Objective Thinking

–  “See that guy over there Hans, he’s talking about modelling again… must be why we’re up to our ankles in Windsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Medium Grain Gel *sigh*… Enjoy the War”

Today, Duncan looks at how to create simple and yet effective objectives for your Flames of War and Team Yankee games.

Hi Duncan here again and today looking at telling stories. Humans are basically wired to love stories – so why would we be any different in our games?

Stealing Inspiration

Let me start by saying I’m not a modelling snob but I will say that I do like nice things – I think that most of us do. I have no problem using a plain large Flames of War base to represent an objective. In some instances it is far more practical in game play (I’ve kept my El Alamein objectives for this very reason so that when the 7th Armoured is crawling all over my deployment area they can do so on a nice flat surface) but I do believe that a nicely modelled objective marker adds something to not only your force but also to your game.

>> Note – part of me does wish that Battlefront continued to expand their range of resin objectives, some of them where truly wonderful. The absence of variety in Team Yankee is quite apparent although saying that the Wolfgang’s Bratty Wagon just incredible, if you can get one, – and a wonderful story!

So after all that where do you begin? Well Google is always your friend – have a look around for some historical images or scale modelling projects. Below is an example of some image you can find by just googling Afrika Korps:


Now here is the first hurdle – I’m not a big modeler or converter so whilst I take inspiration from these image I don’t (or more pertinently can’t) recreate them. So I use the imagery to provide the basis of an objective in one of 3 mental buckets that I have formulated:

  1. Something destroyed
  2. Something supply
  3. Something cool

So moving on to the modelling. You may have read my review of the Skytrex Big Fred in which I mentioned I was going to use that as an objective – well that falls into category 3. Other examples of category 3 are Peter Pigs 534 – 8th Army Surrendering , King and Kerr’s KK-244 Britcon 2008 Objective Marker and Skytrex German 150mm Sfh18 (Limbered). These are all interesting little bits that you get that have no real gaming purpose in Flames of War but would form the basis of some excellent modelled objectives that don’t require too much modelling experience or ability.

>> Note I obviously cheated by including the Britcon objective as it’s… well… an objective already but it is very cool *cough* Great Escape *cough*

 Modelling for the Camera

So suitably inspired I grabbed Fred, a T72 and a Zvezda Ural truck and decided to create one of each of the 3 categories for my Team Yankee Soviets. If you take into account the modelling supplies and the models used I estimate each objective cost me around £7-10 each. That is obviously not as cheap as a plain large base but is still around the cost of buying a resin objective from Battlefront so I think that they are around the right kind of cost point.

Firstly I put the models together. The Big Fred I left alone as that was my category 3 model, the T72 I removed a panel from the side skirts and drilled a series of holes with a small modelling drill to simulate having been strafed (category 1) and the Ural I added some Skytrex barrels and crates too and made a tarpaulin out of some green stuff to pop in the back (category 2). All really easy stuff – believe me if I can do it anyone can.

Next I reached for my secret weapon: Windsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Medium Grain Gel. I should give my friend Leigh a quick shout out at this point as he got me on to the marvelous stuff in the first place. And it truly is marvelous. I use it for most of my basing now but it really shines on adding structure and texture to large, flat areas on bigger bases.

The gel itself comes out with the consistency of semolina and dries clear – you can add paint or pigment to the gel to colour it but I prefer to paint it afterwards. As an art product it takes paint phenomenally well and once undercoated will give you a consistent, flat colour to build up your colours on.

For the objectives I grabbed my base smeared the gel on until I was happy with the texture and then it’s the fun bit. So because the gel takes a while to set solid you can do all manner of cool stuff – you can push it around to create a track-way, push barrels, weapons or other battlefield debris into it and you can pop vehicles into it so their wheel or track patterns become imprinted on the gel. Really there is a wealth of bits and pieces you can do to add character to your objectives at this point.

To the Paint Shop

Next up undercoat. I always undercoat none-vehicles in Mournfang Brown spray from GW. I like the tone and for historical figures it provides a nice base for the multitude of browns and greens we use.

The vehicles all got hit with the new Soviet Green spray from Battlefront which was very nice and covered everything very smoothly. It was a lot more yellow that I was expecting but checking in with a couple of people I was relieved to find that this was normal.

All the vehicles then got the standard treatment – by that I mean pin-wash, in this case the lovely Secret Weapon Soft Black – one of the nicest washes I own,  and then a dry brush of the base colour and dry brush of a highlight colour. This is the normal vehicle painting process I follow to get me 80% of the way there. I then paint the other gubbinz based on what I have to hand or what is on my palette already and that is pretty much it for the painting side of things.

Finishing Touches

To add some final touches add patches of you basing flock of choice to match your army, I also add a tuft or three of contrasting and/or complimentary colours to add height and diversity to the base – it’s a good way of adding something to a blank area without adding something if that makes any sense. The coup de théâtre is adding some of Battlefronts smoke and fire around the top of the destroyed vehicle. Voilà!

Telling the Story

So going full circle we now have three Team Yankee objectives that all tell a story:

  • A knocked out T72, strafed by an American A10 on the outskirts of Munster
  • A Ural supply truck being ordered to a supply centre near Magdeburg
  • A SNAR-10 Big Fred battlefield surveillance radar scanning the front line trying to pinpoint enemy troop concentrations.

We also have a fairly bullet-proof, repeatable method for creating interesting, modelled objectives for any Flames of War or Team Yankee Yankee for any period and theatre.

I’d love to know your thoughts on what you think makes a great objective but that is of course a case of subjective thinking…

Until next time – get you some of that gel!




8 thoughts on “Objective Thinking

  1. Very nice article. I had been looking around for some interesting models for Team Yankee, QRF makes some odd stuff that looks like it fits the bill. For example, I’m considering getting a Pion 203mm howitzer or perhaps a SCUD or 2.

    1. SCUD would make a great objective! I’ve always been wary of QRF simply because the quality can vary so wildly – some of their minis are amazing others… less so…

  2. And here I was getting all excited by the initial images and thinking I was in a treat for some super-creative VW-based DAK obective markers. >sadface<

    Maybe next time?

    [edit: nice criteria for objective creation though :)]

    1. I’ve been on the hunt for a VW Beetle in 1/100 that I can do some stuff with *crosses fingers* and if I do find out you can be sure an objective is coming!! 🙂 thanks Isiah

  3. Nice job. Wish I knew what they call your gel here in the states, spackle doesn’t work quite as well.

  4. Your paints are really muddy Duncan. Mix less dark colors together and always try to use multiple layers of thin paint.

    1. Thanks Ralph, I think it might be a little to do with the lighting and camera I used and some what to do with my style 🙂 I do try and keep my paints out of the bottle thin but the muddiness I will try and work on

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