Painting Bible – Fallen Angels!

Well, the Fallen Angels are ticking over nicely now, and I have some simple paints to get a decent result:

Base Armour – Chaos Black spray, Eshin Grey dry brush, Agrax Earthshade wash

Insignia – Army Painter Dragon Red, Agrax Earthshade Wash

Stone/Bone effect – Bone, Agrax Earthshade Wash

Guns – GW Leadbelcher, Agrax Earthshade Wash

Robes – GW Mournfang Brown, AP Oak Brown dry brush, Agrax Earthshade wash

Flesh – Bugmans glow, Cadia flesh tone highlight, reikland flesh shade wash.

Eyes – Administratum grey eye before the face reikland fleshshade wash

Bases – Stirling Battlemire, Tau Ochre dry brush, Agrax wash, GW grass flock, finish the base edge with Dryad Bark.


Daemonic weapons and ear lens – GW Leadbelcher, AP Shining Silver highlights, GW Red Gem Paint.


Power weapons – GW Leadbelcher, AP Shining Silver highlights, GW Blue Gem Paint.

Force Weapons/warp effects – GW Leadbelcher, AP Shining Silver highlights, GW Green Gem Paint.

Painting Bible – The Darkside Cowboys!

Well, in an effort to be able to go back and add new models to old forces, I need to record the paints I’ve used!  Lets start with my Darkside Cowboys!

Helmets – GW Averland Sunset, dry brushed AP Daemonic Yellow, washed Agrax Earthshade

Armour – GW Macragge Blue base, layered Valljo Arctic Blue Metallic, washed AP Blue Tone, Drybrushed GW Leadbelcher.

Clothes – GW Macragge Blue, washed AP Blue Tone

Boots – GW Abaddon Black, Drybrushed GW Eshin Grey

Flesh – Vallejo Elf Flesh, washed Agrax Earthshade, highlighted Vallejo Elf Flesh

Base – Stirland Battlemire, drybrushed Tau Ochre, GW grass flock

Fallen Angels (#ParentPlayers)

Well, the first post on my army for the Parent Players meet up in April!  Its not very exciting, as it mostly covers initial research on colour choices and army contents instead of finished models or funky new techniques in progress.

At the moment, the plan is:

  1. Undercoat with Chaos Black spray.
  2. Basecoat with a dark red for insignia, gun metal (or leadbelcher) for all weapons, armour, pipes, bone for all odd bits like horns, tusks, skulls, Grey for robes, Stirling Battlemire on bases.
  3. Edge Highlight the black with light grey.  highlight red with vivid red, highlight leadbelcher with silver, silver the eye sockets, dry brush the bases ochre
  4. Agrax the robes, nuln oil everything else except swords and visors, which will use gem paint blue for power swords, gem paint red for daemon weapons, and gem paint green for force swords and psychic fire.
  5. add some flock to the bases.
    In terms of the units, I’m currently looking at using the Codex Astartes for the Fallen, as they are proper marines not like the Chaos Marines in the Dark Angels:
    Terminator Lord/Captain, with power sword/murder sword and combimelta.
    2 Sorcerers/Librarian with force sword and bolt pistol
    Terminator Squad with power fists, one heavy flamer, and sarge with power sword.
    Terminator Squad with powerfists, 1 chain fist, one assault cannon, sarge with power sword.
    2 5 man units of SM/CSM with sergeant with power fist and plasma pistol, 3 bolters, 1 plasma gun
    1 5 man unit of SM/CSM with sergeant with chainsword and plasma pistol, 3 bolters, 1 plasma gun
    1 command squad/chosen unit
    1 5 man Raptors/Assault Squad with sarge with lightning claws, 3 bolt pistols and chainswords, 1 flamer
    1 5 man unit of havocs/devastators with heavy bolters
    1 5 man unit of havocs/devastators with las cannons and missile launchers
    1 Helbrute
    1 Chaos Dreadnought with plasma cannon and power scourge – The Angel of Blades
      I haven’t got much in the way of vehicles sorted out, though I think I’ll have to add some rhinos and maybe a land raider in black.  I

‘ll magnetise the icons and use them with Deathwatch too.  

    I might also look at adding cypher as an inquisitor, and a deathwatch kill team all with DA plates just for fun.

Hobby Resolutions for 2018

I have many hobby resolutions for this grand new year, many of which may fall by the wayside!  I’d rather have ambitious targets and get halfway than just potter along though!

