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!
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?)
So first out of the blocks, an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while – the infamous Kugelpanzer, or ball tank. These things seem to be staple of retro sci-fi, without really having a defined role, so I figured they could work as an armoured recon troop- with a bit of a twist! These things would be packing laser cannons- three each. These will be capable of rapid fire against infantry and light vehicles, but by combining their fire together they will be able to fire a single high intensity laser blast capable of obliterating even a Soviet Colossus or IS-6 Rampager!
It’s actually a bit of a challenge “feeling out” the character of this army – sandwiched between the lumbering juggernaut of the Holy Soviet Army and the elite, hi tech but short on numbers feel of the Atlantic Alliance, it’s a bit of a challenge to find where the European League should sit. So we’ve gone for a slightly ragtag, heterogenous feel – bizarre clunky specialised units that are very good at one thing, but suck at everything else. Kind of like a 1950’s Eldar to the AA’s Space Marines or HSE Guard, if you’ll allow the metaphor.
Anyway, enough waffle – on to the build!
We begin with (drumroll please)…. ping pong balls! A bag of 20 off eBay for a couple of quid. I googled “ping pong ball diameter” – seriously – and discovered that international regulations – seriously – specify 40mm. Thus reassured, I cut out 40mm x 15mm strips of thin card which I aligned as centrally as possible. These would serve as mounts for the tracks, which I cut as 5mm wide strips from IDE cables (a trick learned from master scratchbuilder Zrunelord)
After that, all that remained were the guns! 3 laser cannons per tank, one per side and a centrally mounted top one. I made these by chopping up a 1cm length of cocktail straw and then supergluing a 5mm length of drinking straw to each end, like so:
A coat of white primer and a base coat of Crafter’s Choice Fawn later, I added lines of brown and Vallejo Russian Green (irony!) to create the WW2 “Dunkelgelb” style camouflage pattern. The whole thing then gt a thinned wash of brown ink, an unthinned in wash of Vallejo Smokey Ink in the crevices, before a final drybrush with bine craft paint to catch the rivets. I applied sponge weathering using both black and gun metal, and then knocked up a texture paste from sand, PVA and dark brown paint – this got smeared around the tracks before being drybrushed with a lighter brown and blended around the tracks (in truth I think I got a bit carried away here, but oh well – northern Europe can get pretty muddy..)
Anyhow – pics!
Looking forward to getting these on the table soon – can they beat the fate of all painted models, or will they cover themselves with glory taking down Stompy Uncle Joe? Stay tuned, stay thrifty, 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.
Honestly, if I hear the words “edge highlighting” coming from Dan one more time…. 😉 While my comrade in arms readies the remainder of his Deathwatch Space Marines for our showdown climax game, I’ve been looking at getting my ladz something a bit heavier – now, the original 2nd Ed boxed game (and our inadvertant eBay purchase) included this little fella:
But it wouldn’t be right to rock up to our final battle with a bit of cardboard with a picture on it, so I did a bit of digging and found the genius Eli Patoroch’s Facebook group, and amongst the many amazing papercraft template kits, sure enough there was an Ork dreadnought – printed out onto card stock and off I went!
I finished the lenses yellow, green ink wash, and gem highlighting technique building up to pure white. The “tusks” were undercoated white, then layered with tan, building up to bone, and a light brown ink wash. Basing was the same as the rest of the force – home made texture paste painted brown and drybrushed up, a smattering of flock added and then a spray of matt varnish… and done! All for a grand total cost of somewhere around £1- not too shabby!
Of course, if you want to do things properly, you want a real GW model – they ain’t cheap, but they are lovely. However, if you can’t afford £31 for something that has no practical application (despite being, as I mentioned, extremely pretty) – this isn’t a bad way to go. And there’s always a nice feeling about creating something from nothing, isn’t there?
Stay tuned, stay thrifty, we’ll see you again soon!
See, this was the first ever 40K box set (I know, right?) and GW were trying to have their base of starter players completely covered – rules, miniatures, army lists, counters and terrain – in this instance, cardstock push-fit walls to create LOS blocking ruins. We checked the campaign maps, and there were a LOT of these little buggers. 20, as far as we could tell. So if we were going to come up with our own DIY versions, they would have to be cheap, quick and easy.
The Skinflint Way.
We also decided, that since we’ve been dipping a toe into Deadzone waters, they should (at least for the most part) be compatible with 3″ squares. Fortunately, we’ve watched a LOT of Terrain Tutor videos – and we were up to the challenge!
We began with the base – lolly (popsicle to our friends across the pond) sticks. We measured these as 10mm wide, so here’s where it starts to get ingenious – we cut one piece 3″ long, mark it L for long. Cut the next piece 3″ less 10mm wide – mark it with an S for short.
Position in an L shape as follows:
Next up – foamboard. This is bog standard 5mm stuff, which we picked up off eBay in A4 sheets.
