Achtung, markers!

One of the things about wargaming, well about me and wargaming, is that when I see a box of figures on the interwebs I immediately imagine wargaming with them fully painted, with all the stuff I need magically there too. Buying the figures, painting the figures, choosing a rules set, finding a scenario, and building the terrain all hover somewhere at the back of my mind. But there is also all this other stuff. Across the games I play there are markers for morale state, tactical posture, ammunition state, casualties, and how much of the commander’s attention a unit is getting, as well as entrenchments, patrol markers, blind movement markers, jump-off points, treasure, minefields, wizards whose spells have backfired, markers for artillery beaten zones, smoke, and flames.

So that’s a lot of stuff.

A few years back I had an interesting forum conversation with someone who felt the need to say that he wouldn’t play a game I’d blogged about because I used dice for markers. I’m not sure whether it was my reply to that which earned me one of the two ‘stifles’ I have on TMP. But wargaming’s meant to be either fun, instructional, or both, and if you worry too much about getting everything perfect before you start you’ll end up with a whole lot of unplayed rules sets on your shelves and unpainted figures in your cupboards, like I have. So I’ve stopped worrying about everything, and instead devoted time to do the things I really want to. I’ll leave getting everything perfect until when I have time, ie, never.

When I bought Chain of Command I was interested enough to buy a “Full Bundle” that included a set of 24 plastic markers which are very handy for a number of things, and micro dice (the horror) will do for some others, but these are the things that I thought warranted a bit more attention.

Barbed wire entanglements, artillery bursts, and burning tank markers.

Barbed wire entanglements, artillery bursts, and burning tank markers.

I’m not sure where I first saw markers for artillery bursts and burning tanks like this, but wherever it was, I wanted some. There are a number of techniques you can use for these, but the results are fairly similar. I went for the Woodland Scenics foliage clusters on wire armatures one. I had fun making the armatures with paper clips and the hot melt glue gun. I then superglued the foliage on and went crazy with a rattle can of black paint. Sadly I wasn’t able to find any of the really dark green stuff, so it was a pain covering all of the green up. I haven’t managed to get it all but you only catch glimpses in really bright light from very specific angles, so I’m not too worried. Then came a drybrushing session with some cheap acrylics and that was that.

For the wire, I put short lengths of wire into holes that I’d drilled into MDF, then added sand, drybrushed it, flocked it, and added static grass. The wire itself is from Gale Force 9. It’s a little less hellishly complex that the real entanglements that come up on Google, but even though I thought eight metres was plenty I was still running low by the time I’d made four of the larger ones, and the two coiled ones in the picture. I found it difficult to attach the coiled wire until I read somewhere of a trick where you thread thin wire through the concertinas, and attach that to the stakes.

For minefield markers I glued short lengths of plastic rod into washers, and glued on paper signs based on a picture I found on the net. I decided to make them loose signs rather than actual areas with little model mines so that it would be easier to place the minefield around terrain in games where they are hidden until you find them the hard way.

Chain of Command only allows one road block, so the one length of dragon’s teeth is all I’ve painted so far. It is about half way between 15 and 25mm scale, and it is from Battlefield Accessories, which are now being sold by Eureka, I think.

Scenario Five of the 29 Let’s Go! campaign for Chain of Command features a field studded with “Rommel’s Asapragus”: logs that had been planted in fields to prevent gliders from landing. I’ll probably only get to use these markers once, but they were hardly any extra work when I was making the minefield markers.

In the foreground, most of a British rifle section, and a German medic and FOO. Behind them are minefield markers, dragon's teeth, and Rommel's Asparagus

In the foreground, most of a British rifle section, and a German medic and FOO. Behind them are minefield markers, dragon’s teeth, and Rommel’s Asparagus

3 responses to “Achtung, markers!

  1. Nice post and tips, thanks!

    I used to use cheapest washers ever, but found that Euro 0.02 and 0.05 were even cheaper and fancier (flat, thin, mechanized sides, heavy). And strangely are adhered to magnets.

    • Thanks. Unfortunately we lack small enough coinage in Australia for the smaller washers I use, and I bought a bulk box of the larger washers, but I have other friends who have found coins cheaper and more convenient – no hole in the middle to fill!

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