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. 4a – Plasma Reactor (1 of 2)

 

January is Austerity Month here at Skinflint HQ, we’ve blown all our cash on gin, biscuits and Last Jedi tickets – so that means a hobby budget of £0 for the first month of 2018. But does that mean that we have to stop making stuff? Of course not – thriftiness is the mother of invention.

And in that vein, I grabbed the glue gun and ventured into the box of Interestingly Shaped Crap that all we gamers keep hidden away in the depths of a cupboard..

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A defunct lightbulb, a CD for a printer that’s long since gone for recycling, the lid from a box of Q tips, some straws and a few bit of card…

I knew when that bulb went that it was Too Interestingly Shaped to throw away (and as luck would have it, I had another one.. stay tuned) – it put me in mind of the Imperial Plasma Reactors from Dawn Of War, screaming to be turned into something sci-fi-esque… and pawing through my box I discovered the Q-tip box lid which could serve as a base/fuel tank/ reactor core, which set the basic shape in my mind. I used a mix of hot glue, tacky glue and polystyrene cement to attach these together (with mixed results, as you’ll see later on..), and then cut some drinking straws to size to function as power conduits/ coolant pipes. A good tip here – drinking straws have very little surface area for contact and glueing, so filling them with something solid is a good idea. I glued a bit of kebab skewer inside each one, meaning I had a decent contact area with the bulb and the lid. I then added a few bits of cardboard detailing to be a control panel of some kind, and trimmed a sheet of granny grating to create access ladders.

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Primed it grey, left it overnight in the shed while I wondered how the hell to paint it next.
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Roughed out a basic colour scheme… and then things started to go awry!

I wanted something that could serve as both an Imperial piece for 40k or Epic and a suitable clunky retro-sci fi piece that could conceivably be a part of a 1950’s superscience project, so I picked Vallejo Olive Drab for the base and body, a generic Boltgun Metal equivalent over  a black undercoat for the base of the bulb and the tubular part got painted blue in preparation for a cool forcefield trick I saw on a Warhammer TV post.

Unfortunately, I encountered a few problems during this phase – for a start, thinnning down my black paint meant that it refused to adhere to the primer.. and then, the water in the acrylic paints began to reactivate the tacky glue (which is just regular PVA with isopropyl alcohol added for faster drying) – meaning the model literally came apart on me!

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That went well.

So after much swearing, and a few consultations on Facebook, I (sorry Dan) slightly reneged on the “no money” pledge of January and bought some superglue and No More Nails, which seems to have done the trick.

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Inelegant, but stable
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Now we’re getting somewhere… (by the way, rivets are dots of PVA added with a cocktail stick)

After the initial colouring, I washed the olive drab with Army Painter Green Tone, pin washed the detail parts (rivets, ladders etc) with a homebrew wash of green and black paint thinned with water and detergent, then drybrushed up with Vallejo Olive Drab, lightened with cheap tan craft paint for highlighting. I added a few streaks and pin washed Vallejo Smokey Ink, and sponge chipped with grey, black and metallic for a weathered appearance.

Following Duncan Rhodes (hallowed be his name)’s advice, I created the forcefield effect by stippling on purple and light blue patches, before outlining the lightning patterns faintly in grey and going over them with white.

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I camouflaged the No More Nails residue around the base by painting it up as mud, highlighting up from dark brown to light brown – and here it is in situ:

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A fair few flaws in the detail, but not too shabby from two feet away.

Guarded by Squad Beauregard from the Hazzard 1977th:

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And there you go, a cheap and (relatively) simple scratchbuild! And now I know a little more about glues and paint… the next model should go alot more smoothly.

Hmm, famous last words. Never mind – till next time, stay thrifty and happy gaming to you all!

2017 – A Year In Review (and plans for the year ahead..)

January is a bleak month. Christmas decorations are down, work is back and you can’t start the morning drinking Buck’s Fizz without someone frowning at you.

Particularly the passengers that get on my bus.

Anyhoo, time to think about the year just gone and the year ahead.

2017 was not a great year in terms of gaming, in that we didn’t really play that many games – but the ones we did were pretty freaking great, including the biggest ever Apocalypse Earth battle and an Epic rematch. What this year was, though, was the year our blog grew up. Seriously:

2016 – 4095 views, 1897 visitors, 6 likes

2017 – 18,358 views, 10,297 visitors, 36 likes.

Woah. Just woah. That’s quite some improvement.

And it would seem that y’all out there have a lot of love for the dastardly Holy Soviet Empire – these three posts got over 1000 views each!