We drew 2 rectangles – one 3″ x 2″ to be marked L, one 3″-10mm x 2″ to be marked S. Next, draw a wobbly diagonal line across each square – this represents the outline of the wall. Like this:
Cut this out with an Xacto hobby knife – I used a steel ruler for the straight edges and cut the wobbly ones freehand. You’re making ruins, so no need to be too precise.
You’ve now got a long wall (L) a short wall (S). Glue the short wall over the long base and the long wall over the short base, then glue the walls together like this:
The long wall overlaps onto the long base and glues onto the short wall, creating a tough and sturdy L shape corner ruin. Don’t worry about the join – a) life’s too short, and b) we’re going to put more stuff on it.
The next step is optional, but it’s pretty quick and does help the look – bevel the edges with your knife (Health & Safety disclaimer – Knives are SHARP. Handle them carefully).
Next, we covered the ruins in texture paste – this is fantastic stuff, a home made brew of PVA, sand, powdered Polyfilla with some black craft acrylic mixed in and watered to taste. Leave this to dry – 24 hours if possible. You want it to be solid. Make sure you daub liberally over any exposed foam too, as the next step is spraying black primer which will melt any foam left uncovered.
Although I forgot to take pictures, this is also the stage at which I got some acrylic filler (aka decorator’s caulk) and pushed some cat litter into it to create rubble effects.
Next up, painting – colour scheme filched entirely from Lukes APS and has served us well so far. First, duck egg blue drybrush:
Next up, drybrushed on some red splodges from cheap acrylic craft paint – yeah, I know, red???? But this is the Squire Of The North, and he’s not steered us wrong yet!
Overbrush with City Break mid grey:
Drybrush with Cloud Burst light grey:
Next up a couple of washes – thinned mix of Vallejo Black and Smokey inks, applied with a wet brush – water keeps everything moving and evenly blended. A home made dark green wash finished things off nicely, and the various layers of greys and other things give a real depth of colour.
You can switch things up a bit from this basic design too – For these last two, I added an extra floor and a couple of bits of guitar string to represent rebar rods and cabling:
Really pleased with how these came out, and although there’s scope for adding flock and dust effects I think for now these are good to go! Some last pics of them in situ, both Deadzone and 40k:
As always, stay thrifty out there, and as this is almost certainly our last post before Christmas, here’s wishing you all a very merry one!
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!
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.
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 🙂
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
And I think you can start to see where this is going.
Thing is, over the years GW have published a great many games set in the 40k universe – Space Hulk, Space Crusade, Advanced Space Crusade as well as the current generation (Betrayal at Calth, Burning Of Prospero, Deathwatch Overkill) – all cracking good fun, easy and quick to set up and crucially, with a very low model count. 20 Marines and a big crowd of Grots to play the bad guys is plenty for these types of games (not to mention the nostalgia factor of those 2nd ed sculpts.. opening that box was Christmas ’93 all over again!), and as we discovered with the Calth box set, many players by them for the minis and disregard everything else. As for the older games, rules, tokens etc can all be found online and downloaded for free (often there are fan remakes to be found too – check out this one).
As a side note, I’m also hoping to track down a copy of Alternative Armies’ Firefight rules from 1991 – that was a brilliant game, fast paced and utterly addictive!
All these games are board or tile based, so easy and quick set up, perfect for a quick hobby fix!
So, onto painting them – I figured the Marines should be Deathwatch, as that seems to fit with the fluff of small scale alien (or heretic) -hunting skirmishes in narrow streets, cramped arcologies or abandoned spacecraft, so I stripped them using meths, primed with black spray paint, popped a beer and watched Duncan’s excellent Deathwatch painting tutorial video, and had at it!
I did deviate slightly from the Duncan’s template – black acrylic basecoat (cheap £1 store black), light drybrush with Vallejo German Grey, then took a deep breath and tried some edge highlighting, having mixed the grey with some bone and a little blue, and was pleasantly surprised with the results! I’ve seen edge highlighting look pretty cack handed and splodgy (particularly when I’ve done it), but I think the trick to it is ensuring your paint is thin and you create a smooth colour graduation. Clearly all that time painting weeny 1/72 figures has helped get my eye in as these chaps came out better than anything I painted back in the 90s! Metallics were Vallejo silver, washed with thin black ink, skulls were bone washed with thinned brown ink and the red was a cheap £1 acrylic that I layered up with some yellow to create highlights. Flesh was craft paint skin tone washed first with Vallejo skin wash and then thinned brown wash.
For basing, I was briefly tempted to go full retro – PVA, sand, Goblin Green, remember that? – but instead took things a little further. I put a bit of home made texture paste (sand, PVA, filler powder, water) on the base before the priming stage and after I’d painted the model, painted this dark brown and drybrushed up with a couple of layers of lighter browns. Then dabbed on a bit of PVA and drizzled on some flock, than another dab and drizzled on some Garage Floor Dust (TM) which is one of the best basing materials I’ve ever discovered, despite it’s humble origins!
Finally I edged the base in black as I wanted a cinematic look (and brown just looked weird) and done! So the first group are complete, and (deep breath) – here are the pics!