Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Imjin Board - Creating the River Imjin

2 of the 3 boards together. Villages tbc on the one on the right.

So I am almost done with building the Imjin river board. You can find out more about the various elements of the build starting here along with some background on the battle here. I didn’t quite manage to finish up before Christmas and have been distracted by painting a pile of Great War British troops for use in playtesting an upcoming WW1 version of All Hell Let Loose. So I have only a small update on progress. However it is the River Imjin itself.

A modern photograph of the river at the location of Gloster Crossing 

The section of the river Imjin that flows through the battlefield is a wide and moderate flowing body of water. It’s over a hundred meters wide and fairly shallow. There are places where mud has accumulated and low islands appear depending on the season and depth of water. The bridges had all been destroyed with the Belgians guarding a Bailey bridge a mile to the east of the edge of my board. Several ferry points existed prior to the war but these were no longer functioning. The U.N. forces were aware of one crossing point, later nicknamed Gloster Crossing. This was a fordable crossing about a meter or so deep, helpfully marked by partially submerged oil drums, and was used by the British when exploring the north bank. British scouting in this sector failed to identify several additional fordable crossing points. 

A photo taken in 1951. The Imjin can be seen towards the top left of the image. Note the sudden rise of the hills and the scrub covering them.

The battle began with the Chinese attempting to push a company of infantry across Gloster Crossing about  22:00 on the 22nd April 1951. Guy Temple, a young lieutenant, was in command of a small patrol of Glosters waiting in trenches on the south bank. He had orders to grab an enemy for interrogation following intel suggesting the Chinese would be attempting to cross that night. Temple had a funny feeling as he was being briefed and took it upon himself to take down a larger party than normal for a snatch operation, grabbed every Bren gun he could find and as much ammo as his men could carry. 

Chinese soldiers crossing a river in daylight. Later in the battle the Chinese were forced to cross during daylight risking artillery and air strikes.

The Chinese making the crossing were heard before they were seen. Even in the dark it was clear that this was not a small patrol or raiding party. Temple’s men readied themselves and a Very light was fired. The British could see about a hundred men wading across the river below them with the closest troops less than a hundred meters away. They opened up with every weapon they had. The Chinese had no chance, caught in the open in waist deep water. 

British 25pdrs of 45 regiment RA firing during the Imjin battle.

Shortly after the remnants of the Chinese had retreated to the north bank sounds of crossing were heard again. The Very flare revealed another attempt at crossing. The British opened up again and this time Temple remembered that he had artillery he could call upon. Artillery shells landed on the north bank and then in the river. Another crossing party were eliminated.

More voices were heard. This time the Very light revealed hundreds of Chinese crossing with more moving forward on the bank waiting to cross. The Chinese commander was determined to cross. The British fired into the crowds of Chinese in the river. Temple called in a Mike Target artillery barrage with every available gun co-ordinating their fire to arrive at the same moment. The river erupted in great geysers as the 24 guns of 45 field regiment all fired at the crossing point. The Glosters continued to pour fire into the river. However it was soon apparent that some Chinese had made the crossing and with barrels hot and ammo running low Temple wisely decided that the patrol’s job was done. The British departed, running to meet the two Oxford carriers that carried then the best part of two miles back to their company on hill 235. Not one of the patrol was lost or killed.

The Chinese though were crossing in great strength.

I want to start the battle with that crossing attempt and the Imjin will remain a constraint on Chinese movement all through the game. To model it I used the lowest level of foam board as the river bed and a 3mm deep board to create the banks.

I used a thin layer of sculptamold to create a proper bed using a brush to make sure it was thin. The islands were created out of the 3mm foam board and were located based off the 1951 map although it’s not clear they were there during the battle.

Once all the flocking and terrain had been added to the board I painted the river bed in various layers and colours starting off light and using inks and then browns deepened the colour until I was happy. I then used a light coloured fine grit added these to the islands and river banks with a soft tone inkwash. A lighter desert yellow paint was then applied to the river bed closest to the banks to give the illusion of shallow water.

I also dry brushed the desert yellow in a few places on the river to mark my intended fording points.