While 2017 may not have been too great in terms of games and battle reports, it was pretty great for us both in terms of painting and modelling, starting with the discovery of Wyloch, then Mel The Terrain Tutor and Lukes Affordable Paint Service. Honourable mention to Duncan Rhodes from Warhammer TV for teaching us the wisdom of two thin coats rather than one thick one!

So this led to a revamped board, a complete revamp of all our scenery, a repaint job on both Apocalypse: Earth factions, a cheapskate take on the 40k Imperial GuardOrk and Space Marine factions – we’ve been busy!

Incidentally, our blast markers seem to have caused quite a stir – I would put a tutorial together, but the entire idea was something I copped from Mel, check out his original video here.

So for 2018, what’s the plan? Well, life has a way of fething up your plans as soon as you make them, so we’re not going to get too carried away… but, some resolutions all the same:

Da Skooderia WILL hit the table. 40k in 1/72 is ON, yo.

We’re going to explore the other Apocalypse: Earth factions – it’s all been about the Atlantic Alliance and the Holy Soviet Empire so far, but there’s also the League Of European Nations and the Asian Communist Federation to check out.

Escalation is surely due in Epic scale as well, I keep seeing Dan looking at yogurt pots and  pictures of scratchbuilt Gargants…

We’ll also be revisiting Hyperian Wars and there’s a couple of other projects in the offing: Future Force Warrior takes Apocalypse: Earth 200 years into the future as humanity takes it first steps into the stars, and Apocalypse: Earth – Black Ops explores more detailed small scale encounters in the secret wars against the Greys, bringing an RPG element to the fractured world of the Apocalypse War. The rules will cover small scale skirmishes and role playing campaigns where your fireteam members will be able to develop, gaining new skills and equipment as they face ever darker and more sinister threats…

So, that’s what’s in the pipeline for the year ahead. However, it’s January – and that means we’re both skint. So a pact has been made – no spending money on hobby stuff for a month, we’re going to improvise and use what we’ve got… necessity being the mother of invention and all that… So let us leave you with a shot of what’s on the modelling table right now – two ancient battered Matchbox cars getting the Orky makover, because Da Skooderia are coming to town in 2018!

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How can he drive while holding an axe and a club? Because he’s Kimi-freaking-Raikkonork, that’s why!

Stay tuned, stay thrifty,  and let’s see what we can put together without cracking open the credit card….

 

Apocalypse: Earth Battle Report :The Battle Of Kubica Pass (Pt. 1: Deployment & Strategy)

Buffalo 2-7 patrolled into the deep dark wood.

They deployed into cover and the cover was good.

Up on point was stealth sniper team Ghost 7.

They counted Soviet tanks, all the way up to 11.

But then something mighty shook the ground below –

Oh Help! Oh No! It’s Stompy Uncle Joe!

Stompy Uncle Joe? Who’s Stompy Uncle Joe?

Stompy Uncle Joe? Why, didn’t you know?

He’s fifty feet tall, with a terrible roar

And a terrible flamethrower on his terrible claw

He can fire lightning into the air – his antiaircraft machine guns have our Rocketeers scared!

Where his he headed? He’s on our left flank – 

AND HIS FAVOURITE FOOD IS CENTURION TANK!!!!!

(thank you Julia Donaldson)

It’s time.

New board. New terrain. New and improved armies. After a summer of repainting and terrain building, Dan and I are champing at the bit to get this game underway and try out all our new toys, and this is going to be a BIG post. So big, in fact, we’ve decided to split it into two parts. This week, we’ll cover the army lists, deployment and strategies, and once the dust has settled and the empties cleared away, we’ll take a look at how the battle unfolded.

We decided to flip the narrative for once – the Atlantic Alliance would be the attacking party, striking deep into formerly Polish territory to try and secure the strategically vital village of Kubica Pass (yes, named for the racing driver.. we’re both rooting for you and hope to see you back on the F1 grid in 2018!) while the Holy Soviet Army would be trying to hold them back and protect this newly acquired slice of Motherland.

There were six objectives on the board, each worth 30VPs each – the central gulley and various hills and buildings around the battlefield. We reckoned each force chimed in at roughly 3000 points, so it should give us a good balance of manoeuvre and flat out slaughter!

