Monday 28 February 2011

Cavalier 2011

Yesterday I went to the Cavalier wargames show in Tonbridge. This was the first time I've attended this show but I'll definitely go again. I was warned by several people to expect bad lighting conditions but it seems the Angel Centre has had an upgrade as the lighting was pretty good. I didn't shoot as many pictures as normal, mainly because I was struggling with both a camera bag and an overloaded Loot bag.

Anyway, here are my pictures from the event.

The show seemed to be well attended with plenty of money changing hands. I was there from when it opened to about lunch time and it remained busy throughout that time. The Bring and Buy in particular was three deep on most of the occasions I visited the room it was in.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Big Picture : Sherman from Exercise Tiger

I recently found this old picture I took way back in 1990. Its an M4A1 DD (Duplex Drive) Sherman Tank on the breach front at Slapton Sands. It was recovered from the sea in November 1984 and now stands as a Memorial to all the men that lost their lives in the ill fated Exercise Tiger.  
I'd like to add that I don't normally climb all over war memorials but in my defence I didn't know that's what it was at the time. Since this picture was taken the Tank has been repainted with black anti-corrosive paint, and now has a memorial plaque dedicating the site to the 946 soldiers and sailors that died during the exercise.

Friday 25 February 2011

RAF Museum Hendon - Part Deux

Last April I visited the RAF Museum at Hendon in north London. I shot a lot of photo's on that visit (and posted them here as a slideshow) but somehow managed to miss out two large parts of the museum. Last weekend I had a chance to return to Hendon, visit those parts of the site that I had missed first time around and shoot a load more photo's. Here's a slideshow of this second set of pictures.

The two areas that I missed on my first visit were the Grahame White Factory and the Battle of Britain hall.

The Grahame White Company Building was the UK's first aircraft factory, purpose-built in 1917. It now holds the museums collection of First World War aircraft, including a replica of a huge Vickers Vimy bomber. It also contains a very early Sopwith Triplane, a Hanriot and the famous SE5-A fighter.

The Battle of Britain Hall was the other major part that I missed first time around. Having now seen the whole collection I have to say that visitors would be hard pressed to view it all in only one trip. This building alone kept us occupied and interested for nearly four hours. As the name implies this hall concentrates on the story and aircraft that took part in the Battle of Britain. There is also a short (10 min) film in the main hall that gives a really good overview of the situation leading up to the battle. With a backdrop of the aircraft themselves this was very interesting and moving.

We also visited the Aeronauts Interactive Centre where children can play with over 40 'hands on' experiments that help then learn how aeroplanes fly. The whole museum is nicely laid out and despite the huge collection doesn't feel cramped or crouded. There's plenty of room to get a good all round view almost every aircraft on display which makes photography a lot easier. It's also a Free museum so other than the cost of parking this was a very cheep family day out.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Glowing Critical Hit Dice

I spend a lot of time trawling the Internet and I often come across articles, games or products that excite my imagination. But when I discovered the Critical Hit LED d20 all I could think of was "It must be Mine!" This is an extract of the description on the website ThinkGeek:

"PLAYERS: You know that amazing feeling you get when you roll a crit? The sight of the "20" on your die blasts straight up into the pleasure center of your brain and you feel like a million astral diamonds. Then you get to roll an obscene amount of dice and tally up the damage. Imagine all of that, but your d20 flashes red to let everyone at the table know just how awesome you are.

GMs: For starters, we'll let you know that we did our very best to ensure the Critical Hit LED d20 Die is weighted as evenly as possible considering the electronics inside. The Die will gently illuminate your face with an evil red glow when you roll a crit behind the screen. Since every GM has a wee bit of sadist inside, we knew you'd love that."

I could wax lyrical about my instant love of this product but I guess most readers (especially D&D players) will understand perfectly. This is a dice born from the deepest geeky desires of our ill spent youth. When I roll a crit I want to roar with satisfaction and anticipation of the damage I'm about to inflict. Punching the air and bellowing "By the Power of Greyskull" just isn't enough. Now my dice will celebrate with me and all will bow down before is glowing red awesomeness! Life is sweet.

Monday 21 February 2011

Impatience is NOT a Virtue

I need something to paint and I need it soon. I'm not a fast painter by any standard and regular readers will know how long it normally takes me to complete a project. However I finished two Flames of War platoons off in quick succession in January and now I want to crack on and start another. But for the first time in ages I actually have nothing to work on... and its driving me crazy.

