Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Bridge to Nouvion


To wrap up this latest terrain building series, I wanted to show you how things looked on the table.


As a reminder, I wanted to "extend" the banks of the river a little bit without having to create a new one.  So, I found these older tree stands I had made and revamped them:



I was extremely happy at the way the ground up loose leaf tea leaves matched the battle mat!  This is still the grassland/forest mat from TableWar.


This view gives you an idea of how much the river is now extended.  There is now rough ground extending several inches on either side, which should create the obstacle that I need.

Creating a bridgehead on the opposite bank will be difficult, but there are significant victory point rewards for doing so.  I have also sculpted some boats for the Axis forces to use in this mission!


This is the sector where most of the British forces will begin the game.  Again, the mission is to evacuate as many units off the board as possible.  They are going to have to use the road, unlike the supporting French units which are acting as a holding force.


The Long Road to Nouvion and safety is going to be a hazardous one.  If British infantry units choose to take up positions around the embankment, they can still score some Victory Points by wiping out Axis units, but they are more valuable getting off the board. 


The road seems very exposed, but there are a number of tree stands in the way, which serve as dense terrain.  The British units will have to take advantage of the initial Axis waves picking their way through all the dense foliage, the marshy banks and the river itself.


As the game moves along, there will be additional areas for the Axis units to enter the board.  In the latter half of the game, they will be able to enter through this edge, which might give them an easier field of fire at the retreating British units.

There will be some French defenders in their path, and they might be well dug in by that point.



As another point to note... the bridge cannot be destroyed!  The British need it to retreat, and the Axis forces would prefer to keep it intact themselves.  I do intend to have other missions where demolition is goal, so don't worry!

The Axis forces are primarily an advance probing force, which also contains some armored elements.  You might even see a certain commander from Arras in his Panzer 38T!


I will be curious to see if this game involves the kind of close quarter fighting that was seen the the last battle report... Blood At Arras. There will be a larger contingent of Axis AFV's this time around, so I think that might get in the way.

Here's a link to that one to get you caught up:



If you recall back to the original post, the idea behind these new terrain pieces is to make them as multi purpose as I can.  I had hoped to use this embankment as a ridge line in future battle reports, with trees and gun positions at the top.

You can see those smaller tree stands on top of the ridge.


This is the reason I did not sculpt in the usual road tracks, choosing to create the impression of such an effect with flock only.  Now that my tree stands are in place, the "road" is effectively invisible!


I am painting the rubber boats and other odds and ends which will make their first appearance in the "Bridge to Nouvion".  Changing the missions, terrain forces and various units in each of these reports takes a great deal of time, which is why it is taking me a bit longer to get each one made.  Once the terrain and the units are completed, it will be a little easier!

Any support that you can offer on the Patreon Page is also a huge help, since it offsets the many hours of building, painting, terrain construction, filming, editing and so on!



Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Old Made New! Recycling old terrain pieces


Since I didn't have the time to create an entirely new river terrain piece for the next battle report, I thought it would be a good idea to find a way to "expand" the existing river piece.  

After watching a few documentaries on the Battle or the Boyne, I learned that even small rivers sometimes have very impassable terrain on either bank.  Marshy, boggy and bushy embankments that are almost more hazardous than the river itself!

So, I hunted around and found some old terrain pieces that I had made for another game system, which looked a lot like large old trees which were decaying in marshy, boggy ground.


While I was flocking the main ridgeline/road terrain piece, I thought I could spruce up these old pieces and see if they would work.


Originally, these were designed for a game system where figures could really interact directly with terrain.  That is why the whole piece is relatively flat.  However, that makes it perfect for this task, and by adding some bushes to it, it will break up the round profile and make it better suited for Bolt Action.

It will reflect the rough terrain that I want, but also offer more cover for entire squads.  The other game system had figures which were much larger, and fewer minis as well.


It didn't take long to have some nice greenery placed on the bases, which were old DVD plastic protective pieces.  Those date back to the Painting Pyramid video series, where I had to burn and label over 1300 DVD's!


Following the same process you have seen in the other foliage posts, I sprayed the moss with the water and glue mix through the misting spray device and added a few colors and textures.


The initial layers are done by mixing the fine, dark brown flock with the scraps of greenish flock, followed by lighter layers of fluffier green flock.  This will "shade" the plain bright green moss, almost as if you were painting miniature bushes.


You can see the difference this makes, especially when you carry the fine green flock up the sides of the trees like moss... ironic, I know!


I didn't forget to add my loose leaf tea "deadfall" however!  In the next post, you will see how this brownish color will blend in perfectly with the battle mat!


This piece is my favorite, as it is a tree that I sculpted 17 years ago out of wire and Sculpey!  Originally it was designed as a photo backdrop for our minis, but we learned right away that it was better to have a simple blue/white faded backdrop for that purpose.

I had ripped it off that 'diorama', but it had been damaged after many years of neglect.  I was almost going to toss it out, but I fixed it up instead and turned it into a terrain piece for another game system.

Now it has been reborn once again!


I really love how it looks now with the added flock and foliage.  In many ways, this is how I originally envisioned it... but didn't have the knowledge and experience that I do now.


So, let's have a quick peek at our handiwork...


I was amazed at the transformation of these pieces, which took less than 30 minutes.


Stay tuned for the next episode, where you will see all the new pieces combined for the brand new Ardennes terrain board.  I am almost set for the next battle in the series, "The Bridge to Nouvion".


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Building a Bridge: Phase 2 Foliage


The second part of "big terrain pieces in a rush" brings us to the Badger Airbrush Stynlrez  primers, along with a few other shades.  Getting into all the crevices rapidly without damaging all of the details is best done with the airbrush.

The colors are not very important, since the vast majority of this will be covered with foliage.  It is more about setting up that foliage with some grayish browns.


