Monday, January 29, 2024

Battle of Scarif - adding all the bushes and trees

In previous posts I’ve covered the building of the boards, the seas, the islands and the transit systems for my battle of Scarif board. In this post I’ll talk about how I added the foliage required for the distinctive look of the planet.

So my starting point were images from the movie. I concentrated on the images we see when looking at the ground from either Rogue One itself or from the x-wings of blue squadron. I was building the battlefield at a small scale and so it was very clear that I would not be moving figures through foliage, instead I would be moving them over foliage. This meant that the trees would need to be robust enough for stands of troops to rest on top of them and numerous enough to not be significantly uneven.

As the trees would be the last pieces of foliage inserted I started with the grass. This was very straightforward as I began with the woodland scenics fine turf grass products, these are my standard go to product for grass. I mapped out some trails and other routes and places that I wanted to clear as there are sections of the battle that take place in the open and then just scattered a thin covering of multiple grass shades. This was secured in place with diluted PVA.

The next steps were adding the underbrush, bushes and foliage beneath the tree canopy. As its a tropical forest it needed to be densely covered. You can see from the aerial images that basically most of the land of Scarif is covered with foliage. I then went to my accumulated collection of tufts to create this. 

I have some crop strips, some held over from my BrĂ©court Manor build, these were cut lengthwise into thin strips which were then glued up against the side of the transit lines helping to hide the base and joins. I interspersed different bushes and tufts to break everything up. 

In the more open sections I randomly placed bushes and tufts, including things like bulrushes that were designed for bigger scales but look suitably sci-fi at a smaller scale. The key was to have about ten or fifteen different options and to mix them up. I didn’t need to place them tightly next to each other as the trees would provide most of the coverage, I just needed enough for it to be obvious there were bushes underneath.

The trees proved to be quite tricky, not so much in production, but in identifying a suitable way forward. I knew I needed a lot of them so I needed a solution that was scalable and easy to make. My starting point was a Facebook post I’d seen some years ago by Trev of Trev’s Workshop. He was creating palm trees for a desert game. He stuck 25mm nails into polystyrene, used texture paint on the nail make the truck and placed some PVA on the head and sprinkled static grass over them and was able to quickly and simply make several hundred trees in a couple of hours. A brilliant solution but wasn’t quite the look I needed as the trees on Scarif have much more foliage. However the use of nails as trunks seemed like the way to go as it would definitely support my figures with no problems.

Next I looked at using paper leaves but this was swiftly discarded. I used the green stuff leaves product but cut them much smaller. The end result was fairly pleasing but the prototype took me quite some time to produce. The pieces struggled to stay glued on and I could make only a few trees from each packet which came at quite a cost. I also tried buying a plastic fern and cutting pieces off it but this had the same time issues as the paper leaves.

I scoured the internet for options and came across a post on The Miniatures Page message boards from Mark, aka Mark I, suggesting using lengths of pine tree garlands most commonly used at Christmas. These are lengths of wire with strands of paper wrapped around it made to look like pine tree branches. I snipped the wire roughly every 25 or 30mm and the used scissors to shape the paper forms and teased them to make a suitably tree shaped canopy. It took me a few minutes to create each tree. However they were a uniform colour and would need painting and the appearance was OK, not bad, but not great. I left these on the back burner while I did more work on the model.

With only about a month left before my first show I still had the problem of my trees. However, necessity is the mother of invention. I returned to the method used by Trev but, instead of using static grass I used woodland scenics foliage. This stuff is their standard foam but on a nylon net. I cut very small pieces and then superglued it onto the top of a 25mm nail. This worked well. 

Then I tried mixing things up. I cut a small piece from the light green foliage and crimp it flat. I used superglue to stick on the top of the nail and pressed it flat. The superglue melted the nylon and stuck it admirably to the nail. I then cut another piece of a darker foliage, slightly bigger than the first and squashed it into a kind of pyramid shape and the glued this on top of the first. This then produced a palm tree shape I was really pleased with. At this point I should add a warning regarding the use of superglue in large amounts or repeatedly over a period of time particularly in enclosed spaces - don’t do it this way, proceed with caution, do your own research and stop if it is affecting you.

I was then able to put this into production. I made 100 trees at a time. I stuck the nails into polystyrene and painted them with texture paint. Once dry I cut ten pieces of light green foliage and glued them to the top of the nails and repeated this until all the trees had light green foliage on top. Then I cut the darker foliage, half mid green, half dark green and then glued those onto the first layer. It took about 90 minutes to make 100 trees.

