Tag Archives: 1/72

Ch..ch..chain

In my unending (and potentially ill-advised) quest to interest some of my non-wargaming friends in miniatures wargaming, I set up a game of Chain of Command, which I refereed, while two of said friends played.

The scenario was a simple patrol, centered around a crossroads (as usual). The western side of the board was dominated by a stone bridge over a decent sized creek (represented by some stones and clump foilage lined banks) and a small orchard, while the eastern side was chock full of bocage, and other hedges. Both ends of the battlefield featured commanding heights, which were, for one reason or the other, ignored by the players.

We only made it through about three phases of the game before having to call it a night. I played the game out to what felt like a conclusion this morning and afternoon. The game was a close-run thing, with both sides force morales dwindling considerably.

In the end the Germans won, despite a couple of blunders on my part. The weight of all those MG-42s was too much for the Americans to overcome. Of course, the best part about playing solitaire is you always win!

On a somber note, I still need to build more bocage.

Patrol Phase

Patrol Phase

Panzergrenadiers deploy

Panzergrenadiers deploy

Sniper in a commanding position (but unable to hit anything the entire game)

Sniper in a commanding position (but unable to hit anything the entire game)

PzGrs defend a low stone wall.

PzGrs defend a low stone wall.

A US fire team moves out.

A US fire team moves out.

Overview

Overview of the 4’x4′ battlefield

The Luchs prowls the table.

The Luchs prowls the table. Interestingly, the presence of armor (at least armor this light) didn’t have an immediately decisive effect on the game. By the time the Lynx appeared on the table, the Germans had some command and control problems due to low force morale, which limited the number of opportunities to get the tank into action.

fierce fight at the crossroads.

fierce fight at the crossroads.

An ill-advised assault...

Dear readers: Don’t assault a full strength American squad in cover behind bocage with a half-dozen Panzergrenadiers. Not that you were stupid enough to try such a thing in the first place…

Lieutenant and Panzerschrek team try to slow down the US advance

Lieutenant and Panzerschrek team try to slow down the US advance

German Jump-off Point

German Jump-off Point

Lieutenant rallies the Panzerschrek team, after they were driven off by heavy US fire.

Lieutenant (red band around his base) rallies the Panzerschrek team, after they were driven off by heavy US fire.

Overview of table at game end.

Overview of table at game end. Note the bazooka team just down from the Luchs. It might have had something to do with the lack of impact by the armor.

I don’t think my friends hated Chain of Command, but they certainly didn’t love the game, either. Chain of Command is just too complicated to use as a vehicle for introducing new players to miniatures wargaming. Or at least it is with my nascent command of the rules. Maybe it would be different with new players who are highly motivated about the period and the idea of playing miniatures games. Obviously, it’s entirely my fault for trying to use them as an introduction to the hobby. Especially since I’ve now made the same mistake twice!

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I’m still trying to formulate my opinion on Chain of Command as a potential regular part of my gaming diet. Bear with me while I throw out some random thoughts from my experiences.

There are a lot of fiddly parts to the rules-the mechanics are modular, meaning the armor mechanics aren’t the same as the infantry mechanics, aren’t the same as the sniper mechanics, aren’t the same as the artillery mechanics, aren’t the same as the morale mechanics, etcetera. There are numerous exceptions and clarifications, which make it difficult to play from the cheat sheets available online. Finally, in certain circumstances, you have to roll a TON of dice. Mega-dice rolling is fun occasionally, but over the long term I’m finding the large dice pools to be a pain in the butt. On the other hand, I loathe single-die-hit-a-target-number systems, because, to my mind, they’re far too unpredictable. You just can’t please some people, can you?!

I really admire the stated goals of these rules-emphasis on command and (lack of) control, period flavor, and mechanics that reward historical tactics, but the rules overhead required to get to those goals is significant. I’ve played three times now, which equals 9-10 hours of play, and while I have a decent grasp of the general flow of the rules, I’m still constantly referring to the book, or one or more of the dozens of tables, to figure out particulars. Even with a complex game, I would expect to have gained significant facility with a set of rules in that amount of time. I wonder if I’ll ever memorize the rules well enough to support the once every month or two months that I’ll get to play the game. That’s a shame, because I can imagine how great the game could be with sufficient rules mastery. The myriad of design-for-effect subsystems all work really well as individual systems, AND the effect of the aggregate feels quite good. If only stitching it all together weren’t such work!

