UDT terrain tiles for Sci-Fi Gaming

January 24, 2021

After creating my first double-sided Ultimate Dungeon Terrain tile for fantasy gaming, I’ve become a convert to the Ultimate Dungeon Terrain tile approach for all my RPGs and small-scale skirmish games I decided to create a double-sided sci-fi themed UDT tile for my science fiction games, like the 5150 sci-fi warband/RPGLite series from Two Hour Wargames.

One side of the tile is Martian Surface themed, the other is a Lunar Surface theme. I used a lighter to add some depressions and craters in the pinkstuff foam tile on both sides, added some texturing with a wad of tinfoil, and scribed a few “rocky” areas with a ballpoint pen on the Martian side. After the undercoat of black paint & Mod Podge had dried on both sides, I went to work on the Mars tile surface. I gave it a coat of a mixture of Burnt Sienna, Orange and Red paint – resulting in a deep salmon color.

The Martian Surface tile after the first color coat

Then I mixed some Ochre, Red and Burnt Sienna paint with texturing paste and spackled the surface, to create some feeling of terrain. This was followed with several layers of drybrushing of Ochers and Browns to build up the feel of an Alluvial flow spreading across the surface, creating an area like an ancient dry streambed.

The final Martian Surface tile

After the Martian Surface side was done, I did the Lunar Surface tile. This was pretty straightforward. First I added two types of texture patches — a heavy grit mix, and a fine sand mix, using watered down PVA glue. Once that was dry, I painted the whole tile surface with a dark Charcoal Grey. Then using a sponge I dry brushed on a layer of light grey, and then finished off by dry brushing a light layer of white as a highlight, trying to keep the sponge stroke from one direction to simulate sunlight lighting up the surface.

The Lunar Surface tile

I can see so many possibilities for UDT tiles, and they are fun to make!

Weird War 2 Soviet Atomic Flame Gun Tank

January 19, 2021

Yes, you read the title! As a patreon supporter of Brian Cottrel’s Weird War II channel and Facebook group, I won their Christmas Patreon contest. Woo-hoo! The prize was a really nice 1/56th scale Weird War 2 Soviet T-34/85 turret from Gaddis Gaming with several weird weapon combos, like a chain gun, a blaster and a massive flamethrower.

I love the quality of the pieces — but all my Soviet tanks are 1/50th scale Solido diecast models I got from Quarterkit in France. This meant that, sadly, at 1/56 scale the turret was too small for the tank I had on hand (painted by my son many moons ago and left to collect dust).

1/50th Solido diecast tank next t the Gaddis Gaming 1/56th Weird War turret and gun barrels

That left me no choice but to embark on a kitbashing project! Been a while, but old instincts kicked back in. I needed to tear down the diecast model and figure out how to get a cool Weird War gun barrel onto my T-34.

Disassembly of the diecast T-34 required a screw driver and other basic tools.

Once the tank was disassembled, including the turret, I had to figure out how to attach the gun barrel to the tank. The original gun barrel rested in a sort of notch that cradled it when the turret was sealed, so I ended up putting small screw into the end of the flamethrower unit, and when I sealed the turret back up it held it pretty securely. I gave it a dose of goopy “Gorilla” brand superglue to help it stay in place

Seating the flame gun into the diecast tank turret

Then I reassembled the diecast tank, which has a few fiddly-but stages, but eventually everything was back together and the Solido T-34 had a brand new turret! But it looked like it was still missing a few things. So I used an oil barrel from my bits box as a fuel cannister for the flame gun, and cut up an old hair scrunchy to use as the fuel hose, and added some green stuff later on to make it look like the hose was entering a metal fixture.

The T-34 with massive flame gun takes shape!
Added a bit of track to the bow and made a hull-mounted MG out of green stuff

After finishing a few more little details, it was time to get painting! First I primed it in a medium/dark green Tamiya spray paint I had on hand. It looked good, but too dark for what I wanted.

The first coat — too dark (28mm Bolt Action Soviet figure for scale comparison

OK — looking more like the Weird War 2 tank I had in mind, but I didn’t like the base coat, it was too dark. I hand painted a lighter Soviet green from my Vallejo paint bin, took two coats to get it right.

