphate (India, Africa, Middle East) while some rugged individualist movements out in the colonies are beginning to press for full independence from the homeworld.

But mankind is not alone in the wilderness of space. There is the vast decaying empire of what we once called the Greys, who seeded life across the galaxy millions of years ago but lost their empire in a titanic struggle with an extra galactic threat that devastated the galaxy while humanity was struggling to make fire, there are isolated pockets of rogue AI constructs bent on continuing a war fought millions of years ago, whispered rumours of extradimensional entities with powers undreamt of and of course the perennial threat of the Orca, essentially a race of overgrown bacteria who live for destruction.

Anyway- the fluff is still in its infancy, but the game engine is pretty soid, so we decided to stat up our Guard and Ork forces, which would now represent forces from the People’s State Liberation Army  and the Orca tribe infecting the world of Hazzard Prime.. we used the same table layout as last time, with the plasma reactors as the objective.

The table laid out – Orca nearest the camera, PSLA furthest edge.

As before, I took Da Skooderia and Dan rolled out the PSLA, and we both reprised our plans from the last game – Orca would pitch forward with their elite troops while the Boyz and Dreadnaught moved up in support, while Seb Metal and Kimi Rorkonnen would loop around in a flanking manoeuvre. Meanwhile the PSLA would be lead by their Russ, squads Alfonso and Beauregard moving through cover while the command element in their Chimera APC would dash forward and engage the Orca with their heavy short range firepower and squad Cletus would provide heavy fire support with missile launcher, autocannon and laser cannon.

Orca deploy using cover to shelter them..
Boyz ready for the advance
Dreadnaught keeping its head down…
PSLA infantry use the woods for cover
Squad Cletus and Russ MBT anchor the centre
Chimera APC with PSLA command element waiting for the order to charge..

The Orca won the initiative and elected to move first.

“Big Red” performs an expert Tokyo drift to pull in behind the ridge, using the terrain for cover as it delivers Warboss Enzo Ferrorki, Bigboss Dino Ferrorki and the Nobz Mob “Da Management” onto the plasma reactors
“DIS SHINY FING IS MIIIIIINE!”
Whoops, wonky camera angle – Russ MBT gets in a flank shot on the Dreadnaught, immobilising it. Seeing as the poor Dread can’t actually see anything, this renders it pretty much ineffective for the rest of the game… This chap is due some karma next game!
Big Red is immobilised by a side laser cannon shot from the Russ
…and autocannon fire downs a Nob, suppressing Da Management. The General living up to his name today!
PSLA Command team debus onto the warehouses by the plasma reactors, People’s Mystic, Captain, Lieutenant and Political Officer dive into cover while plasma rifles down a Skarboy and heat cannons set the trees by Red 7 on fire!
Kimi Rorkonnen and Felipe Masha suddenly find their field of fire obscured as the trees erupt in flame!
Red 5 sprays dirt as Seb Metal floors the throttle, bringing his Warbuggy around in a flanking manouevre
Orca infantry spray shooter fireas they hustle up towards the plasma reactors to support the Nobz, Warboss and Bigboss
On the hill behind them, Dok Nikky Louda lines up a sot with his laser cannon
Squads Alfonso and Beauregard infiltrate through the woods, while Squad Cletus drop more Nobz but lose their autocannon loader, suppressing his team mate
Seb Metal pulls Red 5 around and vapourises Squad Cletus’ laser cannon team with his twin linked autocannons
The General bulldozers his way in, gunning down Boyz right, left and centre
The Chimera guns down Skarboyz at near point blank range
Kimi and Felipe line up Red 5’s heavy heat cannon and roast the Political Officer, Lieutenant and People’s Mystic!
PSLA HQ gets it’s revenge – battle rifle, heat cannons and plasma rifles demolish Red 7, Kimi and Felipe turned into a fine green mist!
Having seen his compatriots gunned down by the Chimera, da Dok lines up a superb laser cannon shot, destroying it in a spectacular fireball!
The demise of Red 5 – caught out in the open by a sharp witted missile launcher team from Squad Cletus
Warboss and surviving Nob assault the Russ – Nob gets himself killed accomplishing precisely nothing, but the Warboss at least manges to jam the General’s turret..
Close quarter fighting around the objectives… Mystical sci fi alien tape measure making a cameo appearance in the background!
Squads Alfonso engage Da Furst Mob with concentrated laser rifle fire
While Squad Beauregard pull off a real coup, wounding and suppressing the Warboss himself!
Even with a jammed turret, the General is still a force to be reckoned with – Furst Mob is virtually wiped out
Da Dok does it again! Laser cannon fire hits the rear armour, causing a chain reaction of explosions that rips the mighty tank apart!
Da Mek bellows his defiance, raking Squad Beauregard with fire as the PSLA infantry capture the Warboss and begin to hustle him off the table..

 

Warboss Enzo Ferrorki, a prisoner of the PSLA!
Da Boyz put up a stiff fight, but as Turn 5 dawns we’re down to 4 boyz while the PSLA have almost a full platoon…
Smashed and burning armour around the objectives, it’s been a lose fought game!

So there we have it – as Turn 5 dawned, the Orca still held one objective but with only a couple of unwounded boyz against almost a full platoon of PSLA infantry it was clear what the result was going to be… the Dok marshalled his 3 remaining boyz and motioned them to slip away – after all, someone was going to have to pull of a rescue to get the Warboss back, right?

FFW is still very much a work in progress, and we’ll be developing the rules and fluff as we go, but I’m pleased to say it’s first outing was a rip roaring success, providing a game that felt much faster and more lethal than our 40k dabbling – I think we may be on to something here!

So, til next time – stay thrifty out there, we’ll be back soon!