Category Archives: Terrain

Wargaming terrain & scenery posts.

2020 In Review

Well, that was quite a year, wasn’t it?

No conventions, no in-person gaming at all for a good part of the year thanks to our local COVID precautions, and yet things still got painted, finished, and even played with.

Before COVID (Remember That?)

village
Low over the coastline, approaching the village. Click for larger.

We started the year damp and cold off the 1/1200 coasts of England with a lot of naval gaming and scenery for that, then we were briefly visited by a very strange bartender indeed and got a few games of tiny ships done in-person.

narthoks finished, front
Narthoks all finished except for basing. Go on, tell the bartender your troubles! Click for larger.

The Weird Begins…

March was when it all went weird. The high point of my own gaming year, Trumpeter Salute over in Vancouver, was cancelled on less than two weeks notice, work-from-home started abruptly, and all sorts of other things went very, very sideways. I did spend some of the money I’d have ordinarily have spent on other things on orders from Bad Squiddo and Forge of Ice, two tiny one-person companies I’ve been meaning to order from for many years now, so that part was nice, but the fact that March/April/May 2020 have fewer blog entries here, combined, than I made in January indicates how off-kilter everything was!

The end of May did see the modification of our local COVID restrictions so that we could have “pods” of up to six or so people, so my brother and a friend resumed gaming most Sundays, starting up a Frostgrave campaign that eventually morphed into a fantasy-flavoured Pulp Alley campaign.

start of game
Start of the game. My chaps centre foreground, Sean’s ogre ladies top left, Corey’s mousling bravos top right. Click for larger.

COVID Bubble Gaming

June and July saw something like a normal posting pace resume here as I cranked out a bunch of fun quick fantasy scenery to add to our Forestgrave tables including a standing stone and a big tree. There were also a few impossibly tiny planes as a diversion from fantasy!

Tiny, tiny 1/1200 RAF and Luftwaffe airplanes to trouble boats not quite as tiny.

August saw a return to naval stuff and small scale scenery, and September saw the arrival of Gaslands on the scene, which has provided much pandemic diversion since!

Mad mushroom jungles for properly fantastical fantasy gaming!

The Bubble Bursts…

The last quarter of 2020 saw tightening of our local COVID restrictions and the end of even limited in-person gaming, but before that we did get to see some mad mushroom jungle terrain and some other weird fantasy terrain before we finally turned to that most 2020 of communication solutions, online webcam conferencing, for a Gaslands gaming fix.

Gaslands by webcam, via OBS and Discord.

So, that was our 2020 here at the Warbard! A weird, stressful, very strange year but here’s hoping that sometime before the end of 2021 we’re back to in-person gaming, conventions, and something vaguely like pre-pandemic normality.

In the meantime, wear a mask, keep an eye on how soon you can get your COVID vaccine, try to get some hobby time in if your situation allows, and stay safe. Happy New Year, I guess!

Resin Bases and Bits from Rain City Hobbies

I’ve talked up Rain City Hobbies on this blog before, but only for their very nice grass and flower tufts. They also do a huge range of resin bases, but because I rarely use elaborate complex bases they’ve not interested me much.

I do own a few of their resin bases, however, picked up from the “production seconds by weight” bin sold by Rain City at gaming conventions. (remember gaming conventions from the Before Times? I miss them…)

Needing a distraction from current events I decided to paint up the biggest of these, an elaborate ruined temple base nearly the size of a CD, their Huge Ruined Sanctuary insert. 120mm (~4 and a quarter inches, roughly) across, the production second one I have has nearly perfect molding of all the details, but it warped before the resin had fully cured so won’t lie flat.

The ruined sanctuary base all painted up. Click for larger.

I tried out a bunch of different stone painting techniques on this base and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The three big chunks of shattered statue were based in light tan, then progressively highlighted with whiter and whiter paints well diluted with glaze medium, which really got a translucent polished stone effect going.

The green arc and big green fragment were basecoated fairly dark green, then given marble-like veins with brighter greens, again well mixed with glaze medium. They got a good coat of gloss varnish, and then some highlighting with almost pure white.

The flagstones got basecoated with four or five off-white/tan shades, washed with GW Sepia and Earthshade washes, then highlighted with light tan and off-white. The tree roots are various shades of reddish brown.

