Work in Progress Wednesday

This week Steve puts us all to shame with his continued hobby output.

First up he has already finished painting up his dwarves and heavy support in the form of a giant bear.

He’s behind you!

And out of the blue he has also found time to make himself a neat dice box. Bought for just £2 from the shop ‘The Works’, Steve created some compartments and a tray insert.

You can never have enough dice.

Next up John’s Zona Alfa city continues to expand with the start of a new warehouse. I’m sure this will look as good as the previous office block.

A warehouse for the Zona Alfa city

And finally I’ve started the plastering stage for my 15mm Tudor style buildings for Wars of the Roses games. As per my normal method they are made from EVA foam with the wood beams cut from coffee stirrers.

Tudor buildings soon to echo with the clash of swords and arrows

I thought I’d go for bathroom sealant to plaster in between the beams but it’s a nightmare so will need a rethink as I have seven buildings to do.

Given the current lockdown status we may well have another WIP post next week.

 

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.

Zona Alfa Office

Club member John L takes us through the complete build of his recent office block.

This post is in response from a fellow club member regarding the buildings I’ve made for Zona Alfa, a sort of ‘How to’ guide. I wouldn’t profess to be a good terrain builder, but this method worked for me.

Planning
First check out photos on the internet for the type of building you want to use then draw the plan on A4. If you are going to use a storage box, check the plan against this allowing sufficient spacing around the building to get it out of the box. Simple enough but if you add on a detail later, it can prove frustrating! Plan how many floors you are going to have and if you want to be able to take it apart later (I did as I wanted the space inside the building shell to add another building).
In 28mm I work on 5mm to a foot scale and allow 35 – 40mm for door heights, depending on type of building. Door widths 15 – 20mm. Windows are 15 – 20mm from ground level, adjust until it looks right.

Materials
5mm Foam board – Hobbycraft
Mounting Board – Hobbycraft
Lolly sticks – Hobbycraft
Clear plastic (optional for windows, I used food packaging material)
Cereal box cardboard
White card A4 pack from ASDA
Fine sand
Builders sand
Tools
Snap off large and small knives – B&Q
Resin W PVA glue
Bulk PVA Glue – B&Q
Set square
Steel ruler
Pin

Step 1
Cut out the base from mounting board. This needs to fit on the box if using and should include a 5mm border around the building. It’s probably better to radius the corners of the base to prevent a ‘dog eared’ look.

Step 2
Draw out the walls onto foamboard, taking into account the joins at the corners. I used simple lap joints so the long walls were 10mm shorter than the plan, use a set square to make sure all is square. Mark the sections you want to cut out so that you don’t remove the wrong bit!. I then take a pin and push through to the reverse side of the foam board.

Step 3
When cutting foam board I use the large snap off knife and steel rule, making a shallow cut. If you try a deep cut, the foam will tear. It’s a material that will blunt your knife blade quickly so snap off blades are ideal. I use the smaller knife to cut out the window openings. To get a clean finish, flip over the foam board and check the backing of the foam board is cut through, you can use the pin holes as a guide. By keeping the blade vertical against the rule, you should get a clean finish.

Step 4
Once the wall panels are cut out, I added detailing from strips of mounting board to the front faces. On the interior faces, I added strips of foam board which would be supports for the roof and first floors. I then created slots for the cross walls.

Step 5
To assemble the building, I used Resin W PVA. This is quick drying which helps prevent the whole building collapsing as it’s drying. Use the set square to check all is square.

Step 6
At this point, I decided to add a staircase (should have been in the original plan!). I used 1cm x 2cm pieces of foam board to build the spine and then 1 cm strips to build the supports. Then used lolly sticks to add the treads.

Step 7
I decided to add broken windows to the building. To do this I added 3mm strips of cereal pack card as the outside frame for each window. This was the most time consuming bit but now the basic building was done.

Step 8
To achieve the concrete look, I painted the exterior with a thin layer of PVA and then sprinkled fine sand over this. If a bit is missed, it’s better to let the whole thing dry before touching up. It’s important to have the cross walls in place for this stage as the PVA will cause the foam board to bow in at the centre. For the base, I used Builders sand which is courser. When the whole thing is dry, I painted the base using acrylics – dark brown/black followed by a light dry brush. For the walls I started with a base coat of Wilko Mineral Stone, then mixed this with Wilko Biscuit Crunch to paint over everything except the recesses. I’d picked this up from Terrain Tutor. From the same channel, I’d seen tips on applying washes to buildings, by prewetting the surface first so I added a dark wash to the recesses and a Sage Green wash to the lower panels to the ground for Algae. I then added brown stain on some sections and I think this worked well. I then painted the interior using acrylics.

Step 9
I cut the windows from plastic by cellotaping the plastic to my cutting board, then cutting out strips which I gave a jagged edge. These were secured by 2mm strips of cereal card on the inside of the windows. Another long job, when finished. I used a dab of superglue in the corners to secure the panes in place.

Step 10
To finish, I made the door adding part of a cable tie for the lock. I added graffiti and then made up some signs to hang over the doorway. These can be changed as required.

Work in Progress Wednesday

This Wednesday’s work in progress sees another week packed with miniatures.

This week Tony F opens with a Rohirrim standard bearer, to keep his hopes of a LOTR figure a week going.

Lord of the Rings Standard Bearer

Next up Andy has continued making progress on his various Dark Age figures.

