Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Scrap Scenery

 I'm currently making buildings (tenements and cottages) and in-between sessions of waiting for things to dry out I've also been making bit and pieces from scrap. The photo on the right shows varying sized palettes made from matchsticks and coffee-stirrers. The latter I actually bought rather than having to collect them; they cost about £1.50 for 1000.  The matchsticks are from a bag  I bought many years ago from a hobby shop but I suspect they'll be about the same price.
The photograph to the left shows the matchsticks in their original form, then two glued together, then two sets of two glued together. These make the central supports for the palettes.
In the photograph above you can see the black plastic ones that came with the fork-lift (from Tesco's). I couldn't really decide which size I preferred so I made  several different sizes, there is after all no standard size for a pallette.
The matchstick bundles of four were glued to the stirrers on one side, left to dry, cut to size then the process was repeated for the other side, making the finished palette.  I haven't actually put any paint on them as yet but I will paint a few eventually; as it is they are perfectly usable in their current state.
The photograph on the right show a Foundry figure on a couple of palettes for scale purpose (he's barely visible in the first photo); the fork-lift seat shows what a close match for scale it is.
This photo shows five piles of "bricks" that I made in about an hour. They are merely four pieces of 5mm foamboard (from the windows of the tenements I'm making), glued together then scored into 1cm x 5mm x 5mm "bricks". - a huge size for actual bricks, but perfectly acceptable for my wargaming purposes. The colour of these appears to be very red, but they are meant to represent new bricks - they will be toned down and matt-varnished
All those scraps of  coffee-stirrers that I have an abundance of were also put to use to make this pile of planks. This was a very simple case of gluing the sticks in a rough stack. The inside  of the stack is actually hollow and would have shown the rounded ends of the sticks facing the insides. I'll probably put a paint wash over this (eventually) but it isn't at the top of my to-do list .The piece, whilst not completely finished, is sufficient to be used in its present state.  
The final photograph shows both of the above pieces for comparison purposes.

All of these pieces can easily be used together in a variety of situations, a builders yard, a demolition site or a building site for example; all of course proving that essential cover for our miniatures.

I'll take this opportunity to welcome my two newest followers Dave VanDam and Captain Richard, I hope that you find something here to interest you.

That's all for this week, thanks for taking the time to look and as always comments are both welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Final Fade Out

Image from THW's site
The latest incarnation of Two Hour Wargames' "All Things Zombie" rules,  "Final Fade Out" is nearly upon us, with an expected release date of late September/October. The THW blog (http://2hourblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/atz-final-fade-out-daybreak-final-act.html) has featured examples of play using the new rules.  Colgar6's site (http://colgar6.blogspot.com/2012/09/atz-ffo-campaign-game-5-battle-of.html) also has a full (exciting) write up of a game from his own Zombie campaign using the new rules as for playtesting. Vampifan, whom I communicate with regularly is also a playtester for Final Fade Out, so I'm privileged to having his views on the rules from too.

Although nothing is cast in stone, following on from THW's "After the Horsemen" rules, which featured the addition of skills and a greater number of attributes, to make for a more role-play style of game, FFO promises to have much of the same.

The additional skills of "Savvy" and "People" as separate skills to the all-encompassing Reputation (Rep) are useful ideas although I can't foresee the "Savvy" skill being used that much when its novelty wears off after a few games.  Separate Shooting and Melee skills would to my mind have been of greater use. However, one of the greatest features of THW's rules is their adaptability to one's own needs. If you don't like a rule, just change it or ignore it, it won't have that much effect (if any) on the overall enjoyment of the game.

There appears to be a lot more detail put into the "bells and whistles" aspect of the game, which I personally like.  Attention to detail in rules, where appropriate and where it doesn't detract from the flow of the game is welcomed and can of course be ignored if it proves annoying or a nuisance.

There will be changes of course that may appear to be changes, for changes sake, such as being able to fight four opponents simultaneously instead of six. Again though, if the changes don't appeal to you then you can always revert to the original ATZ rules.

