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Limited progress, but bear with me!

A lot of things going on at the moment with limited relevance to any hobby related matters – so not much progress lately.  They only thing I did do was to do some work on the mutated bear I talked about in one of the blogs last time around (see further background here).  This is a character to be used for one of the protagonists for my Mutant 1984 project – a miniature games/rpg hybrid kind of idea!  Not great modelling but perfectly adequate for my needs.

1980s Post apocalyptic rpgs on the tabletop, may be acquired taste but I absolutely love this little project!

Lt. Knud Storebjørn

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This guy is a mutated bear and also an officer in charge of a small border guard unit.  I wanted him to look like he has been caught off duty perhaps listening to a tape of the 1812 Overture on his Sony Walkman – that he found in the forbidden zone in the Aarhusse region, when he served as a close combat specialist in a Zone Hunter Unit.

His sharp and clever mind, physical strength combined with his immunity to radioactivity, diseases and poisons meant he had survived situations were other soldiers had perished.  His many exploits and successful missions were the foundation of the legendary status he had obtained within the Zone Hunter Unit. The unit specialises in operations deep in the forbidden zones to fight back the never ending threat from its inhabitants to the more civilised part of the peninsula. He had quickly climbed up the ranks and was appointed as the chief of the Aarhusse Zone Hunter Guard Battalion with the rank of Major. Although mutants were allowed within Ulvrikets forces it was uncommon that they held any commissioned ranks.

However his bad temper and aggressive ways in which it manifested itself in his treatment of his men and his superiors caught up with him.  When Knud had smashed in the face of a Colonel and proceeded to tear his arm off, the army could no longer tolerate his behaviour. Not even his status as a recipient of the 1st Order of the Wolf Medal could protect him from the Martial Court proceedings. It surprised him that he had not been sent to his death, as was common practice in the forces, but instead of the a firing squad he found a demotion to Lieutenant and a placement in the Border Guard units.  Shortly afterwards he was made aware of the identity of his benefactor. He was approached by one of the General staffs external advisors, Thomas, who explained that he had great plans for the bear.  What those plans involved he did not yet know. In the discussions with Thomas he had felt that he had met an equal in terms of logic and intellect – something he was not used to within the force he served.  Thomas explained that he had to be patient and since then he had been sent to various postings and low level assignments. Knud is aware of the influence of the Advisors (or the Grey Brotherhood) and the positive impact they have had on the recent successes of the army on the battlefield. This on the surface seem to stem from the supply of military high technology but Knud believes the real impact is their support in training the officers.  However he has not yet (as he would like to phrase it) been privileged to any more information, but hope to be accepted to such a training programme soon.

Knud spends most of his free and active time in the border cabin room listening to music, skimming military training manuals, reading from a selection of books he has collected over the years or playing chess on an electronic machine that Thomas has given to him (A Novag Chess Partner 2000).  He has tried to control his anger by engaging in calm activities but every now and then his men literary wakes up the sleeping bear.   In combat he is a cunning tactician, controlled and resourceful and will never give up and will fight his enemies until death.  He is armed with a Submachine gun and a primitive high caliber one shot pistol.  If cornered or heavily injured he will go into berserk mode, ignoring any effect of damage until death and attacking ruthlessly with his claws.

NOVAG CHESS CHAMPION CHESS PARTNER 2000

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The NOVAG Chess Partner 2000 was launched in December 1980.  It was the first sensory chess computer produced by both NOVAG and SCISYS. However it was not the first sensory chess computer that the world had seen as CHAFITZ was already selling their ARB Auto-Sensory Chess Board with their Boris 2.5 and Sargon 2.5 Chess Modules in the spring/ early summer of 1980. Fidelity had also followed CHAFITZ with their Fidelity Sensory 8 in June, 1980.