The big base from the other side. Click for larger.

Because of the warp across the width, I’ll probably base this onto a larger piece of thin plastic, then use putty and then foliage to merge the lifted corners back into the base, making this look like a fragment that has been largely swallowed by forest or jungle.

I’ve also got a few more random bases I might finish up, and those three tan pieces to the right in both photos above are the Large Broken Statuary Base Accessories that I will be using either together with the big base or on their own as scenery elements. More on them in some future post when I get them finished.

Stay safe, stay home, try to get something creative done, mask up when required out in public, and better days (actual gaming conventions!) shall come again.

Gaslands Jump Ramps

Reading through the rules, I realized that Gaslands Refuelled has rules for jump ramps and jumping, so naturally I had to scratchbuild a pair of ramps to make a dangerous lunatic game even more dangerous and lunatic!

Scrap plastic and bits for a couple of pieces of Gaslands scenery. Click for larger.

The two ramps are about 4 inches wide. They’re based on scraps of 1/8th plastic board and mostly made of random bits of styrene plastic. The big beams are from Plastruct and I’m pretty sure they’re leftover from the model railroad we had when I was in junior high in the first half of the 1990s… that’s more than long enough to have something in your Bin Of Interesting Parts before using them!

The other side of the ramps. The left hand one is actually reddish but came out looking very purple in this photo from some reason. Click for larger.

The great thing about the mostly-post-apocalyptic Gaslands setting is that nothing has to be really cleanly constructed or painted, so I just layered sheets of styrene up until it looked right, and used pliers and a knife to attack various bits, warp them, and chew the corners off.

Crash barrier thing, with random hazard stripes because why not?

The billboard/crash barrier piece started as a way to use up the leftover stub of heavy I-beam I had left over after the ramps were done; it’s based on more scrap 1/8th plastic board and roughed up the same way. It got orange and white hazard stripes on the fronts, because, well, why not?

All the scenery together, plus one of my in-progress cars. The motorcycle is from the North Star Gaslands accessories sprue. More in-progress cars can be glimpsed in the background!

I’ve got four cars and a motorbike in progress; the first coat of primer on several of the cars didn’t take so they’re in paint stripper to get reset back to bare metal. I’ll probably fish them out this weekend to scrub them down and reprime.

We’re back in lockdown here for at least another ten days and realistically probably longer, because the second wave of COVID is well and truly here. Stay well, stay safe, ignore the goddamn idiot ratlicking anti-mask morons, and when we’re able to game in person again, hopefully there won’t be any gaps around the gaming table.

Oh, and happy American Thanksgiving to any American readers!

Mad Mushroom Jungles

From the excellent people running Dark Fantastic Mills I purchased this Doomcap Shrooms Bundle earlier in the year. If you want to run fantasy games, you should, I think, have fantasy scenery. If you want to fight amongst perfectly ordinary trees, run a historical game, those are fun too.

Unpainted Doomcap Shroom bundle, photo from the Dark Fantastic Mills website. I believe that figure is on a 32mm base. Big fungus!

These mushrooms are all 3d printed in FMD; you can see some layering here and there, especially across the broad flat tops of some of the bigger mushrooms, but other than that they’re wonderfully sculpted and beautifully detailed pieces of scenery. And BIG – check out that roughly human sized figure in the Dark Fantastic Mills shop photo above!

With “fantasy scenery should look fantastic” in mind, I cut loose and did up this lovely batch of 3d-printed giant ‘shrooms (and their smaller brethern) in gloriously weird colours. Reds and purples and vivid blues and greens, all the colours I usually use sparingly here and there came out in force.

I started with a dark grey spray primer coat, then did a rough drybrush of pure white. All of the colours after that got cut at least 1:1 if not more with glaze medium, so the original drybrushing mostly showed through and the various colours layered and blended fairly smoothly. I’ve posted this link before, but go watch Dana Howl’s 24 minute intro to glaze medium on YouTube, it really has changed the way I paint and these giant mushrooms would have looked much less interesting without her influence.