Actually that last statement isn't strictly true. I do have unpainted models available (Of course!) just not for FOW. I really ought to get myself motivated and paint up some of the other stuff in my model box but I'm lacking enthusiasm for anything other than my current muse. I have several half painted 28mm figures for roleplaying, but as none of these are needed for the current game I don't feel under pressure to complete them. Similarly I have a number of scenery items unpainted but the same excuse applies. And this lack of focus is making me have wild ideas and driving me towards mad impulsiveness.

I'm planning on going to the Cavalier show at Tunbridge Wells at the end of the week and I ought to save my money to spend with the traders there. But the Imp of Boredom sitting on my shoulder is whispering "I wonder what's available on eBay" in my ear and I'm finding it hard to ignore. Of course if I make a purchase now the likelihood is I won't receive my goods until after the show, making my impatience pointless, but even so.

I must be strong. I have to resist the temptation that Internet shopping makes all so easy to indulge. I have to think of the big picture, and remember my growing shopping list of items I need to get at the show. There are some purchases that just can't happen online until you have physically handles the items in question. I have several bits of terrain I want to get, but need to see before I buy. Of course this is one of the great advantages of of shows like Cavalier, bringing together a wide variety of traders to make the best stocked FLGS you could possibly imagine. Now all I have to do is resist temptation and hold on for a few more days.

Sunday 20 February 2011

Big Picture : PzKpfw IV

This is the Panzer IV Ausf D at the Tank Museum in Bovington. This particular vehicle originaly had the short barreled 75mm KwK L/24 gun but at some point it was replaced with the KwK 40 L/43 seen below. It also had considerable entra armour fitted and it is a testiment to good basic overall design of the Panzer IV that I was able to perform well through several upgrades.

An earlier version - with the short barrelled gun - can be seen at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Friday 18 February 2011

Wargames Illustrated 281

One of the best things about being a subscriber to a magazine is receiving it before the issue is released in stores. I always enjoy that feeling of 'privelaged access'. Of course I'm no more privileged than thousands of other subscribers but it's a nice fantasy to indulge!

The Theme of this months issue makes a break with the 'period' themes of the past year or more and instead focuses on artillery through the ages. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this theme but having now had a chance to sit down and read through this issue I have to say I have changed my mind.
  • Artillery Through the Ages: An Introduction - As the name suggests this article sets out the theme for this months WI and provides an overview of this important branch of the military.
  • Wood, Sinew and Metal - A look at early artillery and in particular the torsion-powered weapons of the Roman Army
  • The Brave at Mokra - Battlefront have just released a set of Polish Armoured Trains for Flames of War and this article looks at their use in the early days of WWII.
  • Extensive Knowledge of Powder - Jim Graham writes about the advent of Gunpowder artillery in the Middle Ages.
  • Britain's First Special Forces - A follow up article to last months Theme on the Mahdist Uprising in Sudan. This article discusses the innovative use of the Camel Corps in this conflict.
  • Towards Tactical Mobility - A scholarly article by Dr Stephen Summerfield on the development of Horse Artillery during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Cavalry against Panzer's - Following on from the earlier article about Polish Armoured Trains this Battle Report looks at how the Smialy (translated as The Brave) played it's part in giving the Germans a bloody nose at the Battle of Mokra.
  • Bridge to the Future - The American Civil War saw weapons and tactics - especially the use of artillery - move from a firmly Napoleonic style to a more 'modern' setting, strangely prescient of the First World War.
  • How to run a Wargames Campaign: Pt 1 - Rick Priestley writes the first of a series of articles on running wargames campaigns.
  • Imperial Long Shots - This article is set between the American Civil War and the Battlefields of WWI with the conflict between France and Prussia in 1870.
  • Painting The Brave - A guide to painting Battlefronts new Armoured Train model.
  • Norman Knights - Continuing the Great Warriors series this article looks at the Norman Knights.
  • How to...Explosions - Someone at Battlefront has clearly been listening to the Forum boards on their website because the subject of 'how to make explosion markers' has come up time and again.
  • Project Hougoumont - An interesting article by Richard Holmes bringing the story of Project Hougoumont up to date.
All in all a pretty good issue with plenty to whet the appetite and excite the imagination.

I thought I would post some statistics about this issue like I did for WI 280. All percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Issue 281 is 124 Pages, of which 32 contain some Battlefront and/or FOW content (26%).
This issue contains 26 pages of Advertising of which 5 are for BF/FOW (19%).
Articles account for 92 Pages of which 26 are dedicated to BF/FOW games (28%).