Chess Partner 2000 has eight levels of skill and per the manufacturer complies with international chess rules (automatic castling, pawn promotion/under-promotion and en passant). It also allows board corrections and square and piece verification. You can enter your own board positions to solve chess problems up to mate-in-2.  Another neat feature is the MM (Multi-Move) sensory control square that enables you to enter your own choice of book opening before you start to play your game against the computer, from the position you had entered.

The chess pieces are stored in a compartment that is situated along the right side edge of the computer.

More about NOVAGs machines and Chess Computer in general here.

Sorry a way off from the short description this guy got in the original scenario but I wanted to have some motivation in getting him done.

The Model

I started with Reaper Bones model I bought off ebay.  It is basically a bear that stands on his hindlegs only, holding a very large battleaxe.

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I started by cutting away the axe, trimmed away the necklace, cut down the belt and tried to make it look like he was wearing trousers by cutting away the fur detailing on the legs.  I then went on to add some putty to make it look like he was wearing a shirt, did some belt detailing, added a holster.

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Next to a 28mm miniature to get an idea on scale!

 

I also added a SMG from the CP model range (link here) – I have no idea how he can use this weapon with his big paws? (I suppose some mods has been done to it). I then painted him up.  The result is more of less the look I was looking for!

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/ Take care, until next time!

 

 

 

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Boxing up the Winter War for a while

Second blog update today, as I was a week behind due to various reasons…

I made a New Year resolution of getting my Winter War progressed and I think I have done so during January and February (if you go back and check some of the previous blogs). However it is time to box it up for now and progress with the hobby day job of getting ready for Joy of Six this year – I have no idea about my current progress on this project as I do some stuff on it every now and then. I will spend the next few weeks getting this back on track – I suspect that I will need to paint a fair few Swedish infantry units.  So the Winter war gets packed away …. (links to the relevant blog entries forming part of the winter war stuff at the end of this blog posting).

….and the 6mm Great Northern War is back in focus.

However before the snow melts let us have a look at some of the Winter War stuff I have been working on since the last Winter War blog update 2 weeks ago.  First some road tiles and then a log fire.

 

Doing Winter Roads

I wanted to make some wintery roads and got myself some self-adhesive vinyl planks.  I have used these before and they come in 3 foot lengths. At these lengths they are fragile and can easily snap but it allows the creation of longer pieces – which I like. If I am not careful enough I have to make a new one! – no problem.  You could make shorter lengths if you are worried about handling and storing them.

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About a tenner from Wickes – 7 planks.

The width of the Raate road was 5m (so in 15mm the same as 50mm).  The planks are 150mm so I used the whole plank width to be able to model the cleared sides of the road as well as the elevated road surface in the middle. I did this by cutting 50mm wide lengths from a plank and sticking them on the top of the base plank I was doing.

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Like this!

Then I mixed some brown emulsion, caulk (decorators  filler, or alternatively an acrylic sealant), bird sand until I get a Nutella like consistency!

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Then I covered the roads with the brown mix, I added some extra sand on the sides and added some tyre tracks with a kebab stick.

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Then I let it dry for a an evening and then shook of any excess sand and trimmed the sides to make them less straight.

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Then I drybrushed the road sections with white acrylic hobby paint.

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Then I added (on the sides of the road only) the snow flock mixed with mod podge (matt) or PVA glue and a dash of white paint (acrylic) – I think I prefer the mod podge but pva glue is more affordable.  On the top of the road surface I use mod podge mixed 1 to 2.5 with Water (you could use PVA instead of Mod Podge) and sprinkle some snow flock over it (I did not include any acrylic paint in the mix that went of the road).  Let it dry and apply some Varnish on top (matte variety).

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Looks pretty good to me!

 

Log fire prototype

I wanted some fires on the table for a scenario where the column of Sovietic vehicles have stopped and the Sovietic soldiers have dug in and Finns attack at dawn while it is still dark.  I had seen some LEDs being used for fire/smoke markers in the past (using the round LED flickering candles).

