Category Archives: Terrain and Scenics

The Summer of Scenery: The Sludge Pool

First: You may have noticed a new look to Dead Dick’s Tavern. I’m experimenting. I’m open to suggestions…

More important: I finally finished up my submission for Dave Stone’s Summer of Scenery over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. Behold: The Sludge Pool!

While waiting for my Vallejo Still Water Texture to arrive in the mail, I did a bit more highlighting and texturing to the base piece. I weathered the barrels and the machinery with MIG rust pigments and a bit of Citadel Typhus Corrosion and Ryza Rust. I added some Vallejo Diesel Stains to the base of the machine and gave the whole thing a blast of Dullcote to lock the rust dust in place. I highlighted the green water coming out of the pipes with some Vallejo Yellow Green.

Then it was time to add the water. I could delay no longer. I was pretty nervous about using the water effects, as the only stuff I had ever previously used was “Magic Water”, a 2-part floral product that requires precise mixing to cure properly. The last time I used it was several years ago, and the swamp scenery I made is still tacky. But my friend Dick Garrison swears by Vallejo Water Texture, and he has achieved some amazing results with it, so who am I to argue with success?

I poured some into a plastic cup and added a few drops of green craft paint, the same kind I used to paint the basin. It mixed together perfectly, and I poured it out and moved the base this way and that until it covered the bottom. It flows like thick water, kind of like motor oil, so it was quite easy to work with. My first layer was done.

I noticed a problem about 12 hours later. Vallejo Water Texture is a “self-leveling” fluid. My workbench is level. The bottom of the piece is level. I found out the hard way that the inside of the basin, where I was pouring the texture, was obviously not level, because the water effects began to pool on certain sides of the basin. Dumb, rookie mistake. Since the mixture was still fluid enough to flow, albeit slowly, I quickly mixed and added more water texture and paint to shore things up. Then I played around trying to get the stuff to flow where it was needed. I wasn’t entirely successful, as you can see.

I added a second layer of clear (no paint added) texture out of the bottle, hoping that would obscure the uneven bottom layer. It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: I love this product, and I think it looks amazing. But it took more like 48 hours for it to cure before I added the next level, and then another 48 hours before I thought it was ok to touch.

Overall, I can live with how it looks. I think the Vallejo product is pretty impressive and easy stuff to use. After 2 layers (3 mm thickness or so), I have about half a 200 ml bottle left. The area I covered wasn’t small, though. Note the Space Marine for scale. The bottle cost me 17 dollars (US$).

So…I’m thinking of adding one final layer of clear water, but I’m not sure if it will really do anything aside from make the basin look deeper. Thoughts?

The Slump is Here…

I’ve hit a bit of a painting slump. Actually, it’s a bit more than that. It’s a general hobby slump. I haven’t painted a miniature since I finished up Kratos for Forgotten Heroes. In fact, I’ve barely done anything at all since July 1st.

Partly this was due to real life work anxiety getting in the way of any pleasant diversions I might seek. Now that that is mostly over, though, my painting mojo still has yet to return. A quick turn around some of the blogs I follow shows I am not alone in this; for whatever reason, we all hit a slump every now and again, or as The Dude would say, “strikes and gutters. man…strikes and gutters.”

So what HAVE I been doing? Playing video games, mostly. I recently did a replay of The Last of Us and the DLC, Left Behind; because I don’t know how long I can resist buying the long-awaited sequel, released a couple of months ago. The Last of Us is a true masterpiece; the only video game that I have ever played, finished, and immediately replayed. I did the same thing again recently. It’s an amazing storytelling experience, and it serves very well to get my mind off of shit I don’t enjoy thinking about. My mind naturally goes to these places when I paint; hence the whole no painting thing lately.

I’ve also been making some Starship Corridor tiles, using Heroic Maps Starship Corridors and DM Scotty’s 2.5D method. There’s a pretty great video on it here by The Mighty Gluestick (ironically not by DM Scotty, but whatever). It’s pretty quick work, but I’ve since run out of double-wall cardboard and need to get some. I really don’t want to buy it from a craft store, but I don’t have any heavy-duty boxes lying around.