I spent a little more time putting shades and highlights on the rock sections and tree stumps.  Again, various shades and textures of flock will go over the top of this.  Putting a number of layers of the primer over everything helps to seal it, and make a better surface for the layers of glue to adhere.


Now we are all set to get the foliage onto this massive piece, which is about 4 feet long.  I have done a number of foliage articles already on the blog, in case you wanted to put trees on yours.  

I have since realized myself that I can create separate tree stands that can be used for such things.


Using my wood glue and a touch of spray adhesive, I started to place the moss.  Once this is flocked, it really does look like tiny trees!


As I mentioned before, I wanted to leave some open areas for infantry to advance, but have enough clumps of trees for troops to hide behind.


If you recall my past episodes on the winter tree stands, I really fell in love with the dried out recycled loose leaf tea!  It has a great color already, and it makes perfect dead fall when it is slightly ground up.

If you are curious, it is a combo of Chai tea and Earl Grey. 


Once again, using the watered down wood glue in the misting spray bottle, as well as the spray adhesive, I placed my clumps, dead fall, and a few plants in strategic areas.


The magic of the flocking process begins!  Most of my flock (of all types) is from Woodland Scenics.

I have a number of tutorials on how this is done.  Here's one link for you:



In these images, you can see the difference that the flocking can make!  The bottom image has both sides completed, as well as the road on the top.

I mentioned in the first post that I was not going to sculpt in the ruts of the road, since I also wanted to use this as a hill or something else.  There will be some images in the final post that shows how I was able to place my smaller tree stands along the top of this ridge to completely alter its appearance!


When I saw this piece sitting on the table, I realized that in a matter of months, my terrain pieces have become vastly more realizstic.  They also take a fraction of the time to produce!


I was really pleased when I saw how this turned out, as I have a LOT more rocky/mountainous terrain pieces that have to be created for the Caucasus, Italy, and so on.  Those will present a whole new kid of challenge!


Balancing realism, playability and durability along with time and expense can be very tricky.  I think I have managed to figure out the best balance between all of them at this point.

You will be seeing this terrain piece in very next battle report, following up on Blood at Arras.  The British will be featured once again in a desperate retreat to the beaches of Normandy!

Here's the previous battle report:



I am still trying to work out the logistics of doing terrain tutorial videos.  These can get very messy, and a bit physical, so finding a place for the camera is not always easy!  Many experiments with a variety of tripods have been done... I have actually had to turn to some very old free standing photography tripods in order to prevent the camera shaking.

Anyway, there is more equipment that is needed, such as sound tiles, materials, and so on.  Any support that can be offered on the Patreon page is very helpful. Should the funding be available, I can even add in terrain tutorials as a pledge level!



Friday, June 15, 2018

Building a Bridge: Phase 1


I wanted to try something new for the next battle report, which also required some new terrain pieces.  There were not many materials left (and not a lot of time!), so I had to turn to re purposing and leftovers in a pinch.

I needed to create a bridge over my river using at least one of the large corner ridge sections that I already had.  The two plastic bridge sections that I found on Amazon would form the structure, but it was clear that I would have to make a new raised hill section.


I gathered together every single scrap of foam that I could find to make a gradient that would match.  It also had to run length wise along the table, because this is mostly an "escape" secnario.


Using another piece of foam to create the stanchion on which both sections would rest, I was able to cobble together my scraps to make that raised section.

Another key thing to note right away is that all of these pieces need to be separate, as I want to be able to use them in other configurations... even other types of terrain!  You will see that all play out in subsequent articles.

Since there was no time to create a new, wider river as I had hoped, I "extended" my existing river by creating impassable marshy land around it.  I have seen this on many smaller rivers where the banks are almost more treacherous than the river itself.

This is where I would reclaim some very old terrain pieces, and some that I had made for another game system.  That will be its own how to article.


When I opened up my container of wood filler (which I thought was empty) I saw that there was a mostly dried out layer on the bottom.  After chopping it up a bit a palette knife, there was now some handy material inside.  Rocks!!!  These were not even completely dry yet, which was even better.


I made my usual glue and plaster mix, which would form the "sculpting" process of the ridge line.


After setting down the plaster, I could press in my "rocks", crumbling up the smaller bits into a cascade of broken boulders.  I was hoping to get the appearance of machinery had dug out pieces of the hill to create the gradient for the road.


At this stage I added more of the tree trunks.  While there is glue in the plaster, I did add some more to stick these on.  In this case, I want the four "new" tree stands to blend in with this piece, I am also thinking about the future where this is a defended ridge, and troops might have some cover via these blasted trees.


I moved along the terrain piece, making sections of my crumbled rocks.  This was also supplemented with some coarse, medium and fine gravel.


You can see how I am trying to build out the flatter bits of the ridge and make them look more interesting.  Once I added the gravel, I used a mist sprayer to apply a coating of watered down wood glue over it to hold it in place and seal it.

This is something new that I have added to the process since my original articles.  I think back then I used a brush with watered down glue.

I am not creating the usual tread marks in along the top, since I want to be able to use this piece as a ridge line that bisects the table (yes, it is almost 4 feet long!).  Eventually I do learn to build in as many uses for one piece as possible.


As you can see, not all of the ridge is festooned with boulders and tree stumps.  I am trying to break up the space, and also leave some room for foliage.  Heck, I also want to have some open spaces where infantry could be climbing the hill!


Phase two of the process will show how it was painted and flocked.  It was a challenge to work on the upper section of the road, as I had not tried that before.  In the end, I was glad that I took the chance to creating a multi use piece, as you will see.

I would really like to make some new terrain building videos, but more equipment is needed to do that.  I have purchased lights and other elements, but more are needed.  Any support on the Patreon Page would be most helpful in the endeavor!