Back to normality (sort of)

After a gap of exactly 17 months the Society resumed meetings last weekend. For the time being meetings will be members-only, no visitors or prospective new members are allowed. That is being kept under review.

For the first meeting we had five games in progress; Ancients (6mm, Fields of Glory), Dark Ages (28mm, SAGA), WW2 (3mm, Rommel), Modern / Post Apocalypse (28mm, Zona Alfa) and Fantasy (28mm, Lord of the Rings).

Fields of Glory, by Mark.

This was the first outing for the Pontic army, who took on a late Republican Roman army, basically pike and cavalry vs well trained legionaries.
Game 1. Republican Roman vs Pontics
The first battle was a close run thing, the Pontic cavalry chased the Roman cavalry around the left flank before taking out two units, alas this was too little too late as the Romans swept around the right flank destroying all in their path, a close battle but the Romans won the day.
The second battle saw the Pontic forces consolidate their pike into one large block (24 bases) with two generals attached and rear support in the shape of offensive spearman. The intent was to take out two elite legions, however the Romans had other ideas and deftly avoided a full on battle taking out the supporting spearmen and eventually surrounding the pike block which spelt the end of things for the Pontic army.
Game 2. The end of the massive Pontic pike block?
A heavy defeat for the Pontics this time as the Romans showed that well drilled troops and some great tactics can win the day. Great to be back at the club, as for the Pontic army, there’s always next time!
 

SAGA, by Andy & Jeremey

We staged two games, both with 6 point armies. In the first game Jeremey had a Viking warband, comprising his Warlord,  two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts) and three units of 8 Warriors (3pts). Against that Andy fielded an Anglo-Danish warband, comprising his Warlord,  two units of six Hearthguard (3 pts), two units of 8 Warriors (2pts) and a unit of bow armed levy (1 pt).

Both sides deployed across a diagonal centreline, with each sides right flank extending past the opponents left flank.

As the warbands advanced Andy brought the units of Warriors and Hearthguard on his right flank round to try and out flank Jeremey’s left, and also pushed his levy forward taking a second activation (and a fatigue marker) in order to loose arrows at some Viking Warriors, to little effect. Jeremey responded by using the Viking Battle board ability Odin to exhaust the Levy, and promptly charged the Warriors in decimating the Archers.

Jeremey’s warriors crash into Andy’s exhausted Levy archers. Spare shields used as Fatigue markers.

That set the tone for the first game, with Andy dishing out Fatigue when he could, and Jeremey removing it and several of Andy’s warband in response. The battle culminated in Andy’s Warlord with a couple of Hearthguard taking a stand against the last of Jeremey’s Hearthguard, only to fall in ignominy.

Andy’s Warlord surveys the remnants of his Warband and braces himself for the onslaught.

In the second game both players changed their warbands.

Jeremey changed his army completely, going for a Anglo Saxon warband with three units of 16 Warriors* (2 pts each) in addition to his Warlord.

* (Ed: We got that wrong, maximum unit size is 12 figures, so it should have been 4 units of 12 Warriors).

The Anglo-Saxon battle board is markedly different from most to others, with abilities dependent more on the number of figures in a unit rather than their quality.

Jeremey’s Anglo Saxons (and his Spear of Destiny measuring stick).

Andy retired his Levy archers and took an additional point of Warriors, splitting them between the two units to make 2 units of 12.

The Anglo Saxons (far side) and Anglo Danes (near side) in their starting positions

The armies advanced, clashing in a range of hills. Jeremey made good use of the abilities that reduce the number of attack dice available to their opponents. (Ed: Which would have been less effective with units of 12 rather than 16).

The battle lines draw near. Jeremey’s Left flank unit has been slowed down through the use of fatigue.

The battle raged back and forth with the Saxons keeping the upper hand while their unit sizes remained large. But similar to the first game the battle was hard fought, coming down to a fight with the Warlord. Although in the second battle Andy sent his Warlord to his doom against the last of Jeremey’s Saxon Fyrd, cutting down several before being overcome.

Andy’s Warlord bites the dust as Jeremey’s victorious warriors march past.

Rommel

Counterattack at Deir el Tarfa, by Alan

The battlefield. Each square of the grid is 1 km

In the summer of 1942, following its victory at Gazala, Panzerarmee Afrika pursued the British 8th army into Egypt. Rommel’s first attempt to break 8th Army’s lines failed in July, but by the end of August he was prepared to mount one last major offensive. German and Italian armor turned the Allied left flank almost 90 degrees and drove deep into Allied positions. On the evening of 31 August the 15th Panzer division began an assault on Alam-el-Halfa Ridge while the 21st Panzer division protected its exposed left flank.