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The board (Soviets nearest the bottom) – objective 1 just out of shot extreme left Soviet flank, objective 2 the rocky hill next to it, objective 3 the central gulley, objective 4 the ruined department store to it’s right, objective 5 the hill near the Allies, objective 6 the ruined church

Army Lists:

Holy Soviet Army – Task Force Polikarpov, 63rd Guards Tank Division

Command  –

Platoon Headquarters : Lt, Commissar, RTO, Standard Bearer, 3 x Riflemen

Line

Rifle Squad (No. 1)

Rifle Squad (No. 2)

Rifle Squad (No. 3) – Flamethrower replaces Light Machine Gun

Heavy Weapon Squad (No. 4) – reinforced with Lightning Launcher

Support

Strong Men (Sil’nyye muzhchiny) Close Assault Squad

Lightning Storm (Ataka grozy) Attack Squad

Artillery Observation Team

Special –

Noble Sniper (Blagorodnyy Snayper)

Holy Mystic (Svyataya Misticheskaya) & Entourage

Vehicles

T-48 Platoon (4 x T-48 including 1 command tank)

SU-152 Assault Gun

IS-6 Rampager

“Inferna” variant T-48

“Elektra” variant T-48

Kolossus Super Heavy Mech

Shock Drone section (2x Shock Drones)

 

Atlantic Alliance – Buffalo 2-7, VII Corps

Command  –

Platoon Headquarters : Lt, Platoon Sergeant, RTO, Medic

Line (each squad split into 2-man fireteams)

Rifle Squad (Alfa)

Rifle Squad (Bravo) + M85 support bot w/ assault saw, flamethrower

Missile Squad (Charlie) + M85 support ‘bot w/ Stinger/TOW launcher

Light Machinegun Squad (Delta) + M85 support ‘bot w/ LMG & HMG

Support

Dreadnaught power armoured infantry

Rocketeer squad (Warhawk 4-9)

Stealth squad (Ghost 7)

 

Vehicles

M60A3 Platoon (3 x M60A3 including 1 command tank)

M42 Stealth Tank

Humvee – Minigun

Humvee – Railgun, targeter

Humvee – Stinger/TOW launcher

M113 – HMG, 2x LMG

M113 – Light Autocannon, 2x LMG

M113 – Automatic Grenade Launcher, 2 x LMG

Avrocar squadron – 2 x Avrocar Silverbugs w/ 2x Stinger/TOW launchers, targeter and Avenger cannon

Pregame – 

Soviets:

Trying to read the terrain to best advantage, I stuck the SU-152 on the far left with the Artillery Observation team, with the intent of capturing and securing Objective 1, which looked safe enough and would also function well as a firebase with cover and plenty of views over the battlefield. Over on the right, I anchored the superheavies – the IS-6 Rampager and Stompy Uncle Joe, the Colossus, as they could command the open ground and the layout of the village streets gave the Rampager crew a nice field of fire for their twin 140mm cannons…

Objective 2 looked within reach and would provide a nice firebase, so I earmarked No. 4 (Support) squad to take that, and they would be led over the top by the T-48 platoon as I suspected we  might see some allied vehicle activity in that area of the table. Once it was secure, No. 4 squad could sit on 30 VPs of territory, sweep the board with heavy machinegun fire and lightning blasts, as well as dropping mortars wherever we felt like.

Objective 5 looked safely in the Allied zone so I decided to focus on 3 and 4 – this would be the main body of the infantry assault who would use the buildings for cover and get close enough to flush out any deployed Allied infantry with Molotov cocktails and vodka fuelled violence! I deployed the Siberians, Elektra and Inferna to support the HQ and squads 1, 2 & 3 in the centre. This would be my hammer blow, and the Shock Drones went with them to soften up anything foolish enough to get in their way.

By this point I was running out of space in my deployment zone! Vasily the sniper took up position in the ruined tenement block and the Lightnng Storm squad took Uncle Joe’s back as these slow moving but rugged troops would cause carnage when they got in range.. finally, the Holy Mystic and his bodyguard found themselves a nice little ruined shop to take refuge in and plot their evil deeds…

The stage was set. Za Rodina!

Atlantic Alliance:

I found myself with a bit of a mental block trying to form a plan, so I decided to deploy my most powerful assets first and build around them. First up was the flight of Avrocar Silverbug gunships – these chaps packed a pair of Stinger/TOW launchers each as well as a potent rapid fire Avenger cannon (essentially an A-10 in B-movie sci-fi clothing). I stuck them out on the far left where I could see the opportunity to pull off a flanking manouevre and quickly secure Objective 6.

The Stealth Tank simply HAD to go in the woods where he would best be able to utilise his ability to transform into a tree, so that solved that conundrum, and I decided that since that looked like a good area of tank country, most of my anti-tank units would go there – Charlie Squad, two of the Humvees and the Dreadnaughts all took position.