Two coats of Soviet green – that’s what I was looking for!

With the base coat in place it was just a matter of building up the details. I painted the track, track bit and anything that spews exhaust a rust color, added smoke smudges, detailed the gear, etc. Then once dry I applied the decals, and then finished it off with a MiG Green Armor wash.

The Soviet T-34/AP (Atomnoye Plamya) atomic flametank – ready to rain radioactive fire on any foe!

Part 2 – Cavern Terrain for D&D and Other Games

January 18, 2021

I really liked how the “Mesmerizing Morel Mushroom Trees” 3D printed underground terrain from Dungeon Artifacts turned out, that and the scatter terrain. So now I needed to paint up some cavern walls terrain. These 3D prints are also from Dungeon Artifacts, the “Grotto Walls” terrain kit. I poked around looking at images of caverns from around the world and then thought of my own experiences with casual caving (not spelunking mind you, just going to the touristy caverns!). Living caves are not just grey — they have all sorts of tan and beige colors from water pulling minerals out of the rock to form stalactites and stalagmites and other formations. Then I found a great video from Fat Dragon games on painting cavern terrain, and it was an ideal fit for my research.

Cavern walls terrain in use on my Ultimate Dungeon Terrain tile

I base coated the cavern walls with dark grey, then built up layers of other color – tans, browns, beiges.

The party explores the caverns of the Underdark!

After some highlights using a Mocha color, I gave the walls a dark wash treatment. When the wash had dried I finished it off with a coat of clear Matte spray.

The party fights a Umberhulk in my brand new caverns!

The final result looked very much what I’d hoped for!

You know what would also be great terrain for the Underdeeps? An abandoned mine! Luckily I have just the terrain in mind from Mantic!

Cavern Terrain for D&D and Other Games

December 11, 2020

Now that I have an Ultimate Dungeon Tile, I need stuff to go on top. Since the current DND 5e game is going to the Underground, I thought — let’s do some tabletop terrain to match! Brian at Weird War 2 has picked up some sponsors for his channel and using a discount code got some 3D printed underground terrain from Dungeon Artifacts — some “Mesmerizing Morel Mushroom Trees” and cave walls.

I based the terrain, and then added some detail bits inspired by a video by Wyloch’s Amory – clever things like using pushpins and brass tacks as mushrooms.

The Magic Morels are Based

Since this really didn’t seem like enough, I made some additional scatter terrain using odds and ends, including a cavern pool (foamcore base and DAZ Clay rim), a giant skull from a broken dinosaur toy and so on.

The scatter terrain coming along nicely

For the cavern pool I experimented with a water effect made from clear Elmer’s Glue. This should be the last treatment on this piece, since if you spray it with a Clear Matte sealant it will dull the surface and it won’t look like water. I painted the alien cave plant things in bright colors, but kept it within the family of Blue-Green paints. I didn’t have any really bright paints, so I made do with what I had on hand.

The finished Underdark Morel Trees

I was pleased with the end result. Maybe I’ll experiment in future with brighter neon style pigments. These Morel trees will end up pulling double duty as alien trees for my 5150 scifi games.

Here’s my UDT tile covered with the new Cavern terrain with some figures for scale.

Scary spider attack!

Next up, the cavern wall segments!

Ultimate Dungeon Terrain Project

December 10, 2020

I’ve been running a D&D 5e campaign with my son, and I’ve been using flat maps and scrawls to set up the scenes. Well, as a miniatures wargamer I wanted something better — but I couldn’t very well drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars to cover a tabletop with dungeon crawl terrain…not that the idea isn’t tempting, mind you! And then I watched a video by Professor Dungeon Master about his “Ultimate Dungeon Terrain” system.

(54) Ultimate Dungeon Terrain for D&D & Pathfinder! (Ep. #67) – YouTube

This is a compact dungeon tile that fits on top of a Lazy Susan turntable, and provides a 3D tactile map focus for your games – a base on which you could stage your scenes. I loved the idea, and I figure I can also use the same terrain tiles for a range of skirmish games.