I still plan on producing something for the Summer of Scenery over at Wargames Terrain Workshop, but it won’t be as much as I would have liked. In other words, no Western town or graveyard; but as you can see, I managed to give the sludge pool a quick basecoat (space marine included for scale)…

…followed by a black wash and some texturing with Stirland Mud. I’ll hit it with some light drybrushing before beginning the weathering process. Hopefully my Vallejo Water Texture will arrive by month’s end and I can complete this thing soon.

In the meantime, I need to find a project that will drag me back to the painting table.

The Summer of Scenery

That’s the name of the challenge hosted by Dave over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. I’ve decided I can certainly find some things to make or paint over the next two months. The challenge for me is to make scenery that I will use, but also to clear out some stuff that’s been sitting idle for a long time.

Like this thing. I bought it about 12 years or so, by my best guess. It’s all one piece, constructed out of some kind of foam. It feels a lot like solidified ‘Great Stuff”, that gap-sealing foam that comes in a spray can.

It’s not a small piece. I should have included a miniature for scale, but I forgot. The barrels are definitely 28mm scale oil barrels, if that helps.

The pool area is deep enough for water effects. I’m not great at it (mine never seem to dry completely), but I’m strongly considering using them, as I think it will really make this piece stand out once it’s done.

Now, one terrain piece should be easy. But why stop at one? I’ve had another project sitting in a labelled, white box for about a decade. With a recent Reaper order, the time may have come to complete it…

I’ll give you three guesses…

Christmas is all about…ME.

‘Tis the season, and as usual, I have taken advantage of the holiday sales to buy a bunch of shit for me that I don’t need, but definitely want.

A couple of months ago I broke down and subscribed to Amazon Prime, mainly so I could watch The Boys (one of my favorite comics of all time). Of course, Amazon Prime comes with free shipping on anything I order from Amazon, so guess who has been busy? (Hint: it’s me.) Now, I know Amazon is like Wal-Mart…the deep discounts they offer are bad for the economy, and certain death for brick-and-mortar stores. And I do feel bad when I order something from Amazon, and it arrives at my door at 9 pm the next night, because I don’t NEED anything that badly, and delivery drivers shouldn’t have to deliver dumb shit to my house at 9 pm in the freezing cold when they could be home instead.

I get it. I know Amazon is a bad company to work for. Yet I’m weak. I can’t say no to those sweet price cuts. For some reason, I can’t ignore Amazon the same way I refuse to deal with other asshole companies like Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby (fuck those guys). The discounts are SO big…Right now, as I write this post, the Modiphius Original Series Away Team that I painted last month is on sale for $18.96. That’s a little over ONE THIRD the retail price (which, at $52.00, is fucking stupidly expensive, but still…) Less than $20 for 10 miniatures is a pretty good deal, I would say.

So, between Amazon and other vendors, I’ve racked up quite the grocery bill, and it’s not even Christmas. Here’s how to spend money irresponsibly on yourself before the holidays, so that whatever Santa brings you (or doesn’t), you won’t be disappointed.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (Amazon): I picked up this bundle for $82, which is 48% of what it retails for ($170). I get all the core rulebooks: (Player’s Handbook, DMG, Monster Manual) and a DM screen; all in a handsome slipcase. Why would I buy this when I’m already all-in on 3 out of 4 editions of Dungeons and Dragons (I skipped 4th, and assumed I was stopping at 3.5)? First: because it seems that’s all anyone plays around me, and I want desperately to get into a game; second: it’s supposedly a good system, and finally: because I got all the core books at 52% off.

