Sunday, 28 January 2018

Frostgrave Terrain Tiles - Part 3

Previously, on Frostgrave Terrain Tiles

So I have now painted up all of the terrain tiles bar one - which had come unstuck from its base. The plan to vary the colours on the mosaic tiles has been shelved for the moment, simply because getting just the grey colouring down was taking an AGE. The texture required quite a bit of work to get all the blue covered by the Paynes Grey. Once the basecoat was completed the dry brushing went fairly swiftly, though. The biggest issue was ensuring that the effect remained constant between boards. I'm happy to have a bit of variation, but I didn't want any glaring discrepancies.

I had previously been vexed by a way to stop the tiles sliding around, but a trip to the local Poundland furnished me with a selection of stick-on felt circles, designed as anti-scratch pads to go on the bottom of furniture. I stuck five of these to the bottom of each tile, one in each corner and one in the centre, and then spread out a sheet of black felt used for space-gaming. The felt pads grip onto the felt sheet and hold the tiles in place very securely. If it's good enough for Fuzzy-Felt, it's good enough for Frostgrave!

With the tiles completed, I took the opportunity to set them up with the MDF modular dungeon I picked up from Gary at Figurebitz. Gary has been putting out a steady stream of quality, affordable MDF kits - his Tudor style houses are gorgeous (if only I had the space to store them) and he's a very approachable chap. I have the spy/sci-fi version of the modular dungeon still in kit form. I thoroughly recommend his wares.

Anyway, here's the eye-candy:

32 years worth of miniatures battle it out.
They're statues. Just plain, ordinary, statues, honestly (secretly rolls initiative).

"Nevermind how a giant dragon got in through that door, hit it!"

Ice wall made from acrylic ice chunks hot glued together.

Sneaky spiders prepare for a rear attack...

The stone effect is just a light over spray of white , brown and black. I need to add some washes and maybe a bit of flock here and there as dungeon mould and lichen. 

The bars are actually metallic, but the flash washed them out. some rust effects might pick them up.

Nine tiles in a 3x3 grid on the black felt underlay. Solid as a rock.

Slight gaps between tiles where the knife wasn't quite vertical. 
 I'm extremely happy with the way the tiles have come out. I intend to make some moveable snow drifts and ice patches for Frostgrave, but these boards can serve double duty for all sorts of games. With the right dressing they could be used for any sort of urban terrain. I can see them with chain link, rubble and ruins for use in some sort of GrimDark future or as an arena for some sort of gladiatorial game.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Black Ops - Bag Boris

Anyway, as I was saying...

Last weekend MBB and I had a game of Black Ops by Osprey publishing. We picked a scenario from a the May issue of Miniature Wargames with Battlegames - Bagging Boris. I changed the names from the scenario to fit in with some fictional Eastern European/Slavonic imagi-nations (they are also names of countries in the Ace Combat series).


June 2008. Republic of Estovakia, suburbs of Svzhod

The breakup of the Belkan Republic, and the subsequent brutal and bloody civil war between the emergent ethnic groups of Estovakia in the north and Sokovia in the south has finally died down. The civil war was characterised initially by brief periods of intense fighting between professional military units followed by a protracted period of unconventional warfare conducted by militia units and local irregulars. Looting, raiding and war crimes were common on both sides. Only the intervention of UN forces on the ground, and trade embargoes to both sides, has finally forced the leadership to the negotiating table. A shaky cease fire is now in effect whilst formal peace talks begin. 

You have been dispatched by the UNBELK task force commander to assist with maintaining the fragile ceasefire. Working with civilian UN investigators you have located and arrested “The Butcher of Kakariko” - Boris Yaroslav – for crimes against humanity. He is in custody and is being detained by local law enforcement under supervision of the civilian UN observers. The observers are unarmed and have expressed concern that the local police have sympathy for Yaroslav, who is a hero to the ultra nationalist factions in Estovakia.