I’m going to continue on with the rules set for at least a couple more tries, hoping everything will start to gel in my brain. For the next game, I may tone it down on the bocage a bit, and see if a simplified terrain situation might help things go a little more smoothly. In fact, I have another game tomorrow with The Scarlet J. Hopefully he has actually gotten around to reading the rules, and will be some help in that department. I give it a 5% chance :/

 

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D-day +70+1/365

The Scarlet J and I had our first game of Chain of Command today. I was fielding a straight platoon of Panzergrenadiers, and TSJ had a US Rifle Platoon. We did the bog standard patrol scenario, but didn’t roll for support, because we figured we had plenty to handle learning the infantry rules. Much fun was had!

First, let’s get the bragging rights out of the way. I was the only one that knew the rules, but I still managed to lose the game, which tells you all you need to know about my tactical acumen! I think my main problem was that I did a poor job of managing squad cohesion. It’s very tempting to an overly aggressive player like me to spread those hard-hitting MG-42 teams around, and they can do a tremendous amount of damage, but without the rest of the squad there to support, the individual teams are pretty easy to pick off.

We still have a long way to go coming to grips with all of the moving parts in the game, but the only thing that has bugged me about the system so far is the tremendous amount of dice that you have to throw and count. A panzergrenadier squad can easily muster 21 dice for an attack, and even more at close range, when the squad leader’s MP-40 comes into action. Actually the throwing is quite fun, it’s The counting that’s can be a bit of a drag. Still, small price to pay for a game that creates a nice story, rewards real world tactics, and keeps you engaged for 4 or 5 hours.

We may get crazy and add in some mortars or a scout car, next time we play. I’m looking forward to exploring the rules further, and maybe getting a campaign going.

The Scarlet J's riflemen stack up for maneuvering.

The Scarlet J’s riflemen deploy and stack up for maneuvering.

Resorting to moss because you haven't built anywhere near enough bocage, yet.

Resorting to moss because you haven’t built anywhere near enough bocage, yet.

Festung Cottageopa

Festung Cottageopa

Panzergrenadiers take up position

Panzergrenadiers take up position

Amis maneuver around dense bocage

Amis maneuver around dense bocage. The mysterious Scarlet J looms over the battlefield.

The claustrophobic byways of Normandy

The claustrophobic byways of Normandy

An MG-42 team in big trouble

An MG-42 team in big trouble

My Germans are all Warmodelling. TSJ’s Americans are SHQ (I think).

Build Bocage, Buddy (Part II)

Part one of this bocage making tutorial is located here. In this part, we’re going to be working on foliage.

Here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Your banks from Part I.
  • Generic air filter material. I got mine at Lowe’s. It won’t have a cardboard border, or anything fancy like that, on it.
  • Scissors
  • Fingers
  • Big piece of cardboard or posterboard
  • Brown spraypaint.
  • Tan spraypaint.
  • A garage.
  • Hot glue gun (and hot glue). Other glues may work, but I like the hot stuff because it’s super quick.
  • Spray bottle. I have a Woodland Scenics one, but an old window cleaner bottle would probably work just as well.
  • Warm water/white glue (70/30)
  • Coarse flock. At least two colors.
  • Fine flock (only for the discriminating terrain maker)
  • Box-o-flock
  • A back porch.
Ye olde generic air filter material. Notice the blobby little bits on the face of the material? I think this stuff is cut with heat, somehow (laser? heated saw?), and this melts/cauterizes the faces. This makes the faces a bit more structurally rigid, which you can use to your advantage.

Ye olde generic air filter material. Notice the blobby little bits on the face of the material? I think this stuff is cut with heat, somehow (laser? heated saw?), and this melts/cauterizes the faces. This makes the faces a bit more structurally rigid, which you can use to your advantage. I think this cost me +/- $6 at Lowe’s.

Cut a strip roughly the same size as the base the foilage will belong to.

Cut a strip roughly the same size as the base the foilage will belong to.

Give it some shape with your scissors. Eliminate all right angle edges.

Give it some shape with your scissors. Eliminate all right angle edges.

I think the air filter material works best with the cauterized nodules at the top and bottom of the filter mass. It withstands the weight of glue and flock better than the alternate orientation, which tends to lead to a 'scooped out' look to the top. In any case, it's time to use your hands. Tear, tease, rip, and otherwise cajole the air filter material into a vaguely hedge shaped 'cloud'. Test fit, and trim, tease, rip, and cajole until you're happy.