Wednesday 16 February 2011

A very Honorable Mention

My friend Derek (aka DJK) has earned himself a very honorable mention today because he bought me not one but three books. He told me he had something for me earlier in the week but I'd forgotten all about it. So when I picked him up prior to our D&D game on Friday it was with some surprise that I was given this unexpected gift. I've had a chance to scan through these now so here's what I got. I think you'll agree he was very generous indeed.

Bloody Omaha Flames of War Sourcebook - Clearly my enthusiasm for FOW and the Normandy campaign have been communicated well because the first of the books is one that I have been pondering buying for some time. Also in light of my recent adventures in the digital realm this part of the massive allied Overlord invasion holds a particular interest for me.

The book includes a detailed history of the Battle for Omaha beach which became the bloodiest landing of all the D-Day beach assaults. Period photographs and color diagrams make this an exciting and enjoyable read. Also in the book are army lists for creating German defense forces and assaulting Americans from the US 1st 'Big Red One' and the US 29th 'Blue and Grey' Infantry Divisions.

I'm particulaly looking forward to constructing some of the beach defenses illustrated in this book. I also found the section of fortifications interesting and I can see these rules being useful in a variety of games.

D Minus 1 Allied Airborne Forces in Normandy - The second book was another FOW source book this time focused on the Airborne units dropped on France ahead of the main beach landings. The extensive use of Paratroops from the British 6th and US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions certainly made success on D-Day possible.

My Brother-in-law in particular will be very excited to read about the 101st and I may have trouble stopping him from rushing out and buying a force immediately. He has a large selection of memorabilia linked to this unit both original kit worn in Normandy and replicas used during the filming of Band of Brothers. To say he's a little obsessed does OCD injustice. His 'office' at home is like walking into a museum with every inch of space filled with display cabinets holding a wide array of interesting items. If he starts buying models not only will have have nowhere to store them but his partner will probably skin me alive!

Modelling Armored Vehicles - The third book is an Osprey Modelling Guide and looks at scratch building models of a range of armored vehicles. Although I'm not likely to build myself a 1/35th scale tank many of the skills and techniques used are interesting to read about. I'm sure some part of the advice demonstrated in this book will find its way into my modeling at some point in the future.

One of the things I like about this series of books - aside from the high standard of writing expected in all Osprey's - is the opportunity to see how other painters and modelers work. This book has contributions from several scale model builders and each have personal tips and techniques that come across in the different projects described.

Three books out of the blue - Its like Christmas has come along all over again! Derek told me it was the combination of good timing (being in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a special offer) and a thank you for being the groups 'designated driver' and regular game host. It's nice to be appreciated - especially with gifts - but I have to say it was completely unnecessary. If hosting a few games and driving to others helps facilitate games its the least I can do. Having said that getting these books has put a big smile on my face, and that's always a good thing. Thank you Derek.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

DJK's Fantasy World

Long time friend - and fellow member of the Dagenham Dungeon Delvers - Derek (aka DJK) has started his own blog, DJK's Fantasy World. Regular readers may recognise his work from some excellent pictures of his scratch built models which I posted here a few months ago. All the materials used were recycled and the finished results looked really excellent. In fact it proved to be a very popular post and resulted in several new followers joining BLMA. On the back of this success (and some gentle persuasion from me) Derek has finally decided to join the Blogoverse himself.

There's only one post at the moment but it's a pretty good one to start with and there are plenty more to come. I've been given a sneak peek at some of the projects he has in the pipeline and know that his blog will appeal to anyone interested in modeling and terrain building.

Monday 14 February 2011

We're underground?!

The Evil GM drinks to Victory
The Dagenham Dungeon Delvers finally got together for the first D&D game of the year on Friday. Yes, I know, It's February and we've only just managed to fit in a game! Of course the reason for our tardiness is blatantly clear, we are all old farts with busy lives that keep getting in the way. I've touched on this subject many times and I'm sure plenty of BLMA readers will recognise the same dilemma in their own lives.

Of course its harder to get a large(ish) group together on a regular basis for a campaign game than it would be for one off sessions. So maybe D&D is a game that gets harder to play as the years roll by than say a wargame that consists of separate and indeterminately spaced wargame days.

We kicked off this game session by reviewing our campaign journal for the game so far. Its been over 8 weeks since we last played and even the GM is having trouble remembering what the hell our characters are doing. Once refreshed both mentally and physically (in the form of Kebab and Alcohol) we launched straight into the action. The action being a broadside of jokes at the Evil GM's expense. Never let it be said we are not brave..or foolhardy.

