Dust Tactics: Axis Zombies - Blutkruez Korps Undertoten Squad

Whilst I rather enjoy the alternate timeline diesel-punk retro sci-fi theme of Dust Tactics there's one additional element that I REALLY like. The Zombies!

Let's face it, no Weird World War 2 universe would be complete without Nazi Zombies... come to think of it, no universe is complete without Zombies!

The Axis Zombies: Blutkruez Korps Undertoten Squad are an experimental unit, created with the use of the Wieberbeleben Serum in an attempt to create Axis super-soldier. Axis Zombies are fast, difficult to kill and pack a heavy punch, in the form of their panzer gloves, that can damage even the heaviest armour.

They were a pretty quick and simple unit to paint. Skin tone was old GW rotting flesh with diluted dark brown and purple washes and the panzer gloves were simply weathered the same as I would a rusty tank. The sun came out just as I took this shot, so I think they look shinier than they really are. As usual, figures to be re-based, hence the unfinished base.

Dust Tactics: How to Make a Custom 3D Gaming Board

Following on from the teaser reveal last week of my custom 3D Gaming Board I made for Dust Tactics. Here's a step-by-step to guide on how to build your own. This technique is relatively simple and could be used to make a variety of urban, sci-fi, or post-apocalyptic gaming boards (I would like to use this technique for my Judge Dredd Miniatures board). It was pretty quick, easy and relatively cheap.

Dust Tactics Custom Gaming Board, Finished and In Action
Whilst the whole project was undertaken over a series of months, in terms of actual time spent it could really be done in just a few weekends.

Dust Tactics is a board game and. in the Dust Tactics: Core Revised Set, you get a poster sized play-map. The artwork is what you'd expect from a modern 2D gaming map, high quality, thematic and quite generic. Great to get you started but after a while it seems a little bland.

To variety to the gaming surface, the Dust Tactics: Terrain Tile Map Pack adds 12 double sided terrain boards. The terrain board set essentially adds a different theme to the gaming map, the tiles themselves do not change the basic game mechanic, i.e. they don't for the most part (with the exclusion of water) add significantly different terrain effects. It is however, very shiny. Industrial themed, layered colour variations, worn, stained concrete, direction markers and rusty panels.

Dust Tactics Terrain Tile Set

The Dust Tactics maps and terrain boards feature squares that measure around 93mm. I increased this very slightly to 95mm for ease of measurement. Each tile is 3 squares by 3, but for ease of setting up a table I made sections of 9 by 3 squares. I also made just one section of 3 by 3, to help with certain scenario layout configurations. I didn't change the size too much, so that the Dust Tactics: Warzone Tenements (designed to fit the standard map) would still fit pretty well and not look out of place.

The base of the board is 6mm MDF, batten on the outside only. I use the three drill method, Highly recommended. What's the three drill method? One drill for drilling holes, one drill for counter-sinking and one drill for putting the screw in. I made my first terrain board in this method with a single drill and it took about six hours. I made all these boards with three drills in just over two hours. The Drills I picked up were part of a Ryobi Cordless Rechargeable Drill Twin Pack.

The only picture I could find was the one I took when I made my first terrain board, slowly... with a screwdriver.
The whole board was then covered in cork tiles, cut down to 95mm squares. Every tile had a bevelled edge created with a quick sanding.

Keeping the tiles even was actually trickier than I anticipated.
Gluing the tiles onto the boards (wood glue) and retaining a good fit all the way along was a little difficult (expansion in contact with wood glue perhaps?) and a few had to be cut down (just a mm or two here and there).Since finishing this project I have found a much quicker way of doing this (on some dungeon terrain tests), which I wish I had known about. Cover the whole board in cork, mark the squares and then cut with a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle along both sides of the line, the bevel pops out easily, much quicker and far less effort. Every day is a schoolday!

First three boards, a standard 9 by 9 game size, unpainted, with rubble terrain WIPs.
Once I had a few under my belt is was simply a case of knuckling down and getting it done.

I base coated the top edge of the boards with a dark grey primer and then primed the whole board with a medium grey house paint emulsion. Rather than trying to dry-brush (which as anyone who has tried it, can be challenging on a large flat surface, I kept the base-coat relatively light.

Undercoat with grey house paint emulsion.
Following the first coat I ran a quick diluted coat over the top in the same grey, this filled in the few spots that got missed on the first pass and also gave some areas a patchy, stained effect.

Panted board, with patchy effect, before colour was added.
To ensure there was more colour variation across the board, I split the board into 3 by 3 sections, using a straight edged mask and here and there, began sponging on colour variations. This was simply a case of choosing a variety of greys, browns, ochres and even some blue and green (more subtle) and after a few tests I stipple sponged on the colour. I added a few smaller squares (hatches or patches on concrete) for more variation.