Time to use your hands. Tear, tease, rip, and otherwise cajole the air filter material into a vaguely hedge shaped ‘cloud’. Test fit, and trim, tease, rip, and cajole until you’re happy.

More foliage clouds.

More foliage cloud test fits. DON’T GLUE THEM DOWN YET.

Get some paint. The brown will be the primary color. The tan will be used for highlighting. This stuff doesn't need to be very high quality. It's more about quantity, really.

Get some paint. The brown will be the primary color. The tan will be used for highlighting. This stuff doesn’t need to be very high quality. It’s more about quantity, really.

This lovely photo is of a bunch of foilage pieces painted brown. You'll need to do this somewhere protected from the wind, as the filter material is extremely light. Which means a garage, most likely. Get a big piece of cardboard and a tarp to protect the floor.

This lovely photo is of a bunch of foilage pieces painted brown. You’ll need to do this somewhere protected from the wind, as the filter material is extremely light. Which means a garage, most likely. Get a big piece of cardboard and a tarp to protect the floor. Air filter material will take a LOT of spray paint to get good coverage. Expect to do multiple coats. Yes, I hate it too. Suck it up, buttercup.

Brown, oh brown. This is after three coats and an overnight drying. You can still see a bit of blue. Not a biggie. Proceed. Get your hot glue gun, and, working quickly apply it to the toothpicks. pull the foliage down on the toothpicks, snug with the tops of the dirt banks. If you're having trouble getting everything done on time, you can go one toothpick at a time with your hot glue gun, and sort of 'roll' the foliage on, until you're up to speed. Clean up the inevitable glue spiderwebs, then go back to the garage, this time with your tan paint.

Brown, oh brown. This is after three coats and an overnight drying. You can still see a bit of blue. Not a biggie. Proceed. Get your hot glue gun, and, working quickly apply it to the toothpicks. pull the foliage down on the toothpicks, snug with the tops of the dirt banks. If you’re having trouble getting everything done in good time, you can go one toothpick at a time with your hot glue gun, and sort of ‘roll’ the foliage on, until you’re up to speed. Clean up the inevitable glue spiderwebs, then go back to the garage, this time with your tan paint.

Lightly dust the tops of your bocage with the tan paint. This is just to give it some volume and light effects. Don't worry about your banks, it won't hurt them a bit. The figures are just for scale reference-don't paint them tan!

Lightly dust the tops of your bocage with the tan paint. This is just to give it some volume and light effects. Don’t worry about your banks, it won’t hurt them a bit. The figures are just for scale reference-don’t paint them tan!

Now on to the fun part. Mix together various colors of coarse turf together in a good sized box. I like burnt grass and medium green. Maybe add in some fine turf, too. Maybe a little yellow grass color. You get the point-mix up flock until you have a nice complicated mix of colors. DON’T USE A SINGLE COLOR. Please.

Grab your big piece of cardboard you used to paint on, your bocage-to-be, your box-o-flock, your spray bottle of water and glue (I like 70/30 using warm water. Seems to mix better), and go somewhere somewhat protected from the wind and where you won’t get in trouble making a mess. I like the back porch, myself.

Hold the bocage upside down over your big piece of cardboard and spray the heck out of it with your glue mix. You’ll probably get some drops on the bank. That’s not a bad thing. Maybe shake the bocage piece a couple of times, and then transfer it over to your box of flock. Guess what’s next? Yes, apply flock to the foliage. I tend to scoop it up and ‘pat’ it on to the filter material, in an effort to control how much drops onto the banks, but it’s not a big deal if some does get on the banks. You can scrape it off later, or leave it (which actually looks pretty good).

Let it dry, and then do any cleanup to banks, gates, ground, or whatever. Spray it again to help lock down the flock. Dry. Spray it a third time. Maybe spray it with a nice smelling hairspray after the glue fully dries for a third time. Realize that the bocage is STILL going to shed a bit of flock, and learn to accept it.

What? You expected me to get my camera out when a bunch of liquid glue and flock is flying through the air?! Phhhttt.

Kidding. Sorry about the lack of pictures of the flock step. If it’s confusing, please let me know and I’ll try to clarify.

