Spurred into action by my compatriots ridiculous ingenuity! Seeing as lockdown has left me with custody of most of our gaming terrain, I thought I’d take the opportunity to “upcycle” some terrain pieces that had been bugging me for a while – the woods.
Now, these were just model trees meant for railway picked up off eBay some years ago and glued to some thick cardstock which was painted dark brown and flocked. And it looked, y’know, OK... for a while..
The magical new basing material? CDs! Turns out that if you soak them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes or so, you can cut them with common or garden kitchen scissors – and once you’ve got your shape cut out you’ve got a perfectly stable, warp-free base. Now, this may be old news for some of you out there, but it was a revelation to me! First under the scissors, a disc of drivers for a printer that died in about 2014. I put it in a bowl, boiled the kettle, left it for five minutes, came back and got stuck in cutting bendy irregular shapes out of it.
Next up, I pulled the trees from their original cardboard bases and hot glued them in place on the CDs- this can be a bit fiddle, you need a big dob of hot glue on the CD and another generous glob on the tree, hold them in place until they set…
Once that was done, out to the shed and stipple on some home made texture paint (black craft paint, mixed with PVA, sand and filler powder).
Once this was dry I sprayed the whole thing black.
With this stage done, on to painting and flocking! I started with a “wetbrush” of dark brown (specifically Folk Art 476 Asphaltum, looking at the bottle), before a drybrush with Americana Honey Brown and a further drybrush with Americana Buttermilk.
Right, this may be the absolute flat out anyone-can-do-it simplest old wargaming trick ever…
Hedges! SO easy to do, so simple , so effective…
And it would appear I have lost most of the pictures that go along with this 😦
Still, here’s where we begin – lolly stick and pan scourer:
Chop the pan scourer to about 15mm height – enough to give cover but not block LOS completely (for 20mm scale – you poor deluded fools in 28mm might want to go a bit higher) and glue to the lolly stick. We used acrylic caulk for this but PVA will do the trick too, it’ll just take a little longer. The great thing about using the lolly stick as a base? No warping!
Next, spray prime black, and drybrush dark brown – you can be quite heavy with the drybrushing, as this is really is more like a base coat than a highlight. I did have pics of this stage but I seem to have had a senior moment and deleted them….
Now it’s time for flocking – we use Jarvis scenic flocks and followed a bastardised version of Mel The Terrain Tutor’s three tone flocking technique. Dark green in the “lowlight” areas, light green highlights on the most exposed bits and then mid green over the whole thing. Paint your hedge with PVA and then sprinkle the flock accordingly.
After that, we hit them with some clump foliage to represent weeds and undergrowth and to break up the outline of the lolly stick base. Finally, sealing! There’s a LOT of flock and clump foliage on these pieces, the last thing you want is them shedding everywhere. So, we topped up an old Windolene spray bottle with a mix of PVA and water (about 10-1 water to PVA) and just went to town soaking the pieces in it. Then the next day we did it again.
And finally, the end result!
Pretty happy with these, although I may have overdone things with the differing flocks, I have seen some really nice pieces that just went with dark green… but oh well, they look pretty good from two feet away and that’s really what matters.
Hope that’s given you some ideas and inspiration, so stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!
The mood was tense. The grenadiers and riflemen were trading rumours amongst themselves – an unstoppable horde of Virum Nascii, hundreds strong, which had overrun the outlying colony of Hadley’s Hope in the northern disputed territories, slaughtering the Sky Marines sent to interdict them.
Amongst the crew of the steam tank “McDaggett’s Fury“, however, such sentiments were notable for their absence.
“Sky Marines” scoffed commander Boddicker, “probably tried to buy them off.”
He patted the gunsights on the Fury’s main cannon. “Firepower! And lots of it! That’s all those beasts can be expected to understand. Franz? Louis? Are your rifles zeroed?”
