Archive for wargaming on a budget

Totally worth it: Warzone

Posted in Conversions, old stuff, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by krautscientist

In the last installment of Totally Worth It, I talked about a pretty well recognised classic: The Inquisitor Rulebook. But this series would be extraordinarily boring if it only dealt with well-known stuff, so for today I have chosen something a bit more obscure: A game that went under without ever making that much of a splash, but also a release totally worth checking out: The Warzone 2nd edition starter box.

Image appears courtesy of Prince August

Image appears courtesy of Prince August

In case you don’t know the game, don’t fret: It was released by the Swedish Company Target Games some time during the 90s in an attempt to challenge GW’s dominance over the wargaming market. In those days, however, it was usually not as widely available as GW’s systems: I remember discovering a catalogue of Target Games releases at my local FLGS in the late 90s and quite liking some of the designs, but ordering stuff in those dark days (before the internet made sure everything was always just one click away) was an arcane and hazardous business at the best of times, so I never persevered. Then, a couple of years ago, a couple of conversions started cropping up on the forums, with people using their old Warzone starter box minis to bulk out the ranks of their Imperial Guard or Lost and the Damned traitor armies. And I immediately recalled that I had rather liked those designs all those years ago. So when I had the chance to pick up a whole Warzone starter box on ebay for a song, I went for it and was pleasantly surprised.

But enough about me, let’s cut to the chase: Warzone is set in the Mutant Chronicles universe, where a number of Megacorporations originating on good old Earth are continually duking it out all over the galaxy: Hostile takeovers here are indeed a rather bloody affair, with the necessary paperwork usually only signed after the fact. The corporations also heavily draw on a number of national stereotypes, which is pretty evident by their names alone: Imperial (totally not the UK), Capitol (totally not the USA), Bauhaus (totally not Imperial Germany, with the rest of 19th century continental Europe thrown into the mix for flavour), Mishima (totally not Edo-period Japan), and Cybertronic (totally not, well, Microsoft, I guess…). Oh, and there’s also a church state (totally not Christianity) and the four Dark Apostles (totally not GW’s chaos gods) and their followers. In short, the whole background is just as much of a glorious trainwreck as the 40k lore of old, and I really think the Chaos-God-expies are a bit superfluous, but the whole Megacorporation angle and the way the associated tropes are used still seem rather interesting and original today.

The background is (rather briefly) detailed in the accompanying three books: one for the background itself, one for the rules and one for the army lists (the latter has all the army lists for all the factions, by the way). While the books are partly suffering from a pretty angular 90s layout, they are chock-full of great artwork (from artists like Paul Bonner, comic book prodigy Simon Bisley and others) and lots and lots of nicely photographed models.

Speaking of the models, there’s a decidedly WWI-ish feel to the whole thing from an aesthetic standpoint: The Imperial soldiers even come with Brodie helmets, and no Bauhaus soldier could ever be complete without his trusty “Pickelhaube”.

With the starter box, you get 40 soldiers of the Bauhaus and Imperial corporations, respectively. The plastic models were designed by Bob Naismith, one of the “fathers” of the original Space Marines, and it shows: In short, I would go so far as to say that the starter box minis may very well be the best models released for Warzone. Let’s take a look:

Warzone Minis (1)
Warzone Minis (3)
Warzone Minis (2)
This is a regular Imperial infantryman. I painted him in suitably muddy colours and added an IG decal for good measure.

Warzone Minis (6)
Warzone Minis (4)
And here’s an Imperial heavy weapon’s expert after I gave him the same treatment.

And finally, an Imperial officer:

Warzone Minis (9)
Warzone Minis (8)
Warzone Minis (7)
In this case, I added red as a spot colour on the officer’s cap and left shoulderpad.