Italian and German forces

The latter, however, suddenly found itself under counterattack by the British 22nd and 23rd armoured brigades. Eighth Army’s new commander, Bernard Montgomery, had held these units in reserve for precisely this contingency.

Elements of the 22nd Armoured Brigade

Our game focussed on the fight between the two British armoured brigades and 21st Panzer which was supported by elements of the Italian Littorio Division.

An initial advance by the British held most of 21st Panzer between the Deir el Tarfa and Deir el Agram ridges and an intense tank battle ensued.  But the Italians swept around the British right flank and managed to seize one of the objectives. With the tank battle see-sawing between the British and German forces the Italian held objective became the key to the engagement.  Despite several British counterattacks on the position the Italians held on.

Clash of Armour

The last British infantry assault almost succeeded but couldn’t quite take the position. So as night fell the engagement went to the Axis but with supplies running low they were forced to pull out overnight.

The game was played using the Rommel rule set by Sam Mustafa and using 3mm models from Oddzial Osmy.

PzIIIs of the 21 Panzer Division

Zona Alfa, by John and Tony

I decided to run a 4 mission mini campaign to introduce a new player (Tony) to the rules. Tony would have to recover salvage to generate funds to enable retirement from the zone whilst achieving the objectives from the mission. This is done by searching Hotspots of which there are five and the objective. A triggered Hotspot is guarded by Zone Hostiles, these can be of 6 types, the type and distance from the Hotspot being determine by Dice. Those Zone Hostiles with Melee capability head for the nearest member of the crew, those with ranged combat capability will head for cover then shoot at the nearest member of the crew. The missions were linked so that achieving an objective allows the player to proceed with the following mission.

Tony’s first job was to pick a 4 person Veteran crew from my collection and kit them out ready for action.

Mission 1. Disaster at Kovgorod.

The village of Kovgorod

A patrol has been lost in the Exclusion Zone. The last signal has been tracked from their APC to Kovgorod so that’s where the crew are headed. As they approach the village, they spot the disabled APC but a pack of Zombies has beaten them to it attracted by the smell of Blood.

Tony did well in this game and was well on his way to the retirement fund target after just one game. What could possibly go wrong?

Mission 2. The Prisoner at Bunker C13

Leader and scrounger gang up to take out a mutant

After completing the mission, the crew recover a map with a bunker highlighted. There were four dead bodies in the APC, the map revealed the location of the fifth member of the patrol. Here Tony got into trouble with Bandits. One party of Bandits had been triggered before the start of the mission and a second entered on table as Tony triggered a hotspot. Caught in a crossfire his Leader was killed early on the mission and when deciding to head for the objective, he found that these were also guarded by Bandits. Using smoke to blindside this group of Bandits, the crew were able to move out of Line of Sight, rescue the prisoner and make it out. The objective had been achieved but at a high price.

Mission 3. Road Block at Strabants Crossing

The Prisoner from the bunker had recovered and told the crew about a Laboratory hidden deep in the forest so after reequipping that’s where they were headed until they found the track blocked with a party of bandits lying in wait. This time they were dealt with clinically, as were a swarm of zombies headed for them.

Support trooper is taken out by some zombies

A satchel charge was laid and the roadblock cleared at the second attempt. Another hotspot was triggered and a gaggle of ghouls were stopped in the nick of time. Things were heating up as another hotspot was triggered and a pack of wild mutant dogs clambered over the APC to attack one of the crew members stationed on its roof.

A pack of mad mutant dogs attack

A desperate fight saw all dogs killed and as the PC was refuelled from the diesel tank, the crew were able to make good their escape.

Mission 4. The Hidden laboratory.

With no time to replenish the supplies, Tony’s crew appeared in good shape. The retirement fund had almost been achieved and now all that was needed was a top up and recovery of the drugs caches hidden in the lab – piece of cake, except at the start of each turn a D10 was rolled. If this result added to the turn number was more than 10 a zone event would occur the following move. The crew moved quickly to the lab and whilst the first zone event, a swarm of irradiated insects was easily avoided, the second – a zone security patrol was a different proposition and two of the crew were wounded in a protracted fire fight whilst the lab was being searched. With the security patrol eliminated and the drugs collected, it was time to head back to the APC, just as a terrifying Alpha Mutant entered the arena.

Enter the Alpha Mutant – time to run

Unable to take on this monster one crew member bravely fought it as the rest of the crew fled. Finally succumbing to the vicious attacks of the Mutant, she had bought vital time for the rest of the crew as they just made it back to the APC before another Zone Patrol entered the area.

It had been a rollercoaster Zone Run with plenty of tactical decisions to make, with some jeopardy and the result hanging in the balance until the final stages of the final mission.

