Sunday, January 31, 2016

'Defensive Terrain' from Millsy - 'Motte and Bailey'

28mm Dark Age Motte and Bailey
When Curt first announced the Defensive Terrain bonus round I knew it was a good opportunity to build something I'd always wanted for dark age gaming - a fortified watch tower. I wanted one similar in size and design to several commercial ones on the market today but I love scratch building terrain, plus I knew I could make one for much less and have a unique model into the bargain.

About halfway through the planning stage I finished painting my SAGA Norman warband and I decided to go "a bit further" and build a small motte and bailey as well. After all, what self respecting Norman warlord doesn't have a keep and a place for his men-at-arms to put their feet up after a hard day oppressing the peasantry?

OK, time for info on materials and construction to forestall some of the inevitable questions... :-)

The tower is a combination of balsa and other light timber over a foamcore box. The stairs are embossed blue insulation foam and the roof thatching is an old bath towel, soaked in PVA to make it rigid. The door handle is wire with a card hinge. The top third of the tower plus roof is detachable to make storage and transport easier. The roof is fixed with enough room to slide miniatures in. I could have made it removable too but was concerned about structural integrity if it wasn't one piece.

The tower can be removed from the mound for use on the table as a standalone keep. The added bonus of making the tower removable is I can replace it with a stone version at some point if my Norman warlord saves his gold instead of spending it on wine and wenches.

The gate piece is removable like the tower and is made from the same materials and using the same techniques. I added a few spare shields for a bit of character. The gates themselves are also removable and come in two types - closed and open. I decided against a "wrecked" version as they'd only get in the way so if they are breached during a game I'll simply remove them altogether. The KISS principle at work!

The mound and other earthworks are more blue insulation foam with a coating of plaster. The stone stairs are more foamcore with the paper ripped off one side to produce a rough stone effect. The palisade is 172(!) gum tree twigs from the back yard, cut to length, sharpened and then hot glued into a trench carved in the foam. Yes, it did takes ages to make them and no I don't know how long. My therapist says I should be OK but I'm not so sure.

Finally, the terrain-work is builder's sand, painted and dry brushed twice and with static flock and the now ubiquitous grass tufts added afterwards. The few trees that have sprung up through poor grounds-keeping and simply pushed into the foam and removable if required.

All up it took roughly 28 hours of build time spread over a week, plus twig sharpening [sob!]. As projects go it was an absolute blast and I can see it luring me into a set of modular walls and a gatehouse to surround my village at some point too. Or not, now that I think about the palisade...

The figures are not part of the submission, they are just to show scale. Thanks for looking folks and feel free to ask questions if you want more info other than what's above.

PS. NO it isn't for sale and NO, I will NOT build you one on commission. OK maybe, but only if YOU cut and shapren the twigs. Feel free to come over any time for a game though! :-)


(ED - I simply asked Millsy if I could have it. Any you know what, he said yes! ;p)

'Defensive Terrain' from FranL - 'The Most Prolific Defensive Terrain in History?'

Nothing to see here.........

Just the pretty flowers.........

Wait a minute, what's that?............

One of the more controversial weapons of  all time.........

The name originates from the ancient practice of military mining.......

Seemingly the first mines were developed/used around 1277 by the Chinese.......

Placing minefields without marking and recording them for later removal is now considered a war crime........

The laying of land mines has inadvertently led to a positive development in the Falkland Islands. Mine fields laid near the sea during the Falklands War have become favorite places for penguins, which do not weigh enough to detonate the mines. Therefore, they can breed safely, free of human intrusion. These odd sanctuaries have proven so popular and lucrative for ecotourism that efforts exist to prevent removal of the mines..........

28mm scale, manufacturer unknown...........

'Defensive Terrain' from MichaelA - 'Blackadder Goes Forth'

‘Defensive Terrain’, as soon as I read this all I could think of were the trench systems of the First World War where both sides ‘dug in’ to take cover and hold their ground. With a continuous line of trenches covering some 400 miles from Switzerland to the North Sea, positions were lost, retaken and lost again with seemingly no escape from the mud and the imminent threat of death. Like many, I have been fascinated and moved by the exploits and memoirs of those that lived through this particular hell on earth. So it was that this ‘Defensive Terrain’ was to become the subject of my submission with the emphasis on one dugout in particular.