Initially I intended to use yacht varnish to make the river but I decided, instead, to do my first ever resin pour. I watched a number of YouTube videos and psyched myself up. If it went wrong I was going to ruin the board. 

I followed the instructions very carefully, bought a kitchen butane torch and mixed the resin. I taped the edges of the board and sealed it PVA. I poured the resin and used a cocktail stick to work it into the river. I went over it with the butane torch to pop any bubbles.

24 hours later I was very relieved and happy with my pour. The river was done!

Hopefully I will soon complete the whole board and then I can begin the painting of all the troops for the battle.

Keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller

Monday, January 3, 2022

2021 End of Year Review

Well that’s 2021 over and done with. So now it’s time to take stock and plan ahead. It’s also when you come to write this stuff down that you realise that despite it being a pretty quiet year that you actually got through quite a lot.

2021 Highlights 

  • David Wasilewski and I joined Sean Clark on Episode 26 of the God’s Own Scale Podcast to talk about our wargaming lives and the All Hell Let Loose wargames rules
  • All Hell Let Loose sales went really well and it’s now a silver bestseller on wargame vault
  • I took my Brécourt Manor to The Other Partizan wargames show.
  • I’ve painted up my British paratroops
  • I took part in the Virtual Joy of Six 
  • I have created my first YouTube videos 
  • This was my third year blogging and although I only managed 14 posts I am still at it. I also passed the 50 posts mark on the blog
  • I got to game in Dan Hodgson’s war room. Not once but twice! It was an awesome experience both times and a really big thanks to Dan and his wife Julia for their hospitality!
  • I have all but completed my Korean War River Imjin board.
  • Work has begun a new WW1 version of the rules, All Hell Let Loose Great War

Passing Regrets
  • I only got to go to one show this year
  • Neither of my kids showing any interest in wargaming. I took both my kids with me to The Other Partizan. It was the youngest’s first time, and they both had a great time at the show, but show no interest other than that. Both of them have got into Dungeons and Dragons in a really big way this year, so I still have hope, but currently, I consider my job as a Dad only half done.
  • The continuing absence of a dedicated war gaming space

2022 Hopes
  • To attend the Joy of Six and bring my Korean participation game
  • Get to more than one wargame show this year
  • Go to Arnhem for the anniversary weekend and meet up with a bunch of other gamers
  • Produce more YouTube content with a greater focus on the models and terrain I build 
  • Continue with the blog
  • Make some progress on getting a dedicated wargaming space.
Keep gaming!

Charles the Modeller

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Imjin River Board - Villages, Roads and Rice Paddies galore

I am nearing the end of my River Imjin board build, and having completed the flocking I have moved on to adding in the villages, roads, smaller rivers and streams as well as started on the paddy fields. There is more information on the earlier phases of the build starting here.

Roads were created by brushing on a thin line of PVA and then adding a really fine sand from war world gaming. A similar process was used for the minor rivers using a dark ash sand with some larger greyer grains using N gauge railway ballast. They are really dark but I haven’t quite finished with these rivers yet as I will be highlighting them with different colours once I am closer to the finish.

The Korean houses on the battlefield were mostly traditional hanok style, single storey, with wooden frames and dirt and straw walls with straw thatch on the roof. A small number were stone with tile roofs, belonging to richer or noble Koreans. They tended to be fairly small and were clustered into a number of villages. The area had already seen fighting during the war and some buildings had already been destroyed. They also tended to be located in the valleys. Consequently the villages and buildings had little military value or role in the battle.

Regular readers of this blog will know I see buildings as terrain and so try to represent them in as close to ground scale as possible. I am building the battlefield with a ground scale of 1:4000, or 1 mm equaling 4 metres. Consequently my ability to detail buildings was limited - and given there are hundreds on the battlefield this is a good thing! So I started with match sticks, which have a roughly 2mm square profile. They were too big. So I tried cutting them lengthways to get 1mm square blocks. I could do it but it was time consuming and wasteful. So I went online and found some lengths of 1mm and 1.5mm square wood from a modelling store. Who knew that was a thing? Progress speeded up thereafter.