And here’s all three of them together:

Warzone Minis (13)

And here’s an officer from the other faction, Bauhaus:

Warzone Minis (10)
Warzone Minis (11)
Warzone Minis (12)
Of course I chose a very different recipe for painting him, but I think it works rather well. And you may call me crazy, but I rather think that the flowing lines of the shoulder armour are very reminiscent of the Volkswagen Beetle. I wonder if this was a deliberate choice…

I have to tell you I really like these guys. They are pretty great starter minis, and they sport a decidedly distinct look. Granted, with only three poses per faction, there may be a pronounced lack of variety, but keep in mind that it’s the 90s we are talking about here. Let’s take a look at GW’s 2nd edition starter box minis from the same time:

2nd edition Blood Angel, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

2nd edition Blood Angel, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

2nd edition Ork Boy, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

2nd edition Ork Boy, painted approximately 15 years ago by my good buddy Phil

While the Ork Boy is still rather charming in a corny retro-way, both models are certainly nothing to write home about. I think we can all agree that Warzone’s starter minis are spitting on the second edition 40k minis from a very tall height.

My one gripe with these guys is that not only are they rather fiddly to put together, but the plastic these were made also comes straight from hell, which makes removing moldlines and gluing them together more of an adventure than it should be. Still, the designs are really great, in my opinion, and still hold up rather nicely today.

Unfortunately, the rest of the catalogue didn’t necessarily fare as well: Target Games employed lots of different designers, resulting in a very uneven level of quality: Some of the metal Warzone minis are simply gorgeous (having been designed by people like Werner Klocke), while others are looking terribly clunky, failing to capture the pretty great artwork they are based on. It also seems like some of the models were designed at the heroic 28mm scale, while others are far more realistically proportioned. And some of this stuff is simply very goofy looking (Mishima’s dragon landspeeder or the majority of the Dark Apostle’s forces come to mind…). But still, the books and models that come with the starter box are rather nice, and definitely great value for a starter box from that time.

So what about the game itself? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you with any measure of reliability: I am not a rules guy, especially not when the game in question has been dead for close to 15 years. At a glance, it looks like the rules were reasonably similar to 2nd edition 40k, although with a more skirmish-like approach. There is a number of differences and smart ideas, but ultimately the game seems fairly similar to its direct competitor.

Unfortunately, very shortly after the release of Warzone’s 2nd edition, the 3rd edition of Wathammer 40k hit tabletops everywhere: With a radically streamlined ruleset and the spectacular multipart plastic Space Marines in the starter box, GW left the competition in the dust. Target Games also tried to challenge GW yet again with its own fantasy wargame called “Chronopia”, with quite similar results (as an interesting aside, though, some of those Chronopia models rather look like early design studies for Warmachine, in my opinion…): GW simply seemed invincible in the late 90s.

So what to make of it all?

In any case, the Warzone starter box is an artifact from an interesting era of tabletop wargaming: Target Games dared to challenge GW, and though they may have failed in this, you have to admire their ambition! What’s more, the minis from the box still holf up rather nicely, and are a great way of getting your hands on some cheap alternative IG models: I could see these being used as an alternative for the Death Korps of Krieg, and DRommel did some very nice Savlar Chem Dogs based on Imperial soldiers. Then there’s the option of using them as chaos cultists, Planetary Defense forces, alternative Arbites, Inquisition troops or simply as NPCs in games of Inquisitor 28 or Necromunda. And if all else fails, you can always use them to pull off stunts like this one:

Converted Traitor commissar using a Warzone Imperial officer's head

Converted Traitor commissar using a Warzone Imperial officer’s head

The game, huge bags of the plastic starter models and the remainder of the old metal models can still be had for a song over at Prince August, who picked up the rights to Target Games’ wargames. So I encourage you to take a look. Especially at this price, Warzone may very well be totally worth it, if only for conversion fodder or to satisfy your curiosity RE: “wargaming history…”

Do you have any experiences with the Warzone minis, or maybe even with playing the game? Let me know in the comments section!

In any case, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Barricades – quick and easy

Posted in 40k, DIY, Inq28, Terrain with tags , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2012 by krautscientist

In between all the painting and kitbashing, let’s take time for a quick and easy recipe for building your own scatter terrain for games of 40k, Necromunda, Inquisitor 28 (or any other skirmisher, for that matter). This is something for slow days, when you want to get something done on the hobby front, but don’t feel like breaking out all the colours and really going to town on a model. Let’s take a look at barricades.

