Meet SBMinisguy – Gamer Geek Author

May 8, 2021

My buddy Brian Cottrell over at Weird War II has been doing a YouTube series where he interviews gamer geeks and authors, and I was up at bat the other day. Brian’s a great guy and a real Weird War gamer devotee. Check it out!

(2560) WWWII Weirdo 1 – John Cunningham – YouTube

Nice to meet ya, and welcome again to my blog!



28mm Middle Earth – The Lead Goes Ever On: Terrain (or, Places to Fight Over)

April 28, 2021

Since this is the 20th anniversary of the release of the movies “The Fellowship of the Ring,” I’ve finally moved my Middle Earth project onto the front burner. It is my goal this year to paint and field several Middle Earth factions and get some games in using the Dux Arda fan mod rules for the Dux Britanniarum Dark Ages rules from Too Fat Lardies. I completed my first faction, the Dwarves, and decided next up would be some Middle Earth appropriate terrain.

I had some aquarium terrain I picked up at a garage sale, and some friends and family printed up some more iconic fantasy terrain that more clearly say – this is Middle Earth.

Terrain on the workbench – a fallen great statue of the 2nd Age, a fantasy Dolmen, a Dwarven watch beacon and temple ruins

I found 3D print files of a giant fallen statue head, perhaps left from some great work of the 2nd Age, on Thingiverse. A fantasy Dolmen and some smaller statues of kings I sourced from MyMiniFactory, and the Dwarven forge from DrivethruRPG. My nephew and a friend printed these for me. I also had some aquarium temple ruins I picked up from a garage sale.

Next on the workbench – Orcs of the Misty Mountains, using classic Ral Partha figures.

28mm Middle Earth – The Lead Goes Ever On: Durin’s Folk (Dark Ages Dwarves)

April 2, 2021

So this is the 20th anniversary of the release of the movies “The Fellowship of the Ring,” so I finally moved my Middle Earth project onto the front burner. It is my goal this year to paint and field several Middle Earth factions and get some games in using the Dux Arda fan mod rules for the Dux Britanniarum Dark Ages rules from Too Fat Lardies. The factions I have on hand to paint up and field include:

  1. The Dwarves of Erebor and the Iron Hills: Dark Ages dwarves from Conqueror Models and older Vendel (Thistle and Rose) miniatures.
  2. Men of the West: Various Romano-British and Saxon figures (Gripping Beast and Artizan) to assemble the Fyrd of Bree and the Greenways, including some Dunadain Rangers and Hobbit archers.
  3. Orcs of the Misty Mountains: Primarily an collection of nice sculpts from Ral Partha that have been sitting around needing some paint and love. I’ll use some Wargames Factory 28mm plastic Orcs for the more “organized” Orcs of Gundabad, Mordor and Isengard.
  4. Dunledings: I would prefer 28mm Dark Ages Picts, but happen to have some 28mm Ancient Germanics from Wargames Foundry that will do nicely.
  5. Custom decals I made up in Photoshop, and then printed by Little Metal Spaceships.
  6. Combo of MDF and 3D printed terrain for villages and Middle Earth ruins and such.

The first completed faction is Durin’s Folk – the Dwarves of Erebor and the Iron Hills (with painting help from Russell Levy!). This force is designed around a Shield Wall of heavy Spear, supported by units of one-hand and two-hand weapons, and some Crossbow figures for missile support.

The Dwarven warband arrayed for battle
The King stands ready!
Skilled crossbow units harass the foe with deadly fire

The overall warband is about 50 figures strong, and I’ll add some extra figures as well, including a Dwarven Sage figure (basically a Wizard) from the Oathmark game line. I was going to use Oathmark shield decals, but then decided I wanted shield designs from Middle Earth, so I put them together in Photoshop (along with other factions) and had Brent Dietrich at Little Metal Spaceships print them out for me.

And that completes my first faction for Middle Earth! Next up will be the Orcs of the Misty Mountains.

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 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