The multitude of Dark Age miniatures

Eric has managed to finish his crew for Zona Alfa and they are looking pretty good.

The whole crew – “Mad” Gregor, Dimitri, “Big” Mik, Vasily The Kid, Arkady (the leader).

Eric has also managed to put together some critters in the form of Zombies.

The zombies, George and Mildred

And last but not least John L has given us a sneak peak of some newly based Chilean Infantry, just waiting for a bit of vegetation.

Chilean infantry

John mention the following “A new rule book for the Pacific War 1879 – 1885 is out so I might give this a look.” So here’s hoping John gives us some more pictures of this projects.

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.

ZONA ALFA: Zoned out

Stephen gives us his thoughts on another ruleset.

If you don’t like negative reviews then you may want to stop reading.

That said, whilst this may not be a glowing endorsement, neither is it scathing.

I’ve taken the recent pandemic to make my way through some of the Osprey rules I bought.

Now, Zona Alfa does have some following in the club. And I should preface what I am about to say by making it clear that I have not played the game. But I have given it a few read-throughs. So I reserve the right to take back everything I am about to say!

So, what’s my problem with Zona Alfa?

Well, it isn’t the game mechanics per se. When it was played at the club there were some post-game comments about some inconsistencies and other bits not being clear. That can often be the case with the Osprey blue books, where authors can be constrained by page count. You have to go into them knowing that you may have to do a little bit of work yourself (although part of me also thinks 60 odd pages is enough to get the job done).

That can be OK, so long as there aren’t too many vagaries or incomplete bits.

My problem with Zona Alfa is that…well, it’s all a bit bland and vanilla.

I loved the concept behind the game when it was announced – scavengers ranging over a warped post-apocalyptic world. I was up for that.

However, in Zona Alfa there is no attempt to tie the conceit of the game into the game mechanics. The background is all just a bit of fluff that could be tacked on to any game.

For example, the idea is that scavengers scrounge across a wasteland looking for abandoned hi-tech equipment. But there is no attempt to say anything about that equipment and what it can do to enhance your gang of scavengers or what effects it has on the game. All it’s given is a monetary value. You find a bit of unnamed tech and it’s worth x roubles.

Big whoop.

Since the raison d’etre behind the game is this equipment then I would have expected a bit more. It should be something, it should have a game effect. There’s also something called ‘anomalies’ – areas that have been warped that create unique hazards. Sounds interesting, eh? But all you do is make a roll to see if it explodes.

Again, big whoop.

All of the above could be easily tacked on to any set of rules.

The game mechanics themselves seem OK. In fact, all you’re really getting for your money is a nondescript (but quite serviceable) set of skirmish rules. But with bits of Russian thrown in for good measure in an attempt to give it the smokescreen of character.

Truth is, there’s nothing in the Zona Alfa rules themselves that tie them in to the game world. Compare that to Black Ops, another Osprey game where you control a team of special ops troops to sneak about and conduct espionage. In Black Ops the rules build in mechanisms for stealth since that is the point behind the game. Zona Alfa fails to do the same, the rules just aren’t tied in to the game world.

Quite simply, there’s no reason to buy Zona Alfa. As it is, if you want to play a game with scavengers finding random tech that just has a monetary value or explodes you could use whatever rules you want. Zona Alfa doesn’t add anything, but neither does it take away. It gets an indifferent 5/10

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.

BPM 97 Scratchbuild

John Lambert shares his latest Zona Alfa projekt.

I’d bought into Zona Alfa intrigued by the period, the campaign system and the terrain building potential. One of the mission objectives in the rulebook scenarios involves a broken down APC. I wasn’t going to splash out £20.00 for a resin cast model so what could I do instead?. Scanning the ASDA shelves for Gaslands stuff I came across this for £3.00.

Could I use the bits from this as a basis for a model ?

I’d remembered that this brand was secured by screws and not rivets so opening it up took a matter of minutes. I was left with a cab, fuel tank, wheels and chassis. I could use the fuel tank, cab and upper chassis as extra terrain pieces later. What about the lower chassis and wheels?

I’d got this plan off the internet and hoped it would work

The wheels were the right diameter but the wheelbase was 1cm too long so I’d have to cut the chassis and join the pieces with 2 x 30 thou plastic card – my go to modelling material for 45 years!. The track was a bit wide 2mm but I could live with that. I’d sketched out templates for the sides and front of the body, cut them out from 20 thou plastic card and quickly had the basis of the bodywork, which warped overnight!.
I decided to build the front wheel arches from strips of 30 thou card to provide better rigidity and to ensure a square structure. Referring to internet photos I found the bonnet top would be quite complex to make. I used 2 pieces of 60 thou plastic card and sanded this down with wet and dry to get the right profile.
On to the detailing, I decided to be systematic. First I added access doors to the rear and roof hatches from 20 thou plastic card then side access doors from 10 thou plastic card. Cupolas above the driving positions were from 40 thou plasticard. Hinges were from plastic micro rod and I made catches from microstrip and micro rod in long sections that I could then cut to size. These WIP shots show the detailing in progress – there’s more than I thought when starting this project!

I painted the body in dark green, dry brushing with lighter green and using a section from the packaging for the windows. The chassis I painted black and dry brushed grey and light brown before fixing to the bodywork.

Overall I was pleased with the results – a good project for isolation. More episodes to follow!