Red Markets (Indie Press Revolution): I bought this PDF (after I bought the get started kit at DrivethruRPG) after hearing some pretty amazing things about this game. I listened to a bunch of actual play podcasts (which were alternately interesting and irritating; there’s always at least one annoying asshole in every gaming group, sometimes more) and an interview with the game’s creator, and I’m hooked. I wanna play. I’m an old-school kinda guy; I don’t like reading PDFs. I’d rather have a book in my hand. Red Markets is almost 500 pages of full-color awesomeness, so if I tried to print it out it would suck my printer dry and probably look like shit. Lucky for me, Indie Press Revolution printed it for me, and I got the PDF version as part of the package, too. I’m happy to say their printed book is very high-quality and durable; much better than if I had tried to do it myself. It’s a thing of beauty.

Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (Amazon): I got this new hardcover edition of the rules at 30% off. I’ve heard good things about Savage Worlds, but I’ve never played it. The discount (and some whisky, TBH) was enough to push me, in a weak moment, to buy it. I haven’t looked at it yet (too much Star Trek and Red Markets on the brain).

Wreck Age (eBay): I collect rules sets (which explains why I own a copy of Spinespur). This post-apocalyptic skirmish game was well-reviewed, and even had its own line of miniatures. This was a cheap purchase, so I guess that justifies it.

Note this doesn’t include my purchases from Troll and Toad (individual Star Trek Heroclix) and from Etsy shops (3D Printed Terrain).

Am I done? Maybe…I have my eye on a few other things. I want the latest version of Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition), and Delta Green, which I have heard great things about. And I have my eye on yet more Modiphius Trek miniatures: the Next Generation Away Team set, which, sadly, never seems to drop below $30. (Once it does, it’s fair game.)

The Pipes are Calling…

If wishes were horses, I’d have made more terrain…

TerrainTime 2019 is over, and I managed to complete only ONE terrain project all month, a gas (or sewer) pipeline. So much for all the other stuff I wanted to get done.

A while ago, I picked up this pumping station and this storage tank from Joerg Bender over at Things from the Basement. Joerg sells laser-cut MDF kits and dollhouse furniture. His stuff is awesome. I really can’t say enough good things about it. Many of his gaming kits are designed to fit commonly available supplies like electrical boxes, PVC pipe fittings and, in the case of the storage tank, a Chock Full o’Nuts coffee can. (I don’t drink Chock Full o’Nuts, but I bought some just to get the can.) They’re scaled for 28mm miniatures, but I plan on using the pipeline both for 28mm supers/pulp/sci-fi games and for Gaslands, as you will soon see.

The elevated pipe stands, spacer rings and terminal grates are all purchased from Things From the Basement. The pipes themselves are simple 1/2″ PVC pipe along with standard elbow, T and coupler fittings; readily available at Home Depot for super cheap. I think I spent less than $10.00 on this entire setup.

Once I cut the pipe into varying lengths, I gave it and the fittings a spray with this Rustoleum Metal Primer. I also primed the pipe platforms with a rusty bronze primer. Then, I painted the inside of the pipes a few centimeters deep with some Vallejo acrylic black primer, as I didn’t want the white pipe interior to be visible from the outside.

I want to add some of these buttons that look like steampunk gears as valve handles, but I wasn’t able to by month’s end. They don’t look right sitting flush against the pipe and require a spacer. (Ideally, I could just replace the faux-screw in the center with an actual screw and put it directly into the pipe, but I don’t have screws that small at present.)

Once I started playing around with my pipe (not what you think, Roger), I decided they would look better if the pipe ends were mounted on bases rather than just sitting flush on the table. The problem I encountered is that the pipe stands are designed to hold the pipes so that the ends rest flush against the surface, so if I used a base, would it lift the pipe off the stand? How much difference can 5 mm MDF make? Another quick order to Joerg for some 50mm circular bases (among other things) and I was good to go.

As you can see, I constructed a very sophisticated device to hold the pipes upright while I primed and weathered them. This took a lot of my time this month, which is why I didn’t complete as many projects as I would have liked.