Firstly I painted the wood a dark brown. For the higher status buildings I painted them white. Then I used my craft knife and cut the strips roughly into 2mm long pieces. Each individual building would therefore be about 4m wide, 4 m high and 8m long. All in all not too bad.

I used AK Terrains Diarama series light earth acrylic texture as a base for my villages. Once dry the  buildings were then glued on using PVA. 

I then gave the whole village a soft tone inkwash. I used a 0.3mm permanent marker to divide the village into small holdings. 

I then painted random blocks with different greens or browns.

The tops of each village building was painted necrotic green and soft tone ink wash. The higher status buildings got a chaos red colour. I added a dash of tufts and my villages were done!

Then the hard slog began! Rice paddies, lots and lots and lots of them.

The terrain on this board generally is split between flat and steeply rising hills. Looking at a map of the area made in 1953 this shows that pretty much all the flat area was paddy fields. The paddy fields on this map were much more extensive than the ones shown on the 1951 map I used for the contours. However the 1953 map noted that most of the villages were “destroyed”. This seems counter-intuitive. Why would destroyed villages need more rice paddies? I think the answer lies in the 1951 map being based on 1940s Japanese maps. I believe that the rice paddies were developed during the mid to late 40’s and therefore most were present at the time of the battle in 1951. Thus I decided that pretty much any flat area on the board would have rice paddies on them.

The battle took place in late April and so the rice paddies at that time of year were not planted or flooded and so would have been bare and in various shades of brown. The image above shows a Google Earth image of the paddies on the Imjin during winter. This would be the basis for the colours and size of the rice paddies on the board.

To create mine I used AK terrain’s desert sand texture as a base.

I then used monster brown paint and a range of inks to create individual paddies.

I just kept adding them, randomly placing each colour .

The final mosaic looks untidy and indistinct. However once the trusty permanent marker was used to delineate the paddy boundaries then the fields separate and sharpen and the overall appearance improves significantly.

Add in lots more rice paddies, the odd village and some slopes and it gets better.

Next time I will be making the river Imjin itself. Once that’s done I will just have some bits of tidying up to do and the board will be finished. Then I can get on with painting the troops!

Keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller

Monday, November 8, 2021

Imjin River board, flocked and brush, scrub and trees added

Last week I was able to spend some time working on my Imjin River board. You can find more details on the inspiration here, the contouring here and the initial build here.
I had a week all to myself whilst the Mrs and the kids had a break away. So I took over the dining room put all three boards on the table.

I painted the edges of the boards black. I considered putting dowels in to lock the boards in place but held off as I worried about everything not quite lining up properly. The boards are heavy and don't seem to move easily so I will decide later on that. The same with side locking clasps.

I painted the hills with a mix of greyish and brownish paint. The next step was the initial layer of flock. Korea, particularly in April, is dusty and brown and that can be tricky to pull off. I started with woodlands scenics earth blend fine turf. Looking at it though, it seemed too green. So I added more woodland scenics earth to the earth blend to brown it some more. I ended up adding a lot of the earth before I was happy.

I then added burnt grass as a greener highlight, and used more earth to darken the valley floors and depressions. Then, for the wood and scrub covered hills, I highlighted with Geek Gaming Scenics light brown.

I am really pleased with the result.

To represent the bush and trees which covered so many of the hills I used a mix of coarse turf and bushes again by woodland scenics. I believe the hills were covered quite well by the canopy, but the trunks and branches were not big, or thick - certainly by European standards. I experimented with different densities of foam and discovered I wasn't happy with really numerous clumps as they obscured the hills I had worked so hard to make. So I settled with a good scatter of the coarse turf and a wider placement of the larger bushes using various different colours.

I think I got a great result that balances the colour and density to give the flavour of the terrain whilst still showing off the hilly terrain.

Next I need to create the rice paddies and put in the roads and minor rivers. Hopefully, now that the flocking is mostly done I will be able to do the rest of it over the next few months.

Keep those dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller

Imjin Board - Creating the River Imjin

2 of the 3 boards together. Villages tbc on the one on the right. So I am almost done with building the Imjin river board. You can find out ...