Thursday, November 20, 2014

Building Refurbishing

Now that I am getting back into gaming in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the one thing I desperately need is sci fi terrain. Years of historical gaming has left me with lots of buildings and scenery that are great for Europe in the 1940s, but not so much the 41st millenium. I had some of the basics such as trees, rocks, and hills, but no buildings and very little scatter terrain that fit.

When I was going through some of my old terrain in the basement I came across a box of adobe buildings I had built years ago. They had been sold off to a friend then recently reacquired from him with the idea that I might turn them into Ork buildings. Looking at the buildings again it seemed they were built to well to turn into Orky structures but would make a decent basis for a sci fi shanty town.

I went to work with some plastic card, tubing, and basswood and turned this...

Into this...

These buildings should fit well with my post apocalypse style burned landscape terrain.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Green Hell!

Welcome back. Now that I finished some jungle terrain on my own custom bases, I decided to use them in a game. I have a small force of Kroot painted and we decided they would go best up against a unit of Crimson Fists scouts. My friend had brought along some of his old Gorka Morka cardboard terrain with him and we thought it would make perfect tents for a Kroot encampment. We decided that the scouts should be on the attack attempting to ambush and destroy the xenos camp. We also decided that the prey should have some special skills of their own. As before, we used Disposable Heroes: Point Blank. This time, we used the spotting and hidden rules from the optional rules section in the back of the book.

We gave the Kroot a few jungle fighter type skills to fit the scenario. As jungle fighters they were given a -2 to all enemy models trying to spot them. During their Activation, they were allowed to ignore the first action that would normally cause a spot counter to be added (such as shooting or moving). Also, the normal automatic spotting distance was reduced from 12" to 9". This made the Kroot tough to spot, More agile in stealth, and better at blending into the terrain.

These rules would prove to add some great flavor to the scenario and made for some tense action. I was very happy with the way the scenario played. It was very cinematic.

The scenario started with the main group of Kroot on one side of the river set up in their camp. They had two lookouts posted outside the camp up on tall rock formations. On the other side of the river, the Kroot had two patrols of a Kroot and a Kroot hound each. These patrols would be randomly patrolling during the game. The Crimson Fist scouts would enter from the far side of the table on the opposite side of the river from the camp.

The first few Activations went well for the scouts. They moved into positions on both sides and advanced their Heavy Bolter onto a rock outcropping in the middle overlooking the Kroot camp. Everything seemed to be going well, with the scouts moving into position to attack the roaming Kroot patrols on both sides...until one of the Kroot patrols spotted a scout. He fired off a round at the scout from his long rifle, but missed and then sent the hound at the scout. The scout snap fired at the hound and killed it, and the unleashed a volley of Bolter rounds into the Kroot, killing it as well. 

Unfortunately for the scout, the camp was now alerted and they spotted the scout almost immediately. On the other flank, the scout sergeant and another scout rushed forward through a jungle defile to get into range of the other Kroot patrol. They were spotted, but much like the other side of the jungle, the scouts killed a hound on a snap fire and dispatched the Kroot patrol with a rush and volley of bolt pistol rounds. Now things began to heat up. The Krootox with a gunner riding on top strode out of the camp and began looking for the scouts who by now had added several spot counters to themselves by firing their weapons and moving. So much for stealth...

Both sides began to actively try to spot the other as they moved towards the river. The Krootox spotted the scout sergeant and began unleashing deadly hails of blast through the jungle. The scout sergeant took a wound from this fire, but pushed forward to the river edge. On the other side, several Kroot came down from the camp and started shooting at one of the scouts picking his way forward. Under normal circumstances, the scouts would have dominated the Kroot with superior firepower and accuracy. The problem was that the Kroot made good use of their jungle fighting skills of being able to ignore their first spot counter and get off lots of shots that would normally have made them easier to spot. The Kroot also made great use of the sharing Action Points rules to allow several Kroot to fire at one time without endangering their hidden positions by adding spot counters.

The scouts found that the river edge spit death at them from many locations without revealing the Kroot warrior's positions. Frustrated, the heavy bolter scout tried in vain to draw beads on Kroot targets from his superior vantage point. Finally, after taking fire for several turns and having much difficulty returning fire at the ghosts over the river, the Krootox was spotted. Swinging his heavy bolter around the scout unleashed a deadly hail of fire, felling the beast and rider. Despite this, the Kroot remained elusive. The scouts pushed right up to the edge of the river to try to get within automatic spotting distance, but here again the Kroot player fell back out of spotting range just enough to remain invisible. Kroot warriors would be spotted from time to time, and a few were killed by lucky shots from the scouts, but the Crimson Fists were in no position to advance across the river. And by now, they had taken several wounds.

After a few rounds of this deadly exchange, the scouts were becoming bogged down in a firefight with ghosts they could not pin down. During a particularly vicious round of firing from the Kroot, the scout sergeant and two other scouts are killed. This prompts the remaining two scouts to withdraw from the fight. The heavy bolter provides cover fire while the other scout falls back out of sight of the Kroot. Then, under heavy fire himself, the heavy bolter climbs down off the rocky outcropping and escapes.

That night, as the moon rises over the caopy of the jungle, a Kroot shaper leads his warriors in a victory celebration with a feast of the flesh of man. The Crimson Fists learned a valuable lesson in warfare. Never underestimate an enemy in his home terrain. The Kroot, while not near as skilled in combat, and fighting with much more primitive weapons, were able to fight and kill even the Emperor's finest with cunning and skill. The hubris of the marines was their downfall.

