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.

The Hostage in Bunker C7

Club member John presents a recent Zona Alfa battle report.

The Hostage in Bunker C7

Big Ilya was in a rage, his latest partner Leila had gone missing. He paced around the bar like a caged tiger.
‘Get Out, Get Out! ‘He yelled. There was a rush for the door as bar stools whistled through the air, smashing the windows. ‘Not You!’ He snarled, glaring at Kovacs. ‘You find her or don’t bother coming back’ He added menacingly.
Kovacs heard a rumour that she had been captured and was held hostage in disused bunker c7. It was one of a series that had been decommissioned when trouble had flared up in the zone. He knew there was lots of activity in the area but with a small crew – Ali and ice Queen, they might just make it.
As dawn broke, they approached the bunker in eerie silence, they hadn’t been detected so far. They checked the scene for any activity. ‘Ah an abandoned APC – That’ll come in handy’ thought Kovacs. Over by some abandoned farm machinery, a pack of zombies were stirring but all was quiet around the bunker.

‘Time to wake em up’ thought Kovacs as he tossed a bolt towards the bunker. Staring right at him was the biggest, ugliest mutant He’d ever seen !

‘Nuts’ uttered Kovacs as He raced to the entrance. Ali opened fire but his guns jammed. Ice Queen adjusted the firing position and got the mutant right between the eyes.

Ali opens fire but the 10 is a critical miss so he is pinned and must spend an action to remove the pin. Ice Queen scores a hit and the armour save isn’t enough to stop the sniper bullet

‘Check the APC, it’s our way out of here!’ shouted Kovacs as He dived into the bunker. Ten minutes gone ‘All looking good’ thought Kovacs.
It was dark in the bunker and Kovacs stumbled around before finding Leila. It took him two attempts to free Leila. He threw her an AK47. ‘You might need this’ he said realising she was struggling to move.
Meanwhile, Ali triggered the hotspot on the APC, out from the thicket lurched another mutant who’d obviously feasted on Leila’s crew mates.

Ali opened fire but the gun jammed again. Good job Ice Queen was on form, another clean kill.

Ali’s gun jams

As Kovacs and Leila made their way slowly towards the APC, Kovacs couldn’t help thinking something wasn’t right. ‘The kid’s rattled’ he thought. ‘It doesn’t feel good’
‘We need fuel’ shouted Leila hoarsely. They had run out, that’s how they had been ambushed. That’s the last thing Kovacs wanted to here, thirty minutes gone and they needed to be out pronto.
The Fuel Tank hotspot is triggered and from behind the tank four robots appear.

Ali fires and his gun jams again. Leila fires and her gun jams too! Ice Queen calmly takes out two robots and Kovaks, one but that left Ali and Ice Queen in the firing line. Things were getting a bit too hot.

Good shooting from Ice Queen. Ali fails again!
The robot opens fire and wounds Ali. Turning attention to Ice Queen, his guns jam.

Leila opens fire and downs the remaining robot then heads for the APC. Ice Queen applies a med kit for Ali then heads for the APC. Kovaks sees what needs to be done and picks up a Jerry can and heads for the Oil Tank. Forty minutes gone.

Ali a few minutes in recovery having been knocked down and dazed from the shot. It will take 2 actions to remove both pinned counters

It’s now a race against time. Kovacs focuses and cracks open the fuel valve first time filling the Jerry can and headed back to the APC. Ali had searched the oil tank and got some useful booty, triggering an anomaly at that point, his nerve failed and the ground shuddered as he was vaporised.

To successfully search an anomaly, Ali needs a low dice roll. He rolls a 9 and is vaporised by an electro ionic disturbance which shakes the ground

Kovacs was shaken, he’d never seen anything like that before. ‘Get a grip’ he muttered as he filled the fuel tank then clambered into the APC to find Ice Queen in the driving seat. ‘Out of the way’ he screamed. ‘No I fix this’ She glared back ‘Where is tool box?’. She levered off the ignition cover and rammed in a screwdriver. Two attempts and the engine spluttered into life.
‘Go, Go, Go,!’ Shouted Kovacs. ‘Where did you learn to do that?’
‘Riga: bad streets’ Ice Queen replied coldly. Leila winced as every rut in the track was found. As they sped off, even the zombies couldn’t catch them. ‘Good job we didn’t tangle with them’ mused Kovacs relieved he was heading back. Mission accomplished he thought.

The Grain Mill

We’ve already seen snippets of John’s Grain Mill scratchbuild, but now we can see how John created this impressive piece of terrain.