You have exfiltrated the city with Boris, your vehicles being pelted with rocks as you left. Ten miles from the city you were ambushed and your vehicles immobilised. You have escaped the immediate ambush zone and have arranged for two RAF Pumas to pick you up at a rendezvous point nearby.

It is unlikely that there will be any aid for you if you do not make the landing zone in time. The Estovakian military has stood down, but there are any number of local militia groups, including Boris’s own Svzhod FC, who are only very loosely under control of the central command.

Rules of Engagement
You have been fired upon and may now use lethal force to prevent the escape of your prisoner and prevent enemy forces killing or capturing your men. You may engage any armed combatant either in uniform or otherwise. You may not open fire on any structure that contains civilians or from which you have not already been fired upon.

UNBELK Forces:

Lt. Carnahan (Professional Ace, L85A2, Body Armour, Tough)

Fire Support Team (2 soldiers) (Professional Heavy, 1x L7A2 GPMG, 1x L85A2, Body Armour)

Section Alpha (3 soldiers) (Professional Soldier, 2 x L85A2, 1 x L85A2 with UBGL, Body Armour)

Section Bravo (3 Soldiers) (Professional Soldier, 2 x L85A2, 1 x L85A2 with UBGL, 1 x MBT LAW)

Boris (Civilian) Boris has his hands zip-tied together and his mouth covered with gaffa tape. He may not run and cannot move more than 6 inches per turn. Whilst he is within 1 inch of an UNBELK soldier he remains subdued. If that soldier is engaged in CQC or moves away from Boris he is no longer controlled and will act as an enemy soldier.

MBB was Lt Carnahan and his brave men, and I was the Svzhod Militia. We had four teams of three riflemen, a GPMG heavy squad and two aces, Both aces and half of the riflemen were asleep in the buildings. The remaining riflemen and the GPMG were deployed on-table as guards, who would use random movement until they spotted an enemy.

The game started with a few rounds of the UNBELK forces sneaking around, with the guards all ambling around in different directions.

The setup. Svzhod FC guards in position. UNBELK troops in cover to the left.

Lt. Carnahan and the UNBELK troops, with Boris in tow (he's the chap with the headscarf).

Szvhod FC GPMG squad on the hill.
This all changed when one of the guards did a sudden 180 and charged back up and over the hill (the one helpfully marked "HILL" on the map above) he had just walked down from - obviously he had just realised he left his phone up there or something.

Lt. Carnahan, who had a reserve action, spotted the militiaman as he crested the hill and fired off two rounds. He missed with both (much to the irritation of his nearby Support and Alpha sections "Bloody Ruperts!").
The startled guard let out a shout of alarm, which, along with the two shots, put 4 noise markers on the table. Carnahan redeemed himself shortly thereafter as his action came up again, and he closed with the militiaman and dispatched him in hand to hand combat.

Lt. Carnahan mucks it up, then saves his honour.
But the 4 noise markers are now added to the guards reaction roll, and anything 8+means the guard is no longer acting at random.

The guard on the opposite hill hears the gunshots and the shout and lets out a shout of his own in response (adding two more noise markers). He then drops down onto a Reserve action, scanning the hill suspiciously.

The suspicious guard. 
With all this shouting and shooting we now check to see if the two Militia Aces will awaken. They test their reaction, just like the guards, but only wake up on an 8+. With 6 noise markers on the table, you'd think this was a dead cert. I made a mistake here (although it didn't actually have any effect) as we should have halved the noise counters for the aces as both were indoors. As it happened one rolled a 6 and the other a 1 (which he would also roll on the next Ace activation - that guy was obviously dead drunk from draining the antifreeze from the cars outside).

One ace was now awake, but he couldn't raise the alarm until he had actually identified the threat. He proceeded towards where the noise was coming from.

With six noise markers on the table, it's inevitable that Boris's two top bully boys will awake. This is Igor the Impolite.