The two foregunners saluted in eerie synchronicity. “Sir! Yes, sir – optimised to peak accuracy, ammo feeds and repeater mechanisms cleared and double checked”
“Good work” Boddicker nodded approvingly “Signal Colonel Murphy that the Fury stands ready”
Atop his horse, surveying his assembled forces, Witch-Colonel Alecius Murphy had already sensed the build up of adrenaline and arrogance within the steam tank- it’s very presence evidence of how seriously the Ancien Regime province command took the Virum Nascii threat. Sky Marines didn’t die easily – he knew that all too well. Underestimating his foe was not a mistake Murphy intended to make again.
He surveyed his assembled forces – lines of riflemen in their dark blue coats and peaked caps, columns of grenadiers imposing with their shakos and bayonets, a regiment of the illustrious cuirassier cavalry, the line anchored by the imposing iron beast that was the McDaggett’s Fury.
The Virum Nascii had plagued this province in recent months, and the slaughter of a Sky Marine force at the nearby colony of Hadley’s Hope had proven that these beasts were present in force, and not to be underestimated. Murphy cast his precognitive vision forth and in his minds eye sensed the presence of a huge horde of the ratmen, heading his way.
“We make our stand here” he announced, “prepare firing positions and make ready to receive the enemy”
He gritted his teeth. It would be enough. It had to be enough.
Welcome back to another Hyperian Wars battle report – and this one should be a doozy…
Well, that was a blast and right up to turn 4 it could have gone either way – Colonel Murohy may have failed to successfully cast a single spell but his presence definitely helped the riflemen in the centre beat off the ratmen assault. I think the main issue the Virum Nascii had was failure to concentrate force in one area – had they focused on one single area of the human lines they could have overwhelmed them and rolled up the line piecemeal, but poor coordination let their regiments get picked off one at a time, and when Ratticus went down their naturally poor morale really started to count against them…
Still, the story isn’t over, we’ve got more Hyperian Wars coming as the escalation continues – more troops, characters and war machines for the Virum Nascii, and the same for the human factions! Stay tuned, stay thrifty, we’ll see you soon
Some of you may be familiar with Dakkadakka.com, one of the biggest hubs for wargaming (mainly GW, but by no means exclusively), as well as painting and modelling. Jim and I are regular visitors, and over the years have come upon many PLOGs to loot for ideas and inspiration (see here, for example).
And lo, it was on a recent trawl for ideas to pinch that we came upon the elite secret society (well, sort of) of Dakka terrain builders, the League Of Extraordinary Riveters – so named for being the detail obsessed, practically OCD modellers who will go to the extent of modelling every rivet onto their pieces.
Frankly, this rather appealed! And so when this month’s terrain competition was announced, with “food” as it’s theme, we thought, let’s have a go.
Now, every year I get a Cadbury’s Creme Egg easter egg. And every year it’s awesome, even though it does nudge me a step closer to type 2 diabetes. But every year, after I’ve gorged myself on sugar and then gone through the inevitable grinding comedown, I look at the packaging and think, “That could be…. SOMETHING”
Well, this year? It’s going to be SOMETHING.
So no idea how we’ve placed in the end, but it’s been a good fun ride!
So until next time, stay thrifty and we’ll see you soon!
Anyhoo, recently he’s been putting up some battle reports using the system formerly known as 1page40k – Grimdark Future. This is billed as a fast playing, easy to use, quick and dirty version of the 40k we all know and sort-of-love, sort-of-loathe. Rules and army lists are free to download from the One Page Rules website here. And seeing as we are drawn to free stuff like a moth to the flame of a slow burning crack pipe, we were all over this.
We set up terrain with a ruined village to the east and a disused plasma generator station to the west, set objectives (one of the generators, central hill, ruined church and a ruined shop)…and GAME ON!
Human Defence Force won the roll off and force the Orcs to deploy first:
And battle was joined!
End result, 2 objectives to the HDF (plasma generator and central hill) one to the Orc Marauders (ruined church, held by the transport)
Casualties – HDF lost a weapons team and some of the infantry squad, plus wounded Captain… the Orcs were pretty much down to the transport and their Power Armour elites, and even they were pretty beaten up.
