This area of the website is my hobby blog, it contains articles about games that I have enjoyed playing together with paining and model making articles.
The July 2019 issue of Wargames Illustrated contains a five-page article that I wrote about one of last year’s terrain building projects, building a demo board for Lucid Eye's Red Book of the Elf King miniatures game. Red Book of the Elf King (RBEK) is a game that really caught my attention and we have had a whole lot of fun playing the game within my gaming group and at shows. The rules were written by Rick Priestley (who also wrote Warhammer, WH40K, Bolt Action, Warmaster, Black Powder, Hail Caesar and many more). There do seem to be new fantasy skirmish rules every month but RBEK is refreshingly different. Set during an Elvish Civil War most forces are Elven (although supplements introduce Mortals & Trolls), each faction fields a leader (Thane) and 3-6 units of 3 figures (Companions).
As Sally 4th is the official show stockist for Lucid Eye we wanted to build a great looking, easily transportable game to take to shows.
The 4' square gaming area is constructed using Terra-Formers, a modular terrain system built using kits that build 1' square and 2' square terrain tiles with a wide range of profiles for rivers, streams, cliffs, hills, roads etc. and a design that incorporates strong rare earth magnets to hold the tiles together to align features perfectly and prevent in-game drift.
The article in Wargames Illustrated details the build, step by step in great detail and is a useful guide for anyone else embarking on a modular terrain project.
Some of the features that I included were a waterfall cascading into a rock pool. The water in the pool is poured embedding resin, the waterfall is formed over a strip of clear plastic and ripples are formed from silicon sealer.
The 2' square board features some wooded areas and a rocky depression. Rocks are formed from cast plaster of Paris, cast in Woodland Scenic moulds and sculpting using a reinforced plaster material called 'Sculptamould'.
I like to build as many features as possible on 1' square tiles, as I have found that this offers the maximum flexibility for rearranging to make different layouts, however I decided to build a 1'x2' stream section as I wanted the stream to naturally flow around a rocky outcrop. The 2' x 1' tile was built by combining sides from both a 1' square and a 2' square tile.
Trees are mounted singly on 40mm diameter bases and rings were built into the groundwork to hold the tree bases so that they blend in with the landscape.
In the Sally 4th bridges range we have a nice lattice work bridge (in two widths) that I felt complemented the setting, so this was included with an indentation in the groundwork for a natural looking placement.
I thought it would be nice to include a cave, maybe the home of a cave bear or lion. The cave is built using a standard corner hill Terra-Former module. The front face has an opening carved away from the polystyrene before the front is built up with plaster rock castings and Sculptamould.
Terra-Former Photo Gallery - lots more photos of modular terrain for RBEK and all sorts of other games.
Terra-Former How To Videos - Videos showing you step by step how to build modular terrain boards
Terra-Formers - main catalogue page
Red Book of the Elf King - rules & miniatures
Clear Perspex bases - because someone always asks about the bases we use to help the miniatures blend in with the landscape!
On Sunday I started working on some terrain for gaming set in the Arctic inspired by movies such as 'Ice Station Zebra.
The project is going to consist of enought 1' square terrain boards to cover a 6' x 4' table. These will have features on them such as thin ice, pressure ridges, rubble ic and crevaces.
Features will include an arctic research station on stilts, some Jamesway huts, an ice-bound ship and a submarine conning tower breaking through ice,
Submarine Conning Tower
This is the image that I used for inspiration. I wanted the conning tower 'bridge' to be big enough to take 3 miniatures mounted on 25mm bases and I wanted an open door with a gangplank.
I started off by designing a frame which was cut from 3mm MDF.
Two pieces of thin card are then glued in place to make the steel plate skin.
The rivet, plate and ladder detail was then added using self adhesive, textured 3-Decals which are made by N-FX.
The conning tower has been given a quick base coat of grey household emulsion. Eventually the masts, periscopes and other details will be added as resin castings and the model will have a decal for ID number.