First of all, I’m going to take part in multiple hobby challenges through the year, particularly #hobby500, aiming to finish 500 models this year, or approximately 10 a week, and the #painthammer2018 challenge (which is a smaller 365 models but has a few other goals and a really nice painting log involved).  Will I hit them?  With 2 small kids and recently moving house, probably not.  But I’ll give it a damn good try and get properly back into the hobby game!

Second, my hobby purchases are going under review.  I want to finish more of what I have, and I want to focus slightly more of my hobby fund on smaller miniature manufacturers.  Games Workshop is fantastic, and honestly I’ll still buy a chunk of their new releases, but regular small purchases to support independent mini makers like Hasslefree Miniatures, Heresy Minis, Bad Squid Games and the like can make all the difference to them keeping their doors open, and I’d hate to see those fantastic models vanish forever.

Third, I’m going to attend the #parentplayers event towards the end of April, meeting up at Warhammer World with a Fallen Angels army completely painted just for the event.  Its going to be awesome, and a great focus for getting a reasonable chunk of minis knocked out.

Fourth, I want to get some regular games on the go, with my brother and maybe attending some events or a Sheffield gaming club.  it’d rock!

Fifth, I want to keep this blog more active, with painting guides, techniques and the like.  Its great for my reference and a lot easier than working out what paints i used in 2 years time!

It doesn’t sound too unreasonable, does it?   On with 2018!

Sorting the boxes! What do I have?

5 boxes complete!

3 in progress!

4 sets of metal bionic arms and bolters

Warhammer 40K

Space Marines

  • 3 x Tactical Squad (on Sprue)
  • Tactical Squad (Missing Arms) (on Sprue)
  • Terminator Squad (on Sprue)
  • Assault Terminator Squad (on sprue)
  • Assault Squad (on Sprue)
  • 2 x Bikes (on Sprue)
  • 3 x Storm Ravens (on Sprue)
  • Razorback (on Sprue)
  • 5 x Vanguard Veterans? (on Sprue)
  • 1 x Venerable Dreadnaught? (on sprue)
  • Roboute Guilleman (on sprue)
  • Metal terminator chaplain primed white
  • Metal chaplain primed white
  • Plastic Black reach captain primed blue
  • 2 power spear and shield veterans Primed black
  • 1 x Storm Talon primed yellow 
  • 4 sets of metal bionic arms and bolters
  • 2 attack bikes (need stripping)
  • 1 plastic terminator (needs stripping)
  • 1 metal librarian with jumppack (needs stripping)
  • 1 classic Mk 6 ( 2 powerfists) (needs stripping)
  • 1 metal terminator captain (needs stripping)
  • 1 metal terminator chaplain (needs stripping)
  • 1 metal terminator librarian (need stripping)
  • 2 metal apothecaries missing backpacks ( need stripping)
  • 5 man assault squad in blue (needs stripping)
  • 3 assault marines in red (needs stripping)
  • 1 plastic space marine in blue with chain sword (needs stripping)
  • 1 x 5 man devastator squad (on sprue)
  • 2 x Storm Talons on sprue
  • 1 x land speeder on sprue
  • 1 x vindicator on sprue
  • 1 x rhino on sprue
  • 1 x 4 masters of the chapter (metal, unassembled)
  • 22 metal scouts (9 x bolt pistol and combat knife ,3 x bolt pistol and chainsword,2 x  heavy bolters, 1 x  shotgun, 7 x  sniper rifles)
  • 1 metal terminator captain (unassembled, part painted)
  • 1 terminator librarian (space hulk)
  • 1 Assault on Black reach dreadnaught (primed blue)
  • 1 siege dreadnaught with 4 siege arm options. (primed blue)
  • 1 metal chaplain (primed black)
  • 3 apothecaries (2 plastic, 1 metal, part painted)
  • 1 classic RT metal prototype terminator (primed white, needs rebasing))

(massive bag of odd and broken space marines to be sorted)

Primaris (8th ed boxes)

  • Primaris Chaplain
  • Primaris Reivers (10)
  • Primaris Captain
  • 2 x Primaris Lieutenant
  • 2 x Lieutenant
  • 1 x Ancient
  • 2 x 5 man Intercessors
  • 1 x 3 man Inceptors
  • 1 x 5 man hellblasters
  • 1 x 3 Intercessors
  • 1 x 3 Reivers

Blood Angels

  • 5 Death Company (on Sprue)
  • 5 Death Company (on Sprue)
  • Furioso Dreadnaught (on Sprue)
  • Terminator Captain (on Sprue)
  • Terminator Captain (on Sprue)
  • Baal Predator (on Sprue)
  • 2xTactical Squad (on Sprue)
  • 1 xSanguinary Guard (on sprue)
  • Sanguinary Priest (on Sprue)
  • Sanguinor (Metal) (in blister)
  • Astorath the Grim (Metal) (in blister)

