Five Parsecs – More Scratchbuilding

Probably the last of this series, at least for a bit, but here’s some more stuff I made a little while ago.

A bit of height is always good to add to the table, especially for 1:1 skirmish games. These are a couple of random industrial units I put together from some metal offcuts, mesh sheet, bottle caps, card and cork.

A new mobile phone is always something to be happy about – mostly because the boxes are very sturdy and great to create scratchbuilt buildings from…

Brigade Games resin Sci-fi doors provided a useful upgrade to the card I was otherwise relying on.

On the table:

Brigade Models’ Research Base buildings, like the 2 on the left, are nice pieces, and I decided to add a couple of scratchbuilt sort-of-copies using cork sanding blocks, more door bits, and strips of thin card to match the style.

Five Parsecs – Scratchbuilding

I do enjoy a bit of scratchbuilding so long as it’s not too challenging, and getting into Five Parsecs was a good opportunity to make a few bits and pieces. I tend to use simple materials like cork (tiles and those liberated from wine bottles), card and mdf and I don’t really do much careful planning or designing – I generally just start with an idea and get cutting and gluing.

Some work in progress. These are generic fuel/energy tanks or towers, made from wine corks, pre-cut MDF bases and ladders, and bits of card. I wanted them to basically look like big industrial batteries.

Small Shuttles – useful for all sorts of scenarios, or just as clutter/cover. These are made from thin card and are loosely based on an old resin model my mate has.

Cargo Haulers – More general scenery, good for spaceports, etc. These started from a thin piece of styrofoam, the rest is thin card as per the shuttles.

Raised Platform – varying heights work well and look good for skirmish games. This is simply a block of polystyrene clad in styrofoam that’s been rolled with an ‘industrial’ texture roller from Green Stuff World, with a cork top. This re-uses materials and textures (floor tiles and walls) from my existing Bug Hunt game.

Home-made decals. These are just knocked out in MS Excel using clipart and text boxes, and printed on normal paper. I use them for vehicles, buildings and plant/equipment. I find that using some repeat liveries can help game settings look a bit more consistent and realistic.

Finished effect:

There are a couple of bought models in the foreground but the rest is scratchbuilt. The light pylons are wooden string ends from window blinds and the hexagonal pipe/tunnel is the container from a poly dice set. The boards are 1 foot squares of marine ply with ready-mixed plaster spread on with a knife, and painted in grey tones.

I don’t use proper weathering techniques, everything is just drybrushed with a grey or sandy tone. Cork and cheap card have a nice roughness to them which makes this a simple process.

More scratchbuilding in the next post!

Five Parsecs – A Dab of Colour

Following on from all the grey in the last post, the next step was to upgrade the cork tile pieces to provide a bit more visual interest. It occurred to me that I could do something different on the reverse side of each piece and, after discarding various colours and patterns, I decided on a muted pallet and some random blocks and lines (while still maintaining the 1″ grid that helps with alignment and movement, etc). Apparently it’s a sort of unintended Mondrian style knock-off.

The colours are pretty much those used in my terrain boards, so although they don’t bring a lot of extra brightness to the grey, they do tone in well with the majority of my stuff. I just used a fine marker pen and painted some of the sections.

First test pieces:

Some pics below of this scenery being used for a few Five Parsecs campaign battles. Using a mix of both the grey and coloured tile sides offers lots of variety. I don’t pretend that the settings make sense from an urban or industrial perspective, they’re really just 3D obstacle courses to fight over.

More scratchbuilding in the next post.

Five Parsecs – Initial Scenery

The first few games of Five Parsecs were played out across a 2 foot square, using the stuff I already had. Most of this came from my homebrew Space Bug Hunt game, but also a couple of gaming mats, plus some generic vehicles, cargo pieces, trees and rocks, etc.

Here’s my first test assembly, using the walls and floor tiles from the other game:

Lots of building blocks basically. Just don’t knock it all over in the first turn! The flat pieces are made from cork tiles, and the rest is mostly MDF.

Some other early games in progress:

Basically everything was pretty much grey, which is useful for generic military/industrial settings but can get a bit dull.

Next post, I’ll actually add a bit of colour!

A Return to the Blog – Fleece Mat for 6mm

It’s been a good while. Although my hobby output and gaming has been a bit on the slow side, there has actually been some going on while I’ve neglected this blog.

Hopefully starting to post again will motivate me to push some projects forward, but in the meantime I’ll (re-)start with something I prepared earlier – a first attempt at a homemade fleece mat for 6mm games.

The finished mat, 5’x3′

I wanted something that would work for anything from about the 17th century onwards, as I have 6mm armies for a number of Horse & Musket periods. I also have an old collection of WW2 that I’d like to revamp and use with Blitzkrieg Commander at some point.

I found some fleece material online (Fabric Land’s ‘plain polar fleece’) and chose chocolate brown as a suitable base colour. It’s about £5 for a metre length and comes almost 1.5m wide. I started with a 1m piece for my first attempt and have since ordered a larger piece.