I went on eBay and ordered a set of red constant light LED 3mm 9v-12v (I got ten for £3.99 including postage)  and the same but orange flickering (random flashing).  I also got a tube of bare conductive electric paint glue (to avoid needing to solder the wire) for £6.91 and a battery holder with a switch for £3.94.

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Then I connected up 2 of the orange and one of the red LEDs with the battery box (adding 8 1.5V batteries of course).  If you do this, be careful and do not leave it unattended until you are sure it is working as sparks can fly and cause devastation even at these low voltages. Anyway here is how it looks like.

Then I put the construct and some of the cabling on a base and glued it down with hot glue, covered it up with non-drying clay, put some stones around the fire, a dollop of clear silicone on top and pulled it up a little bit to look like flames.

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Halfway through the process!

 

Here is the finished article.

I really enjoyed doing this, a few notes:

  • Unless you have a permanent setting where the cabling and LED are in you board there will be an elevation around the fire – I suspect no one would put a fire on top of a little hill surrounded by enemies, if they would make a fire at all!  If I develop this further I may look at incorporating this into the roads with fires on the sides (in the ditches) or having small hills on the sides with the fires at the start of the slopes.
  • There are some lower voltage LED that would required smaller flat batteries, I may look into this instead.
  • It was a fun little diversion.

/Until next

Winter war related blog postings to date

Christmas, TMT Progress and Talvisota / Winter War Chain of Command – Part 1 The Soviet Platoon

Year End and Talvisota / Winter War Chain of Command – Part 2 The Finnish Platoon

Markers for Winter War Chain of Command, Marching Colours and Henry Hyde

The Winter War effort continues – Making tall pine trees

More Markers for Chain of Command and Command & Colors Romans

Vulgar Display of Power – Just a little bit of progress on the Winter War Stuff

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Older blokes in robes! work in progress and the Grognard Files

Frihamnen, Stockholm, 1985. The writer Michael Petersen and the illustrator Peter Johnsson have joined forces to discuss a synopsis for an adventure for the Basic Rules of Mutant [a fantastic Swedish Post-Apocalyptic Rpg, that I wrote more about here]- “Nekropolis”, the first part of two in the campaign “Den grå döden” [The Grey Death].
Michael: It is going to be an epic campaign!, the players have the future of the Pyri Commonwealth in their hands!”
Peter: ”Will it be a spy story?. I have an idea about drawing agent rats in trenchcoats.”
Michael: ”Yes, the adventurers will be chased by the agents of Ulvriket. Mutated rats sounds good.”
Peter: ”Where is Ulvriket?”
Michael: ”Denmark. But forget all about pils, sausages and rock festivals. It is more like the Easterlands in the Heart of Darkness [This was a setting from another of the Companies Rpgs, think Mordor]. Proper Evil.”
Peter: “Do I need to draw ladies in bikinis with well proportioned attributes for this adventure too?”
Michael: ”No, it is more older blokes in robes!”.

– Roughly translated from Swedish from Jakob Simonson blog (see here) with a few clarifications.

 

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The cover of the scenario, with the all-terrain Rhino in the background and a seemingly odd bunch of adventurers. This was Mutant in a nutshell, apart from the lack of any form of weapons and improvised armour.  Since I first got the book I have been wondering how the group did not spot the cabin when their vehicle gave up on the hill closer to it (but nevermind, I no longer let it stop me from going to sleep!)

