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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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!

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

CheapHammer 40k Battle Report – First Blood!

The time has finally arrived! After an eBay accident, a few tricky builds and the final completion of a project which has been kicked around since 2015, Dan and I were finally ready to try our first proper foray into CheapHammer 40k!

For those of you uncertain as to what this is all about, basically it boils down to two Midlands drunks wondering if you can truly replicate the visual spectacle of those awesome battle reports we used to see in White Dwarf without incurring the mind blowing expense of GW’s (and others) 28mm figures – everything you see here is super cheap and cheerful 1/72 scale, both armies came in at less than £15 and all terrain is scratchbuilt from household junk.

For this battle, Dan was adamant that he wanted to roll with the Guard, as he felt the building and painting process which had at times threatened his sanity meant he was due some serious tabletop karma, and I was more than happy to roll out the little red and green dudes.

Our scenario revolved around capturing a pair of plasma reactors located in the centre of the table, with a ruined village and woods on the eastern side and more open hilly country on the western side. I won the roll off and took the southern board edge, planning to use the cover of the ruins to shield the Boyz’ advance.

Under 2nd Ed rules, the player with the lowest Strategy Rating had to deploy first, and with the Guard’s rating being 2 to my 3, that meant Dan had to set up first along the northern edge.

He placed his Heavy Weapons teams (Squad Cletus) on the central hill with the Leman Russ, Chimera on the western side with the Command squad inside ready to leap out and secure the objective and secure it with serious short range firepower and his best close combat troops. Meantime the Russ would punch forward into the main body of the Orks and the Chimera provide supporting fire, while the two infantry squads advanced through the forest, each providing covering fire for the other.

I went for a straightforward Orkish approach – hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle! I loaded up Big Red with my elite assault units – the Warboss, the Bigboss and the Nobz – and placed it where it should have a covered approach to the objective. Warbuggies Red 5 and Red 7 would attempt a flanking manoeuvre on the west side of the table, charge round and catch humie from behind. Meanwhile, da Boyz and the Dread would move up in short order behind the Nobz and Warboss, keeping humie’s head down. Doc Nikki Louda and Mek Mikael Schumorker would provide fire support with lascannon and Kustom Blasta.

The armies line up, Orks at the bottom (southern) table edge, Guard at the top (north)
Da Boyz deply in the ruins, all sneaky like, while the Dread leads the Skarboyz towards the objective
Doc Nikki Louda takes aim with lascannon as Big Red guns it’s engines
Kimi Rorkonnen leads the warbuggy flank manouevre
The Guard deploy – the Leman Russ (The General) anchors the centre with heavy weapons teams in support, while the Chimera prepares a dash forward with the Command squad
Guard infantry prepare to advance through the woods
The General surveys the battlefield..

Much to everyone’s surprise, the Guard got first turn and rolled forward!

The General leads the advance, with Squad Beauregard running close behind using the terrain for cover
Command squad deploy from the Chimera – note the psyker in the purple cloak
First blood to the Guard – a Krak missile from Squad Cletus destroys Big Red, taking out all passengers… that’s Warboss, Bigboss and Nobz Mob!!!!
..and moments later, the General’s battlecannon smashed the Dread apart!
Noticing the lascannon wielded by the Doc, the Adeptus psyker  casts Hellfire, missing his target but bathing a nearby bush in the cleansing fire of the Emperor’s wrath.
With Da Boss and Nobz fried to a crisp, Big Mek Mikael Schumorker leads his remaining ladz towards the enemy, Skarboyz to the fore!
Meanwhile, in accordance with Da Plan, Seb & Kimi begin their flanking manouevre, buggies racing through the gulleys. Blazing autocannons from Red 5 take down Squad Cletus’ lascanoon operator.
The General barrels forward into Ork lines, battle cannon, heavy bolters and lascannon wipe out five of the six Skarboyz, causing the last survivor to flee!
With Seb in Red 5 immobilised by another krak missile, it’s up to Kimi Rorkonnen and Felipe Masha to save the day! Kimi drifts the buggy while Felipe ignites the multi melta and a healthy chunk of Guard HQ is turned into steam…
The tide may be very much against the Orks by this point, but the Doc isn’t going to let the boyz go down without a fight – taking cover in a ruined building, an expert lascannon shot immobilises the Chimera
The Guard infantry element secure the plasma reactors
The surviving members of the Guard HQ squad – Lieutenant and Commissar assault Red 5. Power sword and chainsword flash as they avenge their fallen comrades!
The General’s firepower guts the Boyz mobs, with the survivors forced to flee
The righteous fury of the Commissar and Lieutenant eviscerates Kimi and Felipe and brings Red 5 to a shuddering halt
Final charge of Da Skooderia – a shot from the Doc’s lascannon goes wide and it’s up to Da (remaining) Boyz to try and take down the General in close combat

After four turns, the Guard were firmly in control of the plasma reactors, and had suffered the loss of a lascannon gunner, most of the HQ and an immobilised Chimera. I, on the other had, was down to Doc Nicky Louda and half a boyz mob – a pretty comprehensive defeat!