As with previous builds, foam board, balsa wood and cooks’ matches were pressed into action to give the basic structure before the bits box was raided to ‘dress the set’. This, I have to confess, was great fun and before long the piece was growing as sandbags and barbed wire were added, hinting at what was beyond the comparative safety of the dugout. Each addition brought new challenges like scaling down the maps and posters or creating chin straps to hang the helmets to the wall – the whole process became totally absorbing.

Finally, then, to the miniatures themselves; after an exhaustive search my hand fell upon a delightfully whimsical pack of ‘Scarab Miniatures’, entitled, ‘British Captains, Generals and Characters’ and whilst I acknowledge the glaring historical inaccuracies of my build, I make so such apology for these miniatures. A sheer delight to work on, requiring the minimal of preparation this character pack bears a striking resemblance to a certain Captain Blackadder and chums.

They are almost caricature in appearance, and as such will not be to everyone’s taste, but I cannot remember enjoying painting a set of miniatures more. This may well have been because I kept replaying episodes of the tremendous ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, for research purpose only you understand, whilst painting them and found myself chuckling throughout. In fact it seems incredulous to me that it is now over twenty five years since the final episode of the series was aired. A program that, in my humble opinion, managed to combine humour and pathos in just the right balance to create a much loved and uniquely British institution.

Captain Blackadder: How are you feeling, Darling?
Captain Darling: Ahm... not all that good, Blackadder. Rather hoped I'd get through the whole show. Go back to work at Pratt and Sons, keep wicket for the Croydon Gentlemen, marry Doris... Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says: "Bugger."

The final submission, six 28mm miniatures and a scenic base representing a First World War dugout.

'Defensive Terrain' from SidneyR - 'The Guardian of Laarden'

For my third Themed Submission, I thought I would add another item to the Flemish town I've been building in 28mm. This time, instead of the civic dignitaries contenting themselves with being immortalised in oils, they have decided to use the winter tax collection on constructing a formidable redoubt on the edge of the town. Rather optimistically called "The Guardian of Laarden", it's a robust and imposing earthern redoubt built by some of the town's workmen on their days off from digging canals and undertaking voorhuis improvements. 

As with all building projects throughout the Old World, there are times in the construction when the site is eerily absent of workmen of any type. And then there's times when the pioneers finally turn up, do a bit of digging and present their invoice.

While I struggled to find an appropriate head labourer (perhaps he's gone for a cuppa, or to deliver his bill), I did find three 28mm figures (2 Dixons and 1 Foundry) who fit the bill, and a jumble of old clothes discarded on the ground.

The redoubt is scrathch built, with MDF, extruded polystyrene and cardboard. They don't take long to make, and add a useful defensive feature for any seventeenth century army.

'Defensive Terrain' from AlanD - 'Frostgrave Library'

Somewhere deep in Frostgrave there is a forgotten library. Unlike all the buildings around it, it was not ruined at the time of the great cataclysm that destroyed the rest of the city, but has remained intact over the centuries, waiting for its secrets to be rediscovered. In design more a fortress than a library, the citizens of Felstad once quickened their pace as they passed the forbidding structure, wondering to themselves whether its stout walls were designed to keep eneies out, or keep something trapped within..

For the Defensive Terrain round I thought I would make something for Frostgrave, and happened to remember that about 15 years ago I picked up (cheap) one of the Zvezda kits for their large castle layout. This model is the Living Quarters set, theoretically in 1/72 scale, but certainly looks fine with 28mm figures.

I tried to model this as a piece of terrain that could be used flexibly for gaming, so I made the top floor removable. It is therefore quite possible to track the progress of a skirmish through the lower floor, up the stairs and into the library itself by having the library floor as a removable module. I'm also planning to make a separate floor insert so I can use this in historical games, perhaps with Border reivers

The problem with making the floor removable was that I then needed to add a staircase and some rudimentary interior detail. The ground floor was given a base made from air drying clay mixed with PVA, and all the interior walls lined with Greenstuff. Zvezda doesn't supply stairs or even a stairwell, so I cut a hole in the top floor and added a dodgy staircase put together from bits of 4-Ground staircases left over from some Wild West buildings. 

The bookcases are all scratch-build from plastic card and balsa, with books on the shelves and roosting around the library made from Greenstuff. I wanted to do more of these but ran out of time. The statue is a wizard figure from Reaper, while finally the zombie librarian is made from components found in the Frostgrave Soldiers and Cultists sets put out by Northstar

'Defensive Terrain' from Barks - 'Barbed Wire'

This is a trial piece for my ongoing WW1 project. PSC's The Great War comes with cardboard barbed wire tokens, which are somewhat uninspiring, so I made my own on a Flames of War base using plastic rod and thread.

