Building the Battery of the Dead Table: Part Two

Stalin's Europe Building the Battery of the Dead Table:
Part Two

with Mark Hazell

In part one of the Building the Battery of the Dead Table, I showed you how I built the basic board sections of the table as seen in Wargames Illustrated issue 278. This week I’ll show you how I created the terrain pieces that turned these table sections into a fully-fledged battlefield.

Learn how to build the basic table section in Building the Battery of the Dead Table: Part One here…
Learn about the Battery of the Dead scenario here...
Building the Terrain Pieces

Tools and Supplies you will need:
  • Two sheets of MDF cut 1220mm x 600mm (4’ x 2”). 3mm thick is a perfect size for separate terrain pieces.
  • Superglue.
  • Sharp craft knife.
  • Handsaw.
  • Straw Static Flock (GFS002).
  • Sand (GFS019).
  • Oxide Red (FWP382).
  • Battlefield brown (FWP324) (VP874).
  • Rubber-backed plain straw doormats.
  • Exterior powder filler.
Tools for the job
Building the Wheat Field Sections
Step One: Cutting out the MDF Bases.

To cover the 6’x4’ table you will need about 20 sections of Wheat Fields. Begin by cutting out 20 irregular shapes from a sheet of MDF.  These shapes can be whatever you want but I found rough oblong or circular shapes to work best. Once you have cut the shapes out on a sheet of MDF, use a nice sharp knife to bevel the edge around the outside of the shapes (this will help the scenery piece fit in with your table when its finished). You’re aiming for a 45° angle cut but the exact amount is up to you. (Remember to always cut away from yourself!)
Below: The Wheat Field base cut out.
Below: The Wheat Field bases with the beveled edge.
The Wheat Field base cut out The Wheat Field bases with the beveled edge
Step Two: Adding the Wheat.

Once you have the required number shapes cut out that you need, the next step is to add the wheat them.  For the wheat, I’ve used a rubber-backed door mat. These should be available at your local household goods store.  Cut the mat up into random sized squares and rectangles and use super glue to attach a selection of them onto each base. Make sure that you leave the odd clear patch. The photos below will give you an idea of what to aim for.


Below: Examples of the wheat attached to the bases.

Examples of the wheat attached to the bases Examples of the wheat attached to the bases Examples of the wheat attached to the bases
An example of the painted wheat base

Step Three: Painting the Bases.

Now that the Wheat sections are stuck down you can paint the bases. I used my matched Motherland Earth (FWP383) colour that I used when painting the Battery of the Dead Board sections.  Use a smaller brush for this as you want to avoid painting the wheat sections but still paint the exposed sections of rubber mat.

Left: An example of the painted wheat base.

Step Four: Flocking the Bases.

Once all of the base sections have dried you can now paint them with a 10 to 1 PVA / Water mix and apply your GFS002 flock that was left over from doing the main table sections.


Right: Examples of the flocked wheat bases.
An example of the painted wheat base
An example of the painted wheat base Step Five: Finishing touches.

The final thing you can do is take some of the left over pieces of the straw mat and cut away the rubber base leaving just the straw. Grab small handfuls of this and glue these down into the areas that you left clear creating the effect of cut or flattened wheat.

Left: An example of the cut / flattened wheat.
Building the Fare and Path Sections

Step One: Cutting out the MDF bases.

I cut out ten pieces of MDF for the path sections running through the wheat fields and one piece for the Farm. Although the pictures below only show the stages used on the Farm Section the techniques used for the dirt path sections are exactly the same. As with the wheat field sections I used a sharp craft knife to cut the angled edges.


Right: An example of the path section.
An example of the path section
Step Two: Adding texture to the bases.

Once you have your MDF sections cut out and the angled edges done it’s time to mix up some filler to create the textured surface.  Mix a ¼ cup of water with a cup of exterior powder filler. You’re aiming for a fairly thick but malleable texture – if it’s too dry, add a little bit more water till you get the right consistency. Pour out the mixture over your MDF section and spread it out till it covers all the areas where you want there to be texture. Leave it too dry till the surface is tacky to the touch.  At this point you want to get a stiff bristled brush and lightly touch it to the top surface of the filler. This should give you a stippled effect similar to rough ground. Do this over the whole base section.


Below: Adding the texture to the bases.
Adding the texture to the bases Adding the texture to the bases Adding the texture to the bases
Adding the texture to the bases Adding the texture to the bases
The ad-hoc wagon wheel texturing tool To add a little realism to your farm and road sections you need to add in some tracks. I went about this in a very simple way. A grabbed a couple of cart wheels left over from an unfinished horse and cart I had, and with a nail attached them to a piece of wood. I made sure the wheels were loose so they could turn easily to allow me to run the wheels over my textured roads and farm. Depending on how dry your filler mixture is when you do this you can create the impression of dry worn roads or deeper lines for a more sodden piece of muddy road.

Once this is done, let the filler dry completely.

Left: The ad-hoc wagon wheel texturing tool.

Below: Examples of the texture applied using the wagon wheels.
Example of the texture applied using the wagon wheels Example of the texture applied using the wagon wheels
Step Three: Painting the Paths and Farm.

Paint all the path sections and the farm section in the Oxide Red (FWP382) colour. Once this is dry, take a large flat brush and lightly dry brush the US Battlefield brown (FWP324) colour as a highlight.

Below: The farm section painted the Oxide Red colour. Below: The farm section with a highlight.
The farm section painted the Flat Brown colour The farm section with a highlight
To give the wagon wheel tracks a sense of depth; you can apply a darker brown like Boot Brown (FWP323) carefully into the grooves left by the wheels.

Right: An example of the depth provided by the applying a darker brown.
An example of the depth provided by the applying a darker brown
Now all that’s left to do is apply some PVA glue and add some flock and your done.

~ Mark.
Below: First apply the PVA glue.
Below: Then add the flock.
Applying the PVA glue Adding the flock
The Completed Battery of the Dead Table in Action
The Completed Battery of the Dead Table
The Completed Battery of the Dead Table
The Completed Battery of the Dead Table
The Completed Battery of the Dead Table
The Completed Battery of the Dead Table