Conclusions:

So most of our battle reports have ended with me pulling a narrow or Pyrrhic victory against Dan, but in this one he handed my arse to me fair and square! That said, I could point to the lucky shots that roasted ALL my elite troops and then destroyed my Dread.. but there again, a certain parable about eggs and baskets comes to mind. Maybe next time they start off on foot before boarding the transport..

Other than that, my plan can’t have been that bad as Dan had more or less the same one! Da Boyz did their best in very difficult circumstances and the Charge Of The Warbuggies went more or less as well as could be expected, Kimi and Seb getting a lick each in.

Hats off to Dan’s Guard though, that was a fair and square victory, the Leman Russ was an unstoppable linebreaker, heavy weapons teams took their toll and the infantry brought in to hold the line after the heavies had done their work. An army well researched and understood, and a battle fairly won.

Still not sold on IGOUGO, and there’s some things I’d change about the close assault mechanic, but a fun game nevertheless. AND a few things learned for “Future Force Warrior”, our sci fi sister game for “Apocalypse: Earth” – more on that to come!

So stay tuned, stay thrifty, see you soon!

Cheaphammer 40k: Da Skooderia Pt. 4 – Scratchbuilt Killa Kan!

So it’s been half term this week in Ye Olde England, and that’s a chance to put the feet up, raid the junk bin and MAKE STUFF.

After a mere three year gestation period, Da Skooderia Ferrorki are finally starting to approach the tabletop – DIY battlewagon and warbuggies in the last instalment, and before we tackle the fiddly infantry conversions (using Caesar 1/72 fantasy orcs as our base models) it’s time to bring some firepower to the table in the form of an Orky Dreadnought!

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We begin with three bottle caps glued together to create the body. Next stop was puncturing these caps to allow insert point for the arms and legs (kebab skewers) – this was done with a screw driver and a pocket knife, although in retrospect a pin vise would be a better bet. (Health & Safety warning – if you’re doing this, be careful I managed to slash my index finger open. Not recommended, I like my index finger unslashed. )

For the hip joints, I used little pieces of scrap foamboard – as you’ll see later, this created a few problems.. if I was doing it again, I’d use greenstuff – and buried the legs and hips in it, cementing with tacky PVA based glue. You don’t want superglue or anything solvent based for foamboard, as it melts the foam. Feet were octagons cut from foamboard, and the knee joints were done by cracking the legs and soaking the cracked joint in superglue.[Thumb - 20180213_100457.jpg]

Shown here with Warboss Enzo Ferrorki for scale – base is cardstock, drew around the bottom of a wine glass and cut out

Next up, weapons! This Dread is packing a heavy bolter and a heavy flamer, along with a couple of Power Klaws – I figured it made most sense to mount the ranged weapons on the shoulders and leave the lower arms free for close combat. Obviously you shouldn’t apply too much sense and logic though – it is an Ork vehicle, after all.[Thumb - 20180213_111209.jpg]

Coming together now!

Arms are cocktail sticks using the snap & superglue technique, then little offcuts of guitar string (low E, if you’re interested) bent into a V shape and embedded in greenstuff for the wrists. I used greenstuff to attach and reinforce the joints onto the shoulders.

I chopped up cocktail sticks and a little bit of drinking straw to created the weapons, superglueing the parts together before attaching them to the shoulders using greenstuff – by this point I was feeling pretty good about the project![Thumb - 20180213_195646.jpg]

Detailing and rivets – SO MANY RIVETS – added

With the basic elements done, time for detailng! I used Google Images to get some inspiration here using a defunct watch batter for the top hatch scrap card for the teef and other bitz, card and foamboard for the engine block at the back, straw and cocktail sticks for the exhaust stacks, and because this is 40k and these are Orks – RIVETS!!! MANY MANY RIVETS!!!!

Actually, this is where being super cheapy 1/72 scale pays off, as instead of arsing around with holepunching and glueing fiddly bits of card until you’re driven to the bottle in frustration, I just use the tip of a cocktail stick to dab on little dollops of PVA. This dries nicely into a dome (ish) shape which pin washing and drybrushing picks up nicely.