Lord of the Rings

Tony and Phil staged this game, they each sent reports, Tony’s first:

We played two Lord of the Rings games, both involving Mumaks. The first involved a group of Knights of Dol Amroth supported by some Gondorian archers attempting to take down a single beast. This all went horribly wrong for the good guys early on when Phil started shooting my knights from their saddles with archers from the howdah, much against the odds – he is not renowned for rolling sixes when it matters !

The knights of Dol Amroth charge one of the Mumaks
Gondorian Archer’s view of the Mumak

Prince Imrahil did his best to tackle the beast single-handedly but in the end was only ever one failed priority roll from being trampled, as he duly was…

Close up of the Mumak at the start of the second game.

The second game didn’t show any improvement (Ed.: If you can’t kill one Mumak in the first game then of course you should have two in the second game!)- this time we played a scenario in Ithilien (similar to a scene in the films) with Faramir’s Rangers ambushing an advancing group of Haradrim.

Ithilien Rangers lay their Ambush

My plan was to wound the Mumaks, hope it panicked them (as happened on screen) and defeat them that way – trying to just pick them off with arrows was never going to work.

The ill fated Faramir points the way

I managed to inflict some wounds on Eric’s overgrown pachyderm but it simply shrugged them off, and they simply marched on by, killing Denethor’s second son on the way.

If we hide behind the rocks the Mumak might not see us!

Finally, Phil’s somewhat shorter report:

“Phil in shock double LOTR victories”

It should be noted that Phil deliberately stomped on a couple of his own spearman to get to the Dol Amroth chaps.

KONTRABAND – A ZONA ALFA EXPANSION

John gives a the low down on the Kontraband expansion for Zona Alfa, and a prize winning battle report on one of the scenarios from the book.  

John tells us “There’s a competition on the F/B page for battle reports. I sent a copy of the article to the rules author and I’ve won a copy of the rule book signed by the author and illustrator.”

Zona Alfa was published by Osprey in early 2020. It’s a skirmish game set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone where teams battle for salvage and hope to survive. I’d hoped to play it at the club, then along came the pandemic. The author supports the game well via the Stalker 7 website and solo or Coop rules were soon developed, where the player games against the zone itself rather than a physical opponent. I’ve posted 3 battle reports here and you can check out Guerrilla Miniature Games U Tube channel where a full 7 game campaign is played out. These rules are highly recommended.

Kontraband is an 80 page expansion to the Zona Alfa ruleset (which you will need to play Kontraband), available through Amazon as hardcopy or Wargames Vault as a pdf. It develops the ideas above to take the game in a different direction, recommending a play area of 3’ x 3’ and a crew of 4 veterans. It is set deep in the Exclusion Zone at high threat level so it’s worth playing through a few standard Zona Alfa games before diving in. Here’s what’s in the book.

Crew Members.

Crew members can either be Stalkers – good at combat or Scientists – good at technical tasks, a further option is to include a dog companion for which there are detailed rules and additional rules for Hazmat suits. Each crew member can have different equipment or skills so it’s worth spending the time to make them complementary.

Zone Setting.

The play area is populated with a recommended nine searchable locations (points of interest). The crew have to live off the land so these need to be searched for food, drink, ammo etc. to sustain the crew for the next game. There are 20 points of interest cards from which the 9 are randomly selected, shuffled and placed as an Incident Deck, the top card being revealed when a point of interest is searched. These cards are nearly all bad news and may spawn a zone hostile within close combat distance, dangerous plants or booby traps. There is a greater emphasis on melee combat than in Zona Alfa.

The objective of the game is to search Anomalies to retrieve artifacts (the recommended goal for a campaign being 12 artifacts). It is recommended that the play area for a game has 3 Anomalies to search. The rules for anomalies are fleshed out and there are options for different area effects if the anomaly search goes wrong – four ways to die. Models can be caught in a gravity force field, electrocuted, blasted or teleported away from the anomaly.

There is no game turn limit, the risk of staying in a dangerous area is handled by zone events. Starting on the second move, and becoming more likely with each subsequent move, there is a risk of a zone event, for example: an energy wave, vermin stampede, security patrol, angry mutant or anomaly movement to ruin your day.

New Stuff

This covers a better way of dealing with wounds than the original rule book, there are new weapons and accessories with better options for melee combat. Zone hostiles can be made more dangerous and the concept of fatigue and obsessions are introduced. In Zona Alfa, progression is covered from Rookie through to Veteran. In Kontraband, crew members can add sixth sense, extra toughness, and an additional skill after a number of survived missions.

Missions and Expeditions.

There are 6 separate mission ideas for pick- up games or to link together to form an expedition and a sample expedition of 5 missions in the rulebook. So whilst waiting for some new figures, I decided to try out the reconnaissance mission.

Here is the table layout with 9 POI (blank dice) and 3 anomalies (Spheres), the crew will enter at the bottom RH  corner. Their mission is to search the 4 POI at the corners as a minimum, destroying all Zone Hostiles and retrieving samples from any of the corner POI which contain a hazard. I selected a crew with 3 Stalkers and 1 Scientist.