Space Wolves

  • Krom Dragongaze (on Sprue)
  • Wolf Guard (on Sprue)
  • Space Wolf Pack (on Sprue)

Dark Angels

  • Upgrade Sprue
  • 5 x veterans (on sprue)
  • 2 x metal cypher (in Blister)
  • 1 x plastic cypher (on Sprue)
  • 1 x metal Dark Angels Captain ( needs backpack fixing, part painted)
  • 1 x Dark Angel Interrogator Chaplain (on sprue)

Death Watch

  • Deathwatch Captain Artemis (on Sprue)?
  • 5 Deathwatch Veterans (on Sprue)?
  • 2 Deathwatch upgrade sprues?
  • Deathwatch Terminator Captain (on Sprue)
  • 10 man Deathwatch squad unassembled (plastic and metal)

Grey Knights

  • Nemesis Dreadknight (in box)
  • 6 classic metal Rogue Trader Grey Knights (unassembled, part painted)
  • 2 classic metal RT Grey Knights with Lightning Claw arms (refit?)
  • Castellan Crowe (part painted, unassembled, resin)
  • Grand Master Voldus?

Legion of the Damned

  • 1 x squad box (sergeant, flamer, 3 legionnaires)
  • 2 x 2 legionnaire blisters (in blister)
  • 1 multi-melta legionnaire (in blister)

Imperial Guard

  • 3 Ratlings (painting in progress)
  • 1 x Command Squad (painting in progress)
  • 5 x Voxcasters (painting in progress)

Imperial Agents

  • Inquisitor grey fax (on sprue)
  • 2 x metal female inquisitors (in blister)
  • Celestine and Geminae (on sprue)
  • 3 x Canonness Veridyan
  • 1 x Canoness (almost finished)
  • 2 x bolter sisters (1 missing backpack)
  • Death Cult Assassins (Warmachine Daughters of the Flame) metal unassembled
  • Metal eversor assassin primed white
  • Rituals market imperial navigator on sprue

Adeptus Mechanicus

  • Belisarius Cawl (on sprue)

Thousand Sons

  • 2 armless Rubric Marines (Missing arms)
  • Metal Rubric Marine (unprimed)

Death Guard (8th Ed boxes)

  • 1 Lord of Contagion
  • 1 Blight bringer
  • 1 Malignant Plaguecaster
  • 7 x Plague Marines
  • 1 Bloat drone
  • 20 Pox walkers
  • 3 Plague Marines
  • 6 Poxwalkers


  • 2 x 5 Wraithblades (primed)
  • 1 x Wraithguard (primed)
  • 5 Rangers (primed – some missing bases)
  • 5 old metal Rangers primed
  • 1 x Farseer (painting in progress)
  • 1 x Autarch (painting in progress)
  • 5 x Warlocks (primed)
  • 2 x Weapons teams (primed)
  • Yncarne (on sprue)
  • Visarch (on sprue)
  • Yvraine (on sprue)
  • 1 wraithlord primed
  • 1 wraithlord part built
  • 1 wraith-knight part built
  • 1 Revenant Titan (unassembled)
  • Eldrad (resin in blister)
  • Hornet primed
  • Wave Serpent Primed (scatter lasers)
  • Wave Serpent part painted (bright lances)
  • Falcon part painted (missile launchers)
  • 2 x Eldar Aegis Defence Lines (unbuilt)
  • 10 Eldar Jetbikes (on sprue)
  • metal jetbike autarch conversion kit
  • 2 x 3 man units of jet bikes (1 with shuriken catapult – built unprimed)
  • 1 x 5 man units of warp spiders (exarch) primed blue
  • 1 x 6 man unit of warp spiders (exarch) primed grey
  • 1 x 5 Swooping Hawks (no exarchs) – primed grey
  • 2 x 5 Dire Avengers exarch (primed blue)
  • 1 x 5 dire avengers (4 metal, 1 plastic exarch) part painted
  • Fuegan, Jain Zair, Baharroth, Asurmen, Maugen Ra
  • 1 Farseer metal primed
  • 1 autarch, metal unbuilt
  • 12 howling banshees (part painted)
  • 1 howling banshee unbuilt
  • 1 metal wraithguard
  • 3 x 6 dire avengers exarch  (primed blue)
  • 2 x 6 Firedragons inc exarch (metal) primed grey)
  • 2 x 5 fire dragons inc exarch (metal (primed grey)
  • 2 x 6 man Dark Reapers inc exarch (metal) unpainted
  • 1 x Fire Prism (unbuilt, metal parts)
  • 1 x Shadow Spectre Exarch (unbuilt)
  • 1 x Shadow Spectre unit (unbuilt)
  • 2 xVypers (unbuilt)
  • 2 x Wraithguard/blades (on sprue)