Next up was priming – I used cheap white car spray paint as I wanted the red nice and vivid, and in any case I didn’t have any black – and this was where things went a bit awry. Although I covered the exposed areas of foam with PVA and paint, I clearly didn’t do it thoroughly enough as something in the spray paint reacted with the foam, causing a slight change in the gait – in short, it looks pissed as a rat.

Paint scheme is exactly the same as I used on the buggies and battlewagon, so I won’t go into that here.

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Whatchoo lookin’ at? Hic!

I went heavy with the weathering again, based with a mix of Garage Floor Dust (patent pending) and flock, finishing with a coat of matt varnish, and good to go!

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Skooderia Dreadnought
Charging the puny humies of the Hazzard 1977th Imperial Guard..

It’s a shame about the wonky gait, but the more I look at it, the more I quite like it – I imagine this guy lurching across the battlefield, piloted by a Grot drunk on both power and fungus wine! He’s certainly a big fella, probably close to his 28mm counterpart, and should provide both a visual centrepiece and some hefty punch when Da Skooderia FINALLY hit the tabletop…

Overall a fun build, and actually not too tricky. I’d like to give a shout out to Wyloch of Wyloch’s Crafting Videos whose superb series on DIY miniatures inspired this build – thanks man, we’re waiting to see what you come up with next!

Stay thrifty out there, we’ll be back next time with some teeny weeny greeny meanies as the Boyz get their turn in the spotlight.

Cheaphammer40k: Da Skooderia Pt.3 – Wheelz! Scratchbuilt Warbuggies and Battlewagon

Finally, January is behind us and we’ve made it through our month of austerity with a couple of sweet little builds under our belts it’s time to get back to a pet project that’s been languishing under the heading of “wouldn’t it be cool to do X” for quite an embarrassingly long amount of time…

Da Skooderia Ferrorki! I’ll skip the back story (link here and here), suffice it to say this is an Evil Sunz warband who picked up some Warp echoes of ancient Terran racing and liked what they saw – especially the red cars!

FerrariF1
And who could blame them – they certainly weren’t impressed by the McLaren-Honda…

And thus was the concept for the Skooderia born. Back in 2015.

Yes, I know – I’m going with the excuse that I was waiting for my painting and modelling skills to mature sufficiently..

Anyway, with the help of Caesar’s line of Fantasy Orcs and the redoubtable Sgt.’s Mess line of Cold War Small arms, we’ve knocked together a decent amount of AK-47 and FN-FAL wielding infantry, but this post is about the vehicles – two warbuggies and a battlewagon.

Big Red, Red 5, and Red 7

The battlewagon began life as an ancient Airfix self-propelled gun picked up off eBay so long ago I can’t even remember when, decorated with cardboard squares for the extra bush armour, cardboard and cocktail sticks for the front wing and corrugated card for the tail wing (I suppose technically I should update it since I built it in 2016 and the F1 regulations have changed since then, but y’know…)

The two warbuggies started life as VERY ancient die cast Matchbox hot rods – I fished them out of a box at a car boot sale a couple of years ago there was something about them that just screamed “Orky”.

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Red 7 – driven by Kimi Rorkonnen, with Felipe Masha on the multi melta!

This one started life as a Morgan roadster – I added lashings of cardboard for armour, built the multimelta and mount from kebab skewers, with a bit of greenstuff rolled and dotted with hole from a cocktail stick to make the melta barrels. Kimi and Felipe are Caesar fantasy orks, cut down to fit in the cocktail and superglued – and because I’m an idiot, I glued them in place first… won’t be doing that again!

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Red 5 (centre) driven by Sebastian Metal – if someone can come up with a better Orky take on that name, let me know!

Red 5 started life as a dragster, and the exposed V8 and Mad Max styling meant that this HAD to be a Ork vehicle! He’s mounting twin autocannons (cocktail sticks topped with drinking straw muzzle brakes) and a couple of cardboard fins.

I should mention the rivets at this point – all seven gajillion of the bastards. These were little blobs of PVA dabbed on with the point of a cocktail stick and left to dry – actually not too time-consuming and they look quite good, scaling nicely and easy to pick out with wash & drybrush techniques.

Speaking of which – painting. I undercoated with cheap white spray paint then a cheap craft red (bearing in mind the wisdom of Duncan Rhodes two thin cats being better than one thick one), and then washed with Vallejo Skin Wash, taking away the crimson edge and making it a bit more orange.

Next up wash a pin wash with Vallejo Brown Ink, wet blended with Smokey Ink for the darker bits. Dab this on all the rivets too, don’t worry, the next stage will add the highlights.