Turn 1.

For the first turn the crew will check out the POI closest to their entry point, the abandoned farm equipment. Each crew member can have three actions per turn and it’s worth using one action “alert” to provide overwatch for the Searcher. The top card from the Incident deck is revealed.

Here the vermin swarm is spawned by using a D10. The dice roll number is the distance in inches/2 from the POI and the facing gives the direction. The Leader (Nimzo), with the steady hands skill and a red dot sight has one action before the swarm can charge into the nearest model and attack it. They are destroyed.

Had the incident card been a bandit ambush, it’s likely that one or more crew members would have been out of action on turn one, unless crew members are on alert to take pre-emptive action.

The Searcher (Ali) has the scrounger skill so can search the POI twice, He secures rations, water and ammo which the crew will need for the next mission – in the game you have to think about the future as well as the present.

Turn 2

At each turn after turn 1 a D10 is rolled. The die roll is added to the turn number and if the result is greater than 10, a zone event occurs the subsequent turn. No zone event for turn 3.

The crew head up the board and Sukova (a Scientist) is best equipped to search the anomaly, which she does.

Here, a skill roll of 8 would normally fail but Sukova is equipped with a Detector which gives her a +2 bonus and she recovers an artefact, which would count towards a campaign goal.

Turn 3

A zone event, an anomaly shift will take place at the start of turn 4. The crew move up to the top RH corner of the board to search the POI, next turn. This will not affect the crew as they will be out of range.

Turn 4

No zone event is rolled. Spassky (Bounty Hunter) checks the POI – not the best option. The card reveals a zone hazard ‘Spores and Spitters’. He survives one attack and retrieves a sample from the POI.

Turn 5

The zone event roll results in an Alpha Predator entering the board at the start of turn 6.

The crew move towards the POI at the top left hand corner of the board but reserve an alert action to use against the Predator when it enters the board. Where possible, they move into cover, this will give protection against the attacking Predator which has Ranged and Melee combat abilities

Turn 6

An area emission effect will arrive at the start of turn 7

The predator enters, this is a dangerous opponent with high armour value. Ruined buildings prevent a direct attack route and it is forced wide and after 3 movement actions it has none left to attack the crew. It’s the crew’s turn and Ali fires the grenade launcher and scores one wound. The Leader gives him an extra action to get into cover. Spassky with Steady hands and a Red Dot sight on his battle rifle fires at the predator. It takes 3 firing actions but the predator is downed. Spassky is stuck in the open.

Turn 7

The Zone event roll results in another Alpha predator arriving. Things are not good for Spassky. He takes the full force of the Zone emission, he’s pinned and wounded and it takes all his actions to recover. Nimzo gives him an action to go on alert. The rest of the team move round to deal with the Predator when it enters.

Turn 8

The zone event roll brings up another zone emission at the start of the next turn.

The Predator enters, Ali fires a grenade which causes one wound, whilst Nimzo causes another. Spassky lobs a smoke grenade at the Predator which has to take a will check. It rolls a 10. This is an automatic pin and the will failure adds another. It will take 2 actions to remove the pinned counter but the Predator will still be able to attack Spassky once when it emerges from the smoke.

It’s a straight roll off, Spassky has the knife man skill and is armed with a Trench knife. Both adversaries roll a hit. Spassky could use his roll to parry the attack from the Predator but he’s a Bounty Hunter. Both take a wound and the Predator is destroyed.

Ali makes it to the thicket which holds the POI they must search for. Sukova manages to search a second anomaly and  grab an artefact before ducking into cover. Nimzo orders Spassky to seek cover under farm machinery. Nimzo joins him there to apply a med kit.

Turn 9

The zone event for the next turn is another Alfa Predator

This turn, the effect of the zone emission is negated because all crew members are in cover. Nimzo and Spassky go on alert whilst Sukova searches a POI, which reveals a mutant.

The mutant spawns 4 inches away from the POI and is downed by Spassky. Sukova retrieves some ‘hotload’ ammo for the crew.

Meanwhile Ali’s search triggers a Zone Hazard  – cobwebs.

Ali avoids the effect of the Zone Hazard, collecting a sample and retrieves a Lithium battery, Med Kit and heavy weapons reload. He will need this for the grenade launcher next mission.

Nimzo gives Ali an extra action so he can go on alert and get in position to attack the Predator the next turn

Turn 10

The zone event for move 11 is another zone emission.

The Predator enters but the crew are ready. Ali fires a grenade causing one wound and Spassky finishes it off with two shoot actions, the extra damage from his AS Val battle rifle proving crucial. In their move, the crew race towards the final POI that needs to be searched to complete the mission. They duck into cover to avoid the effect of the emission. Ali moves slower as he is slowed down by the heavy weapon.