For me, everything started when I saw this picture on DRommel’s Savlar Chem-Dog plog (very much worth visiting, by the way!) over at Throne of Skulls. There I saw this:

Image appears courtesy of DRommel

This barricade looked quite excellent and fairly easy to duplicate at the same time to me. So, full of inspiration, I sat down to reverse-engineer DRommel’s recipe and build my own barricades in very short time with nothing but leftover stuff. Here’s how:

I. What we need:

Here are all the ingredients. The good news is that you will probably have most of this lying around anyway 😉

Some pieces of foamcore. For this you can basically use all the leftovers from other projects. You’ll need a couple of longer cuts, though, to make the bases for the brarricades.

Some corrugated cardboard. This comes in all shapes and measurements. Be sure to use cardboard that’s easy enough to cut. This will make for very convincing corrugated metal and help to break up all the otherwise smooth foamcore surfaces.

A couple of bitz. Anything goes here. Choose whatever you find at the bottom of your bitz box. Vaguely technical looking parts are best. I used some parts from an old model truck and some stuff from an old military terrain kit. Oh, and pieces of leftover sprue make for great sharpened stakes! And we all have tons of that stuff lying around, don’t we?

If you want to follow this recipe, you’ll also need some basing materials. Sand, cork, whatever you like.

Right, let’s get started, shall we?

II. What to do:

I started by drawing the outlines for the bases on some bigger pieces of foamcore, using a 40k bike base as a template. You can make all of the bases the same lenght, although it may be a good idea to make some longer and some shorter ones for added flexibility. I cut out the bases using a craft knife.

Then I beveled the edges of the bases with my knife. I did this so they would look more natural on the tabletop. Don’t worry if your bases – like mine – do look rather messy at this point: We’ll be able to fix that shortly!

I cut smaller pieces from the leftover foamcore and corrugated cardboard. These pieces form the main body of the barricade, so make sure to have a nice selection of different lenghts. The less rectangular the shape, the better.

I then glued the smaller pieces onto the bases using wood glue. I tried to make this basic construction look pretty haphazard, like random pieces had been collected and thrown together.

Then I added the corrugated cardboard to add some additional variety…

..and repeated the same step with the leftover bitz, sharpened pieces of sprue etc. At this point, the basic construction was finished.

Then I added my basing materials to the bases, using wood glue to glue them down. In this particular case, I used a mix of GW modelling sand and small pieces of cork. I also used the glue to seal all open areas of foam, so the foam wouldn’t disintegrate during the next step.

Then everything was painted using cheap spray paint from the craft store. I chose brown as a basecoat because I wanted the barricades to have a rusty, dilapidated look.

As you can see, the unified paint did a great job of tying together all the disparate parts. I then stippled GW Vermin Brown onto the barricades, creating patches of rust. Then I drybrushed the edges of the barricades with GW Boltgun (also stippling on some more Boltgun Metal). Then I painted thinned down Vermin Brown into the recesses — especially on the corrugated cardboard! The sand and cork on the bases were drybrushed with GW Bleached Bone. And lastly, I used GW Nuln Oil to paint on patches of oil, grime etc.

Here are the finished barricades:

This was the easiest recipe I could think of. These barricades come at basically no cost, and you’ll be able to churn out a ton of them in no time at all! Of course you can add some more variety by adding different colours, propaganda posters and all kinds of bitz. Ultimately, this may be the easiest terrain project I have ever done (and probably the one with the most bang for the – nonexistent – buck!).

Let’s wind up this post wit some shots of the barricades and some models. These photos also show you how flexible the barricades are:

Some twists behind a single barricade

A gang of twists defending their ramshackle fortifications

Scatter terrain like this will come in handy during games of Inquisitor or Necromunda. And, as I have tried to show you in this post, it’s ridiculously easy to built, at basically no extra cost!

Thanks to DRommel for the inspiration, and as always, thanks to you for looking! Stay tuned for more!

Modular industrial terrain – quick & easy

Posted in 40k, DIY, Inq28, Inquisitor, Terrain with tags , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2012 by krautscientist

I’ve been looking at different options of building some modular terrain for use in games of 40k and Inquisitor for quite some time now. After building a silly amount of cityfight terrain (that eats up an equally silly amount of storage space), I was a little hesitant to undertake the next terrain building spree: I felt that any new terrain had best be very versatile and modular for maximum usefulness. It would also have to be easily storable, so no more cathedrals for the time being…

Then, while shopping for boring stuff at the DIY-superstore, I came across these:

Now I couldn’t even tell you what these things are normally used for – especially not in English. They are used by electricians when working on electrical outlets or something — pardon my spotty knowledge when it comes to electrical installations.