Overview at about turn 3.
Turns 4-6 saw the UNBELK forces spotted by the Militia. there was a long range exchange of fire from Alpha Section and Lt. Carnahan and the militiamen hiding behind the cars and the GPMG on the hill, which resulted in a casualty to Alpha section. Bravo section fired on a couple of militiamen from the woods to the north, then sprinted down the left table edge.

Igor and one of his squads of riflemen took cover in the woods to the west of the buildings, but the Support Section made short work of them. The second Militia Ace took a Militia rifle squad and placed it in the woods to the south - right in the path of the exfiltration team. 

The wheels come off for the Svzhod FC militia.
The UNBELK troops continued to move down the western edge of the board, taking long range fire from isolated militiamen. Carnahan and Bravo Section took cover by the pipes just as some reinforcements rolled onto the table - a pickup truck with mounted GPMG. Fortunately, as dedicated followers of the latest military fashions, Section Bravo knew that a Light Antitank Weapon was an essential accessory for this season. Exit one technical (another mistake here - the technical should only have arrived on its action, when it would have been able to make it's presence felt.

In the meantime Alpha Section took another casualty, but their grenadier lobbed a grenade into one of the parked cars, which forced the insurgents to retreat and allow them to exfiltrate.

The pride of the Svzhod FC militia, either dead or cowering behind the barrels and about to leg it.
 The Support section now went to the aid of Alpha section, picking up one of the injured riflemen, whilst the last active member of Alpha section picked up the other. They moved south towards the exfiltration point.

Carnahan and Bravo section now moved to the southwest hill, taking reaction fire as they moved into position. Carnahan returned fire and cut down the second Militia Ace. This forced a DED check on the remaining militia, with most of them failing and having to retreat on their next action. 

The GPMG team running away.....
 Two of the hardier militiamen rounded the gap in the woods to the West to confront the Support Section loader with a fusillade of wildly inaccurate fire. The loader returned the favour and hit them both, with both failing their save rolls and becoming casualties. 

This took the militia below half strength, so they had to take a force morale check, which they failed. They turned and ran, leaving the field as fast as they could.  
Alpha took two casualties, one is being carried by the loader here (towards the top of the picture) and the other is being carried off by his squadmate towards the bottom. The GPMG loader has just downed the two camo wearing militia at the top of the picture, forcing the team DED roll.
Checking the scenario victory conditions we found that although the UN had secured Boris, the second casualty to the UNBELK forces meant they had achieved only a minor victory. Lt. Carnahan would possibly be face some searching questions with two casualties and would be writing some letters home.

As far as the rules were concerned, we found them fast, easy to use and understand. The stealth rules and the guards random movement and reactions worked very well. MBB felt that his troops didn't feel "special" enough, but they were professional soldiers rather than elite special forces. His feeling was that they were bullet sponges (body armour and tough for the Lt.), and a bit better shots, but not significantly so.

Partly I think this is down to the use of a D6 - it just doesn't have enough granularity to show a more subtle difference in quality. I initially agreed with this assessment, but on reflection I actually think that is a good thing. Black Ops is a fast play game, and I think the differences in abilities between the quality of the troops is actually fairly well represented. My militia would normally hit on a 5 or a 6 and his professionals on a 4, 5 or 6. I think a 50% vs 33% hit rate is a pretty good reflection of the differing qualities.

We also thought the grenade rules were a bit suspect - but then neither of us has ever fired a 30mm grenade into a parked car, so more research is obviously required.

The figures were the now OOP Mongoose Publishing Battlefield Evolution pre-painted plastics (which I have a ton of). Buildings are two of the Conflix pre-paints which I picked up for a fantasy game, but look fine for rural Former Belkan Republic. The HMMWVs are Dragon armor pre-paints and the rest of the scenery is scratchbuilt by me.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Frostgrave Terrain Tiles - Part 2

Following the test piece I looked at in the last post, I have moved ahead and created my first full board. It actually began as another experiment on one of the "bad" pieces of foam. I wanted to test the glue I had chosen, so I took one of my 30cm square pieces of MDF and stuck the "bad " piece to it. I have used Uhu All Purpose, solvent free glue for this, available from places like Amazon and Hobbycraft amongst others for about £3 per tube. 

