And now for something completely different… well, from me at any rate. With the release of the German-Berlin book, the landscape changed. Not just the gaming and army building, but the tabletop terrain too. Gone are the rolling plains of the Soviet steppe, the winter forests of the Ardennes or the imposing hedgerows of the bocage that defined those campaigns, the Berlin books, for Soviets and Germans, mean you are in the meat-grinding hell or urban combat.
This basing guide will tell you how I have come around to basing my Hungarian troops for the battles around Budapest, but the premise is sound for any urban combat zone. The most important thing when creating a scenic base, I believe, is telling a story. The base has to make sense and set the theme and tone of the period and place that you are trying to evoke.
First stop… TO THE INTERNET!
A bit of Googling around WW2 urban battlefields will help with inspiration and also the sort of debris and detritus that you can model on your bases. As you can see below smashed brick and concrete are quite a theme. What I was struck by was some of the images of roads and paved surfaces being still visible.
Second stop – Fancy Tools
There are a couple of products that deserve a shout-out here – they are not cheap but they will serve you well and will last.
Green Stuff World make some fantastic – 15mm scale-rolling pins for adding a consistent texture to surfaces. Use sparingly on your ruined bases but can add fantastic sections of clear, paved surfaces.
Smashed concrete. Tick. You can absolutely just tear a cork sheet up into chunks – this works well for 28mm figures – but to get that finer texture for 15mm this is my go-to.
Within this range, there is really specific French scenery but the Normandy Furniture pack has some really nice bits like beds, pianos, chests of draws and mattresses.
Steel barrels, crates, tarps this set has a bit of everything and I’ve used these elements across all the Battlefront games systems. Excellent investments.
Battlefront Plastic Sprues.
Harvest everything you can from your Flames of War sprues. Spare wheels, ammo crates, shells, jerry cans – they are all fantastic fodder for your bases.
Third Stop – Starting to Add some Stuff
I always start by placing the figure into the holes on the base and working out what looks sensible and realistic – make sure you work around the gun but don’t glue it in place!
Next is to knead together some green stuff ready to create some sections of paved areas on the base. You want to do this before anything else so you can add textures and debris on top of this layer and also to help blend it in to the finished base.
I dunk a piece of green stuff in some clean water before rolling it out with the rolling pin to help tease the finished piece apart from the texture on the pin. For this base, I wanted a nice flat, clear area under the gun carriage so placed a large area of cobbles underneath that area and some running down the side of the base.
As you can see the next step is to create your narrative with your other bits and bobs. I added a wall from the MW Soviet Sniper set to the left-hand side of the base and then stood up a piece of armoured plating from an old resin and metal StuG to the front of the base to create, with the gunshield a bulletproof perimeter – this is complete with a spare part of Panther running gear and a couple of scavenged wooden telephone poles.
In my head, this is starting to shape now. The crew have created a little concealed area for their 5cm gun, but because of the confined nature of the combat they have also had to hastily defend themselves against enemy infantry so there is an ammo belt still on the gunshield and an MG34 close to hand.
Obviously, this still looks a bit of a hodge-podge but now we are going to add all of that smashed brick, concrete and rubble to tie all the elements together. Using some thin superglue add some big chunks of rubble using the basing cork. This will be the largest grain of texture that will be added, we do this first to allow the next grade to get into all the nooks and crannies.
At this stage, I let the green stuff completely cure hard for 24 hours so that it is not sticky and I can fully control where the sand adheres to.
Using normal white PVA glue add a layer of fine basing sand to the base. This is the smallest grain of texture we are going to add so make sure that you get it all across the base.
To add some height and variation I next add some patches of medium-grain sand. This breaks up the uniformity of the fine sand and is something I tend to do for all bases in general. It allows you to tie in some of the bigger elements into the base to – for example you can see this around the cork and the jerry can and StuG track.
Let everything dry overnight again so it is all completely dry and fastened down securely. It still looks a bit messy but that is fine because as soon as you hit the model with a grey primer you will see everything comes together and looks cohesive and like it has always been that way.
Next time will look at using weathering powders to quickly “paint” your urban bases to get your models hiding in the rubble of the city of your choosing – Dunc