For said next stage, I took the original red, mixed it with orange and drybrushed over the whole thing. I did two or three layers, each time lightening with yellow (NOT white, you’ll end up with pink – and we’re doing Ferrari, not Force India!) up to almost pure yellow with a very light drybrush.

I did the canopy on Red 5 wet blending turquoise up with pure white, and the metallics started from a black base, dryrbushed first with gunmetal and then very light silver highlight.

Kimi and Felipe were a bit of a problem – I went with a light green thin coat for the skin, washed with Army Painter Green Tone. Two washes got me a nice rich green, and then a very careful drybrush of light green mixed with yellow brought the highlights out. With models this small, I like to use washes where possible as it’s way easier to wash down a light colour than highlight up a dark one.

Bone colours were tan, brown ink wash, drybrushed with cream and then white for the final hoghlights.

THEN weathering – sponge chipping black and metal on the exposed surfaces before drybrushing the mud on, three stages of brown.

Phew! Thanks for bearing with me through this wall of text – hope it’s helpful to some out there. Now to close with some pretty pictures:

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Big Red awaits Ork crew..
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Kimi, Seb & Felipe charge into battle!

So the goal is concept to tabletop in under three years – will we make it? Next up, building a Killa Kan out of cocktail sticks, cardboard and plastic bottletops.. tune in next time to see how we get on!

Terrain Talk Pt.4b – Plasma Reactor No. 2 (2 of 2)

It’s STILL January. And we’re STILL skint.

However, I have bent the rules of our “spend no money” austerity pledge a little and bought (gasp) some MORE superglue. Which has enabled me to rebuild the second plasma reactor and actually have the thing stay together:

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Defunct High Efficiency lightbulb, superglued into upturned bottle top onto empty Q-tip box. Detailed with drinking straw and sprue for pipework, granny grating for access ladders, bts of defunct IDE cable and leftovers from putting up a bathroom tidy – seriously, it’s amazing how much stuff you can find to use as modelling bitz!
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Note the 13 amp fuse that expired and became reborn anew!
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As before, primed grey, because… that’s all I had in the shed..
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Some sort of plug thing made it’s way on there I also added another ladder and an access hatch from card (after all, why have a ladder if it’s not going anywhere? I figured this could be maintenance.. or something..)
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Slapped on some basic colours – olive drab and blue for the plasma conduits.
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Thinned down Vallejo Olive Drab – goes on a bit blotchy but there’s plenty more layers to come!
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Washed with Army Painter Green Tone
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Daubed a home made wash in the shadow areas for depth. A mix of green and black paint, thinned down with water and a touch of detergent – it’s a crappy wash really but works for these purposes. Might look a bit blocky but we’ll be drybrushing up…

 

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Like this! Olive drab highlighted with tan and drybrushed up. Then pin wash of Vallejo Smokey Ink for weathering, followed by sponge chipping with grey, black and metallic.

For the plasma effect I went with a technique I picked up from GW’s own Duncan Rhodes – basically stippling purply-pink clouds and then layering up the lightning patterns. The metallics were a cheap craft “Boltgun Metal” style metallic, drybrushed with Vallejo Silver.

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The piece in all its glory! A couple of Guardsmen from the Hazzard 1977th shown for scale
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Enough plasma to power a million moonshine stills!

This piece went together a little better than the first, I think – bit more solid, better measured. Looking back though there are lessons to take moving forward as a modeller:

I am TOO DAMN LAZY. For a start I eyeball everything, if I’m going to make quality stuff I need to measure. The rivets (PVA drops added with a cocktail stick) – I could have taken a ruler and drawn them out and placed them in straight lines. But I didn’t, I winged it.

On top of that, I’m messy. Looking at that model I see glue residue everywhere. I’ve painted most of it up as mud, so I think I’ve got away with it, but from now on I’m getting an emery board and sanding down offcuts, glue strands, and just general mess.

Plus, there are some silly slapdash details. Those nodule things on the side of the tank are supposed to be glued to flat surfaces- glueing them to a curved one means there are gaps. I could have filled them, I didn’t bother.

These are weaknesses I’m going to work on this year, as I’m determined to improve my skills. Check out people like Dave Taylor Miniatures, Insaniak, JohnnyHell and The Blackadder on DakkaDakka.com not forgetting our regular heroes, Lukes APS, The Terrain Tutor and Wyloch – these guys can build incredible stuff by thinking ahead and taking the time to do it properly! Attention to detail – that’s the watchword for 2018, and that’s what’s going to take our builds to the next level..

Stay tuned, stay thrifty, and see you again soon!