Once assembled and primed, my pipes looked a bit too shiny for me. So, I decided to weather them up with some rust and grime. I used some Weather System rust pigments, after applying some black/brown wash made from craft paint. Once dry, I drybrushed more of the rust anywhere that made sense, in progressively lighter shades. This got messy real quick. I advise wearing gloves when using pigments. A mask wouldn’t hurt either. (I discovered I was breathing it in unaware when I sneezed later and thought my nose was hemhorraging.) After each layer of rust, I sealed the pipes with Dullcote.

I drybrushed the stands and pipe end rings with some Reaper brass, then washed it in Citadel Nihilakh Oxide, to get the verdigris effect. Then I sealed the whole shebang with Mod Podge, to ensure that the paint wouldn’t rub off when I was assembling the pipes in different configurations later. That didn’t work so well. The edges still chip easily.

For the pumping station, I also used a different rust technique for the electrical box.  I applied some Citadel Typhus Corrosion in patches and drybrushed some Citadel Ryza Rust over those areas.

Sadly, the storage tank was one of several planned projects that didn’t get done this month. But I did manage to make some burned out car wrecks for Gaslands, using cheap cars, Magic Sculpt and plenty of Stirland Mud.

My technique for these is quite simple, separate the top half of the car, apply a hammer liberally to the car body to simulate damage, then affix it to the base with some loose wheels and other detritus as you see fit. Prime, cover the base with Stirland Mud or the texture of your choice, and paint the car whatever color you want. Then apply a black wash and rust effects to make it look like burned-out wreckage. These are so easy and quick to do that I will probably do several more. They’ll look great as Gaslands scatter terrain.

As you can see, the pipeline works equally well for Gaslands as a large, aboveground sprawling rust monster….

…as it does for 28mm skirmish, as you can see with these Heroclix Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

One look at this and I decided I need more pipe, and more fittings, in order to have maximum variation in my layouts. I bought another 5′ piece of 1/2″ PVC pipe, which will be more than enough. In addition to the extra fittings I already have, I purchased a few more. So I’m pretty much set to have games in a maze of pipes, should I desire.

My thanks to all who participated in TerrainTime 2019! You can see their contributions at their respective blogs. While you’re visiting, check out their other posts and drop a comment or two if so inclined!

Jeremy at Carrion Crow’s Buffet  scratch-built a terrific Star Wars Imperial bunker.

Kieron at Cheaphammer! made some ruins and a jungle board (complete with submerged alligator) for TerrainTime, as well has prolifically posting a lot of other cool stuff over the course of the month.

Daniel at Wade’s World of Wargaming  made a spectacular Wizard’s Tower from scratch.

Anton at Anton’s Wargame Blog  really went all out, scratchbuilding a hexagonal “Dark Tower”, complete with spiral staircases, and basing/converting a Playmobil coliseum that looks amazing! Inspiring work, Anton!

Charles the Modeller at All Hell Let Loose painted some 6mm Brigade Models buildings and made some terrain plates, complete with walls and foliage. I envy you, Charles. 6mm terrain must be so much easier to store…

Codsticker at Codsticker’s Historicals  made the Hornet’s Nest, an area of terrain specific to the Battle of Shiloh (ACW) which includes a road and lots of trees. It looks fantastic, and you can see it and the battle report in which it was used over at his site.

Thanks again to all who participated and all who dropped by to check out the results. I still want to get that storage tank done (and probably make some more pipes) but for now I’m happy to get back to some good old-fashioned miniature painting for a while.

TerrainTime 2019 kicks off!

This month is the first ever TerrainTime challenge, hosted by yours truly, The Angry Piper! If you need a refresher on the quote unquote rules of the challenge, you can go here (or just scroll down).

This month I’m fixin’ to do a whole heap of terrain, both for Gaslands and for some Old West gaming.

For Gaslands, I’m going to complete a rusty pipeline that has been in my partially-done pile for over a year now, along with some car wrecks. The good part of this is the pipeline can also be used in 28mm skirmishes (as somewhat smaller pipes).