Three of the DFM ‘shrooms and the smaller of the two scenic bases that come as part of the bundle. Click for larger.
The larger of the two scenic bases, and three more of the big DFM shrooms. Click for larger.
DFM shrooms on the left, as well as their mini-shrooms on the three mushroom thickets in the background. The foreground fairy ring features mushrooms from Bad Squiddo. Click for larger.
The largest single piece in the DFM bundle is that huge multi-trunked shroom off to the left, which I still need to finish the base of. Largest scenic base in the foreground. Click for larger.

Some of the DFM shrooms still need another round of highlighting or glazing to finish them off, and the biggest one, the massive slope-topped multi-trunked one in the last photo, still needs it’s base finished, flocked and detailed.

I’m really pleased with these Dark Fantastic Mills ‘shrooms. The bundle isn’t cheap, but you get huge dramatic pieces of scenery for your money that really stand out on the table! Go check Dark Fantastic Mills out, they’ve really harnessed 3d printing to make scenery that couldn’t easily be made in other materials and their designs really are fantastic.

More Weird Fantasy Terrain

Back in June, roughly 20,000 years ago in the Early COVID Summer Era, I built a stone portal/archway/summoning gate thing, showed off photos of it all unpainted and pink, and then never got another photo of it up on the blog! The paintjob was pretty similar to the standing stone I’d done a week or so prior, in any case.

This week I pulled both those pieces out and finally did the base detailing so they fit better with the rest of my fantasy terrain, which has a wild, fecund, lush Summer Realm feel to it, even before you start noticing the giant mushrooms!

Weird stone arch all painted up. Click for larger.

I’ve just ordered a top up of flowers and grasses from Rain City Hobbies over in Vancouver; they do a bunch of different grasses and flower tufts in a nice variety of colours and I always like having a relatively-local source for this stuff! One of these days I might need to put an order in for some of the really weird alien grass colours Bad Squiddo stocks to add that extra touch of strange to my fantasy table!

As for the stuff in the background of the photo above, stay tuned, I have more weird fantasy terrain posts coming soon!

Weird Fantasy Terrain

If you’re going to do fantasy battles, why restrict yourself to normal-looking trees and such? If you want to fight a battle in a pine forest, go do Romans vs Germanics or WW2 Ardennes or something. For fantasy, we should have properly fantastical terrain!

To that end I recommend Dark Fantastic Mills terrain (but more of them in a longer future post!) and the Fantastic Rocks & Plants STL Kickstarter which concluded back in September and which now appears to be available for purchase (or late pledges? I can’t tell) over on MyMiniFactory.

I don’t have a 3d printer but Corey does, so I pay him in beer and snark and (when his tempermental 3d printer cooperates) get 3d printed nifty things back from him.

Using a couple of junk CDs (best scenery bases ever!) I put together this trio of fungal thickets to add proper fantastical flavour to our fantasty skirmish games.

All three mushroom thicket bases together, plus nine Reaper tree-kin to lurk in the thickets! Click for larger.

These thickets use half a dozen big 3d printed mushrooms from the FR&P KS and a bunch of resin and 3d printed smaller mushrooms from Dark Fantastic. Scraps of cork board about 1/4″ thick add some height here and there, and sand, flock, and lots and lots of flower tufts finish them off.

More mushroom madness. The tree-critters in the foreground are Reaper Miniatures saporlings. Click for larger.

The tree-dudes are Reaper Saporlings, available in a batch of nine, as a single, or in Bones plastic. They’re about human sized and great figures. They’re going to star as zombie stand-ins in a fantasy pulp game sometime soon, and will no doubt find other roles to play in future games.

More Saporlings, and two of the mushroom thicket bases. Click for larger.

I have the Doomcap Deeps bundle from Dark Fantastic all painted up in the same bright colour blending scheme as these mushrooms, and I’ll get some decent photos of them soon for that longer review post I hinted at at the start of this post.

Stay well in our second wave of COVID world, stay safe, and try to get some gaming in if you are able. If we isolate now, it is so that there isn’t a gap on the other side of the gaming table when we do gather again in safety.

The Workbench This week, 30 October 2020

No posts for a month? Sorry! The irony is that I’ve been gaming more regularly than ever, as our little COVID-compliant pod of gamers are now meeting every Monday daytime (all three of us are on reduced work hours, again due to COVID…) and on Thursday evenings due to my lovely wife’s heartfelt desire to kick me out of the house every so often.