But I instantly realised that these could be really useful for a terrain project: The smaller part seems immediately useful, and you may call me crazy, but the longer piece gave me an almost art deco vibe. Does that make sense?

Anyway, those were super cheap, so I picked them up and got to work:

What I wanted to try with these was to create some simple, highly versatile and modular industrial terrain that could be used for 40k but would be even more useful in games of Necromunda or Inquisitor 28. So I put each of the pieces on a base cut from foamcore and added a couple of bits:

To the small piece, I added a couple of small brass tubes I had lying around as well as some corrugated cardboard, cork chaff and one or two pieces from an old model truck. And behold, the thing was instantly transformed into something looking very …industrial.

I did something similar to the longer piece, adding some bits to give an idea of scale to the whole thing and to make it more interesting visually. Here’s the result:

All of this was really quick and easy work, and I only needed some leftover materials and a couple of bits. I then spraypainted both pieces with brown paint, since I would probably end up going for a rather dusty and dilapidated look amyway.

As usual, the uniform paint helped to tie everything toegther. I think it’s immediately obvious how this could work as a piece of terrain. Here’s a scale shot with an 28mm model:

The other piece got the same treatment. Lo and behold:

And again, with a model:

Granted, one of these alone is fairly unimpressive. But imagine several of those pieces that can be freely rearranged to create all kinds of different setups: You could simulate corridors or a kind of labyrinth. And the fun doesn’t end there: Just build a number of modular walkways to connect the different pieces and add some verticality. Or add some taller buildings for even more variety. These pieces could even be combined with my regular cityfight terrain! And the fact that they are fairly small and robust also makes them rather easy to store — what a relief!

Of course, these pieces will yet have to be properly painted, probably with huge amounts of weathering and rust. I could also add all kinds of security warnings and/or propaganda posters for more authenticity and that particular underhive look.

It probaly won’t surprise you when I tell you that I went back to the store the next day and got a whole bag of those pieces. About 8 Euros gave me enough stuff to fill up quite a lot of space on a normally sized Necromunda/INQ28 table. I’ll keep you updated on the progress!

Sometimes it’s lucky finds like these that makes building your own terrain that much fun! But then, maybe it’s just Karma’s way of paying us back for all the hours we spend sitting hunched over little plastic men. Who knows? In any case, whenever you’re at an DIY-superstore, keep your eyes open for useful stuff like this. It may make your visit to the store just that much more enjoyable 😉

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Reasons why you should build your own terrain, pt.5

Posted in 40k, DIY, Pointless ramblings, Terrain with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2012 by krautscientist

By now, you should know the drill: Building your own terrain is fun and cheap, terrain you built yourself is truly your own, and building your own terrain also makes for a nice change of pace whenever you’re frustrated by another part of the hobby. If you have followed me this far, let me present you with my final – and maybe most important – reason for submerging under heaps of foamcore, cereal boxes and spray paint in order to make your own terrain pieces:

5.) Building terrain is a great outlet for creativity!

I realised a long time ago that creativity and its expression are really crucial to me as a person. Towards thit end, most of the things I do in the tabletop hobby really follow the goal of doing something creative, whether it’s converting models, inventing background stories for them or building suitable pieces of terrain. And it’s true that building terrain lends itself very well to expressing creativity, simply because there are very few boundaries.

I have tried to show you that even your most basic household materials can be used to build your own wargaming terrain, so your own imagination is really the limit here. It’s all about coming up with an idea and seeing it through to its conclusion.

If that sounds a little too sketchy for you, I have an example of course. And a couple of pretty pictures to go with it.

