Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Budget Terrain for Pinboard Battles!




During the past fortnight, a knee injury has driven me to sitting at the dining table for sustained periods, so there has been some boardgaming going on and no doubt too much iPad browsing.


For a figures fix, resurrecting my Pinboard Battles for the distraction of a mini side project caught my imagination ….. except my recent ‘sell-off’ of all 'unnecessary' things has meant that I have parted company with all of the goodies needed to get that to the table, so what to do for a quick hit?

'Use, buy and make', all played their part in assembling a fairly speedy game board that would be enough to give a feel for play and let me do some testing of various rule sets for gun / penetration comparisons, which alone is a great distraction activity for me.

This post is just a ramble loosely on Pinboard Battles, but its primary purpose is to add to the series of posts about getting to a gaming table cheaply.

Please use the ‘read more’ tab for the rest of this post.


It was while browsing my photo library that I came across this;

A previous attempt at pinboard battles


It being an old project bringing 6mm Napoleonics to a large pinboard (roughly 2' x 3'). I think this had a 4" square grid, with built up areas (BUA) modulated on coffee coasters to fit the grid and tree bases slightly smaller.

Anyway, it seemed a good figure / table solution, taking up only the same space as a typical boardgame.

Though that pinboard had long gone, I still have my 'posh' pinboard that was felt covered, so when painted with emulsion paint, it gave a nice ground texture. It is bound in an aluminium frame. I’m now glad that I hung onto this as it is the starting point of the project.

So the 'use, buy and make' bits to get another board going are as follows. The only bit I really wanted to convey here was the 'make' section, but it will not take long to discuss the wider interests of the board.


Buying bits;

Two items were bought. Firstly a couple of bags of the Victrix 12mm vehicles. You get 6 to a pack and it seemed that a set of American Shermans and German Panthers would give the gun / armour spread that would help with interesting and meaningful comparisons between rules.


These were bought from Wargamestore (Brimstage) and they arrived after 2 days (thank you).

Secondly, for some formal greenery, I ordered a small bag of hedges from K&M and they arrived in 3 days (thank you).

So the absolute basics were set. There was no real need to base the hedges, but the tanks are fast build kits and need putting together, but they only have around seven parts, including fully modulated wheel / track / suspension units - so they are easy and quick to make and hoorah for that!


Using bits;

Well there is not much left really on the wargame shelves here that will fit the 12mm stuff. I gave my very small hills away and all the nice little trees were sold. However, There was a smallish hill left and some orchard trees for the 28’s. The trees while not too big, have oranges on them bigger than a mans head - Oh well!

I did dig out a sheet of textured crafting foam sheet that could double as a field. It is called corrugated embossed foam sheet and it is from Hobbycraft (UK) costing £1 per sheet.


Making bits;

Within the limitations of time and mobility, a quick hit could be made from making road and roadside / field wooded boundaries and once I started, I was surprised just how cheaply these could be pushed out for and so I thought it worthwhile to give the ‘recipes’ here for anyone keeping an eye on their wargame budgets.

Roads - Checking online, I found some unpainted latex roads at £5 per 12”, given that most gamers need multiple feet of road, with associated junctions, then that can add up.

My road build here is not something special, I have seen the process highlighted several times on various blogs and videos, but anyway this was how I put it into practice.

The local Pound Shop sells packs of three self adhesive floor tiles (like a lino) for £1. The DIY shop sells Caulking sealant (it must be acrylic caulk, not silicon and avoid white if possible) for £2 a tube. The other things needed are some paint (craft type paints are best as they are cheaper as the project will use too much of your quality model paints), a flat plastic spreader, PVA glue and some fine flock.



This is messy so some disposable plastic gloves and a work bench covered in newspaper will help. I actually built mine on an old off cut of perspex.

Cut the tile into strips of the desired width. This can be a tough slippy material so take your time on this part to avoid mistakes and injuries.  

Peel off the backing paper and with this sticky side up, apply the caulk in a long strip and then spread it out with the plastic spreader, fully covering the tile strip, but keeping the caulk thin and even.

While still wet, I lightly sprinkled some chinchilla sand over the surface to get some texture. You could put some wheel rut marks in at this stage, but avoid revealing the tile surface. This is set aside to dry. I gave it 48 hours.

Once dry paint it burnt umber, let that dry and then put a second coat of paint on. For this second application, I used yellow ochre and burnt umber on the palette, not fully mixed, so there was some colour variation in the road. Once dry, lightly dry brush to highlight the texture. I used Titanium Buff for this.