Turn 11

The zone event for move 12 is the arrival of a Spetsnaz zone patrol

The zone emission has no effect and the crew continue towards the final POI. Spassky searches the POI – Marsh gas, if he fails the will check, he will fire at the nearest crew member! He passes and collects a sample having an action to clear the board. The rest of the crew follow, Ali needs to take a swig of Electric Juice to give him the extra action before the Zone Patrol enters.

The incident packed game had taken just over 90 minutes, a bit longer to make commentary notes and photos. I really enjoyed the game which adds extra detail to the Zona Alfa ruleset. I’ve played this scenario 4 times now, each game was different and challenging. I’d recommend this game to all players- whether you are a regular player or a sceptic who felt the original game wasn’t for them.

Reflections

Zona Alfa and Kontraband are well supported by the author who has answered any queries or clarification promptly. The Facebook page is an excellent and supportive source for the game, no bitchy point scorers on this site which is refreshing compared to other wargaming Facebook pages I subscribe to.

 

Down to the Wire – Zona Alpha Battle Report

John presents us with another Zona Alpha battle report.

A Zona Alfa Solo play battle report, a continuation from The Hostage in bunker c7.
It had all been too good to be true. With half a kilometre travelled the BPM 97 coughed and spluttered it’s last and came to a grinding halt.
‘Where are we?’ Kovacs asked. ‘Strelets’ replied Leila, ‘The fence is just beyond the village’. He picked up a cluster of hotspots in the village and with the zombies in pursuit He needed to think fast.
‘Ice Queen, booby trap the doors, they’ll smell our sweat first’. Cover us whilst we check out the village.’ ‘Leila, grab the wire cutters and stock up on grenades everyone’.
Kovacs headed out first followed by Leila. They’d reached the outskirts of the village as the zombies arrived. Sure enough they triggered the Booby trap and the doors were well and truly blown off.

Four of the zombies are caught in the blast zone. With an ‘armour’ of 6 minus 2 for the grenade blast, they need 4 or less to survive. Two down!

Ice Queen takes aim at the zombies.

Ice Queen aims 3 shots at the zombies but only hits one (needing 7 or less).The Zombie is downed. She has no further actions fortunately, the zombies have activated twice this turn.

Whilst she could, Ice Queen ran around the building to Kovacs and Leila. ‘This will slow us down’ muttered Kovacs as Leila attempted to take out the zombies unsuccessfully. Kovacs lobbed a well aimed grenade in their direction and all three fell dead.

All three zombies are caught in the blast zone and all fail their armour save rolls, needing 4 or less

Picking their way through the village, it was clear that other hotspots would be triggered. ‘Better choose ourselves’ said Kovacs as he tossed a bolt at the building in front triggering the hot spot
‘Holy Cow! Four mechs’ groaned Kovacs.

Between Kovacs and Ice Queen, two mechs are destroyed.

‘Drat!’ shouted Kovacs as one of the mechs aimed at him. Luckily it missed, the second mech fired and wounded Ice Queen before it too was downed.
Having disposed of the Mechs and administering a med pack to Ice Queen, Kovacs weaved between the village buildings and clambered onto some farm machinery to get a clear throw for a bolt toss to trigger the hot spot near the fence. It was then that Kovacs noticed the sensors.

A good throw triggered the hot spot, revealing a huge Man eating plant

‘What the …’ ‘Ice Queen, here now!’ shouted Kovacs.

A skilful shot from the sniper rifle takes out the mutant who rolled a 10 needing a 3 or less to survive

‘Leila, run to the fence and cut a hole in the wire – don’t worry about the alarm’ ordered Kovacs. Without a fumble, the bolt cutters easily made a hole in the fence as the alarm started, waking up some Ghouls – tortured irradiated souls who had escaped from the Sanatorium.

Kovacs opens up first and between him and Ice Queen, the ghouls are eliminated

As Kovacs makes a run for the fence, the mayhem roused a group of zombies near the bath house.

Ice Queen was stranded, deserted by her comrades. With the alarms going, there was only one course of action to survive. Her Sniper rifle weighed too much, she had to ditch it to stand a chance and run for the wire before the zombies got to her. At the wire, Kovacs handed her a bottle of Electric Juice . ‘Here take this’. ‘Now run for that Sewage drain to the left’. They made it into the cold damp darkness of the sewage pipe before the first drone came over. ‘You owe me’ howled Ice Queen.
Some people say you can never get rid of the smell.

 

An urban battle mat, for less than £10!

Society member John describes how he made a Zona Alfa battle mat. This was written up after the mat had been made, so there aren’t many WIP shots.