I had all the key elements on hand to make my own — “pink stuff” insulation foam, craft tools, paints, Mod Podge and glue. I only had to buy the 18″ Lazy Susan. I didn’t like the white plastic shell of the Lazy Susan so I primed it black and while the paint was still wet sprayed it again with silver, and the paint blended to give gunmetal/pewter finish.

Step 1. Cut out the 18″ diameter foam UDT pieces. I used a yardstick to define the area to be cut, and then traced the circle using the Lazy Susan itself. Using a craft knife I sliced out the pieces, doing three in the same sitting to let me do a range of tiles – dungeon, outdoors, and tavern/city tiles. I then sized them to fit onto the Lazy Susan and then roughed out the edges to give them a “cliff face” look.

Step 1. Cut out the tiles

Step 2. Draw the tile patterns. I decided I would do a two surface tile — a different pattern on each side for gaming flexibility. One one side would be a generic Dungeon or Cave surface, the other side would use the idea from the “Ultimate Dungeon 2.0” for a brickwork pattern that could be the interior of a castle or temple.

I used a yardstick and a Gel Ink roller pen with a 1.6 tip to scribe a basic 1″ grid pattern on one side for a generic Dungeon or Cave surface. I also carved in some shallow “crevices” too break up the floor a bit, and scribed some cracks and tile work as well. It looked like the grid lines and details were too shallow, so I went back over all the lines with a black Sharpie pen. This was a mistake. Turns out later on when I completed the project with a Matte finish spray, the Matte finish caused a reaction with the Sharpie ink — which melted away taking paint with it to expose the pink stuff foam in the grid lines. I ended up having to paint all the lines black to fix this mistake.

Side A – Basic Dungeon or Cave tile

On the reverse side I used a bowl to trace the interior pattern area. Then using a simple compass made with a piece of string tied to a thumbtack and a pencil I did my best to scribe the exterior brick work circle…note to self – pay attention and don’t let the tack pull loose as you scribe your circle since it throws it off kilter. Oh well, I’ll do better next time! Then I used the Gel Roller pen to draw all the brick and tile patterns, pressing hard to leave a good imprint. And yes I Sharpied these lines also…sigh… Oh, then to add texture to the “stone” work I rolled a ball of crumpled up tinfoil across both sides, makin sure to press into the foam.

Side B – the Castle or Temple tile..an off kilter Castle!

Step 3. Priming. After drawing all the lines I used a 50-50 mix of Mod Podge and black craft paint to give both sides a nice coat. After that had dried I painted both sides with layer of tan craft paint.

Step 4. Painting. I first painted both sides with a deep tan color, making sure to get the paint into all the cracks. Then I dry brushed with light beige/tan color to pull out the highlights. On the Castle tile side I used a mix of ochres and browns to paint all the brickwork in the center circle area, and grey paint on the outer ring area. And finally, gave both sides a Wash (water, black paint, floor wax formula). After that dried I sprayed it with Matte sealant — and Sharpie-tastrophe! Then I painted every line with black paint to fix it.

I’m very happy with the end result, and my son likes it better than the flat maps we had been using.

A basic Dungeon encounter

Using stone walls originally used in tabletop wargames to lay out a dungeon floor plan

South Bay Gaming Club newsletter #04

August 31, 2020

The South Bay Gaming Club is a loose association of friends, acquaintances and guests playing miniature wargames in the southern San Francisco Bay area. Members are military history buffs and generally play historical miniatures with figures, although all genres of games, including science fiction, fantasy, and board games are played. Land, sea and air war games are played.

It has been challenging to maintain the social engagement of in-person game club meetings under both COVID lockdown conditions and the recent wildfires which brought evacuations and haze-filled days with unhealthy air.  Some of our members were forced to evacuate (safely), but faced the potential loss of homes and lifetime gaming collections, and the Church where we typically meet is an evacuation center, adding to the uncertainty.

Despite these challenges the club was able to meet in August, so thanks to the members who organized events and attended.