So a pretty decisive victory!
Thoughts on the game? A LOT of fun. Grimdark Future is simple, fast playing and intuitive, absolutely brilliant for a quick throw down kickabout. We did wonder about the balance of point values given the pounding the Orcs took, but Jim did point out the he might just’ve sucked at playing the game.
So, a new system, and props to OPR designer Gaetano Ferrara for the effort he’s put into creating a fun and fast game that really benefits from not being supported by a major model company (more thoughts on that another day). We had a blast and next up on the list is OPR’s “Age Of Fantasy- Regiments” – we’ll let you know!
(Side note – free rules and army lists, 1/72 miniatures, scratchbuilt terrian and vehicles… could this be the cheapest wargame ever played?)
With the Soviet offensive of summer 1956 successful in capturing a number of Allied plasma generation facilities, UNIVAC, Majestic 12 and Supreme Allied Command Europe were all agreed to focus their immediate strategy on recapturing these vital installations before Emperor Djugashvilli could build on the momentum the Holy Soviet Army had lmanaged to create (at great cost).
It therefore came as something of a surprise when Stalin’s next move did not come across the front lines in Europe, but a massed amphibious assault on northern Scotland coming from an armada of massive transport submarines. In one of the opening moves, Lt Polikarpov would lead the infantry component of the assault task force assigned to knock out the plasma generator station powering Faslane naval base.
The Scottish campaign was notable for the complete and total inebriation of both sides – commissars would ladle out vodka liberally to the assault troops while the Scottish defended their homeland fuelled on a mix of Iron Bru and McEwan’s. Fighting was close and brutal, fuelled by borscht on the one side and deep fried Mars bars on the other. In the end, however, there could be only one victor.
Welcome to another Apocalypse: Earth megagame! We’ve been planning this for a while to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and figured doing our own weird war retro sci-fi take on things would be our little (if slightly strange) contribution to commemorating the immense bravery shown that day.
So, without further ado, on to the battle report!
The Soviet force would be landing on the beach from the gigantic transport submarines they had created in secret and infiltrated up to the Scottish coast (which meant no need to scratch build landing craft), and would be landing with the intent to capture the (suspiciously familiar looking) plasma generator station that powered Faslane Naval Base – knocking that out would take down the base forcefields, allowing the next stage of the Soviet invasion.
Task Force Polikarpov, therefore brought EVERYTHING to the battle, including some new recruits to bolster the rifle squads to a full 14 men each. We were also trying something new – grouping the Soviet tanks into platoons, each consisting of two regular gun T-48s and either the Inferna or Elektra assault variant. This meant less flexibility (alternating unit activations favours multiple small units, a fact that the Atlantic Alliance is built around) but also the ability to bring down a LOT of firepower in one go. In short, playing like the slow moving iron clad firestorm the Holy Soviet Army should be!
“Contact – no, wait, multiple contacts!” called out the sonarman monitoring the sonobuoy pickets out in the bay. “Bearing 060 through 065, closing up on the beaches fast.. where the HELL did they come from?”
“One of their damned sorcerers” snarled Lt. Grant. He quickly swallowed the last bite of his bacon sandwich and thumbed the ARPANET transceiver on to the platoon network.
“Buffalo 2-7, this is Sunray. All units stand to. I say again, stand to. Prepare for amphibious assault.”
Around him the troops were already scrambling. Men checked weapons, drivers gunned engines. Grant thumbed the channel.
“Kampfgruppe Hulkenberg, this is Buffalo 2-7 Sunray, we have multiple- “
“We have them too, Lieutenant”. The clipped, precise tones of his European League counterpart cut through the static. “All units moving to prepared positions as rehearsed.”
Grant smiled grimly. “See you on the beach, Nico.”
“It’s a date. Von Hulkenberg out.”
The game opened with a salvo of 152mm shells from supporting Soviet naval firepower, smashing an Allied jeep and causing damage to the Kugelpanzer squadron, but no sooner had the ground stopped shaking from the explosions than appeared the gigantic, terrifying form of the Soviet Colossus – Stompy Uncle Joe leading his children to war!
