Thursday, 18 October 2012

From the ground up.

Yep another day...another bad pun to open the post.

So i have been quiet for a couple of days. That by no means indicates a fall in enthusiasm. More a case of waiting for a delivery from forge world...yet to arrive, plotting ideas, gathering supplies and generally letting the whole idea sweep over me.

So whats today's post all about. Bases. No not those hulking great fortification of the imperium, nor the dodgy pallet with a flag type thing you get at paintball. Not even the respawn area in your latest halo adventure.

I'm talking about that little dis of plastic that your beautifully painted model will eventually stand on and declare as his or her own little piece of the 40k universe.
To be frank i have always been a slacker on bases, i have an industrial sized bag of what i refer to as magic mix and that does it. Jobs a good un.

But taking on this #forgeworldonly project got me thinking about these little bits of plastic that so many of us regard as an annoying after thought. I mean aside from stopping our models from falling over what purpose do they serve. The answer is 'they tell a story'.
No matter what game it is, no matter what period in time. All our wargames take place somewhere and that's what our bases tell us. It can be anything from the tumbled down streets of a hive world, to the snowy tundras of the eastern front. From medieval fields to Victorian steam punk worlds and our bases give us that small part of the story.

The most basic of bases can tell us this, a bit of green flock, a quick lick of grey paint. Each gives a snap shot of the environment of war.
But when your spending a serious amount on a army project, entering a competition, or just being a little mad...a little more detail can go a long way.

A few examples of basics using the written world.
An eldar guardian advances along a flat grey path Well it tells us there is some sort of stone and that's about it.
But add in a few bits and pieces and
An eldar guardian advances along a ruined street littered with rubble and the detritus of war. Suddenly that guardian is more alive, he/she is moving from cover to cover as he scans for the enemy.
Putting it into a visual ideal is just as simple. Take that simple grey plastic disk, add a quick road marking, a few loose stones and some broken up sprue. Go a step further, build up a curb or add in a street light and suddenly its a snap shot of a moment in that guardians life.

It's with these thoughts i headed out to add to my bag of magic mix. All i knew was my Elysians were advancing across an agri world. My normal magic mix would give a hint of this but not enough. I wanted more...shrubs, bushes, tall grass, fences, barbed wire. Ideas flooded as i wandered the local hobbycraft...well local is 25 miles away..but in Norfolk terms that's just around the corner for a wargamer.

The bug had truly bitten and ideas spooled out faster than i cold think hit me. Each squad would tell its own section of the story.
Infantry advancing across the fields of an early autumnal world. There advanced elements moving over boundary fences and barbed wire entanglements. Snipers finding dells and shrubs to make their hides in, heavy weapon squads making use of cover as they advance, mortar teams digging in their emplacements to sight their mortars, the occasion one sat making a brew (kudos to Nigel on that one).

It sounds a little mad i know, but it all ties into the idea of my Elysians being on campaign, i want to give them burgens (backpacks) full of kit, have camo nets and kit strapped unused to vehicles. This is all to tie into the idea that the force has been dropped into enemy territory and tasked with advancing to scout the enemy and secure a forward drop zone for the war ahead.

So how was i going to go about this. Well i have already mentioned the magic mix and i guess i should explain what this is.
It's my own flock mix which is made up of 2 shades of flock, 1 bag of normal static grass and the contents of about 15 tea bags, all shaken to within an inch of its life.

The general effect can be seen on these Tyranids painted by my fiancee Carol @gamesmistress21

This works fine and it's a tried and tested method, but as i mentioned i wanted more. Hell if this proves to be the army for the rest of my life i want to go to town on it and the basics are costing me over £800.

So i set about taking it up a notch. Visited hobbycraft and picked up their 'basic diorama' kit. It had a variety of bits including 2 shades of green flock that were different to my current ones, a yellow 'flowers' flock, some golden tall grass, shrubbery and a variety of bits that were not really useful due to scale. In the normal demented fashion i took the 3 flocks and mixed them into one bag. I don't know why i do this...i think it's the more random effect they give. Then i sat down and stared blankly at the bases.

I stared for a while...whilst in the background 'Band of Brothers' played away on dvd...good inspiration when needed.
Then in a random and pretty much normal approach i started throwing glue and magic mix at the bases, followed by shrubbery and then the second flock mix. This was all finished off with some tall grass and some 'grass tufts' i had acquired from gw. Once dry i re-edged the the bases in black to tidy them up.

This is the end result. I hope it achieves the impression of a fertile agri-world.

Thoughts are welcome as it's a big step up on the most basic of model components.