I chose this because it's polystyrene friendly and will cure in the absence of air, which PVA and wood glues won't do. I often see people use lashings of PVA to fix large areas together, like sheets of styrofoam for terrain projects, but what they don't realise is that whilst the glue around the edges will cure, it will stay liquid in the middle. I've taken large pieces of terrain apart that have been in use for years and found the PVA still wet in the middle of large areas. It also needed to be solvent free, as solvent based glues will melt the polystyrene.

I applied the glue to the MDF and affixed the XPS (extruded polystyrene) sheet to it. In a couple of places I had been a bit generous and glue squished out the edges like an overfilled, sticky doughnut. Once I cleaned up the excess I found that the corners had lifted away, so added some extra glue there and used some small clamps to hold the sheet down. The glue set quickly and the piece was solidly stuck within about 30 minutes. I left it overnight just to be sure.

I checked the next day and there was no sign of melting or warping, and the sheet was firmly attached across its entire width. I then decided to try out the slabs effect on a larger scale (area 4 in the previous post). I gridded the sheet with 25cmm squares using a ballpoint pen. I also cut out the damaged area of the sheet, making it into a square recess. I plan to create a couple of drop-ins for this area; a trap door from balsa, a grating from some wire mesh and maybe a well or pool of some kind as well.

I then grabbed my handy rock samples and began to press them into the foam. I'd done about half the sheet when I decided to try out another technique. I must confess I have completely forgotten where I first heard of this, but I do remember one of my dad's old model railway books talking about using crumpled tinfoil to create rock faces.

I took a sheet of tinfoil and scrunched it into a tight ball. I then rolled the ball around on the sheet of foam, pressing it into the surface. The effect was remarkably similar to that produced by using the rock samples, but much easier and less time consuming to do. 

I then used the same painting techniques as I used on the sample piece; dark grey (Payne's grey) base coat, mid grey drybrush and then a light ivory highlight.

The completed piece

Close up detail. 

Stack of XPS sheets glued to MDF squares.
"YOU SHALL NOT... oh, alright then, off you go."
I am very pleased with the outcome, and will probably be using this technique for most of the rest of the sheets. The longest bit is applying the Payne's grey basecoat, as you have to get every nook and cranny or the blue shows through quite glaringly.

With the success of this piece I decided to try experimenting some more, and have started doing a few "character" pieces. The one below is a mix of cobblestones and slabs. AGG suggested that the cobblestones could be painted as a mosaic or even use different colours to reflect the use of reclaimed stones.

I also have some smaller sheets, about A5 size, that are much thicker, at least 25mm thick. I plan to texture these as-is to use as risers to add some 3-dimensional interest to the city. Finally, I also have some very large sheets in the shed that are also around 25mm thick. I may use these to create some dramatic terrain pieces like docksides or a stepped plaza of some kind. Watch this space!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Frostgrave Terrain Tiles

This week I have been working on some terrain tiles for Frostgrave. For those who have been living in a cave or on the dark side of the moon and aren't familiar with Frostgrave it is a fantasy skirmish game set in a magically frozen sity of Felstad. Each player controls a wizard and their apprentice and a band of merry cutthroats and vicious warriors. Wizards fight to recover treasures amongst the ruins with the ultimate aim of becoming powerful enough to cast a spell that allows them to discard their mortal shell and ascend to a higher plane of consciousness.