As the second turn ended, the Soviets were ashore with heavy losses – but at the cost of gutting the Allied formations!
By this time both sides were on the ropes and tottering, but the Soviets had managed to push the Allied forces off the beach, with catastrophic casualties on each side!
The pain flared across his temple. Lt. Grant struggled to consciousness to find himself looking into the darkness of a Kalashnikov assault rifle barrel. As he struggled to clear his vision, a second figure in a peaked cap wielding a pistol swam into view.
“Lt. Grant, I presume”, said a Russian voice, “I have been waiting a long time for this..”
So, a Soviet victory! At great cost – HQ, a couple of riflemen, the Mystic and his bodyguard, a Tesla trooper and sniper were literally all that were left. On the Allied side, however, we were down to a German medic armed with a pistol. So, now what for our story? Lt. Grant trying to effect a breakout from a Soviet POW camp? Some more fluff and battle reports on the Scottish Front? Let us know!
On a more serious note, no one reading this will have been unaware of the 75th anniversary of D-Day a few days ago, and certainly that was in our thoughts as we finished this quite epic game.
Dan – “That was a laugh and everything, but f**k me, can you imagine having to do it for real?”
No. No I can’t. We both agreed that neither of us could have done it. But mercifully, we haven’t had to.
So thank you Grandpa. Thank you Grandad. Thank you to all of you who summoned up the courage to do the impossible – not just on D-Day, but the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that, for eleven more months.
Stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you again soon.
You know what? I think this might be the most ambitious build we’ve ever tried. Grab a beer, this is going to be a big one.
Back at the start of the year, I mentioned to Dan that June 6 2019 would be the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and we figured it would be nice to do something to commemorate it beyond getting hammered and watching Saving Private Ryan, especially as we both had grandads who had served on the day itself (mine drove a DUKW in the early follow up waves, Dan’s served on a Royal Navy destroyer). As such, we both took a little inspiration from Mel The Terrain Tutor’s amazing D-Day beach landing board and decided to attempt something similar ourselves.
I mean, it’s not like Mel’s (as he explained himself in his vlog series) went way over time or budget or anything.. and he’s a pro with years of experience, proper materials, a budget, talent…. what could possibly go wrong?
STAGE 1 – PLANNING.
Now, this concept in itself is fairly novel, as up until a couple of years ago we just tended to glue junk together, hope for the best, and then lose ourselves in vicious envy of other people’s work, but this time we knew we had to have some sort of plan.
There’s no way we could do a devoted 6×4 board – don’t have the time, don’t have the talent, don’t have anywhere to store it even if we did – so we decide on a 2×4 overlay that could sit on top of the regular board. Happily, I just happened to have a pair of 2’x2′ bits of hardboard in the shed. Game on.
We roughed out a basic design – a small concave beach with rock formations either side, that would match up and be modular so we could play different scenarios – and got cracking.
STAGE 2 – BASIC MATERIALS
Water effects added courtesy of pound shop epoxy resin thinned with acetone nail polish remover, mixed in a few drops of green and brown ink as well, and then applied with a lolly stick. We nicked this idea from Lukes APS – all hail the Squire Of The North!
Final touches were a good healthy dousing in watered down PVA sealant, followed by a coat of matt varnish. Warping was counteracted by applying PVA on the underside of the board, and – DONE!
We finish with the now obligatory Skinflint Games terrain naming ceremony – ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses and raise a toast to (named after our main influence) Mel Bay!
So let’s wrap this up with a few White Dwarf- style beauty shots:
So if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with us and I hope you can forgive us for being a bit quiet on the blog front this month! Steal every idea here – we did – stay thrifty and we’ll see you again soon….
Right, I’m writing this because Dan a) can’t be bothered and b) is clearly a ludicrously talented terrain builder.