A road junction


With PVA, seal the short ends of the road and leave to dry. Then seal the long edges, but bring the glue up onto the surface of the road along the edges to a depth of around 3mm and sprinkle fine flock along this to give roadside grass. Finally a coat of spray mat varnish went on, just to help lock the flock into place.

Sealing the edges helps mask any exposed sticky adhesive on the tile. When complete, check for any sticky parts of the edge and add more PVA if needed.

They are not competition winning, but they work. Indeed close up digital photography can be a cruel medium for such things, but on the table, they look fine.

If you bought just 6’ of road at £5 a foot, then the commercial product would be costing £30 plus postage. From our tile, you could get at least 6’ of road out of just 1 tile (so 33 pence for the whole 6') and less than half a tube of caulk (so £1), making quite a cost difference.

Wooded boundaries - Seeing the trees in the photo of my napoleonic board, I remembered how easy these are to make, so here we are.

Things to buy are tongue suppressors, cocktail sticks and something to make the foliage from. I just happened to have some Woodland Scenics clump foliage left over from another project, otherwise I would have used lichen, spray glued it and rolled it in fine flock / turf to give it texture.

Process. Cut the tongue suppressors down to half lengths and take off the rounded ends. Drill 2 or 3 holes along the length. Cut down some cocktail sticks and hot glue them into the drilled holes.

I photographed these very bare sticks of wood stuck into a base and then annoyingly deleted the files, so I can't give before and after shots, which is a shame because the differences are stark and it is surprising how such effective pieces can come from such rudimentary beginnings.

Paint the lower half of the cocktail sticks brown, then bit by bit, using a hot glue gun, build up the foliage of each tree using clump foliage or your preferred material.

The road lined with the wooded boundary


Once done, with a pipette, add drops of diluted PVA glue to the tree foliage. Three thinner coats are better than over soaking the pieces. This will set the foliage hard so that it remains durable.

Do this on a plastic tray or something similar because dilute PVA is just too messy to trust near your carpets or good furniture etc. After dropping a bottle of red paint on the carpet last year, I am now a caution convert!

Finally base with your basing materials of choice. I used artists modelling paste tinted with brown acrylic paint, followed by various flocks etc. Again a blast of mat varnish will help lock everything down.



Here the wooded boundaries are placed up against the brown textured foam, if you click on the picture, you should just be able to make out the corrugated texture, looking like a ploughed field.



I haven’t got as far as painting the models yet, but the set-up is doing what it was intended to do, giving me some short bursts of activity at the dining table. All the bits are stored in a shoe box and set up / take down time is literally minutes.

Overall, I have been surprised how quickly this could be put together and for those who like 'Pinboard Battle' type games, I will continue to add some future posts, covering this most convenient size of game.

Resource Section.

There is an old WWII 10mm Pinboard Game post on the blog. LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2019/10/shermans-on-pinboard.html

And an ACW one with BlackPowder rules here. LINK

http://battlefieldswarriors.blogspot.com/2018/12/pinboard-battles-project.html


44 comments:

  1. Great info Norm, thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thanks Ray, a 2’ x 3’ is a realistic gaming space for plenty of people who follow this blog, so hopefully it helps.

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  3. Excellent Norm and especially as I have thinking about what to do about trees in 6mm! I have a huge bag of the WS clump foliage and seeing how effective your trees look I'm going to be 'borrowing' this idea. I really like the idea of using a pipette to drop diluted PVA to harden the foliage too. Thank you :) Roads look very effective too.

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  4. Thanks Lee. I ‘fed’ the trees over 3 sessions with PVA, making sure that they were never so wet that the glue ran onto the base … in case it warped the wood.

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  5. Excellent read Norm, I really love the idea of playing on a small board. Some great ideas on this post.

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    1. Hi Donnie, thanks for visiting and commenting. The small space is very convenient in terms of space, time and accessibility …. More to come :-)

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  6. A good post Norm and it is amazing how much 'game' you can get on a relatively small surface such as yours. This is another reason I stuck with 10mm, as a 3' x 2' surface equates to a 6' x 4' one for the larger scales. Some nice terrain making tips in there too:).

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  7. Thanks Steve, it was quite enjoyable getting back to the roots of this blog.

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  8. Excellent idea. The terrains looks superb.

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    1. Thanks Darren, I have only just realised that I photographed the items as items on a work board, rather that in the setting of the pinboard itself - Doh!

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  9. Nicely done Norm although I prefer to paint if I get the chance to sit down 🤔

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    1. Hi Matt, its all been rather too much sitting around for me, unfortunately …. Worse, not a battalion painted :-)

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  10. An excellent read and some very useful informative ideas. I like the idea of ‘ pinboard’ battles and the Victrix 12mm may be an interesting idea

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  11. Thanks Graham - it has been a while since I have tinkered with the pinboard, so I have enjoyed the re-fresh. The 12mm could cross-over with the terrain and space that your Epic uses.