Dark Elder

  • 1 x Succubi (resin, unpainted)
  • 1 x Archon (resin unpainted)
  • 1 x Raging Heroes Archoness (metal, unassembled)
  • 1 x Lilith Hesperax (metal, unpainted)
  • 1 x Medusae (resin, on sprue)
  • 1 x Scourges (metal, wings need fixing)
  • 1 x Scourges (plastic, primes and started green)
  • 1 x Scourges (plastic, unpainted)
  • 1 x Mandrakes (metal, unpainted)
  • 1 x Mandrakes (metal, unbuilt)
  • 1 x Incubi (metal, unpainted)
  • 1 x Incubi (metal, unbuilt)
  • 1 x Raider (plastic, unbuilt)
  • 4 x Raider (plastic, unpainted)
  • 2 x Ravager (plastic, unpainted)
  • 1 x Voidraven (plastic, unpainted)
  • 1 x Venom (plastic, unbuilt)
  • 12 unpainted jetbikes
  • 1 x wyches (plastic, unbuilt)
  • 5 x hekatrix/Syrens (unpainted)
  • 6 x Sybarites/Drakons (unpainted)
  • 40 kabalites with Splinter Rifles (unpainted)
  • 2 kabalites with shredders
  • 9 kabalites with blasters
  • 4 kabalites with dark lances
  • 4 kabalites with splinter cannon
  • 37 wyches with splinter pistols and hand weapons (unpainted)
  • 3 wyches with Shard Nets and Impalers
  • 4 wyches with hydra gauntlets
  • 4 wyches with razor flails



  • 6 Harlequins (metal unbuilt) (v2)
  • 6 Harlequins (metal built) (v2)

Fantasy Stuff


  • Slambo (in box)

High Elves

  • 2 x Island of blood sets (on Sprue)

Dark Elves

  • 10 current plastic Witch Elves (on Sprue)
  • 9 metal Witch Elves


  • 2 x Island of blood sets (on Sprue – same as High Elves)


  • 10 x GW Skeletons (in assembly)


  • Dark Elves (2nd Edition team) – (painting in progress)
  • Dark Elves (Shadowforge team) – (painting in progress)
  • Humans (Nuns) (Shadowforge team) – (painting in progress)
  • Elves (Shadowforge team)
  • humans (shadowforge team)
  • Humans (current plastic)
  • orcs (current plastic)
  • Skaven (primed grey)
  • dwarves (current plastic unassembled)
  • gobbos (current plastic unassembled)
  • humans (2nd ed identical pose plastics)
  • orcs (2nd ed identical pose plastics)

Projects list

Well, as part of cataloguing up all my stuff, I thought I’d better start listing my projects too that need assembly or painting to finish off.  Ouch.

I feel I may have to actually finish or give up on some of these!


  • Imperial Fists
  • Silver Skulls
  • Grey Knights
  • Blood Angels
  • Space Wolves
  • Fallen Angels
  • Ultramarines Primaris + Primarch
  • Imperial Guard Core Army
  • Imperial Guard Classics
  • Dark Eldar all female army
  • Dark Eldar black and green
  • Harlequins
  • Inquisition kill teams – mix of GW and third party concept stuff.
  • Death Watch
  • Tyranids
  • Orks
  • Rogue Trader Orks
  • Rogue Trader Crimson Fists
  • Eldar Wraithguard army
  • Eldar Mymeara
  • Eldar Ynnari
  • Death Guard
  • Unassigned Chaos (a classic metallic green look?)
  • Sisters of Silence
  • Sisters of Battle (Black and Red)
  • Shadow War Armageddon kill teams & terrain

Fantasy/Age of Sigmar

  • Dark Elf army
  • High Elf army
  • Wood Elf allies
  • Skaven army
  • Dwarf allies
  • Orc and Gobbo allies
  • Empire allies
  • Undead allies


  • Dungeon Saga ( and lots of mixed fantasy models for RPG)
  • Zombicide Black Plague
  • Bloodbowl teams (Human, Human, Human, Human, Elf, Dark Elf, Dark Elf, Ork, Ork, Dwarf)
  • Warmachine – Cygnar
  • Infinity – Nomads
  • Infinity – PanO
  • Frostgrave warband
  • Star Wars Armada fighters
  • Star Wars Imperial Assault
  • Malifaux Lady J crew
  • Malifaux Gremlins
  • Malifaux Ressers
  • Mailfaux Vics crew
  • Dropzone commander starter set
  • Terrain – GW Tower, ruined tower, loads of sector imperialism ruined buildings, LotR terrain, Chaos Temple, 2 imperial base resin battle board tiles

The Cheap Gamer – Magnets!