I figured I would need about a thousand trees. So once I had 400 trees I took them to place on my board. I began close to the tower and started to work outwards. Once I had the first areas done I was delighted with how they looked but it became clear that a thousand trees wasn’t going to be enough and it would be 1200 or so. This underestimating became a regular feature. Once I placed 800 I realised I needed 1600. Once I placed 1200 I realised I needed 2000. In the last week I was making trees every night and I finally added the last of my 2163 trees the day before the show.

The trees really finished the board and gave me a result that looked like Scarif.

In the next post I will look at how I built the tower itself.

Until then, keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller 

Monday, January 22, 2024

Plans for 2024


So in my last post I reviewed 2023, this post outlines my plans and hopes for 2024.

As with last year I’ve created an Ovelist. An Ovelist is a simple collage of images, each one representing a task, job or activity I intend to do. It is named after its creator Andy Ovel from the Hobby Support Group podcast and is an excellent way of tracking progress and focussing activity. 
It’s intended to be a living document and can be added to, removed from or amended throughout the year. I don’t intend that it should become a mill stone around my neck. As you progress, ticks can be added to tasks completed and it should help visualise the progress and achievements that can get all too easily lost in the ether.

Omaha Beach Board

Each year I try to make one big build. My big build for 2024 is going to be Omaha Beach to refight the landings on D-Day. I intend to recreate the whole of the main beach from Fox Green through to Charlie sector covering about 6km of beach. 

The full board will be 4900mm by 900mm. Yeah, you read that correctly it’ll be 16ft long. I’m going to make it using 8 boards each 600mm by 900mm. The key terrain challenges will be storing and transporting the boards and the enormous number of landing craft and troops required for the battle. I intend to have the board ready for the Partizan wargame show in May.

Refighting Omaha

The intention is to run a massive co-operative refight of the landings. All the players will control the various US forces and will oversee the landings on a particular sector or area of the board. Each player will move their own troops and roll for the effects of German firing. Each player will have objectives to capture and will have a number of obstacles to overcome to reach them. I intend to incorporate a number of different elements that I have seen from board games to help manage and track things but will still be using the All Hell Let Loose rules to manage the game. I think it will make for an incredible co-operative multiplayer solo wargame experience.

Omaha figures

I intend to use Adler’s 6mm miniatures for the US forces and his trench range for the German defenders. I’ll be changing the base sizes, going to a smaller base with fewer figures on it because it will look much better on the table. Vehicles will be by GHQ. Landing craft are probably going to be 3D printed. The larger ships may also be 3D printed as well. At this stage all I can say is I am going to need an awful lot of them!

3D printer

So now that I have a 3D printer I want to make the most of it. I’m taking part in a role playing game of Deadlands using Savage Worlds so I’ll be printing some stuff for that. My eldest son is running a D&D game so he’ll have a list of things he wants. Omaha will require lots of things printed and so will WW1. I’d also like to do some more creation of custom items using blender to create unique or bespoke prints.

WW1 Figures 

I own the files from Henry Turners Europe Asunder: The Great War ranges. I have printed a British and Commonwealth army and painted substantial amounts of it. I’d like to expand that into a complete force with artillery and cavalry. However my main goal is to print and paint the forces of another nationality to expand my options for the game.

WW1 Rules

David and I managed a small amount of progress on the rules for All Hell Let Loose: Great War. With luck this year should see the development complete and then it’s just about distilling it into something coherent.
Big Game Weekends

Last year I was able to run some big battle weekend games. I loved every minute of them and want to run more this year, hopefully being able to invite and involve more of my friends and acquaintances in the battles.

Scatter Terrain

So now I have a wargaming table I need some scatter terrain to go on it. So I will be creating streams, rivers, villages, fields, woods and more for my table.

Mystery Item 

I don’t know what this is yet, it’s still a mystery, but I am sure I’ll find something extra to do.

Well that’s about it, it feels like it’s quite a lot, so I’d better go off and start doing it.

Keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller 

Friday, January 5, 2024

2023 A year in review

As is by now customary, it’s time to review my year in wargaming and the hobby in 2023, and see what I managed to achieve and which hopes were cruelly dashed. Again it turns out I had a really busy time hobbywise and got a tremendous amount of things done.

Last January I created an Ovelist to help visualise my hopes and aspirations. The Ovelist is named after its creator Andy Ovel from the Hobby Support Group Podcast and is just a simple pictorial way of setting targets and goals. As you can see I managed a creditable 9 of my hoped for 12 goals.