I wanted a battle mat for Zona Alfa so decided to make my own following the Sea mat I made for Galleys and Galleons using the same techniques. Here’s what I used:-

As much weed control fabric for as many mats as I’m ever likely to use for £3.99 from Poundstretcher. 4 x decorators caulk from Wickes £4.00. The Wickes caulk appears to be the best. I’ve found lumps of dried caulk within the tube in other brands

Construction

The fabric appears to be polythene with paper fibre bonded to it in a small waffle pattern. If possible I wanted this to show through in on the finished mat so decided to start on the reverse of the mat with a thin layer over all of it, using a caulking gun without nozzle fitted to the caulk tube.

Firstly, I taped the material down to hardboard with masking tape, smoothing out any creases, before applying the first coat. I applied a thin layer of the caulk and smoothed with a trowel. Here I hit upon a snag. Some of the mastic seeped through the fabric and bonded to the hardboard I was using, I ended with a number of tears which were easily patched with packing tape – they would be covered with caulk later. I’ve tried using greaseproof paper under the fabric when applying the first layer and this seems to prevent the problem.

When the first layer was dried, I flipped the mat over and applied a thin coat on the second side. When this had dried, I decided which surface was going to be the playing area and applied a second coat to the reverse side. After this dried, I checked any areas with packing tape patching showing and gave these another coat of mastic, I dabbed the surface with a sponge to provide some texture.

Finishing

When fully dry, I cut the mat to shape (3 foot square) with a Stanley knife and straight edge and painted the playing area with grey match pots, blending the colours in. Now it was time to get creative with washes to get some variation in the colours. I used burnt umber and black acrylic tube paint. I started by applying blobs of paint on the mat and taking a jar of water, diluted the paint outwards. You can see that here.

I always use fairy liquid in the water when using acrylic paints to break surface tension. This created bubbles on the mat. See detail near base of photo.

I then placed cans under the mat to let the washes flow across the mat. You can see this near the top corner of this photo. Accidently, I spilt drips of wash on the mat and decided to leave them, see below.

When the mat was fully dried, I then dry brushed any raised detail with pale grey and then white acrylic, before applying some light green wash to indicate moss or alga growth.

The finished mat ready for use.

Storage and Transport.

For the two mats I’ve made, I store them in the garage on top of other items, I haven’t tried storing them rolled up and I wouldn’t stack mats on top of each other (I had a problem with two pieces of marsh terrain I made which permanently bonded together when stacked). Any creases disappear if the mat is rolled and unrolled. From the above photo you can see it unrolls flat.

Further Ideas

I’m thinking of making some 2 x 2ft mats for Perilous tales – a desert area, a swamp, desolate moorland as the techniques are quite versatile.

Every Cloud …

Jeremey gets plastered (it had to be done, AK)…

Sometimes I do worry about us miniature wargamers. Faced with the challenges of everyday life, their outlook can be slightly different to the non-hobbyist.

Recently there was a crashing sound and on investigation the utility room ceiling was no more. There were plaster board fragments everywhere. Dealing with reality first I cleaned the area up and started looking for someone to repair the damage.

Remains of the Ceiling and Collected Detritus

Not the sort of expense I wanted (but quite fitting given how 2020 was), however during the clean up operation I kept picking up bits of rubble and thinking how the chunks of plaster reminded me of concrete.

Proof of Concept

Before you could say “how much!” to the plasterer, I’d put together a proof of concept to turn the plaster fragments, into rubble for my 28mm troopers to fight over.

But I paused at this point when someone pointed out that old plasterboard could contain Asbestos! Well regardless of using the plasterboard for scenery I still had to tidy up my utility room. So I sent a sample off to be tested which came back as negative. So please do be cautious if you’re thinking of doing a similar project as this.

The plaster board rubble was very weak and dusty so I used a genuine DIY tip and painted the plaster with a watered down PVA glue solution to seal it. This made the plaster more like concrete and stopped it from crumbling while being handled.

Glue Gun to Stick it Together then more PVA

A lot of the rubble still had all the layers attached to it which I left in place to make it even more authentic looking. In the pictures I’ve done nothing but glue the pieces together and coated everything in a second layer of PVA glue.

These pieces have become very solid and are still very light, as light as resin would be. As you can imagine I have quite a lot of material to work with and so will be returning to the blog with an update on building an entire destroyed settlement.

Petrified Forest

Jeremey adds more ‘real’ trees to make a Petrified Forest.

After building my large spooky dead tree , well I say building but it was more like nature built it and I just based it. I also took a dozen or so other cuttings from the dead bush to use as trees in a Dead or Petrified Forest.

Additional dead branches to act as trees

I started by basing these in exactly the same way as the large tree I did. A round wooden base appropriate to the size of the stick with a metal washer stuck on top to provide some weight. I’ve started to add weight to a lot of my terrain projects. It helps to stop taller pieces from being constantly knocked over during games.