Anyway, looks like this:

photo 1 photo 2 takingposition onthemove moveit leader combatphotography thefarmPlease excuse the ugly house and 15mm scaled rock walls. I need MANY more feet of bocage. I’m thinking around 30′ for a 6×4 table. I need to make corner pieces, as well. And more gates.

The pictures are from a test game of Chain of Command I played with a friend yesterday. Lots of moving parts to keep track of. But fun!

 

Build Bocage, Buddy! (Part I)

Prompted by the acknowledgement that I have an alarming tendency to forget how I did things, I thought it might be a good idea to put together a quick photo tutorial on how I make bocage for 1/72 scale gaming.

A sample of the finished product...

A sample of the finished product…

Closeup

Closeup

What I’m doing here is largely built on methods from Ad Machina Wargaming and Tim’s Toys. Both sites are well worth perusing!

Stuff You’ll Need

  1. Dense extruded polystyrene rigid insulation, 3/4″ thickness minimum (other sizes are available and suitable for other scales). They’ll have this stuff at the local DIY shop in 4×8 sheets. Bring a box cutter when you go shopping, so you can get it into the car.
  2. Sheet plastic for bases. Cut into 2″x6″ strips, if you want to follow along faithfully. Get plastic of a decent thickness. This stuff is available from multiple sources-you can even resort to Amazon, if you wish.
  3. A sharp blade. I use an X-acto knife. A scalpel would work well, too.
  4. A cheapo plastic sculpting tool. Or something similar. A tongue depressor or piece of plastic might work.
  5. Toothpicks. Round. Sharp. Cheap.
  6. Sandpaper. Some sort of medium-light grit, although it’s not really critical.
  7. White glue (other glues may interact with the insulation in extremely unhealthy ways)
  8. Wood Filler. Get it at the DIY shop, and try to find some with a tan or brown tint.
  9. Cheap craft paints (available at craft stores and Wal-mart) of the following flavors:
    1. Burnt Umber
    2. Burnt Sienna
    3. Yellow Ochre
    4. Coffee latte
    5. Linen

 

Here's the basic construction of the earthen bank. A shaped piece of 3/4" extruded polystyrene insulation by DOW. I make the shape with an X-acto knife, and then do a quick sanding to get rid of the angular edges left by carving with the knife. The foam is mounted to polystyrene card, and glued with white glue. Let dry overnight.

Here’s the basic construction of the earthen bank. The bank is a hand-formed piece of 3/4″ extruded polystyrene insulation by DOW. I make the shape with an X-acto knife, and then do a quick sanding (caution-breathing foam insulation probably isn’t good for you) to get rid of the angular edges left by carving with the knife. The foam is mounted to a 6″x2″ bit of polystyrene card. You could, and probably should, use other sizes and shapes, too, but 6×2 makes a nice basic straight section. I like to round and sand the edges of the plastic card, but it’s not necessary. Attach the foam to plastic with white glue.

These wooden sticks are toothpicks that have been cut in half, and inserted into the foam. They will serve as the structure for the foilage that goes on top of the earthen bank. I glop on some white glue to hold them in place. Vary the height of the toothpicks, either by cutting them to different lengths, or controlling the depth to which they are stuck into the foam.

These wooden sticks are toothpicks that have been cut in half, and inserted into the foam. You can see some of their impaling-ready brethren in the background.  The toothpicks will serve as the structure for the foilage that goes on top of the earthen bank. I glop on some white glue to hold them in place. Vary the height of the toothpicks, either by cutting them to different lengths, or controlling the depth to which they are stuck into the foam. Three toothpicks are enough for a piece this size, two are not enough, four is a little crazy, and five is nothing less than negligently wasteful! Let the whole concoction dry overnight.

I somehow completely forgot to take photos of the next part of the process, which is to slather tan colored wood filler onto the foam/plastic card construction, feathering it to create a slope from the piece of foam down onto the base. Wood filler has a nice texture all on its own, and is fairly easy to work. This is the filler I use-you can get a big tub of it fairly cheap and with a tan tint. If you let it dry for 24 hours it will cure to a very hard and durable finish.

This is the wood filler I use

I’ll take process pictures and update this post when I do my next batch of shrubberies.

The base coat consists of cheapo craft acrylic paint ($1 at Walmart) mixed with white glue at a ration of 70/30, or thereabouts. This gives a nice tough base layer. Paint the toothpicks, too, so that they're nice and dark. This way they'll be nigh-invisible when the foliage is added.