Again, like many of the recommendations of the Cheap Gamer, this will involve investing a little more money up front … but it really pays off over time.  I’m going to mainly cover how to use the strategy rather than the practicality of attaching magnets.

You can get very powerful small magnets, drill holes or attach them to your models, and bam, you can use the magnets to attach the parts to each other.  Brilliant!   Of course, you could attach parts with glue instead of gluing magnets and then using the magnets!  So whats the advantage?

The most common use is to magnetise various weapon options, so you as an example, you can buy one dreadnaught, but can field it with any of the weapons in the kit, rather than having to buy a new dreadnaught every time you want to try a different load out!

Another common use, though, is to keep models in various part for easy and safe transport and storage.  Rather than gluing massive wings on a model, attaching them with powerful magnets lets you break up the model for transport to and from games much more safely and securely, for example, and its a lot cheaper over time than having to replace broken models! 

You can also use magnets in bases to attach models to metal trays or really solid metal carry boxes, or magnets in legs and bases to be able to use top end  display models on both display plinths and gaming bases.

One idea that’s all mine, as far as I know, is taking the interchangeability concept of weapons, but going a step further and applying it to icons and markings.  Have a silver rhino?  If your icons can all be popped off and replaced with other magnetised ones, you could use it with multiple chapters of marines like Silver Skulls, Grey Knights, some orders of Sisters of Battle, Inquisition, heck, even cross lines and attach chaos icons for Iron Warriors.  Have a black rhino?  Deathwatch, Inquisition, Raven Guard, Black Legion, Sisters of Battle, and so on.  Its a fantastic money saver if you want to be able to field multiple armies that have similar colours, as you’ll rarely want to play as both armies at once.  And if you’re willing to compromise slightly, works well across chassis options too, like popping turrets and sponsons off magnetised predators to use them as rhinos in a different army, or using a whirlwind as a Sisters of Battle Exorcist.

Its really effective for decorating fortifications, like bastions, or making terrain really modular too.  Use magnets on walkways and key points before painting, and whole chunks of terrain become reconfigurable.  If you have a few standard size ruined buildings, having a few interchangeable floors can really change up the options for your battlefield.  And having a few extra magnets at decorative points can let you have different board themes for minimal extra cost – imagine being able to swap out streetlights from the buildings for dead bodies, or imperial eagles for chaos icons.

Bam!   Mind blown!  Reusability instead of huge chunks of cash and storage space.  Even if you spend a little more on the models and scenery to start with, its a massive saving over time, and actually can improve your gaming options and facilities.   Thats thinking like a Cheap Gamer.

How do I actually add magnets?  Well, there are countless youtube tutorials that are pretty easy to find, often covering specific minis.  Essentially, you either need to drill a hole to fit a magnet, or be able to attach the magnet on the other side of thin plastic or in an indent where it won’t affect the rest of the joint.  One of the really important things when working with magnets is to make sure you get the polarity right – if you put one in wrong, the two magnets will repel each other, not attract, and you’ll have two parts that will never go together!  A useful trick can be to stack them up together, then take them off the stack one at a time and put a dab of paint at one consistent end, so you know it will aways go blank to paint.

The Lazy Mini Painter – Drybrushing

Drybrushing.  Its a technique that’s been popular for decades, but of late its been generally replaced by more layering, blending, and edge highlights.  So why are we mentioning it?

Well, first, its a really quick, easy technique to add depth to models, and quick and easy is really what we’re all about!   The results look very natural and organic, so these days they tend to be used only on materials like hair, or fur, but can be used all over a model for a quick result.

How can we use the technique to produce really nice modern looking minis?  Well, there obviously for natural areas like fur and hair, we’d probably use dry brushing anyway.

For armour, we’ll probably stick with a few edge highlights and a wash.  BUT!  There is a great sneaky way of using drybrushing that looks great on armour too.  Instead of using dry brushing as a tool to apply highlights on the raised edges, we can use dry brushing to simulate wear.