Scarif board

My main project for the year was the building of the Scarif board. I’m absolutely delighted with the way it has turned out. This dominated my hobby time for the first 6 months of 2023 but was ultimately very satisfying. 

  • I got to work with foam and foam board to create structures in ways I’ve not done before with the highlight being Scarif Tower.
  • I used electrical ducting to create the series of transport lines and systems that surround the tower
  • I recreated the aerial and space elements of the battle giving my board a 3rd dimension towering 6ft above the table.
  • I bought in a number of different 3D prints and re-purposed some models I’ve owned for 20+ years
  • A significant number of readers of this blog or of my facebook posts have said hello - thank you for reading and for introducing yourselves it means a great deal to me. I even had some players come to the show just to play my game after they’d had such a good time the previous year with Imjin.
  • The board won best participation game and best small model at the Other Partizan
  • It’s been to Phalanx, the Joy of Six and Fiasco and will be heading to York and Hammerhead.
  • I’m now starting to look at options for the future of the board itself 

Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum Imjin event 

I retired my Imjin River board at the beginning of May after taking it to York, Hammerhead and Salute. My friend David joined me as we refought the battle one last time in the fantastic setting of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire museum. Over three days we recreated the battle with visitors to the museum taking the part of the Glosters or the Chinese. The Glosters were able to hold out until the morning of the 25th April until they ran out of ammunition, as they did historically. This is one of my all time wargaming highlights as we met with veterans of the regiment, some of whom had served with soldiers that had fought in the battle as well visitors whose relatives had fought at the battle. It was great to involve members of the public in the game, particularly those very unlikely to wargame. Of the visitors that got involved more than half were female and with only a small amount of encouragement they were quickly making tactical decisions and complaining about dice rolls!
My board is now on long term loan to the museum and can be seen by museum visitors and hopefully helps tell the story of the epic battle fought in 1951.

Permanent Hobby Space

This year was my first with a permanent hobby space. In the early moths of the year I was able to complete outfitting the space and stocking it with supplies and materials. I used it to build my Scarif board and then begin to create scatter terrain. I was also able to host games consistently.


Using my new hobby space I was able to host a small number of Big Battle Weekends.

  • The first was a huge recreation of the Battle of Prokhorovka which saw two German SS divisions crash into an entire Soviet Tank Army. We used hundreds of stands of infantry and tanks in this battle with epic quantities of aircraft and artillery. Over two days both sides fought each other to a standstill. Six friends and I had an awesome time.
  • The second game was a Battle of the Bulge refight with two smaller games determining the starting conditions for the big game itself. It was another epic two day fight.
  • I my third big game was on my small Arnhem board. It was the refight of the three days at the bridge and was very enjoyable for all concerned even if the scenario didn’t quite achieve what I wanted it to do.
  • I also managed a few games of with David and met and gamed with a new acquaintances.
  • I also host consistently 3 different D&D games, including one run be my eldest for his school friends.

3D printing 

I managed to persuade the Mrs to let me get a 3D printer and so in August I took delivery of a Mars 3 and in no time I was printing out a whole host of Turner Miniatures WW1 figures. I’m really impressed with the quality and level of detail that can be achieved as well as the versatility. I’ve created bespoke combinations of troops on bases, designed and printed my own counters and markers and begun to use Blender files to create unique figures.

This was both a success and a setback. I have been able to paint a sizeable force of British soldiers and so am really well placed to be able to game WW1. However, work on the rules, has slowed even more than it did last year as David and I struggled with so many other commitments that something had to give and unfortunately we just haven’t been able to schedule any battle time for WW1. We did make some progress and I think we are getting very close to finalising the basic rules but we just need gaming time to get us over the line.

 Passing Regrets

  • The kids still show no interest in wargaming. And whilst one has really taken to D&D and mini painting the other has given up on it. Ho hum.
  • I didn’t blog as frequently as I could have done, indeed I finished my Scarif model 6 months ago and haven’t finished writing it up on here yet.
  •  I didn’t produce any YouTube content at all. Pretty much going to have to accept it’s not for me.

The wonderful Henry Hyde giving me a trophy at The Other Partizan for my Scarif game.

All things considered I think 2023 was a great year and with my hobby space and 3D printer all bedded in I think 2024 will be even better.


Keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller


Battle of Scarif - All Finished

So in my last post I said my next blogpost would be on building the citadel tower. Well I am so far behind in posting updates on my blog tha...