The game was a great, tense, nailbiter of a scenario. It made a great story and played out very cinematically. As the scout player I really felt like I was chasing ghosts. I just couldn't spot the enemy, and they were almost continually able to spot me. I could just see the scouts peering out from the river edge only to be met by deadly fire from everywhere around them, Their best asset, the heavy bolter, even in a good position, was unable to help them.

It was a great game, and I look forward to more Point Blank in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

The Kroot encampment.
A Kroot patrol spots a scout!
All stealth is lost as the sergeant wades into the fray.
The heavy bolter moves into position, only to find...nothing.
The Krootox moves into action, spitting death at the scouts.
Firing from the cover of the river edge, the Kroot pin down the scouts.
A scout advances towards the river.
The heavy bolter covers the retreat of his brother scout.
The Kroot feast tonight!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Jungle Terrain Bases and Making Your Own mold for Scatter Terrain Bases

Quick update on a side terrain project I recently completed: scatter terrain bases.

I had been intending to make some jungle terrain for my collection for a long time now. I bought the plastic aquarium plants I needed a few years ago but never got around to working on them. My main issue was that I wanted to base the plants on small bases, but didn't feel like taking the time to make the dozens I would need. Recently I began casting and making my own terrain items, and it seemed a perfect opportunity to test out my skills.

The tools and materials I used included:

Sculpey clay (the kind you bake)
A wooden mold box (just a simple small wooden box I had laying around)
Aquarium plants
Basing sand
Zap-A-Gap Glue (this is the greatest stuff ever made)
OOMOO 30 rubber mold by Smooth On Inc.
Static Grass

First, I made the bases by sculpting them in sculpey. Really just random shapes of various sizes. I made sure the edges were flush with the surface as I wanted them to be flush when they sat on the game table. I then baked the sculpey in the oven at the prescribed temperature for the suggested time. They hardened up nicely. After they cooled off I used Zap-A-Gap glue to glue down sand basing material to give them texture. When that was dry I glued the finished bases on a piece of cardboard cut to the size of the wooden box so it fits in nice and snug. I would be pouring the rubber mold into the box and I needed it to lie as flat and fit as tight as possible to get the best mold I could.

Once the box was ready I mixed up my OOMOO 30 rubber mold. It is a two part mold 1:1 mixed by volume, so it is easy to just measure out equal amounts in two separate plastic cups. To find out how much you need you can use rice and fill up the box to the desired level and then pour the rice into a measuring cup. This gives you at least a general idea of how much rubber you will need. Also, I made sure to spray mold release into the box and get a nice coating so that the mold will separate easily. 

This is a one part drop mould. I will be pouring the rubber into the box and letting it rise up above the items I am casting. After mixing the rubber I poured it into the box and then let it sit to harden up. OOMOO 30 does not require degassing (so I'm told), and it hardens within 6 hours (though I found mine hard enough within 3 hours). Once it had set, I peeled the rubber out of the box and it was ready to go. I found a few places where the mold rubber had gotten under the bases and between the cardboard and bottom of the bases. I just trimmed this up a little with a knife. Basically, the mold was ready to go.

Before mixing my resin and pouring the mold I added some black resin dye to make my resin a mid gray color rather than the white it cures normally. I used the Smooth On dye they suggest to go with their Smooth Cast 300 resin. I think I used something like 8 drops for the sample bottle they gave me.I then mixed up a batch of Smooth Cast 300 resin (also 1:1 by volume) and stirred it thoroughly. The best method is to pour part A and B into separate plastic cups (the kind you use for condiments) then pour part B into part A. Stir well as you really want this stuff mixed well or it won't cure properly. You have about a 1 minute pot life for this resin, so make sure when you mix you are all ready to pour into the mold. They suggest using mold release on the mold prior to pouring the resin, but I found it wasn't necessary on such a simple master model and such a shallow drop cast mold.

Once mixed I poured the resin and let it sit for 15 minutes. The resin cures pretty quickly, but it remains bendable even after it feels like it has hardened. Once cured you can just pop the bases out of the mold ready to be used. Voila! As many bases as you will ever need.
Once I had my bases I needed to make my jungle plants. I found that if I painted the bases first then drilled holes for the plants that it messed up the paint job, so I decided to drill my holes first. After that, I spray painted the bases with Krylon dark brown camo primer. After that was dry I drybrushed the bases with GW vomit brown to give it a deep rich soil look. 

Once that was finished I added static grass to the edges of the bases all around so that the base would blend into my game mat. After that, I began affixing my aquarium plants. I wanted to go for a single type of plant for these bases so I could build up areas of heavy growth of one type of plant. I plan to do other bases with more variety of plants. For these plants I cut them into various heights using snips and then used the stalk of the plant to plug into the holes I had drilled and fixed them in place with Zap-A-Gap. I placed the taller plants towards the center of the bases and the shorter towards the edge. This hopefully gives it a more natural feel where each base can stand on its own as a growth or clumped together for a dense tangle of plants. Once the glue was dry I shaved the stalks that were sticking through the holes of the base to be flush with the bottom.

I completed 30 of these and still have a ton of plants left. They cover about a quarter of the table if clumped closely together. I think I'm going to do 30 more just to have plenty. I plan to use these more for sci fi games than earth jungle. But I'm sure they'll do double duty at some point.

Below are some pics of the different parts of the process. I hope this shows you how easy making simple molds can be and how useful they are for making lots of a simple terrain item that has many uses. I can use these bases for signs, bushes, small trees, heaps of rubble, etc. etc.

The mold box with the bases glued down and set ready for the pour.

The rubber mold after the pour and a casting.

The bases after being separated from the excess resin from the pour.

Aquarium plants ready to be separated and glued down to their bases.

One of my Mantis Warrior space marines in the jungle.