I’m going to make some “badlands” terrain for Old West skirmishes…you know…cacti, cow skulls, dead trees…you get it. Then I’m planning on weathering some ERTL Cow Town buildings I bought off eBay. Finally, if time permits, I may weather my Marx Fort Apache playset (another recent rummage sale acquisition) or assemble and paint up a Western MDF building or two.

Lofty goals. But I am not alone in them. Joining me on this terrain-making journey are the following folks, all with their own projects for the coming month…

Jeremy at Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Kieron at Cheaphammer!

Daniel at Wade’s World of Wargaming

Anton at Anton’s Wargame Blog

Charles the Modeller at All Hell Let Loose

Peter at the Single-Handed Admiral

Codsticker at Codsticker’s Historicals

Feeling left out? Don’t! Just let me know you want to participate and I’ll add your name and site to the blogroll forthwith!

Now, let’s make some terrain!

TerrainTime 2019

One of my 2019 Resolutions was to make more terrain; a goal I have thus far failed to achieve this year. With that in mind, I’ve decided to host a terrain challenge for the month of August. I figure it’s the only way I’m going to get off my ass and do it.

I have some projects in mind, many of which have been waiting patiently for years. Gaslands, Old West…even some generic hills…it’s high time I worked on some table dressing rather than miniatures for a change.

So, without further ado, here are the “rules” of August’s Terrain Challenge, which I have dubbed “TerrainTime”:

  1. Construct and/or assemble and paint at least one piece of terrain in the month of August.
  2. “Terrain” can be anything that would grace a playing surface, i.e. something your miniatures can stand on, use as cover, move through or occupy; for example: hills, trees, forests, ruins, buildings, waterways…all these are fine. So are things like wreckage, objective markers, walls, barricades, statues…pretty much ANYTHING you would use as terrain.
  3. You can scratch-build it if you wish, but you don’t have to. You can assemble pre-fab terrain or buildings, whether resin, plastic or MDF kits. You can even repaint or “weather” existing terrain you have, like toy kits or model train terrain. Just do something terrain related.
  4. Scale and genre are of no consequence, as far as the challenge is concerned. Whatever scale(s) or genre(s)you game in are fine. If you can create a piece of terrain that works across different scales or genres, even better.
  5. To summarize, work on a piece of terrain (at least one, feel free to do more) in the month of August. This could be anything from a complete scratch-build to a quick paint or repaint, as long as it’s terrain related. Scale and genre don’t matter. It’s for your games, so do whatever works for you.

Drop me a comment or email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com if you want your blog or site to be included in the blogroll for this challenge.

Lastly, I’ll include some links to two YouTube channels I enjoy that deal primarily with terrain building. These are great for inspiration and are cool places to visit regularly. There are many more channels such as these, but these are the ones I frequent. Feel free to share your own in the comments section, if so inclined.

The Terrain Tutor: Mel the Terrain Tutor is the undisputed king of terrain, a veritable terrain-making genius. He has an extensive library of posts dealing with basic terrain-making techniques all the way through advanced projects. His terrain basics series is a must; particularly his tutorials on foam board and extruded polystyrene (insulation board here in the USA).

The DMs Craft: DM Scotty makes some pretty interesting terrain on a budget, primarily for roleplaying games. You’d be amazed what he makes from wet paper towels, PVA glue and other cheap stuff. Not everything’s a winner, and some may not hold up to the rigors of regular wargaming, but if you need something inexpensive and fast for a one-off game, his channel is worth a look. His Tilescape series is pretty good.

That’s it. Hopefully I’ll post more in July, but if not, expect a terrain-fest in August!

Saddle Up, Boys! (and Girls, if applicable)

One of my 2019 Resolutions was to finally play GW’s Legends of the Old West, an out-of-print Old West skirmish game using the Warhammer engine. Despite using a variation of the IGO/UGO mechanic, it remains pretty popular among Old West gamers, as it’s easy to pick up and play, particularly if you’re familiar with Warhammer.

