Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Making cork terrain boards

I prefer to make buildings from foamboard as I find it cuts more cleanly, but I have used cork 'bathroom tiles' to make terrain boards.They are cheap, light, compact, conveniently sized (12" x 12" - approx 30 cms x 30 cms) and don't need to be cut. I've had no significant problems with warping but they are relatively brittle and need to be handled with care.

It's important to note that the tiles I have are coated/smooth on one side and uncoated/rough on the other. I always paint the coated side. This coating is probably key in preventing warping.

Country tiles

The tile is coated with undiluted PVA (Elmers) wood glue.

28mm Irish War of Independence 1919-1921

I've recently taken an interest in simple 1 or 2 page rules, especially FUBAR and this has prompted me to extract my stalled 28mm Irish War of Independence project from the lead mountain. It's a pleasure to be painting fewer, larger figures but I'm going for the same 'magic dip' approach I use on 15mm ones rather than three-coat shading and super detailing. The figures are mainly Musketeer and Cannon Fodder. I'm using overscale diecasts for vehicles and my figures are on high bases to compensate. Controversial, but the fudge works for me.

For scenery I've made some buildings from 5mm foamboard and some dry stone walls from cat litter and PVA. I also bought some JRM dirt roads, some Tiger Terrain craggy hills in polyurethane resin (company regretfully no longer operating), and a box of K&M hedges. Here are some of the buildings. I've also made a Victorian-era terrace with back yards. They are all based on photos I found on the Web.

Thatched cottage. Walls are faced  with  Natural Stone styrofoam sheeting from Antenocitis Workshop with bits of card stuck on to represent the larger corner stones. Thatch is teddy bear fur from a haberdashery so no teddy bears were harmed in the production of this model. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

15mm Stalingrad armies for Crossfire

A Soviet company (top) and a German company (bottom): all you need for a good game of Crossfire. The infantry are by Peter Pig. The Soviet A/T guns are 45mm obr 1943 and the German A/T guns are 75mm Pak 97/38, and are all from Battlefront Miniatures.

The Soviet T-34s (left) are the STZ (Stalingrad factory) variant. The German  assault guns (right) are the monster StuIG33B. The T-34s are finished in a burnt orange colour representing red lead primer. Legend has it that T-34s were rushed to the front from the factory unpainted.  The colour coincidentally blends in with the crushed brick terrain. All AFVs are by Battlefront Miniatures.

15mm Crossfire - Stalingrad games

May 2011 game
These shots are of a Crossfire 'Stalingrad' game played at my local club in May 2011. The home-made foamboard buildings have undergone some trauma and need patching up in places. If I was making these again I'd make them slightly smaller (3" x 3" modules) and add some rubble on the outsides. If I did this now the 4" x 4" structures wouldn't fit in the Really Useful Boxes in which I store and transport them.

The Soviet left flank. Note the T34 (Stalingrad variant) straight from the factory! The colour represents red lead primer and is coincidentally good camouflage against the red brick rubble. 

15mm Crossfire - foamboard buildings for Stalingrad

I used foamboard (foamcore) to produce some 15mm buildings for my Stalingrad project. Many wargames use templates for built-up areas. The buildings are purely aesthetic and are moved around or even removed when the areas are occupied by troops. For Crossfire I wanted some multi-storey structures with individual footprints of about 4"/100mm into which elements (representing squads) could actually be placed. I bought some readymades but I also decided to make some ruined and semi-ruined buildings from foamboard. There are lots of good articles on the Web to which I am indebted. This is just an account of my personal approach. Foamboard has a layer of foam sandwiched between two layers of card and can be bought in 3mm and 5mm thicknesses from art shops for as little as £2 for an A3 sheet. After some experiment, I developed the following procedure.

Design the buildings on a computer. I use CorelDraw and allow a basic height of 30mm per storey for 15mm scale. Print out the designs and trim to size with scissors. Stick the print-outs to the foamboard using Spraymount. The model illustrated is actually a double unit (4" x 8").

15mm Crossfire - Stalingrad

Inspired by Steven Thomas' '2 foot city scenario' for Crossfire, my 'Stalingrad' project involves small German and Russian forces (15mm Peter Pig figures) and an extensive cityscape. I'm using some J R Miniatures buildings from Magister Militum and some generic ruins from Ironclad Miniatures, but most of the buildings are scratchbuilt using modular foamboard units.