Cardboard token and 3D version

I wanted to make ten to twenty of these, but it is a lot harder to get the poles through the base that I anticipated! Hence, I sheepishly submit this meagre entry. I tried a Dremel but it just clagged the drill tip. I can't get nails to go where I want them. Any tips gratefully received!

'Defensive Terrain' from ByronM - 'Tower & Bunker'

I had so many plans for this week’s theme entry, having a laser cutter and all, it leaves it pretty open to do whatever I want.  I cut myself a whole wild west town to paint up and thought it would make a great entry.  Then I went back and re-read the theme…. Defensive Terrain.  DOH!  Not the same as Defensible, where buildings would count.  A quick check with Curt, and it confirmed my fears, speed reading caught me again, the theme of the week was purpose built defensive terrain, not necessarily something you could defend. 

Back to the drawing board.

This is where it gets interesting, after a bunch of thinking, I decided that a guard watch tower that I designed to fit with my Infinity (Sci-fi) line of buildings would probably work great, as it is a defensive building.  So off I went, assembled, painted, and weathered the building to match the rest of my Infinity stuff. Here it is:

Before anyone asks why the ladder rungs are so huge, it is so that figures fit in them on bases so that if you do not have enough move to get all the way up or down, you can still leave the model in the right place.  Not scale, I know, but a good gaming compromise in my mind.

However, being a terrain guy, I just didn’t think this was good enough…  It was done after all to fit in to a whole pile of buildings I did up very fast so that I have a table worth of terrain to show off and loan out to tournaments in the city.  There is nothing fancy since it gets used a lot and handled roughly.  So, I decided to break out something I have been meaning to do for years.

When I ran a large GW tournament here in the city a long time ago, my wife and I had made a number of bunkers from Hirst Art molds and bricks. We had made many more bricks than we needed so I have had tons sitting around since then.  The bunkers though were pretty trashed after 10 years of tournaments and rough packing and handling, so went in the trash a few years back.  With doing WW1 stuff lately, I kept meaning to dig out the bricks and remake them again, now seemed like the time.

Being as I decided to do this on Wednesday though, I only got 1 done, but have plans to make at least 2 more this week.

Since the bricks don’t really match real life designs, and since it will be used for sci-fi and historical games, please give it some lee way.  It is not meant to be exact to any real life bunker from WW1 or WW2, just a representation of a bunker, overall I think it turned out pretty good.

The base is simply pink insulation foam covered in sand and glue (so that I could spray bomb the primer on), The roof is just foam core with strips of plastic card on it with pin heads to look like rivets.  The door is the same, with a T head pin as the door handle.  Inside I used plastic weave to give an industrial floor look.

None of the figures shown with either terrain piece were painted for the challenge this year, they are just to show the pieces with figures for scale.

The bunker is more representative of terrain I build for my own use, so I thought it was a much better piece to submit as my entry for the challenge.  I included the watch tower, simply because I finished it as well and wanted to share pictures.

Hope everyone enjoys.

'Defensive Terrain' from ClintB - 'Tunnels in Vietnam'

Well the bonus round called for defensible terrain. As I wanted to have something I could use, I decided to create two Vietnam tunnel entrances.

I know they are hard to see in the pictures but they are not concealed! That is just the terrain basing for all my Vietnam figures. But I assure you there is a tunnel entrance on each base. As I will not actually be making the tunnels for the wargames figures to crawl around these will only represent the entrances. Players will then have a choice of how they react, maybe call for tunnel rats, maybe pour napalm down the hole or maybe just chuck a grenade. That is up to them.

To the right is a real picture of a tunnel entrance Chu Chi district which is now a tourist attraction. So I selected a picture of a reasonably attractive girl  just to show how small the entrances are/were.  (Come on she is better looking than most hairy arse wargamers!). Clearly she holds the tunnel entrance over her head so these really would be hard to see on the jungle floor.

The US army did create a specialist unit nicknamed "tunnel rats" who were smaller than the average recruit and also I would imagine some what braver! Not a job for me then as the idea of crawling through dark tunnels looking for an enemy is not my idea of a good time.
 The Badge bears the motto "Non Gratum Anus Rodentum" which the google Latin translator makes out to be "Not acceptable alive" and not anything rude about rats! Who Knew seeing the motto? I am sure many people did translate this as something completely different.

So as this is clearly terrain I do not expect to gain any points as such, but they are useful in a Vietnam wargame and that for me is the point.