Anyway, a bit of background – back in 2016, we came across an eye opening article on DakkaDakka.com by the magnificently talented 3T studios, detailing how to make “Dynamic, Craggy Hills“. We both were struck by the incredibly cinematic beauty of their work and resolved that our stuff would look like that.. one day.. so I sawed off a hardboard rectangle to serve as base, piled paper mache, and chunks of packing polystyrene on board, along with some pebbles and twigs, coated the lot with PVA and and before painting up and flocking. The result was… ok, I suppose, but it was only a few months later when I realised what was bugging me about it – the base.
Nature doesn’t do straight lines.
So Dan scooped up my baby, took it over to his shed with promises of a more organic shaped MDF base, and a few days later produced this:
So there we are, proof positive that Dan is a frankly phenomenal terrain builder and kept that pretty bloody quiet! I’m intrigued to see what he comes up with next…
And if you’re wondering why the name – Robert Kubica, one of our motorsport heroes. His return to F1 might not have been the most successful so far, but we’re rooting for you (and Williams) – and if you want an inspirational story, his is up there… tagged as an F1 star of the future, loses most of an arm in horrific crash, 8 years later makes it back to the top of racing.. tiene cojones, Bobby K. So this terrain piece is for you!
Till next time, stay thrifty and we’ll see you soon 😉
The sun glittered on the waves, reflecting across the expanse of the North Sea. At this altitude you could smell the salt, and thanks to the backwash from the helicopter blades and manoeuvring thrusters on the Silverbugs, you could taste the spray too.
Lt. Grant looked back at his new command, a platoon of infantry jammed inside the brand new Westland Wessex transport. Spread out either side of him, as far as the eye could see, were transport helicopters and Silverbug antigrav gunships, skimming across the waves. He felt a mixture of immense pride and trepidation – Ivan wouldn’t be expecting this, but the 1st Air Cav, although an elite division on paper, was as yet untested in battle. Grant himself was fresh from West Point, a young officer with much to prove. He flicked through his briefing notes one last time – get in, destroy all the supplies you could reach and get to the extraction point before Ivan could react and summon reinforcements. The damage they did here would be crucial in stemming the tide of Holy Soviet Empire forces currently engulfing Central Europe, and rampaging across Eastern Germany.
It would work. It had to work.
The pilot tapped his helmet, held up a hand, four fingers and thumb extended. Grant nodded, and turned to his men.
“Five minutes to drop!” he yelled. “Lock and load!”
With a metallic crash, his men did so. Grant smiled – they looked ready..
With all the 40k stuff that’s been going on of late, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’d forgotten our first love – our own universe and game system, cobbled together over the years and finally codified back in 2014. For those who aren’t familiar, Germany wins (sort of) WW1, and the result is a proto-EU (The League Of European Nations), an Atlantic Alliance bloc comprising the UK & Commonwealth along withe the USA, and a demented theocratic hellhole Holy Soviet Empire, ruled over by everyone’s favourite baddie, Emperor Josef Djugashvilli I! (aka Stalin to his mates).
January 1954 sees the Holy Soviet Army invade the West, and in the first catastrophic days the Europeans struggle to contain the Red Hordes as they mobilise their reserves. So it’s Blighty and the Yanks to the rescue, as on Valentine’s Day 1954 the joint US-UK 1st Air Cavalry division (including a few experimental vehicles) pull off a devastating raid from an unexpected quarter on a massive Soviet forward logistics base, causing severe damage to the ammunition and fuel supply chain.
We’ve been kicking around a few scenarios to try out, and this has stuck with us as a fun one to try, focusing on a single platoon trying to get in, cause havoc, and get out again before the Holy Soviet Army wakes up and flattens them! So, as Valentines Day dawns and you think you’re in trouble with the missus – well, it could be worse!
We laid out the 6 x 4 board with the objective in the middle, and let the Soviets deploy within 60cm of the objective marker with no idea yet where the attack might be coming from. Next up, they were subjected to three barrages of 155mm artillery fire, simulating the bombing runs from the lead Silverbug attack vehicles. At that point, the Atlantic Alliance forces would deploy on the table anywhere at least 50 cm from the objective, and the Soviet player would nominate which edge should be the extraction point.