First of a trio of Grik
This game continues our adventures in the Sunless Citadels, the underground domain of the last of the mammalian races (yes, we're underground). Our Characters are currently exploring strange tunnels that were once part of a massive Dwarven mushroom farm. The area was abandoned generations ago and strange rumors and horrible stories are all that have come out of the region since then. The stories were so bad that the nearest Dwarf city of Pral-Thek closed the doors that opened onto the road we are now following. So we are venturing where stalwart Dwarves fear to tread - which either says a lot about our courage or our intelligence, depending on your perspective.

Tentacles galore make combat interesting
Most of this game was taken up with a battle between us and a trio of Grick that we encountered in one of the Mushroom chambers. In keeping with the 'strange alliances' concept of 4th Edition encounters the Grik were joined by two Destrachen which proceeded to blast us with sonic attacks throughout the combat.

We won the fight of course, but not until we had managed to receive a good mauling as usual. The star of the battle though has to be the Mage. Mindaris always distances himself from the rough and tumble of Melee - a sensible policy for a magic user. But on this occasion his isolation only served to make him stand out to the enemy. Not that he was in any real danger but he was most annoyed when he took damage for the first time in ages. His retribution was swift and involved a large explosion.

It was good to see the group together after such a long break and we've already scheduled the next couple of games in as well. Hopefully now that we have started the ball rolling again we can keep up the momentum for the rest of the year. I doubt it, but I live in hope.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Big Picture : Sphinx

This weeks Big Picture is a bit topical as I have chosen a photo from my Honeymoon in Egypt (nearly 20 years ago now!). Like many people around the world I have been following events in Cairo with a mixture of fear, excitement and more than a little wonder. Our experience of the country - admittedly seen through the prism of a pampered foreign tourist - was one of a hard working, friendly and very welcoming people and I hope they get the future they deserve.

The Sphinx was definitely a highlight for us on our trip. We had of course seen hundreds of photo's of this monument but nothing can prepare the visitor for standing in the presence of thousands of years of history.

Friday 11 February 2011

Adrenalin Rush on Omaha Beach

I don't often play computer games but now and again I will dip my toe into the ocean of electronic games and have a paddle. But this time I got more than my feet wet because I ended up storming Omaha beach.

My Brother-in-law game me the computer game Medal of Honor: Allied Assault a few months ago and I've been playing it little by little in between painting projects. It's not a bad first person shoot-em-up and was pretty entertaining throughout with an opportunity to try out various missions and a range of weapons and combat situations. But one section stood out - by far - for it's sheer cinematic quality. The D-Day assault of Omaha beach took my breath away (and life on several occasions).

I tend to play wearing headphones so the music and sound effects don't bother the people around me and for this mission this policy paid dividends. The virtually surround sound noise of the action made this one of the most realistic representations of an opposed beach landing. This video on YouTube shows the whole assault in all its terrible glory.

I hasten to add this video isn't of my game-play (I die a lot) but does show the whole mission from riding in on the LCA's through to getting off the beaches and into the German defences.

I've played this mission several times now and it still stands out as a breathtaking and terrifying experience. Not surprising really as Steven Spielberg had a hand in its design (way back in 2002) and utilised ideas and scenes from his film Saving Private Ryan. Its an old game now but still worth picking up in a bargain bin if you get a chance.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Message in The Cloud

Feb 2009
Way back in February 2009 I posted a Word Cloud generated using the website Wordle. The Cloud gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text or site. In my case I entered the URL of this blog and created a cloud that visualised my word usage up to that point. My blog was only a few months old and not suprisingly words like First, Painting, Model, Games and Gaming were prominent. This was very much in line with the initial concept of BLMA to promote and showcase my painting.

Out of curiosity I decided to revisit the Wordle site and generate a new cloud that would analyse my blog after two years of activity. I was initially suprised by the results but given the shift in my gaming and painting interests over the last 24 months I supose I shouldn't have been. Wordle doesn't make it clear if more recent items are given greater prominence but it seems likely that there is some weighting towards newer posts. I'm guessing it only draws from those posts that are currently visible on the front page and doesn't scan through all the archived material. This would explain why words like Platoon, Squad, Panzer and Tank feature so prominently.