We have gotten into Gaslands, and been running through the Perilous Island campaign for Pulp Alley with a fantasy flavour to it instead of the classic early 20th C pulp we’ve done in the past.

Gaslands cars in progress. Mostly stock and no weapons for now. Click for larger.
28mm Saproling from Reaper Minatures. Really neat figures, roughly human sized. Click for larger.
Giant weird mushrooms for fantasy scenery. From a recent Kickstarter. I’ll do a review of that KS sometime soon, I promise. Click for larger.

Anyway, I’m going to try to get back to August’s regular blogging schedule, or something like it. I spent September and most of October gaming but hardly doing any painting or scenery building, and have now painted or built more stuff in the past week than in the previous two months!

Esquimalt Thunderdome – a Gaslands race track

I love a big terrain project and a few of us here got into Gaslands recently. So I decided to create a racetrack. A big one, at 5′ by 3′. So off I set to do that.

Initially, I wanted it to be portable, so I did some experiments and found that acrylic caulk will peel off of wax paper. I ended up regretting this decision, but I am going to use the technique for a future project.

Racetrack laid out on wax paper
Racetrack laid out on wax paper

The track is 36′ wide and 60′ long, with the track itself being 8′ wide. All of these widths are approximate. The cars on the track are either older Hot Wheels or Lledo.

Once the caulk was added, I added quite a bit of texture with a rough caulk knife that I had roughed up on a previous project (oops). Here was another error I made – the wax paper was not fully taped in the middle, I ended up with ridges.

Fresh caulk on the racetrack
Fresh caulk on the racetrack

One note about drying acrylic – it loses a lot of water, so you’ll want something underneath your mat like another drop cloth to catch that water.

Once dry, I inked it using and then heavily dry brushed it with a variety of browns. Overall it works, but I was aiming for a slightly different brown than what I ended up with.

Painted race track
Painted race track

We used it a few times like this, but it really didn’t work that well. The edges of the mat were thin and a tear started developing in one curve. So onto a canvas mat it went, with more acrylic caulk to stick it down. Should have done that first…

Now that it had a permanent home, I decided to add some concrete pads with thicker grey caulk, mostly as an experiment. It worked well, I would do this again.

Then it was time to flock the rest of the mat. I decided a dead grass theme fit the post-apocalyptic Gaslands well. The dog decided to come and leave his mark on the mat (good thing acrylic caulk is non toxic, as it ended up on his pads too). And thus Crater Dog Paw 1 came to be.

Once the mat was fully flocked, it looks pretty good. This is the 85% stage done project – I need to cut the mat down to size and paint the concrete pads. I may also add some more bushes or other flock.

Links of Interest, 4 Sept 2020

Quiet around here for the last couple weeks on account of me being busy getting married and going off on a short honeymoon, as well as various wedding planning/bachelor party type stuff before the actual wedding!

Back now, working on various things that I’ll show off here in due course.

Firepower Gaming is a new UK website & webstore that is publishing some great terrain articles. They started with a fantastic set of Normandy farm buildings, starting from simple MDF kits and really, really making them shine and have since published scratchbuilding a stone dovecote to accompany the other Normandy buildings. I built an English-style dovecote a few years ago and they’re great wargaming scenery, small footprint but visually interesting. No idea how common they were outside of England and France, mind you.

I’ve also just received my first ever order from Shapeways of a mix of stuff, including a bunch of incredibly detailed 1/1200 or 1/1250 detail items for our naval games. That Shapeways link above goes to my public lists, so you can see some of what I ordered. I’ll do up a review of those sometime soon too.

More Small Scale Scenery Inspiration

There aren’t a lot of small scale scenery tutorials out there, either as videos or traditional blog post writeups. Viv on RubbishInRubbishOut, though, did some YouTube videos of Dystopian Wars scenery a few years ago, and it turns out that DW is in something approximating 1/1200 scale, more or less.

Table intro, part one of four.

Dystopian Wars table intro, painting & finishing the table, islands part one, and finally islands part two.

Also, Dispatches from the Front has been working on some fantasy naval scenery for Man’O’War using the Brigade Models buildings and it looks fantastic. Fantasy microscale terrain has a definite appeal, you can get grandiose epic terrain on the table that wouldn’t work at all in any larger scale!