The Atlantic Alliance job is to hit all the buildings around the objective marker with C4 demolition charges (setting the charge counts as a Combat Action) and extract as many forces as possible off the nominated table edge. The Soviets would be trying to stop and/or kill & capture as many of the elite cavalrymen as possible.
The Soviets had the Platoon HQ, three rifle squads (nos. 1, 2 & 3), a support squad (no. 4)reinforced with an additional Lightning Launcher, a Noble Sniper (who we both forgot about throughout the game), a squad of Siberian “Strong Men” assault troops, a section of Tesla armoured troops, the Holy Mystic and his bodyguard, an APC, the SU-152 assault gun, 4 T-48s, the Inferna and Elektra specialist tanks and the two Shock Drones – basically everything but the big superheavies!
Meanwhile Buffalo 2-7, were in lean, mean “airmobile” mode, which meant leaving the tracked vehicles behind, giving us Lt Grant and his Platoon Command Element, two rifle squads (Alfa & Bravo), a heavy weapons squad (Charlie), machinegun squad (Delta), Rocketeers (Warhawk 4-9), Dreadnaught squad, three Humvees armed with minigun, Stinger/TOW and railgun, and sniper team (Ghost 7). Also present were our ace in the hole – two Avrocar Silverbug gunships toting Stinger/TOW launchers and Avenger autocannons, along with the M85 combat support robots.
Grab yourself a beer – this is going to be a good one….
Stumbling through the undergrowth, nursing a gunshot wound to the shoulder, Grant and Macauliffe ran for their lives. His lungs afire, Grant stumbled and fell, pain shooting through his shoulder like a lightning bolt. It was nothing to the pain he felt on the realisation that apart from the big medic, his entire command- men he’d trained with, whose lives were his responsibility – was annihilated. Destroyed. His men dead or prisoners. He dropped his M15 in the dirt, sagging to his knees.
“Go on without me, doc, I’ll only slow you down” he panted, throat raw.
The big medic looked at him. “I don’t leave my men, sir. I ain’t leaving you. We did what we came here to do – those boys knew the risk. “
The next thing Grant knew, he was across the medics shoulders, being carried a trot to the extraction point. The sound of rotor blades had never been so welcome.
Whichever way he looked he saw flames. Lt. Polikarpov tried not to cringe as caskets of ammunition cooked off in the blaze around him. He straightened as the pair of riflemen – all he could spare from the shattered garrison – threw him a salute.
“We are sorry, comrade Lieutenant, but the fascists made it out. We have a few personal effects they abandoned, however” – the riflemen handed over Grant’s pack for inspection.
Polikarpov’s lips moved as he read the stencil. Grant, 2nd Lt, B-2-7 1st Air Cavalry.
“I’ll get you, you bastard” he swore silently. “I will see you again, Amerikanisch, and I will end you”
Probably the mostbrutally violent four turns either if us have ever played! We agreed it was a draw – 3 out of 5 buildings blown, but Grant and Mac the only Allied survivors. Probably a bunch of things we could and should have done differently, but we got so swept up in the cinematic feel of the game, we were both running on adrenaline! Action packed and immense fun – props to Dan for also suggesting that it functioned rather well as an “origins story”, setting up the saga of Grant v Polikarpov for many years to come!
Thanks to all who stuck with us through a pretty sizeable post -hope you enjoyed t as much as we did, and if you want to get in on the fun, check us out on Wargames Vault.
…20,000, of course! And that’s how many views I discovered we’d had when I checked our stats a few days ago – pretty amazing stuff for our geeky little blog! So this is a quick fill in post to thank all of you who keep coming pack to discover what we’ve managed to build out of cardboard and junk picked out of the recycling – all of you who like, comment and share, it’s really a wonderful feeling to think we’re connecting with people across the world. Particularly when we’ve learned so much from other posters on YouTube, TMP, Dakka Dakka and Warseer – building on their ideas and spreading the word to others. So a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you out there in cyberspace!