Thursday, 3 November 2016

I'm All Shook Up!...a huh huh...

 We're all broken up about the mean the scenery has been broken up. Therefore since I've posted little (ie nothing) since the end of the battle I thought you might like to see some smashing photos. Yes we're smashing up the scenery and topography but it has left curious shadows behind...
Of course the kits, figures and vehicles, have to be lifted and dusted. Sounds a big, ominous hassle but it's actually quick and easy to brush off the talc and you're back to normal with no ill effects (Health and safety note: wear a mask. Do not lick talc)
Lifting the scenery took longer but was really just as simple. It's more time consuming because of the sheer amount of scenery we had added. Railway lines, rolling stock, stores, offices and hundreds of fence posts.
 ...buildings of foam core, resin and card, pavement (80 feet), lamp posts and bespoke bits and pieces such as factory machinery, boilers, storage tanks, cable chains pipes, etc. (Health and safety note: Use safe lifting techniques especially with cardboard)
 "What about all that snow?" I hear you cry. Well the whole 24 x 6 foot area was covered with talc from two large bottles of baby talc. To quote Winnie the Pooh 'Never in the field of nerdy war-gaming has so much smelled so good to so many', as soon as you begin to break up the dried out builders sand the talc disappears like...well...snow off a dyke.
 It took a mighty whack with the war hammer to break the under pass. Dark builders sand dries remarkably hard and takes some mashing up. (Health and safety note: wear goggles, hard hat and high vis jacket)
 Here on the 'Volga' we had to shove a paint scraper under the sand but it still comes away in large hard chunks. (Health and safety note: wear gloves and steel toe-capped boots and flippers)
 After about an hour we have successfully broken up about 18 feet of the scenery. (Health and safety note: Take frequent breaks, drink lots and do not eat sand)
 It usually takes 6-8 hours to mould the topography of the whole table from adding of 15-20 gallons of water to the dry sand to the now-leave-it-to-dry stage. (Health and safety note: wear a life jacket and carry flares, use a whistle to attract attention and do not inflate until your mates can laugh at you)   Depending on how complex the scenery on top of that is (buildings, bridges, forests, crops) you can spend from 2 to 20 hours placing, arranging and colouring.

It seems like a lot of time and effort for a war-game. It is but it's part of the fun for me. I still go and enjoy a two or three hour game at many a venue where the scenery ranges from a cloth with various terrain and scenery features placed in pleasing and strategically significant places on it to bespoke, exquisitely made terrain boards. It's probably the way the vast majority of us experience our hobby and very satisfying and exciting it is. (Health and safety note: Make sure any war-gamer is properly strapped into a child seat between venues)

Clearly I don't buy boards or much in the way of terrain pieces but then I can never do exactly the same thing again. It was certainly a drawback when we practised the various parts of Waterloo for instance. However, in a club setting sand is a logistically fraught medium. It's by no means impossible as I've demonstrated with my two-man portable sand tables, one of which the Phoenix Club in Glasgow used for years at shows and events in Scotland and Northern England. Few at any club want to spend (if we take this example of Stalingrad) effectively 30 hours or 10 club nights just setting up the scenery. In situ though we've had 8 months of war-gaming pleasure. Though be warned; you had better be suitably enthusiastic about the project because if you suddenly get fed-up half way through it would be like trying to do a hand-break turn in a supertanker. (Health and safety note: Make sure any supertanker you go to a war-game club or show in has a properly fitted hand-brake)


  1. As long as you enjoyed yourselves ;)

  2. Sad to see the end of the pics- but I'm looking forward to what comes next.



    1. Well Pete, there is always something on the horizon.

  3. Very effective safety briefs. Awe-inspiring to see the work that went into it. Once you have taken up the sand, can you use it again, or has the water permanently hardened it? Not that builders sand is all that expensive, so throwing it away after a game isn't too bad, I suppose?

    1. We reuse the sand over and over again. The break up bit then requires that we just mash the sand into smaller, even dust like, bits so that it is easier for the water to get soaked up and mixed in. When we get the war hammers out and start it's like an oriental drumming competition. Of course we also use the medium of interpretive dance. We stand on the table and walk up and down.

  4. Having had a sandtable myself for 15 years I can sympathise with this process. Nothing like it though for realism so make the best of it while you can - all that watering, colouring , back breaking shovelling into shape, and the fine coloured dust in the air got to me in the end.

  5. As the Chinese electric company motto goes 'many hands make light work'. But, yes there certainly are some drawbacks. Hence I came up with the mobile which only takes 20 mins to put up and 20 to clear away. Got any pictures of your sand table to direct me to Chris? I'd love to see it and compare notes.

  6. I've just found this thread. Very impressive indeed!

    Regards, Chris.

  7. Thanks Chris. We seem to be working our way through the Second World War with some forays into Napoleonics and occasionally odd 'one off' games and campaigns.

  8. Excellent as usual mate. Model on!