Using the hot glue gun I then stuck a piece of the dead bush to each base and covered the whole base with the coloured bathroom sealant mix. If you saw my other post about the large tree you will remember I mixed far too much of the sealant, so it was useful to have these additional trees to base.

Just a bit of dry brushing and some flock

Once the base material had dried I dry brushed it with two other lighter brown colours to give some contrast. While I had the paint brushes out I also used a watered down solution of brown ink wash to go over all the freshly snapped of parts to make the wood look like it had been broken for a long while. The appearance of fresh sap wood is a dead give away, just ask any experienced tracker … ahem I then added a bit of flock and a few grass tuffs for good measure.

The cheapest dead forest you will see this year

Here is a wider shot of the whole forest complete with a unit on patrol. I’ve put them on my lighter desert mat but they go just as well on the grass one and I have some darker brown mat pieces to put the trees on to define an area of forest in games. Although I will also put these on my swamp mat as they look just the part for those areas you see in fantasy films were rising water as killed the trees, sort of the forest of doom or swamp of despair.

Work in Progress Wednesday

It was troopers and gaming aids for this Wednesday.

Steve finally managed to get around to rebasing some troopers, as Steve himself says “A while ago I decided to strip and re-paint some EM4 plastic colonial marines. I also cut away the old guns and bought some replacements.

EM4 Plastic Troopers with Weapon Swaps

John L has also been painting troopers in the form of a group of Spetsnaz he actually won in a Zona Alfa competition.

Footsore America Spetsnaz

And finally this week Tony F has created for himself some stat trackers for Lord of the Rings.

Lord of the Rings Stat Trackers

Tony explains these far better than I could: “I’ve made some gaming aids for Lord of the Rings games; these are stats trackers to record the special abilities of heroes and commanders using small D6. The original was 3D printed and then I’ve made moulds and cast them up in resin. The lettering and army badges are raised to make them easy to paint. I’ve painted some in appropriate colours for each army, and I’ve painted the ‘W’ for Wounds in red to differentiate it from the ‘W’ for Will (the other stats are Might and Fate).”

It will be interesting to see how these work. Tony is still looking at how to add the heroes name to the tracker.

The Attack Drone at Zamatkya

John Lambert enters the Forbidden zone in this solo Zona Alfa battle report

It was getting tough in Sector 27. The Federation had replaced unreliable Mercenary patrol Vigilantes with mechanised robots who didn’t need paying and in a sinister development areas of the zone were now patrolled by Kamov attack drones – pickings were slim, it kept Big Ilya awake at night. Rumours spread through his base that one of the drones had crash landed close to Zamatkya village. Ilya called up Cziscova ‘Czisco’. She had worked on development at Kamov and He thought if He could get hold of the flight control software, the drones could be jammed. Maybe the happy times would return.

Kovacs sat in the bar opposite Big Ilya and ‘Czisco’, He’d been bought a shot of Bison Grass vodka, things looked bad.

‘I need you to get a Software copy’ whispered Big Ilya, take ‘Czisco’. Nobody had said ‘No’ to an ex Cage Fighter.

Kovacs was a seasoned Zone veteran – act first, question later. His tactics were simple, eliminate the hostiles first, then scavenge and he had an ace scavenger, Ali – the thief of Baghdad. Little more than a kid, He’d survived by scavenging through the rubble before the shutters came down for good. Then there was Anasova ‘ice Queen’ the silent one, a deadly sniper from Riga, ever reliable. At the bar, He’d been taken by Czisco’s long legs and spray on denim but she never stopped prattling on, it was like a never ending hangover from cheap vodka.

They had arrived at the village in good time 35 minutes to act before a patrol drone returned, a weak sun failed to penetrate the greyness. Quickly, they identified their objective – the damaged drone in the centre but what was this? Howling mutant hounds from Hell with their sadistic Hound master Pavlov could be heard coming from a building to the west of the drone. They were guarding a hotspot. The crew would have to creep around an intervening hotspot to eliminate them. ‘Damn’ muttered Kovacs ‘This will slow us down’

Zamatkya village, with attack drone in centre and zone hostile hounds to the west
Ali moved into position and eliminated two hounds in good time

Then disaster! Both Czisco’s and Ice Queens guns jammed. There was only one thing for it. Kovacs lobbed a smoke grenade at hounds. He just didn’t want one of the crew mauled so early into the mission. He checked his watch 5 minutes gone, things weren’t going to plan and would get worse

That should stop an attack but attempts to destroy the remaining hounds were ineffective so the crew got into position for the smoke to clear. Ten minutes gone. As the smoke cleared Kovacs killed one hound before his gun jammed. Ice Queen’s gun jammed for a second time before Czisco despatched the other dogs – perhaps He’d been wrong about her all along mused Kovacs. This allowed Ali to search the building – 1250 salvage value and two red dot sights.