Take an Imperial Fist in yellow.  If we drybrush with a lighter yellow instead of highlighting or layering, it’ll look OK, but a little old school.  Its a quick result, though.  If we drybrush quickly and lightly with a metal, like silver or gun metal, it’ll look like the paints rubbed off on the edges in the battlefield.  Fast, quick, efficient, and looks great and also in line with a more modern look.  Do it after a few key edge highlights, and you have a modern looking, weathered mini in very little time.

We’ll also probably want to use dry brushing on our bases to add a little more depth quickly – drybrushing an ochre over brown is a fantastic mud effect and so easy to do.

Another useful trick comes closer to layering than dry brushing.  If you have a bit more paint on the brush than just the tiny amount you normally use for dry brushing, and apply it a bit more heavily, you actually get an effect much more like a slightly sloppy layer rather than dry brushing.  This looks pretty good on cloth – trousers, cloaks and the like, especially before a wash to unify the colours.  Quick, fast, effective.  Its the Lazy Mini Painter way!

The Cheap Gamer – Terrain Part 2 – Picking a Theme

In the last Cheap Gamer article, we looked at loads of different options for building scenery with a whole range of different price points and effectiveness.  The last point we ended on was that we should really pick a theme, and build or buy parts to work together for that theme to maximise the effectiveness.

This article builds on that concept, together with some fantastic conversations I’ve had online with some of the top terrain guys (like the fantastic Ray Dranfield, head of terrain design at GW), and some of my own bonkers ideas.  It looks at some really good ways to pick a theme and colours to maximise your flexibility and options.

The Battle Board

Traditionally, the Battle Board would be painted brown, drybrushed ochre, and flocked green.  My Realm of Battle board from GW certainly is.  It does look pretty good, but its also pretty limiting to a green grass, mud and stone affair.

Chatting to Ray, he feels the best colours for a single board are probably a dusty grey with strong brown undertones.  It works for an industrial wasteland, a desert scape, or dusty churned up fields.  The very neutral colours let you get away with pretty much any scenery or play any sort of scenario without it feeling very out of place.

Obviously, if storage space and cost aren’t a major drama, you can have several, all themed in different ways.  That’s not really what the Cheap Gamer is about though – we’re all about maximising our fun and the effect of gaming without breaking the bank.

Those neutral colours are fantastic, and would work great with a wooden board prepped with a PVA and sand mix.  Paint it brown, heavy dry brush it grey, and maybe look for a darker grey slate effect or a lighter white rock on an odd flat patch.  Easy to paint, easy to make, easy to base models to match, and very very flexible.

Terrain Choices

Well, a great terrain choice in general is ruined gothic effect buildings.  There are some really neat tricks you can do with ruined buildings, as Ray pointed out.  If you plan out ruined corners and make sure the bases work together, you can deploy small compact ruined buildings, or spread them out to make the outline of big cathedrals with the same sort of corner pieces.  Unless you actually look for futuristic fortifications, the gothic grim dark and the ruined worlds of AoS can look pretty good with the same basic ruined buildings too, again, maximising that flexibility.

You can also, if careful in putting the ruins together, work out options for stacking ruined sections up as well.  if a base works as a ruined floor, your could stack two ruined corners up.  If you get the heights right, you can tie that into more unique pieces you might already have or pick up from games like Shadow War Armageddon.

These are great options for flexibility.  You can deploy ruined woods or alien jungles on this sort of a board, or chaos temples.  Its really easy to add to, and still keep a general feel of a ruined city.  Add some water effect areas and turn the dusty greys and browns into a miserable swamp – particularly fantastic with the new Death Guard minis.  The trick is that dusty grey and brown combo on the board.

One nice trick is to liven areas up with a few simple foam tiles, painted to match the terrain board but with some unique paint schemes.  Maybe a Mechanicus area with vehicle bays like a modern carpark?   or a mine entrance, with a elevator down sprayed on or added with a few bits of Plasticard.  You can really play with a few simple, easy to store tiles to add to the effects.  And hills (particularly cheap plastic ones from Amera) can be added with matching colours to really add to the effect.

Vehicles as Terrain

All too often, the only ruined vehicles that lurk on the board are our own casualties.  Well, thats definitely true of my armies anyway 😉  What we forget, particularly if we’ve been in the hobby for quite a while, is that we can pop vehicles on the  board as terrain pieces in their own right.