Jan 2011
This all adds up of course to a big distraction from painting and gaming, and should therefore be labeled as yet another Bad Habit. But its an interesting analytical tool none-the-less and one I think I'll use each year to see how things are changing with this blog.

Monday 7 February 2011

15mm Fields - Vegetable Crops

Following on from the Wheat Fields that I made last week I decided to make a few fields of vegetable crops for my wargames terrain collection. Again these are for 15mm wargaming and are a cheap alternative to pre-made scenery. However, I can't take full credit for this particular build project as I took a lot of inspiration from the excellent scenery on The Terrain Guy Blog.

To complete this project I needed a cheap corded doormat, some PVA glue, a pack of Woodland Scenic's clump foliage and a couple of wooden coffee stirrers.

I started by buying a cheap corded doormat for the princely sum of One Pound from a local corner shop. I wanted to get a dark brown mat but they only had dark green in stock but I decided to press ahead with my idea anyway. At worst I would be down £1 and a few hours of labour. As it is I'm pretty happy with the results and think the Dark green works, as well as a brown mat, would have.

I started by making a 'proof of concept' test piece. This was a small off-cut and would otherwise have been thrown away. I tried several ways of applying the clump foliage to the grooves of the mat using the PVA glue and eventually settled on the method illustrated below.

I cut the mat into 8 rectangular fields of various sizes using a sturdy pair of scissors. Then I trimmed the edges to make the fields neat and regular. Again I found it best to use a sharp pair of strong scissors to make light work of the rather tough fibres. The next step was to break down some clump foliage (the type used by model rail enthusiasts and Wargamers alike) into very fine pieces. I tried doing this by hand but realised this would take a long time. So I found an old coffee bean grinding machine (electrical) and used that to reduce my clumps to the consistency needed... don't tell the wife!

Glueing the reduced clump material to the mat required a liberal application of PVA Glue. This was laid down one line at a time and the 'foliage' sprinkled onto the line and pressed into place with wooden sticks. Eventually, I worked out a technique that makes this process much faster. I used one stick 'behind' the row of glue and used a second stick to push the foliage into place. Using the sticks like flat paddles I was able to get rather neat looking lines of 'vegetables' with a visible gap between the rows.

Don't be afraid to use lots of PVA as much of it soaks into the mat and you need plenty to keep the foliage in place. I found it best to complete one field then press the surface with a book (suitably protected of course) then set aside to dry overnight. I think the resulting fields will be fairly durable as well as looking good.

Another version I tried and liked was a field of smaller vegetable or perhaps a young crop. For this, I applied a smaller amount of glue into the grooves of the mat then sprinkled static grass across the surface before tapping off the excess.

I will definitely make some more fields like this although I will try to get some different coloured foliage to use to represent different root crops. Scattered between the Wheat Fields I did last week they should give a nice 'patchwork quilt' effect for my Normandy countryside.

UPDATE: Since writing this article I have undertaken several other 15mm terrain projects that you may find useful or interesting.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Big Picture : 25 pdr Gun in Action

The 25 Pounder (or 25-pdr) was probably the best field gun of the British Army and saw service from just before WWII right into the 1980's. There are quite a few examples used for reenactment firing exercises and this one was photographed at the Royal Gunpowder Mills in 2007.

Back in May 2009 I posted a video of a battery of 25-pdrs in action at at the Military Odyssey show in Kent (also in 2007).

Friday 4 February 2011

A few small changes

I've implemented a few small changes to BLMA that I thought worth explaining and getting feedback on. Nothing too major but none the less worthy of some discussion. Some of you may have already noticed these changes as I implemented them a couple of weeks ago on a trial basis. But I've now decided I like the alterations and will keep them for the foreseeable future.

Since BLMA started in January 2009 I have had a BlogRoll in the sidebar. This lists all of the blogs that I follow in 'date of last post' order. So the most recently updated blog appears at the top of the list right down to the least updated site at the bottom.  The problem is I now follow something like 80+ blogs and the list is growing all the time. If I listed all these blog in the blogroll the sidebar would just grown and grow out of all proportion.

I have therefore changed the settings of the Blogroll so that only the last 25 sites to be updated are listed. This means the latest changes are visible and as other blogs update they will hit the 'top 25' and get some exposure on my site. Its a compromise, but one I think balances the desire to share my favorite blogs with the need to keep BLMA user friendly and hopefully useful. If I feel that the turnover of new updates is too quick I could expand the list to a 'Top 30' but for now I have set it to 25 and will monitor how this works over the next few months.