I’ve been wanting to play some Old West skirmish for years now, and even started making a Mexican border town, Mescalero, several years ago. Like many projects of mine, this got sidelined in favor of whatever else struck my fancy; but not before I also bought, assembled and painted some Plastcraft Western Buildings. I now have the beginnings of two towns; a traditional Mexican adobe village and a clapboard boom-town. (I also meant to make some Badlands scenery (and I still will), but, you know…sidelined.)

Recently I managed to get my hands on the holy grail of 28mm Western gaming, the OOP 1/64 scale ERTL Cow Town playset. It contains a Hotel/Saloon, a Sherriff’s Office, a Blacksmith, and an outbuilding and outhouse, along with lots of other scenic knick-knacks (like bar tables and desks). Between the Cow Town set, the Plastcraft buildings, and a couple of MDF buildings I bought from Knuckleduster, I have no excuse not to move forward with this project.

For Old West miniatures, I have a mixture from Blue Moon, Old Glory, Foundry, Knuckleduster and Reaper. Before the whole thing got sidelined, I painted up the Blue Moon cowboys that I got from Scale Creep. I really like this line a lot. The Old Glory and Foundry stuff looks a little small compared to the others (especially the Reaper Chronoscope stuff), but I’m hoping it won’t bother me too much when I actually start playing.

First up, the Blue Moon miniatures. The Earp brothers: Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday.

The Clantons: Ike, Billy and Johnny Ringo.

Frank and Billy McClaury; Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett.

The Daltons: Emmett, Bob and Grat. (Yes, Grat.)

A few Reaper Chronoscope miniatures: Stone (who I think is an undead gunslinger, although I didn’t paint him that way); Deadeye Slim; and a U.S. Agent (not to be confused with the guy who replaced Captain America). Both Stone and Slim are Bones miniatures. I bought the Agent because he has a pepperbox pistol, and that’s kinda cool.

Some Reaper fantasy townsfolk can serve double duty as Old West civilian miniatures, as seen here. The bartender and strumpet both work well as Old West miniatures.

Same can be said for the blacksmith (what moron parked a wagon full of hay near the forge?!)…

And this RAFM Call of Cthulhu doctor.

None of these miniatures count towards my painting queue progress, sadly; most were painted years ago. But THIS is my big project for this year; in lieu of starting a new army, I’ll get my Old West scenery and miniatures all done instead.

In between other stuff, of course…

Making a Fighting Arena Board

A couple of weeks ago my region was hammered with about 17 inches of snow, and I got to stay home from work. With blizzard conditions raging outside all day and well into the night, I wasn’t going anywhere, even if I could have. I figured it was a great day to get some painting done! Or it would have been, if I hadn’t lost power at 6:30 am, ten minutes after I woke up.

In such instances, my standby generator powers most of my palatial estate, with the notable exception of my basement, which contains my hobby space. When assigning which circuits would be backed up, I obviously prioritized important things like heat and water over painting space. (It’s nice to be able to flush a toilet when you need to.) Consequently, most of the basement didn’t make the list.  However; since my furnace is located in my tool room, that part of my basement has power. I couldn’t paint without moving everything, so I decided instead to start work on a project I’d been considering for a while: an arena board.

I’ve been toying with an idea for a martial arts skirmish game, something along the lines of the Street Fighter and Tekken video games. I purchased Osprey’s A Fistful of Kung Fu when it came out, but I was put off by the many charts and tables, and also by the fact that it’s a faction-specific game. (The figures by Northstar are admittedly impressive, but I don’t want to have to buy them.)

The “arena” board I have in mind is a 2′ x 2′ board with a fighting circle inscribed in the center. As it will be made of flagstones, the board can double as a dungeon floor, a ruined courtyard, or anything else that would have a stone floor for use in other games. Picture a sumo ring, or the courtyard in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and you get the idea.