Playing as Marines against Eldar, but have an Imperial Guard army?  Field a few Leman Russ tanks or Chimera transports as ruins, or in neat rows awaiting repair on the Mechanicus Forgeworld you battle over.  Its even more effective with some of the new Genestealer cult stuff, as their vehicles are civilian machinery, and the dusty grey terrain will look fantastic as a mining area.

We can add some really effective line of sight blocking terrain with a smoking Landraider.   it just works, and we’re getting use out of those models rather than buying more terrain.  Terrific!

If you have some spare torso bits from boxes from your armies (and honestly, you probably have a few), think about creating a few set pieces matching your board with dead infantry half buried in there.  Combine that with “ruined” vehicles (maybe just adding smoke effects, and taking skimmers off flying bases), you can do some brilliant xenos battlegrounds – a few dead Eldar around the board and some burned out falcons and wave serpents makes a fantastic backdrop for a Deathwatch mission, for example.  This works particularly well over the dusty grey and brown of a torn up battlefield.  Add some cheap craters too, and it can look amazing.

It actually tends to work best when you aren’t using the fallen army at all.  Using “extra” tanks from the armies you’re actually fielding can cause confusion.  Was that tank a kill point, or scenery?  But Deathwatch vs Tau over fallen Eldar?  No worries.

Incidentally, blobs of cotton wool dyed with a brush of black ink  can make great quick smoke effects for almost no cost!  Just make sure they are dry before you pop them onto your lovely vehicles.


There aren’t any right or wrong choices, really!  If you want to do a red mars field, you certainly can.  That will limits you to fighting over mars or similar red terrain, though.  Dusty grey and brown is a fantastically flexible, neutral combination.

Try to keep rocks and building materials in a similar set of colours, whether thats lighter whites or dark slate greys.  It’ll unify temples with hills.

The real key is working out how you can get the best effect, and, for the Cheap Gamer, minimising the cost.  For terrain, you can minimise cost best with reusability and flexibility.  If you need two sets of terrain for AoS and 40k, for example, that’s twice as much cost as a more general set that works for both.  Try to differentiate more by eye catching centrepieces than having to retheme everything.

The Cheap Gamer – Terrain!

Well, one of the big expenses of the hobby is a decent table and terrain to play through, and if anything, its a lot more expensive than the early days of the hobby.  In the past, it was pretty much expected to improvise terrain, or put it together yourself.  Now, there are tons of fantastic but very expensive terrain you can walk into GW and buy, and honestly if you can throw money at it, its an absolutely fantastic option.  But we can save huge amounts of money and still have some really, really good looking tables to play on.

There is a range of options at increasing cost:

  1. Build terrain in a Blue Peter style from household items.  This used to be the main way, and its generally quite lost these days, but it can be pretty effective.
  2. Find or buy, then print out cardboard/paper scenery.  This is actually really effective, easy to replace, and pretty cheap!  It does take a chunk of time assembling, but then its usually ready to go.  Its particularly good for RPG settings where you can tailor what you need for a particular session.
  3. Buy cheap scenery aimed for railway hobbying, kids toys or fish tanks.  Often quite striking pieces can be picked up for very little money, and things like trees and flock are far cheaper if you look for railway hobby stuff than the 28mm stores.  Generally in much larger quantities too!
  4. Look at custom scenery for gaming in cheaper materials.  MDF scenery is increasingly available at affordable prices, and companies like Amera do a fantastic job casting cheap great scenery pieces in plastic.
  5. Buy amazing pieces of terrain at the top end of the scale!
  6. Hire in professionals to design whole tables from scratch for you to rival Warhammer World.

Now, I’m assuming option 6 isn’t really an option, or you probably aren’t going to be reading my cheap gamer articles!  However, it is often useful to take bits from the various options to put together an overall table.  Maybe buy a more expensive terrain option to use as a centrepiece.  Add to home made terrain with a few railway style trees and flock to really bring it on.  Reduce the cost of flocking a whole GW battleboard by buying a massive bag of flock for decorating a whole railway layout.  Bear that in mind when we look at the options below!

The Blue Peter Approach!

I must confess, I love this option!  It brings me back to the early days in the hobby, where frankly scenery wasn’t even thought of by GW, and they released guides on how to make your own.

There are two main styles you can take here.  Use cheap parts, like lolly sticks or wooden stirrers, and put them together to create terrain (like this!).  It looks great, particularly for fantasy and barbaric stuff like orks, but you do need to either find plans to follow or have a pretty creative outlook to visualise what you want.   Polystyrene packing with a heat cutting wire can be fantastic for rock outcrops or hills.  (like this!).  Cardboard tubes sprayed silver can make fantastic oil pipes )and you could use wooden stirrers to build a frame!