Will I be buying the new rules ? - Undoubtedly, although I can't see me using them without having a bit of a tinker with them to give me the game I want. I'll certainly be using separate Shooting and Melee skills for example. there's a reason why our Gold Medallist in the Men's Double Trap, Shooting event (Peter Wilson), didn't also win the fencing competitions !

That's it for this week, thanks for taking the time to look.
All comments are of course welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 10 September 2012

White Flags and Rubble

Even though I've got "United States of the Dead" as my current read, I've actually finished that book and what I thought was the last (fifth) book "Dead Surge" in the series "White Flag of the Dead". The fifth book doesn't actually complete its story-line and ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, so that there is a good chance that there is a sixth book to come.
As I've stated previously all of the book suffer from poor proof-reading a thing that I'm generally no too tolerant of, but as you can surmise from the fact that I've now read all five current books in the series and I'm looking forward to a possible sixth that it hasn't bothered me that much.
There have been a few times when I've winced at a typo ("lances" rather than "glances" threw me a little) but there is a cracking story that more than makes up for them.
As I've said in previous blogs the general overall story follows the concepts in Sean T Page's book "War Against the Walking Dead".  Books one and two deal primarily with survivors trying to re-establish some form of normality after what they term "The Upheaval".
There are of course a lot of formulaic situations within the series, but book 3 (America the Dead) and book 4 (United States of the Dead) follow the same story-line which to be truthful is a bit contrived, but nevertheless is still entertaining.
Throughout the series the Zombies (they're always referred to as such) do change and develop, but they do so very slowly and more or less in what has become an accepted formula.

The "White Flag" of the series refers to the instruction to leave a white cloth from a window or on a mailbox to indicate to the authorities that someone in the household has become infected - a nice idea I thought and one that could well be used.

As a by-product to my Urban Road building I was left with long strips of cork tile  4mm-5mm wide and 304mm long. On a whim I decided to try and make some rubble with them.

The result of my efforts can be seen in the photograph to the right, although the "red-ness" of the bricks appears far brighter in the picture than it does in reality.

The lengths of cork were cut into smaller bits, anywhere from 1cm to 5mm in length and put into a plastic yoghurt style pot. I added a basic acrylic red colour and stirred until I thought that the bricks were sufficiently covered. When they were all but dry, I next added a smaller amount of a darker red and again stirred, but this time the objective being to get some paint on most of the bricks, not to cover them completely.
This process was continued with brown and a touch of black. In-between the various colours, the bricks would be separated roughly by hand as the drying paint tends to act like a glue too. This of course resulted in some of the cork breaking (which added to the textures and colours) and  there were some pieces stuck together, which were left.
As a final touch a very small amount of powdered filler was added to the mix, which again added to the colouring of the bricks.

The final photograph give some idea of the scale of the pile of rubble that I've made, the figure being a foundry workman.

I'm currently trying to mass-produce buildings for my campaign and I'll be needing some ruins as well as complete buildings no doubt. The rubble will add some easy detailing to any ruin I make and it could also be useful in a construction/demolition site as well as a stand-alone piece of cover for any bit of wasteland.  It took little to no effort to make and for a first-try I thought it came out pretty good, so much so that I'm considering making more.

Well, that's it for this week, thanks for taking the time to look; all comments are of course welcomed and appreciated.

Finally if I haven't already welcomed you, then "Welcome" (that's you "the DM's Revenge"), I hope you find something here to interest you.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Urban Terrain Boards - Part Two

Once all the terrain boards had the pavement pieces glued in place, a little filler was added to hide the transition from the road.
Next up was the painting of the various "sections" of the boards.
Basically there are three main parts to each board.
First, the road itself, a black base was used as I wanted a tarmac look and it gives a good definition between road and pavement.
Next, the pavement. I started with a general grey colour that was increasingly lightened.
Lastly was the expanse of what would make up the areas around buildings, alleyways backyards etc. This had to be a generic grey colour but I added a lot of browns along with the various dark grey shades.