Fifteen minutes gone, time to head for the objective Ali tosses a bolt revealing two dangerous luminous venomous insect swarms.

Again Ice Queen’s gun jams. Ali destroys one of the swarms and then his gun jams also!

‘What the …’ snarled Kovacs, this was more than coincidence, running across open ground he blasted the remaining swarm as He and Czisco made it to the drone.

Twenty minutes gone, it was cutting it fine as it would take more than five minutes to remove the access panel, download the software then replace the panel. As the panel is removed, Kovacs orders Ali and Ice Queen to search the closest hotspot. Not ideal as Czisco’s Laptop crashes and they’ll have to spend longer at the drone!

Meanwhile Ali throws a bolt at the hotspot which reveals a mutant – looks like He’d taken a heavy dose of radiation when searching an anomaly.

Ice Queen took aim and this time the mutant was despatched instantly – phew! Ali searched the area diligently but only came away with 350 worth of salvage.

With thirty minutes approaching there was no time to search any other hotspots and it was time to get out before the patrol drone turned up. Whilst the objective had been achieved, Kovacs was no nearer to retiring to that Black Sea Dacha. He thought the ammo He’d recently bought had caused the jams. Time to visit the Dealer and ask Him if He feels lucky.

Birch Forest

John Lambert gets green fingers.

I’d missed out on the bargain miniature Christmas trees from The Works but needed some trees for Zona Alfa. I thought about birch trees, this is how I made them.

Wire Armature
I used wire armatures for the trees and found a tutorial on the Marklin model railway site. I had some thin wire from B & Q Garden section and start by cutting two pieces about 45cm long and folded them in two. I placed the handle of a wooden spoon in the bends and gripping the 4 strands of wire in pliers, rotated the handle to twist the wire. I continued twisting until I wanted to inset a branch. These were made by taking a piece of wire about 20 cm in length which I bent half way. Taking one of the 4 strand of wire, I twist this around one half of the new piece of wire, the second half of the added wire now becomes a strand for the trunk, then continued twisting the trunk until I was ready to insert another branch. I then went back to twist the two wires for the branch until it was long enough, leaving lengths of wire at the end of the branch. The tree canopy will be attached to these. I then continued up the trunk, dropping the number of trunk wires or splitting the trunk into two near the top. The loops at the foot of the trunk are folded out and glued to a base.

The next stage was to get rid of the twisted wire appearance and add some body to the lower section of the trunk. I used Decorator’s acrylic caulk for this, using a wet modelling knife to smooth the caulk and provide texture. I didn’t add caulk to the free ends of the branch. Once the caulk was dry, I painted the trunk pale stone colour, applied a thin pale green wash then dry brushed white. I painted the ends of the branches black. I had a look at our local birch trees, the branches lose thickness abruptly then a mesh of fine branches drop down almost vertically.
I had a pack of black scourers also from B & Q and by gently ripping the scourer, I could get a very thin mesh which I would superglue to the black branch ends

This mesh is pretty robust and ideal to provide the canopy. For foliage, I had some small clump foliage which was just the job. Once the canopy pieces were glued to the branch ends, it was time to add the foliage. I dry brushed the canopy with PVA and sprinkled the canopy with the clump foliage, leaving to dry overnight. The next day, I gently brushed off any loose foliage and the tree was complete, once sprayed with matt sealant.

Tree on left is painted Armature ready for canopy mesh, Tree on right has partial canopy applied. Tree in centre is finished tree.
If you look a photos of Birch forest, the trees are often grouped closely together in stands, I think due to a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria. I decided to create stands that would conveniently fit into a storage box. These could be grouped together as dense clumps, or spread out to form a birch forest. I used the same technique as the trees above.

Nimzo’s Crew

John Lambert goes into the Zone.

I had a good look around for a suitable crew for Zona Alfa and chose figures from Empress Miniatures. I wanted a good mix and chose one pack from their Chechen range and one from their insurgents range, I also bought a set of heads with gas masks to covert a couple of figures. I was really impressed with the casting quality and they were a joy to paint. I used mainly hobby shop acrylics and of course, the figures needed to be named.

I really liked the RPG figure with tank crew hat – I think my favourite. The next three I painted in Urban winter style camouflage and did a head swap on Kovacs, the piping on the track suit bottoms I added with a fineliner brush.

(l/r Blokin, Zeitsev, Nimzovitch (Nimzo), Sashlik)

The second set I painted a forest digitised camouflage adding extra dots of paint with a cocktail stick.

You need a sniper called Zeitsev – the Stalingrad hero!. Stay tuned to Radio Pripyat for the next instalment.