Working out the paint pallet

I just used normal water-based emulsion/acrylic paint. I already had the green which I use for all my terrain and figure bases. The others were various creams (e.g. Vallejo Iraqi Sand) and yellows. If you brush against the slight nap you get a bit more texture, so I did this for the fields. If you brush with the nap you get a smoother texture, so I do this for the roads and most of the grassy areas. I finished up with some dark green to suggest vegetation on the edges of fields and roads, and then applied a light grid with a black marker pen as I use grid-based rules for most of my 6mm gaming.

The fleece is a good all-round material. It doesn’t seem to crease, takes paint nicely, rolls up fine and drapes very well over things for hills.

With some buildings and trees added

Once finished it deserved a quick try out so I deployed 17th century forces and had a bit of a set-to.

The Medetian army pours onto the field to brush aside the Fleurians.

Cavalry clashes!

I’m looking forward to painting the bigger mat, which is about 9’x5′ once I get my hobby space back together after some renovations.

More catch-up posts to follow!

A Few Additions

I am slowly working through the basing of a few batches of figures painted over the winter. I’ll post them as I finish them, here are the first few.

Two crossbow-armed dwarves, classic Citadel figures from the 80s that recently received a re-paint. The guy holding the crossbow up was the original figure for my first ever D&D character, Athor. He’s almost old enough to qualify for a vaccine jab! Painting them as veterans seemed appropriate.

Next, a couple of very large rats from the Reaper Bones range. When used with 15mm figures they’ll be absolute monsters.

Another Reaper Bones figure below, this one is an Undead Dwarf.

Finally, the remaining unit for my previously-posted 15mm Sci-fi Friendlies force (based on the Dorsai novels). These are militia fighters, from CP Models.

More soon…

15mm Buildings for Dark Ages and Fantasy

I recently bought some resin models from ebay to add to the few I already had. This prompted a long overdue re-paint of the thatch on the older buildings, which were a bit bright and yellowy for my current taste. Some bases also needed a bit of work, so getting the new ones in

Scratchbuilt longhouse, from many moons ago

Next I want to add a watchtower and some wattle fencing. Hopefully soon…

Walls for homebrew 15mm Sci-fi bug hunt game

This game, a spin-off from my dungeon adventure game, was designed to be mostly 2 dimensional – by which I mean floor tiles for rooms and corridors, but with some vertical features such as doors and internal machinery.

Naturally, expansionist ideas got the better of me and I started picturing walls enclosing the spaces, to help develop the atmosphere and claustrophobic feel.

Not fancying the huge task of modelling the detail on 12 feet of 1 inch high walls, I was saved by the loan of a Green Stuff World roller, designed to press suitable generic sci-fi detail into soft material. It worked a treat on styrofoam.

After a false start, when I realised I didn’t have the means or talent to accurately and consistently cut perfect styrofoam strips, I decided to upgrade the design to include MDF frames. These would allow me to insert 2 pieces of indifferently cut 10mm rollered styrofoam. The frames would provide structure and allow everything to be lined up neatly in the game. I made a decent number each of 1, 2, 3 and 4 inch long sections, each 1 in deep and a total of 33mm tall when based on cork tile (matching the room tiles).

The timber yard: mdf components from Warbases ready for assembly
Assembly done. Looks like a model of a TV warehouse
Rollered sytofoam pieces cut to (approximate) size to fit into frames

Lots of gluing then ensued.

Then lots of undercoating everything black, with 2 coats. This was definitely the most tedious stage and nearly defeated me!

Finally, the quick bit always seems to be the actual painting. I stuck with the pallet I’d used for the existing features, grey, green and a bit of ‘warning’ yellow here and there. Finally a sandy dry-brush and picking out the rollered panel edges with a fine tipped maker pen.

After some months of start-stop effort, they’re finally done. There’s enough for a typical game, with half a dozen or so rooms and corridor sections. When lockdown ends, it’ll get a proper run out.

Not So Friendly – 15mm Sci-fi

My painting over the November/December period wasn’t hugely productive, but I did manage to finish a Sci-fi force. Like most of my other projects, these guys have been languishing for a good few years, and it was good to finally get them done.

They are a force for Sci-fi Rampant (which is basically Dragon Rampant with carefully allocated unit types and upgrades, as referred to in previous posts).

The inspiration comes from Gordon R. Dickson’s Dorsai novels, specifically the mercenaries hired out from the Friendlies, a pair of planets populated by an intensely religious sect. They’re mediocre troops, but well disciplined. To make them more interesting I have sort of blended this background with the attack-minded doctrine and unit types of the Soviets in WWII.

The core is therefore made up of large squads of close assault troops (12 figures per squad compared to the usual 6 for better quality units), backed up by heavy weapons, mortar/artillery spotters, snipers and a bit of assault armour. There are 60 figures, all from GZG (the tank is from Brigade Models). The one addition I’m making is a further squad of 12, using CP Models figures in turbans. These are painted but not yet based.

I’m looking forward to trying this lot on the table. They’re going to take a lot of casualties going in but with their sheer numbers, and black uniforms, they should be a daunting sight for the enemy!