The base coat consists of cheapo burnt-umber craft acrylic paint ($1 at Walmart) mixed with white glue at a ration of 70/30, or thereabouts. This gives a nice tough base layer. Paint the toothpicks, too, so that they’re nice and dark. This way they’ll be nigh-invisible when the foliage is added. The glue/paint mixture will take some hours to dry-leaving it overnight would be a good idea.

Next is a fairly heavy coat of cheapo burnt sienna., because there's a lot of red in dirt! I put this on in  a dry-brushy kind of way, but I don't take anywhere near as much paint of the brush as you should when doing traditional drybrushing.

Next is a fairly heavy coat of cheapo burnt sienna, because there’s a lot of red in dirt! I think this bottle was $0.67. The burnt sienna is applied in a dry-brushy kind of way, but I don’t take anywhere near as much paint off the brush as I would for traditional drybrushing.

You could probably skip the yellow ochre, but it does give a nice tint to the end product. This paint is applied with a mediumish amount of drybrushing. It will look super bright, at first, but don't worry-it tones down as it dries. The paint in the picture isn't cheap, but you should be able to find craft paints of the same color.

You could probably skip the yellow ochre, but it does give a nice tint to the end product. This paint is applied with a mediumish amount of drybrushing. It will look super bright, at first, but don’t worry-it tones down as it dries. The paint in the picture isn’t particularly cheap, but you should be able to find craft paints of the same color that do just as well for this application.

Now I use this deliciously named color (coffee-latte), and apply another heavy drybrush over the previous coats. You could probably end your investment in the dirt painting business here, if you're pressed for time. Coffee-latte is a dark tan, just this side of medium brown. That should help.

Now I use the deliciously named color, coffee latte, and apply another heavy drybrush over the previous coats. You could probably end your investment in the dirt painting business here, if you’re pressed for time. If you can’t find this particular color, Coffee-latte is a dark tan, just this side of medium brown. Anything similar should work. In fact, if you find a better shade, let me know!

Finally, do a light drybrush of a light tan color. This one is called "Linen," and it's somewhat close to Vallejo's Iraqi Sand. When I say 'light" drybrush, remember we're painting terrain here, not some twelve dollar 32mm miniature. Do it quick and don't sweat if it's a little heavy (or light).

Finally, do a light drybrush of a light tan color. The one I’ve selected is called “Linen,” and it’s somewhat close to Vallejo’s Iraqi Sand. When I say ‘light” drybrush, remember we’re painting terrain here, not some twelve dollar 32mm miniature. Do it quick and don’t sweat if it’s a little heavy (or light). This particular piece of bocage is supposed to represent a penetration by a tank outfitted with Cullen Cutters, or maybe a bulldozer blade. The idea is that the tank busting through has revealed the rubble core that exists at the center of bocage. I probably need to make it more gnarly looking. The track marks were made with a piece of 1/72 halftrack track-the wood filler material washes off easily, before it’s cured, so no worries about messing up a model kit. The stones are kitty litter painted with a mixture of grey and some of the same colors I used in painting the earthen banks. Mixing the grey with the various browns, reds, tans, and whatever makes the stones fit with the general tones of the dirt. If you paint them straight grey they’re going to look crazy out of place. Mixing greys with browns is also the key to getting good ‘campaign’ greys on Confederates, but that’s a digression I won’t pursue further.

Ok, that’s it for the dirt painting. I’m going to do some experiments, but I think one could totally eliminate the burnt sienna and yellow ochre from this mix, and still have good looking dirt. It would save a bit of time and money, too.

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Update!

 

Three different color combinations....

Three different color combinations….

Here are the results of my painting experiments.

The nearest bank contains the whole panoply of colors

  • Burnt umber
  • burnt sienna
  • yellow ochre
  • coffee latte
  • linen.

The middle bank eliminates the yellow ochre step.

  • Burnt umber
  • burnt sienna
  • coffee latte
  • linen.

The far bank is a simple three color process.

  • Burnt umber
  • coffee latte
  • linen.

I think the full range of colors looks the most naturalistic, but it does add significant time and effort to the process. The three color process looks the worst (but still looks pretty good!), and truth is, most of the bank is going to be covered by flocking and/or foliage, anyway. The full color process could be considered as wasted effort. One strategy would be to use the simple three color process for the majority of your bocage, and reserve the full process for areas where lots of ground is revealed, such as gates, trails, cullen penetrations, and other ‘cuts’ through the bocage.