All the buildings I’ve made so far have been quite generic but couldn’t resist this build. It’s quite an imposing structure measuring 35 cm Long and 25cm high and 14cm wide excluding stairway and ramp. In order to protect the model for transit and storing it had to fit into a shoebox. Here’s how I went about making something like this.

Step 1 Detailed plan
I spent a couple of evenings drawing up a plan of the building on A3 paper. I looked at as many photographs as possible of this particular structure and learned something about it’s function to help with the design and build. The tall section is a Grain Elevator. A bucket elevator carries grain from ground level to the top of the elevator where it is discharged into a silo contained within this structure. The horizontal gantry contains milling equipment and three discharge hoppers are suspended underneath. On the other side of the building is a ramp. At the end of the ramp, grain is dropped into the bucket elevator feed.
For dimensions, I used the assumption that door opening heights would be 7 ft and width 3 ft. I used 5mm to a foot so that gave me the dimensions of this item then worked out the height and length proportions based on that. So the building worked out at 70ft long x 50ft high and 28ft wide. As I drew up the plan, I rechecked against the photos to make sure everything looked in proportion and decided that there would be four stages to the build :- Stairway, Gantry, Elevator and ramp. I thought the stairway would be the most difficult so decided to start on this.

Stairway.
I used the same method as in the office build to start with so glued together 2 cm x 1cm pieces of foamcore to make the steps. The maximum height being determined by the height of the shoebox. I added sides from mounting board to correct any warping then added steps from lolly sticks making sure some were damaged.

I made the landing wide enough for a 28mm figure base as I thought this would make a suitable sniper position. The supports I made from wood strip rather than replicate the flimsy metal supports on the original to make sure the stairway was robust enough for the table top. I added bannister rail supports from matchsticks and then the rail and surround at the top of the stairwell from mounting board which I also used for the base.

Gantry.
With confidence high I turned my attention to the gantry (which turned out to be the most difficult part of the build). I built the wooden structure from foamcore clad with cereal packet cardboard strips, lining the window openings with the same, then adding cut down matchsticks for the window frame parts. The length of the gantry would match the width of the shoebox to fit in.

The hopper assembly was cut from cereal box cardboard glued to 2 pieces of foamcore. This was then glued to the base of the Gantry

The next task was to build the supports for the gantry. I decided to replicate metal girders for this so I made H section girders from 40 thou plastic card. In order to fit in the shoe box, the supports would have to be detachable so I made sockets on the underside of the gantry and on the base. These were a snug push fit. I then added cross struts to provide additional strength. I needed two goes to get the base right and the small ‘turret’ would have to be detachable for the structure to fit in the shoebox. I used Hobbycraft corrugated foam for the asbestos roof.

Elevator.
This was constructed using foamcore clad with corrugated foam but provided a few problems so wasn’t straightforward. To fit in the shoe box, the top section had to be made separately and had to fit inside the gantry, fitting over posts on the lower section of the elevator when in use. There are also two ‘wings’ at the base of the elevator which were constructed separately and slot into the side of the elevator when in use and are stored inside the elevator when packed away.

Elevator under construction showing one of the wings. The top section fits inside the gantry for storage.

Ramp.
This was the simplest part of the build which I nearly missed as it’s so overgrown on the photographs. I made it in 3 sections. The start of the ramp was from mounting board covered in fine sand painted to represent concrete. The middle section was constructed from plasticard as it’s a metal structure. The third part appears from a video clip to be metal and wood. I made this from foamcore and added card planking.

Windows.
I used clear plastic from food packaging for this. I taped the plastic to my cutting board to cut out pieces of plastic to fit the window recesses. I marked out where the vertical bars would be and then cut the windows to show broken panes before gluing the plastic strips to the rear face of the vertical bars using superglue

Painting and finishing.
Wood – Wilko Nutmeg Spice, then black acrylic wash, drybrush Wilko Mineral Stone and then a light white drybrush. I then used a black wash to make sure the planking was picked out.
Metal – Black acrylic and then a succession of dry brushing, dark brown, red brown and then yellow. (All plastic parts primed in grey)
Asbestos roofing – Primed grey first then Homebase Grey Fox then a succession of black and brown washes, finishing with a drybrush across the ribs of Homebase Silver Cloud.
Concrete – Grey, dry brushed white.
Earth – Red brown, dry brushed pale grey.
I then applied static grass where appropriate and the project was complete.

This building is going to be an impossing sight on the tabletop

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.