I already mentioned that, some time ago, I had gotten it into my head to build a cathedral as an enormous centrepiece for my 40k battlefields. But before undertaking such a huge project, I wanted to come up with a number of ideas first. I wanted to find some visual elements that would be used to make the building more interesting and would help in actually “selling” the piece of terrain as believable. So I sat down and thought of a number of things I wanted to try out:

  • I wanted to use some kind of statue of a lost heroe of the Imperium, covered in verdigris or patina
  • I wanted to find a way of doing inscriptions to decorate my building will all the gothic and crazy mottoes we all know from the 40k background
  • I wanted to find a recipe for building devotional candles, to be placed around an icon of worship for example

So I gathered a few pieces of leftover foamcore and sat down to build a little test piece, a small devotional shrine. Here it is:

I wanted this to be usable as a piece of terrain in its own right, but it was also a way to try implementing all of the different elements I outlined above. Once again, the main construction was done with foamcore and a leftover cardboard roll.

The statue of a nameless Space Marine hero formed the center of the piece. I used an old 2nd edition Sergeant and added a few bits to make the model look more impressive. Then I experimented with a couple of paints until I found a nice way of representing patina: The model was basecoated with GW Tin Bitz (or Vallejo Tinny Tinn) and then lightly drybrushed with a lighter Bronze Tone. Afterwards, a mix of Vallejo Halcon Turquoise (or GW Hawk Turquoise) and Skull White was liberally dabbed onto the model.

Then I tried to do my own inscriptions, using alphabet noodles as a cheap and readily available resource (an idea I took from Oldschool’s very nice German terrain blog).

I used the noodles to represent one of 40k’s most iconic insriptions. Take a look:

The noodles were very easy to use and just as easily painted. I used the same recipe as for the statue. I also painted some rust stains around the different letters. Oh, and it seems a part of the inscription actually fell off. What a coincidence…

And finally I tried my hand at building some candles. I used small glass beads with a bit of wire in the middle to represent the candlewick. All I had to do was paint them:

I added some splashes of colour to represent the candles slowly melting. Again, this was very easy (if somewhat fiddly) to do and yet made for a pretty convincing result.

Building this concept piece really helped me to nail a look for my bigger buildings (like the cathedral). I learned a lot of useful techniques, even beyond the things I had wanted to try. For example, I used cardboard from a cereal package to make the flagstones – a recipe I have since used on many pieces of terrain.

But that was not really the most important thing. The most important thing was to see this whole project as an outlet for creativity: Thinking of things I wanted to do and then coming up with a cheap and easy way of doing them. And thinking up little elements that would help make my terrain more believable.

It’s true, building twenty identical ruins isn’t a great outlet for creativity — although it’s sometimes just the thing you have to do to get the necessary amount of terrain together. But you can still be creative: Think of a little something that will make each of those ruins stand out. Then think of how to make it work. Then you will truly have made something!

Of course this also goes for assembling terrain kits you buy. You could assemble them to look just like they do on the package. Or you could go the extra mile and use your creativity!

Ans while we’re at it: The actual building of terrain is not the only way to be creative. There are also many things you can do in other mediums to support your terrain. For instance, designing some Imperial propaganda posters for your terrain pieces is a quick and creative way of making your buildings look even more believable. Here’s a couple of posters I did using 40k artwork (It goes without saying that most of this artwork is courtesy of Games Workshop — I own none of it):

This one is based on an old propaganda poster from World War I. I kept the slogan and just added it on top of a picture of the Steel Legion in mid-fight. I used some Photoshop filters to make the image look more stylised and desaturated. There’s also some graffitti, probably added by cultists in order to deface this symbol of the Imperium.

And while we are on the subject of the Imperial Guard: Your terrain just won’t be the same without a generous helping of recruitment posters.

Well, sucks to be them, I guess 😉

Again, this poster was defaced by followers of the ruinous powers (I actually did pristine versions of both posters, too). This one is playing with the fact that most Imperial citizens are probably unaware of the fact that their Emperor is now little more than a corpse…

Ahh, a true classic, this one. Oceanian propaganda appearing courtesy of Mr. George Orwell, ladies and gentlemen.

Posters like these are easily designed using Photoshop, Gimp or similar software. Then you can print them out at different sizes and use them on your terrain for some extra oomph. You can even use this to add some narrative touches, to tie your terrain into an ongoing campaign or your existing 40k force!