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Flocking Together

I was going to handle flocking the bases in another post, but then I thought it made sense to cover all the ground work together, so here it is.

List of materials needed:

  1. Cookie tin
  2. A good mixture of various colors of flock. I use Woodland Scenics fine turf for this. DON’T USE A SINGLE COLOR OF FLOCKING. Please.
  3. White glue
  4. Water. I prefer Fiji bottled water.
  5. Just kidding.
  6. A big old brush.
  7. Spray can of matte varnish.
This is messy. Get theeself a cookie tin, piece of tupperware, or other suitable container, and fill it with a goodly amount of your flock mixture. Mix up some white glue with water (I like a 70/30 mix) and dob it in an artistic-like manner all over your bocage. The top should have less flock on it, because it would be shaded by foliage above, but don't stress about it too much. Drop, scatter, smush, and otherwise apply the flock mixture to the bank, until you're satisfied with how it looks. Then repeat!

This is messy. Get theeself a cookie tin, piece of tupperware, or other suitable container, and fill it with a goodly amount of your flock mixture. Mix up some white glue with water (I like a 70/30 mix) and dob it in an artistic-like manner all over your bocage. The top should have less flock on it, because it would be shaded by foliage above, but don’t stress about it too much. Drop, scatter, smush, and otherwise apply the flock mixture to the bank, until you’re satisfied with how it looks. Then repeat!

Here are several feet of bocage all flocked and drying. Leave your work to dry overnight, and the next day turn your pieces upside down over your cookie tin of flock, and tap to knock off the excess material and preserve it for another day. Put your banks in a box, or other container, take it outside, and give the whole mess a good spraying with matte finish. Please don't waste good Dullcote on this. The big (relatively) cheap spray cans from the local DIY shop will do just fine. The matte spray will help fix the flocking to the banks and reduce shedding.

Here are several feet of bocage all flocked and drying. Leave your work to dry overnight, and the next day turn your pieces upside down over your cookie tin of flock, and tap to knock off the excess material and preserve it for another day. Put your banks in a box, or other container, take it outside, and give the whole mess a good spraying with matte finish. Please don’t waste good Dullcote on this. The big (relatively) cheap spray cans from the local DIY shop will do just fine. The matte spray will help fix the flocking to the banks and reduce shedding.

Foliage coming up!

Foliage coming up!

You can take the bocage banks to another level by adding static grass, clump foliage, flowers, leaf scatter, and other goodies to your heart’s content. I’m trying to get ready for a Normandy anniversary game of Chain of Command, and only have a few days left, so this is as far as I’m taking the banks for the moment. Also, I’m lazy.

I’ll cover the brush, shrubs, trees (maybe) and other foliage on top of the bocage banks in the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tree Grows in Normandy

I didn’t spend much time on wargaming stuff this week, but was somehow very productive. That’s a good equation, in my book!

I think it's pretty nice that this AB squad conveniently breaks down into a fire element and a maneuver element.

I think it’s pretty nice that this AB squad conveniently breaks down into a fire element and a maneuver element. (ignore the bridge-it’s only accidentally in the photo)

I’ve completed my third and final US infantry squad for playing Chain of Command. Now I can field a platoon of US infantry, and a platoon of Panzergrenadiers, with a few choice support elements on each side. I do have some vehicles to paint up, plus a ton of terrain yet to be done (accursed bocage!).

Trees, meet Bocage, Bocage, meet Trees.

Trees, meet Bocage, Bocage, meet Trees.

I have made some progress on the terrain front-I’ve taken Thomas’s suggestion and made trees out of found twigs and the air filter material I used to make my bocage. They’ve turned out nicely, I think. Which just goes to show, you should always take Thomas’s advice; I mean, just look at his blog!

These particular twigs are from the shrubs in front of the house. Conveniently, we were trimming off the dead stuff from the shrubs because it’s spring and time to work in the yard, and I very quickly had a ready supply of 20mm scale tree trunks and branches. And they were already dry!