To give an idea of scale it is photographed with some miniatures that have been sculpted by Mark Fuller. These will be available as part of Sally 4th Classic Movie range later this year.
The second piece to be modelled was the iconic Jamesway Hut. These look very much like the Nissan or Quonset hut but they are not covered with corrugated sheeting. Jamesway huts are always covered with a rot proof and vermin proof fabric that holds insulation in place.
This model is of the smallest version of this hut. I've modelled the hut with its internal frame so that it can also be depicted as a hut being built or a ruin with fragments of fabric left attached.
OK, I did not do all of this on Sunday! When we develop a model kit, one gets built as I design the kit. Once it is completed and fretted out, we need to make another model from scratch to photograph for the instruction leaflet, so I had a spareTramp Steamer kit, 95% assembled that had been gathering dust on the shelves for a year, so I decided to use that to model a ship stuck in the ice.
The terrain that I am building is based on 12" square terra-former modular terrain kits, sometimes terrain features like this do not fit into a 12" square so I combine 2 sides from a 2' square tile kit with two sides from a 1' square tile kit to make a 2'x1' tile.
It was very easy to draw around the hull with a whiteboard marker and then remove a hull shaped cavity with a cheap hobby knife.
I've then used some Sculptamold (paper reinforced plaster to add a bit of texture to the tile and fix the ship in place.
Arctic Terrain Tiles
The other progress for this weekend was to assemble enough 12" square Terra-Former tiles to make an initial 4' x 4' area. This will later be extended to 4'x6'.
Terraformers are MDF modular terrain frames with embedded rare earth magnets to hold them closely together.
.... To be continued over the coming weeks as Iwork on the project!
For several months I have been working on a harbour project. My goal is to make a set of terrain tiles and scenery that can be re-arranged to make a wide range of port or harbour settings across history from the medieval / fantasy period right through to the present day and near future.
The foundation for the terrain is the terrain / battle boards. These are all constructed from Sally 4th Terra-Former kits, which provide a series of components to assemble a sturdy, light weight MDF frame with embedded rare earth magnets to hold all the tiles firmly together as there is nothing worse than boards that drift apart mid game. There are about 40 different kits, all with different profiles to build rivers, streams, hills, cliffs, caves, sewers and much more. For this project I've used Sea Tiles, Canal / Quayside Tiles and Plain Tiles.
I've also used a lot of 3D printed printed components including the harbor walls and many of the boats. The large motor launch with the black and white stripped hull, the blue hulled fishing boat and the jetty are from Z1 Design Precinct 187 range and the harbor walls, towers and redoubt are from 3D Print Terrain's Pirate range.
The plan is also to be able to represent harbours from different areas around the world. This set up is inspired by trips that I've made to ports in Morrocco. The harbor wall is a typical medieval feature, still standing today. I've used some of the Middle Eastern / North African flat roofed buildings from our Outremer range to represent typical North African dwellings.
The miniatures that I'm using are from Crooked Dice and are part of there 7TV range. I've remounted them onto Sally 4th clear perspex bases so that they can stand on the decks of the boats and the wooden and stone jetties without looking like they are dragging half of there back garden around with them.
This little motor boat carrying Bond and Anya the rescue is a free to download 3D print file that I found on Thingiverse.
For further information, click on any of the links below:
I like to make modular terrain, with as many pieces that can be re-used for different purposes, different periods, different genres, as like 99.9% of all wargamers, I have limited storage space for miniatures and terrain. This is why I developed the Terra-Former terrain system. Terra-Formers are 12" square, precision laser cut frames with a wide range of profiles for modelling hills, rivers, streams, canals, beaches etc. In fact there are over 30 different tile profiles available in the Terra-Former range.
I backed the fantastic Precinct 187 3D printable terrain system from Z1 Design on Kick Starter last year, and since then my 3D printer has been printing building components most days. The set that I like the most is their Docklands. This includes dock edging, warehouse buildings and two boats, including the fishing boat that features in these photographs.