It's a fun game with some nice, if fairly rudimentary, campaign rules and myself and AGG have been thinking about playing it for a while. I have a variety of terrain pieces, a mixture of GF9 Battlefield in a Box, Pegasus Hobbies Gothic Building Sets and various Conflix pieces, plus some odds and ends from an old Mordheim campaign that I will re-use. I've also been painting up some of my 28/32mm Fantasy figures in preparation, including this 30 year old Citadel Winged Fire Demon.

I have been considering various different options for the base terrain for Frostgrave. Initially I was going to use some textured wallpaper glued to MDF boards. I now have two different rolls of textured wallpaper and neither are quite right. I then saw a post showing buildings made from 6mm XPS under-floor heating insulation boards. These boards are made from the ubiquitous "blue foam" extruded polystyrene (hence XPS) and are available from an array of sources including Amazon, Ebay and a variety of online retailers. I have seen them as low as £3.50 for a 600mm x 1200mm sheet. They are also available in differing thicknesses as well, so you can get 6mm, 8mm and 10mm.
Blue foam sheets. Not the most exciting picture I have ever posted.
I picked up two for less than £10 from an ebay retailer and they arrived very quickly, with free shipping as well, which was nice. I cut the boards into 30cm squares using a long ruler and a Stanley knife with a fresh blade. The foam will quickly blunt the blade on your knife, so as soon as you see it dragging or tearing the foam instead of slicing, it's time to swap blades. I have no idea how such of soft material blunts the blade so quickly, but it does. 

The sheets were advertised as 600mm x 1200mm, but they were ever-so slightly larger, probably about 610mm by 1260mm, so I had to trim the edges slightly. I used a set-square and a long ruler to make sure the cuts were all at right angles and switched to 30cm non-slip ruler and a standard craft knife once the long cuts were done. It's important to try and keep the knife vertical whilst making the cuts, or the tiles won't line up evenly after you have cut them.

The two sheets gave me 16 30cm x 30 cm tiles, enough for a roughly 4ft x 4ft grid. I'm intending to try Frostgrave on a 3ft x 3ft board first and see if it's the right size. Two of the tiles included areas that were damaged in transit, so I relegated those to test pieces. That means I have enough tiles for a 3ft x 4ft board at the moment, with two spare "good" tiles and two "bad" tiles.

The plan is to affix the foam tiles to 30cm square 6mm MDF tiles which I had cut from a larger 1220mm x 606mm sheet by my local hardware store (B&Q for those in the UK - if you buy your wood from them they will cut it for you free of charge in many stores). The plan is to add the EVA tiles to the MDF to strengthen them and add a bit of weight to stop them sliding around. I'm tentatively thinking of some way to join all the squares together to avoid moving everything around whilst they are in play, but haven't go very far with the concept. At the moment it's either going to be a collapsible framework or possibly just velcro strips and dots on the undersides.

I have used one of the "bad" tiles to test a number of possible finishes. One of the advantages of XPS foam is that it is strong and dense and can be carved and scribed without crumbling into the little balls that the more common expanded polystyrene (EPS) suffers from. It does have the same drawback that it reacts badly to solvents and many aerosol propellants. Spraying EPS or XPS with rattlecans will cause the surface to melt and shrink and give off stinky fumes. So, hand painting or airbrush is the way to go.

I textured the board in a variety of ways (see below), then painted with some cheap craft acrylics from The Works. I used a dark blue-grey for the base, then a cool grey for a heavy mid-tone drybrush. The final highlights were made using a light drybrush of an ivory/off white. The image below shows the various finishes.

Area 1 is comprised of "crazy paving". This is simply a pattern of random shapes drawn into the foam using a ballpoint pen. It crushes the foam and leave s a nice seam between the slabs. Some areas were "scribbled" on to mimic the depression left behind by a missing stone.

Area 1 - crazy paving

Area 2 uses a rough 1 inch grid to represent more regular flagstones. I lightly drew a grid on in pencil then used the ballpoint to draw around each flagstone. Drawing round each one, rather than just drawing a grid, gives a more natural feel to the flagstones, and rounds off the corners slightly. Cracks and missing pieces were added randomly.

