Sunday 29 September 2013

Desert terrain mat trials

When I play desert-set games, I tend to use an old blanket as the playing surface.  I've been thinking that it would be nice to have a less fluffy playing surface so I've experimented with an offcut of leatherette from my previous games mat, testing textures and paints.

The test section, approx 10x10"
Brown frame sealant was smeared all over the leatherette to provide a fairly smooth starting surface.  The long side of an old cashcard gives a road of the correct width and is rigid enough to cut a swathe through the sealant.  The narrower edge of the card creates the thinner track to the right.

Cracked desert surface.
 I used a cocktail stick to sculpt in an area of cracked desert surface - perhaps part of an old river bed or a salt marsh.  The rest of the surface was finished with a sponge to give a rough, sandy texture.
Quick paint job.
I've used the usual Wilko tester pots.  After trying out different combinations I think I'll be using coffee brown as the base colour with a mottled application of safari sand sponged on while it's still wet.  The slightly darker Nutmeg Spice brown has been used on the cracked area to give greater depth to the cracks.  The road is Supernova black.  The smaller track is Earthy Hue but this hasn't really worked so I'll probably just paint it in the normal base colours.

Cracked desert surface with paint.
When I tried to add manhole covers to my previous experimental games mat, I failed.  The tie pin clip I used just peeled off the sealant, leaving a bare patch of the leatherette.  This time I waited until the sealant had skinned over and was almost set.  The tie pin back was pressed in fairly hard but still didn't stick to the surface and I'm quite pleased with the end result.  If I add a dash of something lighter like earthy hue to the supernova black, I can get a bit more contrast between the covers and the road surface.

Man-hole cover in road surface.
I think it looks pretty good (apart from that track on the right) so when I have a full weekend free I'll probably have a bash at doing a whole games mat.

With a few bits of scenery etc.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Palm trees and hedges progressing

 I've worked out how I'm going to mount my palm trees on their bases.  My solution?  Paper clips.

Paperclip wire stands ready for trees.

I've created several curvy shapes with spikes onto which I'll glue the tree trunks.  I've made the bases curvy so that the tree can't swivel in place and fall over.

Very fiddly drilling of the tree trunks.

 After a failed experiment in heating the paper clip and melting it into the tree trunk (tree trunks too narrow and it slips out of the side) I've drilled holes in them instead.

Ready to attach.

 The paper clip extends about 6-7mm (¼ inch) up inside the trunk.  A drop of superglue fixes them in place.

Single and double tree bases.

 After doing the first 4 sets of trees I got tired of all the drilling (very awkward with their thin, bendy trunks) and decided to try a different approach.

CMG Protolene Khanates for scale.

Leaving the connecting section between the trees, I've made some stands which will clip between the two trees.

Tree base mark II.

A quick squeeze with some pliers fixes them in place and then they're ready for gluing to their base.

Far easier!

I've flocked the hedges too.  I might try some that are just drybrushed as suggested by Millsy but the scourers I have look a little too neat without the shredded foam flock.  Now I just need to decide how to do their bases.

Peter Pig US Marine for scale.

CMG Protolene for scale.

CMG Protolene for scale.

Peter Pig US Marine for scale.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

A cogitation on vegetation

My wargames tables are a little bare in terms of vegetation.  I have plenty of hard structures (containers, buildings, vehicles), but little soft cover apart from reindeer moss bushes and my hundred plus little conifers (as seen below).  I'm suffering from the same problem as early seasons of the X-Files or Stargate SG1 - all my games appear to be set in Canada!

The ubiquitous coniferous forest.
To remedy this, I'm working on a few projects.  First, some palm trees for my desert scenery.  I found these in the local cake craft shop.  At about 15p each, they're pretty good value and each consists of 2 bendy plastic trees. 

You don't need to be a palm reader to see the future of these trees...
They could have been made for 15mm figures, ideal for my needs!  I'll be mounting them on bases either individually or in their pairs.  I don't think they need any paint, the colours are pretty good as they are.

Just the right scale for 15mm!
 Some hedges will come in handy for my rural temperate terrain and also for some urban settings.  The humble pan scourer will provide the basic structure for these.

You can't go wrong with a pan scourer hedge.

 I'll have 2 sizes, the first being a low hedge to provide limited cover from which to fire.

Small hedges to shoot over.
Larger hedges will provide complete cover and therefore a means for zombies and such like to get nice and close to their targets without being seen and/or shot.

Large hedges to give full cover and hide movement.
I have a bag of fine shredded foam "turf" which should cover the scourers quite well.  My initial hedges are fairly neat but I'll also do some more straggly and unkempt ones for the wilder areas.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Book review - Embedded by Dan Abnett

I recently came across Dan Abnett's 2011 novel "Embedded" in the local library.  I've long been an avid reader of his "Gaunt's Ghosts" WH40K novels so I immediately picked this one up.

It's an excellent read, a real page turner as I find all his books to be.  Some of the characters seem a little lacking in personality compared to the Tanith Ghosts and the ending seems rather abrupt but these are fairly minor niggles.

What really grabbed me was the setting.  It's pretty much bang on the nose in reflecting the GZG "Tuffleyverse" or AAG "Tomorrowverse".  Some troops use a Limb Assist Exo Frame (LEAF) to help support the weight of their M3A Hardlaser (beam) emitter or "piper".  Others are equipped with standard projectile weapons.  The action takes place on the colony world of 86 (not yet important enough to warrant a name) and when the troops take a trip in their hopters out to Eyeburn Junction, you can almost visualise it on the tabletop, a collection of crummy refabs and shacks like those available from Mad Mecha Guy or GZG.  Little patches of chopped up astroturf for the crop fields around it.  A couple of colony hab modules from Antenociti's workshop as the small weather station nearby.

It's the little touches that bring the book alive, things like the mainprotagonist grumbling about the corporate rebranding of "ProFood" who have replaced their old Astronut "Bill Berry" logo with "that shit, bland Rooster Booster thing".

Not quiet up to the usual Dan Abnett standards but still worthy of a B+ I reckon!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Bird feeder storage silos

 I spotted these bird feeders a couple of months ago and immediately recognised their terrain potential.  I've finally given in and bought one to experiment with.  At £1 it wasn't much of a risk!  I envisage them as small storage buildings or "domesteads" in my desert village. 

The feeder is hinged along the back edge.  I was going to try and separate them into individual domes but now I've decided to leave them as strips of 3.  I think they look like chunky concrete foundations which have been poured around prefab domes to anchor them in place.  The domes will be lined with papier mache and painted a dusty sandy colour.  The big suckers easily pull out.  Now what can I use those for?

There's one use for them...

I used a pair of cutters to remove the clips which hold the feeder closed.  A craft knife neatened up the edges of the cut and removed the hinge section on the back edge.

By happy co-incidence, this leaves doorways just the right size for 15mm infantry.  Once the domes are lined with papier mache, I'll leave some open and perhaps used some corrugated plasticard scraps for doors in the others.  They'll be very basic quality workers' habs (some sections might be left open as windows) or storage silos for grain or other foodstuffs.

A word of warning though -  this plastic leaves very sharp edges!