Designing the Arena

My starting materials are a 2′ x 2′ board made from 10mm thick MDF, some craft foam sheets, some PVA glue, a T-square and a razor knife. I bought a 2′ x 4′ MDF board from Home Depot for about 5 bucks. I had them cut it in half for me there, since their cutting station can make a much straighter cut than yours truly with a jigsaw (I hate jigsaws). I drew a roughly 18″ diameter circle in the center of the board, and then drew a perimeter 10 cm in from the edge all around the square.

As a side note, my brother once told me, while making my gaming table, that there is no such thing as a piece of wood from Home Depot that is truly “square”. The picture above proves this. I didn’t want to fuss with making it perfectly square (I lacked the tools to do so, anyway), so I just went with it. Also, as another side note, there is absolutely no whisky in that coffee cup. Honest.

Assembling the Board

After cutting the craft foam into 1 inch squares, I moved the project upstairs to my living room. While the blizzard raged on, I turned on my TV ( I love having power) and settled down for what I knew would be the most tedious part of building the arena board: gluing the “flagstones” down. I decided to watch a movie while I worked, and I picked Kong: Skull Island. I guessed it wasn’t the type of movie I needed to pay close attention to in order to capture all the director’s subtle nuances, and I was correct. Still, I enjoyed the movie. It’s King Kong, with no real pretensions to anything else, and it’s got a great cast. What’s not to like?

I measured the center point of the circle (and the board) as best I could and started laying down the squares.

I used this piece of wood as a spacer, to ensure the squares were more or less evenly spaced. Due to my own imprecision cutting the foam squares, they weren’t exact; but I thought uneven stones would give the board a rustic, imperfect character for the end result.

I worked from the center of the circle to the inside circumference, then I began trimming the stones so they would not overlap the inscribed circle.

Then, working from the perimeter, I started laying down squares to meet up with the outside circumference. I was careful to make sure that the spaces lined up as best I could with what was already down on the board. Again, I trimmed the pieces so they wouldn’t overlap the inscribed circle.

As you can see, the pattern is taking shape. Once everything is finished, there will be a visible circular pattern in the flagstones. I’m not going to lie, this was pretty boring and tedious work. (I have newfound respect for people who lay tile for a living. It sucks.) I finished Kong: Skull Island and had time to watch another movie about an autopsy subject who is really a dormant witch who starts killing people in the morgue. It was surprisingly watchable, but then again, my attention was split.

Once the board layout was complete, I used a ball point pen to inscribe some cracks on the craft foam flagstones. Hint: don’t do this with a pen you care about, as it will stop writing permanently.

This was also tedious work, but it took much less time than laying out the foam squares. Once complete, the board looked like this.

Adding Texture 

With the squares laid out, it was time to add some texture. I used Elmer’s wood glue and squeezed out a line throughout the gaps, being careful to make sure the circular gap was covered as well. I used an old, shitty paintbrush to spread the glue around.

I did it in sections to ensure the glue didn’t dry before I got to it. Then I dumped sand over the whole section.  I let each section absorb the sand and dry before I moved on, which enabled me to collect surplus sand (be sure to lay down newspaper, folks) from a dry section for reuse.

Once the whole board was covered in sand, I filled in any gaps I had overlooked. I scraped most of the sand that had adhered to the flagstones away, leaving a little bit for added texture. Then I moved on to the first phase of sealing the table: Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement. This stuff has the consistency of milk and brushes on very easily. I used it to soak the “grout” areas and let it dry overnight. Then I added another coat the next morning, before I had to go  outside to deal with the 17″ of snow in my driveway. With two layers of scenic cement on top of the wood glue, the sand wasn’t really going anywhere and should stand up well to painting.

Painting and Sealing

A week later, we got more snow. Not enough to be an issue, but enough for me to have an excuse to stay home again. Time to paint the arena!