These pictures show the cityscape as originally envisaged. Unfortunately, placing figures within the mult-storey buildings proved to be fiddly, confusing (the bases got lost) and complex (house rules were needed). At first I separated the floors and used all the buildings as single-storey, but this didn't look right. Finally, I stuck the buildings back together.

My cityscape now consists of rubble areas interspersed with buildings, and I will add some pictures of these in a later post. Bases are placed only on the top floors. A single-storey building accommodates two squads with an extra squad allowed for each extra storey. This allows the buildings with more floors to be occupied by stronger forces. Gameplay is otherwise exactly as in the basic rules.

The '2 foot city' in progress.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

15mm Crossfire - Spanish Civil War games

Here are a couple of Spanish Civil War Crossfire games I photgraphed a few years ago.

2005 Game

An encounter battle. Republicans are to the left of the road, Nationalists to the right. A Republican attempt to move round the left flank failed, but following a long fire-fight a Republican assault captured the building in the Nationalist centre effectively winning the game. The fields are made from an 'astro-turf' mat, a quick way of mass-producing the cover you need for a Crossfire game.

15mm Crossfire - Spanish Civil War armies

The Spanish Civil War was my first Crossfire project, and I am indebted to Steven Thomas's Balagan website for all aspects of Spanish Civil War research. I modeled my original two forces on the International Brigade and the Falange as these are iconic, but they represent only two of the many forces/factions involved. I have since added Legionaries, Moors, Carlists and Anarchist Militia.

International Brigade (nearest) and Falange Militia. Figures are 15mm Peter Pig.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Arty Conliffe's Crossfire (CF) is an innovative set of WW2 rules that captures the ebb and flow of infantry battle. It's my favourite wargame. It's the one I play most. And it's the one that most impresses me 'intellectually'. Like all great games its basic mechanisms are simple but subtle. It's not hardware-driven and armour plays only a minor role, so it doesn’t suit wall-to-wall tankies.
It's readily adaptable to 'low tech' pre-war conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War (1936-7). But the rules have interesting concepts and mechanisms which others have adapted and taken back to WW1 or forward to Vietnam.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Force on Force

It's only just over a month since I was planning new Square Bashing armies but the focus of my attention has now passed to the new Force on Force modern skirmish rules from Ambush Alley Games recently and sumptuously published by Osprey. The rules aren't exactly new, but they are new to me, new in this format, and likely to capture a significant audience. The rules have some very clever mechanisms and have been described as the most innovative new rules since Crossfire.

They are scenario-driven and centred on small-unit actions. With 15-20mm figures, they are intended to be used on a very compact table, typically only 2' square. Putting together a game should, therefore, be relatively economical in all respects. Even so, I've decided to be unusually cautious. My normal plan for doing a new game is to:

1. Buy lots of figures and scenery.
2. Start painting them.
3. Loose interest.
4. Put them into storage so I have room to start the next project!

Occasionally I manage to finish a project before losing interest, and sometimes I even get to play a couple of games. Whilst I may inevitably fall for this conventional, if doomed, approach, my current plan is to:

1. Buy some cheap 1/72 plastic figures and mount them on pennies.
2. Collect some small boxes to represent buildings.
3. Start gaming! 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Square Bashing the First Balkan War and the Chinese Warlord Era

The Balkan War 1912-1913,
Alexander Vachkov
I was planning to do both the First Balkan War and the Chinese Warlord Era using Peter Pig's WW1 Square Bashing rules when I saw that they are being revised and extended to include these periods. This is good news but now I'll probably want to see the army lists before collecting the armies. I'm also now waiting for the forthcoming Osprey book on the FBW.

I already have late WW1 British and German SB armies in 10mm, and I am planning to use 10mm Pendraken figures again. For the First Balkan War these will be WW1 Russians for the Bulgarians and Colonial Egyptians for the Turks. For the Chinese Warlord Era I will be using WW1 Russians and British, and Russian Civil War Bolsheviks with the pointed caps filed down. So far, I've only bought some FT-17 tanks.


Welcome to this blog which I've begun as an extension to my static website [since removed]. As time allows I will transfer most of the old content into the blog. The name 'doctorphalanx' was given to me by an online wargaming web. It amused me so I adopted it.