To add to the industrial feel a drew up some stencils of directions and hazard markings on plain white paper and once again (this time using white, black, red and yellow) sponged on the markings.

Sponging on the markings
Once all of the main colouring was complete a ran over the whole board with a VERY light dry-brushing in a much lighter grey, literary just enough to catch the corners of the squares.

Dust Tactics Custom Gaming Board: Finished, without terrain.
All in all I was very pleased with the result. I have a few more specific pieces to make, two open water boards, one submarine and some customer 'blocking' terrain pieces. The table is likely to get a public outing  as a friend of mine and I are putting on a Dust Tactics display game at the Eastern Front Wargames Show on Sunday 27th July 2014 in Norwich.

Dust Tactics Custom Gaming Board: In Action

Dust Tactics: 3D Board & Custom Terrain

I really enjoyed painting all of the models from the Dust Tactics: Core Revised Set.

I painted them over a relatively short period of time whilst I was living away from home, so I was something new and exciting to keep me sane whilst I was away from my family.

Being away from home so much, starting a new full time job and running two growing businesses was taking it's toll, so from a gaming perspective I needed something simple, quick to play and simply something different to hold my interest.

I played a few test games which we really enjoyed. Dust Tactics has quite a simple core rule set. It is essentially a grid based board game with miniatures and the rules, from my experience, are not really 'open to interpretation' in most cases. There are individual rules that are specific to certain models or troop types and as the game has grown so have they, so for me personally there's enough to keep me on my toes, but they are really not too complicated to slow play, or leave me confused after a busy day.

The best part is, as the rules a relatively simple, you can actually play a few reasonable sized games in a few hours. So if you're prepared and ready for it, in an afternoon or evening, you can actually play a whole 6 game campaign, something that the designers of the game do beautifully with the Dust Tactics Campaigns.

Like it often does, an idea hatched; How about a 3D play-set? Yeah I know, I've got a few on the go at the moment. Grid based, modular, easy to store, less likely to shift around that a paper mat and most of all, pretty. The images used for the campaign books are such an inspiration and I was confident I could do something I'd be pleased with. Here's a teaser. The eagle-eyed reader might also spot a few of the additional models I picked up and painted in the last 6 months.

Due to logistics, the project actually took a long time to work through (over 18 months), but the actual time spend on it was remarkably small. I just had to be very patient, as sometime I literally only got an hour or two a month.

The main boards are all done, I just need to work on completing of some of the terrain elements and some special boards so that the play-set can be used for almost every game in all of the campaign books.

I've taken pictures all the way through the process, so I'll pull together a series of 'How to' posts if that's of interest to anyone.

In place of the in-progress custom terrain elements I'm working on, I've used some papercraft terrain elements from Marcos from TopoSolitario.com. Well worth checking out as he's created some fantastic terrain elements for all sorts of modern and sci-fi themes.

Dust Tactics: Axis Feldwebel Lara Walter - Wehrmacht

In 1944 Axis weapons development scientists improved the already potent MG42. Combining two together with a steel reinforced blast shield and the MG44 Zwei was born.

"Ziz is ser gut, but I vant two!" exclaimed Feldwebel Lara Walter.

Lara is the last of the models that come with the Dust Tactics: Core Revised Set.

Lara is a potent Axis hero, capable of dealing out huge amounts of damage to light and medium infantry and even damaging light armoured targets and aircraft. With her powered armour she is also great for soaking up incoming fire from enemies and keeping a squad she joins alive for a few additional rounds.

I kept the main base coat pretty light and after some light washes added some line highlighting. She ended up pretty close to what I was after so I was happy with the outcome. It was nice to finish the basic play set and have enough to get some initial tester games in with them all painted.

Dust Tactics: Axis Heavy Flak Grenadiers - Scwer Sturmgrenadiere Ausf. C

The discovery of VK has lead not only to the development of walkers but to the creation of powered armour allowing infantry to carry even heavier weapons into the field.

The Axis Heavy Flak Grenadiers are equipped with hand-held Fliegerfausts, potent burst weapons that can punch through the armour of light vehicles. They can be devastating but the weapons do need to be reloaded. The power armour does mean that despite being a small squad, they are quite resilient to damage

This squad of anti-tank infantry come with the Dust Tactics: Revised Core Set. I used a light dusting of grey primer on top of the mid-grey primer that the models came with and then used diluted washes over some individual base-coats with a little additional line highlighting. A little darker than my ideal but to be honest I am still pretty pleased with them overall.