Here’s the process:

  1. Gather twigs with multiple ‘branches,’ hopefully going in multiple directions so that the end product has lots of volume.
  2. Cut squares of air filter material for each tree, then shape, tease, tug, shear, and otherwise deform into a ragged mass.
  3. Test fit your ragged clumps of air filter material to the branches, adjust until you have a vaguely tree-looking mass.
  4. Take your clumps of air filter material out to the garage, or other place where you can spray paint without being disturbed by the wind (air filter material is VERY light).
  5. Spray the air filter clumps with a dark brown paint. This will take some doing, as the filter material is very porous. Just take your time and do multiple coats over a few days. You’ll need at least two coats, but three or four would be better.
  6. I mounted my trees on needles. This lets me use them freely with my foam play-mat backed gaming mats, and they also fit nicely into my bocage, which is constructed of polystyrene insulation. I used a 1/16″ drill bit to hollow out a place in the “tree trunks”, filled it with superglue, and shoved in a needle, pointy side sticking out. You can easily cut down the needles with a pair of wire snips, but shield your eyes when you do. Give the super glue time to fully cure before trying to stick the tree into anything.
  7. Now you can take your trees and stick them into a scrap piece of polystyrene insulation (or other stickable surface). Get a hot glue gun and glue your brown filter clumps to the branches. Let it dry (which will take about 2.5 seconds) and clean up the inevitable hot-glue spiderwebs.
  8. Go back out to the garage with your trees and mounted filter foilage. Lightly ‘dust’ the foilage with a light tan spray paint. This is just to give the filter mass a little volumetric definition (I just coined that term). It’s a subtle thing, but it does help.
  9. The next step is easy, but messy. Spray down your trees with watered-down white glue. I sugges holding the trees upside down by their trunks, and spraying them one at a time. You want to avoid wetting the trunks with the glue for reasons which should be obvious. Holding them upside down will let the glue pass through the filter material and give more surface for the flocking to adhere to.
  10. Speaking of flocking, hopefully you have some coarse flock in various colors, because now you’re going to sprinkle your soaking wet filter material with flock. I never use a single color of flock by itself. I always mix up at least two colors. I will vary the amount of each color I use to give individual trees their own character.  For instance, I might use 60% dark green, 40% burnt grass on one tree, and then reverse the proportions on the next. In any case, make them look like trees. Sprinkle, carefully place, dip, and smush the flock onto the filter material to suit your tastes.
  11. Spray the tree tops with watered down glue again.
  12. Let everything dry, then clean up the trunks, as you’ll have some random pieces of flock stuck to them. At this point the trees will still be shedding flock like crazy. Continue to spray with glue, and let dry, until you’re satisfied with the amount of shedding (I’m not sure it’s possible to get the things 100% stable).

The process sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually very quick, and uses materials that are either cheap or (probably) already in your arsenal of wargaming terrain making materials. Hopefully the narrative explains the process sufficiently, but if anyone wants me to, I could put together a photo tutorial without too much trouble.

Depending on how you plan to use your trees, there is one potential downside to this method-your trees won’t have roots. Of course, there are a multitude of ways to make tree roots, especially if you’re doing a more conventional type of basing that doesn’t involve poking things with inch long needles.

 

Another Squad for Chain of Command…

I haven’t been very productive the past couple of weeks, but I did finish up another squad of US troops for Chain of Command. These are Fantassin/Warmodelling figures that I’ve had for quite some time. They’re nowhere near the quality of AB in sculpting, or in casting, but they’ll certainly be serviceable on the table. The figures with static grass are re-paints, and had previously been decked out in late(r) war green.

.30 cal machinegun team on the left, squad in the center, Bazooka Joe (and his pal) on the right.

.30 cal machinegun team on the left, squad in the center, Bazooka Joe (and his pal) on the right.

One more squad to go, and I’ll have a full infantry platoon, plus a couple of support options. I may bulk these guys out with more bazookas, a 60mm mortar, and a machinegun squad, so that they can also serve as an armored infantry platoon. If I go that route, I’ll probably order the AB ‘prone’ US squad to serve as the figures to round out the machine gun teams, who are suppose to have crews of 5. The standing figures really don’t make sense in the context of a deployed .30 cal.

A warning to anyone thinking of getting the US .30 cal team figures from Warmodelling-they have excessively large bases, so it’s impossible to properly mount the gunner behind his weapon AND it’s impossible to marry up the loader’s belt of ammo with the weapon intake. Well, that’s not exactly accurate: it’s only impossible if you don’t modify the figure bases and test fit everything together before fully painting up both figures and the gun. :/

Bocage Finale

I finished up my test pieces of bocage. Looks like this.

I accidentally broke my gate. But, turns out that actually breaking your gate is a pretty good simulation of a broken gate!

