Dusting off the Paints…

It’s been ever so long since I last managed to put paint on a model – in fact I think it was about the time of the tournaments here last year, which pushed it back a way. But I have finally done it! I have dusted off the paints and managed to get some models done!


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Well, there you go, I’ll probably pack them away now and not get them out for the next six months… but at least I got a few things finished!





Bombers and Corvettes join the fleet…


Since tasting sweet success with my last painting challenge, and rather liking the look of a painted fleet for once, I have continued with my efforts.

This week I have managed to finish off a Squadron of Bombers, and two Squadrons of Thales Corvettes (well, nearly two, I seem to have lost a single Thales somewhere).

In any case – here they are, in all their state of completion…

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Antarctican Fleet – completed


I began last week with the challenge of painting just over half of my fleet for the tournament just finished. After some long hours at the painting desk in the evenings, I’m happy to say that they are all finished! Not to as high a standard as I would have liked… but they are done – and that is fantastic. It’s also given me the inspiration to go back and get a bit more painted – so hopefully I’ll start knocking over some, at least, of my large back-catalog of unpainted Covenant miniatures.

I’ll write something more about the tournament on another day, we played 5 games over the two days, and it was an absolute blast. I came in 5th place out of field of 10, but more importantly I had a lot of fun and got to face off against great people.

In any case… the painted tournament fleet:

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The unpainted fleet…

With my local tournament looming at the end of this week (it’s Tuesday as I type this), I have to face a certain realisation. While this realisation is something miniature gamers are usually all too familiar with, it’s also a source of a certain amount of shame and ignominy. It’s like having a birthmark on your face in the shape of a rare and amusing vegetable, or a rash that is obvious to anyone, but kind of uncomfortable to explain; yes Nanna, the rash is looking particularly lurid today. How did I get it? Ahem.

So rather than hide it behind some facade, conceal it beneath a shallow powdered foundation, I had better confront it now. The fleet list I had created to play in this coming weekend’s tournament? It’s mostly unpainted (mostly here is an apt description, not mere exaggeration).

Now, I’m going to try and remedy this. I have Netflix to watch and painting to do. I’m not under any illusions that I will get it all done, or even most of it, but I will at least get more done. So the challenge is on… how much can I finish before the weekend? It will be interesting!


Covenant Automata


After some concerted procrastination, I’ve finally started putting paint on models again.  As I’m rather like a meerkat with ADHD, I, of course, haven’t continued with my Australian Fleet, nor have I finished the single Empire of the Blazing Sun Kaiju I need to finish in order to call my naval EotBS done… no – I’ve started a new set of miniatures – the Automata from the Dystopian Legions Iron Scorpion boxed set…

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I have the Gun Rotors nearly done, and then I hope to do the Drone Controller and the Commandos… but who knows, I might start something new between now and then!

Islands ahead Sir!

I previously wrote about making a sea board, and I’ve also written about making some large land tiles.  This post I’m going to talk about making islands; you might have seen these before in battle reports here on E270.  I had previously posted this article on my old Blog Castle By Moonlight, so if you think you’ve seen it before there, you’re correct!

Really, I wasn’t so creative as to have conjured the methods for making these from the air, I took the ideas from two places – the ideas for the forests were taken from this wonderful post over at the Spartan Games website.  The ideas for the islands were taken from the Dystopian Wars Australia group on Facebook (and I’ll henceforth refer to them as Lewis islands for that reason).

So, after reading both these posts I decided to make my own islands.  firstly I made a frame for the forest foliage, filled it with Woodland Scenics clump foliage, and liberally soaked it in PVA.



A nice mix of dark and light to add some variation.

I then purchased some cork tiles, and by a mixture of tearing them with my hands and pliers, and cutting them to have a bevelled edge with a craft knife, I had the following:


The islands in the foreground – a mixture of cut edges and torn edges –  the cut edges will be painted as the rest of the island, while the torn sections will be painted as rock.


For the sea rocks/mounts I glued several layers of cork together, and the tore and cut away at the sides until it looked more uniform.  In retrospect I’d have glued, then cut them away.  As they are they look like so many layers – and while some of this is ok, there is too much.

I had to decide how to manage the forests.  Being cork board I decided to use some small wood tacks – press them into the cork far enough to hold but not all the way through.

The flat top surfaces of the tacks would be a good base for the glue that would hold the foliage to the trunks.

An undercoat in black later:


The rocks were drybrushed in successively lighter layers of gray, from dark to light, and finally a very light drybrush of white.




The final coat of white really helps to delineate the edges and make the whole thing look better (in my opinion).

