People that are new to miniatures gaming often ask why there is a scale for miniatures and different scale for distances (Ground Scale). It would be great if the miniatures scale and ground scale were the same but in most cases this simply not practical. The problem with using a ground scale that is the same as the miniatures scale can be seen in the photo below. In this photo you see a set of game boards that belong to the author, the entire setup is made up of 18 individual boards, each one is 20” x 20”. One of the reasons 20” was chosen for the board size is because at a ground scale of 1” = 50 meters, each board is one square kilometer. If a true 1/285th scale ground scale was used it would be aprox. 7” = 50 meters. You might be thinking “what’s the problem with that?, that would be perfectly realistic”. Yes, a ground scale of 7”= 50 meters would be very realistic, but it creates real problems for the game.
One problem is vehicle movement; Image you have an M1 Abrams at the far end of the table, and it’s on road movement is 1100 meters per turn. 1100 meters at a scale of 7” = 50 meters is 154 inches of movement per turn or almost 13 feet. This means that an M-1 could move from one end of the table to the other end of the table in one game turn.
The other problem is firing ranges, at a true 1/285th scale ground scale, a 50 caliber machine gun could cover the entire table, and larger guns could cover two or three table lengths. If you had that sort of space to play a game that would be great, but most people do not have that much space. So, the compromise is a smaller ground scale. With a 1 = 50 meters scale, that same M-1 moves about one individual board length per turn instead of the entire table length, and it can fire just over 3 board lengths rather than across multiple tables.
So, this is why we use ground scales that a significantly smaller than the miniatures scale .. it just makes the game more playable. It’s worth noting that in small skirmish games that involve only infantry and are played at larger scales like 15mm, 20mm, or 28mm quite often they are played at a ground scale that is equal or very close to the miniatures scale. In armor games, especially modern armor where vehicle speeds are high and gun ranges are very long this is simply not an option.
©Allen Rockwell, GameCraft Miniatures 2014
I’m working on a huge game board that is a bombed out city. I was looking for a cheap and easy way to make piles of rubble. At first I though maybe I’d try the clay sand that is used in cat litter boxes. This seemed like a reasonable idea but it would be really heavy and somewhat costly. Then I found this material that is available at hydroponics stores or most nurseries, it’s called “Perlite” but it might have other names in other countries or other parts of the USA. It’s a very lightweight soil additive that promotes drainage and aeration.
I scattered a bunch of it on a cookie sheet and sprayed it with a solution of water and a few drops of black ink. This gave the Perlite a nice grey color and made it look a lot like building rubble.
I plan on scattering a lot of this in and around the rubbled buildings to give a nice thick base of rubble and then I’ll put a little GameCraft plaster building rubble ( 285RUBBLE001-P ) on top for even more realism.
Sometimes figuring out what color to paint buildings to make them look correct can be difficult. Even if you have some good photos of buildings in the region you are interested in, it can still be tricky to pick out the colors correctly.
Here is a little something I made for painting buildings in France. I went thought photos I have taken of buildings all over France (from Normandy to Paris to Toulouse to Nice) on my various trips over there and I isolated colors that I saw on buildings and put them on this graphic. Some of the colors are raw stone and some are painted colors but all of them are from buildings around France. I even tried to represent them by their frequency of appearance, the larger the swatch is on this graphic, the more common that color was.
Hope this helps you in painting your buildings.
Hi Allen. I just posted a brief guide on my blog on the process I used to make my Gamecraft Afghan buildings look more like mud brick. It may be of interest:
I really like the buildings I got. You make a good product!
Have a look at his blog to see how he applied the exterior finish to his MDF Afghan style buildings.
Click on the link above to read his blog post and see more photos, be sure to scroll all the way down and click on “Newer Post” to see the results.
For an alternate method of applying texture to middle east buildings you might want to also check out this YouTube video , it was made for FoamCore buildings, but the technique for using texture spray works the same on MDF buildings.