I had some Asian-themed terrarium scenery I thought would go well with this board, so I decided to match my color scheme to that. Another trip to Home Depot and I got two small sample pots of Behr paint: Native Soil (basecoat) and Safari Vest (highlight). With the sand pretty well glued down, I applied a thorough coat of the Native Soil to the board. (That swatch there isn’t Safari Vest, it’s a color called Woven Straw. I thought I was going to use it as a highlight, but it’s too bright.)

Unfortunately, this somewhat obscured the cracks I had so painstakingly inscribed into the flagstones. I decided to give the whole thing a black wash, both to reinforce the spaces between the flagstones and to highlight the cracks. I used watered-down black craft paint and applied two coats of the wash over a day or so. (I didn’t really have to wait that long, but I was doing other stuff in the meantime, and it’s not like I was in a hurry.)

Once it was done, I gave the board a drybrush of the Native Soil, followed (once it dried) by another drybrush of Safari Vest. I actually regret buying the Safari Vest sample pot, since I used so little of it. I could have probably got the same effect by using craft paint (and it would have been much cheaper, too).

Anyway, I decided that the board would benefit from some flock in between the flagstones, to simulate  the irregular growth of weeds. Anyone who has ever seen a flagstone driveway, or even a sidewalk for that matter, knows that plants tend to grow in the cracks despite anyone’s best efforts.

Once the flock was down and dry, I decided to apply a coat of matte polyurethane to seal and protect the whole board. And done!

Or so I thought. Something was missing, so I decided to make a viewing platform where VIPs could watch the fights. I used plasticard for the flagstones and insulation board for the body of the platform. A little glue and textured paint (same colors), and it fits right in.

The evil Hai Feng observes the battle between his two lieutenants, each intent upon joining the ranks of his celestial bodyguard…

The beginnings of a tournament of World Warriors. Who will be crowned champion?

At the Shaolin Temple, Master Tsu Kang teaches the Iron Palm technique to his initiates…

The stone board can be used for other games as well:

In a tomb somewhere deep in the jungles of Ceylon, Lara Croft confronts Helmut Von Jurgen and his unsavory henchmen.

In the sacrificial shrine of the Reptile God, a small band of adventurers faces off against a Lizard Man shaman and his minions…

Not a bad way to spend a snow day or two. I’m mostly happy with how it looks, but if I had to do it again, I would make a smaller circle. 18″ is a pretty big diameter for a 24″ board, but I can make it work.

Now I just need to get crackin’ on those skirmish rules!

 

 

“Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral…”

I really like the new direction of Miniature Wargames magazine, particularly the monthly “Darker Horizons” fantasy and sci-fi feature. I’m also a fan of Diane Sutherland’s monthly scenery-building articles, as I like any good scratch-building tips. A couple of months back, John Treadaway penned an article on how to make cheap and easy asteroids for space combat games. The article is well worth a read, and John’s method couldn’t be easier. I encourage anyone in need of asteroids to track down the issue above.

I’ve been looking for a good method of asteroid construction for some time, and like many folks, I’ve considered everything from wood chips to lava rocks to just breaking down and buying some manufactured scenery, such as those offered by Battlefield in a Box. Then I saw what John did and I practically facepalmed myself at its simplicity. Put simply, John uses sponge chunks soaked in a mixture of paint, glue and sand. Let dry, drill holes, insert the flight stands of your choice (mine are from Litko), drybrush and done!

Here are the results. Lightweight, nigh-indestructible and pretty darn good-looking asteroids. I followed John’s method, including his idea for using a purple wash to add a bit more tone than mere drybrushing can achieve. I also added a few metallic streaks here and there to simulate metal veins, but that’s just me. My asteroids had a bit more time to dry than John’s, since I had to order the flight stands and wait for them to come in (about a week or so).

Here’s how they look with some War Rocket and X-Wing miniatures.

Imperials vs. Galacteers

 

“NEVER tell me the odds!”

 

Sure beats the crap out of cardboard templates. And it only took a couple of hours (not including drying time). Thanks, John!