The other approach is to find household items that look pretty much like an item of terrain to start with, spray them up, add some flock and basic drybrushing, and be ready to go!  Easter Egg plastic packaging can look great as a generator – spray it silver, maybe touch up a power plant look, and flock the edge.  Sorted!  The cardboard packaging that comes in electrical goods boxes and the like is often perfect for this sort of ready to go terrain.   Spray it white or grey, use some Army Painter Dip, and it looks pretty good from the start!

You can go a bit more expensive with the Blue Peter approach and start raiding hobby shops for things like foamboard and other parts.  Definitely worth it if you have time and a creative bent.


Printing a building, folding it up and using it as scenery?  Won’t that look rubbish and boxy?

Actually, not anymore!  Things have moved a heck of a long way since the simple card sheets you may remember from the older GW games.  Companies like Fat Dragon Games have absolutely amazing ranges of fantastic products you can use to knock up custom boards with all sorts of options.  They use tools like Adobe layers to actually let you select styles of wall, adding creeping ivy and all sorts of brilliant tweaks.  You can produce sci-fi bases, fantasy cities, underground caves and all.

It can be a bit fiddly to assemble, and you will be running through ink and paper/card in your printer.  Depending on those resources, it can add up.  Heck, these days if you have a 3D printer, you can take this to the next level and print out your own plastic walls and minis – again, you will be spending on the tech and resources!

Toys, Railways and Fishtanks

These are fantastic, cheap resources for quick, easy and unique looking scenery, that after some extra painting and tweaks can look utterly fantastic for a fraction of the price of official terrain.  Toy castles when spraywed, washed and added effects like ivy can be a perfect scale and really cheap.  rocks and little temples to look like undersea scapes for fish tanks can look fantastic on the battlefield.

fish tank plastic plants can look amazing as alien jungles, and cheap trees from railway hobby lines often look more realistic and far cheaper than 28mm gaming woods.  And you can often pick up molds and casting stuff for railway scenery, as will as really cheap grass flock in bulk.

Just be careful when you look at this stuff about the scale!

MDF and cheaper Plastic terrain

I love this stuff. You can get all sorts of amazing scenery, it doesn’t feel too expensive, and its still really solid and durable.  Terrific!

A fair few companies do MDF terrain these days.  I can recommend TT Combat as a company – their Sheriff station for Malifaux or the Wild West is amazing.  I also really like the Terrain Shed.  There are lots of good alternatives out there, though.  You can get buildings for £12, with amazing laser etched details.  Superb stuff, especially if you cherrypick a few pieces to act as centrepieces.

Amera Plastic Mouldings do absolutely fantastic plastic wargaming terrain, as single cast.  They look good, and are really cost effective.  Unlike terrain kits in the top bracket, though, they are single use kits as a one piece ready to go bit of terrain – the top end normally has a lot more assembly and options within a single kit, and often a load of customisable little details.  For me, though, that’s not a major drama – having 2 identical pyramids isn’t an issue if you want two big pyramids!

I’d recommend both of these options for gamers looking for awesome kits on a bit of a budget.

Top End GW and similar kits

Well, we’re Cheap Gamers!  Why are we talking about the expensive stuff?  Well, often it can pay to have a really nice piece of terrain to act as the focal point of the battle.  MDF or Amera stuff can certainly work with enough time and effort on the paint job, but having a lovely centrepiece from GW will often draw the eye away from cheaper pieces through the rest of the tabletop, and be a great backdrop for photos and the like.  Don’t go mad, but one or two key bits can really make a plain table feel like a cinematic experience.


The real key, though, is to pick a theme and stick with it across all the pieces you buy and put together, so they look good together on the table top.

You might have a couple of papercraft starships acting as drop points for the objective.  You might have a load of colourful plastic plants for a fishtank acting as an alien jungle, and a selection of Eldar MDF kits scattered across the board, making it look like an overgrown exodite world.

What doesn’t work is having earth style trees from a raliway hobby shop next to bright pink fish shop plants, with a wild west sheriffs office and a scifi set of walkways from shadow war, and the whole thing flocked in autumn reds.  Try to think how pieces will go together.  Rocks, chaos temples and the like are nicely generic, particularly if all the stone is pretty consistent in colour across the pieces.  Alien jungle or earth like looks for plants and trees can work, but stay a bit consistent.  And try to have a consistent timezone for the pieces you’ll put on the table together – 40k models playing over a fantasy table and castle can look great.  40k models in a wild west town and a fantasy castle with futuristic cars just looks odd.