This photograph on the left  shows the same boards as above but  from the opposite side of the table.

It is just possible to make out the various shades of colours used on the waste land parts of each  board.

Once I was happy with the general appearance of the various boards, the next stage was to paint in a centre line on each road.
To assist my somewhat shaky hands I used masking tape about 5mm apart for the centre line and the width of the masking tape as the gap between the lines. 
This left a nice gap of about 25mm between each line.
 The final masking tape effect was rather like a ladder.
Rather than actually painting the lines I used a sort of stipple approach with a fairly stiff brush.

The ladder effect of the masking tape can more easily be seen from the photograph to the left.

The test piece used in the above photograph can also be seen in the top-right of the photo.

The masking tape has been removed to reveal a straight dotted centre line which wasn't too bad in my opinion and at the very least suitable for wargaming on, even if not to exhibition or demonstration standards. 

This photograph shows the masking I used at each junction where the pedestrian crossings will be.
I've seen various designs of these and decided to go with the diagonal striped variety.
These are enclosed within two broad stripes, which alone would have been adequate as markers for the crossings.
The three pieces of masking tape that are joining the pavements at right angles provide the enclosing border lines of the crossings.
Here are two photographs that show the crossing lines and centre lines once they had been painted and the masking tape had been removed.  Removing the masking tape did take a few bits of paint with it, but these were few in number and only took a couple of minutes to fix.
One thing I had learned from the practice piece was that painting the lines a pure white was a mistake. They looked far too pristine, so I darkened them a little  as I went along and although it won't show up in the photographs, it was well worth the trouble.
The next task was to paint the diagonals on the cross-walks, which I did using a 5mm stiff nylon "chisel" head brush.

I'm not the best in the world at keeping a steady hand whilst trying to paint a straight line, nor am I that good at keeping a uniform thickness, but with another brush ready to cover mistakes I eventually got to the stage where I was fairly happy with the overall results.

As far as finishing painting I was almost done, all I had left to do was paint the edges of each board a darkish grey to finish them off.

 Here's a couple of photographs of the same board layout, showing all seven completed boards, but from opposite "ends".

You can see that the curved road still has to have its centre line completed, but that is a minor task that will be done when I'm having a steady-hand day.
The roads also had various greys and browns added to them in both washes and highlights, so they didn't appear as a harsh black.

There were a few minor problems and hiccups that I encountered when  making these boards. First up was the problem of using two different sized cork tiles, one set I used was metric, at 300mm a side and the other older set I used was Imperial at 1ft a side (about 304mm) which  meant I had to trim about 4mm overlap from a lot of the boards. (There was an unexpected bonus because of this which I'll relate in a future blog.)
The next potential problem I encountered was in trying to purchase more tiles, my two local DIY stores, either didn't stock them (B&Q) or had them at 3.2mm thick (Wickes), As my current tiles are approximately 5mm thick these won't match up too well - so its back to the drawing board (or the interweb) for my next terrain boards. I have one to finish from the above "set" and two bigger boards planned, each 600mm x 1200mm.
The final photo shows  a mock-up of the layout with my meagre collection of buildings in situ.
If I was to attempt this project again I would widen the roads to 150mm, rather than the 100mm that they currently are and I'd also plan to have all the materials I needed before I started out, probably with a few extra bits too.
Before anyone asks, I've no intention of adding  street-lamps, traffic lights, or anything else of that ilk.  The main reason being one of practicality, tall slender things tend to get knocked over if not affixed and broken if they are.   In addition, this is a wargaming set-up; it's not meant to have details to the n'th degree like a model railway layout.  If features don't add anything to the game (for example - cover) then I think its hardly worth the extra trouble of modelling them. I will however be adding the usual street furniture that one might expect, skips, garbage cans etc.

That's it for my Mark 1 Urban Terrain Boards, all comments are of course welcomed and appreciated.

If anyone is lurking out there whom I haven't already said "Hi" to then "Hi" I hope you find something here you like.