I really enjoy the Grognard files podcast and the throwback to the good old days of 1980s roleplaying.  If you have any interest in roleplaying games (rpgs), whether you were around then or not, this is a fantastic show and you should try it out (here is a link to get you started). Being of the somewhat mature nature (not old! – I still bloody play with toy soldiers, so I go for mature or perhaps in need of some maintenance, but never old!) for me this is a proper non-imaginary deja vu experience – I do not just feel like I did it, but I really did this before.  I have played many of the games, back in the day, covered so far (often in multiple podcasts, and in addition podcasts have covered rpg magazines and fanzines):

  • Runequest
  • Call of Cthulhu
  • Traveller
  • Stormbringer
  • AD&D
  • Tunnels and Trolls
  • Top Secret
  • Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes
  • James Bond Rpg
  • Judge Dredd

Each game is thoroughly discussed, analyzed and reflected upon. Being a guest on the British Isles since the mid 90ies it is at a level of eccentricity that I recognise well and that is hard to find anywhere else.  It is similar to the exploits of those Victorian chaps who invented industrial breakthroughs in their back garden sheds.  I absolutely love the concept.  Bravo to Dirk, Blythy, Ed and the rest of the crew (not forgetting the eminent Daily Dwarf, link here).  I suggest you brew yourself a cup of tea and get a pack of hobnobs and sit down in your favourite chair and listen to the first episode on Runequest. The only thing that may prevent you from having a fantastic time is your ability in making a decent cup of tea!

We, my friends and I who grew up in a small Swedish provincial town, had a gaming group running for many years and we were also part of a local rpg club called Aut Vincere Aut Mori (translated from Latin as “either to conquer or to die”). We did play a lot of the games covered in the Grognard show but it was intertwined with some local (Swedish) produce including Mutant and Drakar and Demoner (literary meaning Dragons & Demons) – they were fine products and would be classified as belonging to the Basic Roleplaying family of systems – with “3d6” characteristics, percentage chance to succeed, and further not level based, i.e. a shot in the head is as deadly when it hits you whether you are a snotty teenager with an eagerness to see the world as when you have conquered it.  Sorry, but I never got over the level and Hit Point thing or regimented bundle approach to progress in life! – although I had some great experiences playing games like Dungeons & Dragons in the day – but it was not the system but the GM who made it a fantastic experience. But I digress..

I have been thinking about my own Mutant 1984 project recently and how I will take this forward.

Basically following a deadly and incurable epidemic caused by samples from a mission to Mars the human civilization collapses.  The survivors build enclaves and start experimentation on humans and animals, in effect creating mutants, to see how they will survive outside the enclaves.  However conflicts arises between the enclaves and it leads to a nuclear war sealing the fate of the world.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the from the ashes new civilizations start to emerge with mutated humans and animals, some “pure” humans and even some mutants with mental powers. There are remnants of the old worlds scattered all around, and some androids/robots from the old days are still around. In addition there are certain areas where the effect of radiation has left some strange effects on the flora and fauna and these areas are called “Forbidden Zones”.

The game is set in Scandinavia, but not as we know it today, and the general level of new technology is equivalent to that of the 19th Century, give or take.  There are steam engines, muskets and some emerging rifle like weapons, heliogram for communication, etc.  Some of the old technology has survived but is rare.

From a Blog entry last year, link here for more.

When we played rpgs back in the day we very rarely used miniatures/flats when we played and when we did I am not sure it really enhanced the experience as we did not tend to plan it very well.  I always felt it broke the spell of that wonderful world we all had in our heads that was built-up by narration and imagination.

The idea is that I will recreate some of the action scenes from some of the early Mutant Adventures starting with the Nekropolis scenario.  In essence breaking the scenario down to a series of tabletop games, that can be used as part of playing the adventure or as an independent game. It was a relatively straightforward scenario, with a few Game Master leads to push events forward (if the players do not think of it, X will suggest so…).  The scenario is long out of print and I am not aware of anywhere you could get hold of it nowadays and in addition you would need to be able to understand Swedish to get through it.  I am still debating on what miniature rules to use, if you have any ideas comment on this page or send me a message through the site.  There would be about 6 adventurers, with some supporting cast, against the rest of the world,

WARNING – what follows will contain spoilers.

I will try to stay true to the original story and the characters if possible but I will use some artistic freedom when I find something else more interesting or where there is a lack of suitable miniatures.