I hasten to add that I do read all of the blogs I follow. I use Google Reader which makes it easier to review new updates on a daily basis. As my reading list has increased this tool has become more invaluable in keeping track of new updates and highlighting posts I want to revisit in more detail at a later date.

News Feeds
I've added three news feeds to the bottom of the side bar (below the Blogroll). These list the top 5 news items from The Miniatures Page, Tabletop Gaming News and Miniature Wargaming News. The links open in a new page so you can check out an interesting new item without exiting BLMA (why would you want to do that!). I visit these sites several times a day and find their content very interesting and useful. I may add more feeds at a later date but for now I think these are useful additions to the site.

I've been adding Polls to BLMA ever since its started. Response to the most recent Polls have been excellent and the accompanying Posts have generated quite a lot of interesting comments. Usually I move the Poll results to the bottom of the sidebar when they close. But I think they don't really serve any useful purpose when they are read out of context and become separated from the original discussion. So in future I'll be copying the final results of a Poll to the comments section of the original post associated with it.

Facebook 'Like' Button
A few weeks ago I added a facebook Like button to the top of the sidebar. It's not generated a huge amount of interest (only 9 likes so far!) so I'm not sure its worth keeping. I'll hang onto it for a while but this may get removed later to keep the sidebar uncluttered.

My aim is to make BLMA a worthwhile and useful destination in its own right, not just for the latest Post update (although I hope you enjoy them as well). I started this process when I added the Page links at the top of the blog, providing a place for recording Events, Tutorials, a Scale Guide etc. Obviously I'm limited by the constraints of Blogger and the layout template I have chosen but within those restrictions I am trying to make the most of the space available. I hope you like the changes I have implemented and as always I am open to suggestions for future development of the Blog.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Making 15mm Wheatfields

This tutorial on how to make wheat fields for 15mm wargaming terrain has been a long time in the planning. However when I finally started the project making wheat field terrain proved very easy indeed. None the less here's my guide to making your own fields for 15mm wargaming (actually these are suitable for scales ranging from 15mm up to 28mm).

Most of the examples of Wheat Fields as terrain that I have seen are made from Coir Matting. I was fortunate in that I found a large off-cut from when I had a mat fitted in my porch, so I didn't have to buy any for this project. However its not particularly expensive and you should be able to purchase enough mat for your needs for under £20. Coir Matting is made from a coconut by-product making it a tough material to cut, especially when bound onto a tough rubber backing to be laid on the floor. I found it best to cut this material from the back using a sharp Stanley knife or other DIY blade. Don't use your craft knife, it will almost certainly break.

I started by making a small test piece so I could determine how hard it was to cut and what sort of finish looked best. I experimented by leaving one side 'unfinished' and trimmed the other side with a blade. Be very careful at this stage, its easy to slip with the knife and you don't wan't to get blood all over your nice new wheat field! In the end I found it easier to trim the edge with a strong pair of scissors which game the fields a nice chamfered edge. This not only looks neat but it also looks like a real field where the wheat around the very outside of the crop is slightly smaller than further in.

Warning! Before I go further its worth mentioning that this whole process is very very messy. I ended up with coconut shavings and bits of rubber backing all over my work desk and the floor. If you wan't to avoid the death glare from your 'significant other' I suggest you do this in the garden or down the shed.

Experimentation done I decided to make about eight wheat fields (I have plenty of Coir matting remaining for future use). Lay  the matting face down with the rubber backing towards you. I marked out the size fields I wanted using a black pen but you could cut your fields freehand. Using your sharp blade score the underside of the rubber backing several times. Eventually you will cut through to the coconut matting and then the two pieces can be pulled apart. Within a few minutes I had eight square and rectangular fields made ranging in sizes from 15x15cm to 15x30cm. I don't know if this is the correct size for 15mm/Normandy wargaming but I can always make some more if I decide I need larger fields.

Next I took a heavy duty pair of scissors and trimmed the edges to tidy them up. This stage really does make a difference to the finished look but is also probably the hardest part of the process. The coconut material is incredibly tough and hard to trim, even with a large pair of scissors. By the time I had trimmed all eight fields my hand and wrist was killing me.

With the edges trimmed all that remains is to cover up the grey rubber backing that is now exposed around the edges. I used PVA glue - applied with an old brush - to these edges and then dipped them into a tray of static grass several times to ensure good coverage.

And that's pretty much it. Eight terrain pieces completed in about an hour (plus half hour cleaning up the mess afterwards). Not bad for a mornings work.