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  12. A very useful post Norm, I shall have a look out for some if those floor tiles. My Fat Frank roads are starting to curl at the edges, it sounds that they would be ideal to stick them to?

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    1. Hi Phil, good idea. My FF roads also have a slight curl, even though I store them flat and in layers with heavy paper between the layers, but I really like the texture he uses for the road surface, so re-securing them is well worth a try. Straights should be fine, though the bendy roads and junctions might prove a bit of a challenge with cutting and being able to do that safely.

      The only reservation that I have with the cheap tiles is that over time, they may dry out to become brittle, but I think that thought comes from experiences with tiles of old (very old) and lino, I imagine modern materials are much better.

      I built one of these roads over a year ago as a tester and that has remained supple

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  13. Looks great, Norm, very cool.

    V/R,
    Jack

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  14. Thanks Jack, even with the game board sat under my nose, as opposed to the oft referred to '3 foot rule', the aesthetic is pleasing.

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    1. Indeed it is, you've always got great looking minis and terrain!

      V/R,
      Jack

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  15. Nice work Norm...the "tiny tanks" should work well to provide you with a game on the pinboard battlefield . All your scenery and terrain ideas are great stuff too!

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    1. Thanks Keith, It gives a really good arena to try out bits of rules.

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  16. I'm sure many folk will have found this post really useful. Hope you are up and mobile soon!

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    1. Thanks David, it is a most do-able of little projects, so hopefully it will strike a chord with those looking for this sort of fit.

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  17. Great ideas Norm. Quote of the Day "close up digital photography can be a cruel medium" - so true.

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    1. Hi, agree, there can be a gulf between what the camera sees and what the eye (especially older eye) sees.

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  18. Very practical and effective, Norm. BraVo!

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    1. Hi Aaron, the small format would also work well with your favoured Lost Battles rules.

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  19. love this post, Norm. It's amazing what can be done for relatively low cost and the results are way greater than the sum of the materials. I need to try your method for those short tree lines.

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  20. Hi Steve, I pretty much had all of the materials at hand, so in that regard, cost was minimal. But thinking about this, I could see a very useful and limited project falling from this with small armies of 12 - 20 bases per side and a terrain system that would all fit in a small tub, ideal for a space / cash / time budget approach, giving a gamer a good feel for figures with minimum demands.

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    1. I like that, Norm. "Shoebox terrain." the trees, houses, low stone walls and fields all go into the box.

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  21. Amazing how good something can look when properly done!

    Excellent 'how to' post.

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  22. Ross, thanks for the kind words.

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  23. Nice demonstration of quick and easy terrain that looks good and is effective.
    Hope your knee heals up soon. 😀

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  24. Thanks Stew, I am just painting the tanks, so its appeal increases. knee improving, but with flare-ups, thanks.

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  25. Norm, you kept your 12mm WWII? It did not get jettisoned in The Great Purge? Really impressed by your ability to pump out great looking terrain on the fly.

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  26. Hi Jonathan, no, the 12mm went! But for the pinboard it would be my preferred scale, so I picked up the Panther and Sherman packs, just for the spread of gun / armour stats. The Victrix have more tanks than I would mostly need per pack, but they do come with decals, which is a help.

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  27. Very interesting project, Norm. Never heard of pin board gaming before, but it seems like a nice alternative. Your scratch-built roads look great too!

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  28. Thanks Dean, nice to be able to pick an entire battlefield up and move it when the table space is needed for the family meal :-)

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  29. I had to laugh a little: "I have decided on my direction for gaming and so...will go back to what I don't have stuff for anymore" :-) At least it sounds like it is a fairly self-contained project. I am amazed how quickly you can put together something that looks so good. An excellent post on how to put it all together for such as well defined project And you know you don't have to convince me on small table gaming, even if yours is 50% bigger than what I normally play on :-)

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  30. Hi Shaun, yes, a few weeks ago I could have taken it for granted in putting this tabletop together ….. now, I have had to be a little more creative. :-)

    I really only needed a couple of Shermans and a Panther to do what I wanted ….. now, because of the ‘pack’ buys, I have six of each! :-)

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  31. Great post on rapid terrain building, my roads and rivers are modern vinyl, I did most of them years ago and they haven't curled,good luck collecting all the scales you got rid off!
    Best Iain

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  32. Hi Iain, :-)

    28’s ACW on painting sticks today …….. but so are 12mm Panthers!

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  33. Very effective looking terrain and all scratch built.

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  34. Thanks Peter, they really do fit in well with the 3 foot rule.

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