The islands on the other hand received a heavy coat of a rich dark brown:

I then drybrushed, heavily and progressively lighter with different shades of brown.  Finally a light flesh tone.  Of course – the rock was done the same as the rocks above.  Finally I added some static grass:


On the largest island here I left a large open area, eventually I’ll grab some Spartan town pieces to add there – just a manor house I think…

Finally I used some Woodland Scenics Hob-e-Tac glue – on top of each tack head.  Then once this had set sufficiently I pulled the foliage I had made earlier apart and pressed it onto the tack heads.  I tried to get some nice variation in tone across the islands, and I think they came up very nicely.




Well – that’s that for now.  Thanks to the guys on the Spartan forums and DW Australia for the inspiration!  I think my Lewis class islands came up well!  If you use a different approach or material for your island building I’d love to read about it – let me know, either as a comment here, via email (element270podcast@gmail.com) or on our Facebook group.

A foreign land…

Back in November I wrote about wanting to make some somewhat geomorphic land tiles for Dystopian Wars.  One of the charming things about the game is the way it deals with three theatres, and all three can mix it on the one table during the one game.  I already have my sea board sorted, and decided it would all sorts of fantastic to be able to have some land I could place over the sea board to facilitate landings, mixed theatre engagements and all sorts of scenario goodness.

I had some cork floor tiles left over from my island making, and wanted to make use of the left overs.  What I decided to do was to leave a bunch of the tiles uncut – they would form the majority of any landmass.  Then with a couple of others I would cut them into strips, and then bevel the edges roughly to form a coastline.  In the end I bought a second pack of tiles (which were 1ft by 1ft cork flooring tiles), left some whole, cut some in half (for spits of land), and sliced a bunch of the remainders up to create coast lines.

After the cutting (and cork floor tiles cut easily with a sharp blade, a cutting mat, and a steel ruler), I painted them all a dark brown, then successively drybrushed a series of lighter browns over the top – each layer lighter and more sparse than the previous.


After the paint had dried fully I sprayed the tiles with a watered down PVA (using a spray bottle and PVA mix from Woodland scenics).  Following this the tiles received a damn good flocking, using static grass from a shaker bottle.


I had already purchased a 100 gram bag of 2mm Summer Mix static grass, and was worried I would need a boatload more to cover so many tiles (7ft square in all).  In fact I was very pleasantly surprised that I managed to cover them all well, and still have some left over!

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All in all I am very happy with the results – although I’m already thinking I may need a couple more of the full 1ft by 1ft tiles (just enough to fully cover a 2ftx4ft board space with some extra bits for spits of land and the like).  But we’ll see – these are certainly enough for the meantime!

I think they came up rather well!




The Laws of Attraction…

I’ve read a lot of posts in which people ask for advice about using magnets to attach various bits and pieces to their Dystopian Wars models, this post is aimed squarely at providing a glimpse at how I do this.  I have to add a caveat here: this is only how I go about using magnets, it is far from definitive, and may well be inefficient, but it works for me!

Before we go any further it is worth noting a few things, the magnets I’ll be writing about are rare earth magnets (Neodymium magnets), these come in a variety of sizes, shapes and strengths.  I buy mine off eBay, but they are readily available at a lot of hobby shops – although in some places they may be illegal (due to the dangers that may arise from children swallowing them).


I use 3mm x 1mm round rare earth magnets – these fit the Dystopian Wars models really nicely, and sometimes without even needing much use of a drill bit to accommodate them.  Rare earth magnets come in varying strengths, these are listed as n35, n38, n42, and n52, some may also have designations after this like n38sh.  Basically the higher the number after the ‘n’, the stronger the magnet.  Obviously you need something that is strong enough to hold, but not so strong that you may as well have used some form of glue.  The letters after the number are, for our purposes, irrelevant, and relate to the thermal characteristics of the magnet.

I have used n35 magnets for everything, and I have found them strong enough to hold well, but weak enough to easily remove.  The only model I have where I think I should have used a stronger magnet is the Covenant of Antarctica Aronax – as the weight of the maw is much higher than any of the turrets I have magnetised.  It holds as I move it around the table no problems, but it’s not as firm as I would have liked.  A stronger (or larger) magnet (say a n38, or an n35, but say 6mmx1mm) would have provided a firmer hold.

The Aronax

So, all of that said, this is a bit of  a walkthrough on how I actually put these magnets on the models…

These are the tools I use:


There are: the magnets (a rod of a bunch of them is easier to hold and makes finding and keeping the correct polarities much simpler – I’m down to my last few in this shot), a tooth pick, super glue, a 3mm drill bit, blue-tack (or similar sticky substance – I’ve seen others using green-stuff), and a black permanent marker.