Here’s a propaganda poster used by Chaos Cultists I did a while ago:

It’s using the symbol of the Word Bearers’ Piercing Gaze Chapter (my Word Bearers force then. Alas, I have since turned my attention to the World Eaters, as you all know…). The idea was that the Word Bearers had managed to infiltrate a world and begun to announce the planet’s salvation (i.e. their arrival).

Here’s the same design, used as a leaflet to deface an Administratum poster:

It’s little things like these that will not only help in making your terrain better, but will also be a tremendous outlet for your creativity! Just get going, you can start small! And it won’t be long before you’re doing stuff you didn’t even realise you were capable of!

And while my own mediocre attempts may not be enough to convince you, let me just relay you to a true master of the craft: Just take a look at thenickeninja’s blog to see how using propaganda posters adds just the last bit of plausibility to your pieces (and how random pieces of junk can end up as truly spectacular wargaming terrain).

And with that, my small treatise on the joys of building your own wargaming terrain is at an end. I hope that I managed to point out the merits of this increasingly lost art to you. Of course I’ll be posting more of my own terrain projects on this blog over time. And without a doubt, most of them won’t look nearly as spectacular as the stuff published in WD. But I can assure you that all of my stuff will have been fun to build, cheap, a nice change of pace and a great outlet for creativity. And all of it will be my own (except for the original GW artwork of course, I still don’t own any of that stuff 😉 ).

If you want to share your own experiences with building terrain, drop me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Reasons why you should build your own terrain, pt. 4

Posted in 40k, DIY, Pointless ramblings, Terrain with tags , , , , on June 27, 2012 by krautscientist

As part of my ongoing sermon about why building your own terrain is so great, we already discussed why building your own terrain is fun and cheap and why terrain you built yourself is truly your own. Today I would like to explore yet another angle and show you that…

4.) Building your own terrain makes for a nice change of pace

Before we do that, though, let me make one thing clear: The point of this series is not to dissuade you from buying terrain kits! Far from it! In fact, anything that makes the battlefield look more interesting is cool in my book! As are most of the terrain kits released by GW. You couldn’t really expect to emulate the quality of that stuff without trying really hard — much harder than I am when I am building terrain, in any case.

So all that I am trying to do here is to explore an activity that used to be a cornerstone of the hobby but has somewhat waned in the last years, partly due to the proliferation of (admittedly very nice) premade terrain. It is also something that newcomers to the hobby tend to feel rather dismissive about, probably due to the fact that they tend to have enough on their plates as it is, and the prospect of having to build their own terrain from scratch can be pretty scary. But it doesn’t have to be! It’s easy, and with the recent price hike for some terrain kits and the purported importance of terrain in 6th edition 40k (honni soit, qui mal y pense, and all that), knowing how to build your own terrain has, once more, become pretty useful.

Right, with that one out of my system, let’s get back to the topic at hand:

Like I was saying, building your own terrain makes for a nice change of pace from other hobby activities. The reason for that is that building terrain allows you to paint in much broader strokes. And this goes for the actual painting as well as for everything else!

Say about painting miniatures what you will, but sometimes, it can be a bit of a chore. There are days when the prospect of painting yet another squad of World Eaters doesn’t look too inviting to me and the simple view of my trusty pot of Mechrite Red makes me want to scream. And sometimes, even painting or building an INQ28 model as a distraction just doesn’t cut it. What am I to do then? Easy: I go and build some terrain.

I previously outlined the fact that building terrain can be a very intuitive process. Granted, if you are going for a truly complex project (like a Cathedral, an Imperial city or a whole jungle), some careful planning can go a long way. But sometimes it’s enough to just grab your materials and go with the flow.

Cue exhibit A: Here’s an Imperial base I built using an interestingly shaped piece of styrofoam packaging, some foamcore, a bit of plastic grating and one or two pieces from my bitzbox. I did a small preparatory sketch, but by and large, I really played this one by ear. The fact that the styrofoam piece already looked like some kind of military installation really made things easy for me. I just added a base, a metal floor and a hangar door made from foamcore. Here’s the finished piece:

Building this thing really was a blast. As was the paintjob: When painting terrain, most of the tricks you use when painting your models still apply. You may have to adapt some of them to the slightly different circumstances, but you won’t be sailing totally uncharted seas. Many of the tricks will even work a lot better or be easier to pull off. And you can cut some corners without the whole piece looking completely horrible, something that is considerably harder to pull off with your models.