Scenes I will cover are presented below (with a note on the scene and then miniatures needed):

  1. Border Cabin Commotion
  2. Night attack at the Inn
  3. Nekropolis HQ

 

Border Cabin Commotion

The Scene

I suppose this would require the Cabin itself – and the set-up will be so that it allows action inside and outside.   In addition I would need Wintery terrain around, of which I have plenty of from the Winter War Project (that I am working on in other news).  So a cabin needs to be built with enough room to allow miniatures on 2 pence coins to move around inside.

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Zoom in on the Nekropolis cover and there is the little border cabin. 

 

Miniatures

4 normal soldiers of the Ulvrikets army,  I already have these. They are based on WW2 Americans to represent the relatively high tech army of Ulvriket.

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Artizan Design WW2 Americans with German Officer, painted following the colour plates of Ospreys “Pyri-Samfundet: Regular Infantry Uniforms and Regalia” (if such a book existed).  A few of them need to be winterized for the scenario. The officer is a WW2 German model.

A NCO (mutated dog originally, but I will use the mutated Ape NCO for this)

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Artisan WW2 miniatures again, with headswaps from God knows what!

I added the picture below some time after the original blog entry (for completeness, this is the merry squad of soldiers, with Winter Bases)

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The Commanding Officer – he is a mutated bear, it is a big guy with the mutation berserk. So I will base him off a Reaper Bones Werebear that I have ordered.  Have to make him look a little more of an Officer of the Ulvriket army though, so some green stuff will be required.

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Will have to get rid of the Axe and the Jewellery!

I did finish this one after the event and wrote about it (see link here), here is a picture of the final result.

Night Attack at the Inn

The Scene

The in(n)side of the Inn (parts of it) – maybe this would be done best by using foam core with printed on detail.  I got inspired by listening to Jay on the Wargames Veteran podcast who discusses foamboard, to almost Grognardish level of detail – great show indeed, it is number 33 (link here).

Miniatures

6 Assassin Rats – done

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6 normal soldiers – have these, see above or below!

Thin man with a Submachine Gun – I was looking around but could not find something to fit the bill. But then I stumbled on a Sherlock Holmes figure from CP models today and ordered it and CP Models also do some loose SMGs so a little bit of work and I have my man with an SMG. Pictures below from CP Models webpage (here and here).

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Nekropolis HQ

The Scene

Nekropolis HQ – this is more of a Dungeon, sorry I meant Bunker, crawl.  May do some foam core corridors or just play the final encounter scene. More thinking to be done.

Miniatures

14 soldiers (a few of them being mutants) and 2 officers – as these will be inside a heated bunker I am not sure the immersion works with greatcoated soldiers with Winterized bases!  So I got myself some WW2 Americans from Warlord Games (here), that I will use a basis for these guys. It will also give me an abundance of loose weapons useful for converting other miniatures for this project.

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2 mutated birds – not sure how I will use these in my take on the adventure. But I found these beauties from CP Models (link here).  They were originally suppose to look a little bit pathetic than these mean looking birds.  I did some modifications to them to make them less aggressive looking.

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4 scientists – I have ordered some from Crooked Dice that have a nice selection, one of them with a little pet (a little bit more sinister than a cat, I suppose)  pictures borrowed from their site – excellent miniatures overall, link (here and here).

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2 Older blokes in robes – still looking for some perfect miniatures I know are hiding somewhere in the house.  I think they were from Black Cat Bases but I can not reach their webpage at the moment.

 

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Went for a Woman and Man for the two Grey Guys!

 

In summary not so much to do on the miniature front, but some builds to be done.  The second installation of the mini-campaign (Bris Brygga), includes a scene with 20 airships to worry about. Have to think that part through a little bit more.

Progress will be slow as the next few months will be dedicated to this years Joy of Six battle. Anyway phase 1 completed – another £60 to add to the lead (and plastic) mountain.