The Rocketeers would be a mobile fire brigade, so I kept them fairly central with the intent of having them close up and slaughter vulnerable Soviet infantry, and hopefully the Mystic, and the main grunt of the armour went where I figured the Soviet armour wouldn’t be – the Holy Soviet Empire has little conventional antitank capability, preferring to drown the enemy in T-48s and if that fails get their Mystic to start chucking tanks around like tennis balls. This meand that if you catch them out, they have no answer to the powerful Allied main battle tank. So, 3 M60A3s and 3 M113s formed the central punch, supported by Alfa, Bravo and Delta squads, as well as platoon HQ in order to ensure unit coherency. We would punch through the gulley and secure Objective 3, maybe 4 too. Ghost 7 deployed forward onto Objective 5, the craggy hilltop giving a fine view of the battlefield.

That was the plan. Now to see if the enemy would co operate…

 

 

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Soviet right flank – superheavies take position amongst the ruins
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Left to right in the Soviet centre – Siberians (behind the building), Elektra, Inferna, rifle squads, BTR -152 APC
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T-48 platoon and No. 4 Squad ready to take Objective 2
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SU-152 surveys the scene – it’s first deployment, the crew rueing the fate of all newly painted models…
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The Red Horde!
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Allied right flank – M42 Stealth Tank, Dreadnaught Squad, anti-tank missile and railgun equipped Humvees, Rocketeers and M85 combat support ‘bot
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Air Cav! Rocketeers at the ready
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The Allied centre, deployed in the woods behind Objective 3 – M60A3 Centurions, M113s, grunts and ‘bots
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Charlie squad survey the target rich environment
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Allied left flank – Avrocar Silverbug gunships anchor the far left, then Alfa and Bravo squads with associated support ‘bot
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Silverbug gunship flight.. How will these lads fare in their first battle?
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Noble Sniper Vasily takes position on the tenement block
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His opposite number, Ghost 7, deploy forward onto Objective 5
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Siberian Strong Men lick their lips at the scent of so much decadent capitalist blood to spill.. but will they make it to the fight this time?

Next time out – battle is joined! How will all our new toys acquit themselves? Stay tuned, stay thrifty, see you soon 😉

Terrain Talk Pt. 3 – The Board

Let me start by linking the videos that were largely the blueprints for this project (both by Mel The Terrain Tutor):

In Depth Guide To Realistic Flocking (47 minutes, but it’s a better way of spending 47 minutes than watching the Kardashians…)

Texturing Gaming Boards With Filler (20 minutes)

So, as the new generation terrain began to develop, we decided that the board was starting to look a little tired and tatty… Time for a change.

Our board is a pair of 12mm thick 3’x 4′ chipboard shelves bought from B & Q a couple of years ago – unfortunately, logistical challenges (to be specific, my car) meant we couldn’t keep a 6’x4′ slab together, but they fit together quite nicely and provide a good solid base for gaming on.

Step 1 – Texture

We first tried painting texture paste over the original coating of artificial grass and grit, but it soon became clear that wasn’t going to work, so we simply flipped the board and started again. Using the texture paste idea from the Terrain Tutor video , we knocked up a paste from filler powder, play sand, PVA glue and water. The ratios will vary depending on how you want to texture it, so experiment! You’ll need about 2 litres to cover the board, and you’ll want to leave about 24 hours to dry. Be sure to stipple rather than brush as you don’t want unnatural looking straight lines.

Step 2 – Painting

With the paste dried nicely, next step was spray painting a black basecoat. A word of warning here, you’re going to need a LOT of spray paint. Seriously, we went through five of the £1 cans from our nearest pound shop. This project EATS supplies.

Next up was a drybrush, following the pallette of earth tones I copied from 3T Studios.

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Starting to take shape…

 

Some close ups of the textures this method accomplishes.

I also wanted to replicate some of the cool exposed rock effects that you see on GW Realm Of Battle boards, so I used a dab of filler and traced cracks into it with a very fine bit of wire.

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Rocky surfaces in white

With the earth tones applied, I painted the rocks in the same way I painted the rocky parts on the hills we did recently.

Step 3 – Flocking

The Terrain Tutor’s video is a must see for this step. Basically, he’s using a three tone approach which I nicked, shamelessly. A good time saver here is to use a small sieve to evenly distribute the flock all over the board creating areas of dark and lighter grass, in some places allowing the original texture paste to show through and blending in some fine dust gathered from my garage floor!

I took Mel’s tip about using a window cleaning sprayer with diluted PVA to blend and seal the flock, and then a couple of coats of matt varnish to seal the whole thing.

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Seen drying here, but you get an idea…

Close ups of the details

 

In situ with the new look Buffalo 2-7 deploying across it!

Now just waiting for Dan to finish mucking around with his Holy Soviets and we’re going to christen this bad boy with a truly APOCALYPTIC battle! Stay tuned 😉