In this case, I basecoated everything with dark grey structure paint I made myself from black and white acrylic paint, a little glue and some birdsand. Then I used fairly cheap spraypaint from the craft store to lay down the base colours. And finally I added in the details with GW paints. Nice and easy.

This gave me a nice little piece of terrain. At a side length of about 10 inches, it makes for a useful centrepiece on the table in small to medium games of 40k. It’s also quite versatile: It could be used as just a LOS-blocker, as an actual fortified emplacement or even as a bunker of some sorts. I still need to paint some old Space Crusade Tarantulas to serve as optional cannons. Maybe we could play a mission with two armies in a race to take control of the installation, with the first to reach it able to use the base’s weapons to fire at the advancing foe? In any case, this piece of terrain is rather useful when fighting for control of some kind of building during our campaign, since it’s far more fluffy to actually have the prize there on the table instead of just fighting over a green meadow. Shortly afterwards, I even added a modular tower, made from foamcore, to be added to the piece whenever we were playing for control of a communications base, an orbital relais point or something of the like:

All of this took little work and proved to be really relaxing when I was quite fed-up with painting regular models.
Again, this thing certainly doesn’t look as great as a premade set from GW. But it’s very easy to prepare terrain like this as a setpiece for an upcoming event, campaign battle or what have you.

When building terrain, it’s also quite easy to be  productive. Let me present you with exhibit B, some small ruins I built while I waited for the paint to dry on a bigger project. These were made from the same materials as that very project: Just glue together some leftovers, add some small details and you’re done:

These ruins can then easily be painted in a short amount of time to give you smaller pieces of terrain or just some additional decoration for your battlefield. Take a look:

Like I said, all of this can be done using leftover materials and paint from your bigger projects. And you can easily churn out several of these smaller ruins while you are waiting for the paint to dry or glue to set on your bigger buildings. That is really great for people who – like me – have the attention span of a very small bird. No painful waiting for washes to dry without anything worthwile to do in the meantime! Instead, you are losing very little time waiting, and you are constantly getting stuff done which enormously helps motivation. Here’s a look at another little piece I did, using some leftover foamcore, and old 2nd edition plastic Space Marine and the cardboard from a loo roll:

Some basic drybrushing with Skull White makes the Space Marine actually look like a stone statue:

It may be hard to believe, but there was actually a time when these guys were the latest in plastic miniature design…

And even if you botch the job on any of those smaller pieces, it’s just some foamcore and cardboard: You won’t have ruined an expensive kit you bought!

While the previous exhibits demonstrated how building your own terrain is different from painting your models, exhibit C will focus on one of the similarities between both activities: You’ll be getting better over time.

The first ruined buildings I built for 40k were based on a simple template I drew on an A4 sheet. I would build one perfectly intact wall and then cut it apart to get pretty much all the pieces I needed for a ruined building. On my third try, though, I did get a little more adventurous. Here’s the result:

While the walls are still based on the same template, I wanted to add a more interesting interior to the building. So I built the remains of the different floors as well as a central column, still supporting a part of the roof. While this shouldn’t make too much of a change for games of 40k, at least it makes the building more interesting to look at. And the additional floors and interior walkways should make sure that the building gets just that more interesting when used in games of INQ28 or Necromunda:

So while you are building terrain, you will naturally get better at it, and the scope of your projects will benefit from that. You will feel like you are exercising a set of muscles you didn’t even realise you had.  And before long, you will want to try all kinds of crazy stuff — just like when you are getting better at painting!

So there you have it. I’ve said my part. The next time you are frustrated by having to paint the same six colours on a model over and over or whenever the next breakthrough on a model you are currently working on just isn’t happening, go build some terrain! It’ll help relax you. And I assure you, it will make for a nice change of pace.

Do you have your own experiences with building terrain or do you want to add your point of view to this series? I would love to hear from you in the comments section! Next time, I will discuss why building your own terrain is a great outlet for creativity. Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!