Frank’s Turn Counter ‘How-To’

Today, Frank from Panzer Schule brings us another how-to.  This time he looks at turn counters.


There are many ways to count the turns of your game [always important, especially in Fighting Withdrawal! – Ed]. A simple dice or perhaps a ready made counter are easy ways to do so. If you are like me, however, you may see a painting challenge presenting itself.

I was inspired to create my own turn counters in the best way possible, by seeing other people’s work. I saw a picture on Facebook of a turret mounted on a scenic, large base with numbering around the edges. The tank barrel could be pointed to the turn numbers. I thought this was a great idea and started rummaging through my bits box for ideas.

This turn counter was going to be one of those side projects completed whilst working through core unit projects. Sometimes it is good to have something you can pick up and put down to prevent the hobby getting stale.
Having completed two different styles of counter, I decided to write a how-to guide on my circular type of counter.. Hopefully some of you will read this and be inspired devise your own versions.


The core structural piece makes use of something you might normally throw away; GF9 barbed wire comes in small tubs, wrapped around a clear plastic spindle. I had the idea of using this spindle to form a two layer presentation piece. Some MDF bases also came in handy to complete the structure.

To get to that point, I messed round with several ideas. I did not rush the process and ensured I gave myself time to consider how I would proceed. With all creative projects, you have to balance imagination with practicality.

Step 1.

pic-1The bottom layer of the spindle will hold various figures and the top will carry the turn numbers and the feature piece that will rotate. I placed a magnet under the MDF cap. This would ensure a tight fit with the rotating element, once placed. The final look should give the counter some height and draw the eye around the whole piece.

Step 2.

pic-2Once the structure was settled on, I selected the figures I would display on the bottom and found a spare Panzer IV turret for the top. I then had to decide on how to finish the spindle itself. I had previously made a counter for my German lists. This new one was going to be generic that I could use for any list. This gave me the idea of using the Flames of War lettering around the core of the spindle. I also chose red and black as colours for the core to match the Flames of War branding.

Step 3.


The easiest way I could think of recreating the lettering was with Milliput. I used the card backing from a blister as a template. I placed strips of Milliput over each letter and cut it back carefully till the edges of the letters became visible.

pic-5 I let it dry for an hour or so then carved little notches and cuts. Once dry, it is a simple task to remove the Milliput letters. The card is smooth and shiny and the letters will come away with a little encouragement from a blade around the edges. Using a laser printer, this same technique could create any lettering or phrase you wanted to use.

Step 4.

pic-7I feel my way through these types of projects and I found the lettering did not stretch all the way around the core of the spindle as I had thought. I therefore carved ‘WWII’ in larger letters to fill this gap. It worked well, in particular as the Flames of War game now covers so many periods.

Step 5.

pic-8I selected as wide a range of figures as I could find in my bits box. I covered as many nations as possible. At this stage, you would select something specific for your own counter. This could be on national lines, troop type or even a selection of warrior figures.
Having painted the selected figures, I put them in place to ensure the correct spacing. To make the basing process go well, I recommend trimming the bases on each figure to the minimum. I forgot to do so on this project. A trimmed base is going to be much less visible on the finished product.

Step 6.

I painted the lettering and thought about how I would attach them. The lettering would look best standing slightly off the core surface. My original plan was to place the letters on what would be the ground level. I quickly realised the figures would obscure them so settled on placing them at the mid point of the core.

I was looking for a quick process that did not involve any pre measuring and would let me start over without any problems. As I wanted to do this stage ‘by feel’, there was the chance I would have to take the letters back of. I decided to use little blobs of green stuff attached to the rear of the letters. This would give a firm hold with the degree of stand off I was needing. I was able to get the letters on first time and was glad to see all was coming together as I had hoped.
I had to carefully paint any green stuff that was visible behind the letters. I managed to get to most. The larger lettering would have looked better if I had given it a curve when shaping it. This would not have been too difficult as I could have bent the card after cutting the Milliput to shape.

Step 7.

Fitting the figures was straight forward. I kept the same style of ground cover all the way round and kept it simple. The main focus would be the figures themselves and the lettering.


Step 8.

To finish off, I needed the rotating element and numbering. I decided to do a gun team as well as the turret. I selected an AA gun and an artillery piece. Unfortunately, the AA gun was missing parts so I had to settle for the PZ IV turret and Skoda gun team. I think a red Tiger Initial would also look great on this objective. Something I can add in future, perhaps.

It didn’t take long to complete this top of the counter. The decals I had available were black but not outlined in white as I had thought. The result is not so sharp, but this is a bits box project so I had to make do.




So, there you have the completed turn counter. I have included pictures of my other counters. The linear counter takes up more space but gives you other modelling options. The linear counter is based to match my three Soviet objective markers. A small base can be moved up the counter, thus marking the turns.
I hope you found this interesting and appealing to the painter in you all. As this was a bits box project, it cost me nothing but time and a bit of Milliput to complete. There are simpler ways to count turns, but I think not as satisfying!

You can find more pictures on the Panzer Schule Facebook page and a video guide on the Panzer Schule Youtube channel.

Panzer Schule