In this issue:

  • Sky’s the Limit! – Albania 1940
  • Apocalypse ‘45
  • Akmar Herald
  • Solo Gaming Bolt Action – Fort Capuzzo, 1940
  • Horse & Musket Rules (using Risk pieces)
  • A Memorable Colonial Wargame
  • Historic Forts in Georgia
  • Mega DIY – Building a 28mm Samurai Castle
  • This Month in History

I hope you enjoy — and if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we meet once a month in Saratoga, CA. Come visit us at:



South Bay Gaming Club Magazine

SBGC newsletter Issue 04 August 2020






South Bay Gaming Club newsletter #03

July 17, 2020

The South Bay Gaming Club is a loose association of friends, acquaintances and guests playing miniature wargames in the southern San Francisco Bay area. Members are military history buffs and generally play historical miniatures with figures, although all genres of games, including science fiction, fantasy, and board games are played. Land, sea and air war games are played.

In this issue:

  • Wargaming the 501st’s Assault at Brecourt Manor in 54mm
  • Skies the Limit!
  • Operation Brevity for Panzer Korps
  • The Battle Quiz
  • DIY – Building a Dark Ages Home
  • Bringing the Silver Screen to Your Table – A Walk in the Sun
  • This Month in History
  • Germany’s Panzer Brigades

I hope you enjoy — and if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we meet once a month in Saratoga, CA. Come visit us at:



SBGC 03 Cover

Download here: SBGC newsletter Issue 3 July 2020

Fistful of Lead mod – The Hand

June 27, 2020

Greetings! My local gaming club finally met under social distancing rules for the first time in 3-4 months, and Fistful of Lead was one of the rules sets being played (a WW2 mod, a skirmish at Brecourt Manor, Normandy, Band of Brothers). I’d forgotten what a fast and fun set of rules the are! When I played a lot of Old West using FoL my group developed an enhancement we called “The Hand.”

What’s The Hand? Well,  FoL is an IGOUGO game that uses a card-draw figure activation mechanism, and certain cards provide special benefits – like a One-Eyed Jack provides a +1 to hit when Shooting. Since the cards mirror a Poker hand — why not go all the way?? So we did!

The Hand

When you are dealt your cards, they are organized into your Hand. And certain Hands also provide benefits (or consequences). A player carries out or designates the special actions before all movement occurs. Players should announce their special Hands after the cards are dealt, but need not reveal their cards until each card is activated – eventually their whole deal will be exposed to see if they were dealing with ya straight!

  • One Pair –Recover one figure’s Pinned markers
  • Two pairs – 1x extra bonus action for one figure, or recover two Pinned markers
  • Straight – Recover one group’s Pinned markers
  • Flush – Immediate Reloads for all the player’s figures
  • 3-of-a-Kind – 1x extra bonus action for all figures in one group
  • 4-of-a-kind – “Thought I was a gonner!” Immediately recover all wounds from one figure (even if he was d-e-a-d, daid!) and remove Pinned marker, the figure gets one immediate action.
  • Royal Flush – “Yee haw, git ‘em boys! We’re all FIRED UP!” Recover all Pinned markers from all the player’s figures, each of the player’s figures in one Group get an extra bonus action and do not suffer from Pinned results this turn.
  • “Dead Man’s Hand” special negative effect [ace of spades, the ace of clubs, two black eights (clubs and spades) ] – “Somebody done stepped on ma grave!!” All that player’s figures hunker down and are Pinned in closest cover.

Example: Joe looks at the cards he was dealt and realizes he’s been dealt three fives – three of a kind! He announces to the group that he has Three-of-a-Kind and designates one of his groups as receiving a bonus action for all the figures in that group. Yee Hah!


Board Game review: This War of Mine

June 18, 2020

Board game review: This War of Mine

The solo and co-op play board game “This War of Mine” is a brutal reminder of what happens to a society that lets ethnic, religious and ideological passions divide people to the point of violence and collapse. The authors at Galakta Games and 11Bit Studios derived the board game from the award-winning computer game of the same name, based on their experiences surviving the civil wars that raged across the Balkans in the 1990s as the nation of Yugoslavia shattered into warring ethnic factions.