Area 2 - Flagstones

Area 3 is comprised of small cobbles or bricks drawn by hand. small O's abd C's are drawn into the foam using the ballpoint pen, so they abut one another. This is a very time consuming process and there is a tendency for the foam to tear if you aren't careful.

Area 3 - hand drawn cobblestones

Area 4 is perhaps the most interesting. This has been created by pressing the rough end of a broken piece of rock into the foam (actually two pieces of rock, a sample of granite and basalt from my OU geology sample set). The random texture of the rock creates a very realistic rock-like effect (which is probably to be expected since I'm using a rock to simulate rock). The gaps between the slabs were created using the sharp edge of the rock samples, and aren't as defined as I'd like.

Area 4 - stone slabs

Area 5 is cobblestones created using a pen cap and the eraser cap from a propelling pencil. In both cases they were simply pressed into the foam to create an overlapping pattern. I have also seen an example of cobblestones created this way using a rectangular shape made from reshaping some brass tube. There is still a bit of space on the sheet, so I may see if I can find a suitable tube to try this out with.These methods have the advantage of being fairly quick, but the results seem to be much less controllable than the other methods. The pen cap is far too large, but the eraser cap from the propelling pencil looks OK. 

Area 5 - cobblestones again
I have also tried a 6th technique on the other "bad" piece, which is to scrunch up a ball of tinfoil and roll this around on the surface, pressing it in. This leave a random texture similar to the stone but is MUCH quicker and easier to do. This sheet is in the process of being painted right now, but I'll add it once complete.

So, which option do you think looks best? I'm torn between the cobblestones and the rock-effect slabs. I may actually mix it up, and add in some designs to the slabs, so I can mix the techniques up a bit. I also think a variety of styles will make the frozen city much more interesting. Let me knw your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Teeny Tiny Spacemen - 6mm Scifi

Not much text to go with this post. I have a selection of 6mm/1:300 sci-fi armies that I use for Future War Commander. The ruleset has recently been picked up by Pendraken, along with Blitzkrieg Commander and Cold War Commander, so I'm hoping it will be available and supported again soon.

Most of the miniatures are Ground Zero Games, with a small selection from Dark Realm Miniatures and assorted bits from the clicky Mechwarrior Dark Ages.


GZG Grav APC's

GZG Grav tanks

Missile tanks and MRLS artillery. Hulls are GZG. MRLS is from a Mechwarrior click and missile turret is Old Crow.

HQ, command, FAO, FAC, Sniper, auto mortar and recon stands. 

HQ stand GZG APC and old Ogre light GEV.

five stands of infantry with attached smart missile (top left) and heavy laser (top right)

Heavy laser team

Smart missile team

Scouts and power armour.

Mechwarrior Clix power armour


Silent Death fighters used as gunships.

GZG Dropship

New Israeli

Command, HQ, FAO, FAC, Recon and sniper units.

HQ stand with a hoverjeep and radar equipped Wombat APC. The radom is a wooden "mushroom" shape.

FAO (front) and command stand (rear)

Five stands of infantry plus heavy laser (top left) and smart missile (top right) attachments. 

Mechwarrior Clix Power Armour


GZG Wombat APC

GZG Blower (left) and Goliath (right)

GZG Rommel

GZG Rommel hulls with Zandris missile turrets

Automatic mortars made from GZG cannons

Clicky Mechwarrior APC's

WIP Pax Arcadia

Pax Arcadian Gunship.

(L to R) Tiger light tank, 3 x Ramjack APC's, Petard artillery, Rampart heavy tank, Tigre light tank

(L to R) WIP jungle troops x 2, two buggies and HQ stand with modified Petard. WIP industrial infantry x 2

Buggies and HQ

WIP industrial troops

WIP Jungle troops