/ all the best

 

 

 

 

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Vulgar Display of Power – Just a little bit of progress on the Winter War Stuff

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Work is taking more than its fair share of my time at the moment, but it happens to most of us.  However, I have had some time to get some things done over the last week or so, this is just a summary of that.  As always, I do hope it is of some interest.

  • Chain of Command – dice, casualty markers and suppression markers
  • Gaslands – finally a game

Finnish and Sovietic dice

I am currently working on some terrain and markers for winter war Chain of Command.  I wanted to have some dedicated Finnish and Sovietic dice so looked around and found a fair few Sovietic options but only one Finnish (very nice ones, sold by Dice of War in Australia, see here). These are not specific ones needed for the game, just the type where the 6 is replaced by a unit or a country symbol and could therefore be used for any game that uses D6s. I wanted to have blue ones for the Finns and Red ones for the Soviets, and thought I could perhaps do some myself.  I found some 16mm blank dice on ebay and got myself a few different colours (these are from China so will take a week or two to arrive!, at least if you live in the UK).

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I then ordered some labels/stickers from Amazon (13mm).

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From Label Planets website (link here) you can get a word template for this label set and buy bigger quantities as well.  From this you can design your own labels.

I wanted to have 1 to 5 in the same font as used for the Chain of Command rules.  This font is called Vulgar Display of Power (download it here).  In addition I wanted the hammer and sickle for the Soviets and the hat emblem that the normal enlisted men had for the Finns, replacing number 6.

 

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Here is are the files with the sheet I made for the Soviets (Russian Dice) and sheet for the Finns (Finnish Dice), these are word files.  You can change these to add your own colours and symbols.

I have to admit that I had some problem with the laser printer I was using in aligning the sheet so that it printed out correctly (I wasted three sheets but luckily managed to get two done, which was all I needed)- the final result is not perfect and if you have trouble I can only say I am sorry.

This is how they turned out.

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I will make some yellow Sovietic ones and some white for Finns for Command Dice rolls.

Dead Soviets

One of the striking things with the Winter War are all the pictures of dead Sovietic soldiers especially in the fighting North of Lake Ladoga. Behind my romanticised view of the war and Finnish bias, I am not immune to the hell those Sovietic soldiers had to go through trapped on those wintery stretches of roads, with inadequate supplies of just about everything.  Go to the Wikipedia page and read about the Battle of Suomussalmi (link here) and check the losses on both sides – 50% losses for the Soviets and less than 10% for the Finns.

To create a reminder of this I did a few terrain features with dead Sovietic soldiers (I keep on using this term as the soldiers in the Red army were not only of Russian nationality).  They were based on Peter Pig casualty markers (based on anything with a great coat and headswaps to pointy Russian hats and early war helmets).

 

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Some Casualties, clay, stones and twigs from the garden

 

…and here with some painting, winterization and blood (sorry!).

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Suppression Markers

These are based on the concept of snow flying around as bullets hit the area.  I used something called Universal Cooker Hood Filter to do the effect. It is like cotton but much stronger, I attached a part of it with superglue and when dry I dragged it out and trimmed it. I also added a little bit of snow flock carefully on the cloud.  I think they do the job well enough.

 

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Ivan with his LMG is under fire and splinters are flying from the tree stump
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A simpler construction
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Snow splashing around a stone
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The full collection

Explosion Markers

I have seen explosions markers made out of clump foliage and wanted to make some for the winter war table as it will contrasts nicely with the snowy background, and also have some practical game purpose.  So I searched around the net for some ideas and found a few different options.

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Ivan successfully rolled 12 saving throws

I made my set of  explosion markers by following the recipe by the Terrain Tutor (link here).  Always excellent, this time he blew me away again!

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Terrain Tutor – check him out! Excellent.

 

I also had a game of Gaslands with my micro cars! (using 50% templates), and it was great, but more on that another time.

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/ All the best (yes I know I should be doing GNW!)