The game design incorporates aspects of both Resource Allocation and Action. In the game the Players assume the role of civilians trying to survive the war until a cease fire ends the fighting. Each Player controls one or more characters that are defined by traits – Empathy (morale tests), Prowess (physical tests), Inventory (how many items they can carry), Traits (Sneaky, etc. which can help or hurt during an Encounter or Test) and Spirit which includes both good and bad Habits that can effect survival. There is only one Victory condition – survival. And nobody can survive alone for long, so the Players must work together to manage their Characters and their group in order to win.

These Characters are based out of the shattered ruins of their apartment building in a major city and must forage for food, water, medicine, parts and equipment in order to survive the civil war. The game forces the Players to balance multiple “States” that track the well-being of each Character, or they will be penalized by different conditions. These States include:

  • Fatigue
  • Wounds
  • Misery
  • Hunger
  • Illness

Each Character can accrue up to 4 levels on each State, but each level has a game impact on a Character’s ability to pass different tests. These States can only be removed or remedied by allocating game Resources each turn or by taking Actions. For example, a “Ill” character with needs Medicine to recover, a character with multiple levels of “Hunger” needs food or will collapse, a Character accruing Misery needs to be soothed with a Habit (smoking) or Entertainment or they will have a mental/emotional breakdown, etc.

So each turn the Players must decide how to allocate resources, what actions to take to help a Character recover, and where and how many Characters to send out to forage, trade, or fight for resources keeping in mind the various States afflicting each Character. And sending Characters out to forage is hazardous in two ways. The Characters assigned to Forage are placed into different Zones on the City Map. Each Zone has its own danger and resource level, and some Zones are more likely than others to yield medicine or food. The Characters foraging must pass different challenge tests to survive encounters and find useful resources.

At the same time, the Characters left behind at the Apartment may face Intruders who will try to force their way into the Apartment and steal resources, and in the process injure or kill the Characters in the Apartment. So the Players have to also balance where they allocate their Characters.

Other events may also occur during any given turn, providing the opportunity to trade with neighbors or strangers, or present the Players with moral dilemmas, like having to decide to assume care for orphaned children or an ill stranger — which could impact the group’s survival. And all these events are given life by a comprehensive story book which provides a narration for each event or encounter, supported by a free game management app for your smartphone or tablet.

The game is uncompromising and you will lose Characters as you struggle towards the day of the Cease Fire (which is determined by a progressive card pull during the turn) — and you may lose entirely as your Characters get sick or injured, die, or lose heart and abandon the group. In no other game will you be confronted with a Character’s death like these:

“The soldiers are entering houses and dragging out anyone they happen to grab. Those who are taken are made to kneel with their hands in the air…the soldiers rack the bolts on their weapons…now is the time of vengeance for real or imagined offenses…assign a number from 1 to 10 for al Characters present. Then roll a die for each Character present and if their assigned number is rolled they are shot and removed from the game.”

This is a well crafted game that brings home the reality that no matter how it starts, who started it or how noble their intentions — once civil war collapses a society each person is left to survive in their own personal This War of Mine.

This War of Mine: The Board Game

South Bay Gaming Club newsletter #02

June 14, 2020

The South Bay Gaming Club is a loose association of friends, acquaintances and guests playing miniature wargames in the southern San Francisco Bay area. Members are military history buffs and generally play historical miniatures with figures, although all genres of games, including science fiction, fantasy, and board games are played. Land, sea and air war games are played.

In this issue:

  • Wargaming D-Day With NUTS! WW2
  • Artillery Colors in the Franco-Prussian War
  • The Akmar Herald
  • The Cu Chi Tunnels as a Vietnam War Game Terrain Project
  • My Career as a Victorian War Artist
  • Adding Wood Grain to Scale Railroad Ties
  • Games for Little Gamers – How to Protect Santa Rosa (with Apologies to H.G. Wells)

I hope you enjoy — and if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, we meet once a month in Saratoga, CA. Come visit us at:



SBGC 02 cover

SBGC newsletter Issue 2 June 2020