 For the Turrets (or other bits):


Picking up the column of magnets I colour one end of the column black, using the permanent marker, this magnet may never be used.  Blackening one end magnet in this fashion helps me keep the correct polarity across all my models.


Using the wooden tooth pick I pin down the bottom magnet of the column, I make sure the black marked magnet is at the top at all times, and the pinned magnet doesn’t flip after I move the toothpick away (so no metal nearby).


I apply glue to the magnet.


I then press the turret down on the magnet, hold for a second, then pick it up.  If I need to I can jig the magnet around a little until it is centered while the glue is hardening.  Rinse, repeat…



For the Models:


Using the 3mm drill bit I widen and deepen the hole where the magnet will go.  I want the hole to be deep enough to accommodate a little more than two magnets.  Since the magnet on the turret (or bit) will be external, I want that magnet to fit snugly into the hole I am making in the model.  Some people recess both magnets (that is, they recess the magnet on the turret and on the model)… I’m a little lazy perhaps, but it has worked so far!

I drop a tiny ball of blue-tack or green-stuff into the hole, then holding the column of magnets (black at the top as always), I press down into the hole deep enough so a little over two magnets are recessed.

Using the toothpick, I tease a single magnet from the bottom of the column and pin it in place (the blue-tack or green-stuff makes this much easier, and you may not need to use the toothpick).

Once the magnet is in position, I squeeze a drop or two of glue onto it, and make sure the glue connects the magnet to the hole (stirring slightly with a tooth-pick can help spread the glue if it’s a drop sitting on the magnet).

IMG_0037_2IMG_0039_2IMG_0038_2 Really, it’s as simple as that.  There aren’t that many steps involved, and it’s much easier than I anticipated.  You may find a different way of doing this that is much easier or more efficient, but this is a simple solution I have had success with.

If you do happen to have any other ways of doing things, a better idea or more efficient approach – please post them as a comment!  The more the merrier!




The Sea…

Dystopian Wars is a game with stunning models, that much is evident to anyone who has a look at the renders, and especially, the real things.  With such nice models I felt a real urge to bring the other aspects of the visual experience, but in exactly which way was something I was unsure about.

I have been predominantly playing the game using naval and air units, and while I have some land units I plan getting into action some point soon, (I will deal with making land tiles in another post in the future) I want to write about the open sea…

I was content with an old blue sheet thrown across the table top – this was enough in the early days!  Then, as so often happens, one stumbles across something someone clever has done on the internet.  In my case it was the following YouTube video:

Thoroughly inspiring stuff! So with little forethought and a similar level of planning I decided to try and do the same myself.

Firstly I was in need of the actual board – no sooner had this realisation popped into my head than I was  at the local Bunnings (hardware) store looking for required materials.  I bought two 2x4ft pieces of particle board, as well as the other sundry items featured in the excellent video above, including white base paint, three tones of blue paint, and lastly – some glass coat.

The first step was to undercoat them both:

A week later, when the weather seemed more appropriate to the drying requirements of paint (tricksy stuff), I base coated the boards with an acrylic blue, then using a torn sponge I added some turquoise, then a smattering of light blue, and finally a very small amount of white – I was going for a stippling effect.

With the painting done it was time to admire the achievements of the day thus far.  That done, I progressed to the next stage: the use of glass coat.  Glass coat is something I had never heard of until I watched the video above.  All I can say is that it is extremely thick and tacky as it goes on, really needs a nice warm environment to dry in, but adds a fantastic effect to the board.

Once the glass coat had been painted on with a brush I dabbed it with a dry sponge to add a stippling effect and to make sure it didn’t simply dry ultra smooth like it’s meant to.  I tried using scrunched paper towelling, but the tacky glass coat was pulling it to pieces, in the end I found a sponge worked most effectively.



Overall I’m very happy with the result.  If I had my time again I think I would use a thicker paint for the base, and perhaps roll it on.  I’d choose a slightly lighter mid-tone (rather than turquoise) and be more sparing with the lightest (white).  All that said, I won’t be rushing out and making another table tomorrow, I’m very happy with how it’s all come together.  With a few more players in my area starting to collect navies for Dystopian Wars, I am seriously considering grabbing another 2x4ft board so I can have a table 6×4… we shall see.

Thanks Viv for the inspirational YouTube vid.  Mine isn’t a patch on your tables, but is miles better than the old blue sheet!