I accidentally broke my gate. But, turns out that actually breaking your gate is a pretty good simulation of a broken gate!

You can't do much with 21" of bocage. (TWSS)

You can’t do much with 21″ of bocage. (TWSS)

My bocage is a little short, and could do with less flock, which would make it look a bit more spindly and wild. Also, more variety in height would be good. Actually, I swear it used to be taller. I guess the weight of the glue and flock compressed it. Oh well,thankfully, I’ll have PLENTY of opportunity to practice while building enough of this stuff for a 4’x6′ playing area.

SquadSquatch

Squad 1 (plus a radio-man)

Squad A (plus a radio-man)

 

Work has been insane the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t made a ton of progress on the miniature-paining treadmill, but I DID complete a squad of WW2 United States infantry. The figures are AB. Code INA01, from the Eureka Miniature USA website, to be more exact. These figures are a real joy to paint. The only downside to how nice the sculpts are is that now I’m considering going back and redoing my Germans using AB figures. Le Sigh.

I need to paint up another two squads of Americans, plus some miscellaneous support forces, and I’ll be able to field both sides for games of Chain of Command. Considering WWII skirmish is the initial project that sucked me into this hobby, it’s pretty exciting to finally be getting that project into playable state!

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail Shot: 1/3 of Squad A

Detail shot: 1/3 of squad A

Detail shot: 1/3 of squad A

Some command figures I'd already painted, but not taken a good (I use the term loosely) photo of.

Some command figures I’d already painted, but not taken a good (I use the term loosely) photo of.

In related news, The Scarlet J just about has an American platoon together, so there should be some Chain of Command after-action-reports appearing soon-ish. Which reminds me, bocage production hell awaits.

Distractions!

I’m supposed to be painting up a regiment of ACW cavalry, but then a few 20mm AB World War II figures, and an order from MMS in the UK showed up on my doorstep…

You can tell they're officers because of all the pointing. These are simply the best 20mm figures I've laid hands on. My painting is a little dark at gaming table distances-I'll probably lighten my basecoats for future figures, and do a bit more highlighting on these guys.

These are my ‘test’ figures. You can tell they’re officers because of all the pointing. To sum up AB WWII figures, these are simply the best 20mm figures I’ve laid hands on. The detail is absolutely fantastic, and at the risk of sounding like an idiot, I’ll posit that the detail makes painting the figures easier. My painting is a little dark at gaming table distances-I’ll probably lighten my basecoats for future figures, and do a bit more highlighting on these guys.

 

 

This little guy is a PZIIL recon tank. Rarer than hens teeth, but perfect for support in a platoon-level skirmish game like Chain of Command. These models are VERY nice, though they do require some cleanup and modeling skills (not much, though, as evidenced by the fact that I was able to complete the model in about 2 hours). I'll soon ruin it with paint...

This little guy is a PZIIL recon tank. Rarer than hens teeth, but perfect for support in a platoon-level skirmish game like Chain of Command. These models are VERY nice, though they do require some cleanup and modeling skills (not much, though, as evidenced by the fact that I was able to complete the model in about 2 hours). I haven’t quite figured out how to do the big triple antenna that mounts on the starboard side, yet. I’ll soon ruin this model with my painting…

Please excuse the iPhone pictures above. I have been making progress on those ACW cavalry, but it’s slow going, and I don’t have much to show for my efforts, yet.  I did make up another 30 trees, as well, but who wants to see that?! Not me.

More Progress!

This is astounding. I’ve finally completed my platoon of German Panzergrenadiers for TooFatLardies Chain of Command skirmish rules set. My opponent is hard at work on a platoon of US infantry, so now I have to get cracking on approximately eleventy-billion feet of bocage.

The gang assembled for review...

The gang assembled for review…

That’s the basic platoon on the left. Zugs 1-3 in column, with the platoon leader, and a platoon asset Panzerschreck team up front. At the back right are a medic, tripod mounted MG-42 team, a sniper team, a forward observer, and a Panzerknacker team. Up front on the right is a PAK-40 painted in a color that doesn’t even come CLOSE to dunkelgelb. Accompanying the ATG are a couple of very poorly painted Stugs.

The Stugs and ATG (and the one-story building in the back) are some of the very first things I painted when I started out on this whole miniatures wargaming thing. They’ll be repainted/replaced eventually, but they’ll serve for now!