The great thing about 3D printing is how easily you can modify the designs to print them for a different figures scale or to crop or resize them. As I already had a large collection of Terra-Former terrain, including harbour sections and sea tiles, I wanted to make my 3D printed harbour compatible with the existing terrain tiles so these could be reused with the new Precinct 187 harbour. The original Dock design has the height of the dock and piers at the same height as their building tiles (approx 55mm) and they have some 'hill' tiles to make steep roads to integrate with the rest of their terrain. This is a great concept, but I wanted my Dock to fit with my modular terrain tiles.
In the software that I use to translate the 3D design files into code that the 3D printer understands, I have the ability to crop and resize components. If you cut 36mm off the bottom of the harbour walls and the wooden piers, and stretch them width ways by 101% to make them 6" wide, two of the harbour walls will fit exactly into a Terra-Former Straight Canal Tile.
The picture below gives you an overview of the Precinct 187 3D printed scenery with my existing Terra-Former tiles. I also decided that I would use my existing plain urban tiles which are plain tiles with coarse 'wet and dry' paper stuck onto them as a tarmac surface, instead of printing out road tiles. The pavements and the flagstones that are part of the harbour are all 3D printed pieces from the Precinct 187 range.
The motorboats were all free designs, downloaded from Thingiverse. The miniatures are from Spectre Miniatures and Nonsense Miniatures and they have all been re-mounted onto Sally 4th Clear bases so that they blend in nicely with all of the different terrain that they might be placed on. I do this with all skirmish figures these days to avoid the rather off look of a figure standing on a road or inside a building surrounded with grass and other foliage.
This is a picture of some of the harbour and beach pieces that I had already made from Terra-Formers, set up for an 18th Century pirate game.
This is a picture of the same harbour 'dressed' for a WW2 commando raid scenario.
The next thing that I am planning to do (apart from 3D printing a stack off the Dockland buildings is to work out how to resize / modify some of the Z1 dock edging to fit on to the Terra-Former canal / quayside corner and external corner boards, which you can see in the photo of the WW2 harbour for even more variety.
If you'd like further information, click the links below:
We have just released our 28mm pillbox range to prepare for the release of operation Sealion by Bolt Action. These are made from layers of 3mm MDF so when built has a wooden look to it. As they were built from concrete during World War Two we painting and te4xtured them to give them a more realistic look.
For this you will need Sandtex masonry paint, which you are able to buy from any DIY shop. An added bonus is that they come in tester pots so you don’t need to buy a big galleon can from the shop. You will also need an old brush to dry brush, and another old brush for PVA glue and some sand.
Step 1: Coat the pillbox in a thin layer of PVA glue around the pillbox. Avoiding the door and the top of the pillbox.
Step 2: Then sprinkle the sand over the pillbox trying to keep it away from the door hinges so it can still open and shut. Also on the inside of the pillbox keep the top of it sand free so that the pillbox roof can still fit it.
Step 3: Once dried we use a chocolate masonry paint to undercoat the pillbox. We recommend using water to thin the paint first so it's not to thick and can get in between the sand,
Step 4: We then use “Mid Stone” masonry paint and dry brush the pillbox. To dry brush put a small amount of paint on the brush then using some old card/paper towel get rid of any excess. Then lightly brush the pillbox so the raised areas get painted.
Step 5: Then we use an “Ivory Stone” masonry plaint for the final dry brush on the pillbox to complete the concrete look.
This is a nice and easy technique to paint the pillbox even for beginners. It took me about 30mins to do one pillbox form start to finish. Hopefully this guide will help you get the realistic pillbox look for yours. This technique can also be used for other modern buildings to get the look of concrete.. I’m currently working on some African buildings, for these I’ll need to a dry dirty look so in my next post I’ll take a look of weathering techniques.
For further details see: WW2 British Pillbox