Saturday 16 February 2019

"Adequate" Cheap+Fast 1:300 Terrain with Dieselpunk Tanks

Blog regulars will know I subscribe to the "cheap and nasty" school of painting and terrain - i.e. my theory is it is better to have purpose-built terrain that is made quickly and casually rather than rely on printed paper cutouts, tissue boxes and books under a sheet. Likewise, my painting standard is also pretty poor but I think fielding unpainted or only basecoated minis is a sign of laziness and disrespect for your opponent.  In short: "barely adequate" effort is better than no effort at all.

Here's an example of my terrain for my new dieselpunk tank game  which I whipped up this morning:

French forces approach a stranded landship, intent on capturing it or salvaging it for parts.  

You can see my as-yet-incomplete landship (it's a 1:700 Japanese CV flipped upside down) which obviously needs some turrets and perhaps a control tower (yet to be sourced) and, of course, a paint job.  (My no-unpainted-minis rule does not apply in the privacy of my own solo playtesting sessions!)

From the other direction, Imperial Russian forces have also dispatched a squadron to investigate the stranded landship.

Building the hills took about an hour. With a Stanley knife, I sliced up some of that foam sheeting you get from a camping store (the sort placed under mattresses or tents). I think it cost $10. 

I then coated the top in a mix of water and PVA glue. I sprinkled sand on top (the kids' sandpit comes in handy).

I then sprayed it, using up a $4 can of black spraypaint. Finally, I brushed some el cheapo $2 brown craft paint over the top. 

Whilst it is not amazing, I feel it is very reasonable, for $16 and an hour's effort, and is much better than using paper terrain or books under a sheet or similar.

Russian forces continue to advance on their objective.

As usual, my aim is to show there is a "minimum standard" that is easily achievable, as so much terrain on blogs are amazing masterworks that takes hours and hours for a single piece, that are so detailed that I find them discouraging (I know I can never measure up).  My terrain posts are to encourage the rest of us - the time-poor, money-poor dads who just want to get reasonable-looking stuff on the table, those aiming for adequacy rather than mastery.

A supporting force moves up onto a nearby hill to provide overwatch fire.

The Russians prepare to unload engineers to inspect the landship, but French forces have crested the hill and prepare to engage.

I chose the "flat wedding cake" style layout for my hills to simplify the rules for cover/hulldown/line of sight. It also means the models sit flat on the terrain and don't slide around. 

I may create a matching terrain board (simply a sheet of MDF similarly coated in PVA, sand and painted) to replace the sheet if I have an hour free next weekend.

....Anyway, the kids are clamouring for attention so I'll sign off.  Have fun - and remember, in terrain making there's a broad range between exceptional and awful. There's no shame in inhabiting the "adequate" part of this spectrum.....

Friday 1 February 2019

Dieselpunk Tankmunda - Arrival

Modern MBTs are boring. It's pretty hard to tell one from the other, and they tend to use very similar weapons and equipment.  The "MBT" has been a staple since late WW2.

But back in the 1930s.... tanks were different.  It's a transitional era of warfare, where designers were trying out radical concepts, rather than merely refining the "meta."

Watching Mortal Engines has fired my interest in wacky dieselpunk vehicles, and a trip to Heroics and Ros quickly secured some 1:300s pre-war/early WW2 vehicles.

I'm going to use out-of-scale tanks to be the "landship carrier" motherships for squadrons of smaller tanks. This is a 15mm Landcruiser Ratte but I'll probably use 1:48 tanks with multiple turrets like the T-35.

Mordhiem/Necromunda-with-Tanks "Tankmunda"
I've always been interested in a tank-centric game; most times tanks are either in small numbers supporting a platoon-level game (Bolt Action) or can be present en-masse (division-level Cold War games) or merely are too generic (FoW).

I want a set of rules where tanks are the stars, where individual tank crews can "level up" and have unique special rules and character, and play linked games like a campaign.

This is a typical "squadron" carried by a mothership tank.  Two light tank troops (cavalry and infantry) as well as medium and heavy troop and logistics support.

I've discussed the idea here but by deciding to go dieselpunk sci-fi, I can use handwavium where needed. I want it to "feel" like a tank game but design-wise it will owe much to a RPG/MMO - i.e. tanks are classes with paper-scissors-rock distinct balance, almost like the mage-tank-dps from fantasy genres.

Basically, my rules will not attempt to be a sim, but merely a warband/Mordhiem-style game which (hopefully) "feels" like tank combat rather than infantry.

I've already started this in 15mm and have workable rules, (playtest here) but I simply cannot afford 15mm models like I could in the era BC (Before Children), so I have turned to 1:300 to allow myself to experiment with different tanks eras in an affordable way.

Some T-35 heavies escort some half-track cargo carriers.

Heroics & Ros 1:300
They are perfectly serviceable, affordable gaming pieces but are not particularly inspiring.  With the exception of some AMC.35s (which were rather nasty) they were reasonably free of annoying bits to trim off. I can certainly recommend Heroics and Ros if you want to explore 1:300 cheaply. (Yes, GHQ are much nicer but are 4x the price - almost as much as 15mm!)

 The AMCs I wasn't impressed with, seen escorting some S.35 mediums.  You can see a counter denoting an in-game status effect (mobility, crew, or weapon damage).

Given the low cost, I'll probably use H&R for two more projects: I want to do a dune-buggy game using modern wheeled LAVs (because I think up-gunned armoured cars are cool!) inspired by the Deserts of Kharak. I've already made a scratch-built land-carrier (using an upside-down 1:700 CV model with tracks added).

I like armoured cars. They just look awesome. And the French seem to be the most energetic proponents of them.

 I may also do a 1950s-70s set of rules where mercenary tank companies fight in Africa starring T55s, Centurions etc (i.e. Arab-Israeli/Indo-Pakistan War tech along with cobbled-together WW2 upgrades, without having to follow historical OoBs) or or possibly a WW2-in-1947 set where I can use Centurions & AMXs against King Tigers and weird what-if tanks.  I'll consider any era when I'm not refighting Normandy, Kursk or Cold War Fulda Gap which seems so beloved of every other tank gamer.

Anyway, more info to follow as I modify my existing rules and redefine the philosophy I want the rules to espouse.